Here we are, you are going to perform for maybe the most important day of two people’s life. The day of love. THE WEDDING
You definitely don’t want to fu** this up but you want to be the star of the show
I’m going to guide and explain you how to be a good DJ for a wedding.
Remember, everybody have a different style, different voice and humor, so what I’m gonna explain it’s about my experience but you might found something different who suit you more.
Before The Wedding – The Pre-Meeting
The Phone Call / E-mail
So you’ve received an E-mail or phone call from the person in charge of the wedding and they look for a DJ. The person on the phone want to hire you because he heard about you, or he found your website/Facebook page.
But he hasn’t seen you performing, so, you are gonna sell your service on the phone with this simple method
- First: Ask for the date, if you already booked is no point to go any further
- Second: The location, you want to know if you need to drive 20min or 6h
- Third: How many people (50, 100, 200, 300 or more)
- Fourth: Highly recommend to ASK FOR A MEETING in person (except if they saw you in a wedding in a past)
Yes a meeting in person it’s a 100% guaranty for you. I did this every single time (even if I had to drive 1-2h).
Let’s break this down for you
You are going to hire a DJ for your wedding and the DJ is setting up a meeting with you at your place or city (YOU DON’T NEED TO MOVE), then is gonna explain you in person how he’s gonna proceed and how much is gonna cost you.
A DJ who make such an effort to see you, take his all day for you without a guaranty you sign the contract, what are you going to say, are you going to refuse his service… Of course not!!! And this is how you start a good reputation as a professional who take care of his clients.
And now you are meeting the two people who are going to get married, the groom and the bride.
There are a couple a thing you need to know.
- Confirm the location, date and number of guests
- Is there a cocktail, buffet, table service ?? Do you need a sound system for cocktail and/or microphone ?
- Do you need a VP (Video Projector) with white screen ?
- What time do you want to start the music and what time do you want to end the night?
- Any break through the party (wedding rituals, announcement, coffee break etc..)
- Very IMPORTANT: do you have any particular song for the opening dance ? (usually yes but have some to advice just in case)
- Any song or kind of music you would like to hear for your wedding
- VERY IMPORTANT: THE BLACK LIST, what do you don’t want to listen (basically the music their hate)
When you’ve got all this you will have an idea about the wedding already, but you need to be honest and professional so, if the bride says:
“I don’t want Macarena and YMCA” you know it means all the song similar to these two are going to be in the same basket, and if the groom say” I really love Tupac and System of Down” yeah why not, one or two.
Be honest and tell them: do you want ME to make YOU dance or do you want me to make EVERYONE dance.
Yes you’ve heard their request but sometimes they have to understand you are the professional, so show them you are confident and you know your job.
TIPS: I Always got one or two video of me performing at a wedding. Then you can show them how good your performance is (pick the best one of course)
They finally said yes and sign your contract, I’m not going to say how much you should take, after experience your price is going to increase. What I recommend to do is 50% of the amount you ask the day they sign the contract
Ex: You charge £600 for the wedding, the day of the pre-meeting you ask for 50% as a guaranty (Happen to me once, didn’t ask for anything and then 1 week before the wedding they broke up).
If you want to know how to get your contract signed => have look here
The Week Before The Wedding – Equipment Ready
You are checking your calendar and looking at your performance coming up. You realize a wedding for the week-end, and you read the description. Ex: 150 people, cocktail, 2*Microphones, indoor
So you are going to check your gear.
- Sound system: Speaker, sub woofer, amp etc. Make sure they work and they clean
- Decks and Mixer: check everything on it, can you still read CD/USB/Computer
- The Light: Switch them on
- Make sure you have enough extension cable (XLR, RCA, Jack, Mini Jack etc..), multi core cable, adaptators/connectors and more, having too much cable is never a bad thing, you never know what can happen during your performance so get ready for the worse
- Bags & Cases clean
- A black cover and some gaffer (every cable should be hiding and clean, more efficient when you disassemble your equipment)
- Battery for Microphones
Wash your suit and you car (not joking, you want to look good and professional)
The D-Day – Cocktail Time
It’s 1pm you’ve just parked your car at the event, all your gears is working and your suit is washed and NOT on you yet. (trust me you are going to sweat by setting up all your equipment)
You go straight away to see the bride and the groom, say congratulation and ask them 2 questions
1: Where am I going to be perform ?
2: Who is in charge of the wedding’s organization ? You need to know this person for any announcement, any music request or more.
