5 tips to keep your wedding guests happy
We have all been to those weddings when it’s about as exciting as watching beginner badminton classes, so you need to make the right choices to make a long day enjoyable for your guests. I have performed at over 500 weddings and I have seen it all. I can usually predict when it’s going to flop, and when it’s going to be a hit. Below are 5 tips that I suggest you consider when organizing your main players.
1: Choice of Celebrant
The first impression your guests are going to get re how this long but hopefully exciting day will pan out, is the personality of your celebrant. Don’t just go on the recommendations of others, try to dig in and find some footage of how they speak, their confidence level and their general demeanor. Online photo’s can be deceiving so at least have a substantial conversation with them on the phone. Listen out for how this person is suited to you. You may want someone really chirpy and energized, or someone who is just plain funny, which would help you relax. Some celebrants are very well groomed and look really slick and professional, while others not so. There are some that are very economical with their words and others who may like the sound of their own voice, so choose carefully. You definitely want someone comfortable in their own skin to pull the ceremony off and leave your guests enthusiastic about the reception to come.
2: Your MC
Probably the most crucial choice to make or break your reception. This person needs be confident on a microphone, but not too confident. I have heard MC’s go on and on to the point where everyone is embarrassed but them. They have no sense of this. This can often happen when the couple feel obligated to assign the duties to a family member that is ‘The obvious choice’. This can be fine, but don’t feel obligated if you know this family member likes to waffle on. In my experience, someone that is again, comfortable in their own skin, with a good sense of humour and a quick wit. This person needs to realize that they are there to celebrate the bride and groom, not try out a comedy routine while they have a crowd.
DO NOT choose someone with little confidence. This will completely ruin the vibe of the night because they have no control over the room, and people will get bored very quickly. It is a fine line between too confident and not confident enough, but if you go with this type of personality, it’s going to be BORING. (No disrespect, I like quiet people).
3: The Music
The choice of the music one listens to is subjective. So when we choose what we listen to at home, there are no rules. Whatever you like. But when it comes to a room full of different personalities, ages and musical tastes, you need to cater for that. So when you choose a wedding singer, or a DJ, or both, please don’t supply them with a playlist for the whole night. Because although YOU love those songs, not everyone else does. My suggestion would be to pick a handful of your favourites for certain times during the night, and then let the Wedding DJ do their thing. They are most likely more used to reading crowds than you. Believe it or not, it is quite an art to choosing the right song at the right time. Whether playing live or DJing. So give your wedding entertainer creative license for the most part. It will make the night flow smoother.
I would also add that you might want to do the same thing as you do with the celebrant and have a chat with your musician or DJ to get a glimpse of what kind of personality they have. If they are overconfident and a bit cocky, they will generally be the type that plays whatever THEY think is cool, and not bother reading the room as much as a DJ who knows that this is the most important thing. If they are sensitive to your needs and are friendly, then generally the ego will be in check.
Wedding speeches usually go one of two ways; clever, funny and entertaining, or boring, monotone and uninteresting. Sometimes this is unavoidable because usually it’s family who talk, and there’s not much you can do about that. But if you have a few of them to choose from, choose the more confident ones if possible. Some people are brilliant when just speaking off the cuff. They have a quick wit and are interesting story tellers. Some people are not the best public speakers, but have gone to a lot of trouble to write out their speeches and if written well, the speaker will grow in confidence as they get a few laughs etc.
So this one is not something you can generally control, but you can ask your speech makers to come up with something at least 5 minutes long, and put some effort into writing. I have heard best man speeches that are one sentence long with 3 swear words in it. It is embarrassing and I think disrespectful to the honour of having been asked to be best man. So choose someone who has half a brain and realizes that this is an important moment in your life. A bit of ribbing is good, even obligatory for the best man or maid of honour, but keep it pretty even and end with the nice stuff.
