Have you wondered what a wedding DJ actually does? If you have ever contemplated arranging your own wedding music yourself (you know: make a playlist, plug it into your friend’s speakers and push ‘play’) you should probably know that there is so much more that a wedding DJ does. As the bride – or bridesmaid/mom/sibling – you really shouldn’t be arranging the music yourself unless this is what you do professionally.
What is a DJ’s actual job?
First to arrive, last to leave – life as a DJ isn’t always as simple as pressing play on a laptop. Speaking from personal experience, I have made a list of things that I (along with most DJs) do for every wedding.
There is a lot of work required before the wedding. I need to go through the schedule so that I have a decent idea of the day’s proceedings, sort out the music (make sure that it’s high quality and categorised correctly) and listen to the radio constantly to keep my playlist updated.
When working with a large amount of technology, it is crucial to arrive early to make sure everything is working perfectly. I usually arrive in the morning, set up and do an all-round quality test and replace any equipment that needs replacing (cables, mics, amps etc.). I then triple check the quality of the first dance and walking down the aisle songs. Since I’m there so early, I often end up helping other vendors where I am needed.
The ceremony doesn’t require much work. I would need to cue the aisle music at the correct time and make eye contact with the officiator as to when he will start speaking. If I fade the song out too early, it could ruin the mood, especially if there is a short aisle.
It is also crucial that your DJ can think on his feet. Eg. If the aisle song ends up being too short/they want to listen to the music a bit longer in the moment, I would be able to loop the chorus/ending chords a few times and fade it out where it is needed.
Background music needs to be at a reasonable level for the reception. The music should be ordered in such a way that the beat increases as you get closer to the first dance. This way, people start itching to get on the dance floor as the first dance approaches.
Unfortunately, there is usually a very limited time for the party. Most cases the allocated time is 22:00 – 00:00. 90% of the time, there will be a 30-45 minute delay at some point which allows even less time for dancing.
It is important that the evening starts off with a bang. Here are 3 songs that always work when starting the party:
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars
The DJ needs to have a good idea about how music works. Mixing in key and BPM makes changes between songs clean and precise. He should also know how to read the crowd and play the music that they want to hear.
I usually have an internet connection with me to make sure that I can organise any music requests that I don’t already have.
I not only play and mix music, but I try keep lighting and smoke cued to the music to create an unforgettable night.