SoundConnection; photograph courtesy of Andy Kushner Entertainment.
Congrats! You’ve made some big decisions: the date, the venue, the caterer. You’ve even decided where you stand on the band/deejay question. But when it comes to booking the actual act, how do you know which is the right one for you?
“The entertainment is in a power position—they set the tone for the entire party,” says Andy Kushner, a local entertainment designer. As a result, Kushner says, there’s a lot to consider before signing the dotted line. “Regardless of how they sound, you want to be sure they have a nice, clean appearance and present themselves well,” he says. “Also it’s important to know that they have the ability to really engage your crowd.”
Here are some tips—courtesy of Kushner and local deejay Chris Laich—on how to ensure your dance floor is packed with shimmying guests all night long.
The a cappella group Euphonism performs at the wedding of Camilla and Richard in Georgetown. Photograph by Peter Bang Photography
Ever since we found out that Afro Blue—the 12-member a cappella group from Howard University—was chosen to compete on NBC’s The Sing-Off this past season, we’ve had four-part harmonies and love-ballad mashups on the brain. Don’t get us wrong—we love a classic string quartet as much as the next gal, but our inner Gleek is crying for something fresh. A first dance to a barbershopped version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”? Yes, please. A melody of Ol’ Blue Eyes standards as guests mingle at cocktail hour? Our fingers are snapping already.
Intrigued? You’re in luck! Though Afro Blue might be a bit hard to book these days (they almost made it to the Sing-Off finals!), we’ve tracked down four local groups that are available for ceremonies, receptions, engagement fetes, and the like. And gentlemen, take note: We can’t imagine a more romantic proposal idea. A sweet, unexpected serenade by a troupe of a cappella crooners, followed by our man on one knee? SWOON.
As the bandleader of Free Spirit and one of the owners of Entertainment Exchange, Mike Ostrow has selected songs for more than 1,500 weddings over his career. Here are his picks for a great wedding-reception playlist.
Bridal Party Entrance: “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
“It’s fun and lively and easy to talk over,” says Ostrow. “People of all ages know this song so it’s keeps everyone excited and involved.”
Couple’s Entrance: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder
“This is a really fun, upbeat choice that appeals to all generations,” Ostrow says.
First Dance: “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele as well as classics such as “At Last” by Etta James, “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole, or “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole
“Nothing’s worse that picking a first dance song that’s really hot at the moment but then everyone gets tired of,” says Ostrow. “You can’t go wrong with the classics, but I also like the Adele version of the Bob Dylan song—it’s classic, but still feels current.”
Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance: “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra or “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
“I like combining the father/daughter and mother/son into one dance just for time’s sake,” says Ostrow. “Again, I’d choose classic, not trendy, songs that won’t ever feel old.”
Cake Cutting Song: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy
“A beautiful choice,” Ostrow says.
Song to Play During Dinner: Songs from the Steve Tyrell album “A New Standard”
“These are updated versions of classic Sinatra-style tunes,” says Ostrow. “They sound great, are very recognizeable, and won’t overwhelm dinner conversation.”
Songs to Get Everyone on the Dance Floor: “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO, Lauren Bennett, and Goonrock and “Forget You” by Cee-Lo Green
“My picks for this category literally change from week to week, and depend on the age range of the crowd, but these are popular choices right now,” says Ostrow.
Slow Song: “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison
“I don’t like to include too many slow songs unless we’re using them for a specific reason,” says Ostrow. “If people need to catch their breath after a long dance set, I like this Van Morrison ballad.”
Last Dance: “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole, “Yeah 3x” by Chris Brown, or “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz
“Again, I’d tailor the last song to the age range of guests on the floor,” says Ostrow. “For a mixed-age crowd, I like the Natalie Cole song, but for a younger crowd, strong current dance music like Chris Brown or Taio Cruz works well.”
Did you have an amazing wedding reception playlist? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it on the blog!
For the past few weeks, several area DJs have provided their dream wedding reception playlists. Today, we asked Shelli Lord-Cinotti, leader of the wedding dance band NightLife to share her group's recent favorites.
Bridal Party Entrance: “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, featuring Jay-Z
Couple's Entrance: “Right Here, Right Now” by Fatboy Slim
First Dance: “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones
Father/Daughter Dance: “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw
Mother/Son Dance: “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney
Cake Cutting Song: “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor
Song to Play During Dinner: “Your Love Is King” by Sade
Song to Get Everyone on the Dance Floor: “Party Rock” by LMFAO, Lauren Bennett, GoonRock
Slow Song: “At Last” by Etta James
Last Dance: “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey
Did you have an amazing wedding playlist? Send it to us at email@example.com and we'll post it on the blog!
Want to get your guests on the dance floor? Try a little Taio Cruz, says Goldman. Photograph by Mary Gardella/Love Live Images
Music consultant and DJ Dan Goldman of Bialek’s Music has over ten years of experience in the industry, a selected a mix of club favorites, ’80s rock, and standards, with a little country thrown in for good measure.
Hoffman's pick for a first-dance tune is a rarely-heard favorite. Photograph by Amy Raab Photography
Good Note DJs' Steve Hoffman’s philosophy is to customize and personalize the playlist for each couple. “It’s really about the bride and groom’s taste, not the DJ’s,” he says. “But I do help the client pick songs by providing them with suggestions.” Here are a few of his favorites:
Listen to Hoffman’s playlist on Spotify (if you don’t have Spotify, download it here).
“I decided to choose the music I would use for my wedding if I were getting married again—music was a huge part of our celebration,” says Evan Reitmeyer of MyDeejay. “I believe that each wedding’s music should be a reflection of the couple’s taste, so everything I do as a DJ is completely customized for each of our clients. Music is a great way to show some personality and create a ‘vibe’ for the wedding guests to enjoy.”
Listen to Reitmeyer’s playlist on Spotify (if you don’t have Spotify, download it here).
Bridal Party Entrance: “Deceptacon” by Le Tigre
“This song works well as a backdrop for the DJ announcing the bridal party. This song provides the right vibe to kick off the evening,” Reitmeyer says.
Couple’s Entrance: “So Fresh, So Clean” by Outkast
“My wife, Jennifer, and I actually used this at our wedding and I stand by my choice!” Reitmeyer says.
First Dance: “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding
“I think this expresses exactly how I feel about my wife. Amazing song,” Reitmeyer says.