Wedding Singer Advice
A wedding singer should not be something that you choose based on price alone. Of course this has to be within your budget but if you are planning a wedding you should have a considerable budget to work with. These days it’s not enough just to be a wedding singer, you need to have the skills to get people on the dance-floor as a DJ as well. It’s not so important to beat-match as it is to read the crowd and play the appropriate kind of music at the appropriate time.
The wedding singer you choose should be somebody that you speak to on the phone rather than just email. As everyone knows, email has no tone so it’s not as easy to get a feel of someone’s personality. If you phone them and have a quick chat about your wedding, you will get a feel for them and find out if they are socially comfortable. Because even though you would think someone who is an entertainer would be comfortable speaking with people, you might be surprised to learn that some of them are not. This can be a sign that the performance may be introverted. So on the phone you will get a feel for them and find out if they are socially comfortable. Therefore you need to find someone that you click with personally.
You will find a lot of different kinds of wedding singers, those that play a lot of Aussie classics. They are the type of musician that has been doing many pub gigs. You will find more jazzy singers which can be appropriate for the early part of the evening. And you will find all-rounders. Those are the type of musician that have been doing weddings for a long time and have perfected their playlist.
As the wedding singer myself, and as someone who has won many awards in this industry, I find that a solid mix of young and old songs to try to please everyone at some stage is the best formula for being a successful night. Also a side note, if you make the performer feel comfortable at the wedding by at least smiling to them or coming over to say a quick hello, that can really help the musician relax and be comfortable in front of a crowd of people they have never met. Although we do this all the time, it really does help because every gig is different.
Being a great wedding singer is only half of the battle though. What clients really want is a good time on the dance-floor. They want all their friends to get up and dance all that nervous energy away. This is when you need to draw on your DJ skills. It does seem easy to simply press play and turn the volume up, but I can tell you from experience it really does take experience and a lot of common sense to choose the right songs. Not only the right songs but there are lots of intros to songs that are quite long so it’s important to start from when the beat kicks in. Because a full dance floor can be lost within 10 seconds so you have to be on your game.
I enjoy DJing and getting everyone pumped and into the mood having a great time, but my real passion is acoustic guitar and vocals. I started out 12 years ago as a wedding singer in Perth and I have loved it ever since. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I added DJing into the mix. Becoming a full package for clients and their music needs on their wedding day. I have had my share of mistakes and misread crowds but as I grow and learn, after a decade of doing this full-time I have honed my craft to hit the mark 95% of the time. No one is ever going to have successful gigs 100% of the time. There are too many variables that can interfere with a great gig. But I always make sure I am there with plenty of time to set up, I always make sure I have all the information and song choices from the clients clear and on a timeline that is understood. I always have a playlist that is filled with songs from the client. All of these details add to becoming a successful wedding singer and DJ in Perth.
Wedding Singer Perth Package
The best combination of Wedding Music would be a live music and DJ Package. Tod’s ability to entertain comes from many years as a wedding singer in Perth, and also as a cover band performer. Being able to choose the best song at the best time is a winning combination both as a live musician and as a DJ.
Being a proficient musician or DJ is only half the battle. The other half is being able to read the audience you have in front of you. This can only come from a wide range of live performance situations. From a backyard party, to a formal engagement with hundreds of guests. It is no use to be the best musician if your songs are wasted on the wrong crowd, this is not economic. What use is a brilliantly performed Jazz song if your audience wants to hear a rock number?
Another important aspect of live wedding music is not only what repertoire to use for a certain audience, but what songs to play within the feel of the gig itself. For example, a very popular song in Australia for weddings is ‘Horses’ by Darryl Braithwaite. Many people request this song in my experience and while it is a slow tempo which would work well early in the evening, it would be relatively wasted, simply because it is a sing-along song and hardly anyone is going to feel like singing along before they have had a few drinks. This song needs to be played toward the end of the night and in many cases, as the very last song. This would be a very high energy song at the end because everyone will be feeling the effects of the drink, but also the effects emotion elicits from a patriotic song like this. Similarly, you don’t want to begin the evening with high energy or up-tempo music because there is nowhere to go from there. The music of the night needs to build. Like a storyline in a movie. Also as with a movie, there need to be high points, low points, areas of tension, release, humour and resolution.
