There will be a time in the life and career of every single wedding DJ, where no matter what you try, people just won’t dance, or have stopped dancing.
It might not be a reflection on you as a DJ, after all, it’s not always your fault that people won’t dance, or have left the dancefloor, because sometimes there can be external factors at play.
For example, I was DJ’ing at one particular wedding when a fight broke out on the dancefloor. As you can probably imagine, people were in shock, there were tears, arguing, and lots of very upset people in the venue.
Once the scenes had been brought under control, and the guilty parties ejected, it took me 20 minutes to get people back dancing on the dancefloor.
Admittedly it took me a while to coax people back into the swing of things, but there were a couple of tricks that I used that night, all of which and more I am going to tell you more about below.
12 Tips on How to Get People Dancing at a Wedding
Since that day I’ve widened by repertoire of tactics to get people dancing at a wedding, and I am now going to share those with you below.
I hope you find them helpful as I am pretty sure that if you use these tactics you will never have the situation of prolonged periods of no dancing at your wedding DJ gig.
Tip 1: The First Dance is the Blueprint for Your Entire Evening
The first dance will be the best opportunity you will have to get people up and dancing at the wedding. Get this right, and it could be the blueprint for the rest of a successful evening.
So how do I do it?
Once you have the couple dancing for their first song, wait about half way through, and then start inviting other guests and couples up to join in.
Towards the end of the first track, cue up an up-tempo popular faster song that is guaranteed to get the party started.
Drop this in, get the beats per minute raised, and you should keep those people that joined the couple for the first dance on the floor, and get other people dragged up into the crowd.
Tip 2: Keep the Happy Couple on the Dancefloor and Guests Will Follow
One of the main reasons that people won’t be dancing at a wedding is if the happy couple aren’t on the dancefloor.
Every wedding I have ever been to has seen the bride and groom surrounded by people all night. So it makes sense that if you can get them on the dancefloor then the guests should follow.
As a general rule of thumb, guests pay attention to where the couple are; so your job as the wedding DJ is to try and keep them dancing for as long as possible. This will help to create a far busier dancefloor.
How do you do that?
Plenty of vocal interaction with the couple, taking their requests (and you should do this in advance), and playing fun tunes that reflect who they are as a couple. If you’ve prepared properly for their wedding day this should be easy enough.
Tip 3: Trick the Wedding Guests with a Group Photo Opportunity
If at after the first dance you still aren’t getting people up and dancing then a classic trick or hack I’ve used is a group photo opportunity.
It’s a great way to get shy guests on the dancefloor, and is simple to do – you can either do it yourself with your own smartphone camera, or get the wedding photographer in on the game.
All you do is reel them in by announcing that the bride and groom have asked for a group wedding photo on the dancefloor.
Once the photo has been taken (with the couple in front), drop in a fun and up-tempo party track to keep them there and to get them moving.
It honestly works every time; without fail.
Tip 4: Engage and Interact with the Wedding Guests
The best wedding DJs can revive a dead dancefloor with a little audience interaction. But the trick is to not leave it until this point, as it could be too late, and take even more time to get people back.
My advice is to be really interactive as much as possible.
In the past I’ve moved onto the dancefloor amongst the guests with my wireless mic, got them singing along, and even danced with some of them.
Yes, it’s hard work, and you need the confidence to do it, but it’s what guests expect at a wedding and is one of the best ways in which you can engage with the crowd and keep them interested.
Tip 5: Keep Things Fresh and Don’t Play Too Many Slow Songs in a Row
It’s a fact of human nature that slow and romantic songs can leave people feeling embarrassed and self-conscious.
We’ve all seen weddings where it’s like the parting of the Red Sea when a slow number comes on – so keep it to a minimum if possible.
Slow and romantic songs are essential at a wedding, but don’t play too many at once in a row. The trick is to keep things fresh and mixed up, with perhaps only one at a time.
Every single wedding that I have DJ’d at has seen the faster party tunes produce the busiest dancefloors with most people participating. Those types of tunes will keep people dancing, so don’t go overboard with the slow ones.
Tip 6: Have Your Secret Weapon Songs Ready and Use Them Wisely
As a wedding DJ, you should know what tracks are the real big hitters when it comes to getting the party rocking.
Have a list of wedding tunes ready that you know always work a treat, but make the rule to yourself that you will only ever drop these records as and when the crowd needs lifting – or you need feet back on the dancefloor quick.
