What Do Wedding DJs Actually Do During A Wedding?
By: Robert Kermidas (DJ Midas)
Wedding DJs. What Can They Do For Your Wedding??
For those that are not familiar with professional Wedding DJs, it may seem like all that they do is push a button, play some music, and that is about it. Show up to the gig for a couple of hours, play some songs people requested, and then get outta there. I am here to dispel that thought pattern and show you the legitimate time and thought that goes into a quality DJ/MCs performance. From the song selections to the mixing ability, to the activities, to the programming. A quality professional DJ can be the make or break ingredient in your dream wedding.
Yes, planning, and playing back music is one of the core functions of a DJ, but there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes to create a memorable wedding. Your Wedding DJ is your entertainment coordinator and many times the Wedding DJ also stands in as a pseudo-Wedding Coordinator, helping raise attention to large moments in the celebration, as well as helps plan the activities, specific song selections, and general feel/ambiance to the event. So what does a wedding dj really do prior to the event? To some people’s surprise, it’s an awful lot, a wedding DJ starts to prepare well before the actual wedding day. In fact, it starts with the very first contact with their clients after they book.
Now I can’t speak for all Wedding DJs, and yes there are a number of DJs that handle weddings that do not do the following and can sour the experience for many couples. However, I’d like to give you a glimpse of what I do as part of my companies Wedding DJ services, as well as give you some better industry knowledge on what you can now expect out of a Professional Wedding DJ.
Did We Just Become Best Friends?
One of the very first things I do when meeting with a new couple is figuring out what exactly you are looking for. What kind of music do you like? Do you want lighting or a photobooth included? What colors do you want your venue to be lit in? What atmosphere of vibe do you want? Would you like to dance on a cloud for your first dance? Do you want to dance under a beautiful spotlight to be the center of attention? What interesting things have you experienced at other weddings and want to incorporate or build upon? All of this information becomes the foundation for determining the things you want, and don’t want, at your wedding. All of these questions are important in learning how you like to celebrate and what your guests expect out of your entertainer.
I then quote you a price and will patiently wait (and gently nag) for you to select your DJ.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work.
While the first phase of the discussions gives us DJs a glimpse into what you are looking for. Once you get closer to your wedding date the details need to be further fleshed out. Typically about 60 days out from your wedding I have a series of forms that will get filled out, which help me guide many of the key elements of your wedding; from the pronunciation of your wedding party guests, to if you are going to have a bouquet toss. I have to admit, the list can be a bit tedious for some. But it’s very important for me to know all the ins and outs of the celebration so I can help ensure that you have a great night of entertainment.
It is also around this time that I will start to reach out to the venue to find any guidance or specific instructions. If I am unfamiliar with the location I’ll typically plan a trip to the site to determine things like establishing a line of communication with the venue. Equipment placement can be critical for some locations so that has to be noted. I will also reach out to the vendors like the photographer and videographer to begin our collaboration for your wedding.
The Diligence Is In The Details
So while some planning meetings can be “done in one sitting” the truth is elements of the wedding change all the time. Headcount changes can force changes to the floor plans. Musical selections might be altered to accommodate a group of people. You may decide to enhance your experience that you didn’t plan before, the list can go on. I always reach out to my couples 30 days out to see what has changed, and what hasn’t, and see if more formal meetings are required.
It’s at this time that I want the couple to lock in their special songs just in case it takes a while to procure anything. There are times I have literally ordered vinyl from Europe for a first dance where I could not obtain a copy otherwise. So if you have an odd song I suggest getting it in by this time so I can procure it.
Preparing For Your Special Day
Usually, the week prior I begin to lock things in place. I go over the details and make final timelines, if there is a question about a detail that I don’t have an answer to, I am not afraid to ask. I want to make sure that your day is as stress-free as possible! Establishing all your special songs in specific “crates” of music. Cloning my hard drive so I have multiple copies of music to play on. I go over all my equipment to make sure nothing is missing. I send the vendors and the venue some of the information I gather. There is a surprising amount of “little things” that I have to check off before your wedding day comes.
The Day Arrives
When the wedding day arrives, for many DJs it means workout time and it’s no different for me. I am a solo-run DJ business which means I put all my equipment in my vehicle, drive, unload, setup, test, perform, breakdown, drive home, and unload. If you are doing a ceremony as well I have not one but two separate systems to setup and configure. Once setup and everything is tested out, the real fun begins.
Sharing Is Caring
There are many DJs that are in it for the ego, the adrenaline rush, the need to control everything. For a quality wedding DJ, that ego is checked out. There is no room for conflicting personalities. Everyone needs to be working as a team, supporting each other where needed. This means working with the venue to ensure all the critical points on the timeline are met. Or notifying the photographer and videographer when things are about to happen so they don’t miss a shot. If a change in plans happens that you can work that into the timeline to ensure nothing is missed. Line everyone up for introductions and conveying any special instructions to make sure everything goes as planned.
The “Clutch Shot”
Making sure nothing goes wrong is always on a DJs mind, and for good reason. A photographer can have a bad photo but there are literally hundreds of great shots to choose from. Florists can have a wilted flower or two but it may be overlooked by the remaining stunning assortments. Caterers can have a bad plate of food, but the hundred or more other plates are exquisite. But if something fails with the DJ especially at those critical moments all bets are off. A wedding DJ does not get a second chance and they must react at a moment’s notice. If a microphone cuts out a backup is at the ready. A song fails to play and another copy of it is a click away. A tremendous amount of care for your event is given by the DJ to ensure that your entertainment goes as flawlessly as possible.
Managing the Evening
After the vows are taken, the casual conversation of cocktail is concluded, the last bites are eaten and the last speeches are made then it’s the DJ’s time to shine. Playing a great set of dance music based on all the discussions you had prior. Trying to cross different age groups, genres and styles to make everyone feel included. I take a lot of pride in my knowledge of music and my ability to seamlessly blend track into track. That is where the art of Real DJ’ing comes into play and that is what you pay a professional DJ to do well. Peaks and valleys all implemented perfectly to curate an entertaining evening.
A Different Vibe Everytime
For those that have seen the club or party DJ in action, I have to tell you, the whole arrangement and vibe is different. The mechanics can be totally different in trying to build up a crowd because after spending two, three, or more hours of not dancing, some people want to jump right into a big dance set. Also knowing how to read a crowd and having an eclectic music background is a must. In one night you could go from club hits to country, to EDM, to old school Hip Hop, 80s op, 90s House; and as a DJ you have to have a pretty intimate knowledge of that diversity. But the goal is still the same, getting people dancing hard, picking songs that make a guest look at you with amazement; that look on their face at that moment is priceless.
Rob Kermidas (DJ Midas)
Biography: Robert Kermidas has been DJing since 2008 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres and became a wedding DJ in 2016. Coincidentally, Rob is also a successful 10+ year Digital Marketing Director and professional Event Manager. Merging quality events with competent technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Rob’s background.