Having someone that has a wealth of experience in this area is of huge importance. Someone who knows how to play to and for the audience, rather than someone who will pick songs randomly.
Keep these things in mind when considering wedding music in Perth.
Choosing The Best Wedding DJ
How To Start Searching:
With so many to choose from, how do I search for the best wedding DJ? Answer – Experience. It’s like getting a tattoo. You don’t want to save a few bucks on this because they are inexperienced. You may not be wearing this like ink, but you don’t want a lasting impression of your wedding reception to be one where people say, “You remember, that one where the DJ played whatever he wanted?” Because it happens. In this wedding climate, people know that they can charge more for a wedding than anything else, so in order to snatch a few hundred bucks, people will offer you amazing discounts that seem too good to be true. Only to find that they could not read the crowd, and they did the bare minimum. The horror stories are everywhere on social media.
As much as it seems like an easy thing to do, choosing a song every 3 and a half minutes for several hours on end that is going to keep people on the dance-floor, is not an easy thing to do. And there is no magic list of songs that will work for every audience. What kills on the dance-floor at one wedding, will be scoffed at, at the next. This takes many years of experience to be able to gauge well. It may seem easy when everything is flowing, but trust me, the skill of a wedding DJ is not beat matching like in the clubs, it is knowing what is going to work with the particular crowd that is in front of them. 10 seconds of the wrong song, or even the right song with a long string intro, is going to clear the dance-floor quicker than losing a toupe in a hurricane. So my advice would be to start searching for evidence of experience. Don’t take the word of the DJ. Of course they are going to plug themselves. But search for them on youtube, seek out referrals, reviews, testimonials, facebook groups, wedding pages. Have a listen to what former clients have to say. Judge for yourself with the media that is available. If there is little or no media available, chances are you are dealing with an inexperienced DJ. So keep in mind that the best wedding DJ’s are the ones with most experience.
Experience is not the only thing that determines the best wedding DJ’s around. Sometimes you may find that experience can also breed an apathy for the job. So I suggest getting on the phone and having a conversation to not only feel the level of professionalism and experience, but also attitude. A DJ who is polite and respectful is usually a good indication that there is not a big ego attached. The last thing you want is a wedding DJ with delusions of grandeur. (Keep this in mind when choosing your MC also. There is nothing worse than an MC who makes it more about themselves than the reason you are there). A wedding DJ who blows their own horn a little too much can be a warning sign that they are going to play what they think is cool, and not be observant to what the guests are reacting best to. Conversely, you don’t want someone who has a shy personality because there will be no vibe. So choose someone who seems to have a balanced ego. If you choose someone who is a musician/DJ, chances are they have experience on stage and can deal with all kinds of crowds.
Question To Ask:
You can glean a lot of information from a wedding DJ if you ask the right questions. Below is a list of must ask questions when speaking to potential DJ’s.
Is this your full-time job and are weddings your primary focus and what other functions have you performed at?
Determine whether they have experience with a different type of audience. Whether they have a wide range of experience behind the decks. Different gigs produce different crowds which produce different experiences for the DJ. Having a wide range of experiences can produce a more well rounded professional. But be careful, you don’t necessarily want a club DJ to play a wedding. Not to say they won’t do a good job, especially if it’s a young crowd, but you do run the risk of having a one-dimensional sound for the entirety of your wedding reception.
Can You Accommodate All of Our Requests?
Every wedding will have their own unique requests. It is the job of a wedding DJ to make sure they have these songs available. Not only available but the ability to be able to play them from a particular point in the song. ie For speeches. You need to make sure they can play a song from the ‘meat’ of the chorus so it makes sense as the speaker is walking towards the mic. Or as the bridal party enter on cue.
