Let’s Face the Music…and (TRY to) Dance

So far in my blogging journey, I’d like to think you’ve been able to get to know me pretty well. In that I’m terrified of the cold (yet having a wedding in the dead of winter), I’m a DIY enthusiast, willing to dump eggs all over my head, dress up as a medieval princess, an eternal optimist, proudly English, poor, and maybe slightly too much of a nerd.  (Nice to meet you!)  But aside from all that, one of the things I’m most passionate about in life is music.

We’re really trying to incorporate fun, personality, and things that really are meaningful for us into our wedding. Short of hiring a kitten-shaped tux and training our little cat on the concept of “straight line,” I think we’re doing quite well! Music is a big part of both our lives, so naturally this was an area in which we could have a little fun.

Our ceremony will be at David’s church. Traditionally Roman Catholic, there are certain restrictions on the sort of music that can be played. Let’s just say my dreams of walking down the aisle to the Star Trek: TNG theme have gone firmly out the window. Luckily, David plays in the church band with one of the city’s best local musicians, part of a duo who are kindly going to sing at the ceremony. He’s wonderfully talented, fun, and down to earth, and I can’t wait to hear them perform!

The reception is where things are going to get even better, starting with the actual realization of my sci-fi dream—our entrance to the Doctor Who theme tune. +10 nerd points to David! Our first dance is going to be slightly unconventional in that it will be fast-paced (none of that lame and awkward shuffling around in a circle), and will probably involve some choreography… which is an adventure all on its own. I wish I could share the song, but we have to maintain some element of surprise!

Luckily, our venue by day is a dance studio (complete with beautiful 3,400 sq. ft. dance floor), and Patricia’s Banquet Hall is the only place in town to include complimentary lessons for the rhythmically challenged (ahem). However, in eternal keener fashion, I had to get ahead of the game: David and I signed up for eight weeks of dance classes, which started in April. The first couple of classes were surprisingly successful—if you define success by the amount of time you spend not falling over. It’s a hilarious way to spend our Friday nights, with me trying to understand the notion of coordination and David, somehow, a complete natural! Thankfully we still have a few months to go…

The DJ we hired, Platinum Productions, fortunately comes with an online music planner including must-plays, please-plays, and do-not-plays (there will be no saving horses OR riding cowboys at this reception), as well as a list of custom special request songs. We listen to a lot of indie and alternative music, which isn’t typically on a standard reception playlist—thankfully they’re very thorough in catering to our tastes, and we’ll have all sorts of favourites from the UK, from the ’80s (there’s got to be some Bon Jovi in there somewhere!), and possibly even the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

My biggest nightmare, however, isn’t forgetting my steps… it’s an empty dance floor! So I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how to get people moving. I once designed an invitation for a bride which included the line “I promise to dance if you play…” on the RSVP card, but since we’re doing our RSVPs online, that’s not going to work. Would you…

a)     Cross your fingers and hope everyone likes the ’80s as much as you do

b)    Ask your wonderful Best Man/MC to do his best to get everyone on their feet, including subtle hints and perhaps not-so-subtle dragging by the hands

c)     Eliminate most of the songs people aren’t really going to know, and resign yourself to ABBA all night long

d)    Go with traditional RSVP cards with the option to request a song. Yes, it’s environmentally un-friendly, and yes, it’s more expensive—but it’ll plant the seed!

Your thoughts would be much appreciated—as would ideas for a certain dance. My wonderful Dad raised me well on ’70s punk and ’80s new wave, but unfortunately I have a sneaky feeling Rock the Casbah and “father-daughter dance” go together about as well as tequila shots and running with scissors, so any suggestions of something cool yet crowd-pleasing would be fantastic!


54 comments on “Let’s Face the Music…and (TRY to) Dance
  1. Kay says:

    Hi Em,

    Instead of a DJ, you could do all the music yourself with a MP3 player and a rented sound board and speakers. That’s what we did for our wedding. Saved a bundle, had great sound and all the music of our own choosing. People danced too, because we selected a rotating mix of fast and slow danceable songs and with classics and new music.

