Steve “the Soulman” spills the beans on how to separate the great DJs from the pretenders and talks about the options that not all DJs provide.
Written by Steve “The Soulman DJ”
0438 121 000 | www.soulmandj.com.au
There are lots of us in Perth and surrounds and we’re all different. So, how do you choose one? It’s a big question and the answers are even bigger.
I was asked to write this article about DJs at weddings and, calling on my 24 years of experience, I thought it would be easy. I was mistaken. To cover all angles of choosing a DJ, I would need to write a small book. I’ve seen the best of them and the worst of them and I’ve heard the stories about the disastrous ones. I have DJed in most states in Australia, had a small career in radio, been trained at the WA. Academy of Performing Arts and in turn I have trained other DJs. The following is not gospel, but is intended to give you a guide to fi nding the right DJ for your special event.
Remember, that everyone has different tastes and different expectations. That is why there are over 200 DJs in WA all doing their own thing and loving it, and in turn being loved by others. No doubt you’ll find a few names from the internet, magazines, venues or friends. Check out websites or ask for some info to be sent out to you. Obviously price is important but so is value for money. The right DJ will make your night a great one.
SOUND AND LIGHTS
What can they offer and will it do the job? i.e. for the number of guests and the size of the room. Do you want lighting effects, a smoke machine, low lying fog machine, etc? Keep in mind that some venues won’t allow smoke machines. Try to avoid ‘bubble’ machines; they’re messy and can become a slipping hazard. You’ll need a microphone for the speeches; either a wireless mike or a long mike lead. Make sure that any extras you ask for are included in the initial quote, some companies charge extra for mikes, smoke and lighting.
A HELPING HAND
You may have been to a handful of weddings in your time and picked up a few handy tips, but a seasoned wedding DJ has been to many. It is the DJ’s job to know what happens, how it goes together and what to advise you to do or not to do. For the most part every DJ has their own formula for a successful night but should also be flexible enough to incorporate your tastes and ideas into the function. Most companies have a ‘Wedding Questionnaire’ for you to fill out. It is the basic blueprint for the reception. This plan formalises all the events on paper so that everyone is comfortable with the proceedings. It’s usually bad news to spring surprises on people as it may be totally inappropriate or offensive. A good wedding is all about good communication and planning; you only get one shot at it. Hence, there should always be a meeting with your DJ before the wedding day.
You should always be able to turn to your DJ for help with sorting out the entrance, formal songs, speeches, general music etc.
SERVICES ON THE NIGHT
If you need the DJ to MC, make sure he or she is comfortable in doing so and has had appropriate experience. A good MC will make the reception run smoothly and will entertain, organise, liaise, guide and control. DJs can also
be found running around on the night, liaising with the bridal party, the function staff, the photographer and the MC. It’s not really part of the traditional role of the DJ, but more of an extended service. Some DJs will play games throughout the evening. This can be a good or bad thing, depending upon the type of
guests at your reception and, of course, the type of game. Depending on the participants, some games can be a lot of laughs or they can be hard work and intrusive. Remember
that not everyone is comfortable performing in front of crowds and don’t forget that you’ll have a chance to play a couple of games for the Garter & Bouquet.
To create an interesting and exciting atmosphere
at a wedding reception a DJ has to openly share
some of his or her personality with the guests. There are many different levels on which this can be done. Probably the most successful DJ is the one seen to be having fun and talking to the crowd in a friendly and non-intimidating way. If the atmosphere is right, people won’t need to be bullied onto the dance floor; not everyone wants to dance (especially the modern ‘guy’, that is, until his vision and hearing are well and truly blurred). Some DJs now also offer a ‘Candid’ photography service. They run around taking candid photos of the night, particularly the dancing and games. The quality
of service varies a lot and some charge and some don’t. They are generally not professional photographers and shouldn’t interfere with your chosen photographer. The DJ should always check with the photographer beforehand to avoid conflict. It’s nice for the DJ to take music requests at the reception, but there should also be a limit to the type and number of requests taken. The DJ is there to try and cater for everyone, whilst the person requesting a song is generally considering their own tastes. Set some boundaries with your DJ if you wish.
A world of experience goes a long way. All weddings contain a diverse range of ages and music tastes. The aim is to shape the atmosphere with the music as quickly as possible, there isn’t usually a lot of time to play with. You can never please everyone, but the aim is to try. The important outcome from any function is to have people comment about how much they enjoyed themselves. Whether they got up and danced, stayed at the bar and listened to the music they liked or sat at their table whilst clapping and singing along with the songs, the most important thing is that they enjoyed their time with you.
The Wedding DJ must be able to cover all the
decades of music. If you want everyone to enjoy themselves, have a think about who’s coming to the reception and what sort of music you think they’d like to hear and don’t be afraid to discuss this with your DJ before the wedding. All good DJs are loaded up with all the classics across all the decades. However, it’s knowing what to do with the music that counts. There is a lot to look out for when choosing the ‘perfect’ DJ (there probably isn’t one). Most importantly, choose someone you feel comfortable with. Do your homework, compare prices and services and don’t be afraid to ask to meet the DJ before you book. Work out some standard questions to ask and try to decide what you want in a DJ. If all else fails and you’re just not sure, ask the venue. The function centre sees DJs all the time and there must be someone they could recommend.