After interning for one of the most amazing wedding coordinators (Simply Sweet Weddings) for three years through college, I landed a fantastic position as the Catering Director for a wedding venue, where it was my job to tour potential couples, book them, and coordinate their wedding day. And we were a wedding factory...130+ events a year...I'm talking Wednesday wedding, Thursday wedding, Friday wedding, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. There were weeks when I was doing as many as 6 weddings plus other events.
So with that, I definitely saw a whole lot - I saw ups, downs, bad vendors, great vendors, and everything in between!
Every vendor plays a very important role in magically turning your wedding dreams into perfection, but many of us are very behind-the-scenes. Your guests don't see your photos until months later, as a coordinator I really try to be a fly on the wall, and no guest sees the amazing baker who crafted your cake...but your DJ is right there in front of everyone.
Everyone watches your DJ from start to finish and in my eyes, a DJ can truly make or break a wedding. They are "running the show" in the guests' eyes and they are the ones who are controlling the dancing, the events, and whether your guests have a good time or a great time.
And in my seven years of planning and hundreds of weddings later, I've seen my fair share of great DJs and terrible ones. Without naming names, I am going to tell you about two weddings I did years and years ago, and two specific DJs that I will never forget working with:
(In both of these scenarios, the DJ was also the MC)
The music was just as the couple had asked for and the guests were having a lovely evening and then it came time for the first shuttle to leave. I went up to the DJ, told him to announce that the first shuttle would be leaving in 5 minutes and he made the announcement after first asking me what he should say. I gave him a word by word announcement and he quietly spit-fired through it and got back to the music.
And no one heard it. I could barely hear it and I was standing right there.
While this simple scenario does not make him a bad DJ, an MC should be comfortable with speaking and know how to command the attention of the guests. He was running the show and there were plenty of guests who were antsy to leave and were eagerly awaiting his announcement, and yet they didn't hear it.
A great DJ commands your attention (in a good way), is comfortable with speaking in front of crowds, and gets the job done.
Now onto the second scenario...
Now this DJ couldn't have been more different than DJ #1...like the definition of "opposite." This DJ never stopped talking...and everyone heard him. He talked all through dinner on the microphone (seriously, I don't think there was a peaceful moment the entire hour of dinner), told his own personal stories before every single announcement, and pretty much stole the show all night long.
Now it was great that he was able to command the attention of guests and he was comfortable speaking in front of everyone, but I was almost embarrassed for the couple who hired him...he made it HIS day rather than theirs. This DJ definitely loved the attention.
The Happy Medium
Personally, I like a DJ/MC who is somewhere in between. He can command your attention, can get the party started, knows what songs to play if the dance floor is looking a bit sparse, but knows that this is someone's wedding day and that they should have the wedding that they want, and they should be the center of attention...he/she just helps to direct that attention.
The Perfect DJ
Ultimately, every couple is unique and that is what makes weddings so beautiful. Some couples want a DJ who makes simple announcements and that's all. And some couples want to find a DJ who is really going to get their guests up and dancing - neither is right and neither is wrong.
"A professional DJ will know exactly how to be in tune with each couple and their guests. By planning with a couple in advance and then pairing that with the day-of energy, an experienced DJ can let the music lead your celebration!" (The Bride List preferred vendor, DJ Kurtis Cross)
It is totally a personal preference on how you envision your wedding day, but make sure your DJ's style does, in fact, fit what you are looking for.