The Stranger’s No-Goddamn-Bullshit Wedding Guide
Any DJ will tell you the hardest group to please is wedding guests. You and your spouse-to-be might have the best and most discerning taste in the world. You might hate disco or Top 40 or new country, or love classic rock and house music, but you have no idea what those cousins from Parma will want to hear. Or maybe you do, but you'd just as soon croak before you'll have Michael Jackson or Cyndi Lauper bleeding your ear holes. But in reality—it ain't your party.
Well, it is, but what's the use in spending all that money for a roomful of gagging relatives? You can take the easiest route and hire a wedding DJ. They're worth every penny because they have a bottomless catalog and they play requests without flinching or judgment. Of course you and your spouse-to-be deserve to have whatever you want played at your wedding. You can involve your DJ in picking all the right songs for you, but if you want to ensure there will be at least five moments where the dance floor comes alive, you're going to have to bear at least five songs:
• Marcia Griffiths, "Electric Slide": Don't know it? Those cousins from Detroit do. They won't budge from the cake table until they hear it. ("Cupid Shuffle" will do in a pinch. Better have 'em both.)
• Beyoncé, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)": There will be a mob of 'em waiting to mimic the video and catch the bouquet. Half of them will be men.
• ABBA: Anything and everything. If they hear one ABBA song, they'll want to hear 20. I get the sad face if I only play "Dancing Queen." Then I get cussed out.
• Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'": At a wedding? As a recessional? Ummmmmm... yes, seen it done.
• Etta James, "At Last": I took an informal poll of "best first-dance songs" a few months ago, and this one landed overwhelmingly at the top. Nothing else by Etta James will do. Not "Trust in Me" or "Sunday Kind of Love." Nor will Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald or the Magnetic Fields. (Will somebody get somebody real famous, like a president or somebody, to play "It's Only Time" for their first dance?)
Or forego a wedding DJ altogether and hire a solid mariachi band.
Riz Rollins is a DJ who spins on KEXP, at Q nightclub, and very, very rarely at weddings. (Mostly when he needs money to go to Burning Man.)