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An article by Jennifer Maxwell

Jennifer Maxwell IS The Wedding Coach, and has been planning weddings for nearly a decade.


Today’s post is lengthy, but important! It’s in praise of the humble, and often overlooked DJ, as a fairly unimportant detail – especially to the bride, and especially in comparison to her choice in photographer, dress, flowers, decor etc…. After all, “it’s just music – right?”

Wrong.  Music, or rather, your entire source of entertainment, is KEY to a successful event – your Reception PARTY! Who has a party without music?!

Now you may be thinking, ‘I can just get some speakers, and run my iPod’… Please allow me to assure you, this could be the biggest mistake you’d make on your wedding. And I speak from personal experience here.

When I was a bride, I had a VERY limited budget. And while I DID want to have a DJ, we had a choice to either feed people, or have music. Yes the budget really was that tight. But love prevailed, and we threw caution to the wind, and were married just the same. But not without some regrets. With the music – not the marriage.

I always suggest that my couples consider putting their financial investment toward their memories – for themselves (through photo/video), and for their guests, in the form of great entertainment.

Guests may not remember what the bridesmaid’s bouquets looked like, but they WILL remember how they felt, and if they had a good time.

Here are some of the key reasons hiring a PROFESSIONAL DJ will give you the time of your life (and your guest’s too!) for your wedding celebration:

The most obvious – An excellent selection of music to suit all tastes.

While this may seem silly if you don’t think it’s important, nor care about your guest’s musical taste, but this is a biggie. You really do WANT ALL your guests to enjoy at least some part of the dancing portion. Besides, who doesn’t want to see Grandma shakin’ her thang to some Beatles?!

Ability to keep the crowd dancing by fading out music that clears the dance floor, and revving them back up with another kickin’ song. Having someone manage the music selection LIVE will keep your party going. Can you imagine what would happen if you made a playlist on your iPod and it cleared the dance floor?! Who’s going to manage that? It’s pretty hard to recover from – trust me.

Beat Mixing:  Skilled DJs know how to bring one song down and another up while mixing the two song’s beats together – just like at the club, only it’s your own awesome wedding!

Sound Levels: Not all CDs are created equal, and neither are their sound levels. DJs mix and fine tune each song to ensure that no guest gets blasted, and so that the energy is kept at the same level in the room. Ever noticed that issue on your iPod? You’re not dreaming, it happens. Imagine THAT full scale at your wedding!

As a planner, I have encountered couples that insisted on iPod music. One client in particular had a friend who was supposed to manage the music, however he ended up being seated too far from the soundboard, so every time the volume was too loud or too soft, he’d come running from his table during the middle of dinner to manage it.

After a while, he just didn’t bother! And every time the volume went up or down, every guest’s head would turn toward the sound mixer… ACK!! So I had to step up to become a permanent sound mixer, as well as toast prompter, kitchen cue-r, schedule-keeper, and everything else that a wedding planner must be.

Proper Room Set Up: While you may think it’s fairly a standard process to just set up some speakers, you may be surprised to know there is much more involved. Check it out:

You should have a discussion with your DJ in advance about where the VIP tables will be situated so that these guests can hear best (but again, not too close to the speakers either. Think about Grandma again who will be constantly complaining about the sound levels – she won’t be able to hear the toasts, but then will be annoyed the all that ‘noise’ when the dancing starts!). Strategic advanced planning matters here!

Circuit overload: You’ll want to know your amperage per device so that you don’t blow the breakers – which may be linked to the kitchen, which is in the process of cooking your wedding meal! Oops. Yeah, that.

Safety: Wires need to be taped down too. DJs know how to do this discretely and have ample cord to go around the perimeter of the room, instead of across it! Additionally, some cords may need to go above the door frames for safety reasons and would need to be taped to the wall. However, if you hold your reception at a Heritage location, be rest assured, they have strict rules about what kind of tape can be used. Professional DJs know this and come prepared!

Back up: A professional DJ also has back up equipment should there be any sort of failure. They can quickly grab the spares, and get the party hopping again fast – and perhaps even without anyone ever noticing!

DJ / MC: Not all DJs are great MCs, but some are, and they do know how to manage a microphone with ease. (*Hint: if they hold the mic like a rapper  – all choked up at the top, they’re probably not going to be a great MC choice – on the next MTV awards maybe, but not your ideal MC).

Professional speakers know how to hold a mic properly, they speak into it clearly, and have good diction. Your wedding is not an opportunity to ‘dis the establishment’, so form matters at this occasion!

Also, content is the main entree here, so if they’re worth their salt they’ll want to know your ‘love story’. They’ll do their homework on you so they can host your day with more than enough information to make them look as if they’ve known you for years.

Entertainment: Aside from MC’ing your reception, you’ll want to keep the crowd entertained. Not to worry – a professional DJ will also provide creative input on how to keep the energy alive, and knows where to incorporate the ‘entertainment’ too.

They also know the reception is about the couple (not them!), and will work hard to heighten the day’s emotions too (yes, you really will want to laugh and cry with great joy.) These will be the most powerful memories of your celebration. The biggest belly laughs at our reception are some of my favourite moments. Don’t discount your DJ/MC’s role in this very important element! Look for someone with a balanced personality when interviewing them. If they’re super shy, or over-the-top overt (where you can’t seem to participate in the conversation), they may not have what it takes. Get references – they’ll provide the most honest feedback.

Your professional DJ will also not be crude, or rude, or drink on the job. They’re working after all. And they will dress appropriately, in a suit. And they’ll leave their 8 Ft. promotional banner at the office. Seriously.

Accreditation: Your DJ should demonstrate their professionalism by participating in associations that help keep them fresh and current in the world of wedding entertainment. Here are two associations that support DJs, as well as educate you – the consumer. Check them out:

CPDJA: Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association (www.cpdja.ca)

ADJA: American Disc Jockey Association (http://adja.org/).

So you see, there is MUCH more to a DJ than just his/her music collection. And you certainly get what you pay for. If your DJ is a professional, this will likely be his/her main source of income, and they take their job seriously and charge accordingly.

Don’t regret YOUR wedding by having your guests leave early because they’re having a miserable time. A few hundred dollars difference to hire a professional DJ can make or break the kind of memories you’ll have of your wedding.

Choose wisely, and happy planning!

Note: Special thanks goes to the amazing Michael Coombs and Peter Merry, DJs Extraordinaire! I learned much of what I have shared here through them, both as a leaders in the wedding community, and through first hand experience while working with Michael (Peter – come to Toronto so we can finally work together!). There are countless other amazing DJs I’ve had the pleasure of working with as well, and I thank you all, too! You guys rock.

Jennifer Maxwell - The Wedding Coach

Jennifer Maxwell: www.theweddingcoach.ca

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It's Just Music... Said Every Regretful Bride

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