By Mitch Fortune
As wedding DJs we preform and work at events every week. We see what works and we see what doesn't. The eyes through which we see an event are different from those of your wedding planner, venue coordinator, photographer, caterer, etc. They each approach an event with very different causes and purposes in mind. Often they are looking at things through the lens of what looks pretty, what makes it easier to serve food, or how to make things easier to set up or break down. When we look at an event our only concern is what is going to make this party better, what will help keep people on the dance floor, and what will encourage the most guests to dance. Most of your vendors are going to say "yes" to all of your ideas because in the end, you are the customer. We as vendors don't want to tell clients how their wedding or event should be, we only want to assist in bringing the client's vision to life. Below you can find 10 things your DJ would like to tell you, but probably won't, as they don't want to tell you how your event should be and don't want to seem bossy or look like a diva.
1. Don't make too many requests. Requests definitely make our job harder. You have hired a professional DJ for a reason, allow us to do what we do. If the dance party portion of the night is only 2 hours long, a long list of requests severely limits our ability to do what we are good at. A good dance party is created by playing the right songs. A KICK ASS dance party is created by playing the right songs, but also by how those songs are mixed together and when the songs are played. Giving your DJ too many requests interrupts their ability to mix everything cohesively. Our DJs mix everything by tempo, key, beat structure, and beats per minute. Songs don't just magically fit together, they are carefully selected and rehearsed ahead of time to make sure the mix sounds awesome. Your DJ has spent years honing their skills and song sets and your requests throw a monkey wrench into their performance. We are happy to accommodate requests, just don't give us too many.
2. Don't put a song request line on your RSVPs. Lately a trend is asking guests "what song will they dance to" and having them write that on the wedding RSVP. This list then gets turned over to the DJ. There are several problems that result from this. First, you have the wise asses who write goofy or funny songs because they want to be comical. Second, you get the odd ball requests that aren't dance songs that are just going to be impossible to work in or songs that no one but that particular guest will know. Third, there are only so many songs that can be worked in during a 5 hour event (roughly 90). There is generally no way to accommodate all those requests, which leads to the question, do you really want your guests being disappointed because there song didn't get played? Also see item number one on this list. Guests request line, just don't do it.
3. Do not put the dancing or dance floor in a separate room from the bar or reception itself. People will hang out wherever the alcohol is and if it is in another room or area, they won't be going to dance in another room. They also won't hear it when their favorite songs come on which means they will be way less likely to make their way to the dance floor. Older folks also like to camp out at tables. They leave their purse, camera, jacket, etc at their table and make it their home base. They typically will then hang out at their table all night and not go to the other room. Putting the DJ and dance floor in a separate room is going to inhibit or kill your dance party.
4. Get all of the formalities, pictures, and other activities done before the dance party begins. Your DJ will work hard to control the energy of the dance floor and will slowly build the energy over the course of the 2 hours of dancing. Bringing the dance party to a dead stop to cut the cake or make toasts will kill the vibe, flow, and energy your DJ has worked hard to create. Your DJ will then have to work twice as hard to get everyone back on the dance floor. Also by creating a stop in the action it gives people (especially older guests) a reason to leave.
5. Don't sit the old people by the speakers. Inevitably this always happens. We will keep the volume low during the cocktail and dinner hours, but if you sit your grand parents beside where the DJ is set up, it will never be low enough for them and so no one else is going to hear anything because we will practically have to turn the music off to make grandpa happy.
6. Don't have games at your wedding! Everyone wants to have corn hole, horse shoes, and other yard games for people to play during their reception. As cute as this is for photos etc. and entertaining guests during cocktail hour, it also means that less people will be on the dance floor when it comes time to dance. Dance floors are about gravity and magnetism. The more people on the dance floor, the more other people will be drawn in and gravitate to it. If a dance floor is empty, no one wants to be on it. If everyone is outside playing games, it will be harder for your DJ to get them on the dance floor if not impossible. If you really have to have games at your event, maybe have your wedding coordinator or venue staff put the games away after cocktail hour so that guests will head to the dance floor after dinner instead of outside!
7. You have to dance! As the bride and groom you have your own gravitational draw and magnetism. If you spend the evening outside smoking or bellied up to the bar, that is where most of your guests will be. If you are on the dance floor, that will draw your guests to the dance floor as well.
8. Save time for dancing by doing a first look and getting your photos wrapped up before the reception begins. You can also have a shorter cocktail hour, don't delay dinner, skip the toasts (or limit your toast makers), and skip the other formalities that don't appeal to you so that you can save more time for dancing. Inevitably things will get delayed at some point and then suddenly your dance party is only 45 minutes or an hour long. Cut down on the activities and formalities and create more time for the actual party! You will be glad you did!
9. Don't try and make last minute changes. Your DJ and your event planner have worked tirelessly to create a timeline and order of events that everyone else will be working around. Changing things up last minute is a recipe for miscommunication and a potential disaster. We are happy to adapt during the course of an event and adjust if things are falling behind or moving quicker than scheduled. Please, however, don't try to throw in new activities, change the order of introductions or swap ceremony songs last minute. This really stresses out everyone involved.
10. One room venues are truly the best. Venues in which everything is happening in one space are truly the best for creating a good dance party. Everyone one of your guests will be with in earshot and can visibly see the dance floor. When things start getting hot on the dance floor, guests will be more likely to join in. They will also not miss their favorite songs when they are played and everyone will be present for each and every activity.
--Mitch Fortune is the owner of Remix Weddings and has 20 years of experience working as a mobile and wedding DJ.
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