Mark Sanchez, Disc Jockey/Entertainer, Guest Author
NOTE: I had to write this article after a colleague of mine called me to tell me about a call he received from a bride looking for a Disc Jockey. The Disc Jockey was the last vendor she needed for her wedding. The Disc Jockey was on the bottom of her list since she believed a Disc Jockey was quote “just the music.” Wedding: @ The Westin Kierland, Scottsdale, $40,000 budget, and $750 left for the Disc Jockey (MUSIC). “Ouch!” I’m guessing her cake costs more than that, yet I doubt if the cake can make or break a reception. ~ Mark Sanchez
Before mobile disc jockeys, bands were really the only choice for entertainment at a wedding reception. Couples would choose a band based on the style of music they played. Bands were simply just the music. Some cases couples would choose a member of the family to make a few announcements or perform as the Master of Ceremonies.
Today bands are still a popular choice to perform at a wedding if you can afford to book one. The more popular bands can also make announcements or be Master of Ceremonies for your reception. But in all reality they are still considered to be just the music, and starting at $3,000 for the better bands that’s a lot of money to dish out for just music. Sure music is important, without it, a reception wouldn’t be the same. But is that all you need for a successful reception?
In the late 70s and 80s DJ’s became the popular choice since they were more affordable and could play a variety music for a diverse crowd. Still mobile DJ’s were considered to be just music. A wedding is a unique event with many formalities and traditions. Unlike a birthday party were you have 2 simple traditions, sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out the candles. A DJ can get by with just playing music at a birthday, but a wedding has many more details.
Music is just a tool that DJ’s and bands use to create a lively atmosphere for dancing. It can also be disruptive at a reception if it’s the wrong music being played at the wrong times, and volume levels. A wedding needs direction and guests need guidance. Every wedding is different and there are several transitions throughout the evening. Without direction or guidance people are lost just like a ship without it’s captain.
When a Mobile DJ “performs” at a wedding, he has much bigger role and many more responsibilities to handle then just playing the music.
The Responsibilities and Duties of a Disc Jockey, Day of the Wedding
1. Master of Ceremonies – A good experienced MC will keep your guests informed about the activities and formalities throughout the night, and make timely and appropriate announcements without taking the focus off the Bride and Groom.
2. Director – Weddings need direction because of all the formal events that take place. The director is primarily the MC/DJ. The director guides the guests throughout the night. The MC has the wedding entertainment training to keep the reception flowing smoothly.
3. On-Site Coordinator – Your DJ will work with you your banquet manager, and all other day of vendors to keep your reception on schedule. A professional DJ/MC will make sure all vendors are prepared and ready before any announcement of an activity is made.
4. Music Programmer – Anybody can play music. Playing the right music at the right times, at the right volume levels, and be able to generate a dance floor and keep it going for everyone to enjoy is something only an experienced trained professional can do. If you bring in an amateur to just play music, your party will end fast. The music will set the mood and the tone of a reception.
5. Music Expert – In this day and age anybody can have a vast music library. Having music is one thing, but knowing music is another. Every wedding has a diverse crowd that will enjoy a variety of all types of music. It takes years of experience to learn all styles of music and to know it well.
6. Lighting Tech – Proper lighting also sets the mood during dinner or late in the night. Your DJ should control the lighting so it’s not too bright for dinner or not to dark later for dancing. He will also brings the right kind of lighting for dancing.
7. Crowd Motivator – Unexpected things can happen at a wedding, like rain, or the cake toppling over, etc.. An experienced pro can recognize the situation, lighten the mood, and continue the fun and festivities no matter what. A good DJ can create a fun filled environment without stealing the spotlight.
8. Music Mixer – The better DJ’s can beat match music for a smooth transition from one song to the next without disrupting a dance floor.
9. Problem Solver – When guests need to know anything, more than likely they will ask the DJ. He is “the answer man.” He knows where the restrooms are, where the gift table is located, etc.
10. Roadie – A DJ has to bring more equipment, notes and supplies then any other vendor you may hire, and usually sets up without help. Forgetting one thing could be disastrous to the event.
11. Board Operator – A DJ should know how to work his audio and lighting systems. Yet some DJ’s use rental or barrowed equipment, and while at your event, learn it as they go along.
12. Audio Tech – In case of technical difficulties or audio failure, a DJ should be able to recognize the problem promptly, and know how to fix it. A professional DJ should always carry back up equipment. If an Amplifier goes out with no back up the party ends.
13. Etiquette – Maintain a high level of etiquette at all times.
All Other “Day of Your Wedding” Responsibilities
- • Sound checks, check volume of music and microphones.
• Find out the seating arrangements of the wedding party.
• Go over the agenda with the catering manager and banquet captain.
• Turn off all house music before starting his music.
• Find out where house lights are dimmed, and dim at the appropriate time.
• Go over the agenda with photographer and videographer and cover the procedures for Grand Intro, toast, cake etc..
• Check microphone frequencies with videographer to make sure they don’t interfere with each other.
• Locate the person giving the blessing.
• Verify with banquet manager when the food is ready.
