Planning your wedding music and working with a DJ may seem daunting in light of all the other things on your mind when planning your wedding. The thing to consider is how impactful your selection is to the execution and success of your reception. Create a checklist of these essential steps and tasks to help you keep everything straight for yourself and the DJ.
Decide What Music You Want
If you’re having a small, less formal wedding then consider providing your own music on an iPod. I don’t recommend this at all, but it is an option. It has only one benefit (it is cheap) and MANY drawbacks (namely, it makes your reception look and feel cheap to your guests). You will still need to plan ahead, providing a variety of jazz, pop-rock and classical music for the events and take someone AWAY from the guest list to run it. You also need to make sure you test out your playlist before the big day. The con list continues…You will not be able to have a transition to change. Hiring a professional, experienced DJ is the key to ensuring you have a fantastic reception AND you don’t have to do the work, provide/rent equipment, provide music and have an MC to run the itinerary for you.
Choose Your DJ
When choosing a DJ, ask for a tape/video of a public performance or ask to attend a dress rehearsal (most DJ’s don’t do this). If this isn’t available, ask for a sample playlist and look for songs you’d enjoy. Ask for references from past weddings and celebrations or ask your friends and family if they have anyone they’d recommend. Before you agree to hire a DJ, agree on any specifically requested songs, do-not play lists and other requests. Make sure they have a contract (protects YOU as well as them) and have a great personality (typically this person handles most, if not all, of the announcements and events).
Create Song Lists
Whether you decide on a DJ the entire celebration or portions of your wedding, put down your song options (and narrow them down later) on paper. Organize them by ceremony, reception and dance sections. For the ceremony, include a prelude song to play while your guests enter to the processional song for the court and bride’s entrances, any ceremony or religious music and a recessional. Though you may not have a DJ for the ceremony, the list is still good practice. For the reception and dance, include a playlist for a cocktail hour (if applicable), dinner, couple’s first dance, bride and father dance, groom and mother dance, guests’ first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss and any general dance requests. It works best if you have a professional DJ who will put time and preparation into your event PRIOR TO the actual day. Creating a playlist to work from ahead of time is what a professional does. It is easy to slip a reasonable request into your playlist during the event as they come.
Address the Technical Issues
If your reception and dance take place in a private home or outside, find out about local statutes on noise permits. You may need to obtain one, or at least notify the neighbors, if your dance is going to make for a loud and late party!
Address electrical issues beforehand. Keep the caterer and DJ on different circuits. It is also a good idea to seat guests with hearing aids, pacemakers and other such devices away from the speakers and DJ equipment so the frequencies don’t interfere with their functioning. Let’s party!