Song tips: The first dance

Song tips: The first dance

I’m often asked about the first dance during my consultation with clients. Here are some of my ideas on selecting the perfect first dance song. For most wedding receptions, this is the most important moment and often couples find it difficult to choose a track. We’ve got some creative tips to share with you – read on!

(This blog post first appeared on the Ivory Tribe blog – click here to view).

Where should a couple start when it comes to selecting a song for their first dance?

Choosing a song you both like is better than compromising, so have a discussion about songs you both like first. (Having said that, compromise is achievable – we’ll cover this a bit later).

Think about songs that were meaningful to you both when you first got together – not necessarily what was popular at the time, but songs of significance, e.g. from a movie or early memories of the relationship.

Some couples prefer to select lyrics of significance – that might be a good place to start. Even if it’s an upbeat song, there are always broken down (i.e. acoustic) versions to consider.

Boyce Avenue are well known for their versions of popular love songs. Check them out on YouTube and Spotify – always great tools for research and inspiration.

How on earth do you select a song if you have totally different music tastes from your partner?

Because there are so many different versions of songs and covers, it’s possible to come up with something both parties like – for examples, check out Triple J’s “Like a Version” albums where popular artists cover well-known songs in a unique style.

Don’t forget – not all first dances need to be slow waltzes. Increasingly we’re seeing couples choose more upbeat songs that have a special significance to them.

What if a couple like a song, but the lyrics are not romantic, would you suggest not choosing it?

Not at all – this is about the couple, not the guests! If a song means something to a couple, they should go for it. The song may have been chosen because of an inside joke that the guests are not privy to, or it’s a song they heard repeatedly on a recent holiday.

An example of a song that sounds romantic and dreamy but has un-romantic lyrics is Bon Iver’s Skinny Love.

How can you make the music you choose for your first dance stand out from the crowd?

It’s about making a selection that’s unique to you, which is where our tips about selecting cover songs are handy. If you want to stand out, try not to select a recent top 40 song as these get overused, e.g. All Of Me – John Legend or Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran.

However, if you do want to choose a recent chart topper and still stand out from the crowd, consider booking a live acoustic singer/guitarist to perform your song instead of the DJ playing it.

For those that are traditionalists, can you share with us some songs that best suit their first dance?

  • At Last – Etta James

  • Your Song – Elton John

  • The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra

  • L.O.V.E – Nat King Cole

  • Stand By Me – Ben E. King.

For those looking for something modern, what songs would you recommend?

  • How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

  • XO – John Mayer

  • A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

  • Everything – Michael Bublé

  • Tenerife Sea – Ed Sheeran.

What are some songs that you have heard recently used for the first dance that haven’t been done to death?

  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine. This one is interesting because it starts off slow but builds up, so you can get the dance floor started halfway through the song.

  • Catch & Release (Deepend Remix) – Matt Simons. This song is great at a tropically inspired wedding.

  • Believe it or not… Praise You by Fatboy Slim is a really unique and fun choice.

Generally after the first dance, the rest of the guests are supposed to join in and start the party, what are some top tips for making this happen seamlessly? (ie – avoid having the couple frantically waving at guests to join in).

Get your DJ to play a mashup of an acoustic version of a song for your first dance, followed immediately by the original to get people dancing (e.g. Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis, mixed into the UB40 version).

Brief the bridal party beforehand to get up onto the dance floor at an agreed time (it depends on the couple – some only want the spotlight for a part of the song, after which the guests can join in).

Another tip is to add a saxophonist, percussionist or live vocalist to your DJ to signify the start of the party!

Any tips for those couples that have two left feet, but would still like to share a first dance?

Based on our experience, it’s about the couple sharing a moment before the party begins, and not about the dancing.

In fact, choreographed dances often mean couples are preoccupied and concerned with getting the steps right, rather than enjoying this key moment of the wedding.

If you’re concerned about your dancing, keep it really simple, and brief the DJ to start mixing into a new song after a minute or so, and get those guests on the dance floor!



A wedding is one of the most important and special days of your life. You have been planning for months, and want everything to go perfectly.

I am surprised at how many times brides and grooms underestimate the impact that music has on your big day.

In this blog post I’ve put together key tips for briefing your DJ to ensure that they play music you personally love, get the sound right and have the dance floor pumping!

Communicate about the music and sound

Key songs - these are the tracks to be played during your entrance, bridal waltz, farewell, and at any other key points during the wedding

Music requests and do-not-play tracks – for requests, you can go as broad or specific as you like (i.e. from genres through to particular artists and tracks), but make sure you clearly communicate any songs that must be played, and any you don’t want played

The type of background music you'd like -  this important as it sets the mood for the whole night. If you’re not sure, your DJ will be able to advise

Ask your DJ about the set up required – this is important to ensure the best possible sound. As a general rule, if you have over 150 guests, your DJ should be using sub woofers.

