“I Don’t Want to Spend a Lot on a DJ – It’s Just Music…”
– Said Every Regretful Bride…
Although this article is lengthy, it’s important! It’s in praise of the humble, and often overlooked DJ, as a fairly unimportant detail – especially to the bride, and especially in comparison to her choice in photographer, dress, flowers, decor etc… After all, “it’s just music – right?”
Wrong! Music, or rather, your entertainment, is KEY to a successful event – your Reception PARTY! And parties need awesome music!
Now you may be thinking, ‘I can just get some speakers and run my iPod’. Please allow me to assure you, this could be one of the biggest mistakes you’d make on your wedding. And I speak from personal experience here.
When I was a bride (and, before I was a Wedding Planner), I had a VERY limited budget. And while I DID want to have a DJ, we had a choice to either feed people, or have music. Yes it really was that tight. But love prevailed, and we threw caution to the wind and were married just the same. But not without some regrets. With the music – not the marriage.
Not having a live DJ is one of my biggest regrets. Why? Because I love to dance, and I just didn't feel that our reception was the kind of celebration I was hoping for, for many of the reasons listed below.
As a planner now, I always suggest that my couples consider putting their financial investment toward their memories – for themselves (through photo/video), and for their guests, in the form of great entertainment.
Guests may not remember what the bridesmaid’s bouquets looked like (not that I don’t ADORE gorgeous florals by the way!), but they WILL remember how they felt, and if they had a good time.
Here are some of the key reasons hiring a PROFESSIONAL DJ will give you the time of your life (and your guest’s too!) for your wedding celebration:
The most obvious
An excellent selection of music to suit all tastes.
You may not think this is particularly important since it’s ‘your’ party and you no doubt have your own taste of music in mind, but you really do WANT ALL your guests to enjoy at least some part of the dancing portion. Besides, who doesn’t want to see Grandma shakin’ her thang to some of her favourite tunes too?!
Ability to keep the crowd dancing by fading out music that clears the dance floor, and revving them back up with another kickin’ song. Having someone manage the music selection LIVE will keep your party going. Can you imagine what would happen if you made a playlist on your iPod and it cleared the dance floor?! Who’s going to manage that? It’s pretty hard to recover from – trust me.
Beat Mixing: Skilled DJs know how to bring one song down and another up while mixing the two song’s beats together – just like at the club, only it’s your own awesome wedding!
Sound Levels: Not all music tracks are created equal, and neither are their sound levels. DJs mix and fine tune each song to ensure that the energy is kept at the same level in the room. Ever noticed that issue on your iPod? You’re not dreaming, it happens. Imagine THAT full scale at your wedding!
In the past I have encountered clients that insisted on iPod music. One in particular had a friend who was supposed to manage the music, however he ended up being seated too far from the soundboard, so every time the volume was too loud or too soft, he’d come running from his table during the middle of dinner to manage it.
After a while, he just didn’t bother! And every time the volume went up or down, every guest’s head would turn toward the sound mixer… ACK!! So I had to step up to become a permanent sound mixer, as well as toast prompter, kitchen cue-r, and everything else that a wedding planner must be.
Proper Room Set Up: While you may think it’s fairly a standard process to just set up some speakers, you may be surprised to know there is much more involved. Check it out:
You should have a discussion with your DJ in advance about where the VIP tables will be situated so that these guests can hear the entire event from the best spot in the house (but again, not too close to the speakers either. Think about Grandma again who will be constantly complaining about the sound levels – she won’t be able to hear the toasts, but then will be annoyed the all that ‘noise’ when the dancing starts!). Strategic advanced planning matters here!
Circuit Overload. You’ll want to know your amperage per device so that you don’t blow the breakers – which may be linked to the kitchen, which is in the process of cooking your wedding meal! Oops. Yeah, that.
Safety: Wires need to be taped down too. DJs know how to do this discretely and have ample cord to go around the perimeter of the room, instead of across it! Additionally, some cords may need to go above the door frames and would need to be taped to the wall. However, if you hold your reception at a Heritage location, be rest assured, they have strict rules about what kind of tape can be used. Professional DJs know this and come prepared!
Back Up Equipment: A professional DJ also has back up equipment should there be any sort of failure. They can quickly grab the spares, and get the party hopping again fast – and perhaps even without anyone ever noticing!
DJ / MC. Not all DJs are great MCs, but some are, and they do know how to manage a microphone with ease. (*Hint: if they hold the mic like a rapper - all choked up at the top while it looks like they’re eating it, they’re probably not going to be a great MC choice – on the next MTV awards maybe, but not your ideal MC).
Professional speakers know how to hold a mic properly, they speak into it clearly, and have good diction. Your wedding is not an opportunity to ‘dis the establishment’, so form matters at this occasion!
Also, content is the main entree here, so if they’re worth their salt they’ll want to know your ‘love story’. They’ll do their homework on you so they can host your day with more than enough information to make them look as if they’ve known you for years.
Entertainment: Aside from MC’ing your reception, you’ll want to keep the crowd entertained. Not to worry – a professional DJ will also provide creative input on how to keep the energy alive, and knows where to incorporate the ‘entertainment’ too. They also know the reception is about the couple (not them!), and will work hard to heighten the day’s emotions too (yes, you really will want to laugh and cry with great joy.) These will be the most powerful memories of your celebration. Don’t discount your DJ/MC’s role in this very important element!
Look for someone with a balanced personality when interviewing them. If they’re super shy, or over-the-top overt (where you can’t seem to participate in the conversation), they may not have what it takes. Get references – they’ll provide the most honest feedback.
Your professional DJ will also not be crude, or rude, or drink on the job. They’re working after all. And they will dress appropriately, in a suit. And they’ll leave their 8 Ft. promotional banner at the office. Seriously.
Accreditation: Your DJ should demonstrate their professionalism by participating in associations that help keep them fresh and current in the world of wedding entertainment. Canada’s largest DJ Association is the CPDJA, the Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association. Visit their website at www.cpdja.ca to learn more and take advantage of their consumer education resources.
So you see, there is MUCH more to a DJ than just his/her music collection. And you certainly get what you pay for. If your DJ is a dedicated professional, this will likely be his/her only source of income (although many DJs do work part time so don’t discount an awesome part time DJ!). They take their job seriously, and charge accordingly.
Don’t regret YOUR wedding by having your guests leave early because they’re having a miserable time. A few hundred dollars difference to hire a professional DJ may make or break the kind of memories you’ll have of your wedding.
Choose wisely, and happy planning!
By Jennifer Maxwell, Certified Wedding Planner and Coach
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