EVENT PLANNERS AND DJS: PRO OPINIONS AND STRATEGIES FOR COLLABORATION
The bride has hired a wedding planner, the facility has its banquet manager, and as professional DJs/MCs, we are also involved in planning major portions of the wedding reception. Unlike photographers, videographers, cake suppliers or florists who have smaller parts to play, or work mainly from the sidelines, capturing special moments or being the lead for smaller portions of the day, DJs typically play more of an organizing role, one that may overlap with that of other planners. The challenge for DJs is to work in tandem with other planners, with the goal of making things run as smoothly as possible for everyone, especially the families. We spoke to some professional event planners recommended by DJs on Start.MobileBeat.Com and Mobilebeat’s Facebook wall, and got some perspectives from them about what the DJs are doing right and wrong.
BEING A TEAM PLAYER
Karen Lupica of Exquisite Weddings of Central Florida has seen the full spread of DJs. “There are always those DJs that I know when they are booked for my wedding that I am going to have a GREAT, SMOOTH time with the reception.” “They are the ones,” she continues, “when, even if I am just the “day-of ” coordinator, I get so excited because I know that although my bride has planned the entire wedding herself, the reception will not be a bust because she has chosen a fabulous DJ.”
Clearly, even brides who spend a lot of time creating their dream wedding ceremony may need a DJ’s planning and organizational skills to finish their big day with the party of a lifetime. “Then,” adds Karen, “on the flip side, there are DJs that I get that I am not as excited to work with.” Heidi Baugart of Heidzillas in Cleveland, Ohio sums up what it takes to build a solid planner-DJ relationship: “The best DJs I’ve worked with understand that we’re there to be on their team and make their job easier, and vice versa. In advance, we go through and agree on the reception’s order of events and general timeline. If there are any changes, we give each other the heads-up or work through the best solutions.”
Of course, a basic part of being a team player means simply “showing up” to do one’s part. Laura Robertson of Touch of Style Events in San Luis Obispo California provided a prime example of an event planner’s DJ nightmare. “The night was going really well and people were having a blast dancing under the stars. But then my assistant and I noticed that we had just heard the same song twice in a row. So I walked up to the DJ table and noticed he wasn’t around, so we searched for a bit, long enough to were the song had played a total of 3 times in a row.” It was all because the DJ decided to step out for a moment, what turned out to be more the just a moment. The situation might have been averted had the DJ simply communicated with the event planner.
The complete opposite of the disinterested, absent DJ is the DJ who is so aware of the team’s mission that they simply do whatever needs to get done, even if it means pitching in on non-DJ stuff. Laura also offers a great example of this true team player. “We made it through the ceremony with no rain but halfway through cocktail hour it started to sprinkle. My assistant and I were finishing the final touches on the reception inside and we noticed the rain starting. So we were going as fast as we could to finish so we could get the guests inside immediately. Both of the DJs working this event jumped right in and started lighting candles and helping us with some final details. It was amazing…
they noticed right away that we were running around and they just jumped right in without us having to ask! The best part was that the bride and groom never noticed.”
The bride and groom didn’t notice, but the wedding planner did. You can be sure this DJ company received more referrals from the planner because of their full-on team spirit.
FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
Yes, you have gone through all the planning with the couple in advance, but planners appreciate keeping things smooth and flowing right. “I can really appreciate when the DJ checks with me to be sure that the couple are okay to move to the next event, no matter what the timeline/itinerary says,” says Karen Lupica. “I’ve had DJs that are such sticklers for the timeline that it is absurd.” You need to be working with the bride and suggesting, not pushing. Another key to being successful in the wedding business is updating the other vendors as to when things are about to happen and even telling the guests in advance by five minutes. For example: “Coming up after this song is the garter and bouquet toss, so all you singles out there get ready!” It’s also good to check with the wedding coordinator and the photographer and videographer to make sure they’re also ready for the special moment. As Karen explains, this keeps her from having to “scramble to make sure the photographers aren’t eating, or the videographer isn’t in the bathroom, and ensures that the mother of the bride is not having a cigarette break.”
“The DJs we have a hard time working with think they are the reception coordinators, that we don’t need to be there,” says Heidi Baumgart. “They tell us how they want to do things, won’t give us a chance to weigh in on venue policies, on how the family wants things, or other suggestions. The night of, they won’t keep us in the loop. Thus, we’re often duplicating efforts, from checking in on the couple to telling the vendors what’s next. And we often have different instructions, thus confusing everyone. When you aren’t working with us, you’re working against us.”
A great way to build your relationship with a wedding planner is to meet separately from the stress and excitement of the events for which you both share responsibility. Why not go out for a bite to eat and and some shop talk with a planner you work with regularly?
You could invite them with something like “When we work together on Saturdays we’re always at someone else’s beck and call, and we don’t have much time to talk that isn’t rushed. How about an un-hurried lunch later this week?”
A wedding planner can be your best friend (and one of your best sources of leads) if you’ve built a mutually beneficial relationship; but also the toughest person to work with (and a real headache), especially if you don’t work WITH them. Just remember, you share the goal of making everything the couple has planned for the wedding reception work out smoothy, to make it the best day of their lives. MB
Filed Under: Business, Issues from 2011, Weddings
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