Planning a wedding can be stressful I know. A recent bride myself and a 20 year wedding industry veteran, I've seen it from both sides. So I wanted to share a few tips on how to make the music part of your event a little easier. Here are the main points to think about and plan for.
Deciding Between A Band vs DJ
Trust me, I love live music just as much as you do (the reason I became a DJ is that the rockstar thing just didn't take off like I thought it would). A band can be fun, energetic and definitely brings a different vibe. That being said, there are a few drawbacks. They don't offer the variety of genres and music selection that you can get from a DJ (especially with any last minute requests). They generally need to take breaks at some point, they take up a lot more space in your venue and a band is generally more expensive than a DJ.
If you have the money and space to do both this is an awesome option. You get the energy of the live music for about 45min to an hour, they take a break and then your DJ picks up and plays the songs your band can't perform and make it sound like what you enjoy on the radio for the next 45 min.
Don't expect either performer to discount their services though just because they "aren't working the whole time". They are still dedicating their time and equipment to your event for that time frame and just like working a "regular job"...even when things aren't busy, you deserve to be paid to be there.
Selecting Your Performer
Selecting your performer is important. If you can see them live that's a great option but keep in mind that DJing at a club is VERY different than DJing at your wedding. This makes seeing your DJ at a live event difficult. Just as you wouldn't want your caterer to invite another couple to your event for a tasting, inviting potential clients to a wedding to see us perform is kind of inappropriate.
The best alternative? Check out reviews from past clients and any videos that your DJ may be able to provide. Between these two resources and simply talking with your DJ, you should be able to get a good idea of whether or not they are a good fit.
When thinking about what you want to walk down the aisle to, make sure you make this something that reflects who you really are. So often in the past I've had brides select Canon in D only to find out that they love rock music. There are a ton of contemporary songs that have been remixed into instrumental slower versions that are appropriate for a wedding. Be sure to ask your DJ to help you find some options if you are struggling to find something you are genuinely excited about.
Along those same lines, make sure that you communicate with your DJ about the exact version of the song you are wanting. If you like the classics and select Canon in D for your processional...there are 500 different versions of that song and you and your DJ should both know which one you want. Practice the timing at your rehearsal (remember you'll be nervous and probably walk faster than you think) and be sure to communicate with your DJ about what to do if you or your wedding party take longer than expected or end earlier than you'd thought. Fading out the song or looping back to the chorus are generally easy ways to do this without anyone but the DJ knowing the different.
Also, make sure that your minister gets a lavalier mic. This will help pick up your vows so that all of your guests can hear and any video that's being recorded will truly record this special moment.
Schedule A Planning Session
Lastly, be sure to schedule a planning session with your performer. This can be done in person or over the phone generally but it's important that you not try to walk through all the details via email, there is simply too many things to talk through.
Talking points for your planning session:
Often, the specific timing of your day can change from the time you book your performer to the day of your event based on how everything ties in together. Be sure to review the location, timing, contracted services and setup for each portion of your day (ceremony, cocktails, reception).
Confirm song selections (including the version of the song) and the timing for each formality. Different performers have different ideas about how they think the night flows best and they should be able to share these ideas with you and help you work through the timeline so that you and your guests enjoy the evening with little down time and no stress.
Be sure to talk about your must plays and don't plays. I HIGHLY recommend that you limit both. Giving your performer a list of genres that you enjoy allows them to respond to the crowd so that the majority of your guests are dancing at any given moment. That being said your must plays are great dancefloor starters that you know will get your guests up and dancing. Your don't plays are just at important. If you have a song that was special with you and an ex or something that was played at a friends funeral...you don't want to hear that on your wedding day. Be sure to share that with your DJ because we have no way of knowing that.
Most DJ's are happy to take requests but depending on your audience you may want to limit this. If your friends are kinda rowdy and will tend to request "Baby Got Back" while your parents would be highly offended...it's often easier to simply tell your DJ that info, give them a general guideline of what it appropriate and they can help make sure that all your guests stay happy.
Be sure to review the pronunciation of names with your DJ, the last thing you want is to have him introduce part of your wedding party wrong. Try to spell their names on your planner phonetically so that it's easier for them to interpret...your wedding party won't ever see that planner and it's a huge help to your DJ.
All of that said, the biggest key to selecting your music...HAVE FUN! This is a time to celebrate with your family. Communicate with your DJ, plan the night and then relax and have fun knowing that they will take care of the details!