Almost all soon-to-be-newlyweds have been there: you’ve been planning the wedding for months, if not years.
The cake’s been taste tested by the entire family, the dress has been fitted (three times), the canapés and wedding breakfast confirmed and your Dad has already done the booze cruise to Calais (obviously you’ll have bought five times as much as you need, and will be drinking that bottle of ‘wedding day red’ until 2020). You’ve just about recovered from your stag and hen weekends, and virtually everything has been organised apart from one crucial thing: the music.
At this stage of the planning – with costs snowballing and budgets squeezed – one question is inevitable. Do you really need to spend money on a professional wedding DJ? We all know how to make a good party playlist on Spotify, right?!
Wrong! Skimping on your DJ is a fast-track to an empty dance floor, and here are some of the reasons why you should book a professional wedding DJ.
1. Weddings are a special day and they require specialists
You want your wedding day to be perfect in every single way. It’s why you spend hours making sure your wedding breakfast menu is just right, rather than just asking your local chippy to supply some battered sausage and chips (Nan would never approve).
Regardless of how much we love fish and chips, the point still stands – the best weddings are all about employing the best people to do each specialist job. Your DJ should be seen not just as the provider of music but also as your evening reception specialist – get the right one and your night will be one to remember, get the wrong one and it could be one to forget. After all, no-one wants an accidental YMCA as their first dance.
2. Professional DJs know how to build – and keep – a dancefloor
People like to think that being a DJ is easy. After all, isn’t it just playing good songs?! Not really. Everyone will have a story of a DJ that completely messed up that wedding, party, or club night.
DJing a wedding is a much harder job than it appears. But the best DJs are able to pull together all of your song and genre requests and mix them in with the inevitable requests from your guests. They are able to use their experience to add their own selections, successfully keep a broad cross-section of people happy for the entire night and most importantly, they know how to build a dance floor and keep them there ‘til the very last bars of New York, New York.
3. Professionals are invested in their own business, and you
The professional wedding DJ cares about their business – every single client is important to them because word-of-mouth both online and in person counts for everything. They are therefore highly motivated to provide a superior level of customer service and attention to detail to ensure that they are recommended and reviewed in glowing terms.
In the case of amateur DJs, the opposite is often true – you are likely to be dealing with someone without a business name, their own website and an online presence. With so little motivation for them to treat you with the care you deserve, do you trust them to handle something as important as your wedding day?
4. Professionals know how to manage an event properly
These are a heap of logistical considerations when it comes to your wedding day. The best weddings run with military precision, with transport and parking organised on time, and each section of the day running smoothly into the next.
Having an experienced DJ that knows how to manage the change between speeches (as well as having the knowledge to manage the microphones properly), background music, first dance, cake cutting and then the party is invaluable.
5. An amateur DJ will not include a site visit as part of their service
When you hire a professional DJ, you are paying for their preparation time as much as their time spent on site. They may only be DJing for four hours but the preparation time that goes into making sure those four hours are perfect will be 4-5 times that. A site visit allows your DJ to plan the appropriate equipment for the space, to meet the venue staff and even make sure they know where their power points will be on the night. There is nothing worse than a DJ running around your reception looking for somewhere to plug in their 20m extension cable, 15 minutes before the first dance. We’ve seen it happen – and would rather not see it again!
6. A professional DJ comes with professional equipment
It may be a cliche, but it’s true: you get what you pay for.
For a professional DJ, their sound system, lighting rig and backline equipment are the tools of their trade and as such you will find that the quality and the aesthetics of their setup will be hugely important. Along with carrying quality equipment, little touches like speaker stand covers, mobile DJ booths and tasteful uplighting set the professional DJ apart from the amateur.
7. They own backup equipment
What happens if, as has been known on numerous occasions, your DJ’s equipment breaks down? This is a risk for any event and anything from a blown speaker or amplifier, through to issues such as a broken lead or a blown fuse can cause panic. Experience of and forward planning for these potential issues is what separates a professional from an amateur and what can mean the difference between a minor hiccup and a disaster. A professional DJ will be covered for all eventualities and will carry backups of everything (including speakers) as well as having a contingency in place for multiple equipment or power failures.
8. And have backup DJs
What is worse than broken equipment? A broken DJ. Whether they’re sick, stuck in a 20 mile tailback on the M25 or just have the hangover from hell after their mate’s stag the night before, your DJ pulling out at the last minute is your worst nightmare. However, professional DJ companies will have a roster of DJs that they can call on as replacements and the very best companies will employ an “on call” service meaning that no matter what happens to your DJ, they will make sure that you’re covered.