How Do You Deal With Guest Requests?
It is inevitable that there will be multiple requests for music from guests. Sometimes those tastes might be in contradiction to what the bride and groom have requested. Simply saying no to the guest can create an air of arrogance. You want someone who has a little diplomatic skill. Believe it or not, you even get guests saying that this is the bride’s favourite song. This is a classic move. If the bride has requested 90’s dance-tunes and someone tells you that her favourite song is from Motorhead, they might be trying to pull the wool, so I might just check with her first. People do try to persuade you to play their favourite songs, which will appease them, but clear the dance-floor. You want a DJ who will not just accept all requests, be able to knock a few back if they know it’s not going to work, but do it with diplomacy to keep everyone on side.
Do You Have a Recent Client We Can Contact?
It is perfectly ok to ask for a reference. Former clients will be only happy to refer a good wedding DJ if they have had a good experience.
Can We View What Your Set-Up Will Look Like?
This will give you an indication of the work ethic of the DJ.
What Are Your Usual Go-To Songs and Playlists?
As a wedding DJ, I have a large selection of pre-organised playlists. For eg: Dance. 60’s / 80’s / 90’s / Rock / Jazz / Reggae / Crooners / Aussie / Cruisy / Love Songs / Dinner etc… As I continue to do weddings I will add songs that work, into these playlists. It’s not possible to remember every song that works and when, so if you have a quick playlist reference on what mood you want. you can do a quick search in the right place for the right song. If a wedding DJ cannot list you their playlists, then there is a good chance they are not experienced, not organized, or both. Either that or they have an eidetic memory.
In closing, I would reiterate that although it seems on the surface that anyone can choose songs that will make people dance, it is not as easy as that, and does take a lot of experience to be able to pull this off successfully, over the course of an entire evening. Keep this in mind when trying to find the best wedding DJ you can.
Wedding DJ – What to look for
Your reception will be subliminally orchestrated by the music. Just as you don’t really notice the music in a movie, without it, the whole thing would be simply boring. The same is to be said for wedding music. Choosing the right DJ can make your wedding instead of breaking it. Here’s what to look for when making that decision.
Being a DJ is synonymous with cool. But don’t take it for granted. You don’t want someone turning up who thinks they are cool but they are caught in a time vortex and turn up looking like Boy George. Make sure they are dress appropriate for a wedding by checking out their pics. You also want to make sure their equipment looks presentable and they are neat and tidy, with up-to-date equipment. Some are messy and some are clean. You can usually tell which is which by the way they handle their cables. Choose one who has some attention to details and knows how to set up in a presentable way.
Wedding DJ’s are paid quite well so being professional and respecting that pay-cheque is a must for any wedding supplier. It’s quite easy to get a feel for this even on email. If your wedding DJ is prompt with their replies, friendly and eager to please on the phone, then this is a good sign that they will deliver. A ‘nothing is too difficult’ approach to song requests is also a positive sign. Different clients have different requests. Some clients are happy to just choose a couple of songs for first dance or cake cutting, while others request a long list of songs from their guests or from their own taste. It is preferable for a DJ to have creative license but they also need to be aware and accommodating to multiple song requests.
Tip – A good DJ will know that a lot of the requested songs may not work on the dancefloor so they will request from you the discretion to override that and use something they know will keep the vibe up.
THEY ARE APPROACHABLE
Having a snobby DJ with a serious ‘don’t approach me’ face can sometimes get people offside. So a friendly and happy looking person behind the console can make guests feel comfortable to approach if they have requests.
READING THE ROOM
This one is probably the most essential. Some people have large egos and if they are in charge of the music, you may be in for a lucky dip. These people will play whatever is cool in their mind, which may not be cool in yours, or your guests. Reading the room may not seem like it, but it’s a skill. It’s not as easy as it looks and when you are trying to please all ages with music, you are not going to. So your DJ must have the ability to play a little bit of everything during the evening to please these tastes. As a general rule for me as a DJ in Perth, I will generally start with some up tempo 60’s music. Early in the night and particularly after the first dance, almost everyone is on the d-floor. So to start with some heavy hip-hop may not be the best idea because you will lose anyone over 40.
