This is a pretty interesting topic and one it seems I am being asked more about when I speak with clients and potential clients. "Do you take requests from the guests?" How do you handle guests' requests?"
You can even get RSVP cards now with that as an option for your guests to fill out:
I am going to address this in 2 stages: (1) Should request be allowed and how do you handle them. & (2) Getting them in advance with the RSVP
My answer is those questions is "It is up to you; but, let me explain some advantages and disadvantages..."
Usually guests will requests songs they will enjoy hearing and probably dance too (if the songs lends itself to dancing). This usually means they will get to the dance floor, probably joined by others and have a good time. Allowing, even encouraging, guests to make request really lets the guests know you want them to enjoy themselves at your event. It usually opens the door to a wider variety of music which can often lead to more enjoyed of the event by other guests as well as just the one making the request.
There a few cons (ie: generally unpopular song, inappropriate lyrics or meaning, something despised by the host; a selection that falls too far outside the nature of the event, etc...); but nothing that cannot be easily handled by an experienced DJ and a little advance planning between the DJ and host. Let your DJ be your active filter for requests based on your known preferences from the planning and discussion phase for the event and his experience at reading people at events. During the coordinating phase I like to present some of the following questions to clients:
Along with these questions, the planning forms I provide also ask for 3 types of lists:
Preferred Request (A Must Play List)
Additional Requests (These are songs we enjoy, and if they can be fit in great, if not no worries.)
Do Not Play (DNP) List (As the names implies..Do Not Play these)
Sometimes the last one can be tricky. I have seen several cases where a guests will request a song that my client has put on the DNP List. So to prevent less hassle for the Host the day of I present this scenario to them. Most of the time the response is "if someone ask for it, it is alright, just don't play it without a request" or something to that effect. The biggest reason I ask in advance is experience has shown that if I let a guest know I will not play that song, due to the host / hostess request, the next thing you know they will run off to the host ato question them or insist their song be played. Knowing in advance how my client wants me to proceed allows me to respond appropriately to a request for a DNP song: "I am sorry but the [insert Bride, Groom, Host, etc... here] has specifically asked that I do not play that song for personal reasons." or "I will try to work that song in." If the DNP play list is considered "firm" prior to the event the first response usually prevents any escalation or further discussion.
There are other times when a request is made by a client that is just not fit in with a part of the evenining it is requested during. For example some guest requesting the "Balled of Curtis Lowe" with a full dance floor, just does not work.
As far as the second part "Request in advance with the RSVP"... I think this is fine as long as guests understand there is no guarantee their request will be played. After all if you have a large event and even if only 1 request came back with each RSVP, time alone would usually prohibit them from all being played. But one advantage to allowing advance requests to be made is it does provide more opportunity for songs to be worked into the evening. If a song does not lend itself to dancing, it could be played during cocktail hour or dinner, etc...
If advance requesting is something you want to offer your guests we can help with that! We have a Guest Request System that YOU can provide your guests a passcode to and they will be able to make requests in advance. We can then stop requests from being made x number of days prior to the event and even send you a list of requests made for your review or once again, rely on the experience of the professional DJ you hired to determine which selections are appropriate for the event and when to be played. To see the web page where your guests can submit requests please go to: www.rcbaudio.com/#!clientlogin/cjg9