WHAT A WEDDING DJ ACTUALLY DOES
Wedding DJs have an amazing job right?!!? We get to show up on your big day and just rock the party! Everything flows right through the day of the wedding and the bride and groom can just sip champagne and enjoy the day with their loved ones! Easy! Right?!!?
Well, not exactly right……………….
The wedding DJ of 2017 is one part planner, one part producer, one part laborer and last but definitely not least , a party rocker! In this blog post, I’m going to attempt to explain exactly why wedding DJs (good ones at least) charge a pretty penny! I hope to open the eyes of prospective couples to our actual responsibilities and tasks!
THE WEDDING DJ IS ON THE CLOCK THE SECOND WE MEET THE COUPLE
The initial meeting is the time we use to get to know the couple, making sure we understand the vision each couple has for their wedding. The day of the wedding is the single most important day of almost every couple’s life up until that point. It’s MY JOB to GET IT RIGHT. Once I meet with the couple and we agree to terms, my immediate attention turns to making sure the MUSIC IS 100% right. Not 90%, not 99.5%, but 100%.
This is where my love of music becomes of the utmost importance! Not every song is wedding friendly and not every song is a dance floor hit. I must spend HOURS incorporating some wild requests into the music program for the wedding. I’m going to provide 2 recent examples of what I have done to make sure the couple’s vision is realized 100%.
Reza and Johnnilee had one of the most fun, multicultural weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of! Not only did I spend hours learning Persian music (where to start tracks and mix out of tracks), I also created a 5 song megamix of songs for their first dance! This dance was choreographed by a professional dance studio in Charleston, Amorous Pole and Fitness. This took me hours! I meticulously mixed these songs seamlessly for Reza and Johnnilee, to make sure their dance was one to remember! You can watch the video HERE! >>>>> Reza and Johnnilee First Dance
The next example I have is the wedding of Sean and Whitney Kelly. Whitney is a native of Tennessee and of course Rocky Top is a MUST play at her wedding! Because I wanted to have the ability to mix this song in during the peak hour of the wedding dancing, I created a 100% custom edit JUST FOR HER WEDDING! Remixing classic country, rock and even shag music is something I do for MANY couples to make sure they get their music at the exact right moment during the reception! This is a TIME CONSUMING process that often is overlooked when discussing rates per hour.
These are just a couple of examples of what goes into the music planning process for each wedding! I take the time to personalize EVERY WEDDING! The music planning is usually a few hours for every wedding and this is almost never taken into account during the quote process! To me, it’s just a given and I DO NOT CHARGE FOR IT.
WHEW, NOW WE CAN MOVE ON TO THE ACTUAL DAY OF PLANNING AND PRESENTATION!
On the day of the wedding, I want to arrive so early that I’m literally the first person at the venue. Unfortunately, I can’t do that because many of the basic things have not been setup. Usually, the DJ table is included in the table and linen rentals and I can’t setup until they’ve arrived and are finished. However, I don’t let this stop me from getting there HOURS early. The earlier the better!
For the majority of weddings I’m hired for, I have to run the music and sound for the most important part of any wedding! The ACTUAL WEDDING CEREMONY! This requires a complete separate sound system from what I will be using for the reception. This HAS to be the best of the best from the speaker brand to the microphone system. I often have to run multiple microphones for the officiant and various speakers and/or singers. This is where experience comes into play. You MUST have experience in working with microphones and mixing boards in order to make sure everything is heard clear and without distortion! You want your videographer to capture everything perfectly! Not to mention singers are usually very picky with their sound! It simply must be PERFECT!
EACH OF THESE CEREMONIES REQUIRE UNIQUE SOUND PROGRAMMING THAT ONLY EXPERIENCE CAN BRING
NEXT UP! THE WEDDING RECEPTION: LET’S DO THIS
Now it’s time to start rocking the party right! Again, not exactly. Wedding receptions consist of several very important parts, all needing a special attention that only experience can bring! Let’s start with the MOST overlooked part of wedding receptions! The Cocktail Hour.
The Cocktail Hour is the time when different sides of the family can make each other’s acquaintance and have a few choice beverages in the process. This is often a critical step in making sure the vibe you’re wanting to create for the night is reached. Some people choose Country, some choose Classic Rock and some choose Rat Pack ( Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, etc.) or R&B. I actually play each song during cocktail hour! I DO NOT just slap Pandora on and let it roll! It is critical for the DJ to read the room and make sure that whatever song is playing does not overwhelm your guests. I often advise couples to keep the music choices up-tempo and happy; this is a wedding after all! A happy day! But ultimately it is up to the couple!
The next phase of the reception is the special dances to dinner transition. In most cases the Bride and Groom as well as family and wedding party are not even involved with the Cocktail Hour. The entire Bridal party is out having photos taken while the guests mingle! After Cocktail hour, the wedding party and couple arrive and will need to be brought into the reception in some manner, whether it be a grand entrance or just a quick announcement of names! The next step is bringing in the Bride and Groom and having them transition SMOOTHLY to their first dance! This can be tricky! If you read online reviews, this is where many Djs miss the mark! You can’t leave the couple on the floor with long periods of silence as this is incredibly awkward!
THE TRANSITION FROM LEFT PHOTO TO RIGHT PHOTO IS NOT FOR NOVICES
After the Bride and Groom have their first dance, the father/daughter and mother/son dances usually take place and dinner is either served or stations open! It is VERY IMPORTANT that the Bride and Groom get the first shot at the stations and then immediate family! I must announce this many times as even some planners overlook this detail!
The next phase of the wedding reception is what I’m best at, bringing my skill as an actual Disk Jockey into play. I’ve been in numerous DJ skill competitions through the years and I’ve either won most of them or came very close to winning. I blend, live remix, and make my own classic remixes just for weddings that you will NEVER hear at another wedding. I’ve been lucky enough to DJ hundreds of weddings in 18 years, with a steep incline in bookings in the last 5 years. I haven’t had a wedding that I couldn’t handle the music programming! I’ve done Latin, Persian, Country, Hip-Hop and EDM weddings. Because I’m currently a club and special event DJ, I’m also very current with music! Staying current only DJ’ing weddings is near impossible! What’s popular on the radio doesn’t always translate to dancing!
AND FINALLY……………THE DANCING
The dancing portion of the evening is not EASY! Parents, grandparents, children all must be catered to, often with a “no play” list from the Bride and Groom. I must flow through genres , years, and tempos smoothly while keeping everyone happy! You can play a current song too early or a oldie too late and it not work. Toss in some crazy Bride, Groom and parents requests and it can go south QUICK! The ability to read the crowd and react fast is something that a newbie DJ from one of the farmed out DJ “agencies” can’t and won’t be able to do! I want to take the crowd on a true journey and leave your guest saying, “What a wedding, best DJ EVER”!!