So you are wondering how to DJ a wedding reception! The first thing you have to do is know what kind of wedding you are Djing and what nationality the two families are. You have to do some research of their tradition and culture before hand. Some nationalities are old fashioned and very simple and some are open minded to new ideas.
First of all, it is always about the money. So get the business side of the deal done first. Write out a contract with the appropriate amount of payment for your DJ services. You should be compensated on the number of hours you will be there and amount of equipment you will have to bring. Include any additional expenses for travel. Be sure to sign an agreement as far in advance as possible that explains all of these fees, and get a deposit. The deposit is only returned if they cancel the event 60 days in advance. If I charge $1000 for the event, I want at least $200 deposit or 20%. I charge a lot more for weddings because of the planning aspect of it. The planning aspect can take over a month to prepare.
The first step is to meet with the bride and groom before their wedding as far in advance as possible. I like to ask for a special music request sheet of their favorite artists and songs. I tell them to list as much songs as possible so I can try to get them if I don’t already have them. This gives me a good idea of the type of music they like and the type of artists they enjoy. This is their special day, so you have to accommodate them with their favorite hits. It is a good idea to prepare a CD with some slow and upbeat songs you regularly would play at a wedding. Include familiar songs that they know to give them some ideas of what you are working with.
Now that you know what songs they like, it is time to start planning the event. You have to have the necessary equipment and wear the appropriate attire for the event. Every wedding reception will consist of different equipment, but let’s just say they only want a DJ and a host. I always want to make sure I have the entire night planned out as far as time wise. For example, if the event is four hours the schedule of everything should be time allocated. When I usually DJ a wedding reception, I use the first half an hour for introducing the best man, bridesmaid, bride’s parents, groom’s parents and bride and groom. My technique is playing a crowd motivating song for each introduction that fits the individuals appropriately. I always ask for their special request song for this part of the event before hand. It is great to entertain the crowd with an exciting and formal introduction with music. Planning is the key and writing it out will make things run smooth. So the first half an hour is for the introduction, the next half an hour to 45 minutes is for each group to have their song to dance to. I will announce for the best man or men and bridesmaids to share a dance. Just one song is enough for each. The parents of both the bride and groom will then be asked to share a dance. After this, I will ask the bride to share a dance with groom’s father and the groom to share a dance with the bride’s mother. After one song, they switch to their own parents. The final part will be the bride and groom having their special dance. This should take a half an hour but it usually runs for more than 45 minutes. I usually cut the cake first and have the family photos taken first so that it is not overlooked with distractions during the other activities. Planning is the key, and preparation makes it work.
After the introduction, the guests will relax and the food will be served. I will try to arrange a variety of games for the bride and groom to participate in. Play smooth love songs and instrumental jazz music while the food is being served. The eating portion of the event should take up an hour or more. After an appropriate amount of time, I would ask the father of the bride and the father of the groom to make a special toast. Another fifteen minute down the drain, and more money for doing very little. I love weddings because it can be easy as a piece of cake.
Give them their airtime, and then I usually request for only the married couples first to share a dance. You have to very persuasive in motivating them to get up and dance. Learning how to MC and host an event is another part for another day. Let the married couples have their moments and then ask the single people to share a dance. One or two songs for each are enough.
I get into the fun and games after this part of the event. Of course you have the tossing of the bouquet and corset by both the bride and groom. Whoever catches the corset, will have to get on his knees and try to place the corset on the lady’s leg that caught the bouquet. The many other activities that I’ve used before is asking the attendees to write one advice on an index card and a few of them will be read aloud. I also came up with a blindfold game where the groom is blindfolded and he has to figure out what fruit the bride is serving him. The object of this game is to embarrass the groom by getting the best man to feed him a banana in an inappropriate way so that the attendees will laugh out in a riot. This is abuse! It never gets old! There is a lot of fun and games so you will have to do some research and find some on your own.
After all of these activities, you should have about 45 minutes to just jam and play music to dance to. Like I said, it’s like taking candy from a baby. Easy Money! This portion of the night is very important in attaining your next gig. Play the most popular crowd pleasing songs back to back. Mix up the genres of music but just make sure you play number one hits. Use their special request and play other songs that fit the songs they requested. Host and say a couple of quotes to hype up the crowd in between transition of genres.
If you follow some of my tips, you should be rewarded with a nice tip and some referrals for your next gig. Good luck on your journey to becoming the next great wedding DJ.