Music is quite often mentioned, together with great food, as the most important element of the wedding reception. Dancing, after all, is our way of emanating hapiness. There’s nothing worse than watching your guests glued to their seats and staring at the walls.
That’s why choosing a great DJ or a band is extremely important. It is not enough to hire just anybody and give them a list of ALL the songs. DJ-ing is an art, and a good DJ or band emcee will “read” the crowd and make on-spot decisions in song selections, breaks, slowing down or speeding things up. And just like with watching actors in a theatre play, you will only notice when the DJ's performance is poor. When they are experts of their craft, things move along and everyone has fun.
Great DJs start around $1,500. Bands, depending on the size and experience, around $6,000-$8,000. Most DJs also come with a lot of extra equipment, like lighting and projectors.
On the other hand certain venues and locations simply “require” the grandeur of a band, and a single DJ just won’t cut it. Also, when hiring a live band, you are hiring 8 to 10 individuals that are highly skilled in the art of music. Chances are that many of them have special skills that you can use during your ceremony or during a cocktail hour.
So whichever route you decide to go, dictated by your preference, wallet or your venue, here are some important points that will help you choose the best entertainment for you.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to go and HEAR a DJ or band perform, and not at a concert, but at an actual wedding or bridal showcase. A lot of entertainment professionals will allow you to inconspicuously drop in on their weddings and see them performing. Don’t ever hire a DJ or band without hearing them first.
Another important issue to clarify is that the DJ or band that you heard and saw will actually attend your wedding. A lot of DJ companies are comprised of multiple DJs. This is not to say that some DJs in the company are necessarily better than the others. It’s just that some will resonate with you and your crowd better. And that’s who you want to “interview” and hire and have working at your wedding.
Also make sure that the sound equipment they have is up to date and elegant looking, you don’t want an eyesore in the middle of your beautiful wedding reception.
Trusting and giving your DJ or your band a lot artistic freedom is another step in achieving a successful wedding party. Make a list of milestone songs: first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, cake cutting and last dance; then make a list of 15-20 songs that you would like to hear and a list of songs that you absolutely do not want to hear (the usual suspects – Macarena and such). This should give your emcee a general idea of what music gets you grooving. Leave the rest to the professionals. If you give your DJ too many directions to follow and micromanage, instead of focusing on the crowd and reading it, they will spend all their energy on sticking to your “music plan.”
Having your wedding planner communicate with your DJ or band leader early on will also result in a great event. Your wedding planner is your eyes and ears during your event, making sure all the elements are happening and happening on time. But your DJ or band emcee is your voice. Together they form an amazingly strong team. A friendly and professional relationship between those two will guarantee that everything will go smoothly.
And spike up your cocktail hour or enhance your ceremony with some not so ordinary musical performers: bag pipers, harp players, strolling flutist. Anything unexpected will definitely have your guests talking!
In my next blog, we'll talk about some unconventional entertainment for your wedding. In the meantime – happy wedding planning!