The 60’s was a light hearted, fun and energetic era which seems to strike a chord with all ages. Now this will work for only so long, so it’s important to read the crowd and gauge the age of everyone that is left. Usually moving onto 80’s music which seems to have the same effect on most ages. Playing this early also gives the more mature guests a chance to dance before they sink into a chair and enjoy a chat with a glass of red. From here on in I base it on age and just do the math. What were these people listening to as teenagers? This is a good formula and tends to work pretty well. All weddings are different and a DJ will never please everyone, but as long as we connect with most people, our job is done. Sometimes if I can feel it’s not working well, I will ask someone on the dancefloor what music their friends like. This can also help.
Just as a good DJ will know what to play on the dancefloor, they should know what to play for speeches and ‘dead air’. Sometimes a client will choose songs for speeches and sometimes not. When they don’t, I think it’s important to have generic and humorous songs, (or snippets), for the walk of the speaker from their seat to the lectern. This eradicates that awkward dead air and can give a little comic relief to the audience. For example I always play Darth Vader’s Imperial March for the father of the bride. It never fails to get a laugh.
KNOWING WHEN TO TONE IT DOWN
A wedding reception goes for quite a long time so it’s important for your DJ to be aware of some light and shade. Music is great but at certain times needs to be ambient and give people a little space from it. Such as when people are eating. A good DJ will instinctively know when to lower the volume and what kind of background music will suit. He will know that it’s not about him, it’s about them, and the atmosphere to create. If people look like they are leaning in to speak to the person next to them, it’s time to turn down.
CUSTOMIZING TO SUIT
Every client will have different musical requirements. One size does not fit all and it is important for your DJ to know what your tastes are. While one couple might love R&B and Rap, another might enjoy Pop and Country. A good DJ will listen carefully to what you require and will make notes. I for one have many weddings in a row and can forget which client wanted what kind of music. So I will make sure I write everything down. I source the music a few days prior to the weddings so they are fresh in my mind and I make playlists to go with my notes. This is a fail-safe recipe for a successful night. I will also print out emails if I have not personally met with the client to ensure I haven’t missed anything. With the resources today on the internet, it is possible to source almost any song, so a patient and organized DJ is a good DJ.
A LOVE FOR THEIR JOB
It shouldn’t matter how many weddings a DJ has done, they should always try to enjoy what they are doing and realize that although this is just another night for them, it is the happiest time of someone else’s life. Someone else that is paying good money for you to play music. A great DJ will be memorable not only because of the great music, but because of the level of enthusiasm they have for what they do.
Take time in considering who you will choose to DJ your wedding reception. Some DJ’s are musicians, like myself, and provide a live portion of the evening, usually early on over meals, and switch into DJing for later on when the mood turns to a party. Either way, my advice would be to choose someone with experience and a normal ego, not a large one. This way you will know that they will be doing the right thing by you and have your best interests at heart. Good luck!
Live or DJ
When contemplating your choice of wedding music, the first thing you need to consider is whether to hire simply a DJ or a live act. Here are some of the pros and cons of this decision.
This may not be something you would consider off the bat but it is very important. There are few things worse at a function than music that is too loud for a conversation. You end up having to shout in the ear of the person sitting next to you and a simple conversation can be a frustrating task. If you choose a DJ then you are pretty much guaranteed that one person has complete control over the volume. You may have to remind this one person to turn down during the course of the evening but that is much easier than trying to convince a full band on stage. Especially one with a drummer, as the rest of the band have to at least be as loud as him, and usually much louder. So if you have in mind a nice intimate wedding, perhaps skip the live band. Having said that, many live jazz bands can play at reasonably low levels and also create an atmosphere of class and style.
