Guests will remember three things from a wedding: how the bride looked, the food and the wedding DJ.
“It’s my job to make sure they have a good time,” says John Ward, owner of MidSouth Moblie DJs.
With more than three decades of experience as a wedding and event DJ, Ward offers 5 Tips for Hiring a Wedding DJ.
Ward says 90 percent of his business comes directly from referrals. Most people have an opportunity to attend at least one wedding or large-scale event before planning their own. If you come across a great DJ, go ask them for a card.
“Our biggest advertisement is doing a good job at a wedding,” he said. “There’s nothing better than seeing someone doing a good job first-hand.”
Referrals are typically a safe bet since most folks won’t recommend someone unless they really like them. If you’ve found a stellar caterer or florist, ask if they have a list of preferred vendors.
“Everyone wants to shop local, and grow local, so why not get a local DJ,” he urged.
The same is true for all your vendors, really. Check out 3 Ways Your Wedding Benefits from Using Local Vendors.
Focus on what’s important
Song are usually about 4 minutes long, which means 15 songs per hour, and depending on the length of your reception, potentially 100 songs over the span of three hours or so.
Rather than wear yourself out trying to select hours of music, focus on the important moments. Spend your energy deciding which songs mean the most to you for those special dances. You’ll always remember your first dance as husband and wife and the father-daughter and mother-son dances. Need some ideas? We love this compilation of First Dance Songs that Will Give you the Feels.
Then let your DJ do what he does best.
“Be as hands-on as you want, but remember that we do this every weekend,” Ward said. “We won’t just play the same thing at every wedding. We look at the crowd and try to cater to everybody. You may have some couples who will only come out and dance to slow songs, and others who want to get down and boogie.”
It’s worth noting that all songs are family-friendly radio edits; the last thing you want to do is offend some of your guests.
Don’t make your friends, family work
While playing music from an iPod might sound like a cost-saving option, it really puts the burden of deejaying on your friends or family. Someone will still have to emcee the reception and announce key moments throughout the event.
“Inherently, that’s what DJ does – we play specific music at specific times, and you just can’t do that with an iPod,” Ward explained. “It just doesn’t create the same energy.”
He also pointed out that while you may choose songs that appeal to you – or your groom – they may not appeal to your wide range of guests.
“A good DJ will know how to mix it up and cater to the people who are there dancing – or not dancing,” he said. “You may have in your head that you want all these certain songs played. Give that list to a good DJ, and he’ll play as many as possible when it’s appropriate. I’ll watch the crowd and see which songs get people out of their seats.”
DJ vs. Live Band
Being in Music City, USA certainly has its advantages when it comes to finding a great band. And there is certainly a time and place for live music, but it may not be at your wedding.
Bands tend to have a set list, albeit a strong one, that they stick to for the night. And while they may sound fantastic, they generally have a limited range and can’t (or won’t) accept requests. Then there’s awkward downtime in between sets, while the band is on break. Still undecided? Read Bands v. DJs: Which is Right for Your Wedding?
If you or someone in your bridal party is a musician who wants to pay a special tribute during the wedding reception, then by all means, let them perform a song or two. It really adds such a special touch to the celebration.
Communication is key
Great DJs are much like day-of wedding coordinators.
“We’ll meet in advance to determine the order of events – for both the ceremony and reception – and communicate to everyone throughout the day,” Ward explains.
By having the events planned out ahead of time, your DJ can let guests know what’s going on (The buffet just opened, so everyone grab a plate.) or what’s coming up next (Where are all the single ladies? The bride is ready to toss her bouquet!).
“A good DJ will do much more than just deejay,” he continued. “The easy part is playing music and getting people to dance. But I take pride in is helping out with other stuff.”