tips for brides: {what to know when booking your DJ}

If you missed my last post about what to know before booking your venue check it out here!  In the next couple of weeks I will be posting more tips for selecting your wedding vendors.  This week I wanted to focus on booking your DJ.  Simply put: this person is going to have a microphone for the majority of your wedding day…choose wisely!

Okay, so how do you avoid hiring this guy for your wedding?  Here’s how:

 

Vendor Referrals

The wedding community is a close knit community.  Chances are you will hire 75% of your vendors based on a recommendation from another vendor.  Ask your venue coordinator or wedding photographer who they recommend (better yet, hire a wedding coordinator…more on that in a later post).  For your wedding day to run smoothly it is critical that your DJ is able to coordinate with both your venue and photographer.  We have all worked with some great DJs and some really not so great DJs.  So just ask, and we will be more than happy to recommend the good ones!

If you are considering booking a DJ that you found on your own ask for recent referrals.  I strongly recommend getting a referral from not only a recent bride, but also one of the vendors that the DJ worked with.  Good DJs coordinate with the photographer and venue.  They don’t announce the toasts without making sure that champagne has been poured and that the photographer is ready.  A good DJ also knows how to keep your reception timeline moving to ensure all of your events (cake cutting, garter, bouquet toss, first dance etc) are done BEFORE your photographer is scheduled to leave.  Ask to speak with either the last venue coordinator or photographer that they worked with to find out if the DJ plays well with others!

Meeting your DJ

I’ve noticed that many of the local DJ companies have several DJs working for them.  This totally make sense from a business perspective.  Their company can essentially be working 5-10 weddings all on the same day.  But is this the best thing for a bride?  Yes, ONLY if you are able to meet your DJ BEFORE your wedding.  Companies that have multiple DJs can be good because they are able to pair you up with a DJ that best fits your personality and the vibe that you want to have at your wedding.  Just make sure that you are able to meet with your DJ and work directly with them to put together your repletion timeline/music choices.

Equipment and Add-ons

Ask what kind of equipment they will bring to your event.  Brand name is probably not going to matter (unless you know your way around DJ equipment), but items like a lapel microphone for the ceremony, cordless microphone for speeches at the reception, and how they will mix the music will be important.  Most DJs are using their laptops to mix music and are able to access on-line music, such as iTunes, for anything they don’t have.  If your DJ is still mixing with CD or records you will want to know this ahead of time.  Be sure to ask if there are any extra changes associated with the equipment (e.g. second microphone charge, iTunes charge).

Many companies now offer lots of add-ons.  Such as up-lighting, dance floor monograms, additional entertainers (magicians, fire breathers etc) and photo booths.  Talk to your DJ about their other services.   The fewer overall vendors that you have to coordinate and contract with the better!

Timeline

About 2 months before your wedding day you will want to meet with your DJ to finalize your reception timeline.  Before this meeting make sure you have the start time for the following events: ceremony start time, cocktail hour, grand entrance, dinner service, when your photographer leaves and any venue restrictions (e.g. when is your rental time up, are there any restrictions for music).  This will provide the framework for your DJ to help you put together your reception timeline.  It is so important to let them know when you photographer will be leaving to ensure that they schedule all of your events (first dance, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss) before the photographer leaves.  This is why I send my photography timeline 90 days before your event…so take it with you when you meet with your DJ!

Side note: For my wedding we did the first dance right after the grand entrance and then the father/daughter and mother/son dance towards the end of dinner service.  Everyone is focused on the bride and groom for the grand entrance and by going right into the first dance it kept everyone’s attention.  By doing the father/daughter and mother/son dance towards the end of dinner service it allowed us to break-up the special dances.  This way we didn’t have 10 straight minutes of dances.  Your guests are there to support you, but truth be told their attention span is short.  Break the dances up and they will be more than happy to refocus for each one.  Also, start the special dances towards the end of dinner service.  Not when dinner service is over.  It’s perfectly okay if some guest are still eating.  If you wait until dinner service is totally over you will be consumed with saying hello and thank you to each table and I guarantee that your reception timeline will be at least 30 minutes behind schedule.  You can take a break from greeting your guests to do the special dances and then go back to saying hello to each table.

The play list and the DON’T play list

This is unique to each couple.  If you are a music enthusiast your might be more hands-on with your play list.  If not, talk to your DJ about the bands and songs that you like and the overall vibe that you want your reception to have.  Allow them to use their experience and crowd reaction to create the perfect playlist.  Whatever is topping the charts is always popular, but it never ceases to amaze me how the young and old will fill the dance floor in two seconds flat for songs like Journey-Don’t Stop Believing, Electric Slide, YMCA and hokey pokey.  Remember, a lot of people are not confident in their dance skills.  By playing some songs that they are SUPER familiar with it’s like a little security blanket out on the dance floor and they will be more likely to stay and dance.

The hokey pokey…sing it with me-put your head in and shake it all about!

If you do have a DON’T play list, be sure to communicate that to your DJ and what you want them to do if someone makes a request for that song(s).

Games-To play or not to Play

Games are a great way to engage your guests, especially ones that don’t want to dance, but I would limit it to one or two so it doesn’t start to feel like a kid’s birthday party. Talk to your DJ about whether or not you want  to play games at your reception.  If you are adamantly against it let them know.

The newlywed game is always a hit!

Cost and Contract

As with ALL of your wedding vendors, get the total cost in writing and READ the entire contract.  Be sure to know what the payment schedule/options are and the cancellation policy.

Share Contact Info

As soon as you have booked your DJ send one email to your DJ, venue coordinator and photographer letting everyone know that you have booked your DJ.  This way your vendors can start coordinating immediately!

Don’t forget to DANCE!!!!!!!

I have seen so many brides that spend the entire night greeting guests and they never make it to the dance floor.  I know it’s important to attend to your guests, but this is your wedding.  Get out on the dance floor and bust a move!  The more the bride dances the move energy the entire dance floor with have!!

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