    BTW, dancing in your wedding dress can be a bit different than your dance lessons if you have a dress that is floor length; you will likely step on it if you have any backwards steps in your dance routine. That’s why all those ballroom dancers have shorter dresses ;)

    All the best,

  2. Emily says:

    Aaaaaaand apparently I can’t spell my own name LOL

  3. Emilye says:

    Roxanne and Sandy, thanks so much for your ideas! I had heard of that too Roxanne but they’d have to be REALLY well known songs for people to recognise that it’s their table’s song… I am leaning toward relying more on the MC (he’s very charismatic so hopefully it won’t be a problem!!)

  4. Sandy Finkel says:

    Emily, as usual great article. I would ask the DJ to help by playing songs that seem to work to get people moving and have him coax people up with his great emceeing skills. Wow, I didn’t know weddings were so much work! Good luck with everything. Sandy

  5. Roxanne says:

    Just saw this on a wedding show I was watching and thought it was brilliant!

    The couple had a play list on each table when the songs on their tables came up they had to start the dancing off. For example: Table 1 has 6 songs when song #1 came up they had to head over to the dance floor it will put more pressure on the tables to get others dancing as they don’t want to be up there for a whole song by themselves.

    The next song goes to table 2 the play list rotates to all the tables.

    Voilla the pressure off you and allows everyone at each table to dance and they know that they HAVE to do…and admit it everyone wants to dance they are often just to shy.. this helps them to go for it!

  6. Emily says:

    Best SCI-FI dancer?? You are my new hero!! GREAT idea! :)

  7. Emily J says:

    A few georgeously decorated gift boxes with keepsakes inside will entice the older crowd to get moving. Women love a little competition between friends, and the gloating to go home with something special.

    Give a few away for the first few songs, then again later in the night if things slow down, make up cateogories for best mover, most original dancer, youngest dancer, who dance all night, best 70’s style, 80’s style, best sci fi dancer, just a few suggestions.

  8. nicopolitan says:

    One thing I’ve learned from attending weddings is that conga lines are mandatory, so you can use that to get everyone on the dancefloor and then pick it up with a catchy tune.

    Additionally: If I ever start a wedding band, I will name it “Mandatory Conga Line.” This comment makes it official.

  9. Jess says:

    Oh, this is just a fabulous post :) To echo several previous comments – I really don’t think you have to worry about people not dancing. This will, of course, be a celebration of your wedding; but I bet that a few people will also see your reception as a much-needed chance to cut loose.

    I have no doubt that your guests will have a blast – just don’t play “The Cupid Shuffle” more than once, if at all!

  10. Ashley says:

    I don’t care that much about the planning of my wedding, if I ever get married, but I do care about the music! That’s the one thing I’ve given a lot of thought. One problem is that most of my favorite music is depressing, which doesn’t quite work for a wedding, ha ha.

  11. Hannah Katy says:

    Ah, I certainly waited for this missing piece to the puzzle. Who would Emily Jane be without music!? This wedding looks like it is going to be so so so so much fun. I am so proud of all you have done for it it, DIY is no easy task but you have given it a whole new definition.


    Hannah Katy

  12. christina says:

    lol, emily you are hilarious. i’m particularly a fan of “rhythmically challenged”. it’s so great to see you having fun with this whole process, and the music is a HUGE part of weddings! i wish i could be of more help with the father-daughter dance, i chose my song at the last second, and it was an oldie… My Special Angel by Bobby Helms. my dad loved it lol. good luck, and awesome post as ALWAYS. <3

  13. Emily says:

    Jenn – I am SO excited about K&R too! We went to their CD release concert last weekend and it was amazing… and I think this Glee idea is catching on more and more. I’ll see what my Dad has to say when I see him this week :) And thanks for your kind words… writing is my biggest passion, I’m glad you like the posts :)

    Morgan – thanks for your comment. I totally understand some people may not wish to dance – I’m just hoping to figure out the right balance of music to encourage them TO dance! :)

    Elizabeth – There’s a Glee version of ‘Shout’, too!

    Angela – LOL if one persons says The Clash is okay, maybe we’ll just do it :)

    Thanks everyone for your comments!! :)

  14. Jenn says:

    Keith & Renee are going to be amazing at the wedding!!! & thanks for linking back to some of your old posts – haven’t been following the contest the whole way through but just caught up and can I just say you are clearly the best candidate to win this competition, you are a true blogger in that you have the support of so many other bloggers, you write well, you engage people, and you make people smile. Brilliant stuff as always. For the F-D dance I like the Glee idea (of course) for I’ll stand by you, and I think people will be caught up in the fun of your wedding and dance anyway!

