So you are getting married. Congratulations. You have booked the wedding venue, the wedding photographer, the caterer, your dress fits perfectly and all you need is to book a DJ. Now, I do not want to scare you, but this could be one of the most important decisions you will make during your wedding planning, and the success thereof could depend on this decision. Therefore the choice of DJ should not be taken lightly. Here are a few tips I would like you to keep in mind when you book a DJ for your wedding.
At first I just need to point out that there are a few different types of DJ’s in the market. I am not going to do a layout of all the different types and their specifications; all you need to do, as a bride to be or groom who is booking the DJ, is to make sure your DJ understands what a wedding entails and what is expected of him on your wedding.
A few years ago when DJ’s were still using the old LP’s, there were not many
DJ’s to choose from, but the more we progress into the digital era; the more DJ’s suddenly appears. With the “birth” of the MP3, there was a sudden explosion in the market with DJ’s, as every Tom, Dick and Harry who has a computer with a few thousands song titles on it sold himself as a DJ. I am not saying that all DJ’s working with MP3’s are bad. It is just that DJ’s who are bad is more likely to be one of those with a computer full of MP3’s. The problem is not as such the MP3, but the way these guys, who have no proper equipment or experience, flooded the market in search of a quick buck at the cost of the client. Very similar are individuals with digital cameras who are all of a sudden doing wedding photography and do not have a clue about photography as a whole. So let us look at a few points that will help you to make a calculated choice when it comes to the choice of a DJ for your wedding.
SAMRO stands for South African Music Right Organization. Who are they, and what do they do? SAMRO is a non profitable organization that generate funds by means of issuing licenses to any DJ, company or building where music is played, whether it is a radio in the back ground, live performance, a shop playing CD’s in the background, restaurants, basically anywhere. This money is then distributed to the composers of music, and to the families of such composers if they half passed on, for up to 50 years after the death of such composer. You see the money is not paid to the artist as they generate their income from the sale of their albums and live performances. If you want to broadcast or perform music that is not composed and performed by you, you must have a license to do so.
Now what on earth has this got to do with my wedding you would say? Very simple: If you book a DJ to play music on your wedding, he must legally have a valid SAMRO License. SAMRO occasionally sends officials to do random checks at various venues to ascertain the validity of the licenses of the venue as well as the performer. Should your DJ not be licensed, he might be arrested and this could mean the end of your wedding as you always dreamed it to be. There are literally hundreds of DJ’s who feel that this license is only a “moneymaking scheme” and refuse to pay and rather take the chance, but there are also a few of us who are serious about our work and do not want to jeopardize our names or our clients. So make sure your DJ is registered; it is just one concern less.
A DJ does not just change CD’s. There is a lot more to a wedding DJ than meets the eye. To be a wedding DJ is not the most difficult job in the world, although it can be very stressful. It takes a few years to build up experience, a good name and a good reliable sound rig. It takes time and patience, and you must learn the flow of different weddings, how the wedding industry works, how the different service providers work, how the different venues work etc. The DJ must take in consideration the preferences and requirements of his clients and must act accordingly.
I have been asked many times by people why a wedding they attended did not function as was planned; everything was great, they even had a club DJ for the evening. Being a wedding DJ is different from being a DJ who plays in a club. You, as the client, must keep in mind that a DJ, who is a “killer” in the club, is not necessarily going to be a “killer” at your wedding. When we go to a club, we go there because we like the type of music that is played, whether it is House, Trans, Kwaito or even Langarm.
The people who you would invite to your wedding are close family, relatives, friends and business colleagues. The age of this group of people varies from 5 to 85 years of age, and your DJ must make sure that every one is having a fantastic party. To use a DJ who will only cater for a selected few can be concerning. He will either frustrate or infuriate the rest of the guests and make their evening one to forget rather than one to remember. And what is the point in inviting your guests if you do not want them to enjoy the evening?
