I’m Sorry, What’s Your Name?

June 27, 2017 by Dave Ternier

Recently, on my side of the internet, the topic came up about wearing a name tag when working weddings or corporate events as the DJ/MC. I do not wear a name tag when working at events, but am fully aware of many DJs who do…and for some pretty solid reasons I might add. Those reasons haven’t caused me to fully shift my personal choice on the matter, but they’ve certainly provided me some additional food for thought.

The purpose of writing about this topic today is to share some equally balanced and useful ideas from both points of view. Seldom is there a “golden rule” that applies to every DJ in the world in every situation, and this issue is no different. Take what you like, and respectfully leave the rest. I’ll share my reason (yes, I have just one) for opting for no name tag, but first, the reasons most DJs are against it…

It seems to me that most DJs believe that if they wear a name tag, he or she might become confused for hotel or venue staff. This might be true in some instances, but I think it really depends on the DJ’s style and level of talent development. For any DJ that has attended and implemented MC training from the likes of Mark Ferrell, Randy Bartlett, Bill Hermann or Peter Merry, I strongly believe there isn’t any chance that you might be confused for hotel staff. Your performance and the way you execute that part of your role will speak for itself, thereby separating you from any venue you work with (with or without a name tag).

As many of my Canadian colleagues will relate to though, some DJs don’t offer any MC services at all and therein lies a greater possible risk being confused for hotel staff if wearing a name tag. The role that DJ plays may not grant them the opportunity to confidently set themselves apart from confusion with the venue staff. Carefully (and tastefully!) branded name tags might work to eliminate that risk though.

My reason for avoiding the use of a name tag is all together different. Due to the personalized nature of my DJ and MC work, I am, with every wedding, actively attempting to blur the line between the guests wondering if I am a family member or long time friend as opposed to someone who does this for a living. Plain and simple, that’s it. I want guests at the wedding to believe I might be a friend of the family they haven’t met yet, or a long lost cousin they didn’t know existed (true story…that question has been asked!). This caters to the almost “intimate” nature of my work and, therefore, I avoid using a name tag because that would “give up the game” so to speak.

Without a name tag though, it is true, I am often asked throughout the night, what my name is. Yes, I introduce myself at the beginning of the reception, but only that one time. I can see the benefit to a name tag and have gone back and forth many times over the question.

Here are some quality reasons from industry veterans and DJ thought leaders, Bryan Podworny and Jim Cerone. Both of these gentlemen are not only very talented performers and incredible human beings, but they also command performance fees that are among the highest (if not, the highest) in their markets. So if you think a name tag is “tacky,” just remember that both of these men are being paid very well for wearing theirs.

Bryan begins by saying this about wearing a name tag, “Authority and a perceived level of professionalism. Look anywhere and you will see a name tag where authority figures deal with the public. Police, military, managers of stores of all varieties, service technicians. The people wearing them are typically someone that the public can go to find answers and request service. At the events where I am donning a name tag, I am that authority.”

Another important reason for Bryan has to do with something that probably affects most of us, “I have a horrible time remembering names. I know I’m not alone in this. When I talk to someone, it pains me deeply to not be able to call them by name. I imagine I’m not alone in this either. By wearing the name tag, anytime I come in contact with the public, they can easily recall my name from the badge.”

© Photography By Dale
© Photography By Dale

Jim Cerone, also known as the Perfect Host, summed up his thoughts on wearing a name tag by saying, “It’s a conscious, purposeful choice. I should remember everyone’s names, but they shouldn’t have to remember mine. I am there to ‘serve’ and most servers wear name tags so guests can clearly see who they are and why they’re there.”

Finally, if you want to step outside of the world where “everyone-is-a-DJ” wearing a name tag might help, says Bryan, “…I’m not the groom’s neighbour’s uncle’s best friend’s nephew who just happens to spin music on the weekend. Wearing something as simple as a name tag, at these types of events, invokes a little more professionalism in my eyes.”

Lastly, Jim has two final pieces of advice if you decide to start wearing a name tag, “…get the magnetic kind so it doesn’t poke holes in your suit. And yes, I shine mine before every event.”

Much like some DJs don’t wear suits while working, others will say they couldn’t perform without one. No truly correct answer exists. Consider the ideas, give thought to the points of view, and determine what defines your performance and service style. Then, choose your path accordingly.

There you have it. Are you ok with “I’m sorry, what’s your name?” or is a name tag something you might consider?

Dave Ternier Dave Ternier (26 Posts)

Dave Ternier began his DJ career in 1997 as a self taught, part time, mobile DJ. Since 2011, Dave has gone full time as a single operator DJ/MC for his company, Special Request Weddings. He is a proud Canadian DJ, MC, member of the CPDJA and recipient of the international WED Guild® certification. Family life is kept busy alongside his beautiful wife Kathryn and their two daughters, Kiana and Marika. Dave is also the founding author of www.aDJthought.com, an industry blog focused exclusively on mobile wedding DJs.


Filed Under: Mobile DJ Business