Will you have a DJ or are you choosing the DIY playlist route? Whichever way you’ve decided to entertain your guests, here’s how to make sure you hit all the right notes DJ NEED-TO-KNOW
DJ or DIY playlist? Here’s everything you need to know about creating the perfect musical vibe
Whether you’re an avid gig-goer or only listen to your running songs in the gym, it’s likely that music will play a big part in your wedding. It’s an important way of creating the atmosphere you want, from romantic elegance to laid-back indulgence.
Of course, the tunes you play really come to the fore at your evening party – there are few things less festive than an empty dance ÁRRU +LULQJ WKH VHUYLFHV RI D SURIHVVLRQDO DJ is a popular option for good reason. It saves you the stress of building playlists in the run-up to the wedding, and heads off on-the-day worries about technical troubles. A good DJ can judge a crowd and adjust tracks accordingly. If your reception space has sound issues, they should have the technical know-how to overcome them. Plus, you don’t need to worry about drunk Uncle Jeremy hijacking your ipad.
+RZHYHU LI \RXU EXGJHW LV VWUHWFKHG WR the limit, or you’re determined to have full musical control, it’s certainly possible to get guests on their feet if you go down the DIY route. Even if you’re getting in a DJ for the evening party, you may decide to cut costs by doing your own music for the rest of the day. We’ve asked industry insiders for their key music tips – so whether you will play every song yourself, or you’ve got someone to man the decks, you’ll have a party everyone will remember (apart from Uncle Jeremy).
Forget the stereotypes
The cliché of a wedding DJ is a super-cheesy GLVFR ZLWK ÁDVKLQJ OLJKWV DQG XQIRUWXQDWH ‘banter’. Thankfully, this is not the only option. There’s a wide range of styles out there, from festival-cool to sleek urban vibes. You can hire DJS who play vintage classics on gramophones (shellacsisters.co.uk), or set up a special ‘disco shed’ complete with garden games (discowed.com). You could even book a service that allows guests to take a turn on the decks (stickiton.org.uk). Think carefully about what style suits you best as a couple, but take your guest list into account, too – an evening of thrash metal may prove a bit much if you and your beloved are the only people present with a fondness for Anthrax, Metallica and chums.
Choose the best
We know weddings can involve some rather bracing spending decisions, but try not
to choose a DJ solely on the basis of a low quote, particularly if the party will be the main focus of your celebration. “There are good up-and-coming DJS who will play for a competitive price,” says leading DJ Matt 0DXULFH PDWWPDXULFH FR XN ´+RZHYHU there is an element of risk in booking someone with no track record.”
Be prepared to listen
Your chosen professional will have experience of working a room and keeping guests of all ages happy. Even if you have a strong sense of what you want, it’s worth taking their advice when it comes to the playlist. “The couple provides the ideas and the DJ supplies the knowledge,” says Matt. “It’s like a musical journey with each destination being a tune. Your DJ should be able to decide the best route to take.”
According to Matt, here are the key practicalities you need to know. Will they provide all the equipment? Can you VXEPLW D SOD\OLVW" +RZ long does everything take to set up? Are they insured? What happens if they’re ill or their transport breaks down?
Different rooms have different acoustic needs, so make sure your DJ knows not just the name of the venue, but the exact space where the party is taking place. They don’t necessarily have to visit beforehand to understand the technical requirements. “We don’t generally visit unless the client is also booking a more complex sound and lighting production,” explains Matt. “We can normally ascertain the procedure from a SKRQH FDOO ZHEVLWH LPDJHV DQG ÁRRU SODQV μ
DIY ESSENTIALS Investigate equipment
If you’re playing your own music, you don’t need high-level technical know-how – but tuning into the practicalities could mean the difference between wedding party KHDYHQ DQG GDQFH ÁRRU GLVDVWHU
“Ask your venue if it has a professional sound system you can use, and whether there any additional costs if you do so,” DGYLVHV /RXLVH +HDUVXP RI ZHGGLQJ YHQXH Pembroke Lodge. “Also ask if it’s covered by insurance, so you aren’t going to end up with a bill if anything is accidentally damaged.”
Another important thing to check is the compatibility of music-playing devices with any system you use, whether that’s an ipad, a laptop, or similar. “At Pembroke Lodge, all devices we know of can be used on our system – it just depends on the connecting lead,” says Louise. “Just be aware of the differences between Mac and PC cables so you have the right one.”
/RXLVH VWURQJO\ UHFRPPHQGV ÀQGLQJ RXW if your venue has a backup portable system, as well as bringing your own CDS and an extra device just in case. If the venue doesn’t have a system, you’ll need to investigate hiring equipment from an outside company.
Think sound quality
Check to see if you can test the sound system in your reception space ahead of the wedding. Bear in mind the acoustics of the room will be different when it’s empty, so ask your venue for advice – they’ll have a steer on what it’s like when full of people. Louise also advises asking about sound OLPLWV ´+RZ ZLOO \RX NQRZ WKH PXVLF LV getting too loud and needs to be turned down before it cuts out?” she asks. “Do they have an automatic sound limiter?”
Prep your playlist
This is the fun part! You have full control over the music, and you can listen to your carefully organised tracks on your anniversaries, taking you back to the day. Allow plenty of time for this task. One big advantage of a professional DJ is that they’ll be able to judge the mood and adjust what they play accordingly. Unless you want to be going back and forth to your device all evening (unlikely to be possible), think carefully about the order of the tracks if your DLP LV WR NHHS HYHU\RQH RQ WKH GDQFH ÁRRU That said, it’s worth having an emergency playlist of guaranteed crowd-pleasers that you can stick on if the mood is dipping. Noughties classics work well for this.
&URVVIDGLQJ ² ZKHUH WUDFNV ÁRZ VHDPOHVVO\ into each other – can also help, as gaps in the music won’t help the atmosphere. Many apps, including itunes, allow you to set up a seamless playlist. To keep things organised, create separate lists for different parts of the day. Think about exactly how much music you’ll need to cover all the festivities, then have back-up extras just in case. If you’re using a streaming app such as Spotify or 7LGDO FKHFN DOO WKH VRQJV ZRUN LQ RIÁLQH PRGH ² GRQ·W HYHU UHO\ RQ ZL À
Consider guest involvement
Remember Uncle Jeremy? “If an ipad is left playing within reach of guests who have had a few drinks, they will try to change the songs and stop them halfway through,” warns Louise. “It can become annoying.” To avoid this, try to make sure your device is out of sight of your guests, if possible.
You may decide you do want your guests’ input. If so, ask them to send song requests with their RSVPS, which you can add to your playlist. Or you could get everyone to use a jukebox app such as Jukestar, which lets guests request tracks and vote on upcoming songs, so only the crowd-pleasers get played. Decide who’ll be in charge of the music during moments when you’re occupied, such as the bridal entrance, your exit from the FHUHPRQ\ RU WKH ÀUVW GDQFH <RXU YHQXH may be able to help if you ask in advance, or a trusted guest could be given the task.
“IF AN IPAD IS LEFT WITHIN REACH OF GUESTS, THEY WILL TRY TO CHANGE THE SONGS”