Awesome Monthly Topic! Hey DJ, Play my favorite song… I wanna dance all night long
I want to give a HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to Gavin O’Leary from Absolute Entertainment for putting together this month’s “Awesome Wedding Topic” with tips on selecting your DJ. It means the world to me to work with amazing people in the wedding industry and that they are...more
I want to give a HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to Gavin O’Leary from Absolute Entertainment for putting together this month’s “Awesome Wedding Topic” with tips on selecting your DJ. It means the world to me to work with amazing people in the wedding industry and that they are more than willing to give me a hand to help YOU Now that is some serious love people!
I met Gavin while second shooting for Liz at Lynne and Joe’s Winter Wedding this past year. He is such an awesome guy and a fabulous DJ. I am so grateful to him for having put together this month’s blog.
Without Further Ado…. hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Gavin!
(office) 410.761.1212 (fax) 410.761.5212 (cell) 301.789.7197 www.AbsoluteEntertainment.com “WeddingWire Brides’ Choice Award 6 Years Running (2007-2012)”
So, you’re getting married? I’m sure you’re probably hip-deep in wedding
planning sessions with your fiancée by now (or, for some of you, letting your
sweetheart make all the decisions and just nodding happily). Since you’re probably
quite short on free time, let’s cut to the chase: Entertainment. The music selection at
a wedding really sets the mood for your evening from the time your family gathers
for your ceremony until the very last dance of the evening. A good wedding DJ will
ask you questions and play music for you to determine what works best for you and
he or she will come prepared with the right music to get your family dancing all
Below is a list of five tips to use when finding and working with your DJ to make
your wedding and wedding reception as seamless as possible.
1. Book Early – I can’t stress this point enough. Go looking for the DJ as
soon as you’ve decided on a date, a venue and a headcount. There’s a
lot of wedding DJs out there, from ads on Craigslist to companies full of
professional wedding DJs. When you meet with a DJ, sit down with them
and see if you like them. Talk about music together, from how you envision
your ceremony to what you have in mind for cocktail and dinner music,
to what you and your family and friends dance to. If your DJ isn’t actively
contributing ideas to the conversation, move on to the next DJ. The right DJ
should be familiar with the music you’re choosing and be able to pick similar
music to complement your style.
Many DJs offer live demonstrations of their mixing before you book. Take
as many of these demos as you can and be wary of smooth talking DJs who
refuse to offer either live demos or recordings of previous DJ work. Unless
you have proof of their ability, don’t accept their assurances at face value. In
our business, everyone runs into someone who claims to “have been a great
DJ” at some point.
NEVER turn down a free music demo. They’re great for you as a couple and
everybody likes music. If your DJ prefers to play back recordings of previous
work, treat this as his demo. Does he choose a set with a music choice similar
to yours or does all his work sound the same? Does he make announcements
well and does he do it often? Do you want a DJ who pumps up the crowd with
his voice or one who prefers to let people get excited over the music?
All that being said, choosing a DJ is always easier when you can get a
personal demo geared towards you as a couple.
When you’ve decided on a DJ, make sure you sign a contract with the name of
your performer (not just the company, if applicable), as well as the location,
date, time and rate that you and your DJ have agreed upon. Sign the contract
and keep a copy for your records. That way, both you and your DJ have peace
2. Be Decisive and Picky– One of my biggest concerns, as a DJ, is that the
couple I’m working with won’t like the music I pick out on their behalf. I
hear “You’re a professional, you’ve done this a thousand times before, we
trust you!” all the time. I’m always touched when my couples say this, but
I would love a list of your favorite songs and a list of the songs you hate to
go along with your ceremony list, your first dance and your cake cutting
songs. Yes, I’m a professional, but it’s your wedding and it’s my job to make
YOU happy, make all your guests dance and party and generally make sure
everybody has the night of their lives.
Give your DJ a “Must Play” list of your absolute favorites and a “Do Not Play”
of things you despise. In my area, things that wind up on the Do Not Play list
with regularity are:
Line Dances (Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Booty Call etc.)
Hard Rap/Hip Hop
Cheesy Wedding Music (Celebration, We Are Family, YMCA etc.)