This is very IMPORTANT, your are the one who START and END the night, so your timing must be perfect.
The groom, bride and friends are going to be probably drunk and they won’t pay attention of the timing
The guests are arriving and you had time to set-up a portable speaker with wireless mic. Starting the day on a chill, jazzy lounge atmosphere
This is during the cocktail time that you can easily set-up all your equipment, and running a test at the end to make sure everything is working.
TIPS: If no cocktail try to finish the set-up before 5pm, run a test and if problem, the shop are still open so you can easily make it and find a solution.
The Diner – Never on Time
So you should have found the person in charge of the wedding’s organization and know by now the planning.
So if you see the guests running late because of the cocktail, go see the person in charge (let’s call her Sam) and tell her we are late for dinner
Then Sam might tell you to make an announcement
“ladies and gentleman, good evening everyone, my name is Charles and I will be your entertainer for tonight. You are now all welcome to come over in the main room for the diner. Enjoy your night and a big thank you to (groom and bride name) for this fantastic wedding”
That’s it, you might don’t realize but with only 5 sec you’ve just introduced yourself to your audience, you are now someone for everybody.
This is your break now, eat and enjoy your food (after you’ve cleaned up the cocktail) but have the mic not far from you. Your are professional so NO ALCOHOL
So now it’s time to dance but they running late (45 min) as expected.
Have a little word with Sam because we need the groom and the bride to do their opening dance NOW.
If it’s your first wedding and they running late, don’t panic. Let them have fun as well, remember they probably haven’t seen everybody yet and they’ve got a lot to talk.
Remember you are the one who lead the night, communication is a must !
Your Moment – Let’s Make Them Dance
So now it’s your time my friend. Make sure the room is in the dark. Play the groom and bride’s music for the opening, and let the people join them, if not (very very rare), a quick word in a Mic “You are now all welcome to join them on the dance floor”.
It’s time to play now a music from your library but which one?
TIP: If the opening music was a speed slow from the 70’s, 80’s I would go Rock N Roll, Funk or Disco.
I’m not going to explain you how to mix in this post or which song to play. Everybody has a different playing style. Make sure you’ve got a bit of Paso-doble, Waltz, Tango.
In ANY wedding remember this
- Folks want to know the song, dance and sing on it
- Make a 12 and 78 years old dancing in same time: Mashup are excellent for this
- Don’t be focus on your “playlist already set”, if nobody is dancing on Shakira, change your genre.
- Don’t be focus on your decks or computer, raise your head and analyze the dance floor
- Are they coming to me, are they leaving the dance floor
- Have some “GOLD” Tune, like YMCA, Madison or Billie Jean to bring back the crowd.
- LOOK AFTER the bride
I have seen a DJ playing from Michael Jackson (Pop Music) to Armin Van Buuren (Electronic Dance Music) , and I was chocked, surprise, but at the end…it works.
But how? Because I know if I would do this it wouldn’t work.
The MIC my friend, you are not here to show your DJ Skills on the last tech-house tune, you are here to make everybody dance, from 1 to 99 years old!!
Don’t be cheesy and don’t speak in the mic 24/7. But if you want the crowd to follow your step or to sing, feel free to use it.
The Mic is your best friend.
The Songs Request
Who don’t want to here his/her favorite song on a powerful sound system, yes you are going to have requested and all you need to have it’s common sense.
If the dance floor is packed on “Boogie wonderland de Earth and Wind Fire” and someone request “Nothing Else Matter, Metallica” politely deny or just say “later on, no problem”.
Say NO to YouTube, people coming with their phone to play a song you don’t have it’s very common as well. Say no, you’ve got a good music quality, so keep it like this.
People cannot hear when you’re beatmatch is perfect but they can hear when is not good!!!
End Of The Night – You Are The Dream Seller
10 min left. Don’t forget to announce your last song and have 2-3 more just in case.
And now, when the last song end, keep your head up, enjoy the clapping and smile to your audience.
You just did your first wedding and what you see it’s, happiness and success. Turn off your sound system and light and take a break to say thank you to everyone.
Take this time to talk to people who got questions because your day is not over yet, you can now give your business card and plan to sign one or more contract in the next few weeks. So take this time for them!!
They want to shake the hand of the guy who made them dance all night long.
Yes, it’s a passion, it’s fun and crazy but don’t forget it’s a business as well.
What about you. Do you remember your first wedding as a DJ?
If you have any question or advice to make this post better, please comment below.