It is common for people to say that the entertainment for your party or wedding reception can make or break the event. This is true to some extent. While I don’t think that your guests will go home simply based on the music selection of your DJ, I do think they will go home if they are bored. That said, there are multiple ways for your DJ to entertain your guests. The itinerary, or schedule of events, is the most important factor in a successful wedding reception.
For example, if you were to walk into a wedding reception and have your first dance, followed by the toast to the bride and groom then transition right into cocktail, dinner, cake cutting etc. The wedding is only getting started in terms of duration, yet you have basically done everything important to the guests and are telling them it is okay to leave. This is the difference in having either an expensive dinner party, or a successful wedding reception where your guests were entertained and stayed for the duration of the events and time line.
It is important for a bride and groom to feel as though their hard work planning such an important and memorable event did not go to waste. It is also important that bride and groom can enjoy their wedding day, and not have to be bothered with making decisions or holding things to a time line/itinerary as they are trying to eat, dance and say hello to family and their spouses family.
The wedding DJ you choose should be able to not only play the music at your wedding, but run the schedule of events with ease. The schedule of events and all of it’s respective bullet points should be spoken about prior to the wedding day (months before) and discussed in detail. That way, the day of your event your decisions have already been made and you can your husband/wife can sit back and relax and enjoy the friends family and good times.
How can a Wedding DJ achieve all of these things?
First off, there is a little knowledge of music. Most people understand that the craft of “DJ’ing” isn’t all that difficult anymore. With software like itunes or people having ipods that can hold extensive music libraries at the palm of their hands, it’s hard for some to understand why they are even hiring a DJ. With some general knowledge of not only music genres but even some music theory and BPM’s or Beats Per Minute, you can begin to classify and profile music. This is key into using music and songs as tools and building blocks of a successful event. i.e: Using a group dance song like “electric slide” to get people dancing after sitting back down to eat some wedding cake.
The biggest mistake would be to have playlists. Playlists do not cater to who is actually on the dance floor, or what people are reacting to. There is a lot of perception that goes into keeping people on the dance floor. Being mindful of tempo and keeping the energy level consistent is also a key factor in dance-floor-longevity.
MC’ing the event is taking this knowledge to the next step. To be specific, after the first dance at a reception I will normally invite the rest of the couples out to join the bride and groom on the dance floor. This will get your guests involved by dancing (at this point they have sat through the ceremony, a little bit of cocktail, dinner, toasts and the first dance). Now that they are involved in the wedding with some dancing, we can increase the energy level for a few songs and have the photographer lead the bride and groom through cutting the cake. So at this point, the guests didn’t leave the dance floor because they were bored of dancing, they left because we had another event ready for them.
This is the general format that should be continued throughout the entire reception. This takes some experience and smart thinking on the demographics of people you are entertaining, as well as the logistics of today’s reception itinerary. Understanding the depth and multitude of such a concept, is typically only done by a professional DJ or entertainer.
Lastly, there is the difficult subject of the DJ as an individual. DJ’s are notorious for two very humorous things: Pony-tails and cheesy personalities. Your wedding DJ should be as classy as your event. The way one carries themselves is often how they conduct their business. Look for organization, cleanliness and professionalism and of course confidence!
What to look for.
Confidence is extremely important when hiring the entertainer for your wedding (or any event for that matter). Confidence has many boundaries and those boundaries have thin lines. The easiest way to fish out a not-so-professional is false confidence.
So if the DJ you are meeting with finds it necessary to compare himself with other DJ’s constantly, there is probably some insecurity in his own practice that is leading him to do that. In short: False confidence.
While music should be an important aspect of the conversation, the DJ should also put a lot of importance in the itinerary and course of events. As mentioned, this is almost more important in music selection in keeping your guests entertained and involved in the wedding. You should also be aware that many companies will have you meet with the owner of the company and then the day of your wedding someone you have never met shows up. Horror stories of this classic DJ business tactic would include teenagers with piercing and tattoo’s when you were fully anticipating the wonderful and knowledgeable salesperson you met with! Be sure you are building a relationship with the individual that is going to be at your wedding from day one.
It is also important to understand that you typically pay for what you get in a service. If you meet with a budget DJ and compare them to a high-cost DJ, I am sure you will instantly see the difference in the way they conduct themselves and the way they outline the wedding and it’s events.
What to avoid.
Be aware that most people with a low base cost, will often have additional charges that will eventually put them in the same price range as everyone else. At all costs, avoid hiring someone who will solely play music at your wedding reception. There is an abundance of things that need to be done in addition to playing music.
There are stories on bride forums of DJ’s calling out events like a bouquet toss when the photographer is on a break or in the bathroom. These things can greatly complicate the overall success of your wedding and should not be taken lightly. While budget is always a concern, a few hundred dollars now may seem like nothing in retrospect. Aim for booking someone that you are comfortable and confident with, the more preparation and work that goes into the event prior to “the big day” the better.
Avoid the party DJ. Many DJ’s are wonderful at getting people dancing and saying things into a microphone, but that is the extent of their knowledge. At some point, someone will tell them that there is a substantially higher pay scale in the wedding industry and they begin to claim they are a reception DJ. The easiest way to spot this is a lack of knowledge in a modern or current itinerary and a very low cost. To a club DJ a $500.00 reception package is good money! To the consumer, it’s a complete deal! Too good to be true right? Right. Remember, with any service you almost always pay for what you get.