One of the most obvious ways to make your wedding a little more “punk rock” is with the music. Wedding music, both ceremony and reception, presents a tricky balance for most couples – how do you find the balance between what you love and what will please your guests?
There are a wide range of DJs and musicians out there to choose from – and they range from full on entertainment packages to simply playing the music and making a few announcements. With technology today, it’s very tempting to create your own playlist and let family/friends be the “DJ,” but I advise hiring a professional to help move the event along and be available if any issues come up – the last thing you need is the music to suddenly turn off in the middle of dinner or dancing (or even worse – as you’re walking down the aisle)!
My fiancé and I started searching for DJs by getting on the same page about what we wanted – someone who wouldn’t try to be in the spotlight (no coordinated dances, no emceeing on the dance floor) and someone who would be willing to acquire the music we wanted played. Doug and I love punk music – we could easily pick enough songs to fill the night with our favorite bands – but we knew we had to appeal to our friends, parents, and families, most of whom have never voluntarily listened to punk.
After interviewing a couple DJs, we found what we were looking for – someone who is professional, excited about the non-traditional nature of the wedding, and decidedly NOT the cheesy “let’s do the chicken dance” kind of MC. We felt that he knew what we wanted immediately and we are excited to continue planning with him! I highly recommend Portillo Productions!
Many DJ companies also offer extra services – uplighting, custom monograms, props, and the like. To be honest, I’m over seeing purple uplighting in a ballroom, but it’s still really pretty if that’s your jam. For our event, we wanted to design a custom monogram/logo to be projected onto the side of the museum wall (outside, where our wedding will be held). Other than that, we just want a lively night of music that reflects who we are.
Our DJ will be doing both the ceremony and the reception since they are both in the same location. If you are having your ceremony in a different location, you may want to a) see how much it is to have your DJ in two locations, b) hire separate ceremony musicians (maybe more of a string quartet kind of setup), and c) check with the location to see if there are restrictions (i.e. you have to use the organ player for the church). It is important to consider how consistent your event will be – how will the music tie it all together?
For our ceremony, we are staying away from traditional classic entrance music and the bride’s march. Instead, we took the opportunity to use music that reflects who we are – I’m walking down the aisle to Billy Joel (I’m from Long Island, after all), our sand ceremony is set to The Bouncing Souls, and our recessional will be a special surprise for all the guests from Chicago (where Doug is from)!
For cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing, we determined a list of suggested tunes to help our DJ craft the kind of night we want to have. It’s important to make a “must play” list as well as a “Do Not Play” list (and make sure your DJ will honor this – even if someone requests a song). You will also choose the entrance music for the reception, your first dance, your parent dances, and songs to play during any other major portion (for us, the cake cutting and sparkler walk). Even if you are pretty indifferent to music in general, you need to speak up if you think playing “Single Ladies” during the bouquet toss is tired and overplayed. We aren’t including those kinds of traditions, but it’s important to think about this and talk with your DJ about the flow of the evening. They are experts on what keeps the energy of an event up – so make your suggestions but respect their experience and judgement (and if you don’t trust their judgement, ask yourself why you hired them in the first place!).
For our punk rock wedding, we included an acoustic Rise Against cover of a No Use For A Name song, a few selections from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (a great way to add a punk twist to songs other guests will recognize), and a danceable Frank Turner entrance song (among others). It’s important to make sure the night is reflective of you, but that all guests will enjoy the night!
We also have a special musical surprise planned for the rehearsal, but that’s for another post!