When you think of a nightclub DJ, do you picture twirling black lights and sweaty kids with glow sticks? It's easy to discount club DJs as entirely the wrong feeling for your wedding. However, there are a few compelling reasons to choose a DJ who has experience in the nightclub scene. (As a side note, many club DJs assume separate, appropriate personas when working weddings, so you don't have to worry about an awkward conversation between Great-Grandma and "DJ Shakebooty.")
Let Your Music Make You Unique
Think about what makes you and your fiancé different from all of the other couples getting married in the world right now. Bryce Williams, founder of Northern California's Modern Maestro, encourages brides and grooms to pick a DJ who doesn't fit the cookie-cutter, "wedding DJ" mold. "I spend a lot of time finding soul, jazz, hip hop, and remixes that aren't mainstream. I play a lot of music people have never heard before; not just the same old disco you hear at every wedding."
Too many brides spend months finding the absolute perfect wedding dress, then turn over their wedding playlist to a DJ who throws on the usual Top 40 songs and calls it a night. Don't fall into this trap. Your wedding music is every bit as important as the outfits, food, and wedding cake that you personalize to your taste.
Why Choose a Nightclub DJ
There are so many varieties of professional DJs, it can be hard to know who to hire for your wedding. Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes a specialized "wedding DJ" isn't actually the best choice for a wedding. It all depends on the mood you want to evoke.
As a DJ who plays in both environments, Williams shares his perspective: "When you're DJing a nightclub you have to hold down a cutting-edge, exciting energy." For club DJs, the emphasis is placed on playing a very clean set with smooth transitions between songs. Weddings, on the other hand, often break up the music with announcements and speeches, so the DJ doesn't have to be as musically precise. Even though weddings usually pay more than nightclub sets, Williams enjoys playing both. "I polish my skills a lot in nightclubs," he says, which allows him to give a higher quality of work to his private clients.
Everyone knows the stereotype of the wedding DJ in the loud Hawaiian shirt, stuck in an infinite rut and playing the same songs over and over. Because nightclub DJs have to have their ear to the ground and discover hot new tracks before they hit the radio, by hiring a DJ that also plays in the club scene you're giving your wedding a fresh, new sound. Mix in a few classics too, and you'll have guests young and old shaking their stuff on the dance floor.
Pick the Right Songs
Picking the right playlist is hard, because you've got to please everybody–but that's exactly what a good wedding DJ does. Pre-planning is essential. Meet with your DJ a few times before the big day to go over what songs you want (and what songs you don't want). The meeting is a good time to bounce around ideas for songs and artists you like. Ask your DJ to introduce his favorite music to you so you can discover new songs.
Keep your target audience in mind. Will your grandmother be there? How about young children? Ask your DJ's opinion if you need assistance choosing appropriate wedding songs. "I'm kind of traditional," Williams explains. "I don't like to play songs with derogatory stuff going on. I try to keep it clean. Unless a couple really wants a certain song, of course." If your wedding reception is going to be mostly friends your own age who like to party hard, on the other hand, there's no harm in creating a full-on club experience for your celebration.
Different songs are needed for different parts of the wedding. The reception is usually the dance party, while the cocktail and dinner hour need music that blends seamlessly into the background. Choose your songs with a specific timing for each one in mind. "I bring a very specific style to cocktail hour. I try to keep it jazzy, light, and fun," Williams observes of his own experience. "Dinner hour is a little more conservative. But I still try to put fun, interesting music out there. I just slow it down and play songs with fewer vocals." If your favorite song has a fast beat, don't waste it on the mingling portion of your wedding–blast it at the party later!
Hire a DJ Who Cares
If you're lucky enough to have friends or relatives who are professional-level DJs, you might want to entice them to play a set at your wedding. Make sure that the time slots are quick, however, so your guests have a chance to show off their skills without missing the experience of being at the wedding.
If you don't know any highly-skilled DJs on a personal level, the next best thing is to hire someone who takes the job personally. Interview as many DJs as you can until you find someone who feels truly right for the job. Williams, for example, began the private-event portion of his career playing at weddings where he knew the couples personally. "When you're getting to play music during a wedding, it's one of the most important parts of the most important day of the couple's life. It sounds corny, but it's a big deal," Williams says. "I DJ every wedding like it's my own." Don't stop at a flashy portfolio or résumé. Wait for a DJ who feels right for the job.
Modern Maestro provides Northern California and the Wine Country with the perfect music for great people. Modern Maestro can accommodate any special event including weddings, birthdays, private & corporate events, anniversaries, Mitzvahs and more.