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Hey, Mister DJ

A few weeks ago, we discussed special considerations when hiring a band for your weeding reception. Some of that advice applies to DJ’s, as well, but let’s review a few important points.

Experience and performance are just as important for a DJ/Entertainment company as it is for a band. While anyone can play songs, and experiences DJ will understand the flow of your event, appropriate volume control, and pacing the song selection. However, there are some specific issues to discuss with your DJ.

Their catalog of music is important. Many DJ’s pre-program portions of an event to ensure the songs they need are downloaded properly and are at their immediate disposal. This helps them avoid down time during your party. But many DJ’s specialize in music styles and you should inquire about this before signing a contract. Don’t settle for the DJ telling you they have “everything” or “every song.” Few of them do. Ask to see a set list from a previous affair. You should also ask if they have a form you can fill out that specifies which songs go where. If not, check with your wedding planner and make one yourself. It is a good idea to make this sheet, once finalized, part of your contract. This can help minimize errors during your event. And just like with a band, specify the version of the song you want. This is even more important with a DJ as every version of a song is at their disposal.

Some DJ’s feature lighting and special effects options like strobe lights, fog machines, glitter cannons, bubbles, etc. This is absolutely worth discussing with the DJ in advance. Some people might find the flashing lights and effects fun and exciting, while others might find it irritating and distracting. If you want your dance floor to resemble a club atmosphere, by all means let the DJ know. But if you prefer something more low-key, tell them that, too. You might also want to know if the DJ will be controlling lighting and effects or whether another person will be working along them. Also, consider the audience when deciding on lights and effects. And finally, check with the event hall to see what they allow. Contrary to popular belief, some smoke machines set off smoke detectors and fire alarms. That’s a quick way to ruin your carefully prepared event. The event location should be able to tell you if they have had problems in the past.

Many entertainment companies hand out props and inflatables during your affair. Some people love plastic hats and beads, others do not. This is another thing to discuss with your DJ in advance. Some clients prefer not to have these props as they can be distracting, particularly during quieter times likes speeches and first dances, and because some catering halls will charge an additional cleaning fee if hundreds or inflatable hats and baseball bats are strewn all over the grounds after your party ends. Others may have an environmental objection, as these toys are almost always plastic. Yet others love the fun of silly favors being passed around during the dancing portions of your reception. But again, discuss it in advance. If you are planning a more upscale affair, your DJ throwing beads at your guests might not go over well. Discuss your parameters with your DJ and get the agreement in writing.

And finally, agreements. The more diligent you and your wedding planner are in reviewing agreements with vendors, the better. While it can be tedious, spelling out the details of your expectations in your contracts will avoid a huge amount of stress and misunderstanding on the day of your affair. Here is an area where your wedding planner is truly indispensable. Take the time and make sure that every “i” is doted and every “t” is crossed and you will go a very long way toward ensuring a successful reception. Now, let’s get the DJ to get this party started!

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