• Verify all pronunciations of bridal party, the order to walk in, and instruct where to walk in.
• Coordinate the releasing of guests tables through the buffet line (if necessary)
• Talk to each member of the wedding party about toasts, and instruct each speaker on proper microphone use, and at the end to raise their glass to toast.
• Check cake table for knife, plates, and napkins.
• Locate the throw bouquet.
• Remind the Bride and Groom to visit with guests, and or use the restroom when finished with dinner.
• Remind parents for the parent’s dances, and timing.
• Verify that all parents are in the room and bridal party members and at the head table for the toast.
• Double check the batteries in the microphones before toasts.
• Confirm that the photographer and videographer are ready before the first dance and all other formalities.
• Be ready to adjust lighting for the Bride and Groom’s first dance.
• Locate the bouquet for the toss.
• Bring out a chair for the garter removal.
• Talk to the Best man and Maid of Honor about helping with the money dance.
• At the end of the night personally congratulate the Bride and Groom.
• Make sure the DJ’s area is clean before he leaves.
Services and Responsibilities “before” the Wedding
1. Event Planner – Help coordinate your event schedule in a 2 to 3 hour personal planning session, with a timely detailed itinerary and check list in the manner and style you desire, and ensuring that your every need and wish is carried out.
- a. Go over all the fine details of the wedding.
- b. Send an email of the agenda out to all other day of wedding vendors to ensure we are all working together as a team, and your reception is in sync. This prevents the Bride and Groom from being interrupted throughout the reception.
- c. Make a check list: Make sure all equipment, formal music, and tux is packed and ready to go 3 hours prior to the start time.
- d. Refer you to other quality wedding vendors that will fit your needs.
Most of all a DJ is responsible making sure your wedding is engaging, fun, and memorable for you and your guests. A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event that needs to be done right the first time because there is no doing it over tomorrow.
“There are two problems here: 1) Clients who try to “cheap out” on any aspect of their event never realize the mistake thay have made until it is too late. 2) I really believe that in many cases, especially when it comes to “the music”, some clients and guests really just don’t know the difference nor do they even care. . . until something happens. . . then I refer you back to problem #1.” 😉 ~ Jimmy Davenport
Larry’s NOTE: The following Wedding Statistics may shock you but they are true and from reliable sources. Read them and learn from other Brides and Grooms mistakes. It will make you rethink your “Wedding Reception Priorities.”
After the wedding reception 72% of all brides say they would have spent more time choosing their reception entertainment. Almost 100% say they would have spent more of their budget on the entertainment. During wedding planning, Brides say their highest priority is their wedding dress, attire, followed by the reception site and caterer, however reception entertainment was among the least of their priorities. How sad.
Within one week after their reception, 78% of Brides say they would have made the entertainment their highest priority. When asked 81% of guests say the thing they remember most about a wedding is the entertainment (Band or Disc Jockey). 65% of all couples that chose a band to entertain at their wedding reception, said, if they had it to do over again, they would have chosen a disc jockey! By the way. . . the best price is not always the best deal.
Statistics Sources: These statistics were first published in St. Louis Bride and Groom Magazine. Other sources include: Simmons; USA Today, National Bridal Service, The Knot, and Brides Magazine.
Larry’s NOTE #2: There are two important areas of your wedding celebration where price should never be a factor. A mediocre Minister and a unenthusiastic Disc Jockey can wreak havoc at your wedding. A lackluster minister with a boring ceremony – like most of the others you’ve heard – can leave the guests cold and uninspired and if the DJ isn’t a true “entertainer” the party can crash and burn. Your wedding reception DJ should be considered your “Wedding Entertainment Director.” A great DJ determines whether your reception is a hit or a miss! The minister and the DJ should be the very best you can hire. I know its cliché, but you really do get what you pay for.
Perhaps the primary deciding factor about the ceremony should be who performs the most memorable and unique wedding ceremony for you and your guests and what other extras do they offer in their package that other ministers do not. You will enjoy the comfort and assurance of knowing you are contracting with a first-class minister who comes with professional experience, impeccable integrity, commendable references, a gentle and enthusiastic spirit and a subtle, but delightful sense of humor (hmmmmm, sounds like a description of Larry James). 😉
This is your very special day. It will only happen once. I would never recommend that you make your decision on price alone. There are numerous other areas that you can cut back on when the $$s are tight. Remember: The best price is not always the best deal.
Copyright © 2010 – Mark Sanchez. Mark Sanchez has performed more than 900 weddings in the Great Phoenix area. He started his career at local valley night spots where he received years of personalized training by some of the best entertainment directors. In 1990 he performed his first wedding working for a reputable mobile DJ service in Phoenix primarily as a DJ/Emcee for weddings. Today he is a career DJ who runs his own business as a full time owner/operator specializing in weddings. www.ProfessionalMobileENT.com – Send e-mail to Mark Sanchez!
Special Note from Larry James: I’ve worked with Mark Sanchez many times and he delivers a professional, quality show from beginning to end. He is the owner of Professional Mobile Entertainment. – 5 Stars from Larry James!
Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 445 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.
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