Of course, every wedding reception is different in location, duration and requirements. The following have been compiled from my wedding DJ service experiences, so if you are considering undertaking Wedding DJ entertainment, here are a few brief pointers to consider.
Although there is never a guarantee that everything will run according to plan and time on the day, pre-event planning is essential to help you deliver your service the way you intend – to be successful and memorable.
Pre-visit the venue
Where practical, make arrangements with the function manager and visit where the reception is going to be held (where you will be performing).
You’ll need to know everything from who to report to, the permitted parking area, specific loading areas and access times, even bar closing times on the night! The function manager will likely indicate all out-of-bound areas including exterior areas, but don’t be afraid to ask if they don’t mention, especially areas such as verges and paths which may be unsuitable for vehicles or loaded trolley’s.
It’s also worth enquiring if there is an area where your disco equipment can be stored while you wait for the room to be vacated and prepared for the reception, and may help reduce setting up time if close-by to where you are operating.
You’ll need to know where the electrical power sockets are located and if they are connected to any limiters. Also, it is worth discussing how the room lighting will be on night.
Make a note of the ceiling height and how low the fittings are, especially if the Bride intends to throw her wedding bouquet!
You’ll probably want to freshen up before performing so if an area has not been mentioned or designated, don’t hesitate to enquire where you can get changed after setting up your disco equipment on the day.
Pre-visit your client!
Having a meeting with your clients is essential. It not only allows you to build a good rapport, but also reassures your clients that you confidently know what you are doing.
Discuss at length the program timings of the day including the meal, speeches and buffet, as well as disco entertainment start and end timings, and whether features of the program include ‘cutting of the cake’ and traditional ‘throwing of the bouquet’!
You’ll need to know whether the Bride and Groom intend to retire from the celebrations early or stay to the end. Also, how do the Bride and Groom intend to bring closure to the reception, and what will be their choice of music.
For a more personalised approach to a reception, it’s a good idea to know the names of the key guests attending.
Of course, the essential thing to discuss is the music, from the choice of background music that the wedding party is greeted with when you start, to specific tracks they have chosen! You’ll be able to confirm the Bride and Grooms first dance track (version), whether they require parent dances and particular music, along with any specific requests for music to be played throughout.
You may wish to suggest that the Bride and Groom might like to choose music dedications for the wedding party to ‘take to the dance floor’ which helps encourage people to the dance floor later on!
Another thing to discuss is whether the Bride and Groom are happy for their guests to ask you for requests on the night. At some wedding functions, there may be guests celebrating anniversaries or birthdays. It’s worth noting if there are any sensitive songs that would be inappropriate to be played during the reception.
Because the timings on the day can run over, I’ll inform that I’ll discuss on night to gauge the best time for their first dance, making notes of any changes to the program as required. If there are planned dances for wedding guests then I’ll also need to discuss with them the order of dances – a few minutes is all that is usually required to be set aside for this.
I usually contact the clients again the week before the function just to reassure and address any changes to the program and music plan as required.
Prepare for the big day
One of the best tips I was ever given was don’t leave everything to the last minute. Make sure you have everything ready before the day, and not on the day.
Ensure that any paperwork that the venue requires is forwarded well in advance of the function date and confirm this with the function manager when you pre-visit.
There is no excuse to be turned away from a venue at the eleventh hour because the Public Liability Cover certificate was left at home! The reputation of your service will most certainly take more than a nose dive, so a little preparation goes a long, long way.
Arriving on the BIG day!
I usually allow plenty of time to get to the venue because of potential traffic hold ups! Upon arrival, my first task is to inform the function manager that I’m on site. He or she will then indicate what stage they are at in the proceedings and if the program is running to time. Usually, it is running a little later than planned!
Unless I’m setting up the disco in a room away from where the wedding party is eating, hopefully, there will be a designated area nearby for me to proceed unloading to and temporarily store the disco gear.
Out of etiquette, I like to inform the Bride and Groom that their Wedding DJ is on site. Naturally, there are stages during the proceedings which will determine when I can personally inform the Bride and Groom that I’ve arrived.
If everyone is still eating, I’ll consider informing them discretely between courses.
Once the meal and speeches are over and the room is vacated, I can commence moving the disco gear. With everything in place and operational including room lighting adjustments, I’ll discretely make my checks keeping sound levels to an absolute minimum. Once satisfied, I’ll go and freshen up and get changed and then inform the function manager that I’m ready.
Although early on, I’ll gauge the level of background music to the number of guests entering the room so it’s not too loud and not to quiet. If you intend to offer a more personalised approach then its an idea not to ‘hide’ behind the gear but take the opportunity to greet the guests as they enter the room.
Once the wedding party have entered the function room, I’ll ask the Bride and Groom to inform when they will be ready for their first dance, and which group of people I need to speak to (to discuss the subsequent dance order) if applicable.
Once everyone in the party knows when they will be dancing (and with whom), as soon as the Bride and Groom are ready, I’ll lower the background music, make my introductions, welcome the Bride and Groom to the dance floor and introduce their first dance.
Any planned wedding party dances will follow the first dance which will then allow you to settle into building a party atmosphere.
HOWEVER! Of course there’s no hard rule on which music you should play early on, but it might be a bit disheartening should you choose to play all top tracks before the buffet! Sure, it’s a balancing act but the general consensus with functions is that the disco usually gets really going AFTER the buffet is served.
Whether closing the night with specially chosen tracks from the Bride and Groom, or encouraging the wedding guests to get-up and form a traditional circle or arch, you’ll need to allow yourself enough time so that the finish is ON TIME! So when working towards the finishing time, double check with the function manager on the bar closure as this is crucial if it has been agreed with the Bride and Groom for a grand finale, and a clash of times could be a disaster!
Ensure that the Bride and Groom has a rousing send off and you’ve successfully completed your wedding reception entertainment.