One of the main concerns you will want to address with your prospective DJ is whether they have wedding experience, and how much. If they have played music at a friend's party, or even a night club, they may not have had the experience to understand the special challenges of a wedding reception. These challenges include, but are not limited to, understanding timing, being a competent and confident public speaker, and coordinating with the caterer, photographer, and videographer to assure that everything operates smoothly and in accordance with the highest standards.
Digital DJ has been in the wedding industry for eight wonderful years and counting. We have grown annually. Our growth has been due to the fact that we're very easy to work with, not only from the perspective of the the bride and groom, but the many vendors who participate in these events, as well. Our DJs are personable and professional and will act as an on-site coordinators from beginning to the very end of your special day. We have some insights we feel might be helpful to you, based on our years of experience, in the paragraphs below. Special attention is payed here to the pitfalls you may encounter, and how to avoid them. We hope the following will help you get the most out of your special day.
Some couples choose to have a DJ at their wedding ceremony while others prefer live musicians. Occasionally both will be employed. Live music does add a unique touch and an authentic air, so if you do decide to go that route, we fully understand. A professional DJ can, however add quite a bit to the most important portion of your big day. Here are some things you might consider.
If more than twenty people are in attendance, or you have an outdoor wedding, you may want your officiant to have a wireless microphone. With the right technician at the controls, a microphone can not only make audible the conductor of your ceremony, but can bring out the tonal qualities of his voice, enriching the experience for your guests. With a larger gathering, or the presence of ambient environmental noise such as nearby traffic, two things may happen: the officiant will have to shout to be heard, limiting his/her dynamic range, or worse (and this is more often the case), the officiant will be inaudible to all but the aisle seats of the very first row. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen. Your guests care about you and have made the effort to attend your ceremony. They want to hear every word to fully share in the experience of your commitment.
If you choose the timeless classics, or prefer to express your individuality with the ceremony music, our DJs will be there for you. If you want to hear the soaring trumpets, lumbering bass, and dancing violins of a full orchestral arrangement, our professional sound systems are not only up to the task, but you may hear parts of the music you never noticed before! Also, many couples want to add something a little different and opt for music, in part or all of the ceremony, that completely breaks with tradition. In that case there's nothing like hearing the music as it was performed by the original artist that made you fall in love with the song in the first place. Music is a personal experience shared among many people. We will amplify your taste and style in a way that exceeds your and your guests' expectations.
This is such an important consideration for your ceremony and reception that it cannot be over-emphasized. Timing is what distinguishes a true professional. This day started in the imagination of a little girl, long before the proposal, and was dreamt of time and again. Can you imagine the lighting of a unity candle, the moment is fast approaching, and the DJ is talking with one of the caterers and not paying the smallest amount of attention to the task at hand. That is, of course, an awful scenario, though it has been known to happen, but the timing of the music can make all the difference, and all of our professional DJs are trained to time the music perfectly with each portion of the ceremony, meaning it will flow smoothly from the seating of the guests to the full recessional.
Now you've said your vows and are happily married. It's time for your guests to unwind. I want to go over the typical structure for a wedding reception and some things to keep in mind to go along with it. It is your day and you may very well have something different in mind from what's presented here, but there are reasons for the usual format as well, as I will explain.
It is a rare wedding indeed in which all the pictures are done prior to the ceremony. Chances are you will need to do some if not all of your formal photographs afterwards. Meanwhile, some of the last minute things your guests may have had to deal with, such as wrapping presents or picking up dry cleaning, may have prevented them from eating as well as they should. If passed hors d'oeuvres aren't within your budget, it's very thoughtful to at least have a veggie tray or cheese and crackers somewhere people can help themselves. So, while those not involved with photos are having a snack and a beverage of their choice, you have time to get done exactly what you need. Often some lively jazz or acoustic music works well for this. It supports the upbeat feelings associated with having witnessed two people devoting their lives to one another, and fills in nicely if conversation drops off while people are getting to know each other for the first time, perhaps. The DJ should know to keep the music at a low to moderate volume so guests will have no difficulty hearing each other speak.
