WHEN IT COMES TO INFO, MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER
A quick online search of DJ questionnaires would show that many of us are getting nothing more than song titles, times, and names from our clients before stepping into our crucial roles on their big days. Yet a better wedding agenda clearly equals a better wedding DJ. This is good for our reputations as a whole.
1. DON’T JUST RELY ON DJ PROGRAMS
I have DJ Event Planner and can’t imagine life without it, and I know many swear by DJ Intelligence. However, I encourage you to refine and edit the data these programs collect, based on your style, your clients, your area, or your specialty. For example, one of my specialties is country music and dancing, so I ask my country couples which line dances they know so I can be sure to play those specific songs, have the counts ready, or find out which “Tush Push” song is their favorite.
Tip: After each wedding, go back over your questionnaire and add or update it to make the data you gather as tailored, streamlined, and specific as possible.
2. PERSONALLY INTERVIEW ALL CLIENTS
The foundation of a good wedding agenda is knowing your clients. The wedding I did last Saturday was of two Princeton PhDs. Had I not gotten to know them and their love story, I would have been very baffled by them deciding not to have a dance floor (among other things). Even if you work for a company that assigns you a wedding just a few days in advance, pick up the phone and personally go over the details with the clients. Ask them if they have any questions for you.
Tip: Even if you have clients fill out all of their planning information online, still take the time to personally go over the details, offering your expertise and input.
3. GET THE DETAILS
Does the couple want their First Dance faded out early? Why was this particular song chosen for the Father-Daughter Dance? What are the wedding colors? Do they like the YMCA? Will the meal be buffet, plated, or food stations? Will the coordinator be dismissing tables or will you be? Should you take requests? Does the couple want R-rated music? Will the cake be near the dance floor or off in a distant corner? Would they prefer a night club look with the dance floor lighting or just a few low-key spotlights? Is a family member going to be playing a live song and expecting to hook into your mixing board? How many guests will there be? What time is the photographer leaving? And so on.
Tip: The devil is in the details. The more you ask, the better job you can do. Period.
4. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
As you might have guessed, the foundation of an iron-clad wedding agenda is the research, not the writing. But here’s what to include for a truly infallible agenda:
• Your cell number as well as the cell numbers of any other vendors who will be present during the wedding. More than once, my agenda was the only place where a late violinist or singer’s phone number could be located.
• Order of activities as well as events that must start at a set time (dinner). For events that are back-to-back, I find putting an arrow to indicate it will immediately follow the previous event is more useful than just allowing 5 minutes for each activity, which is typically very inaccurate (No = 7:00 First Dance, 7:05 Father-Daughter Dance, 7:10 Mother-Son Dance. Yes = 7:00 First Dance > Father-Daughter Dance > Mother-Son Dance).
• Include checklists to remind yourself of what you should be planning or prepping at any given moment. (Ex. 8:30 Open Dancing, _Place chair on dance floor for garter removal, 9:30 Garter Removal).
• Have the client TELL you over the phone or in person all of names of wedding party members and other important people who will be mentioned, and write them down phonetically. Use your version of phonetic spellings in your agenda to ensure proper name pronunciations.
• Write a script for the wedding’s major announcements instead of winging it. (Ex. “Ladies and gentleman, on Christmas Eve, Cheryl unwrapped a small box from under the tree. When she looked up from the box, Jeff was on his knee in front of her with one very important question to ask. She said yes, and, for that reason, we are here today welcoming them to the dance floor for the first time as husband and wife,” rather than “Ladies and gentlemen, the First Dance.”) Creating a script comforts so many couples who fear you may come down with diarrhea of the mouth or have a penchant for inappropriate one-liners.
• Put everything on one master document rather than having a separate time line document, a separate playlist, a separate script of announcements, etc. It’s easier for the couple to proofread and easier for you to find things in a pinch.
• Paste a copy of the wedding layout at the end of your agenda.
Tip: Following these guidelines, you can expect to invest 3-4 hours in putting the first draft of the agenda together. If your current price doesn’t justify that type of prep work, raise it!
Additonally, we should take a cue from the Wedding Entertainment Director’s Guild and send our versions of the wedding agendas out to other vendors and introduce ourselves well before the wedding day.
When I go to bridal shows, I put a stack of old wedding agendas on the table. They sell themselves! The high level of planning, attention-to-detail, and customization puts many minds at ease. Don’t tell a bride, “You can trust me not to screw up your big day.” Show her! Furthermore, if we want day-of coordinators to stop babysitting us, we need to be using iron-clad agendas to show them we are on top of things.
DJ and Minister Staci Nichols owns Revolution Weddings and Country Wedding DJ in southern California. Her wedding know-how has appeared on Wed Loft, Offbeat Bride, the Gig Masters Wedding Blog, and Brides Without Borders. She is available for DJ consulting with a focus on helping her male counterparts make their websites/services more bride-friendly.
Filed Under: Issue #159, Weddings
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