What does a wedding DJ do?

The duties of a wedding DJ

It is important first to understand what responsibilities a professional DJ should have for your wedding. The foremost responsibility, as you might imagine, is to play music at your reception that will keep everyone involved and having a good time. However, there is more to this than you might expect. In fact, the most common mistake people make when choosing a DJ is to overestimate the ease of playing music that keeps a crowd on the dance floor.

Planning and playing back music is one of the core functions of the DJ; there is so much more that goes on. The Wedding DJ is your entertainment coordinator, and many times the wedding DJ stands in as pseudo-Wedding Coordinator. So what does a wedding do? To some people’s surprise, a wedding DJ starts to prepare well before the actual wedding day. In fact, it starts with the very first contact.

For this reason, some couples will decide to have a friend or coworker DJ their wedding reception rather than hire a professional. In reality, though, nowhere is the difference between a professional DJ and an amateur more apparent than on the dance floor. As we will see, just because someone has DJ equipment does not mean that they are skilled or trained on how to execute a wedding properly. Wedding DJs aren’t club DJs either. Wedding DJs have to be able to transition in and out of all types of genres with ease.

Getting To Know You

One of the very first things I do when meeting with a new couple is figuring out what exactly you are looking for. What kind of music do you like? Do you want lighting? Would you like to dance on a cloud for your first dance? What interesting things have you experienced at other weddings? All of this information becomes the foundation for determining the things you want, and don’t want, from your wedding.

I then quote you a price and will patiently wait (and gently nag) for you to select your DJ.

Helps enforce the day-of timeline 

While your wedding planner and/or venue will likely take the lead on creating your wedding-day timeline, an experienced DJ will certainly contribute, since he/she knows how long certain parts of the reception will take. What’s more, your wedding DJ is responsible for executing and enforcing the timeline during your reception, making announcements to ensure that events occur on time and if there are any hold-ups, adjusting accordingly.

While the first phase of the discussions gives the DJ a glimpse into what you are looking for. Once you get closer to your wedding date, the details need to be fleshed out. Typically about 60 days out from your wedding I have a series of forms that will get filled that help me guide some of the key elements of your wedding; from the pronunciation of your wedding party guests to if you are going to have a bouquet toss. I have to admit, and the list can be a bit tedious for some. But it’s very important for me to know all the ins and outs so I can help ensure that you have a great night of entertainment.

It is also around this time that I will start to reach out to the venue to find any guidance. If I am unfamiliar with the location, I’ll typically plan a trip to the site to determine things like establishing a line of communication with the venue. Equipment placement can be critical for some locations, so that has to be noted. I will also reach out to the vendors like the photographer and videographer to begin our collaboration for your wedding.

Staying On Schedule

Whether you’re working with a wedding planner or not, it’s important to have a timeline for your wedding ceremony and the reception. This is where your wedding DJ proves invaluable!

Once we finalize all the details of your wedding day with you, we will create a wedding day timeline to keep everyone (including your other vendors) on schedule. In addition to your ceremony start and end time, your timeline will also list any special song dedications, toasts, or blessings you’d like to include.

Once the timeline is set, we stick to it! Typically arrive about 1-2 hours prior to our start time so that everything is set and ready to go when it’s “I Do” time. There won’t be any scrambling to complete the soundcheck at the last possible minute. Your entire day will run like a well-oiled machine.

More Planning Meetings

So while some planning meetings can be “done in one” the truth is elements of the wedding change all the time. Headcount changes can force changes to the floor plans. Musical selections might be altered to accommodate a group of people. You may decide to enhance your experience that you didn’t plan before, the list can go on. I always reach out to my couples 30 days out to see what has changed, and what hasn’t, and see if more formal meetings are required.

It’s at this time that I want the couple to lock in their special songs just in case it takes a while to procure anything. So if you have an odd song, I suggest getting it in by this time so that I can procure it.

Can a wedding DJ play any song?

Your wedding DJ can be a great source of advice if you’re struggling to pick songs for any of your special dances. An experienced DJ has seen first-hand which songs work and which don’t and is up-to-date on the newest tunes. That’s why it’s important to meet with your wedding DJ (in person, if possible!) a few weeks before your wedding to make your song selects and do-not-play list. Of course, your DJ will have an extensive library of songs for you (or your guests!) can request, but the key is knowing if they’re appropriate and when to play them.

Picking the songs to play during your wedding reception is harder than it looks.

You know what type of music you and your friends like to dance to, but how do you fit your mom’s favourite song and Ginuwine’s “Pony” into the same song list?

The most professional wedding DJs often have some type of planning tool to make your special day exactly the way you want it. 

By learning your dance music preferences, we get a better idea of what genres you like so we can throw in some surprises!

We’ll also help you answer all the important questions, such as:

  • Do you want any song dedications?
  • Will there be a blessing?
  • How many people are giving a toast?
  • Do you want people to bring the centrepieces home?
  • What types of music do your parents like?
  • Should your DJ take requests?

