The bass is thumping, you're getting down with your hubby, and everyone from your new sister-in-law to your great-granny is out on the dance floor shaking what they've got. However, the dancing comes to a standstill when the DJ spins an old 2 Live Crew song that's offensive, highly inappropriate and certainly not on your approved playlist. The shocked look on your great-granny's face makes you wonder if you're going to be spending the rest of your wedding night in the ER instead of your honeymoon suite.
A million different things can go wrong at your wedding, but your DJ's performance doesn't have to be one of them. The right disc jockey will get your booty moving and all of your guests dancing -- not just the 20-somethings.
But there are a lot of dud DJs out there. In a perfect world, you'd have time to read reviews of your chosen music provider and watch his sample videos. You'd be able to pick up on the warning signs and move on to the next candidate.
What often happens is that brides pick DJs without doing their research, and they get the shock of a lifetime out on the dance floor. Here are 10 dead giveaways you'd hired a total dud.
He Doesn't Have Time for a Free Consultation
You meet your DJ for the first time on the big day, and as soon as you see him, you realize you've made a huge mistake. He's unkempt, unprofessional and hardly seems prepared. Oh, and he's two hours late, though you fear the MP3 mix you've been using in his stead is doing a better job than this guy will.
Kevin Cheek, owner of Dawg-Town Entertainment and DJ, is not such a DJ. He's respected throughout the industry, and as the owner of the company, he's a busy guy, but he still takes the time to personally meet with all his clients. We know, the last thing you want to do is meet with another person about your wedding, but think about it: You meet with your caterer, florist and wedding planner, so why wouldn't you meet with your DJ?
Cheek puts it differently. He says: "Months down the road, your guests aren't going to remember the chicken fingers or the taste of the cake, but they will remember the dancing, the mood and flow of the night, all of which is the result of a great DJ, and you're not going to know who you've hired unless you meet with him beforehand."
As you'll see in this article, your DJ can do a lot of dumb things, but nothing is scarier than bringing in a complete stranger to host your event.
He Tries to Be a Wedding Singer
You know that guy who annoyingly sings -- or at the very least, lip-synchs -- every song that comes on the radio or plays in the clubs? Yep, that's your DJ, or at least it will be if you hire the wrong guy.
This trait's a little more difficult to spot than some of the others on this list, but there are signs. A good indicator that you're about to hire a wannabe wailer instead of a professional disc jockey is if he tries to sell you both his DJ services and his band, but that's not all you have to look out for. If you meet in a public place, and he's singing the background music, or he lists tryouts at a televised singing competition as related work experience, you probably want to tune him out and move on the next name on your list.
He Flirts With Guests from Stage
Weddings may be notorious pick-up spots, but your DJ shouldn't be hitting on anyone before, during or even after the event. This is business, and making lewd comments from the stage or chatting up the ladies during a song is not what you're paying him to do.
So, how do you know if you're hiring a professional disc jockey or a Casanova with a mic? Pay attention to how he conducts himself during your interview. Was he ogling your maid of honor? If you went to a restaurant, did he hit on the waitress? Did he seem to pay more attention to your chest than your song requests? If he seemed to have sex on the brain during your meeting, it's only fair to assume he's going to be more concerned with mixing it up with your lovely bridesmaids than playing the right mix of songs at your reception. Just go ahead and let him watch you walk out the door, because it's the last time he'll be seeing you.
He Has an Unpleasant Voice
Like radio hosts, DJs need to have agreeable voices. The last thing someone with a heavy slur, stutter or generally unpleasant tone needs is a microphone, especially at your wedding. Your DJ doesn't need to sound like Ryan Seacrest to get everyone out on the dance floor, but his words shouldn't be hard on the ears. Luckily, a phone call is all takes to know if your disc jockey's tone is pleasant enough for your big day. If you haven't had the time to personally meet with your DJ yet, it's time to pick up the phone and give him a call.
