It is important to first understand what responsibilities a professional DJ should have on your wedding day. The foremost responsibility, as you might imagine, is to play music at your reception that will keep the party going. However, there is more to this than you might expect. In fact, the most common mistake couples make when choosing a DJ is to overestimate the ease of playing music that keeps a crowd on the dance floor. For this reason, many couples will opt to have a friend or coworker DJ their wedding reception rather than hire a professional. In reality though, nowhere is the difference between a professional DJ and an amateur more apparent than on the dance floor. As we will see, just because someone has DJ equipment does not mean that they know what they are doing.
Many amateur DJs will tout at least some experience playing music in clubs or at house parties. However, playing music at a club is absolutely nothing like playing music at a wedding reception. At a club, most people are around the same age and have similar tastes in music. That's why they're there! This leads the inexperienced DJ to assume that everyone likes the same kind of music as they do. At a wedding, however, there may be people from ages 8 to 80 on the dance floor at any one time and the differences in their musical tastes will be vast.
Only experience will teach a wedding DJ the need for variety. Their job is to appeal to the masses by playing all styles of familiar party music. An experienced wedding DJ will understand that everyone is passionate about ‘"their style" of music and know how to tap into that passion and present it in a manner that everyone on the dance floor can get excited about together. They will know how to correctly weave in and out of many different styles of music and, ultimately, keep the party going all night long.
DJs with little or no wedding experience, on the other hand, may not even consider the diversity on the dance floor. When people don't respond to their music selections they may get frustrated and simply blame the "lame crowd" rather than digging in and working the music to find something that works for everyone.
Remember, a professional has a sense of pride to keep people on the dance floor, whereas amateurs believe people should be on the dance floor out of an obligation to them! This is why the experience of your DJ is paramount to the success of your wedding night.
It is also important to make sure that your DJ has a large selection of song titles, 12,000 is usually a good place to start. Without an adequate selection of music, it is difficult to satisfy a large variety of age groups and musical interests. In addition to just owning the music, a DJ should have extensive knowledge of the music as well; this includes everything from popular fox trots and waltzes to the latest club hits. Furthermore, be sure that your DJ will play the songs you want hear, not just the songs they want to hear. Many frustrated newlyweds have spent their wedding night listening to their DJs favorite tunes! And lastly, be wary of the DJ whose presentation is obnoxious or cheesy. You don't want a DJ who thinks that he or she is the star of the show.
Coordinating the Event
While playing music is the most obvious responsibility of a wedding DJ, it is certainly not the only one. Many couples don't realize that one of the biggest responsibilities of the wedding DJ is to coordinate the evening's events. This is the job that will make the single biggest difference between your guests remembering a wedding that was smooth and effortless or one that was awkward and clumsy.
As couples soon discover as they plan their wedding, there are many different people who must contribute to the success of their wedding day. These include the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the hall manager, the videographer, the photographer, the church personnel and more! In addition to the people, there are also events that need be coordinated, such as the cake cutting ceremony, toasts, grace, introductions, bouquet toss, the bridal dance and more. A professional DJ will be able to walk the bride and groom through the evening's events with ease and grace by working with all the parties involved to ensure things run smooth and as planned. Be wary of amateurs without experience! You will put a lot of work into planning your wedding. A DJ without experience can easily become overwhelmed at this enormous responsibility and may forget important events, causing stress, chaos, confusion and disappointment.
In short, a DJ needs to be organized, perceptive and efficient to properly orchestrate the evening's events.
Some things your DJ should be watching for to ensure the night runs smoothly include: Checking with the hall to make sure that dinner is actually ready to be served before asking people to sit down; letting the photographer know what's coming up next so they aren't outside smoking a cigarette or in the restroom while the cake is being cut or the bridal dance starts; making sure that the champagne is served before handing the microphone to best man for his toast; or checking for utensils on the cake table so when you go to cut the cake, you have something to cut it with! A good wedding DJ is detailed oriented and will keep an eye out for things that are missing or out of place. These little things certainly won't ruin your wedding night, but added up; they will surely cause anxiety for you, as well as your guests.
An organized wedding reception starts with a DJ who cares, and who takes pride in being prepared. A good DJ should begin preparation for your wedding reception many days in advance. It is extremely important for a bride and groom to be given the chance to convey to the DJ what they want their wedding reception to be like. Couples will hear many different opinions about what their reception should be like, and a good wedding DJ will go over every aspect of the wedding reception with the bride and groom to fully understand what they expect.
Watch out for unscrupulous DJ companies who will send out DJs who have never even talked to the bride and groom. And be equally cautious of amateurs who will only do things their way - the only way they know how. In addition, be sure your DJ will arrive at the wedding hall at least an hour and a half before the wedding. A good DJ will have everything set up - music playing, tuxedo on, excess gear put away, cords neatly taped down, etc. - before guests begin arriving. You don't want your DJ setting up gear while your guests are arriving for cocktails.
Master of Ceremonies
Finally, a professional wedding DJ should be a well-trained Master of Ceremonies. This means being confident on the microphone and able to make important announcements and introductions in a classy, charismatic manner. Professionals will spend time preparing their announcements and have pride in their ability to pronounce everyone's name correctly. Nowhere will lack of experience be more obvious than in a Master of Ceremonies. Unprofessional announcements, mispronounced names and titles, and inappropriate remarks are just a few of the ways an MC might show their inexperience. Nothing makes a crowd more uncomfortable than to sit in front of someone who is nervous and stuttering on the microphone. Often times, a DJ may try to hide this nervousness by turning into a cheesy "party motivator", annoying guests and embarrassing the bride and groom. A professional clearly understands their boundaries and will never try to upstage the bride and groom by putting undue attention on themselves.