Columbus emcees share insider advice for working with your DJ, creating a memorable playlist and getting people on the floor.

When it comes to the wedding reception, one detail stands out above all others: the music. Guests and newlyweds alike remember the music best because it sets the tone for the entire evening-from the cocktail hour to post-dinner dancing. We talked with three Columbus-area DJs to get their input on how to make your evening unforgettable.

Emmy Beach, The Goody Two Shoes

In a unique twist on typical DJ services, Beach uses music app Spotify to collaboratively create and share playlists with couples.

What's your personal style?

I'm a big indie music fan. But when I'm looking at music for an event, I like to encapsulate a lot of different genres, because I know there are different types of music lovers in the room. So, for a reception of friends and family, I'll start with some Motown or soul, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations. Al Green. And then I'll start filtering in more contemporary stuff.

Any suggestions for a song that always works?

To get everyone dancing, from your grandma to your 6-year-old nephew, everybody really comes to the dance floor for "Shout" by the Isley Brothers.

As a DJ, do you have any pet peeves you warn brides to avoid?

It's tough when a bride doesn't have a plan for the day of the reception. I really don't like coming up and bothering the bride the day of to find out when she wants to do her first dance. I think a lot of brides don't realize how important it is to have a little bit of structure.

What about brides who know exactly what they want to hear?

I love when brides have a lot of say over the playlist. I love Spotify because it's such an interactive tool to help in the planning process. And everybody can use it; it's a really, really user-friendly tool.

It sounds like you try to provide a personalized, individual experience.

I do. I absolutely do. I've had a lot of experience. We've all been to a ton of weddings and have heard great DJs and awful DJs. And I really dislike the control-freak kind of attitude: "Oh, I know what's right for your guests. I know what's right for your wedding." That's not true at all! [The bride and groom] know what's right for them.

Any words of advice for couples?

Take your time and really, really think about exactly what you want. And if you do choose a DJ, make sure you communicate with them exactly what you're looking for.

Matt Ryan, Matt Ryan Mobile DJ Entertainment

Matt Ryan Mobile DJ Entertainment has been on the scene since the 1990s. Owner Matt Ryan says the company likes to focus on acting as an event coordinator for couples' big days, particularly if they haven't hired an official wedding planner.

Tell us a little about your company.

A lot of our couples are not working with a dedicated wedding planner. And so they rely on us to help facilitate the event and develop their timeline and serve as their event director.

Do you have a preference for a bride's level of involvement in choosing her playlist?

If [a bride] has a couple songs and says: "This is our must-play list, here's our do-not-play list, here's our play-if-possible list," that is something we encourage. Of course, we want the event to be reflective of the couple's taste. Having said that, I think most people want everybody to have a good time. And what exactly that looks like is very hard to predict. It's not just playing the right music. It's playing the right music at the right time.

Do you have suggestions on what to include on the must-play and do-not-play lists?

It's really the client's preference. I can tell you, in terms of the do-not-play list, some of the selections we see pop up a lot are some of the very popular line dances. You know, "The Electric Slide" and "YMCA." I think a lot of clients look at those selections and think, "This is the traditional hokey wedding DJ music that's overplayed." And the reality is these songs work.

Todd Jones, T.E.A.M. DJ

T.E.A.M. DJ owner Todd Jones has been in the biz for 25 years, since he first discovered his passion while attending Ohio State. The company's online catalog of available music and lists of most-requested songs make brainstorming easy.

Why do you think having a DJ at the reception-as opposed to a premade playlist-is necessary?

That's easy. An iPod cannot make any announcements. And you can't rely on the [staff at the] hall to make announcements. Most of those people don't want to get in front of the light because that's not their job. The DJ, realistically, is the master of ceremonies. Our job is to make sure everyone knows what the bride and groom are doing.

You could counter that by saying the best man or maid of honor can do the announcements. What are the disadvantages there?

The [most common] fear is talking in front of people. Sometimes the best man, maid of honor, mom, dad … they're uncomfortable with that, getting up and doing their speeches. If the bride and groom have someone who can do that, fantastic. But they still need a sound system, too. So it can work-I'm not saying it can't work. It's just a matter of how well it will work.

It sounds like you're saying the simplest solution is hiring a professional.


Any advice for couples who are starting their DJ search?

I would definitely take a look at the DJ's website. The website can tell you a lot about the DJ or the company. Does it have good information? Does it have updated information? Does it look like it's been there for 20 years and not touched? Does the hall have referral lists, and is the DJ on that list?

What about advice for couples as they create their playlist?

One thing to keep in mind is that you generally have about two hours of dance time. You can play 15 to 17 songs in an hour. So that's only 30 to 34 dance songs. It's not a lot when you think about it. So pick your music well.