The Grand Entrance:
This is a great way for the special people in your life to get to show how they appreciate you. Be sure the DJ has your name as you want it announced, and has double checked pronunciation. You may want family members and the wedding party to have their moment in the spotlight at this time, as well. If so, make sure your DJ has the names of everyone prior to the day of the event, in order, with names that are at all tricky or difficult spelled phonetically. Again, the DJ should check pronunciation as everyone is lining up as he or she is typically operating the music while announcing many names is a row. Even the most experienced DJ will tell you this is one of the most challenging parts of the entire reception. When done properly, the introduction can infuse the room with energy early on, and get people excited for the fun that is to come!
While you were smiling till your cheeks hurt, taking photograph after photograph, the caterers were preparing dinner (if that is part of your reception), either by setting up and stocking the buffet, or preparing meals to be plated and served. By the time you are formally announced into the room, you should be able to go straight to dinner. Traditionally, the bride and groom start the buffet. This is so you can have time after getting a bite to mingle and talk with people, before the next events take place. It is vitally important during this time that you actually sit down and eat. There may be people there you haven't seen in years. Resist the urge to go talk to them until you've eaten some food. If you skip dinner, you may find yourself at the end of the night wondering why you're light headed or have a headache and want to pass out! Also, if you plan to consume alcohol during your celebration, it will affect you more quickly and with more strength if you have an empty stomach. So, please take the advice of grandmothers around the world, and get yourself something to eat!
After you've eaten, some people may still need to get dinner, especially if there is a buffet line. Or perhaps everyone got fed very quickly, but you still want some time to mix with all the people who love you. In either case it is very common to have some time between dinner and the events that follow. This is a time when your DJ can help to alleviate the feeling of "dead" time by picking up, just slightly, the pace of the music. It's not yet time to start the dancing, but a shift in style will help build anticipation for the coming events and can be just what's needed at a time when the energy of the room could easily drop, or people become restless. If you're having a champagne toast, this is the time the catering staff should be popping those corks and handing out glasses.
Caterers like to group the toasts and cake cutting together so they can pass champagne beforehand, then cut and distribute cake afterward. This way the flow of the event is not interrupted due to logistics. Then, if you go straight into the formal dances, you've gotten every-one's attention once, and kept it through the majority of special events. This sets up a very nice flow and prevents your reception from having a "choppy" feel. Some catering captains prefer to get things rolling with the toasts, while others like the cake cutting to begin this process. Unless you have a different format altogether, it's usually best to defer to what works best for the caterers. After all, they're the ones doing most of the heavy lifting to make all of this possible. In either case, we've come to the heart of the reception.
This is chance to hear very lovely (and possibly embarrassing) things in the words of people who are very close to you. Toasts may include, at one end of the spectrum, only the best man or maid of honor having everyone raise their glass to the new couple and quickly moving on; or, at the the other end, providing an open microphone to all guests and family members who would like to say a few words. If the father of the bride is giving a speech, according to tradition, he will start things off. If not, usually the best man will go first followed by the maid or matron of honor. It's very important at this time for your DJ to know if you were planning to allow other guests to give speeches. If there are specific people you would like to speak, the DJ should have their names and the order so he can introduce them and avoid wasted time figuring out what's coming next. This way there can be a definitive close to the toasts and the DJ will immediately announce the next event without hesitation. If you would like to have an open microphone, it makes the transition a little less solid but if it's the right thing for your group of friends and family, then you shouldn't let that stop you from opening the floor to whomever would like to speak. Occasionally the bride and/or groom will give a final speech to round out the toasts.