  15. Morgan says:

    after reading the article, I just had to say….that some people (like myself) just don’t dance. I also leave those RSVP lines where you are supposed to request a song blank, or I write the title of a heavy metal song that is so offensive, I know it will never be played.

    That being said, I know that other people like to dance, so we hired a DJ (and gave up on our ipod list) and gave him a “do not play” song list that included the names of songs we absolutely hate (some which other people love). We’ll be asking him to basically play whatever other people want (limiting country to 10 songs or less, and absolutely NO rap. We hate it.) Which means we’ll probably end up having a mostly typical wedding DJ (with the exception of our “MUST PLAY” list, which is not typical at all).

  16. im no miss says:

    My best bet is B. And I so agree with Ashley with the no macarena or hokey pokey :)

    But whatever your music will be I still see festive celebration because I’m sure wonderful people are sure to be at your wedding!

  17. elizabeth says:

    I love your posts! I think a great idea would start off with some classic songs that gets everyone moving like Shout or YMCA. Things that will get everyone happy and having a good time.

  18. Katie says:

    Project Wedding has a lot of good ideas for songs, even those “non-lame” ones you speak of…

  19. Jen says:

    Right away I don’t think I’m a fan of putting songs on the RSVPs…I do have to say we went to one wedding that was way too much slow dancing. I like the faster songs that anyone can dance to and you can all dance in a group so you don’t need partners. Most of the time the ladies will at least dance if men won’t. You need some slow dances, but not too many. I’m good at dragging people onto the dance floor…but now that I saw it as an option I guess it doesn’t sound all that cool. I think that’s the best way, peer pressure them once you’ve got them there! :)

  20. hillary says:

    You can’t go wrong with a song that has meaning – my dad and I danced to “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson because it’s a song that will forever remind me of him.

  21. AD says:

    Em, I have a feeling that your “wonderful Best Man/MC” will have NO problem getting people up and onto the dance floor! :)

  22. Stephany says:

    That’s a tough one! I know at the last few weddings I’ve been to, people have gotten up and danced without a problem. At my last wedding, they mainly played Indian music but everyone was still up there, dancing, even when they didn’t know the music. So I think you’ll be fine! As long as you look like you’re having fun (and grab some bridesmaids with you!), people will follow.

  23. Elly says:

    Oh! I don’t know, actually. All the weddings I’ve been to have just filled the dance floor! I’m sure if you play something to everyone’s tastes, they’ll get up and dance :) Thats what weddings are about, right?

  24. Angela says:

    Emily, your blog had me laughing out loud! I would love to see you and your dad dancing to Rock the Casbah! I think subtle and not so subtle hints are great, and in my experience, dancing is contagious so, as long as you can get a few up and going, more will follow!

  25. Emily says:

    Thanks everyone for your great suggestions! I LOVE Glee… we will have to see what my dad has to say… :)

  26. Robin says:

    Everyone loves weddings because it is one place where they can dance and not feel stupid. I love the RSVP song idea. All of your plans are wonderful and I am sure everyone will dance the night away.

  27. Karen says:

    Everything sounds really fun. You know I am actually LOVING the idea of RSVPs with song suggestions, so if there is any way you can implement that (maybe you could do that online as well… have them submit a form where you add a field for the song?), I would do that. Just because I think it’s such a fun idea and it shows your guests you want to play music they will like as well.

  28. Jessica says:

    Emily you’ve had quite the journey to follow along with and it’s been entertaining the whole time. Love your positive energy! Have to agree with many of your other commenters, your wedding is going to be SO MUCH FUN that people won’t be able to help but dance along with you. Loving Angeline’s Glee suggestion! And I am intrigued by your 1st dance… hope you win so we get to find out all about it =)

  29. Angeline says:

    So I am guessing “Butterfly Kisses” is out for your F-D dance? Your dad sounds like a cool fellow. What about Sinatra – “The Way You Look Tonight”? Everyone likes a bit of old time jazz and it’s not too sappy. Or “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen – sounds like you guys are pretty close! “I’ll Stand By You” is nice – maybe a bit cheesy, but sometimes cheese is good. Plus if you watch “Glee” you can use their version to make it more contemporary – I think its a bit rockier than the original too since it’s a guy singing. Someone really needs to write some new Father Daughter songs!

