5 Things on Your Checklist to Tell Your Wedding DJ

Help your DJ create your perfect wedding soundtrack.

wedding dj

Photo by Chris & Ruth Photography

Planning a magical, tear-jerking ceremony is only half the battle when it comes to designing your wedding day. The reception is equally important. While your family and friends are there to witness and celebrate your love, but you also want them to have an amazing time, too. One way to facilitate that is with an excellent DJ at your event.

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 with your vendor. Don't just play it by ear.

Not sure what you should address with your DJ? Here are five things you should tell them to get the party started and going strong throughout the evening.

Meet the Expert

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 them a phonetic spelling of the names of the entire wedding party, especially if there any unusual names (first and last) in the mix. You can even send voice recording to your vendor so they can clearly hear it and practice it in advance.

Tell Them Whether or Not to Emcee

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.

Share 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, including wedding party introductions, the first dance, parent and child dances, cake cutting, the bouquet and garter tosses, and the last song, shares 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 of a song or do you want your DJ to fade it out at the three-minute mark?

Provide 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.

Give Your "Do Not Play" List

Oftentimes, a list of off-limit songs is even more important than your playlist, notes Malone. This is especially if the DJ is open to taking requests from guests—something else 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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