best dj's for weddings
Choosing the Wedding Singer for You
Everybody has a different taste in almost everything. Music is no exception and in fact is probably the best example of how people differ. While some people may like a wedding singer that is very low key and plays well in the background, others may like the wedding to feel like a bit of a party. Especially if itʼs a cocktail wedding. They may want a wedding singer to engage with their guests and put on a bit of a show. But the last thing you want is a singer and guitarist with a microphone who thinks he is a bit of a star. The job of a wedding entertainer is to read the situation and play accordingly. Every single one of those guests are not there to see you. Some egos may forget that and Iʼm sure that would be quite annoying for the bride, and in fact everybody. But when you are dealing with creative people, you often find large egos and in some cases, delusions of grandeur. This is why itʼs very important to make contact with your wedding singer so you can get a feel for them. If you find they talk a lot without listening, you may run the risk of booking the deluded dude. Fortunately, most entertainers have a grip on reality and realize what situation they are in and how to best play to a wedding audience. But I would still call them up just in case.
So back to the different tastes. There are many different sounds you will get from different players. Some may be particularly quiet and introverted when playing but are good musicians. Who knows, maybe this is perfect for you. You may get the musician who has cut his or her teeth on the pub scene, therefore are pretty rocky with a considerable amount of energy to them. But which ever musician or group you choose, I think it is a very good idea to go and see them play live. Especially if they only have one or two videos online. If a musician has a whole bunch of videos you can get a feel for them and they are more likely to be experienced. But if you like someone who only has one or two, make sure you put that on your To-Do list. There is a lot of software out there that can make a singer sound considerably better than they actually are so do your homework.
Being predominantly a wedding singer in Perth for over a decade, I have come to learn many things. But I think the one thing that I have learnt that is the most valuable, is what NOT to do. The set list or repertoire that I have is very vast and covers a lot of different styles and areas of music. This did not come from my common sense early on, although it seems it should have. But years ago I did not have a large repertoire to choose from. This limits you terribly and if you only have one or two styles, it won’t be long before you find a bride or crowd that doesn’t like either, so someone who is prepared for that is the more logical choice. This is just inexperience and only comes with making mistakes and learning from them. But who wants to book a rookie for their big day? If your budget is not realistic that’s exactly what you will get.
To finish off I would say that you want someone experienced, that is a must, but also someone who is still in love with their passion and seems enthusiastic about what they do. Some people can get burnt out and will come across boring because they are bored. You want you and your guests to feel like this is a very special occasion, even if it is just another day for the wedding singer. Wedding Singers and DJ’s need to check the ego at the door and realize we are not superstars, we are there to feel the mood and play to it.
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.
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.