  30. Thank you… Emily, you are remarkably eloquent with your words. I only wish I was blessed with the same characteristic.

    See you on the dance floor!


  31. Emily says:

    And thank you to all of you for being such sweethearts!! :) Tabitha I’m dying to know what your first dance song is! I LOVE swing music – it’d be amazing to be able to do a choreographed “Sing Sing Sing” with a cane and top hat. For both me AND David :)

  32. Emily says:

    LOL Nicole!! The Dalek idea is the BEST.IDEA.EVER!!!

    And we will DEFINITELY have Run DMC and The Buggles – if I can’t have britpop I will definitely have 80s :)

  33. Nicole says:

    My advice: Avoid “Raise a Little Hell”. Despite the fact that it WILL get people on the dance floor, you don’t need to start your married life off with regrets. On yeah, and it makes my ears bleed.

    If the DJ plays a song that nobody dances to, provide the DJ with a sound byte of a Dalek saying ‘EXTERMINATE’ and get him to play a new song. Tell me that is NOT the coolest idea EVER… but hey, consider the source. :)

    P.S. I promise to do the robot if the DJ plays “Video Killed the Radio Star”. I will even breakdance to RUN DMC and Jam Master Jay’s “It’s like that”. I am just that committed. I have been practicing just in case.

  34. Brittany says:

    BAH HAHAHAHA! “There will be no saving horses OR riding cowboys at this wedding.”

    This is why I love you, Em!

    Your passion for music is wonderfully intense and I can’t wait for you big day!!


  35. Holly Renee says:

    I love how passionate your are about music. This is a tricky question. Maybe there is a way you can make a sign-up sheet for song suggestions online? Definitely have the DJ get people pumped! Tell your friends they better be shaking their booties!! I bet you’ll have nothing to worry about come your wedding day. If you are having fun out there it will be impossible for other people not to.

  36. ashley says:

    You should be fine if you alternate well-known songs with the occasional new-wave/unknown song. You really can’t go wrong with Bon Jovi!!!

    Your wedding sounds UBER fun, so I think there’s no need to worry :)

  37. faye d. says:

    LOL em only you would want star trek at your wedding!!!! i hope people get the Dr Who theme song that’s brilliant!! i like lyndseys idea of having somewhere people can write down what they want to hear but then you risk the songs not bein played and people not dancing at all =(

    would have to say that the macarena might actually get everyone on the dancefloor though…. you can always do it at the beginning of the night to get everyone up and then people might forget by the end once the cool music starts playig!!!

  38. Lyndsey says:

    Hey em,
    what about buying a book from the dollar store and having people write in what songs they would like as they enter into the reception hall? Alongside the guest book they could write down their favourite tune to get wild to and maybe another softer choice for a slow dance or two?

  39. krystal says:

    That is so amazing that your DJ can cater to so many of your tastes! I think the idea about letting guests request a song is seriously awesome. I don’t remember how we got people to dance at ours – but it happened – they even paid the DJ to stay another hour after we left! and there was NO alcohol – so it was a miracle. Having a huge bridal party probably helped though :)

  40. Tabitha says:

    I think I’d choose B. We were a little nervous about people not getting up and dancing at our reception, too, because we had a LOT of swing music, which not a lot of people know how to dance to. But luckily, plenty of people got out there and just danced however they wanted. Oh, and our first dance was NOT a slow shuffle-around-the-dance-floor song, either. More power to ya! :)

  41. S. K. says:

    Another well written post, thoughtful and entertaining as has become the usual for you dear. How exciting you are going to have some local celebrities performing the music for your ceremony. I just looked at their website and they sound very good. I think there is nothing wrong with asking your wedding party (and the Best Man being the Master of Ceremonies definitely helps with this) to get people onto the dance floor. Or hopefully many of your guests will be reading this and will take note! Best of luck.

  42. Emily says:

    Heather – good idea!! I’ll tell the wedding party that instead of making them go get donations and prizes and sell tickets (we’re not having a social), the only thing I ask is that they make sure the dancefloor always has people on it :) That’s not such a bad deal… right?

  43. Emily says:

    Sharon & Ashley – you’re probably right – those songs are always played because everybody knows them. Let’s just hope they can keep to the cooler ones – I refuse to have any “novelty” songs played!! Will have to check out the Twist – and @LiLu – YES! Billy Idol FTW!!

