Orlando truly is a magical place to tie the knot for couples looking to recreate a fairytale.
Disney fans to the core with plans to honeymoon at the Magic Kingdom, Sophia and Garrett chose Eagle Creek Golf Club near the city’s trendy Lake Nona district to host their dream destination wedding because it afforded them the opportunity to indulge their guests with the City Beautiful’s world-class amenities while staying just a hop and skip from the airport, sparing folks from having to navigate the busy tourist district—a win-win!
“Energetic” and “fun” and “memorable” topped the list of adjectives used by the bride and groom to describe their vision for their big day. They were a younger couple and expected a dancing crowd, and so, favored a a high-energy and interactive DJ to get things amped on the dance floor.
At the same time, they desired to keep the vibe classy and elegant throughout. Energetic and elegant are not mutually exclusive after all! Indeed, the groom and his men were donning tuxedos; however, it was not a “formal” affair per se since guests were not required to hew to a black-tie dress code. Being rather easygoing, Sophia and Garrett were cool with me dressing “sharp.” At Amplify, we don’t do the shiny vest thing because it’s dated and tacky. For me, then, dressing better than “casual” but lesser than “formal” usually means some combination of nice slacks and a dinner jacket accented by an eye-catching bowtie matching the wedding’s color scheme. That said, it's practically a requirement for a classically trained violinist to own a tailored modern tux. Upon my mentioning it, the bride and groom were in agreement: wear it!
As guests gathered to witness Sophia and Garrett exchange their vows on the gently rolling green of the golf course, instrumental “tribute” covers of popular songs by Vitamin String Quartet lent the occasion a classical and posh, yet unpretentious, vibe. Think Bridgerton.
For cocktail hour out on the clubhouse’s veranda, the soundtrack shifted to classic crooner jazz such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald interspersed with more modern vocalists like Van Morrison and Adele to keep the atmosphere upscale without being too stodgy.
The reception was held inside, in an octagonal ballroom, with a splendid view of Eagle Creek Golf Course. As usual, I made sure to personally line up the newlyweds and their wedding party for their official introductions and double-checked my pronunciation of everybody’s names before getting on the mic. After all, there ain’t much worse than for your emcee to flub the names of VIPs in front of everybody! Very hyped-up songs tend to work best for intros—making the couple’s selection of Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo Rida an excellent choice!
Some couples do their first dance as husband and wife right after being introduced before dinner, others do it afterwards just before the DJ opens the dance floor to all, there are no set rules. Sophia and Garrett chose to segue straight into their first dance, Dressed Up in White by Cal, after intros. Afterwards, the grandfather of the groom, who also officiated, gave a blessing on the food.
As folks enjoyed a multiple-course plated dinner, I provided a soft and jazzy soundtrack culled mostly from the Vintage Chic collection—a compilation, updated yearly, of romantic and sensual covers of popular songs that I find ideal for background music during cocktail hour and/or dinner not just at weddings, but any event where a swanky and sophisticated, yet still unpretentious and fun, mood is desired. The bride and groom had requested that I play '80s and '90s pop, along with modern country, for their dance party, so for the dinner soundtrack, I curated a playlist of hit songs from those genres done in the style of Vintage Chic. I also mixed in a few songs from the bride’s and groom’s “Must Play” list that they’d submitted via Spotify playlist, especially the tracks too slow to get the dance floor lit later in the evening.
As folks wrapped up their dinner and waited for the bride and groom to return from taking sunset portraits, in addition to my ongoing announcements to sign their guestbook, come claim a lost phone, and whatnot, I informed the guests about Hey DJ DJ that would easily let them make song requests straight from their phones. Soon enough, the requests poured in. To my surprise, most of the requests were not for country nor even Top 40, but Latin music: Bad Bunny, Shakira, salsa, bachata, you name it! As it turned out, the bride’s side of the family included many Hispanics. And so it was time to rock the dance floor!
More an art than a science, the rocking of a dance floor cannot be guaranteed via a cookie-cutter approach or set playlist. Even if two events seem very similar on paper, what’s worked in the past will not always work in the future. Some DJs will try to claim that they know better and have a formula for success that “always” works if imposed on an audience—these tend to be the cringiest DJs of all! That is why, in addition to practice and preparation, reading a room is vital. This is especially true at weddings where guests of different ages and backgrounds with very different ideas of what is “good” dance music converge, and even more so when it’s as culturally diverse as Sophia’s and Garrett’s. This helps explain why so many DJs do indeed take a one-size-fits-all approach to weddings, favoring what they believe to be a “safe” (not to mention quite boring) middle-ground of songs that don't really move the needle on energy or excitement, but are technically danceable. We don't want an average dance floor, but a lit dance floor!
We ended up playing everything from country (a favorite genre of the groom's family) and Latin (a favorite genre of the bride's family) to singalong crowd pleasers from the '80s and '90s, such as Bye Bye Bye and I Wanna Dance with Somebody (favorites of all of the guests!) and closed it out with a bang! It was a fun challenge bringing together such a diverse crowd that didn't have the same musical background. Case in point: every crowd is different, therefore each playlist is built from scratch and evolves throughout the evening as we read the crowd.
In the end, I, along with all their guests, cleared the ballroom as Sophia and Garrett shared a private last dance (do it!) to Heaven by Jason Aldean, allowing them a moment just for themselves so they could truly soak in the magic of the occasion before retiring to their honeymoon suite after a fairytale of a wedding day!