Talk about your guest demographic

Give your DJ a good rundown of who will be at your wedding - ages, type of guests (family to friends ratio), etc

Let them know how many guests will be attending – as every person absorbs some of the sound, this is a key piece of information for the DJ in arranging their set up

Discuss whether it is likely to be a party crowd or more of a chilled vibe – this will give your DJ a good idea of how to build the night (and the dance floor!).

Provide details of the order of events and floor plan

This is important for the DJ to know what music to play when, timings of key events like speeches, etc. You should not have to cue your DJ on the day; it is for you to enjoy!

Floor plan is very important for sound - many DJs get this wrong (if you haven’t guessed by now, sound is extremely important and more often than not, overlooked; this can have a huge effect on the night)

Put them in touch with the venue manager

During the week leading up to the big day, your DJ should get in touch with the venue to confirm equipment set up times and provide insurance information

They should discuss the set up and positioning of the speaker/s (I’m talking about sound again - getting it yet?) and make any additional arrangements that are required.

Make time to speak to your DJ the week of your wedding day

Run through all of your key songs, order of events and any other important arrangements, such as who will be your MC

Communicate any last minute changes and requests.

It is always best to confirm the key points from each of your discussions in writing (even if in bullet points) to ensure there is no confusion and everything runs smoothly. After all, it’s one of the biggest days of your life! :)



Planning a wedding can be overwhelming with so many bits and pieces to organise, family members to deal with and unexpected costs adding to the stress.

Luckily, if you choose the right wedding DJ, that’s one less thing to worry about – and it will make all the difference on the day when everyone is having a good time at the reception!

Below I’ve put together a list of questions you should consider when shopping around for a DJ:

Is the DJ professional? 

Are they serious about their work? Have they invested time and money into their photography, website and other marketing materials? Do they write/share useful content that shows they know their art?

Does the DJ specialise in any particular type of gigs?

It’s ok for a DJ to have a broad range of experience, but you want to make sure they have a proven track record in playing at weddings. A wedding gig is very different to a techno rave!

What are they like in person?

 Are they personable, trustworthy and approachable? You want someone who will be able to interact with your guests and the venue and be willing to step in to help should something go wrong.  

Do they have testimonials?

Check their website, Google and Facebook for reviews of the DJ’s work, or ask for testimonials/ references. Another good idea is to reach out to your network when making your shortlist for DJ recommendations.

How do they present themselves?

Are they well-groomed, stylish and presentable? Do they match the vibe you’d like at your wedding reception (both in terms of personality and appearance)?

What equipment do they use?

Ask the DJ to email details of their set up to you, including the brands they use, and show them to a friend that is clued on about sound/ PA. Getting the sound right is very important!

Do they have insurance?

Ask them for a copy of their professional indemnity insurance certificate. The wedding venue will request it anyway, but you should also ask for a copy.

Are they within your budget?

Make sure you get quotes from a few different DJs (at least three) - cheapest is not the best! Factor into your pricing the consultation that occurs before (meeting face-to-face one or two times), playlist creation, song purchases, etc.

Have you checked out their social media accounts?

You should take the same approach as if you were hiring an employee. Check out their social media accounts and compare it to their website – everything should be consistent. You want someone who is reliable and trustworthy.

Are they accommodating of your needs?

Make sure the DJ you select is flexible and accommodating to your needs, yet confident in making best practice recommendations.

Are they proactive?

The DJ should be proactive in contacting and visiting the wedding venue if they’ve not played there before, to ensure they get the set up right. If there any issues with set up, they should be able to offer solutions to the venue and you, the client!

With these tips, you should be confident that your wedding DJ choice is the right one for your big day.

3 tips for planning YOUR EOFY party

3 tips for planning YOUR EOFY party

It’s been a busy six months, it’s the middle of winter and everyone is ready to let their hair down.

Here are three simple tips for event managers organising their company’s EOFY event to guarantee you get to enjoy the night too!

1.     Winter is here… Choose the right venue

It’s cold outside so it may seem obvious, but pick a venue that will keep your guests warm and comfortable (while still keeping the smokers happy). Keep the open rooftop bars for your end-of-year do.

Some venues do have cold weather alternatives such as marquees, or very good outdoor gas heaters, so make sure you communicate with your venue contact and find out what options you have.

2.     Consider unique entertainment options

You and your colleagues have been working hard and it’s only halfway through the calendar year, so treat them (and yourself) with something unique!

Rather than blowing your budget on a professional singer or full band (you’ll need some cash left over for your end-of-year party), consider bringing in a live element such as percussion or saxophone to add a unique flavour to your event. Your DJ should be able to recommend musicians s/he regularly works with.   

3.     Brief your DJ!

In the mad rush to meet end-of-financial year deadlines, it’s easy to neglect the important brief for your DJ.

A good DJ will know what questions to ask you to get a good feel for the sort of music you do and don’t want played on the night. You should only need half an hour over the phone to do this – your guests will be very grateful and it will be well worth it on the night!

I have played at a number of fun EOFY events in some great Melbourne venues and would love to play for yours. Get in touch!