It's best for the people speaking to know a little bit about microphone technique. One should hold the microphone about for or five inches away from the mouth, slightly below and in front keeping it at all times pointed toward the lips. This keeps the line of sight open so people can see one's mouth as words are formed, greatly increasing the speaker's intelligibility. We understand a lot more of what people are saying if we can see their lips move. To remember to aim the microphone correctly, I like to tell people to think of it as a flashlight with which you want to light up your mouth as you talk. A flashlight is directional in much the same way as a microphone, so the image works well. Use the other hand to gesture or to point out important people. Occasionally you'll see a speaker who uses the microphone as a pointer when acknowledging people, which leaves large gaps when we can't hear anything as we wait for the mic to return to position.
Time now for the grand photo opportunity. The paparazzi will be out for this one so be ready to smile. Again. Tradition states that the man's hand is on top of the woman's for this. You may or may not choose to go with tradition on this one. (Many photographers prefer the bride's hand on top, for aesthetic reasons.) All you have to do is cut two little pieces out of one layer of the cake on the side closest to you, feed it to one another, and you're done! That is, of course if you don't end up smashing the cake into your partner's face, or vice versa. Some caters will have cloth napkins damp with warm water between to small plates on the cake table. If you're planning on having a confectionery battle royal, you might request this ahead of time. This can save you loads of time when you're not headed to the bathroom to wash up while everyone is waiting for the next event to take place. Also, be advised that certain venues will charge a cleaning fee if the cake starts flying. Find out their policy ahead of time to avoid unexpected charges.
It's becoming more and more in vogue to rehearse and choreograph the first dance. If this isn't your style, however, there's nothing to worry about. There's really no wrong way to do this. It can be the perfect opportunity to gaze into each other's eyes and think about how happy you're going to be, and so on while you simply sway from side to side. I recommend coming up with a song that has special meaning to the two of you. There are lists online of the most popular first dance songs, but following by those lists really means you're going with the crowd. This is something you could take some time to figure out, if you're not sure from the beginning. Maybe the two of you will be somewhere and a song will come on the radio and it makes you think about how in love you are. That's perfect! Go with it. Another idea is that you can play with the tempo, a bit. If you're not into being romantic in front of everyone, you could pick a medium tempo song for a livelier first dance. Or, you can start with a slow song and have the DJ fade it out part of the way through and go into a faster dance. This usually gets a reaction from the crowd. Whatever you decide to do, it's your day, and your individuality as a couple will be expressed in your first dance together as husband and wife.
The majority of the time, the first dance will be followed directly by the father/daughter dance, and then the mother/son. Pay close attention to the length of song when you're choosing songs for these dances, especially if you or your parents are not particularly in love with the limelight. Remember, you've just been the center of attention for a full dance already. I've known more than one or two newlyweds who ended up, halfway through their parents' song, looking around uncomfortably before signaling to fade the song out. This may not be you, but if you think it might be, you should think about picking a short song or giving the DJ permission ahead of time to fade out early. Keep in mind that some songs have very wedding specific verses later in the selection. You may have heard the song, Butterfly Kisses. This is a good example. The song is over five minutes long, and there's a verse toward the end that starts, "She'll change her name, today,"--kind of important to the meaning involved in picking it as your father/daughter dance! You can't really fade out early in that situation. Another way to handle this is to combine the mother/son with the father/daughter. This way one song covers your bases. In the end it may not matter, depending how comfortable you are in front of an audience, but it's a good thing to give some consideration to beforehand.
I mentioned before that I believe it best to eschew the standard lists for the first dance. I wouldn't necessarily apply the same thing to the father/daughter, and other important parts of the reception. ourweddingsongs.com is a good one, but there are many. Feel free to explore!
