I’ve been to my fair share of weddings that had amazing dance party receptions. Like, kick your granny out because the bar is closing, and she’s still busting a move kind of amazing. But I’ve also been to my fair share of dance parties that, well, didn’t have a whole lot of dancing going on. Everyone always wants to know the secret to getting people on the dance floor at their wedding, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that it isn’t always as simple as playing a few of your favorite songs and hoping everyone will join in. Finding the right wedding reception songs that appease both young and old, that are fun to listen to and fun to dance to, isn’t always easy to the untrained ear. And no matter how many times I want to bust a move to “
(above, making his most serious DJ face) for his best tips on how to throw the kind of party where everyone ends up barefoot, sweaty and with laryngitis from singing along too loudly. Based out of Southern California, Michael is hands down the hippest DJ we know (wedding or otherwise), so he gets what it takes to pack a dance floor and keep it that way. While we were at it, we also asked for a few of his guaranteed dance party favorites, and he gave us… seventy-five. So without further ado, here are Michael’s best insider tips, followed by seventy-five wedding reception songs that will make your night. Bonus: you can listen to the entire playlist
The first song of the night sets the tone and can make or break the reception. Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” always slays—it’s the perfect combination of fun, energetic, and well known without alienating anyone. You don’t want the most popular song on the radio, but you want something people know. It can’t be too fast or too slow.
So yes, you had a hilarious experience at a bar ten years ago while “Nothing Compares 2 You” by Sinead O’Conner was playing, but no one else at your wedding (except maybe your BFF) was there and they won’t think the song is nearly as funny as you do. You don’t have to make sure every single song will appeal to as many people as possible, but definitely leave ultra-inclusive inside jokes out.
Treat your wedding playlist like the film rating system. The beginning of the night (aka rated PG) should include Motown/Motown-era soul (Stax/Atlantic/Muscle Shoals)—think Aretha, Sam and Dave, Stevie Wonder, and so on, but with a few new jams sprinkled in so younger gusts can enjoy themselves. You’ll also want the
stuff—try to avoid cliches like “We Are Family.” If you’re not using a good DJ (or not hiring a DJ at all), you’ll want to listen to the entire song before you decide on it. After forty-five minutes or so, a lot of the youngest and oldest guests will exit the dance floor, and you move to PG-13: you can transition to 80s, 90s, and current pop, hip-hop, and New Wave—it’s great to transition with a hip hop song that samples a soul classic. After another hour you’re usually down to your core group of friends and family who want to party, and anything goes.
that will work for iPad and iPhone. You can use this with a simple set-up to automate a mix of songs with criteria that you set. For example, you can make a playlist of the songs you want and set it up to mix every two minutes or so (safe bet) and it will just go through and mix them all together.