Can create mashups and song cuts 

Worried your first dance song might be a bit too long? Your wedding DJ has got you covered! Want to start your father-daughter dance with a slow song and then surprise your guests by cutting into a Michael Jackson favourite? A DJ can create a custom remix just for you. Many wedding DJs are skilled at creating mashups, remixes, and adjusting song lengths to fit your needs—just ask!

For those that have seen the club or party DJ in action, I have to tell you, the whole arrangement and vibe is different. The mechanics can be totally different in trying to build up a crowd because after spending two, three, or more hours of not dancing, some people want to jump right into a big dance set. Also knowing how to read a crowd and having an eclectic music background is a must. In one night you could go from club hits to country, to EDM, to old school Hip Hop, 80s op, 90s House; and as a DJ you have to have a pretty intimate knowledge of that diversity. But the goal is still the same, getting people dancing hard, picking songs that make a guest look at you with amazement; that look on their face at that moment is priceless.

It is also important to make sure that your DJ or entertainer has a large selection of song titles. Without an adequate selection of music, it is difficult to satisfy a large variety of age groups and musical interests. In addition to just owning the music, a DJ should have extensive knowledge of the music as well; this includes everything from popular country songs and waltzes to the latest club hits.

Furthermore, be sure that your DJ will play the songs YOU want to hear, not just the songs they want to hear. Many frustrated newlyweds have spent their wedding night listening to their DJs favourite tunes! Also, be wary of the DJ whose presentation is obnoxious.

Preparing For Wedding Day

Usually, the week prior, I begin to lock things in place. I go over the details again and again, and if there is a question about a detail that I don’t have an answer to, I am not afraid to ask. I want to make sure that your day is as stress-free as possible! Establishing all your special songs in specific “crates” of music. Cloning my hard drive so I have multiple copies of music to play on. I go over all my equipment to make sure nothing is missing. I send the vendors and the venue some of the information I gather. There is a surprising amount of “little things” that I have to check off before your wedding day comes.

Provides sound equipment

Having high-quality, working sound equipment is an absolute must—and your wedding DJ will have that all covered. Without microphones, speakers, and the like, your guests won’t be able to hear your first introduction as a married couple, the lyrics to your first-dance song, your best man’s toast, the announcement that dinner is being served, or that the last dance is being played.

(May) supply lighting

While we do recommend hiring a company that specializes in lighting for more extensive needs, many wedding DJs offer uplighting as part of their services. Uplighting consists of smaller lighting systems that can be placed on the floor and aim light upwards to highlight your tables and dance floor. Talk to your wedding DJ to see if this is something that can be included in your package, or if you’re better suited to hire a professional lighting company.

Lighting, Design and Media Technician – to create the perfect ambience and help create a total sensory experience!

The ability to create the right atmosphere for an event isn’t necessarily what you see, but HOW you see it. To create the overall ambience and enhance the experience by designing a room according to your vision for maximum enjoyment. This ranges from no lighting to simple lighting, up-lighting (done correctly), theatrical lighting, intelligent lighting, dance club style lighting, special effects and more.

We also have video projection systems with oversized screens that are available for short videos, photomontages, movies and more.

If you want more than basic dance floor lighting as included in many of the base packages, we’ve added a completely separate creative lighting & décor division led by a nine-year theatrical Lighting Designer to design and bring you “the fusion of elegant and unique to create a romantic and memorable wedding WOW!

Makes sure all equipment is working

There are few things more annoying during a wedding reception than music that’s too loud, too soft, or muffled, or worst-case scenario, dead air due to malfunctioning equipment. Not only do experienced wedding DJs utilize top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art equipment, they also do sound checks at your venue well before the reception begins to ensure that everything is working properly so there won’t be any awkward silences.

Sets the Vibe / Mood

There are many DJs that are in it for the ego, the adrenaline rush, the need to control everything. For a quality wedding DJ, that ego is checked out. There is no room for conflicting personalities. Everyone needs to be working as a team, supporting each other where needed. This means working with the venue to ensure all the critical points on the timeline are met. Or notifying the photographer and videographer when things are about to happen, so they don’t miss a shot. If a change in plans happens that you can work that into the timeline to ensure nothing is missed. Line everyone up for introductions and conveying any special instructions to make sure everything goes as planned.

Sure, you could simplify a wedding DJ‘s role by saying he/she “plays the music.” But it’s really about more than just selecting and playing songs. A wedding DJ sets the tone for your reception by playing the right songs at the correct times and reading the crowd accordingly. If you want your party to be a total rager, they’ll know the right tunes to put guests in a dancing mood. Alternatively, if your goal is a reception with an old-school romantic feel, your DJ will know how to create that vintage vibe. And, a skilled wedding DJ knows exactly how to pack the dance floor if your guests are getting a little too comfortable in their chairs.

