Photos: Anthony Dinh/Composure Studios
We’ve all been to weddings where the reception music was awesome—where we danced all night and everybody, young and old, had an amazing time. And we’ve probably all been to a couple of weddings where, well…not so much. So what’s the secret to the perfect playlist? How can you make sure your party music is pitched to your preferences, while not alienating older guests? What to do if you’re gaga for Gaga and your groom is a country boy through and through? Renowned Houston wedding entertainment guru Jonny Black of Jonny Black Productions answers these pressing party-music questions…and more!
Houston Wedding Blog: What should a couple’s goal be with their wedding music?
Jonny Black: First, it should be a reflection of their taste. It should reflect the energy and type of wedding environment they want. If they want fun and upbeat, they should do that. If they want a cocktail party—we recently had a wedding, for example, where there wasn’t any dancing at all, just high cocktail tables and light appetizers—the music should reflect that, and be more in the background.
HWB: How many songs should be on the couple’s playlist?
JB: For us, if we have 10 to 20 songs from the couple, or even artists or genres, this will give us a very good idea of what they like. We’ll ask, “What’s on your iPod?” or, “What’s in your CD deck?” instead of “What are your top 10 favorite songs?”…which usually gets an “Uhhh…” response. We’ll think about popular music from different decades. From the ’70s everyone likes disco; ’80s is about Journey, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson; the ’90s might be Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Rihanna. From there, we make connections.
Most importantly, we like to make the couple feel comfortable. For brides who get stressed over little details, the last thing we want to do is say, “Come up with X amount of songs,” and add to their stress.
HWB: What if the bride and groom disagree about what to put on their song list?
JB: The bride is always right : ) But truthfully, we want to make everyone comfortable. Everyone should feel like they got a compromise. Last year, for instance, we had a groom who didn’t really dance, didn’t go to clubs. He was into dark heavy-metal-type stuff, and he thought he had his heart set on having that at his wedding We had to help him understand that although that’s what he likes, if we play it at the wedding, the majority of guests are not going to like it, and are probably going to leave early. We told him, if we want guests to leave saying, “Wow this was the best time we had in years,” then playing that music is not a good idea. In these cases, we always try to explain it in a way where we can make the bride or groom see, and usually they’re pretty accepting of it.
HWB: That sounds very diplomatic. OK, so what about raunchy songs and NSFW–as in, not safe for wedding–lyrics?
JB: Where we’re at with technology in this day and age, pretty much every song you might want is available in a clean edit, so it usually isn’t so much of a problem. But we will make recommendations if we foresee an issue. We did a wedding recently where the bride and groom are both party animals but the family is very, very conservative. The couple wanted “Sexy and I Know It,” “Party Rock,” Rihanna, that kind of thing. But we didn’t want to upset the family. So we came up with an alternative list that offered a good compromise. On the other side, we have couples who just want to let it rip, and play uncut songs. We ask, “Are you sure?” At the end of they day, if they want it, we’ll do it.
But unless we discuss it first, you can assume that everything our DJs play at a wedding is clean and radio edited, so there are no surprises.
HWB: We’ve got all these great songs. Now how do we figure out what gets played when?
JB: You have to select an entertainment company that is experienced in weddings, where if you give them a list of music, they can make connections and know where you want what songs—versus providing a huge song list to someone that may not be familiar with weddings specifically. You may get Black Eyed Peas played during dinner, which won’t go over well.
HWB: Your advice for hiring a wedding DJ?
JB: When selecting music or entertainment—or any vendor for the wedding—hire professionals. An experienced wedding entertainment professional on the music side will be able to guide and keep things moving along, to adapt and overcome any potential hiccup that comes up.
For more about Jonny Black Productions, or to schedule a consultation, visit them here, or call 832.867.6911.