Today, I am SO excited to introduce a guest blogger and fellow wedding pro, Benjamin Williams. Benjamin is a DJ located in Portsmouth, VA and I met him through an amazing community of creative entrepreneurs called The Rising Tide Society. This group of people has been so incredibly vital to the growth of my business and encouragement I’ve received. It values community over competition, and people are constantly finding ways to support one another in their creative endeavors. It’s amazing!
What’s exciting about today, is Benjamin is going to share a bit about wedding music and DJs! Probably THE most common request for vendors and tips I get from brides is for DJs. Having planned my own wedding, I know how tricky it can be to find the perfect person to curate your musical taste and keep your guests entertained! More recently, with the advent of Spotify, Pandora, and the ubiquitous iPod, many couples choose to forego a DJ because it’s just easier to not have to deal with it, but I think this is a missed opportunity. Even as a wedding photographer, it’s so much easier to work a reception where there is a pro DJ instead of an iPod set to a favorites playlist on shuffle. I could go on and on, but instead, I’ll let Benjamin take over!
So you are coming off the huge emotional high of your boyfriend getting down on one knee and asking you to marry him . First off, congratulations! That is a monumental moment in the life of a couple.
Now its time to get down to the nitty gritty of planning your big day. Whether you decide to use a planner or not (which is a discussion for another day), here are a few things that you need to know about achieving the perfect mix of fun and entertainment at your wedding reception by choosing the right DJ!
First, music is VERY IMPORTANT! Music sets the mood for the whole day, both the ceremony and the reception. Everyone will be coming from a very emotional moment at the ceremony.
Second, if you have a DJ, they can help direct the flow of the events and keep things running smoothly. “But I thought that was what the wedding coordinator was for.” Well yes! They do direct the flow of the day, but they will be keeping a lot of plates spinning that day. Having someone else take care of it will take a lot of the stress off of them, and off of you too.
Third, a DJ can take care of any problems that may arise. This is probably a good time to address the “iPod Wedding”, which seems to be quite a trend these days. Using an iPod sounds like a good idea, because its low cost, and it’s pretty much as Ron Popeil once said, “set it and forget it!” Here’s where the problems can arise. First off, you have to have a sound system that can handle an iPod. Now some venues have their own equipment, but more than likely, you will have to buy or rent a sound system and set it up. Suffice to say, not a lot of your iPod ready sound systems, at least the simple ones, have enough power to project far enough so that all the guests can hear…and it doesn’t take into account the need for a microphone for the announcements either. So by the time you have put down all the money for renting everything you need, you could have hired a professional to take care of it, and they could bring their own gear, and everyone will get to hear the music AND the announcements too. Another common application that is used for music is Spotify, and brides on a “tight budget” figure that they can have someone fire it up and let the music play. The problem with that is that Spotify, Pandora and sites like those don’t always stay within the framework of a playlist, so you end up playing songs. A professional DJ can not only play the music, but ensure that songs that the bride and/or groom dislike are not played. Additionally, a professional can make sure that the right songs play at the right times, from the bridal party entrance to the last dance. This helps the party continue on for the night!
Fourth, you know you are dealing with a professional. This is where I address a common response when I speak with brides, and that is “Oh, my cousin (uncle/brother/ex-boyfriend’s sister’s fiance’s uncle’s wife’s godson’s fourth cousin thrice removed) is a DJ and he will do it for free.” I hate to say it, because there are some who DO have relatives who are professionals, but not everyone with a computer, an iTunes or Spotify account and a microphone (borrowed or not) is a DJ. With a hired professional, they take all their time to prepare for your wedding and make sure that is their primary focus on that day.
Finally, having a DJ reduces the downtime if a live band is playing. As with any performer, sometimes a live band needs a break, and while they are recuperating, getting a bite to eat or some water, the DJ can keep things moving and keep people engaged on the dance floor, or bopping to the music while they are talking with friends at their table.
Now when choosing a DJ, there are a couple things you want to keep in mind. First, hire someone with experience. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a lot of experience, but having someone who has worked a wedding before is very helpful. Second, keep your budget in mind. A DJ is an investment, but the wedding is one day. There’s a balance between quality and overall experience – you don’t want a bargain basement job, but you don’t want to short change that honeymoon to Jamaica either. Third, talk to your wedding or venue coordinator. Oftentimes they have a list of DJs that they have worked with before that they will recommend.
In closing, a contracted professional DJ may sound intimidating and in some cases expensive, but as with every part of the wedding day, from the planner to the flowers and everything in between, it’s an investment. One I think every couple should make! The right DJ can make your reception another unforgettable moment from your best day ever…and that is music to anyone’s ears.
Benjamin Williams is a traveling wedding and event DJ based in Virginia. He can be reached at facebook.com/djbjproductionsmusic