12 Songs to Play Instead of the "Usual" Wedding DJ Requests

An oldie – or a goodie? Sure, a song can be both. The “usual wedding songs” got that way for a reason – guests know ‘em, guests like ‘em, and at least some of your guests will usually get up and dance to ‘em. But that doesn’t mean you have to play ‘em.

In three hours of dancing, you’ll have time for around 50 songs. There’s plenty of music for your DJ to lean on without resorting to “YMCA.” If you’re the type of couple who wants to keep it unpredictable – or, like us, you prefer to keep the cheeseball moments to a minimum – then consider these suggestions from some of our top DJs.

DJ Kelvon Fluellen

1. Skip “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang. Instead, get the party started with “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins or "Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown for a dose of old-school soul.

2. If you dig disco but hate “YMCA”, “Shake Your Booty” by KC & the Sunshine Band will get the job done without the crazy motions.


DJ Stephanie Policarpio

3. “The Electric Slide"has been filling floors since 1976. For a contemporary take on the line dance, opt for "Cupid Shuffle" instead.

4. If there are a lot of kids at your wedding, it’s nice to do something for them – but a lot of couples draw the line at "The Chicken Dance" or "The Hokey Pokey." Throw in a Disney song for the kids instead – "Let it Go" works if you can stand to hear it one more time, and "You've Got a Friend" from Toy Story doubles as an acceptable slowdance for the grownups.

5. For dinner music, instead of the typical Sinatra mix, try playing some current hits in an instrumental setting. I like the recordings of "Vitamin String Quartet” – or, when live music’s in your budget, Backthird’s very own Gemini Strings trio.

DJ Vince Gargaro

6. We’ve all heard the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” about a million times. It works because it's transcended the clubs - even older guests know it. An alternative megahit like Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk or Walk the Moon's Shut Up and Dance will scratch that same itch.

7. When it’s time to cut the cake, the Archies’ "Sugar Sugar" is an obvious choice. For something off the beaten path, I like Adam Sandler’s “I Wanna Grow Old With You.”

8. During dinner, a lot of DJs do the Sinatra thing. If you want to stick with jazz, vary it up with Michael Buble or selections from Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook.”

DJ Keaton Michael

9. For cake cutting, I like The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” instead of The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.” Same joke; modern sound.

10. When it’s time for the garter toss, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” is a typical choice. Consider Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” instead.

11. Opening up a dance floor for the first time is tricky - a lot of DJs like to start old school with The Beatles or some Jackson 5. But sometimes I love dipping right into the '80s with Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True". It's a feel-good song that every generation can dig - and it lets your guests know that we're not getting stuck in any one era tonight.

12. If you’re not hiring live musicians for cocktail hour, it’s a good time to play music you like that isn’t so suited for dancing. We've played Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Over the Rhine and Chicago band Company of Thieves during this time.


Want more wisdom from our DJs? Meet one in person - and find out if her or she is the DJ for you.