5 Steps to a Wedding Playlist All Your Guests Will Get Down To

Have no clue what to spin for a group aged seven to seventy? New York-based event producer, designer, author, and Martha Stewart Weddings contributor David Stark caught up with Alec DeRuggiero, music supervisor at Gray V, for his top tips for creating a soundtrack that hits all the right notes.

Photography by: Taylor Lord

Know Your Audience

Although this is your wedding and your musical tastes should be taken into consideration, at the end of the day, you just want to throw a great party. If you’re expecting a wide variety of ages, mix it up by playing a tune from your grandparents’ musical era. Also, most people don’t want to hear a single style of music all night long. The more eclectic you can be, the better—to a degree. Ella Fitzgerald, Jay-Z, and Metallica may sound crazy on the same playlist.


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Match the Mood to the Music

Ensure that the energy of the playlist fits with both the style of the event—and the timing of the evening. During a seated dinner, the latest Calvin Harris dance track is probably not appropriate. When everyone hits the dance floor, it would be. You also want to make sure that nothing is ever too slow. Get people on their feet with well-loved, recognizable tracks, avoiding drastic changes in energy from song to song.


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Source Your Song Material

If you get stuck and can’t think of any other songs to use, explore new tracks similar to what you already love. Check out the “Listeners Also Bought” section in iTunes and the “Related Artists” section on Spotify to discover similar singers and bands that work with what you’re already using.


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Test-Drive Before the Big Day

It is critical to listen to your playlist from start to finish before using it for your event. One of your songs may have five minutes of empty silence tacked on to the end. And make sure you pay attention to the lyrics. Songs about breakups and affairs, as well as overly suggestive lyrics and bad language are definitely not ideal.


Remember: Quality Is Key

There are a few ways to take your playlist to the next level and make it much more professional-sounding. Avoid volume fluctuation, which can be a big problem when you’re using a mix of old and new songs. There are several different normalization apps, like LouderLogic, that can help. When adding a song recorded before 1970 to your playlist, try to find a remastered version, which will sound cleaner than the original. Whenever possible, make a smooth transition between songs by using an app like Crossfader or My DJ.


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About the Author

David Stark

David Stark is a renowned New York-based event producer, designer, and five-time author, as well as president and creative director of David Stark Design and Production, a full-service event design and planning firm. David and his team are celebrated for the inventive, imaginative weddings they create globally for a wide range of high-wattage celebrity, society, and fashion clientele...


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