Other Possible Dances:
Here's a way you can get a lot of people on the dance floor to start the night, and transition readily from the formal dances to the general fun. Let's say you've got a father/daughter dance and a separate mother/son song. After the first dance, the father of the bride would dance with his daughter, and then maybe a minute or two into the groom's dance with his mother, the DJ will announce, "snowball" over the microphone. At this point the two separate and go among the guests and each brings one more person to the floor. Now you have four people dancing. Soon after the DJ will announce, "snowball" again, so the two couples will separate and each bring one more person out to dance with them. So you can see how this is going. By the end of the song, you may have most of the people in the room on the dance floor. You've built it up quickly, the way snow builds as it rolls down a hill, thus the name. Now it's up to the DJ to keep as many people there as possible, which is often easier than getting them to start dancing in the first place. It's also another way to alleviate the aforementioned issue of feeling too much in the spotlight for too long a time.
The Anniversary Dance:
The Anniversary dance has all the married couples coming out to the floor to begin with, and pairs are then dismissed according to the amount of time each has been in wedded bliss, starting with the newest duo (that's you!). The last husband and wife dancing are declared the winners. This is a great dance to include if you have guests (often grandparents of the bride or groom) who have been married for an extraordinarily long time. If this is not the case, couples in their fifties or sixties usually don't enjoy being singled out in this way nearly as much. An excellent way to conclude this is to ask the winning couple to give their advice to the newlyweds on how to make a marriage last. At that point you're receiving wisdom from the best source possible, and sometimes it's funny, as well. This can be an elegant alternative to the bouquet toss if you don't have a lot of single women at your event. You simply present the bouquet to the victors as their award.
The Money Dance:
A few couples like to hold what's known as the dollar dance, or money dance. In this event, guests may dance with the bride or groom for a dollar amount of their choosing. They do this either by giving money to the best man and maid of honor, who manage the lines, and tell people when to go, or by pinning the money directly to the clothing of the bride and groom. Some variations have the new husband and wife carrying something to hold the loot, such as special purse, etc. The upside to this dance is that you can walk away with a grip of cash. The potential negatives are that you shut down the dance floor for anyone not participating for the duration of the dance, which sometimes lasts for several songs; and, some relatives, in some families may think it's in poor taste to ask guests for money who have already come bearing lots of presents. It's up to you to gauge what your family and friends' response will be. If you do decide to go with it, the DJ should be shameless in his or her request for people to come and support the two of you as you start your new life together. After all, it takes a lot to get going in today's world. A little monetary support can be extremely helpful. Also, if you're using assistants to take money, etc., they should know to make sure no one dances too long. They should pay their money, dance a little, and move out of the way for the next donor. This will keep the dance from taking too long and unduly slowing down the party.
Bouquet and garter:
If the bouquet and garter toss are to be a part of your wedding reception, the DJ should make every effort to make sure as many qualified people participate as possible. Some groups will jump at the chance, and others are more hesitant. So you've made the effort to get married and invite everyone... you look amazing... the least your single friends can do is come out and stand where they are in the least amount of danger of actually catching the thing.
Unless the photographer needs to leave because of limited contract time, I like to time these events a little after everyone has had a chance to let their hair down a little bit, but before it gets too late into the evening--especially if some people need to leave early. It goes right along with the festive atmosphere at this time.
One thing to keep in mind is that you'll probably have a separate bouquet for tossing from the one you'll use for the ceremony. A lot of times the florist will place it on the cake table. In any case, it's a good idea to know where it's going to be so when the moment comes, you won't have to send your mother or bridesmaids on a frantic hunt while the right moment slips away.
And finally... relax and enjoy it!
Okay, now that I've given you all these things to worry about, the final piece of advice I have is to relax and have fun! I know that sounds odd with all the things I've mentioned that could go wrong. I still believe it's very helpful to be aware of potential pitfalls. You'd like the day to occur without a flaw, but you know what? Sometimes things happen. The most important thing is that you've expressed your undying love for the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. Don't lose that feeling because something isn't perfect. Hiring seasoned professionals can eliminate a lot of common errors. So I would say, hire the best people; worry about the details beforehand; but on the day smile and go with the flow. It's your day! Enjoy it for the incredibly special occasion that it is.