DJing weddings

Tips and techniques of the trade

Moderators: Mr Awesomer, JesseMiner, CafeSavoy

Message
Author
User avatar
Nima
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 10:39 am
Location: Atlanta, GA
Contact:

#16 Post by Nima » Wed Nov 17, 2004 4:03 pm

WHen I first started DJ'ing weddings it was nerve wrecking at first (specially dry/non-alcoholic weddings where nobody dances...yikes!!).

I do not enjoy it, but it pays decently. The worse is that it kills most weekends, specially during the Spring Season.

Before the wedding I will talk briefly with the bride & Groom to see their expectations, music they want, music they DON'T, and what's the average crowd going to be like.

In regards to requests, I got also really annoyed. The best thing is to print out a playlist and people will come, choose from it and then write it down on a notepad (I rather have as little interaction as possible with the guests). If they want something that is not on the list I will tell them i will look into it.

The best thing after doing a few weddings, you discover 90% of the music you play is the same over and over again. So you carry mostly that same collection with you. Now that I have switched to DIgital, I simply carry everything with me period.

Always be up to date with what's hot on the radio because you will get those requests. And there is nothing worse than annoying drunk wedding guests.

I have never DJ'd at a dancers wedding, so I couldn't give feedback about that. However, one thing I do, I have little contact fliers and get business from referrals all the time.

Nima

User avatar
Platypus
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Houston, TX

#17 Post by Platypus » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:33 am

Well, I haven't heard back from the couple, so I am assuming that they have made alternate arrangements. Thanks for all the input!

User avatar
Abdel
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 5:37 pm
Location: Trampa
Contact:

#18 Post by Abdel » Tue Dec 07, 2004 6:40 pm

I djed a wedding over thanksgiving weekend and I only charged $300, but from now on I am charging a minimum of $500. Djing a wedding is a lot of work, so I think it is fair. For friends, I've done if for free or took a small fee. I don't play the typical wedding music, so for me selecting the music is usually easy. I like to play lots of love songs.

Remnent
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 7:24 pm
Location: Upstate New York
Contact:

#19 Post by Remnent » Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:58 pm

After the past few weddings I've been to, I think I'm going to DJ my own wedding. There will be no chicken dancing, no electric sliding, and no macarana-ing. I'll either burn several hours of music or bring in my laptop or ipod (if I have one by then).

User avatar
Platypus
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Houston, TX

#20 Post by Platypus » Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:00 pm

If you mean actually being the physical DJ at your own wedding, I would recommend getting a friend to help set up and be the physical DJ at the wedding instead (even if you give them the final set of music that will be played). You might choose everything, but I would say the LESS you have to do during the reception the better. Your brain goes to mush and you will be just plain busy being the center of attention.

User avatar
Ron
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:29 pm
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

#21 Post by Ron » Mon Dec 20, 2004 5:26 pm

I've turned down everyone who wanted me to DJ their wedding. They can claim they want only swing music, but I didn't want to risk having a situation where I was expected to play "YMCA" or "Celebrate" or announce "and now its time for the garter toss!" Gag me. Besides, my day job pays me enough.

But I did basically DJ my own wedding by burning a bunch of compilations. Partly anyway, because yes, I needed someone to punch the physical buttons so I had a friend do it. She picked her own songs at the end. It was only fair.

User avatar
Yakov
Posts: 614
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2003 8:02 pm
Location: Miami
Contact:

#22 Post by Yakov » Tue Dec 21, 2004 7:45 am

and, even better than having a friend DJ off your compilations...

live music

User avatar
GemZombie
Posts: 772
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:46 pm
Location: Alpharetta, GA (Formerly SLO, CA)
Contact:

#23 Post by GemZombie » Wed Dec 22, 2004 11:46 am

I got asked to DJ a wedding a couple of weeks back... based on what I've read here I turned it down, and will probably turn down all such requests.

I'm not interested in DJing for non-dancers.

Oh, and at my Wedding I hired a live Swing band. Best decision ever!

User avatar
Shanabanana
Posts: 116
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 10:29 am
Location: Boulder CO
Contact:

#24 Post by Shanabanana » Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:22 pm

I've DJed several weddings for friends of mine. They were swing weddings, and I accepted under one main caveat: I have a large collection of swing that they can pick and choose from if they please. But if they want anything else, they have to supply it.

Make it two caveats: Celebrate good times, the chicken dance, the macarena, we are family, are not ok.

It went just fine. :)

northbayclay
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:35 am
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

#25 Post by northbayclay » Tue Dec 28, 2004 1:16 pm

I can't help but join in, because weddings is how I make my living.

There is something to be said for versatility- the skills and methods that I use for DJ'ing a wedding are so very different than those that you use with dancers. There may be some crossover (ie the concept of flow within a set), but the crowd is different, and the goal is different. People at a wedding are dancing to celebrate and express joy; something (in my opinion) is rarely seen on a contemporary swing dance floor. Because that is the goal, the music played should match that goal- songs the guests know and can sing along to, and have a party feeling to them. Dancers find fulfillment in different ways than drunken revelers (sp?).

There seems to be a deeper issue here, one that has been discussed here before- what is your role or job as a DJ? Is it to play what the crowd wants to hear, or were you asked to DJ because people "like your style" and want to hear what you want to play?

