• Elise Hofer Shaw


James Gustin, owner + DJ, Fig Weddings Photo Credit: @Melissafoxmedia

Music can make or break a wedding. From cocktail hour to dinner and dancing, the right music sets the mood and fuels the party. Just ask James Gustin, owner and DJ for Fig Weddings, a spin master who has been setting the tone for more than 35 years for Chicago weddings, galas, corporate bashes and beyond. (Last year alone, Fig DJs—and they have 10 total male and female DJs to choose from on their in-house talent roster—brought the beat to more than 100 Chicagoland weddings.)

So what makes a solid, big-day playlist in 2020? “There’s no such thing as ‘standards’ anymore, a.k.a. songs that are expected to be played at weddings,” says Gustin. “Brides and grooms want an entire soundtrack that’s hyper-customized, song by song. These days, thanks to platforms like Spotify, everyone is a music nerd. Even the non-nerds are music nerds—or at the very least they can compile a 10-track song list of stuff they like for us to build upon.”

According to Gustin, a Fig wedding playlist generally includes 100 songs that are sequenced around the desired vibe: a first-impression program for cocktail hour, a more subdued set for dinner, and a progressive dance floor arrangement meant to level up the party. But what really sets Fig apart is their willingness to go the extra mile to compile sets that include music that’s significant to each couple’s relationship, their upbringing or their cultures. “With today’s technology, we’re able to pull tracks from around the world that, historically, we wouldn’t have had access to. From there, we’ll layer in new and unheard of music to personalize our picks around the couple’s preferences so that the overall sound experience is meaningful and impactful—and full of fun surprises.”

Focusing on the dance portion of the evening, we asked Gustin to provide us with a musical sampling. Here’s a taste of a recent setlist he comprised for a Chicago couple whose groove runs the gamut from classic rock, pop and rap to soul, dance, funk and disco. Give it a listen…



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