"What should my expectation of a Wedding DJ be?"
There it is...the "e" word! One of the most important (and healthiest) things you can communicate to potential wedding pros during your wedding planning and hiring process is your expectations. And you may not know this but your DJ becomes one of the most influential people at your wedding by overseeing the energy, the tone and the party all to multiple generations. We caught up with Mick Scrivener of Elite British DJ, a well known, respected, and sought-after San Diego area DJ with decades of experience in meeting couple's expectations (and needs- they're not always the same thing!) to get some sage advice [based on hundreds of real wedding and real scenarios] to help couples like you with this very important question.
Q: So Mick what is your advice to start couples off in being able to communicate their expectations to wedding DJ?
M: "My wife is a wedding planner so she will always tell you before you start write down all the vendors you need and budget what you want to spend. But every couple is different and everyone has their individual priorities so my question to couples is this "what priority should you put in a DJ?"
I am not saying a DJ is more important than any other vendor, but I do know that your guests will largely base their enjoyment on the entertainment as it is the most visible thing to them. A bad DJ can ruin your wedding for guests. You want them talking about how much fun they had for years to come so don’t risk it. You want to ask yourself through the process, "Would I like this if I was a guest at this wedding” it will help a lot in determining the outcome of your wedding reception entertainment."
Q: Mick what about individual DJ's vs. multi DJ companies?
M: "If it is in your budget I recommend booking a ‘Sole Proprietor’ so you know who your DJ will be and you can develop a relationship with that DJ giving you a great comfort level going into the wedding. This person has a greater level of accountability not just to you but to all the industry people they regularly work with and get referred by. When you book through a large company, yes it may be cheaper, but also you don’t necessarily know who will show up at your wedding as your DJ will be, often up until the day. You want to have a relationship with your DJ from start to last dance! This person matters a lot at your wedding and their personality will have a lasting impact on you, your guests, and your family.
I recommend you check references from the venue, other vendors, and online via wedding websites like www.theknot.com and www.weddingwire.com for, check the DJ’s websites for testimonials too, that will tell you a lot also…"
Q: So Mick, what questions should you ask a DJ when you meet with them?Top 5 questions I get…
M: here are the top 5 questions I recommend you ask of a DJ:
1. What happens if something happens to you? - A good DJ will always have a plan for this. I got together with a group of DJ’s that will help each other out if something does happen (although none of us have ever missed one !!)
2. Do you bring a back up system ? a lot of DJ’s do not bring a back up system which is mind numbing to me If they don’t bring a back up system and are doing sound for your ceremony there will be a gap in music while they move It to the reception/cocktail area this is of my pet hates… I bring at least 2 full set ups and multiple speakers…
3. Do you have insurance, and if my venue needs to be additionally insured can you do that? This sorts out the Pro from the Weekend warrior… (yes I can !!)
4. Do you Emcee ? This is where a Wedding DJ separates themselves from a Club DJ (most of the time) most Club DJ’s are not comfortable with Emceeing while most Wedding DJ’s are.
5. Can I come and see you work? I have a different answer than most for this. Most people will say absolutely, but I say no…for 2 reasons A. I apply myself to each wedding differently (as in what the client wants) so you may not like what you see… and B. I don’t want to make it look like I am advertising myself to another client when I should be concentrating on your wedding. I firmly believe that a combination of meeting your DJ and reading their reviews will provide a comfort level for you
Mick adds, "On my website I also have a link to an online CD where I walk you through a wedding that a lot of clients find helpful http://www.elitebritishdj.net/promomp3.php "
Q: Mick, let's say our expectations are a well run, exciting, memorable, mind blowing-ly fun, amazing wedding reception that gets everyone feeling involved and having a great time?
M: As a pro DJ I often give advice based on guests rather than the clients, so here are 5 tips from a music standpoint to make your night better:
1. Send the DJ your floor plan in advance and ask them about it. This is my number 1 issue. Many venues truly do not care about speaker placement...look at this floor plan of a wedding dance floor for a reception and then look where they put me....
Where was I supposed to put my speakers? The rule of thumb I give is no tables of guests between the speakers and the dance floor (for the comfort of the guests). In this picture speakers would be either side of me and look at how many tables of guests would have blaring music going over them when we get to the dance portion!! Would you honestly like to sit at one of those tables… Sadly many sites and wedding planners do not care so always check with your DJ in advance to avoid some very unhappy guests.
2. Don’t make the dance floor too big … if you are in a room that can fit 300 guests but you only have 150 a lot of sites will recommend you make the dance floor huge to fill the room out. I strongly recommend against this, keep the dance floor at the appropriate size to the number of guests you have … When the dance floor is too big you never fill it even if all the guests are on the dance floor and the energy is never the same.
3. Don’t ask guests for a song choice when you send out your invites. Once you ask guests what they want to hear you can't unring the bell, and you get a ton of terrible requests that will never get played and people genuinely get upset when the don’t… instead ask them for a Genre they want to hear… much more likely they will hear something they want to hear and they feel more a part of everything J
4. Get the right lighting from the right source. If you are looking at lighting, always get a quote from your DJ before going with a lighting company. DJ’s look at lighting as an ‘Add On’ as we are getting paid for our regular DJ service so it will often be cheaper to have your DJ bring his or her lighting package than to outsource lighting from another company altogether.
5. Find out about your DJ's set up times and limitations on advance. Does your venue allow enough set up time for the DJ (and all other vendors) to make sure everything is ready before guests arrive. Venues will often double book rooms (one during the day and one in the evening) leaving very little time for set up.
M: I hope this gives you a bit of insight and will help you end up with the wedding reception you are wanting from your DJ!
Mick Scrivener of Elite British DJ, is an experienced wedding DJ who has performed at over 1500 weddings and events. By utilizing the best quality sound equipment and an intelligent lighting system that responds to the beat of the music, he will ensure that your occasion is both fun and memorable. As a DJ, Mick's sole aim is to help make your day unforgettable, and to ensure both that your music selection is tailored to your tastes and that your guests enjoy themselves. Thanks Mick!
Photos by the awesome and talented Tim Otto Photography