the one mistake couples make when hiring their DJ
When you hire a DJ for your wedding, did you know that you are not hiring them based on the fact they play music? That sounds crazy, right? I mean, they are called disc jockeys for a reason!
I’ll be the first to admit that we hired a DJ for our wedding because we wanted people to dance, have a good time, and get their groove on for a couple of hours. But when I stopped to think about it, our DJ did so much more than play music. Actually, the music came second to what really made our guest have a good time.
Here’s what I mean. A few weeks ago I saw this on the website of Digital Musicians Entertainment: “In this new age of easy access to technology it seems like it’s possible for anyone with a laptop and some speakers to be a “wedding DJ.” The truth is, what we do encompasses so much more than pressing play. It’s so much more than playing other people’s music through some big speakers.”
I was floored! That really made a lot of sense, so I thought I would ask professional wedding DJs in the Hudson Valley their thoughts, and they all agreed that playing music is just a part of what makes your wedding hop.
David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, says, “A lot of people think that a DJ is a human jukebox – that a DJ just plays music – and that is about the last thing we do.”
In fact, Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie, says, “The DJ, more important than the music, guides and directs, becomes the master of ceremonies, makes sure things happen at the right time, they coordinate between the vendors, the caterer, and the other various vendors. … The DJ is the nucleus of the formalities.”
Those are some powerful words – the nucleus of formalities. So let’s break this down into what DJs really do, and that goes far beyond playing music.
Wedding DJs can sometimes act like your wedding planner, and guests look at them as the ones in charge
Think about weddings you’ve attended in the past. Did it seem like a choreographed dance? Dances, speeches, cake cutting, dinner, photos all seemed to be happening at the right time. That wasn’t by chance.
“There’s so much more to DJing a wedding than just playing music,” says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. “We’re involved in everything, and the whole flow of the evening is in our hands. We need to make sure that everything is happening according to the schedule. We need to make sure that it’s what you want it to be, and planning is the biggest part of that.” That includes working with all your vendors and making sure everyone is on the same page following the same schedule.
Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro, says, “DJs aren’t just playing music. It is not an iPod. An entertainment company is a wedding planner, an MC, and a DJ. They are working closely together with all the other vendors, as well as the venue, to ensure the greatest success of the event for the couple.”
This is why Fischer says guests often look at the DJ like they are the ones in charge.
Wedding DJs are also the MCs (Master of Ceremonies) and entertainers
I spoke to Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor, who was the inspiration for this post, to explain what was written on his website. “The DJ is so much more than playing music,” he says. “If you take away the master of ceremonies or if you take away the DJ, yes, you have somebody playing music at your wedding … but the downfall to that is, all the little things add up and take away from the total music time.” Little things, such as not mixing songs properly, stalling when certain formalities are being done, essentially anything that a DJ with little experience does, that interrupts that natural flow of the night and takes away from dance time.
When you work with a single operation DJ, meaning the DJ is the company, they are the DJ and the MC. With multi-operation DJ companies, meaning the DJ business has several DJs working for them, you will often times get a DJ and an MC for your wedding. Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls, says, “It’s really important to have a two-man show, like a team. You need a DJ to play the music all night long and an MC to be on the microphone and get in the crowd to make sure that everything is being hosted correctly.”
DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls, says, “If certain things don’t come together … if the DJ isn’t doing a good job moving people through the day, people will remember that lack of flow, they’ll remember it wasn’t organic, it wasn’t natural.”
Wedding DJs are your own personal AV, backstage, and lighting crew
Swatek explains “a good MC, a good DJ will get their hands into every single part of the wedding day, even little things like ‘what are your wedding colors?’ Well, why are you asking that? Because I’m bringing lighting, and I want to make sure that it coordinates with what you’re doing.”
But you also need to look at your wedding day as a whole, not just the reception, in terms of what you are hiring your DJ to do. For example, are you having an outdoor ceremony? Then you need wireless mics. Are you having music at cocktail hour? Then you need a separate setup.
Fischer says, “They (couples) lean on me a lot for the ceremony. Two-thirds of all the weddings I do, I’m involved in the ceremony.” He says almost any ceremony outside of a place of worship is going to need something, whether its live music like a violinist or at the very minimum a PA system. “If they (the couple) are out in the middle of a field on a farm and there are 200 guests,” he says, “the people in the first three rows are going to hear it (the ceremony) but what about the other 175 guests? So at the minimum, you need PA.”
Mahan says music should really be the last thing you discuss with your DJ. “The music is a byproduct of the process,” he says, “and the process is what’s important.” A truly experienced and qualified wedding DJ will be able to answer questions like “What happens if the first song cuts out? What happens if I have a last minute request? How do you accommodate that?”
So, you can see, a wedding DJ does so much more than play music. In our next article, we’re going to teach you the best ways to hire a DJ, what you should be looking for and questions to ask.
If you already booked your DJ or had your wedding, what did your DJ do that surprised you in any way? What made you say “Oh, I didn’t know that?”