A lot of things are of vital importance in the making of a memorable and enjoyable wedding. The venue, the catering, the décor, and the dress all play a part in keeping the bride, groom and guests happy. But bad food, torn table cloths and a stained dress can all be overcome with good music and plenty of dancing. Think of the weddings where you had the most fun. The good times were largely due to the music’s dancability and quality, weren’t they?
The biggest question you have to ask yourself is whether you want a DJ or a rollicking good band. If you opt for live music, make sure it’s for the right reasons and not because your cousin’s bluegrass band needs a break. Good bands can lend a freshness and vibrancy to the atmosphere. Bad bands can squawk their way through brain melting feedback and ensure that you get an early night. It’s also important to remember that bands might have a limited style and repertoire. A band with a reputation for playing good grunge music will probably only be able to play grunge music well. Consider how a night of angst, cynicism and depression will affect your guests.
DJs also have their pros and cons. Anyone with a vast music collection and set of speakers can set themselves up as a DJ. But when it comes to your wedding you don’t want just anyone, do you? In many countries, professional DJs need to be registered with an organisation or have a license to perform. By choosing a licensed DJ you can be reasonably sure that you’re hiring someone of quality and experience.
It’s important that your DJ has experience playing at weddings. Dejaying at weddings is a specialised skill, as the audience usually covers a broad spectrum of tastes. Guests include middle-aged parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, young nephews and nieces, adolescent cousins, work colleagues, strait-laced and hippie friends, and anyone in-between. A good DJ will know how to cater to everyone. He or she must also be able to gauge the audience’s reaction and mood when particular genres are played, and temper the music to suit.
It’s always a good idea to interview prospective DJs before making a final decision. A face-to-face interview is best as it will give you a more complete impression than a telephonic interview or communication via email. You’ll see how he or she conducts him/herself and be able to gauge their attitude towards their profession. Lackadaisical souls in board shorts and sandals and who like, you know, feel like whatever man, may just get stuck into the punch and fall over their speakers. Whereas someone with obvious pride in their appearance, who takes notes and allays your fears is more likely to treat your day with the respect that it deserves.
An interview will also help you to nail down the conditions of the contract. You can determine the duration of his or her standard set, whether they work overtime if required, and what they charge for overtime. You also need to know if they are flexible enough to take requests from your guests and that they will take your preferences into account. It’s very important to find out if they have some sort of back-up system if their primary equipment fails. You don’t want to hear the sounds of silence because they had a speaker malfunction. The contract should also include details about lighting, fringe benefits such as food and drink, and hidden costs such as the use of an assistant or a wireless mic.
Lastly, as matter of life and death, it’s imperative that you find out if their track list includes any panpipe music or the song “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond. Either of these should result in automatic disqualification, as they are an offence to sensitive ears the world over.