Why Setup is Important
I rarely post about equipment or setup. However, after doing a few recent weddings in locations with multiple ballrooms I would like to briefly touch on setup. As a DJ who only DJs weddings setups are important. This is the most important party of your life. Tacky chords, messy tables, and DJs who do not 'look the part' probably shouldn't be at your wedding. A professional DJ has a tidy setup. Things match. As they should because after all we are talking about a wedding. Here is a picture of what a neat setup should look like. Wires should be hidden and taped down. Facades or table toppers used properly hide equipment that guests don't need to see. Tacky tripods and other non essentials are off to the side or alternatives are used. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on your wedding and then hire someone to come in and through messy equipment around the room for your party? When hiring your wedding DJ stalk their Instagram, Facebook, and other social media profiles. Ask about their setup. Can they match the room and style you are looking for?
Itineraries, Flows, Agendas
A controversial topic that should be addressed. When googling How to hire a wedding DJ often times couples are given silly questions to ask a DJ. Questions about equipment, insurance, etc. which doesn't really get to the core of hiring a wedding DJ. If you are asking your wedding DJ what speakers they have or how many songs they have you are asking the wrong questions.
What you should be asking is how you help plan and create an agenda for the wedding.
Why is this important? Well when you really think about the job of the day of coordinator they are coordinating the day of your wedding. They are making sure place settings are correct, they are making sure your guests and you have the correct meals, that you are served your favorite beverage, and they are making sure everyone in the background (staff) is doing their jobs. So why should your DJ help create your day of FLOW? So the coordinator can do their job. The DJ/MC is hired to facilitate the entertainment of your wedding. So why would you let the coordinator who has no MC skills, no DJ skills, and no real idea of how to entertain your guests run the show?
A great wedding DJ can create an itinerary with you. Giving you advice of when to do formalities at your reception and when typically not to do them. Great wedding DJ's can give lots of honest advice of what works and what does not. It is also very common for weddings to look similar at venues because coordinators get into routines of 'this is how we do things.' However, that doesn't always mean it is the best thing for you and your guests.
So when looking for a wedding be sure to ask how they are going to help assist you and aide in the planning process.
Why Hire a Professional...A Story
Obvioulsy, there are a million reasons why not to hire a professional wedding vendor. Here is a quick story of how experience can save your day. Friday November 11th I was at a wedding in Bedford, NH. the Photographer was only contracted for a few hours. BTW I don't know why they do this. Your photographer should be at your wedding, the whole thing. Long story short, the photographer was leaving at 7. Dinner just began at it was around 6:45. The first course was served and being cleared. As the photographer was saying her goodbyes to the couple I quickly ran to the day of coordinator. I explained the photographer was about to leave and this couple didn't any photos of the dancing portion of their evening. While tables were being cleared I was able to have a little fun with guests build a dance floor for 15 minutes while the main courses were being served. This couple might not have any photos of anyone dancing at their wedding and I couldn't have that. This my friends is why to hire a professional. I was able to step in and make this happen.
Did you know that some venues have sound limits (decibel limits) that restrict the volume of your wedding?
Many couples do not know this and often times venues don't mention this when booking. Why do they conceal this you might ask??? Simply put They stink and can ruin your party. Often times venues with nearby neighbors have these decibel limits. They use a sound meter to measure the volume of the room throughout the night. It is very common for these limits to be extremely low. For example, I recently worked at a venue with a decibel limit of 85 decibels. This limit is easily achieved without music and a full room of people. 100-150 people in a room will easily go over this limit! It can be a real buzz kill to have to play to these limits. The music simple isn't loud enough and it can really throw the vibe of your party off.
How do we handle these this and what can be done?
Well first is first. If you are booking venues, especially venues in developments or nearby neighbors ask first! 85-150 decibels may sound like a lot of noise and volume...It is NOT! I personally do not like to vent about venues...However, I think venues with noise limits should not be wedding venues. It kills the party.
I get this question a lot with brides and grooms. "What kinds of lights are you going to bring to my wedding?" Simple. Wash effect lighting. Here is the rationale. Ever seen those cool laser effect lights or the old school DJ lights that your middle school DJ had? Those are not meant for weddings. Here is why. Photographers usually take photos of your dance floor for about thirty minutes. they do not like when the dance floor is covered in tiny specs of color from lasers or effect lights. That is why we simply wash the room with color. It adds the perfect eloquent ambience while also alleviating the headache from your photographer and videographer of having to spend days of editing out those annoying little dots of color. Ask your DJ what kind of dance floor lighting they plan to bring.
I recently came across a post on wedding wire about wedding DJs. To summarize the post listed vendors in order from most important to least and the time frame which you should book your vendors. Wedding DJs were at the bottom of the list. This shocked me. First, I normally book 1-2 years in advance for weddings. Brides and Grooms need to understand that hiring a bad wedding DJ is putting your wedding and the party in jeopardy. Some couples are reluctant to spend 1,500-2,500 hundred dollars on a DJ. I understand it is a lot of money. However, please understand that a talented wedding DJ will run your big day. The DJ should be creating the wedding agenda with the bride and groom. A great DJ will interact with your guests. A talented MC and DJ will be able to gain your guests trust and play some of those songs that you are questing if you want to hear. A good DJ....
You get my point. Don't wait to hire your wedding DJ 6 months before your wedding.
Weddingwire is just flat out wrong in this case.
Written by: Justin Gilbert
Wedding DJ for over 10 years