Hit list: Work with your DJ to tailor your tunes

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Photo: The Pinwheel Collective Photo: The Pinwheel Collective

Though DJ John Garland once had clients text him a picture of a wedding attendant from whom he shouldn’t take requests, coming up with a playlist is typically pretty stress-free. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to hiring a DJ.

Garland says, regardless of which DJ they’re interviewing, couples should ask for a list of recent references, a backup plan in case of emergency and what they’ll need to provide (protection from weather, time for setup, power source, etc.). But, it’s also a good idea to talk about the DJ’s level of involvement at the reception. Because a DJ often serves as a reception director—announcing the newlyweds, introducing various highlights of the evening (first dance, cake cutting)—it’s important to be upfront about those expectations.

Ask about his or her ability to liaise with other vendors and how involved the couple can be when choosing the music. From there, it’s just a conversation about what songs (or styles of music) to include or exclude.

As for Garland, he personally doesn’t mind taking requests—and especially loves receiving them for Delbert McClinton’s “Have a Little Faith in Me,” which was his and his wife’s first dance song at their own wedding. “I am a people-pleaser,” he says. “I try my best to make everyone enjoy the event I am working and feel catered to.”

Top tracks

DJ John Garland says these are the most-requested songs for first dances.

Couple’s dance:

  • “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
  • “Someone Like You” by Van Morrison
  • “At Last” by Etta James
  • “Make You Feel My Love” sung by Adele

Parent/child dance:

  • “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
  • “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
  • “Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)” by Van Morrison

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