Creating a "Do Not Play" list for your DJ or Band

Keep the wedding party going with music all of your guests will enjoy

By Trisha Berendt

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The wrong song can kill a wedding reception. The guests could have been having the time of their lives, but as soon as "The Macarena" or "Achy Breaky Heart" came on, the dance floor cleared. Create a "Do Not Play" list to give to your band or DJ to avoid any embarrassing music moments that can turn an otherwise great reception into a failure.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Start thinking about your "Do Not Play" list well before your wedding day. If you wait until close to the wedding, you may not think of everything you want the DJ or band to avoid. Keep a notebook or scratch paper with you so you can add to it whenever you think of a song to avoid.
  • Your "Do Not Play" list should be limited to fewer than ten songs.

Step 1:

Ask the band or DJ about the kind of music that he plays at wedding receptions. This way, you can get a feel for what they play, and they can get an idea of what you like. If you hate country music, let them know so they can tailor the song list to your tastes. Ask what the policy is regarding a "Do Not Play" list.

Step 2:

Consider your guests when adding songs to your list. Just because you might not like a song doesn't mean your guests feel the same way. Reception guests often request songs from the DJ and may ask for one you blacklisted. For instance, although it's cliche to play "The Electric Slide," guests love dancing to it at wedding receptions. Leave off songs from your "Do Not Play" list you know people will want to hear.

Step 3:

Add songs to the "Do Not Play" list that have a negative meaning. If a song offends you or doesn't seem appropriate for a wedding, add it to the list. This could include songs about marriages that fall apart or cheating spouses. Also consider the songs you thought of as special in previous romantic relationships that won't be appropriate at this wedding.

Step 4:

Trust your DJ to create a fun experience for your wedding. Try to give her a limited "Do Not Play" list with only the songs that you know you absolutely don't want played at the reception. Experienced DJs can get a good idea of what you don't want from this list. Long "Do Not Play" lists of hundreds of songs can insult a seasoned DJ.

Step 5:

Set a time to discuss each item on your "Do Not Play" list with the band or DJ. They may make a good case for you to change your mind about certain songs. For example, you may dread "YMCA," but it might be part of their show-stopping disco medley that's a sure crowd-pleaser.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Interviewing your band and DJ beforehand. Chances are their experience and expertise will inform your "Do Not Play" list even more than your personal preferences.
  • When discussing song listings with your band or DJ, concentrate on the songs you want them to play more than the songs you don't want them to play.
  • Do some research, and ask around about the musicians or disc jockey you're thinking about hiring. Find out what other people's experiences have been with that particular entertainer.

About the Author

Trisha Berendt is a freelance writer and professional wedding photographer.

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Planning Reminder:

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Select reception music

Play a little something for everyone. Young and old alike enjoy dancing to the oldies. And throw in some nostalgic tunes for you and your friends, such as a top song from the year you graduated from high school. You may even want to set up a space on your website for song requests and compose a playlist from that.

View your wedding checklist!


Wedding Glossary


A style of music that traditionally involves many musicians and incorporates horn instruments and vocalists. Popular in the '30s and '40s.

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