9. A professional DJ will give you time
Professional DJ services will always offer to meet in person or at the very least to talk face to face via Skype or Facetime. It’s always an advantage to be able to put a face to an email address and be able to properly discuss your needs with them. When you’re planning things as important as your first dance, you need to make sure you have every confidence in the person that will be delivering that moment for you.
10. A professional DJ will have a suitable musical database
A good, professional DJ should update their music database every week and will always be looking for new songs to work into their sets. They should also be able to cover any genre required of them as well as being able to call upon almost any song that may get requested over the course of the evening. It is also a given that a professional should make sure they have all of the songs that you have requested to hear at their disposal.
11. Their technical skills will take your wedding to the next level
The very best DJs don’t just have the best equipment and a knack for playing the right songs at the right time, they also have the technical skills to add pace and dynamism to your wedding set. A wedding set often takes in a vast array of differing styles as the DJ tries to cater for the often diverse dancefloor. And while you probably don’t want your DJ to use your wedding as an opportunity to test out their new scratch routine, it is definitely an advantage that your DJ is competent, skillful and able to mix your set seamlessly.
12. They offer additional services
Professional companies will be able to offer you additional services that can add that extra bit of pizazz to your day.
These services will of course be chargeable extras but add-ons such as photo booths, professional lighting setups, festoon lighting, hire-in dance floors and low level fog machines are all certainly worth considering when deciding where you should spend your budget.
Think long and hard about hiring that karaoke system though. Do you really want drunk uncle Pete belting out “I Will Survive” four times in a row, through salty tears?
13. Cheap DJs very often go out of business
Wedding DJing is a competitive market with a vast amount of companies and individuals vying for your business. Often the only way that amateur DJs can secure bookings is by offering their services at rock-bottom prices. And while this can work in the short-term, it very often leads to amateur DJ companies ending up on the scrap-heap.
This isn’t necessarily a problem for you – unless they go out of business a week before your wedding. Cue a last-minute scramble to find a suitable replacement, and a huge amount of stress piled on top of an already stressful week.
14. Professional DJs will have useful tips to make your day even better
Professional DJs and professional DJ companies are very likely to have been in the business for some time. They will have catered to every type of wedding imaginable and they will have a good idea of what can make a wedding special – they may even have gone through it themselves. It is these extra pieces of information and advice that can make all the difference when you are planning your day.
Not only will your DJ be able to advise on the music, they will also being able to suggest little touches that can turn your reception from run of the mill to off the chart.
15. Professionals won’t make amateur mistakes
We’ve all been there. You’re just getting into the tune that the DJ has put on and all of a sudden they’re on the mic babbling something that sounds a lot like them asking you to “HAVE IT LARGE”. No thanks. Sadly, a common mistake made by inexperienced or out-of-touch DJs is them telling the dancefloor to “get into it”. The best DJs know that what you really want is to dance and sing along to your favourite songs with your friends and family (EVEN drunk uncle Pete), without the DJ shouting “BASS IN THE PLACE, LONDON” (when your reception is in the Somerset countryside) over and over again.
16. They know how to dress
Most wedding receptions have a dress code – formal, fun, festivally, the choice is yours. So it’s massively important that your DJ turns up in appropriate clothing for your wedding – a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops may suit that boho wedding in Kent, but won’t go down too well in a luxe hotel in Knightsbridge.
17. They can act as emcee (AKA herder-of-cats)
How many weddings have you been to where you’ve missed the cake cutting, or even the first dance because you were busy propping up the bar and didn’t realise when things were happening? Your answer may well depend on how many weddings you’ve been to where there’s been a DJ who is also an experienced emcee. With drinks flowing and attention spans waning, a good quality emcee is invaluable for making sure that your guests aren’t at the bar doing their fourth Jägerbomb instead of watching you smush your expensive cake into each other’s faces.
18. A professional will have Public Liability insurance
This is an often-overlooked aspect of wedding planning, but one that could well be the most important thing to make sure that your supplier can provide. The reason for this insurance is twofold: firstly it ensures that your guests are covered from any accident caused by external equipment, and secondly it ensures that all of the equipment used is PAT tested and therefore safe for use. No-one wants the wedding marquee to catch fire while the DJ plays Disco Inferno.
19. What do guests remember most?
“Of the many weddings I have attended, I can’t say I remember what each bride and groom wore. I don’t remember how the churches were decorated or what the centerpieces looked like. I don’t remember a thing about what was said during the speeches or who caught the bridal bouquet. But I do remember the meals and the music”.
So book a quality DJ and send them home with good memories. And a nice piece of cake.