7 Important Wedding DJ Tips

wedding DJ Tips - ceremony set up 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

wedding DJ tips - searching for musicIt’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.

wedding DJ tips - Back up - Traktor TipsI 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

wedding DJ tips - dealing with drunkenness - Traktor TipsPeople 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? 

15 comments

  1. to make an honnest confession, even when I do have an ipod connection cable with me I tell them I have not in case they ask for one. I’d rather prefer to keep controll over the music than randomly stating a track from a phone or iPod I don’t know. One extra tip must sure be, know how to lie conveniently when you have the feeling it suits the better purpose of the night. If you have a great party going, crazy drunk uncle Tom might prefer you to tell you don’t have a paticular song rather then, I really think it’s a bad idea to play this now. Or I will play this later in the hopes they will forget about it. An excuse I like to use is it’s on my external drive which I forgot, this insinuates that you know the track but are not able to play it. Sometimes people get dissapointed when you have to admit you don’t know their favorite track. I highly recommend the client is king principle, but you have to understand that there are borders to what people might ask from you. In general think in the first place about the bride and groom, if they are having fun, don’t change winning team just for uncle tom. you might regret it the second it kills the buzz.

    just my cents, having played lot’s of wedding parties and other diversed age parties (26-99 years)

    • Some more great advice thank you! Yes, you have to know when to say no, or ‘later’. You can’t just play every request that comes your way, you have to try and craft it into the night. That’s a skill in itself, trying to field the questions and responses!
      Thanks for your comment too….😉

  2. In my opinion I would say that bride and groom are key but to remember that there are potential clients there aswell. Making sure you have old and new hots is key. Not everyone will dance to a song they dont know. And drink water before announcements this article cover most of the basics. But it will take your own preparation to make it a successful night. Be patient, and hold yourself and craft toa high standard.

  3. Ive bean doin weddings bdays fir 20 yrs now and thankfully never had a catastrophe.ive just converted to a mac and traktor from cds and cdjs.! Im getting older now and have scaled down the size if my rig.i still use a allen heath mixer to run traktor via a z1 and x1 controller.the mixer enables the mic option and sound quality is awesome.main ” ball ache” was feeding cds into computer to rip to wav.i give my wedding customers the chance to provide me with there favourite tunes on a playlist and i then pull them all together ready to play.cant go wrong with that option and i carry a spare hdd with backed up music.saving for a backup laptop now just in case the inevitable happens. Next plan is to sell my 18″ subs and top 15″ and 3 amps and cases and crossover to invest in a lightweight portable easy to carry powerd speaker set up and cerwin vega seems the one to buy.! Good luck all

    • I’ve been using some really light weight speakers, even the sub I can carry on my own, albeit a little tough. Couldnt carry it too far! Thanks for your comment – I am sure it will help many other up and coming wedding DJ’s

  4. I could probably list a dozen tips, but I’ll focus on three.

    First up, be sure to get the “DO NOT PLAY” list and memorize it. A lot of couples don’t think about it, but as soon as I ask if there are any songs they don’t want played, out comes, the “Yeah, be sure you don’t play…”. This is key as you don’t want to play something that may drag up bad memories or feelings.

    Second, be prepared for anything. As a wedding DJ, you have to work closely with the planner/coordinator to be sure that things happen when they are supposed to. Sometimes you ARE the coordinator. In either case, the cake cutting that was supposed to happen at 7:30 may get moved to 6:45 because some of the out of town guests are leaving. Flexibility is a must.

    Third, get there early. If it takes you 30 minutes to set up get there an hour early. Once your gear is setup and sound checks are done, you have time to mingle. Get to know the other vendors and hand out cards. Remember these folks can provide referrals just as easily as the client and guests. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

      • No problem. Was actually working on a post for my blog on this topic, but just haven’t had time to finish it. You beat me to the punch.🙂

  5. This is probably too obvious to need to be on the list but: Have a range of music, as in different genres and periods. Since weddings have a huge range of people in the crowd and you want to get them all into it, you can’t play house the whole night. I went to one reception and the dj played fast electronic and pop the whole time, it was hard to get into because he never brought down the tempo, so it was hard for my date and I to find a point to jump in at, and no one over 25 was ever on the dancefloor. On the other hand, at another wedding the dj was played a huge range of music and varied the tempo smoothly. The floor was packed the whole night and it wasn’t just the younger people.

    Interesting article, maybe you could do one about getting wedding gigs.

    • Thanks – yes, due to the huge variation of ages, it is of utmost importance to have a massive selection from the 60s to present day. Blending everything together and making it work in the right order to maintain a dancefloor presence is the main task and the hardest task of the wedding DJ.
      Thanks for the suggestion of a ‘getting wedding gigs’ post!

  6. I would also suggest that your presence to the bride and groom doesn’t start with when you start playing music. It starts with a pre-call 2-3 days out from the wedding (to say hi and double check on all the events on the night) as well as how you introduce yourself on the night to the bride/groom. Show them your likeable personality and your enthusiasm for the night – and this makes it easier for them to relax knowing they’re in good hands.

    I’ve always found building rapport with your clients is a great way to have a great night. Sometimes you aren’t able to meet the client/s till their first dance, but I try to greet them when I can as soon as I arrive, and just say Hi, How the days been, how are we tracking for time, and finally I’m here if they need anything or requests during the night.

    This has also been said, but knowing your 60’s-Today music across all genres is an absolute must. The amount of times D&B/House/etc DJ’s come to the company I work for and talk about how they’ve DJ’d at these clubs and with such and such performers…and how they mainly do house/dub step/etc…..we just don’t even entertain the idea. Diversity is key.

    • Definitely – another great tip for sure. Thanks @djcade:disqus

      Also be very mindful when approaching them on their wedding day, you don’t want to interrupt a special moment or perhaps a family re-union. Pick your time well to approach, you don’t want to be the rude DJ guy.

  7. One tip that I use every time I play a wedding or anniversary.. Is, find out the year that the couple met. Let’s say the wedding couple met in the year 2000.
    I then use smart playlist in ITunes to create a playlist with all the songs released that year. This will only work If you have you songs tagged with “year”.

    Then you can surprise the couple and guests by maybe doing a megamix from that most important period of their lives.
    Works like a charm.

    This method is also good for Class reunions and birthdays.

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