Give disc jockey's credit. Many of them have endured so much criticism. The banquet managers sometimes won't acknowledge their existence or tries to dictate what they have to do and when. They am forced to haul their $15,000 worth of sound equipment through a greasy kitchen or up a rickety flight of stairs because they don't want them to be seen loading in the nice ramp in front. Wedding professionals need to work together because they should all have the same goal - please the customer (the bride and groom). So many times other professionals forget that fact too easily.
Let's look at the basic facts. The disc jockey relies on the banquet facility to provide the meals and drinks in a timely fashion for the guests. The banquet facility will help coordinate timing to line up with meal service. Some facilities even go as far as supporting the disc jockey during introductions by directing the wedding party and collecting their flowers. For the most part, once the meal is done - you won't see the staff until it's time to clean up. They will walk away from your event and leave everything in the hands of the entertainment.
Without entertainment, people will just leave after the meal. It's up to the disc jockey to entertain your guests for the next three hours. If you took them to a 2-hour movie, you'd pay $9.75 per person to entertain them. You probably just paid $75 per person to feed them (before the 18% gratuity). The $500 ice sculpture, $300 printed napkins and the $3 per person champagne toast pretty much go unnoticed and unappreciated. It is so easy to get caught up in the wedding planning that you just think that you "have" to have it. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture. A wedding reception is an "entertainment" function. Your entertainment choice will clearly make or break your event.
If a party is a flop - the DJ is blamed. Never do you hear the guests complain that the meal was dragged out over 2 hours and that it killed the party. People don't realize that by having a photographer pull a couple out of the festivities for 45 minutes can drain the energy from a wedding reception just as quickly as having the banquet manager turn the lights on full or strip clear the tables to push guests towards leaving.
With that said - your professional disc jockey does more than play music and make a few announcements. They are your event coordinator for the day. They will guide you every step of the way - from telling you where to stand while waiting for the start of parental dances to guiding you to return to the room when you've been out too long. They will make your party come alive with excitement while still maintaining a professional demeanor and not rely on cheesy antics and props. Your disc jockey will advise you when it is time to get the party started after dinner or if the meal is slow, they might suggest that you do some dancing between courses to mask the fact that the banquet staff is behind.
Your disc jockey will play the music you want and avoid the songs that you have placed on your no-play list. They will make sure things go as planned. If your uncle comes up and says he wants to sing you a song in the middle of your reception - they'll stop him until they've cleared it with you first. There will be no surprises with a professional disc jockey.
The fact that your disc jockey mimics so many of the duties of a professional wedding planner during the wedding reception are not by accident. It is what they do. Some disc jockeys have even gone as far as to now provide pre-wedding coordination and planning duties (including menu review, vendor contract negotiations, vendor approval, invitation wording, wine pairing and so much more) through an in-house dedicated wedding planner. This way your wedding planner and your entertainment are working together in harmony with your plans.
In order to facilitate better events, our company has started to email clients a week before to give them every opportunity to have the best event possible. Here are some of the hints that we provide:
Hello, it's your DJ. Your wedding is about a week away and I just wanted to email you and let you know a few things that you can do to help make your event run smoothly and get the most out of your time at the reception. Please circulate this email to your parents and everyone in your wedding party. The more people that are in tune with what to do that day - the better your event will be.
1. If there are any last minute changes to your itinerary - LET US KNOW AHEAD OF TIME. We need to be prepared and can help you orchestrate things much smoother only if we know about them before it's too late. We can help guide you as to the best way to flow from one event to the next. Call or email us with those changes immediately. Thank you.
2. All formal photos should be completed by the end of dinner. That means - if you need to get a group photo of your college friends, grandmother or whomever - by the time they clear the main entrée away - that photo needs to happen. If you pull people (and yourselves) out of the party for a group photo - you lose about 25 minutes of dance time. Yes, the photo only takes 5 minutes, but it takes 10 minutes to gather everyone up. It takes you about 10 minutes to walk back into the room as you will keep getting stopped by friends and family. It's never just a quick shot.
3. If you need to socialize with your guests - do as much of it between courses as you can. Get up, visit a few tables and then go sit back down and eat the next course. If you wait until after dinner to start walking around - you will lose valuable dance time. Be careful not to get behind in the meal. If your guests finish before the two of you, that is not good either. When the next course is set for you, go and eat. You can always finish talking to people later - or better yet - meet them on the dance floor.
4. The end of the meal is critical - both you, your parents and the wedding party need to be in the room. Once you start seeing the wait staff clearing plates - you should STAY IN THE ROOM. We could delay the start of dancing by 10-15 minutes trying to get the key players back in the room. The longer we wait to start - the harder it is to get people focused on the party. We will give you and your parents a 10 minute warning before activities are about to get started - use the bathroom, freshen up, take your smoke break or whatever you need to do - BUT BE BACK IN THE ROOM AND READY TO GO.
5. Once we open dancing up - the more people that come out - the quicker we can get the party on the way. If you really want to help prime the party, both you, your parents and the entire bridal party (and their partners) should spend the first 15 minutes (~3 songs) on the dance floor. Everyone is looking to you to set the tone of the event - if you are out dancing - your guests will follow.
6. If you have to leave the room (and you should really leave the room separately (never together) - leaving one of you in the room to play host for your guests at all times), make sure you quickly go and do what you have to do and return. The longer you are out of the room - the more energy is drained from the party. Also, if you are standing talking with guests be aware of WHERE you stand. If you position yourself next to the exit - you will draw people to you and out of the party. Always position yourself so you pull people away from the exits and near to the dance floor.
7. We will be able to play more of the music that you've selected if you dance. If people are not dancing - our first concern is to get people involved before they decide to leave instead. Once we have a good dancing crowd - it's much easier to fit in more of your & your guests' requests.
8. Have fun. If you are not having fun - how can you expect your guests to be? Be part of the festivities. Socialize, dance and have the time of your life. Your DJ will be there to guide you every step of the way. If you are unsure as to what to do next - we can help. We will be touching base with you over the course of the event and will let you know if you have been out of the room too long or if we need you to help us refocus attention on the dance floor.
Whether it is a low-key event or a "dance-on-the-tables" feel that you want for your wedding; your professional mobile disc jockey should be able to paint the scene for you. Discuss your needs. Tell them what you've seen before - both what you liked and what you hated at other weddings. But most of all, come and have the time of your life at your wedding! Remember, if you remember the music, you'll never forget the times.
Rob Alberti is owner of After Hours DJ Service based out of Westfield, MA and serves the MA/CT/RI areas since 1983. Michelle Scagliarini has years of experience in both banquet hall, catering and in the entertainment field. Michelle has worked with hundreds of brides, celebrities in the music and entertainment industries as well as corporate clients and has a unique background with After Hours DJ, giving her a well-rounded approach to event planning.