5 Things on Your Checklist to Tell Your Wedding DJ

Bride and groom dancing during their wedding party

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Planning a magical, tear-jerking ceremony is only half the battle: The reception is equally important. Of course, your family and friends are there to witness and celebrate your love, but what makes for an epic wedding is what guests make of your big day—and how much fun they have at the reception.

For a truly memorable night, the soundtrack of your party plays a crucial role. While it's true that hiring the right DJ can make or break your big day, remember that it takes two to tango, so it's up to you to clearly communicate your wishes in advance. Don't just play it by ear. Here are five things you should tell your wedding DJ to get the party popping and keep it going strong.

How to Pronounce Names

First things first: Decide who is going to introduce the newlyweds and the entire wedding party for the grand entrance. If you decide to go with the DJ, definitely give your DJ a phonetic spelling of the names of the entire wedding party, especially if there any unusual names (first and/or last) in the mix.

To MC or to Not MC

Aside from introductions, let your DJ know if you're down with a lot of emceeing, advises Sandy Malone, author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding. She warns, "Some of them just naturally do this if you don't ask them not to." Should you decide to let your DJ emcee, share your preferences. Are you comfortable being the center of attention? Are there topics or people to steer clear of? You may also alert your DJ to any strained relationships between members of your bridal party or family, including divorces or other things that could cause awkwardness, so he or she can use the utmost care and sensitivity while interacting with those folks and in making announcements at your reception.

When to Play What and for How Long

Now that you've covered the talking points, it's time to pick your playlist. You'll absolutely want to fill your DJ in on what songs you've picked for the major moments (think wedding party introduction, first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dance, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss, and the last song), says event planner and designer Stacy Wichelhaus of They So Loved Events. Timing is also critical, and not just in regards to the actual day-of timeline and what songs to play when. For example, will you and your partner dance the full five minutes or do you want your DJ to fade the song out at the three-minute mark?

The Context for Song Requests

As opposed to just a general list of songs you'd like to hear, Erica Taylor, co-founding partner of Tinsel Experiential Design, encourages her clients to provide some context. "For instance, 'Hot In Herre' by Nelly was our high school anthem and will keep my girls on the dance floor," or "my mom just loves Stevie Wonder so she'll get a kick out of anything by him." This way, your DJ can also get a sense of what other songs, artists, or genres to play.

Your "Do Not Play" List

Oftentimes, a list of off-limit songs is even more important than your playlist, notes Malone, especially if the DJ is open to taking requests from guests—something you and your DJ have to discuss. "Try to leave room for the DJ to take requests, but don't hesitate to list anything you hate (e.g., no line dances) as off the table. The DJ should simply tell guests requesting those particular songs that he doesn't have them available." In addition to certain songs that are off-limits, be sure to get specific about language (eg, dirty words) and volume preferences. 

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