The key here is to not be influenced by what you think are great tunes.
Just because you hate “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, doesn’t mean it won’t spark life back into the wedding party.
If you are looking for a list of the best wedding songs to play, then Google it. There are some timeless classics, but my playlists change every few months due to new hits in the charts so that list will be evolving all the time.
After a few weddings you should get a really good feel for what works, and what doesn’t.
Tip 7: Play Records That You Know the Women and Girls Will Like
Without wanting to sound sexist, I always focus the records I play on the females. You will have probably seen this yourself, but at weddings it always seems to be the women that dance first and who have the least inhibitions.
When the girls get up on the dancefloor the men will tend to follow. This is particularly true if there are hot women at the wedding, and single guys who will want to get up and impress them.
Use your experience of DJ’ing at weddings, or just your experience of having been to weddings in the past to have a selection of records that you know the ladies will like.
Tip 8: Create a Scenario Where Guests Feel Obliged to the Bride and Groom
It’s the bride and groom’s wedding day. If it’s them getting the guests up onto the dancefloor then who is going to refuse them?
Not sure what I mean?
Take a look at this video where a UK wedding DJ has a great tactic in getting people up onto the dancefloor. It’s very creative, and lets him effortless line-up a wedding song classic at the same time; The Love Train by the O’Jays.
Check out how he does it below;
As you can see, he gets on the mic, and gives the following commands to the wedding crowd:
“Come on people, why aren’t you dancing? Here’s what we’re going to do. I need you to grab the hand of the person next to you and stand up. We’re going to play a song where our bride and groom are going to come around the room and bring everyone to the dancefloor. You can’t refuse them as it’s their special day! They are going to form a train, and come around the room collecting you all! Everyone come and join the love train and join the back.”
I’ve used a similar tactic, and it works like a charm.
Tip 9: Adapt to the Dancefloor That You See in Front of You
I believe that DJ’ing at a wedding should be just like a big club or festival gig. It should be a progression where you as a DJ watch the crowd, and react to them and how they are dancing.
The best DJs in the world aren’t the ones that play the records they think the crowd will like, but the ones who play the records they know the crowd will like and are working on that night.
As an example, are you getting better reactions from high-tempo dance music classics, or from latin beats?
Sometimes you can second guess a lot of this stuff by seeing who your crowd is and the demographic during the night, but most of the time it’s simply a case of reacting to how they react to the music, and adapting your DJ set to suit.
Pre-planned wedding DJ sets never work in my experience.
Tip 10: Prepare Some Fun Competitions or Games
If you are still struggling to get people dancing then it might be an good idea to get the guests playing some fun games or engaging in a competition.
This is one way in which you can get people back on the dancefloor, and then keep them there with some uplifting tunes once the game or competition is over.
I’ve put a list of some wedding party games and competitions that DJs can use to really get the dancefloor moving.
Tip 11: Be Prepared to Take Song Requests (But Tactically)
Wedding DJs will be inundated with people asking for requests all night long. But the trick is not to take every single one.
If you are approached by a group of 6 girls who have asked for the latest Beyoncé track, but it doesn’t fit into your own plans, then ditch your plans and play it!
Once you get that group of girls dancing who asked for a particular tune, you can almost guarantee that other guests will join them on the dancefloor, even if you do think the record is a complete turkey.
Tip 12: Don’t Interrupt the Flow of the Dancefloor Party
I’ve DJ’d at a wedding before where the bride and groom requested that the cake be cut later in the evening. I told them that I didn’t recommend this, as it would mean stopping the music and the flow of the evening. I knew it was going to be hard to get people back on the dancefloor afterwards.
I was right.
From that day on I promised myself that I would always recommend that things like this are not planned to interrupt the flow of the evening, because it can kill the dancefloor completely.
When planning timings of events with your couple, keep this tip in mind as it could save you a lot of time in trying to get people dancing again at the wedding party.
Explain carefully and politely to the bride and groom why you believe this isn’t a good idea.
Wedding DJ gigs are all about getting people dancing and keeping them happy.
You should be prepared at all times, know what to expect, and have spent some time with the couple in advance of the wedding so that you know their preferences.
By using the tips above, you should be able to rescue even the deadest of dancefloors at a wedding, and be guaranteed to get people up and dancing.
Not only that, but your success as a wedding DJ could even lead to you charging more money!
Get into the mind of your crowd, don’t be afraid to get involved with them, and always spring something unexpected on them that’s going to get them dancing again.