Being a wedding DJ is not everyones cup of tea. It takes a number of personal qualities and character traits that many people just don’t have to fulfil the extremely important, yet often criticised position of being the wedding DJ. There are many important wedding DJ tips, on the internet, but I wanted to cover a few extras that I have come to understand in the last year through my own experiences.
Wedding DJ Tips
I want to focus the following tips for wedding DJ’s down to a practical and physical level, focusing more on the technical considerations.
1. Know your Popular Music
You may know a lot about Deep House, or Drum and Bass, or you may think you know your popular music, but when you are approached at a wedding by a member of the wedding party to play a track by black eyed peas that goes, ‘whoosh woosh‘, it might be beneficial that you instantly recognise those drunken clues as to which track they are talking about. If you have only ever heard one or 2 black eyed peas songs, then you may be struggling to justify your position as the wedding DJ.
You may have downloaded or have been given a hard drive full of wedding music, but if you’ve never listened to it, then it’s not going to be of much use to you. Maybe the wedding planner comes over and asks you which song you recommend for the garter toss? You need to be ready with a number of suggestions.
2. Know how to find the music you have
It’s one thing knowing your music, but being able to locate a track at a seconds notice is a quality that will come in very handy at your gig. Sometimes the name of track or artist may escape you in the moment and under pressure, but knowing where to look for that track will help jog your memory banks and assist you in getting that track played out as quickly as possible.
Organising your music the way you like it so it’s categorised and easily located, will save you clueless minutes and valuable time when trying to search for that perfect next track. To use the example above having a ‘Garter Toss‘ playlist that contains all the tracks that could work in this situation would be wise.
3. Knowing that your music files are not corrupt
The most common factor I have come across for system crashes is down to corrupt music files. There’s nothing worse than loading a track into a deck for it to simply lock up your software, leaving you no option but to quit out of Traktor. Or worse still, causing Traktor to shut down without notice. If you ever come across a track that causes this to happen either mark it, or preferably delete it entirely from the collection AND your computer. You can also avoid this from happening by not downloading sketchy music through torrent services. You get paid enough to DJ at a wedding, you can afford to spend that money on quality music files!
4. Back Up, Back Up, Back Up.
I can not stress this point enough. You might say, “My hard drive is brand new” or, “I’ve never had a problem before?“. Trust me, things go wrong. This is why you get paid the big bucks; so the wedding goes off without an issue.
If the wedding guests only remember the wedding because of the fact that the music stopped 2 hours early then you are not going to be the most popular wedding DJ. In-fact, not only will you ruin the most important day in the Brides life, you will have secured a bad name for yourself going forward.
No-one can stop technology from failing, but you can bounce back and show professionalism in dealing with a problem when it does happen. Don’t focus on ‘what ifs‘ as it can stress you out, but simply be prepared to deal with the worse case scenario. I would recommend either having your entire collection on a second external drive, or a complete back up laptop. Maybe even a pair of CDJ’s with your entire Music collection on CD could be stashed in the car? Maybe you have a playlist on your phone or iPad to get you through, whatever your choice of back up, have one!
5. Use a mixing board
Plugging everything through a mixing board will allow you more control over the night and will offer you more possibilities if extra tasks pop up during the event. Maybe the brides mother has a track on her phone that must be played at the end of the night? Perhaps they have their own dinner playlist, or maybe your mixer or midi controller goes down? I have had the need to plug in a projection screen with no fore-warning. Having the option to plug other devices through a main mixing board will provide you with more options and always having the mic and an iPod cable plugged in and ready to go, is a nice option.
6. Make sure you have internet and an iTunes account
You may think you have every track you’ll ever need, until the bride and groom throw a low baller into the equation. They hadn’t mentioned it to you in your prior meetings or conversations, but now they want a specific track to be played as they cut the cake or as they throw the bouquet. If you have no way of playing that track then they’ll remember that you failed them as a DJ.
If there is no wireless in the event space, there are many options you have to tether your computer to your phone and to use your phones internet. Perhaps you don’t have internet on your phone, in which case buy a USB internet device. Whatever you need to do, make sure you have internet. Being able to provide them with any track they request will make you stand out.
7. Know How to Deal with Drunkenness
People are often drunk shortly after the dinner, they may come and lean on your DJ table, accidentally pushing it, they may place drinks precariously close to your equipment they may dribble into your ear whilst asking you to play Gangnam Style, whatever it is, you need to be polite.
As it’s a wedding, you’ll find that most people are ‘Happy Drunk‘ this is often better to deal with than ‘angry drunk’ and in most cases can actually be fun, if you know how to deal with them. Just smile and appease them as best you can, but realise that their judgement might be a little impaired, meaning that trusting their request suggestion may not be the wisest move. Aside from the guests’ drunkenness, you should definitely keep your own in check too. Whilst the obvious possibility of your need to drive home afterwards will rule over any other factor, you must always remain in control and never be seen to be taking advantage of a free bar. Having one or 2 beers should be your limit, but never assume that you are entitled to it. Always wait to be asked. Above all, keep your cool and stay focused on your job, after all, if you were caught drinking at your day job, I’m not sure the person paying you would be too happy.
You’re going to be tested
Whilst the list could go on and on, I feel that the above wedding DJ tips are the most important.
Never expect that you can simply walk into a wedding DJ role and expect to get it right straight away. You’re going to be tested, it’s going to stress you out and you’re going to be kept on your toes.
Make sure if you are asked to DJ a wedding for someone that you fully understand what you are getting into and don’t take the responsibility too lightly. Remember this is the most important day of your clients life so far, don’t screw it up!
Digital DJ Tips have a Wedding DJ Course Available should you want to learn some more.
Are you a wedding DJ, what’s the best advice you can offer? What’s the most random request you have had? What other tasks have you had to fulfil out of your standard requirements?