Professional DJs will use “clean edits” of popular music, with the profanity
and explicit language edited out. Check with any DJ before you book him to
make sure he has and uses clean edits to avoid any unfortunate surprises
making their way into a wedding.
I promise not to be offended if I play or suggest something and you give it
the thumbs down. Any DJ worth his salt will be happy to change his music
selection to accommodate your preferences.
3. Share Your Ideas – and not just your ideas about your wedding. If you’ve
seen something cool at another wedding or online and want to see if we can
incorporate it into your night, toss it out there.
As the technology becomes more available, I’m seeing lots of brides and
grooms requesting specialty lights, uplights or small moving lights at their
wedding, each capable of transforming the evening atmosphere from a nicely
decorated ballroom suitable for a cocktail party to a relaxed lounge to eat
dinner and finally into a dazzling nightclub for dancing the night away.
Before I was a DJ, I was heavily involved in recording studio productions, so I
can cut, record and edit songs seamlessly. I had a couple earlier this year that
wanted to dance to the first 30 seconds of At Last and then rock out to Bruno
Mars for the remainder of their first dance. I was able to splice the music
together and send them the actual music file the week before their wedding
so they could prepare with the actual track that they would hear at their
Many DJs have skills related to DJing that can make your wildest ideas reality,
but you’ll never know what’s possible unless you ask.
4. Keep Me In the Loop – As your DJ, I’m not just the master music mixer
for the evening, I’m also the Master of Ceremonies (MC) as well. Unless
you hire a dedicated wedding planner, most other vendors (venue, caterer,
photographers, other musicians and the like) will look to the DJ to set
the timeline and control the flow of the evening. Make sure to give your
DJ a complete and up-to-date timeline of events. A good DJ will go over
the timeline with you before the day of your wedding and may even have
suggestions to improve or streamline your day.
Keeping in mind that, with the individual rare exception, all weddings run off
schedule and herding guests away from the bar for introductions or toasts is
often like herding cats away from a pile of catnip, make sure to build some
extra time into your reception. Dinner might not take 75 minutes, but if
you’re running 10 minutes late, you’ll be happy you had the extra time.
Your DJ will also handle introductions of your bridal party, so if anyone
in your party has a favorite nickname or impossible surname, please give
your DJ a heads up and run through before introductions happen. Be sure
to specify exactly how you want your names pronounced when you are
introduced as husband and wife. You can be Mr. John Doe and Mrs. Jane Doe,
John and Jane Doe, Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe
and, unless you specify, you might not hear what you want to hear.
A good DJ will go through all the announcements with you before the day
of the wedding, to make sure that everything’s written down correctly and
all pronunciations are correct. (I’ve been at weddings with Krawczewiczs
and Stelmaszczyks, and where MacDougal and McDougal are pronounced
very differently, depending on who you ask. Her given name might be
Kathleen, but she prefers Katie and, depending on who’s speaking, answers
to Kathleen, Katie, Kait, Hey, You! and Kathy.)
5. Don’t Be Shy – this ties back in with every other point, but needs to be
said again. Everything here is about YOUR wedding. If you want something
done a specific way, please tell me. Despite repeated attempts and some
rumors to the contrary, I cannot read minds. Everyone who is a wedding
industry professional, not just the DJs, will do their best to live up to your
ideal wedding if you tell them exactly what you want and how you want it
The flip side of this point is, of course, please don’t demand perfection from
the little details or expect perfect adherence to the timeline. While working
with you two, the other vendors and your dozens of guests, occasionally
things just won’t go as planned. Professional wedding people understand this
and will work with you and with each other to make sure everything comes
off without a hitch (or, to be fair, with a hitch) and also with the least amount
of stress to you and your fiancée as possible.
That’s why it’s important to choose a DJ (and a caterer and a florist and a
baker and a photographer and any other vendor) that you like and trust.
Gavin O’Leary holds a Bachelor of Arts in Audio Technology and has been a
professional DJ with Absolute Entertainment for three years. Based out of
Hanover, MD, Absolute Entertainment has been in business for thirty years
(1982-2012) and is the area’s largest professional DJ company. Both Gavin
and Absolute Entertainment may be reached at 410-761-1212 during normal
business hours or any time on the web at www.AbsoluteEntertainment.com