The Wedding DJ: How to Really Bring it

Our guestblogger, Menno leads a double life as DJ Supa-Dupa Rental and, over the last ten years, has racked up plenty of experience playing wedding parties that have ranged from the dramatic to the unbelievable. Back when he was still learning the ropes, wedding gigs would prove stressful undertakings but they were always well worth the hassle. In this blog, he passes his hard-earned tips and tricks on to the less experienced wedding DJ.

What Kind of DJ Am I?

Before you even start fishing for bookings, it’s worth having a good think about what kind of DJ you are. If you’re already a hardline genre DJ who makes no compromises when it comes to the kind of tunes you play, you’re likely to find the wedding scene pretty tough because most of the people at your average wedding are unlikely to share your (obviously impeccable) taste in music. The fact is, wedding guests are likely to be far less interested in you and what you’re doing than they would be at an event where you’ve been booked to play for people who are there to hear the specific genre you play. As a wedding DJ, you’re playing for everyone – which means you’re trying to cater for every musical taste, age group and background all in one set, and it’s up to you to make that set sound as cohesive and unified as possible.

There are No Wedding Blueprints

So many people, so many different wants and wishes. What I mean by this is that, everyone that’s getting married will have their own ideas about what the big day should look like, so there’s always going to be a massive difference between one wedding party and the next. As such, your job as the wedding DJ is to meet all the wishes of the bridal couple and their guests, which sounds just as complicated as it is. For a long time, I laboured under the illusion that I could make anyone happy with the music I play, but I now know that that’s just not always possible. However, I still think that it’s essential to always stay true to yourself as a DJ, which means having the confidence to say no to wedding bookings that you know won’t suit your style. If you’ve been asked to play at a traditional Turkish wedding, for example, and know full well that you know absolutely nothing about Turkish music, you’d be doing your clients as well as yourself a disservice by saying yes.

The Wedding DJ: How to Really Bring it

The Power of Communication: Planning

Having a meeting with the bridal couple to plan everything out is essential for me. Firstly, this lets your clients know that they’re working with someone who actually wants to help them to throw the best wedding party possible and, secondly, this is your opportunity to gain as much information as you can about what kind of party the couple want to have and the kind of music they’re into, all of which will only make your job easier. During the meeting, I’ll also offer some organisational tips, since not everyone has as much experience with wedding parties as a wedding DJ. These tips can be about something as simple as how the space can be divided up to more complex things like putting together an itinerary for the evening. For example, I don’t recommend asking your great aunt to give a speech at the strike of midnight. These tips aren’t just useful for the happy couple but for you, because at this point, you can have some influence over the proceedings and make sure that your job is hindered as little as possible, so you can focus on making sure that the night goes smoothly and – more importantly – goes off with a bang (I think I could actually fill a book with the things I’ve seen go wrong).

If You Say ‘Yes’, Mean ‘Yes’!

If you’ve agreed to DJ at a wedding, then you will be expected to go all out. For you, it might just be another Saturday night, but for the people getting married, it really isn’t. Preparing to DJ at a wedding party doesn’t just involve putting together a playlist or looking for the perfect song for the first dance, but also making absolutely sure that nothing can go wrong. So, always have a few USB sticks loaded with your complete song library plus another USB stick with the song for the first dance on it (put in an easy-to-find file). Your clothing choice demands a bit of thought as well. I don’t necessarily don a tie for the event (because I think the atmosphere at that point of the night usually gets less formal), but if the style of the event is more formal, then I’ll respect that. Essentially, you need to make sure that you’re meeting the expectations of your client. So turn up well on time, more-than well prepared and appropriately dressed.

The Wedding DJ: How to Really Bring it

The Power of Communication: The Party

Now comes the event itself. In my experience, something will always happen that you don’t expect and it’s your job to simply deal with it without any fuss. I’ve learned that it’s important to be proactive, rather than just hitting play and sitting back. It’s all about creating the right atmosphere, so I always try to do things like see if the lighting can be dimmed later in the evening. It’s also essential to have good contact with the master of ceremonies so that the entry music or the music for the first dance comes on at precisely the right moment. Nothing is more boring and disappointing than a big moment falling flat because of something as easy to fix as poor communication. As the DJ, you also need to remain in control of what you’re doing. Sometimes, there will be people who think differently, but you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for the music – especially at those important moments. When I introduce myself to the master of ceremonies, I agree on a timeline and some sort of signal with them. That way I can actually work up to the big moment and won’t get caught off guard when the happy couple suddenly walks in during a random song.


Then there is the question of whether or not you’re taking requests. My personal thought is, if you’re not up for taking any requests, then you shouldn’t be playing at a wedding. When I get requests, I see it as a helping hand rather than personal criticism. Requests can be really fun, surprising and incredibly useful if you’re having a tough time getting people to dance and you’re not sure which track is going to light a fire under the party. Maybe the couple request the soundtrack of their relationship, including that one magic, killer track that you would never have thought of and that sets the evening off. Of course, some requests can be irritating. However, it really isn’t wise to argue when a guest requests a song that really doesn’t fit the setting or the moment. The best thing to do in those situations is to politely and respectfully say that you’ll try to add the song in later or admit that you don’t have it. That last one is a bit dangerous, because a lot of people will just tell you to find it on Spotify or insist that they can just plug their phone into your mixer.

The Wedding DJ: How to Really Bring it

Do What Works

As the DJ, it’s your job to make sure that everyone has a great evening, so telling your own music ‘story’ is not really the way to go. Reserve that for the club. Being a wedding DJ is about playing the right song at the right moment, every time – and no matter what song just came before it. If you notice that a certain genre isn’t working out, then take things in a different direction until it does work. At the same time, keep an eye on the people on the dance floor. Who’s staying and who’s leaving? I pay particular attention to those people who are bringing the energy. They’re the people who are going to drag other guests up and out of their seats, making your job much easier.

Last But Not Least

Keep your chin up and your back straight so you can keep delivering nothing but quality and, above all, respond to the crowd you’re playing for. It’ll only make the evening better for everyone!

Have any tips or tricks you want to share with other beginner DJs? Let us know in the comments below!

See also…

» All DJ Gear

» How to Write the Perfect, Personal Wedding Song
» 7 tips for preparing your DJ set
» How to become a DJ
» Where Do DJs Get Their Music From?

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