Besides the photographer (of course!), one of the most important vendor decisions a couple has to make for their wedding team is the DJ they hire. Over the past 7 years I’ve been photographing weddings, I have literally seen a DJ make or break a wedding reception. In terms of breaking a wedding reception, the wedding that sticks out most in my mind was one where the guests started leaving the reception early on because the DJ was playing the wrong type of music at the wrong time, he made no effort to engage the guests or even get the wedding reception events started. Other notable things I’ve witnessed is DJ’s not being prepared with the right song for a specific event, not taking the time to understand family dynamics resulting in awkward announcements and having equipment issues without a back up plan.
I reached out to one of my favorite DJs, Ron Michaels, and asked for his help in writing an article that would highlight all the important tasks a DJ has on the wedding day and provide tips for selecting the right DJ for your wedding.
The Importance of Your Wedding DJ and Tips on Choosing the Right DJ – Ron Michaels
When I first started DJing weddings in Colorado in the early ’90s, I viewed my role as simply the person playing the music and making a couple of announcements here and there for the 4 to 6 hours of the reception. Back in the day, I would occasionally run into situations that I thought were beyond my control, such as the Best Man standing up in the middle of dinner to do his toast when there was no champagne poured yet. Once in a while, the Father Of The Bride would be hanging out at the bar or visiting the restroom just as I was about to start the dance with his daughter. These people simply did not know when their events would be taking place, and little did I know, it was my responsibility to inform them well before they happened.
Now I take a much more pro-active role in almost all stages of the planning process that include multiple meetings with the couple, timelines sent out to all vendors, family, and Wedding Party on wedding week, plus handling the timeline, flow, and transitions. The biggest mistake couples make when they hire a DJ for their wedding is…they just hire a DJ for their wedding. What most really need is a DJ who is also a Master Of Ceremonies – that is someone who informs, guides, and directs their guests through all stages of the reception. This goes way beyond just making announcements. It’s about literally being a “master” of all the ceremonies that take place at a wedding reception.
Reception ceremonies include everything from the Wedding Party introductions, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet and garter, and the formal dances – just to name a few. Ultimately, it’s about taking the responsibility for the success of the reception. If couples want their wedding to flow smoothly, they need to hire a professional DJ that does much more than just play music. When interviewing a DJ for this important role, there are several questions you can ask that quickly weed out the DJs who are “just a DJ” from the professional DJ / Master Of Ceremonies. Here are a few:
1. What formal Master Of Ceremonies training classes have you taken?
2. Do you have a listing of all the things you do at a wedding that has nothing to do with playing music?
3. Will you send a reception timeline to everyone before wedding day?
4. How many planning meetings will we have with you before wedding day?
5. Will you attend my ceremony rehearsal to meet everyone, and review all details?
Online reviews on Wedding Wire and The Knot are also a big clue as to what role a certain DJ will play if you hire them. When reading a DJ’s reviews from their past couples, notice if the reviews mention only their lighting, equipment, and music…or are they also talking about the organization and flow of the reception, as well as the peace of mind their service provided.
DJ Ron Michaels – Colorado Wedding DJ