A tip I would recommend would be to analyse your floor plan and ensure that your more elderly guests are seated a good distance away from the musical act and speakers. I can’t tell you how many times I have set up at a wedding only to have the oldest guests of the function seated right in front of me. So bear in mind at most, if not all weddings, the front-most guests will be exposed to twice the volume your rear-most guests will be. So suffice to say if grandma and grandpa are at the front, no one will hear anything at the back.
Hiring a musical service is not only an audible experience, it is a visual one as well. You want to make sure that your choice looks great. Not only by the way they present themselves personally, but also by the tools of their trade. Some DJ’s can look very slick with a facade dominating the front of their gear and lights that create a stage like effect. But a band can make your guest instantly identify with a good night once they see a stage and musical instruments on them. There is something visually exciting about the look of a stacked stage with mic stands, guitars and keyboards sitting there waiting to be caressed for your ears. Either way you choose, DJ or live, make sure you check out their websites or facebook pages for a look at some live situations they have filmed so as to see what kind of attention to detail they place in their presentation.
Wedding venues vary greatly when it comes to size. From grand style ballrooms to back yards. It is obviously not a problem if you have ample space, but when hiring a smallish room, or your guest numbers are at maximum, consider how much room you will have left. Once again, I can’t tell you how many times I have rocked up to a wedding venue that is quite large, only to find that there are so many guests that I can barely fit in the corner and end up playing literally centimeters from the nearest guest, and they complain all night that I am too loud. I will be too loud if you have been put right in front of my speakers and the guests at the rear want to hear too. This surprisingly happens more often than I would like to joke about, so make sure you consider this in your floor plan. As a general rule, if possible, you should place your nearest guests no closer than around 5 metres from the speakers. Any closer and they will not enjoy their night. This is of course not always possible so in that case, seat your younger guests, or at least those guests you would imagine won’t be as bothered by the volume as perhaps others might.
A DJ can slide into a relatively small area but a band can not. Even as a soloist who DJ’s, I need more room than simply a DJ alone. It is a good idea to ask your musical act how much space they require so you can work out your floor plan more accurately. As a guide, my act as a guitarist and DJ requires around 4m wide x 3m deep. DJ’s will be smaller and bands considerably larger. If your room is quite large for the number of guests, you may want to visually fill it out by having a stage and a band. Having a DJ on a big stage in a large room looks a little funny so a live band can fill that area. Combine speakers and a good lighting rig, and it will look like a small concert.
All musical acts will vary in price depending on their level of experience and how heavily they are booked. Like anything, you pay for quality. Wedding DJ’s may also MC for you which can incur another fee but they start from around $900 up to $2000 depending on quality. DJ/Live will range from around $1200 to $2500 and bands, depending on the number of weddings will range from around $3000 up to $8000. You will of course get the occasional bargain but these prices are based on the assumption that acts are gainfully employed in the wedding industry and have good testimonials.
LIVE AND DJ
A lot of clients are opting for this package as it seems to be the best of both worlds. While both DJ’s and Live bands have the ability to play appropriate music for the duration of a 6 hour reception, people’s ears can become a little stale to sound once they have a couple of hours to get familiar with it. The beauty of using a live act who also DJ’s means that they can create totally different atmospheres for your guests without changing places with a separate service provider.
It is nice to have a guitarist singing some gentle James Taylor or Jack Johnson early in the evening. It sets a tone. If your live act is experienced enough, they will be able to read your guests and play mood appropriate music throughout the evening. This often means that it will start very gently, and as the night progresses, and the bar tab reduces, the tempo and style of music changes to reflect the good feeling and celebratory nature of the evening. It is often nice to have a live version of the first dance performed, and then have them swing around to the DJ decks and pump out some dance music to get the party started. They are now in DJ mode and it is a whole new feeling.
These are just a few things to consider when thinking about your wedding music. Everyone is different and have varying tastes so go with your intuition and look to create the wedding of your dreams with your ideal soundtrack.