It is up to the DJ at that point to decide how to interact with these age groups and what to play to keep them all happy. Only experience will teach a wedding DJ the need for variety. Their job is to appeal to the masses by playing all styles of familiar party music. An experienced wedding DJ will understand that everyone is passionate about ‘” their style” of music and know how to tap into that passion and present it in a manner that everyone on the dance floor can get excited about together. They will know how to correctly weave in and out of many different styles of music and, ultimately, keep the party going all night long without a hitch.

DJs with little or no wedding experience, on the other hand, may not even consider the diversity on the dance floor. When people don’t respond to their music selections, they may get frustrated and simply blame the crowd rather than digging in and working the music to find something that works for everyone.

Setting the right vibe and atmosphere is what sets wedding DJs apart from other types of DJs.

Unlike a nightclub, which is usually a younger crowd, your wedding guests will consist of family and friends from all generations and walks of life. Finding ways of keeping all these people dancing can be easier said than done.

But for wedding DJs, it’s no sweat!

I don’t know about you, but I can hit “Shuffle” on a playlist of all my favourite songs and still end up pressing “Skip” multiple times! Being a wedding DJ requires the ability to read the vibe of the room and create a playlist on the fly that keeps everyone on the dance floor.

Serves as Emcee

Emcee may be the most important role your wedding DJ will play. Think of your DJ as the host, cruise director, and point person for the evening, making announcements and ensuring that your guests are aware of what’s going on and what’s next. Having your wedding DJ serve as emcee is far more authoritative and professional than you trying to shout “Time for dinner!” over the blasting music. Your guests are more likely to follow directions from an experienced wedding DJ and will look to your DJ (instead of you or your new spouse) for information, so your big day will proceed smoothly, and you can focus on enjoying every minute!   

A good wedding DJ is responsible for way more than playing music. They also act as your MC.

Remember that awesome timeline we talked about earlier? Part of sticking to that timeline means knowing when to pick up the mic and make those all-important announcements (like introducing you for the first time as a married couple).

Of course, not every wedding DJ has experience as an MC. When you’re hiring a DJ, make sure you consider their personality as much as their experience. As your MC, they’ll be setting the tone for the whole night!

Your wedding, whether you realize it or not, will bring your guests on an emotional journey, from joy, surprise, friendship, laughter, love and hope. We understand that your wedding day is THE representation of who you are as a couple to your friends and family…whether classy, unique, romantic, organized, fun…or not at all. A gift of creativity when hiring Amore’ DJ Entertainment, is the unique ability to actively focus an audience through either passive or active involvement and maintain the energy of a room by tapping into different entertainment disciplines to intentionally enhance, improve or change your guests emotionally and enhance the music and dancing for a total wedding experience. Even though the newlyweds are the focus and sole reason for attendance, brides often ask for assistance in creating personal, unique and original ideas to interact with their guests. Maybe teaching a dance; writing than performing a “love story” about how you and your fiancé met; host a “Dating Game” or “Newlywed” parity; and much, much more. (In fact, we have 26 creative and original “Eater-tainment” ideas just for the meal alone! You’ll get a sneak peek in our Amore’ Wedding Reception Confirmation kit!)

Technical Assistance

For anyone considering DJ-ing their own wedding, we’d like to ask you, “How are your guests going to hear the officiant during the ceremony? Have you ever used a soundboard? Do you know how to troubleshoot an iPad setup that just won’t work?”

It takes a lot of specialized equipment and technical know-how to make sure the vows, toasts, and music all sound good from beginning to end. What does a DJ do if not make it all look (and sound) utterly seamless?

Sound Engineer & Sound – ultra-modern, clean, clear, controlled sound. The ability to create, then control audio design, production and broadcast with a consistent, clean, and clear sound at the wedding ceremony and reception. Obviously critical, is the proper placement of the gear (and speakers) in a room for maximum clarity, balance, equalization, and appropriate volume levels so your guests will not miss a single announcement, yet create an appropriate volume for dancing near the dance floor when need, and still be able to maintain appropriate levels comfortable for conversation when it’s not the time for dancing.

Covers up any hiccups

Things may go wrong on your wedding day, but fortunately, wedding DJs are pros at getting things back on track. Let’s say dinner is running slightly behind schedule. Your DJ can play an extra few songs so that guests are too busy dancing to care that the food’s not ready. Or maybe your dad is in the restroom when he’s supposed to be giving his toast. Your DJ can cover until he’s available. Your guests won’t notice any potentially-awkward mishaps when you’ve got a pro wedding DJ at the helm.

All of the planning, scheduling, hosting, technical work, and room reading is nothing without the final piece of the puzzle: professionalism.

What sets a professional wedding DJ apart from a layperson comes down to more than a nice set of speakers. Only a pro can confidently handle transitions between songs, announce the cake cutting, and figure out which ’70’s song will get Grandma off her feet.


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