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Ten Things Your Wedding DJ Needs to Know!

wedding dj

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Hey, Mr. DJ

Your wedding DJ typically acts as the official MC of the event, making him (or her!) a very important vendor. Of course you are going to give your DJ a song list so they know what to play for the processionals, recessionals, special dances, etc., but there’s a lot more the DJ should know to ensure your event is exactly how you want it. Here’s a list of TEN things your wedding DJ needs to know!

1. For what parts of the event they are DJing and/or need to provide mics

This is important if, say, you have a live string quartet for the ceremony, and the DJ only needs to provide a microphone for the officiant and won’t play music until the cocktail hour. Will you have a speaker during the ceremony (as in, someone who is reading a poem or verse), then the DJ may need to provide an extra stand mic.

2. Timing and location of wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception

This is especially important if venues are changing or there are multiple hours in between the ceremony and cocktail hour.

3. Whether the ceremony, cocktail hour, and/or reception are indoors or outdoors

DJs need to understand the elements in which they will be working. If outdoors, will there be shade cover? What is Plan B in the event of inclement weather?

4. If guest tables will be positioned between the DJ and dance floor

This will impact the location of the speakers which are normally situated next to the DJ, but can be adjusted if that would be a nuisance to adjacent tables.

5. If the DJ will announce the bridal party and/or newlyweds

Will parents/grandparents be announced? How about bridal party? Will the gents escorts the ladies or will they be announced individually? How do you want the DJ to announce you and your new spouse? This all feeds the timeline, as well.

Did you know some DJs offer lighting packages, too? If they don’t, or if you are looking for a more affordable option, don’t be afraid to rent! The company Rent My Wedding has amazing rental options for monogram lighting (pictured), uplighting (a must!), starry night lighting, etc.

Monogram Lighting Rental Package from Rent Your Wedding

6. Desired "motivation" level during open dance time

The motivation level is the amount of interaction above and beyond acting as DJ and MC.  Do you want the DJ to play songs and make announcements only? Then you’re looking for a low motivation level. Do you want the DJ to use the mic and encourage dancing, but not get on the dance floor? You’re looking at a moderate motivation level. Do you want the DJ to get on the dance floor, set up special dances (e.g., soul train), and be a ball of energy? Then you’re looking at a high motivation level. The latter may require the use of a DJ assistant.  It is super important to be on the same page as your DJ when it comes to motivation level.

7. Information for Announcements

You will be creating a timeline with your DJ and you should ensure that there are no surprises. Are you doing a choreographed first dance that requires you to be in-place?  Do you want to do a bouquet toss? Is your cake going to be placed on a dessert table and not handed out to guests? Is there an early shuttle departure time? Will you  be giving centerpieces away? The DJ needs to know all these things.

8. Music Style and Allowances

What kind of music do you want for cocktail hour? What kind of music do you want during dinner? What decades of dance music do you want played during open dance? (50’s to today). Are there certain genres you want to focus on or exclude? Are you a yay or nay on line dances? How about song transitions? Do you like speed mixing (when only a short amount of the song is played before switching to the next) or do you prefer songs to stay on for a littler longer? 

Moreover, do you want the DJ to accept guest requests? And if so, should they be allowed to play requests even if the song is on the “do not play” list?

Is the DJ allowed to read the room and play music accordingly or do you want to provide the whole playlist?

9. Guest Demographics (Age)

It helps the DJ to plan if they understand the age demographics of the party. Are there going to be a lot of children? Is it mostly going to be young adults? Or maybe it’s mostly older family members.

10. Vendor List

The DJ needs to coordinate with the other vendors to ensure everyone is ready for the events of the day. If the DJ starts playing the processional music but the bridal party isn’t ready yet, that’s not going to go over very well.  Alternatively, if things begin before everyone’s ready, your photographer may miss photo ops which would be truly devastating! People in the industry tend to know each other too, so it’s possible your DJ has worked with your officiant, or day-of coordinator, or photographer before. If they know that in advance, they can prepare for the interaction (whether it’s a good or bad thing).

TIP: Not all DJs are MCs and we encourage you to clarify this during your search. Some don’t want to make announcements and just want to play music. Some have assistants for the announcements. Just make sure when you are interviewing companies and DJs, their role is clear.

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Pros & Cons of the First Look

groom covers eyes as bride approaches him from behind for first look

Are you uncertain about whether or not you want to do a first look with your future spouse for your wedding day? We’ve provided a list of pros and cons to help you decide!

first look, groom facing away from bride
first look - bride and groom high five

PRO 1: You'll have more time for photos (read: less stress).

 Since you’ll have already seen each other, you can do some or all of your formal wedding portraits before the ceremony. As a bonus, you will probably get more photographs since you aren’t limited to the time between the ceremony and reception. Since you have more time, you can make sure to get all the pictures on your shot list.

CON 1: Your day will start earlier.

You’ll have to work with your photographer to ensure you are dressed and ready to go with enough time to get all the desired portraits taken before the wedding. Depending how early your ceremony is and how many people are getting ready with you, this could result in your hair & make-up artist charging an early arrival fee. 

PRO 2: You get to see each other for the first time privately.

A quiet moment together before the wedding is something special that you can cherish. If being the center of attention is not your thing, this is one moment of the day where not all eyes have to be on you.  If you’re worried that the groom won’t be as genuinely emotional if he sees you beforehand, remember that him watching you walk down the aisle is more than about seeing you in your wedding gown. It’s an experience that is going to trigger all the feelings and emotions as you share such a sacred moment.

CON 2: You could feel awkward since it's not candid.

Since the photographer is there for the sole purpose of documenting your reactions at the reveal, it could feel a little awkward. If you prefer to not see each other until the altar, all those photos will be naturally candid. 

PRO 3: It can ease the jitters.

Seeing each other before the ceremony can help take the edge off. This is your life partner and you will be naturally comforted by the fact you are able to be with each other before the biggest party you will ever host. 

CON 3: You will break with tradition.

Traditionally speaking, it is bad luck if the groom sees the bride before the wedding. Even if you are not superstitious yourself, it could upset more traditional family members (but I am a big proponent of planning your day for the two of you and not based on others’ opinions).

PRO 4: You will have more time to spend with your guests.

If you take some or all of your formal portraits before the ceremony, you can actually attend some or all of your own cocktail hour! There are so many obligations during the wedding day and you may feel that you don’t have enough time with each guest. How many weddings have you been to where you’ve barely spoken with the bride and groom? If it’s important to you to ensure you get time with everyone, getting photos done beforehand is key.

CON 4: Your bridal party and family may get bored or tired.

Since your family and/or bridal party will also have to be ready hours before the event actually starts, they could get bored when they are not in the photos and they could get tired early from being on their feet most of the day. Try to ensure there is seating available for people who aren’t actively being photographed and plenty of water bottles to go around. 

Two First Looks?

It’s fairly common to do a first look with your future spouse. Something new that is gaining in popularity is doing a first look with your dad. If you have the time and the logistics work out, consider this special father-daughter moment. It’s sure to make him beam with pride (and shed a bunch of tears if your dad is anything like mine 😉 ). 

What Did You Decide?

Did you have a first look or did you wait to see your partner until the altar? Share your experience and perspective in the comments below!