I have been performing for wedding receptions for eleven years now and it never ceases to amaze me that I learn something new at every wedding I do. You’d think that after so many years I would have it down, but no no no! The reason I enjoy doing wedding receptions is because for me, every event is different. From the age of the bride and groom to the type of interaction required for the event, to the setting of the facility, I have found that each party has it’s own colors.As you sit back to read this article I will take you though the stages of finalizing plans with a bride and groom as they prepare for their very special day. This part of the event is just as important as the actual wedding day. It’s a time to really connect with the bride and groom. I am very detailed orientated. I feel this is one of the main reasons I attract the type of clientele that will spend a little more money on their entertainment so they are guaranteed that “their day” will be personalized the way they envisioned it to be. I firmly believe that in order to command top dollar for my services, I must provide them with outstanding planning services prior to the wedding. This means giving the client more than five minutes on the phone to plan her wedding.
In addition to the obvious benefits to the bride and groom, taking time to plan and organize a wedding has benefits to you and your company’s reputation. You would be amazed at the number of DJs that show up to a wedding with nothing more than the song title and artist of the bride and groom’s first dance. An unprepared DJ is something that is noticed by everyone, including the banquet manager. Banquet manager’s tend not to refer entertainers who are unprepared, because they come across as amateurs. Don’t allow yourself to be classified in that category because you didn’t take time to plan and organize the reception in advance.
After the couple hires me for their event I send off a finalizing sheet and a general play list. I let them know that these 2 items need to be back in my office at least 2 weeks prior to their wedding day. This will allow me to look over all their information ahead a time so it will be easier for me to attend to all the details.
The finalizing sheet consists of a yes and no questionnaire about the event, a section for sequence of events, special music to be played and a place to list the wedding party including parents, bridesmaids, groomsman, maid/matron of honor, bestman and the all important flower girl and ring bearer.
When I speak with them, I ask very detailed questions because my motto is “It’s better to be well informed than uninformed”. The more I know about the couple and their guests, the smoother the reception will flow. Here are a few of the detailed but very basic questions I ask:
“Do you have your own Champagne Glasses?” Many times the couple will receive glasses as gifts at their shower and will want to use them at the event. Make sure they are at the appropriate table before the reception begins so you won’t be scrambling to find them during the toast.
“Will your Maid/Matron of Honor like to participate in the toast as well?” I use to think because it was called a “Best man’s Toast” that it was proper etiquette to have only the Bestman toast the couple. However, here in Los Angeles, anything goes and many times the Maid/Matron of Honor would like to give a toast also.
“Are parents married to each other or do they have significant others?” The reason I ask this question is because sometimes the parents are included in the Grand Entrance and you want to make sure everyone is paired up appropriately (especially if the divorced parents don’t get along so well).
“Do you want the cake cutting to be “nice” or “not so nice”? How many of you have not asked this question ahead of time? The result being that the crowd coaxes the groom to smash cake and the bride gets all upset? Not a good thing! You have control over the cake cutting and can set the mood. Find out what they want to do ahead of time so there are not bad feelings.
The last two questions I ask are probably the most important.
“Are there any artists or songs you absolutely DO NOT want played at your event?” I ask this question because, for instance, if the bride has been to a million weddings in the last year and has heard “Celebration” (I avoid this song at all cost) at every event, there is a possibility that she won’t want this particular song played at her own wedding. It’s just as important to find out what they don’t want as well as what they do want!
“What type of interaction are you looking for at your event?” I’ve been noticing lately that either couple wants all the interaction they can get or none at all. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned early on in my career. I did an upscale wedding when I was just getting into interactive DJing and assumed that all my clients would want line dancing (oops). Well, I proceeded to teach the Electric Slide at this party. I got everyone on the dance floor and they totally loved it but the bride later came up to me and asked that I stay away from those types of things because that was not the type of event she wanted. Luckily she was very nice about it and the rest of the party consisted of great music and dancing. From there on in the question of interaction has become a very important part of finalizing.
In the course of the phone call I will go over sequence of events. This is an opportunity for me to really connect with my clients. If I help them set the stage then they will feel more comfortable on their wedding day and actually enjoy the party. I will give them suggestions on where to place all their formalities but let them know that ultimately the final decisions for sequence of events is up to them. This is how I personalize their day. I will also let them know that once the sequence is set, they won’t have to think about it that day because I will inform them 5 minutes in advance what is coming up next. That will give them time to find their husband or wife and/or freshen up. I also let them know that I will be informing the Photographer and Videographer as well so they aren’t in the bathroom or outside taking a break during the first dance. Remember, your not a human jukebox – these are all important services that you provide the day of the wedding, and clients are willing to compensate you accordingly.
The last item to go over is, of course, the music. This can be very easy or very difficult depending on the couple. Some couples want to be totally involved with the decision about music and others will allow me to make the calls. Of course the later is what I prefer most because it’s obvious that the couple trusts me implicitly with the choices I will make for their guests. Typically this type of wedding flies the best. If the couple really want to be involved it’s not a problem. They usually make requests that they think their friends would like to hear and then ask me to fill in with all the nostalgic music for the family and older folks. If I feel that some of their requests they make are better for cocktail and dinner instead of dancing, I will suggest that I play those selections during that time. This is always good because if you start off playing the music they requested from the beginning, you are gaining their trust early in the event. As you can see, being a DJ is very physiological.
I always end the conversation with my clients by telling them if there is anything they need through the course of the evening even if it isn’t entertainment related, to please send who ever their liaison is to me and I will take care of it. I want to make sure the bride and groom have the best time and that I am there to take care of the little things so they can enjoy their own wedding day. This is my main thrust. I think that every DJ is individual and each one of us attracts a certain type of couple. Most of my clients want to be taken care of with not only the main specifics of a wedding but also the little things. Remember, for a woman (and most of the time you will be dealing with the bride) it’s the little things that count!
Filed Under: Weddings
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