I have seen many comments in support of the former- that your job is to cater to the crowd (more or less). I have a hard time reconciling this viewpoint with the negativity towards weddings. It seems very ego-centric to say- if I can't play my music, then I won't play anything at all. Of course, that is understandable if you only like and listen to swing music- and if you don't have any interest in other kinds of music, don't do weddings. but the generalizations are a little over the top.

Example- over the last month or two, I've gotten through 2 weddings, a 50th Birthday party and 4 Christmas parties without playing Celebration.
It's funny- it's like saying- I'm not ever going to DJ a swing dance because I have to play that stupid Moten Swing song every time!

I guess my point is this-there is something to be learned from every experience, and one lesson that Swing Dj's in general can learn from weddings is the value of simply helping people enjoy life and celebrate and be happy through music. An elitist approach to music may lead people to appreciate more sophisticated music, but it also deprives many more of a chance to connect with/learn to appreciate "good" music. And often it leads to boring dancers.
I've never received as much satisfaction from DJ'ing for dancers as I have for helping people celebrate their wedding. That's may not be saying much- I may just be a horrible swing DJ, and no one likes my music. I wouldn't doubt it. But I wouldn't give up weddings- if you learn the craft (And that is not a code word for being cheesy, cause in my company we are not), there are rewards.

Sorry for the diatribe.....
"If you can't hear it.... you'll never understand it." -Satchmo

User avatar
GemZombie
Posts: 772
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:46 pm
Location: Alpharetta, GA (Formerly SLO, CA)
Contact:

#26 Post by GemZombie » Tue Dec 28, 2004 4:31 pm

Can't speak for anyone else, but when I was asked to DJ for a wedding It was obvious that I'd have to play music that not only I don't like, but that I don't have.

Most of us here, I think, DJ for the fun of it. Once it becomes a job, you have to look at it from a completely different point of you. Your job is to help people celebrate. Actually doesn't sound like a bad gig to me... but if I'm going to be DJing for dancers, then I want to DJ what I know best, and what I enjoy... therefore I'd have a negative attitude about DJing a wedding.

Again, when it's your hobby, and you have to compromise, it's no longer fun.

User avatar
Ron
Posts: 313
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:29 pm
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

#27 Post by Ron » Wed Dec 29, 2004 11:58 am

northbayclay wrote:I've never received as much satisfaction from DJ'ing for dancers as I have for helping people celebrate their wedding.
Good for you Clay. I just couldn't do it.

User avatar
Shanabanana
Posts: 116
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 10:29 am
Location: Boulder CO
Contact:

#28 Post by Shanabanana » Wed Dec 29, 2004 12:20 pm

northbayclay wrote:II've never received as much satisfaction from DJ'ing for dancers as I have for helping people celebrate their wedding. That's may not be saying much- I may just be a horrible swing DJ, and no one likes my music. I wouldn't doubt it. But I wouldn't give up weddings- if you learn the craft (And that is not a code word for being cheesy, cause in my company we are not), there are rewards.
That's cool that you enjoy it. Most of us have jobs where we regularly do things that we don't really want to do, but that's part of making a living. But swing DJing is a hobby for most of us. And while we're always looking to change our swing music to fit the floor, I doubt you'd find anyone here who ever played music they just didn't like. And the thing about weddings is that I generally dislike most of what a wedding DJ is required to play.

So more power to you for enjoying playing weddings. I'm glad someone does. But I have a fanstastic job and a really fun little hobby. I don't need to expand my hobby into a job.

northbayclay
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 10:35 am
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

#29 Post by northbayclay » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:57 pm

I want to let you guys know that I'm not trying to convince anyone to do weddings, simply offer the flip side of the consistently negative experiences people have had with weddings. And I certainly appreciate everyone's genial and fair responses to my opinions.

Shana's comment (as well as Jesse's) about being required to play certain music strike me as odd, because I rarely feel like I'm required to play any particular song. Every now and then someone insists that I play a song, but I think that this may happen if you don't spend time planning with people- this is where laptops come in handy. I spend plenty of time with the people and have them pick out music- but I don't give them a blank slate- I guide them. The way we put together their dance party playlist is to go through a list of some of our "most requested music"-mostly music we like, but that is well known. They may pick out 4-6 hours of dancing music for 2-3 hours of dancing. Then I get to pick what gets played, which gives me alot of control over what I play.

And I can certainly understand why many of you wouldn't want to do weddings- I probably wouldn't want to have the pressure of doing weddings as a hobby. I guess what I'm saying is that my day job doesn't really require me to do things I don't want to- that's all. And that is how this thread was started- someone asking about people's experience with weddings.
"If you can't hear it.... you'll never understand it." -Satchmo

User avatar
GemZombie
Posts: 772
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:46 pm
Location: Alpharetta, GA (Formerly SLO, CA)
Contact:

#30 Post by GemZombie » Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:00 pm

At a wedding you're pretty much going to be required to play non-swing. Now, I love lots of non-swing music, but at every wedding i've been to, the non-swing music did not appeal to me.

#1 I don't own that kind of music.
#2 I don't want to listen to that kind of music
#3 I don't want to play that kind of music.

Kudos to you for being more open minded, and enjoying it to boot.... that would make you a great DJ for a wedding, and perhaps a DJ I would have hired if I had not chosen a live band. Many of us who DJ Swing music as a hobby don't care to DJ any other kind of music, regardless of whether we like it or not.

I'd say that if I was at a wedding, even if i was given a huge playlist to play from, I'd bet there'd be music that I just wouldn't want to play on the list. They should hire a DJ that will enjoy it more than I would... like you :)

Locked