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How to DJ: Open or Opening the dance floor with the best or perfect song or music at a wedding reception.

Updated on December 29, 2012

Opening the dance floor at a wedding reception can be a stressful time for any disc jockey, especially an inexperienced one. This is the time when all eyes are on the dj, instead of the bride and groom, wondering if he or she will send the guests to the dance floor or to their homes. It is during the first few songs of an open dance floor, where the guests and the disc jockey get to know each other and determine if the party will be fabulous or a failure. There are four specific parts to opening a reception dance floor that have the ability to make or break the party. What are these four parts? They are when to open , what to say , what to play and what’s next .

Guests dancing at wedding

Opening the dance floor at a wedding reception requires forethought, music knowledge and the ability to read a crowd.
Opening the dance floor at a wedding reception requires forethought, music knowledge and the ability to read a crowd. | Source

When to open?

When to open the dance floor should be discussed with the bride and groom before the day of the event. A few years ago, professional disc jockeys met with the bridal couple in advance to discuss music choices, timelines and preferences. This is still an excellent option, but in today’s internet world, many disc jockeys provide the bride and groom with an online questionnaire asking the same questions they would in a face-to-face meeting. When to open the dance floor needs to be one of those questions.

The dance floor should be opened whenever the bride and groom want it to be. However, there are a few traditional times that work remarkably well; such as, after the formal dances or the cake cutting. A great time to open the dance floor is in the middle of the wedding party dance, literally. Half-way through the wedding party dance, announce the dance floor is open to all guests. This will signal the wedding party to leave the dance floor and bring wedding guests to the dance floor. This, of course, should be pre-arranged and with approval of the bride and groom.

What to say?

The old saying “silence is golden” can work well at this time. If the wedding guests are restless, and have already been requesting dance music, just putting on a spectacular dance tune should be all that is required. Other times it is best to announce when the dance floor is open. I always said something to the effect of: “Hello, I am Susie Q with Entertainment Solutions. Our dance floor is now open, and we are open for requests. Come on up and tell us what you would like to dance to.” Then hit them with an awesome dance song. If a slow song is to be played, invite the guests to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, for example, “Jane and Bill would like all guests to join them on the dance floor for the opening dance.

What to play?

As with when to open the dance floor, it is best to get the bride and groom’s advice on this matter. Adding the question to an online or paper questionnaire will often help with this. A few questions that will assist with this decision are finding out what the bride and groom expect as far as how much dancing there will be; the age range of the guests; and the different genres of music to be played.

If the bride and groom do not provide a specific song, a disc jockey must rely on his or her ability to “read the crowd” and music knowledge. This is exceedingly difficult to teach and is gained primarily through experience and trial and error. A few things to keep in mind, though, is to play to the generation that makes up most of the guests; older people, typically, will get up first to dance and will leave early; and group or line dances almost always work.

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What’s next?

The dance floor is rocking, and all the guests are enjoying themselves with the opening song. What now? The best thing to do is keep the momentum going by playing a song within the same genre of the one that worked. Keep in mind though that wedding receptions have a variety of guests and energy levels. Unless the reception has an extremely large portion of similar-aged people or guests who enjoy the same type of music, it is critical to switch the music every few songs by choosing a different genre or tempo. This will keep two things from happening. One, the guests will not get worn out before the evening is over. Two, those who enjoy a different genre of music will not be left out.


The opening song can make or break the dancing portion of any wedding reception. With careful planning, though, it can be as easy as hitting play on your music source. Remember to ask before the big day, listen to the bride, groom and their guests, and trust your own instincts. Finally, always keep that dance floor rocking.

Thank you for reading. Dusty Snoke spent 14 years growing two disc jockey companies from small one system companies to 12 events a night in multiple states companies. During this time, she continued to perform as a disc jockey and emcee.


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