There is a wildcard at every wedding.
He is either going to MAKE your party, or BREAK your party.
It seems that there is almost no happy medium with DJs. They either rock my face off. Or they suck. Bad.
This is meant for no offense to any DJ. My friends that are DJs know who they are and know that they are good. And this isn’t meant to bash DJs. I simply want to help you find the right DJ, and to know what to look for and expect.
It is easy for me to be opinionated after being involved in more than 100 weddings. And most people probably don’t care as much as I do. But I consider your interests to be my interests. And I want to help create the best environment for your wedding and reception so that it be a huge success. Because I have seen such a variety of situations, I can deduce down to what I think works and what doesn’t.
See also: ( 9 reason you MUST do a “First Look” )
I can only assume that after planning month after month to throw a good party, you want someone that knows how to host a party. Sure, the bride and groom are the party hosts, but the DJ sets the tone. The DJ creates the environment for the best night of your lives. And many DJs don’t know how to, even though they are professionals.
The reception isn’t necessarily about you two, but about your guests. You wine them and dine them, and hope that they dance the night away. You don’t want your guests to get stuck awkwardly attempting to dance to songs that just shouldn’t be played. More often than not, every reception has some very awkward silences, inappropriate music selections, crass jokes or simply unprofessional moments.
There are many different routes you can take with the DJ setup. Some DJs will do the audio for both your ceremony and reception, as well as MC the event. Some ceremony sites don’t require audio. We paid a friend to come do the audio, and a local radio personality to be our MC. In my opinion, that was the way to go. One guy is a pro at audio setup and having the gear to throw a party. The other guy gets paid millions to host a radio show. I knew it would be an instant success. And it was. The only downside was I was in charge of picking the music, and I botched it.
The best receptions I have been to typically had an MC and a DJ. Most DJs don’t necessarily have that striking personality that you would want to be running the party. There are a couple DJs out there that have it all. Personality, looks, jokes, excitability, great music, rad lights… But that is 1 out of 20.
A good DJ is one that keeps the party moving but you don’t even know they are there. Few words, excellent playlists, and timeliness of key events. They know how to stick to a timeline and keep things moving all the while not losing interest in your guests.
HOW DO I FIND A GOOD DJ?
1. Referrals. Ask people you trust for recommendations And what that DJ did well and what they sucked at. 99% of brides don’t have these conversations, and it ends up a bust. Just because they have the gear and a website and have DJ’d at a club DOES NOT MEAN the DJ know weddings.
2. Ask your photographer. They all have similar opinions and experience as I do.
My rule of thumbs, or rules of thumb for your DJ:
1. No song should EVER last more than 90-120 seconds. Keep it fresh. People don’t want to dance to the same song for 5 minutes. Trust me.
2. Most brides would even say that the Father-Daughter dance shouldn’t last more than 120 seconds unless it was choreographed. I’ve seen many a brides feeling extremely awkward and trying to get the DJs attention to end the song.
3. If you start a song and it clears the dance floor, skip the awkwardness and jump to the next track to get people back out there. Even if you are 10 seconds into that dumb oldies song. Don’t finish the song just because it was started. That doesn’t mean playing another oldie if the last oldie just killed the party. Ad lib.
4. Request music from the DJ that fits your crowd. If the average age of your guests is well over 50, please don’t expect them to get their grind on to Ja Rule. If you are a young couple with a super young crowd, please do us all a favor and don’t request oldies (ie: Brick House, Celebrate, YMCA……..)
5. The electric slide is so ten years ago. But if you insist, don’t do it for 15 minutes. 90 second rule applies here.
6. Talk less. DJs shouldn’t tell jokes. I’ve rarely heard a good one told. This is why you hire a good MC, or kindly ask that your DJ not talk much except when directing the events. Unless you know them and know they aren’t going to say something dumb.
7. A DJ needs to know how to keep things moving, with good transitions, not being sporadic with songs. Playing a country song right after a hip hop song isn’t a smooth transition.
8. DJ needs to have moving lights. This makes for a better mood and rad photographs. But don’t just shine a pink spotlight on the bride. Photos won’t
9. Don’t mix songs like it’s a club. And don’t scratch songs together for 10 seconds that are in different keys.
Maid of honor desperately attempting to get her mic to work while DJ is in the corner texting.
Bridesmaid walking over to the DJ table and turning the volume down because the DJ is at the bar.
DJ playing unedited, explicit music which sends the grandparents walking.
If your mic cuts in and out during your vows, it’s very frustrating for you and the guests. Give the DJ the ok to come up and fix the mic. Tell your officiant to pause for a moment for audio issues to get fixed. That is less awkward than the elephant in the room that isn’t being addressed.
Out of roughly 110 weddings that I have photographed, 10-15 of those had a very memorable reception, because the DJ knew what he was doing, and did it well.
The DJ truly makes or breaks the reception. Much more than the details, the food and the photographer.
Yo DJ, rock this party.