Picture this: It’s dusk on a terrace that overlooks the ocean. A breeze with just a hint of salt blows though the air while a hundred of your closest friends enjoy their thoroughly vetted cuisine. A hush falls over the crowd…. because there is no music or entertainment so people are sleeping!
A boring wedding is not fun. And in all the years I’ve been planning weddings, I’ve found that people like fun. Now it’s time to get on the old thinking cap and let’s get things going to make fun happen for everyone.
The general basics of ‘fun’ include good food, booze, and dancing. Food and booze we addressed last time; onto the dancing then. You’re going to need a source of music and a lot of people have found that hiring a DJ is the most cost-effective way to provide music. There are more options out there than just DJ. You could hire a band. You could hire a performing arts graduate– those could be a little costly and for an intimate setting of 100 people, something a little more low key might be required.
Hiring a DJ can be a bit tricky. Not because of anything other than quality. Can this person deliver what you want for your wedding? You don’t want a DJ going rogue and playing all the ‘Marilyn Manson’ music he has in his library. And yes, this is going to be another instance where you need to conduct interviews… well, more like auditions.
Because DJ’ing is a service, it’s hard to establish quality without speaking with former clients. Enter the Yelp test. Just like with the caterer, do ‘Yelp’ research for possible DJs. Cross-section them with reviews from Four Square too, and then check their websites for prices. Eliminate the ones that are clearly out of your price range, then move onto the email test.
I don’t know why, but I have come across quite a few jackasses when it comes to DJs. I’m not sure what it is about that field that attracts nutjobs. I’m not saying all DJs are asses. I’m not saying you have to be an ass to be a DJ. I’m just saying the ‘jackass to normal’ ratio in this field is quite a bit higher than any other vendor field. I mention it to prepare you; this isn’t going to be as fun as you think it is.
You want someone who is going to stick with the plan and can follow a schedule. This person is also going to be your MC and will guide people through the different events of your wedding. You want someone who is a professional, and not – I’m sorry to say it – a douche bag. Someone dependable and has dependable equipment. The same rules apply: If they don’t contact you back on your email within 24 hours, cut them. If they are rude in any way, cut them. You don’t need the headache.
Another option that is available is using an iPod. Laugh if you want but if you are over-budget by a couple hundred, this could be a good option for you. You will need someone to monitor the process (another function of your wedding planner), and a bit of equipment, but it can be as great as having a DJ in certain instances. You will also need someone to be your MC – someone to facilitate the events within the wedding. Though it’s great to save all the money – I’m stingy too – when it comes to DIY Wedding, YOU are responsible for the event; for everyone’s fun time; everyone’s lasting memories- No pressure. You will need someone to help facilitate. You want someone there you can trust and who isn’t going to be missed from the participation. You don’t want someone who is a part of your wedding party to be this person because while the wedding party is off taking pictures – if there’s an issue – they won’t be able to address the issue. Just another reason to hire a planner…
Compiling the correct amount of music, the mood of the music, and the timing, can in itself be daunting and time consuming. But with commitment and vigilance, you will prevail! Remember to keep things upbeat and moving. You don’t want more than one slow song to every 4 or 5 dancing songs. If you are going to go with an iPod option, you will want to make the playlist only as difficult as your MC can handle. For example, if my mom is running the iPod, you’re going to want to make things as simple as possible because technology isn’t her friend. On the other hand, if my MIT buddy is running things, he will have things not only mastered (no matter how complicated), but he will have the whole thing programmed with pulsating lights.
One more thing: be wary of people who are willing to do things for free for your wedding. When someone does something for your wedding for free, it can create a feeling that since they’re volunteering their time or services, that you get what you get. Even if it’s a minimal fee or a special gift, make sure to pay them something to establish that you are requiring high-quality; that you aren’t interested in half-ass workmanship just because you’re getting it free. I mention this because everyone has that ‘DJ’ friend who just wants to help out. Stop. Just stop.
Each option has its pros and cons. Your job is to find which option will suit you the best, and delivers the best musical experience.
*This post was originally published 02/27/17*