    Leanne – I may be able to add something in the RSVP line. We’re making our invitations and mailing them out – so instead of “please RSVP number of guests etc.” I’m sure I might be able to add a request… although I’m not sure how many requests the DJ is open to taking (100 sounds like an awful lot!!)

    Han – LOVE the Love Actually version of that song!! That’s the best part of the whole movie! :)

    Judith – what a good idea! Unfortunately I don’t have a green thumb – I’ve managed to kill off every plant I’ve ever owned par one, which remains faithfully on my desk at work :)

    Kelly & Heather – thanks for being such sweethearts <3

  44. Heather says:

    Hey Emily!

    I would suggest sticking with the music that you guys like. It is your wedding and people should have a chance to share in what you guys like. I’m sure if it was going terrible, the DJ could throw in a few popular songs.

    I find one way that always works really well to get people dancing, is to have a group of people pull people onto the floor. You could have your whole wedding party have the task during a pre-set song to go around to the edge of the floor and bring people back to the dance floor one or two at a time. Often people are intimidated to dance on a half empty floor and this helps fill it up and keep people dancing.

  45. Heather says:

    I suspect your fun nature will be contagious and you’ll have everyone rocking & dancing in no time!

  46. Han says:

    @Ashley we had the macarena at the reception and the floor was packed!

  47. Han says:

    I walked down the aisle to the Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes and me and That Boy left the church to All You Need is Love (the Love Actually version).

    Our first dance was one of those shuffle round in a circle numbers – That Boy hates dancing and anything more than that was going to be a challenge. We danced to Finally Found by The Honeyz (They were an english attempt at the Destinys Child thing!)

    When we signed the register in the church service, the band who were leading the worship songs played something (I can’t remember now – I think we left it in their hands – the guy leading and the other guy are some of our close friends)

  48. Leanne says:

    Can’t you add the “I’ll promise to dance if you play….” to your online invites? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  49. LiLu says:

    I have no idea, as my views are pretty much exactly on par with yours. BUT I gotta say, if we were to get married, it would be the best Billy Idol White Weddin’ this world ever did see.

  50. Ashley says:

    On paper, I strongly dislike most music played at weddings.

    HOWEVER, our DJ was a wedding DJ by trade, and wanted to take as FEW requests as possible. He had historical success just doing his thing, and we trusted him.
    He played Shout, Thriller, Celebration and basically EVERY. Traditional. Recpetion. Song. EVER. And you know what? The dance floor was NEVER empty.

    Those cheesy, cliched songs? People know how to dance to them. They are comfortable with that music, and if everyone is gettin’ little bit softer now, and twisting towards the floor, then it is sooooooooo worth it.

    I did request NO Hokey Pokey or Macarena though…

    I vote: use your lesser known songs for the special dances (garter, walking in to the reception, cutting the cake, dancing with David, dancing with dad) and let the DJ spin the well-loved classics for the rest of the night.

  51. ..judith.. says:

    Your posts always have me giggling..hehe. Yet another great one my dear! I’ve had the same concerns – an empty dance floor – but I think I’m just a worry wart :p. How cute that you’re entering the reception hall to Doctor Who – I think maybe it’s about time I get educated about the show..yup I know nada about the show :(.

    I think, from what I can gather through the posts, with your personality, everyone won’t be able to resist getting up and dancing with you on the dance floor. I do, hoever, really like option d and to put a play on your own words, you could have them printed on plantable paper – made with post consumer waste and embedded with seeds – which you can find here in our own city! http://www.botanicalpaperworks.com/ – after they’ve replied, you could grow a beautiful garden.

  52. Sharon says:

    For someone who glides in high heels that make my knees shake at the sight of them, I find it hard to believe that you are a clutz at dancing :-). A song that I have found is sure to get people on the dance floor, is Chubby Checker’s “The Twist”. I’m sure that whatever you pick, the floor will be full of people celebrating you and David.

  53. Kelly says:

    oh em your posts always make me laugh! i’m sure you won’t have to worry about ppl not dancing, everyone always dances at weddings and it’s great they have a “don’t play this” option so you can be sure of no nasty surprises! as for a father-daughter dance…. hmmm tough one. you’ve got brown eyes right what about “brown eyed girl”? i think it’s been covered a few times so you might be able to find a cooler version you like?

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