Are you a wedding DJ, or are you planning on becoming one?
Whatever the scenario, there are certain things you will need to know for a wedding. After all it’s one of the biggest days of the couple’s life, so you can’t afford to foul it up.
Having been a wedding DJ myself, and probably done around 25 to 30 weddings down the years, I’ve almost honed it to perfection.
That’s not to say I don’t get things wrong from time to time… but I do have a list of things to know, which cuts down how big an impact those errors can potentially have.
I hope that you find my wedding DJ checklist useful – this also perfectly complements a list of wedding equipment that I put together, so take a look at that too.
What a Wedding DJ Needs to Know
By using this checklist of things that you will need to know when DJ’ing at a wedding, it will dramatically reduce your stress, and help to ensure that your part in the wedding day goes without any hitches.
Planning makes perfect, and that’s so important with any wedding DJ gig.
Due to the massive variances, timings, and people involved in a wedding, it’s critical that you, the DJ, are as in-sync with the bride and groom as is humanly possible.
If you are serious about your wedding DJ business, then you need to dedicate serious time well in advance of the special day planning with the happy couple.
What I have done in the past is put together a questionnaire for wedding DJs to send their clients, as well as meeting them in person. The questions refer to the following points.
What Songs are Played When and For How Long?
The bride and groom will have their own special playlist of tunes that they are going to want to be played – it’s not just about the songs though, it’s also about when they are played and for how long – the most important one being the first dance.
Make sure you have an agreed itinerary of music for the important points during the wedding, and don’t lose it. You can even possibly pre-program some edits beforehand if that’s going to add to the general flow of the wedding itself.
What Songs or Artists Should Not be Played?
Which brings me on nicely to a “do not play list”. I played at a wedding once where a particular music artist brought back very bad memories for the bride, as it was a reminder of her deceased father who was unable to give her away on the day.
By getting an advance list of artists and songs that the couple don’t wish to hear you can dramatically reduce the chances of your tune selection going down like a lead balloon.
If you are responsible for the entrance music, then this is really important – don’t get it wrong like this wedding DJ below did:
How the Couple’s Names Are Pronounced?
If you are going to be on the mic at any point, then please make sure you know how to pronounce their names. It’s not just rude, but also un-professional to get this wrong.
You might be in charge of announcing their entrance at the wedding party back at the venue, so make sure you get it right, and possibly even right it down as it sounds on a scrap of paper to refer to at the right time.
Handy Hint: If you are looking for a recommended microphone for a wedding DJ, then I recommend the Rockville VHF wireless system (great budget option – view prices on Amazon). If you want the best in the business, then take a look at the Shure handheld wireless microphone system – it’s amazing.
How Easy is the Venue for Access and Setting-Up?
Once you know where the venue is, check it out on Google maps so you can get a good idea on where you will be going, parking, and access.
If the couple don’t have details on venue access, then contact the venue directly to find out how easy it is going to be getting all of your equipment in and out, plus the time at which you will be able to arrive to get everything set.
Do They Want You to MC or Not?
Speaking of, well, speaking, some wedding couples don’t like the MC approach, some will. Find out whether they want you to interact with the guests, do dedications and shout-outs.
If they do wish you to MC, then find out if there are any little in-jokes you could make about wedding guests. For example, “I know that Aunty Valerie loves a bit of Tom Jones, so this one is going out just for you Valerie”.
Do They Want You to Take Requests?
At most weddings, the DJ will be inundated with (usually drunk) people asking them to play music. But some couples don’t want their wedding DJ to take requests, so find out in advance.
If they don’t want requests taken, this can lead to aggression from wedding guests in worst case scenarios, so make sure that you get the couple to explicitly explain this at some point to those attending the event.
Will There be any Volume or Language Considerations?
Some couples might have guests where loud volumes will be an issue for them, typically it will be older relations who might have hearing problems. Ask the couple if they have any issues with loud music, and whether you need to consider capping volumes for any reason.
Another related aspect would be your language. Some jokes, minor rude words, and slightly off-colour language might be acceptable at one wedding, but not the next so make sure to find out before you let slip some words on the day which could offend people.
Do You Need to Supply Microphones for Them?
At some weddings where I have DJ’d I have had to supply wireless mics for the bride and groom. It’s most important during the speeches, so make sure you find out what you will need to supply. This is becoming a more common event where they are both wanting to have mics clipped to their outfits. I don’t recommend that though, as it just adds complexity.
Instead I would advise handheld wireless microphones for this, and swear by the Archeer product – which is also great for outdoor weddings. You can get the latest prices on Amazon here.
What Time Does the Wedding Start and Finish?
You will need to get there early to set-up, but find out for certain at what point the last tune should be played, and when the wedding ends.
I’ve had scenarios in the past where I have invoiced the couple in advance for a 5-hour gig, and ended up running over (at their request) by two hours. It makes sense to place a caveat in your agreement with them, that any requested additional time has an hourly rate attached to it.
How Do They Want the Night to End?
Many couples will want the wedding party to end on a particular note. If they have not mentioned this then it’s a good opportunity for you to suggest something suitable.
It could be ended on an up-tempo high note, or perhaps with a romantic ballad. Find out what they want and add it into your DJ plan for the night.
As a wedding DJ, I am sure you can think of more things you will need to know when DJ’ing at a wedding. If you are a professional and you do this a lot, then my advice would be to use the questions above, plus your own, and develop a wedding DJ client questionnaire.
Get that filled out well in advance by the couple, and make sure that your gig goes off without a hitch every time.
If you are planning on starting a wedding DJ business, then read my essential guide here.