Here is a simple yet valid example: Say for instance there are some guests who do not like a certain part of the meal presented to them. They can simply eat what they like and send the rest back, but with music it is different, they are exposed to the music whether they like it or not and the worst that can happen is that they will leave the wedding. Now you will say that there is always going to be someone who will not like what is played. Yes, you are right, but at some stage in the evening the music is going to appeal to that person in some way or other and this is where a good wedding DJ comes in. He must know when to play which kind of music. He will see when your guests arrive what type of music they like and dislike. He must look at the reaction of the people when he plays certain genres of music. Basically must be able to read the guests even before the dancing starts. This sounds like a tall order, and even I sometimes do not get it right the first time, but as the evening progress, so the tastes of music changes due to a few factors, such as the fact that some guests have left the function, and suddenly there is a burst of energy in the remaining crowd as people are prone to be more reserved in the beginning of a party as well as the presence of other important guests like the grandparents, the dominee/minister work colleagues, ect. This sound ridiculous, but it is a fact that we as wedding DJ’s are confronted with, and have to adjust to.
The DJ is a working service provider on your wedding, same as the photographer and videographer, and must also be neatly dressed. Do not expect him to wear a tuxedo, but ask him about his dress code. You do not want someone at your wedding wearing shorts and a baseball cap…don’t laugh, this do happen. His dress code must be neat yet practical for the work he is doing.
When you are in doubt about the DJ you are planning to book, ask for references. Contact these references and ask about his overall conduct, use of alcohol, and interaction with guests, punctuality, ask other service providers how he treats them and work with them.
Ask your DJ to liaise with the master of ceremonies during the evening to ensure an even flow of events, such as speeches, throwing of the garter and bouquet, cutting of the cake.
You might now argue: but what has his equipment got to do with me, I know nothing about sound equipment. The DJ who looks after his equipment is already starting on the right foot. There is nothing more unsightly than a beautifully decorated hall with flowers, drapes and candles, and here in the corner is a table with the most dilapidated sound equipment you have laid your eyes on. A DJ who looks after his equipment and keeps it neat is serious about his work and is worth considering. You as the client can also ask him if he would object if his speakers were covered to make is less visible in the hall.
Always try to choose a DJ with decent equipment. Here I must be very careful not to step on any toes and I am also not going to mention brand names, but the equipment is very important to the success of your wedding. Proper equipment will give good sound quality that will not be disturbing for your guests. There is nothing worse than to be seated close to a disco speaker that is producing poor sound.
Ask your DJ if he has any backup equipment, should something go wrong. A CD player could stop working, amplifier can blow, microphone can break, motherboard of his PC can burn out etc. Make sure there is a plan B should this happen. Not all DJ’s have backup equipment, as it is costly to have extra equipment just to be on standby, but it is worthwhile considering.
This is an imperative part of this article that you should take notice of. You and your fiancé have a certain music taste. Please, please, please, under no circumstance try to enforce this on your DJ. Believe me it is a foolproof recipe for a disaster. The point I want to make will come clear in the following. A few years ago I was booked for a wedding and when the couple came to see me about the music, I was told to play only the music that will be provided by them. I was not allowed to play any of my own CD’s or anything requested by the guests. In spite of my warnings to the couple that this not the way to do it, they were adamant and just said it is their wedding and so it will be and if the guests did not like it,
then tough. Needles to say this couple were the only people who danced that evening and by half past ten I was on my way home as the party was a total failure. Do you want your wedding to end like this?
Ask your DJ if he has a list of his music collection and if he would object if you highlight a few tracks you would like him to play during the evening. Ask him if he accept requests from your guests. Some DJs do and others do not like to do requests; it all depends on their personal style.
Tell your DJ what kinds of music you like and dislike. This will give him an indication of what is required, but give him the freedom to experiment as well. I am quite often told that “our friends are party animals and they will dance till sunrise if you play this type of music” believe me it does not work this way. Remember your guests are involved in your wedding from the early afternoon and it is very seldom that a party goes on that long. I always say that is good practice to end part on a high note, rather than let it die slowly.
Every wedding is different from the previous one and no DJ will treat it the same. You have guests from all over the world and it is a challenge to keep everyone happy and dancing for the time that they are attending your wedding. Having an experienced DJ is a key factor in ensuring a free flowing, enjoyable, successful wedding.
I hope these few points I mentioned will help you when you need to book your DJ. If you have any questions or if you just want to discuss a few issues, please feel free to contact me.
Enjoy your wedding…after all it is YOUR DAY!!!
Photo Credit: brandeddjagency.co.uk