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The Wedding of Your Dreams
By Jason Walsh

A disc jockey can make or break a wedding reception much more than any other vendor.  Why?  When you look back at the weddings you have attended, do you remember what you specifically ate for dinner, dessert, or during the cocktail hour?  Or, do you instead generally remember if you and the other guests had a fun time? 

I can personally attest to the later scenario for the 15-20 weddings I have attended as a wedding guest.  When it comes down to it, the entertainment is usually responsible for 50-60% of the total time spent at your reception, yet couples sometimes worry more about their wedding cake than the DJ they choose.  The average price tag for a wedding in our area is close to $30k, so it amazes me how many talented deejays I know are told "I'm sorry, we just can't afford to hire you" and instead they opt to rent a powered speaker and hook it up to their iPod and just let the pre-programmed music play for the next 5 hours. 

After you've enjoy your drinks and finger sandwiches during your cocktail hour, and the tasty surf and turf dinner, what do you expect your guests to do next?  Do you expect that they will want to dance to the songs you have mixed on your iPod, in the exact order you listed them?  Do you want to be running to your MP3 player to switch to a more popular song because no one was dancing to the selection you had programmed to play at 9:35pm?  Programming music in an exciting and interactive manner for a wedding is an art that takes many years to master and should be left in the capable hands of a professional DJ.

"Interactive" in this sense doesn't mean line dances or conga lines, but rather the ability to read a crowd and know exactly what songs will or will not keep your guests dancing.  You can never predict what will happen at a wedding that would change the mood (good or bad) and require an immediate change of plans or a fade out and fade in to a new song.  I have had to make spilt-second musical and emcee decisions after medical emergencies on the dance floor, a potentially bad situation between a bride's father and step-father, and countless drunken guests who ask me to give them a microphone to "just say a few words" without the knowledge of the bride or groom (remember, just say no!).

When you are spending thousands of dollars on your meal, maybe up to $5,000 on a great photographer, possibly another $2,000 or more on a videographer, why would you skimp on the one thing that will ensure your guests leave happy and your photographer and videographer have something exciting to capture? 

Allow me to give you a perspective from the DJ's point-of-view... I have been a disc jockey for over 15 years and have entertained at over 500 events, the majority have been wedding receptions.  At many of my client meetings, I spend a great deal of time counseling brides and grooms about the music choices they make (or should at least consider).  Sometimes I look at a list and say "this is a perfect mix, that should work fine," (you can never truly predict a crowd's reaction to a set of music) but other times I have to intervene as a professional and provide some musical education to my clients.  I do this not to be mean or nasty, but rather to make them aware at the types of songs their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles may enjoy dancing to and give insight to the hundreds of successful receptions that have come before theirs. 

I've reviewed request lists that look more like the play-list for a high school prom and less like a play-list for a group of mixed-aged family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  If, after my advice the couple still wants to have a evening of nothing but "hair rock" bands from the '80's or 4 hours of current hip-hop music, I defer to the client's personal preference.  And on occasion, I have respectfully declined a contact because my style just did not match the style of the client and accepting the job would be a disservice to myself and the couple.

Just because you or a family member has a great digital camera, you're probably still going to hire a professional photographer.  And just because your grandmother makes a great lasagna, you probably are still going to hire a professional caterer.  So, as a small word of advice, if you want the wedding of your dreams, make sure you hire a professional disc jockey that you and your fiancé/fiancée feel comfortable with... it WILL save your wedding reception, and you will live happily ever after!

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