To begin, choose what kind of ambiance is best suited for your big day. Do you want the evening to start out on a classic note with reliable party jams that slowly fade to more popular club and party music as the evening wears on? Or do you want the entire night to be one big party where everyone can participate with dances such as the electric slide and the cha cha slide?
Next, scout the right kind of disc jockey for your evening. Wedding websites such as The Knot, Style Me Pretty and Martha Stewart Weddings provide recommended services by location, vendor type and more.
Rich Siebert of Beach Boyz Entertainment (beachboyzentertainment.com, 330-668-9611) in Cuyahoga Falls suggests that a couple “look at the DJ’s reviews online, listen to how they sound on the phone and most importantly, when they meet in person, does the DJ listen to them or try to impose his views on their reception.”
Robert Smith from Digital DJs (mydigitaldjs.com, 330-327-2816) in Massillon advises, “I always tell my clients that they shouldn’t be afraid to use technology so that they can do a background check of that DJ or venue to see what the reviews are like online. If someone received good or bad service, it will be out there.”
Also, word of mouth is an amazing way to track down somebody in your area who comes with a personal recommendation from someone you know. Wedding expos and conventions are another great source to find great vendors in the area, and they often give discounts or deals when hired or found through an event such as the Today’s Bride Bridal Show Extravaganzas, held in Akron at John S. Knight Center on January 11 and in Cleveland at the I-X Center on January 17 and 18, or the Belden Village Bridal Show on January 24 and 25.
DJ Scott Jones at Cleveland Music Group (clevelandmusicgroup.com, 216-986-1808), formerly Jerry Bruno Productions, provides more insight. “Couples should look for a connection. The DJ/emcee is one of the biggest decisions a couple has to make when planning their reception. Find someone you can work with, get along with and trust. This professional will be in charge of so many details and events you want to make sure you see eye-to-eye during the entire planning process.”
Once you’ve found a DJ who suits your needs, be sure to go over what you want in great detail, including the order of events at the reception, the kind of music you want played, any must-have songs, what dances will be included (father/daughter, mother/son, etc.) and if they can provide lighting to help lend to the atmosphere. Most DJs work with lighting and other vendors and may be able to get a combined package deal for your reception.
“Couples should look for a connection. The DJ/emcee is one of the biggest decisions a couple has to make when planning their reception. Find someone you can work with, get along with and trust. This professional will be in charge of so many details and events you want to make sure you see eye-to-eye during the entire planning process.”
Some DJs and music services will provide a questionnaire, but helpful things to include are the genres of music you listen to, favorite radio stations, favorite musical artists, song choices or suggestions for the wedding party entrance, father/daughter dance, the couple’s first dance, cutting of the cake and more.
Also, be sure to list songs that you absolutely do not want to include in your reception. For example, if you find that Journey is overplayed and don’t want to include songs such as “Don’t Stop Believing,” then be sure to let your DJ know ahead of time.
As Siebert suggests, “To make the reception great, keep your toasts to a minimum of 10 minutes total.” This way, the toasts are a fun part of the evening and not a long process to get through. Plus, guests should be up and dancing, and toasts cut into that time.
Don’t forget that even after months of detailed planning, the wedding is a celebration and ultimately, a party. Jones says, “Soak it up. You planned a great party, but don’t sit for too long. The best receptions are those where the bride and groom are there to party as well … so get out there and dance.”
Trust your gut and stick to your guns when it comes to the DJ, and your reception is guaranteed to be fun for all.