Picking the Perfect Playlist

With numerous weddings and special events held at Casa Romantica, we know that picking the perfect playlist can be a complicated task. Between romantic classics that bring out the handkerchiefs, “Top 40” selections that encourage guests to hit the dance floor, or even themed events like our Great Gatsby-style wedding, there are so many songs to choose from.

The Private Events team at Casa Romantica recently interviewed Preferred Vendor DJ Todd of Epic 1 DJ  to share some of his favorite event music memories and to offer advice for choosing the perfect wedding playlist.

CR: What is the most popular processional music? And do you find that people are more traditional or non-traditional when it comes to choosing the perfect song?

T: For Casa Romantica, the most popular processional song is Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Overall, the most common processional is still Canon in D. In the past, couples would request Canon in D for the bridesmaids and groomsmen and Here Comes the Bride for the bride, but now they’re starting to choose Canon in D for the entire processional. My personal favorite for a traditional song is the Bridal Chorus by Jonathan Kane.

Once, I DJ’ed a Top Gun-themed wedding at Casa Romantica, and the bride walked to Take My Breath Away by Berlin. Unusual, yes, but a fantastic choice.

CR: What is your advice for Grand Entrance music?

T: Grand Entrances are fun when each pair in the wedding party has a song to come into that describes their personality. For instance, one couple might come out to Crazy In Love by Beyoncé and then the next pair will come out to Yeah by Usher. Another fun way to make an entrance is with a ‘human tunnel’ — when the wedding party pairs face one another and hold their hands up to make a tunnel for the bride and groom to run through.

CR: What is the most interesting song you have had to play for a first dance?

T: The most interesting first dance song I have played was either This Must Be The Place by The Talking Heads or Under The Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’re unconventional, but both were meaningful for the newlyweds. For the most part, however, clients choose classically beautiful songs; tearjerkers. Some of the most requested selections right now are I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, At Last by Etta James, and Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.

CR: Tell us a story about creative first dance choreography.

T:  The most creative first dance choreography I ever DJ’ed was a medley of eight different dance songs that spanned five decades of music. I cut about 15 seconds of each song and they created a theme-appropriate dance for each song, with props. It was impressive!

CR: What is the sweetest song you have played for a father/daughter dance?

T: Whenever I play I Loved Her First by Heartland or My Little Girl by Tim McGraw for the father/daughter dance at a wedding, I get tears in my eyes.

CR: What songs or artists do you suggest for dinner time?

T: For a venue like Casa Romantica, I suggest songs by Michael Bublé, Frank Sinatra, or Jason Mraz — just easy ‘adult contemporary.’  I also mix in some mid-tempo songs like music by Bruno Mars. I suggest starting dinnertime with mellow music, and I build the energy as the dancing hour approaches.

CR: How do guests’ song requests work?

T: I have 4 decks of tracks ready at any wedding, which are the songs that the bride and groom chose, additional songs I choose based on the bride’s and groom’s preferences, what the guests request, and an open deck. I play to please the crowd, but my loyalty always remains with the bride and groom. I once had a bride instruct me, “No matter what, do not play the Electric Slide.  My mom is going to request it, but we do not want that song at our wedding.” Sure enough, the mother of the bride requested The Electric Slide at the reception and I told her, “It’s your daughter’s day and she has strictly told me not to play this song.” The mother and a couple of her friends were disappointed, but I honor my clients’ vision for their day.

CR: How do you choose music for guests to conclude their evening with?

T: I ask my clients how they want to go out — they often want to sing their way out, dance their way out, or rock their way out— and I choose a song that fits best for their choice. I always follow the venue’s policies regarding conclusion time. For instance, Casa Romantica must conclude events by 10:00pm, so at 9:50pm, I announce to guests that there are only a couple more songs before the event ends. I tour every venue I work prior to the event to know where any ‘hot spots’ are for guest activity, so that I can reach everyone when it is time to leave.

CR: What do you do if the bride and groom have eclectic taste in music?

T: Weddings should reflect your personal taste, but your music also has to appeal to your guests. During the reception, people typically like what they can dance and sing to. Choose songs that a wide variety of people know, and choose A-side hits, not B-sides. For example, Justin Timberlake has two main hits that are guaranteed to get everyone on the dance floor. Play any other song by him, however good it might be, and nobody will dance (unless they’re a diehard fan like me).

CR: Last question: Top 5 dance songs!

T:

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake

Pretty Young Thing by Michael Jackson

Happy by Pharrell Williams

24K Magic by Bruno Mars

Special thanks to DJ Todd of Epic Sound and Lighting for his advice, and for his service as a Preferred Vendor at Casa Romantica for over seven years.

For recommendations about choosing vendors that fit your event perfectly, please contact the Private Events team at Casa Romantica: events@casaromantica.org. We look forward to hearing from you!