He Plays Inappropriate Songs
We mentioned this in the intro, but your DJ doesn't have to play filthy vintage rap to offend your ears.
Depending on what kind of tunes you and your new Mr. are into, anything from hip-hop to recent top-40 hits may not be to your liking. The DJ's job is to ensure you and your guests are having a good time and are ready to dance the night away, regardless of your group's personal music tastes. Even if you and new hubby are die-hard metalheads, he can't very well spin Anthrax and Metallica all night.
You can give him a few "must have" track selections, a list of "not approved" song titles and a general theme or idea to work with, but the music is pretty much disc jockey's choice, so don't think he's going to stick with a strict list. A real, professional DJ will judge the crowd and play a mix that'll get everyone out on the dance floor, regardless of if they're used to clubs, raves or mosh pits.
He Refuses to Deviate from a Set Playlist
Your DJ doesn't have to play dirty songs to be a dud. Some DJs refuse to deviate from a set playlist or will charge you more for asking them to do so. It doesn't matter what his reputation is or how good his playlist may be, this is your wedding, and you're entitled to whatever you want.
As we explained earlier, part of the DJ's job is to play a mix that everyone's happy with; anything else is just lazy and unprofessional. This is one of those issues that needs to be brought up before your big day, as most of the strict-playlist DJs don't go around advertising their refusal or inability to mix things up.
He Uses His Microphone as a Soapbox
You've gathered several hundred of your closest friends and family members to see you say "I do," and the last thing anyone wants is to listen to some man with a microphone espousing the virtues of anything other than fresh beats.
It doesn't matter what the guy thinks, and regardless if you agree with him or not, you didn't hire him to make political statements or promote any set of ideas, products or beliefs. It's a free country, and the guy's allowed his opinion, but not on the job and certainly not on your wedding day. If he mentions anything non-business related during your initial meeting, especially concerning politics or religion, tell him to drag his soapbox to another party -- your wedding is a commercial-free zone.
He Uses Shoddy Equipment
Maybe the worst-case DJ scenario is that he shows up on your big day with a laptop and a few beat-up old speakers, but you'd be surprised by how often this happens. DJs don't need a license, so any dude with a computer and a dream can call himself a disc jockey.
However, a real DJ should have no problem showing you his setup, which should include two full sound systems (one for use and one for back up), a wireless microphone and extra lighting -- just in case you need it.
He Brings His Own Guests to Your Wedding
If a prospective DJ invites you to another person's wedding, watch out! Sure, it'll give you a great idea of his disc-jockey skills, but it will also show you what you can expect at your own nuptials -- skills and extra guests included. It doesn't matter how great his song selection is, you don't want random groups of strangers to show up at your reception, snack on the catered food and start mingling with your guests. No DJ is worth that.
He Shows Up Drunk
Many of us like to knock back a few every once in a while, but just as it's not a good idea for you to show up to a business meeting sloshed, your DJ should refrain from drinking alcohol at your wedding. Yes, there will likely be plenty of booze to go around, but nothing is more unprofessional than being inebriated at work, even if your job is playing music for a room full of drunk people.
Be sure to ask your prospective DJ what his policy is regarding drinking on the job, and if he tells you anything other than "it's not going to happen," you need to find yourself another DJ.
What's the perfect wedding entrance music? If you don't like 'Here Comes the Bride', there's no reason not to enjoy your favorite song as you walk the aisle!
- All American Soap Box Derby. "History." 2011. (May 30, 2011).http://www.aasbd.org/history.aspx
- Associated Press. "Olympic Singer Fails China Cuteness Test." CBS News. Aug. 12, 2008. (May 30, 2011).http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/12/world/main4344591.shtml
- Cheek, Kevin. Personal interview conducted by Chris Obenschain. May 26, 2011.
- Modesto Radio Museum. "Montage Index: History of DJs." 2011. (May 30, 2011).http://www.modestoradiomuseum.org/dj%20gold%20vol%202.html
- Wakin, Daniel J. "A Historic Discovery, In Beethoven's Own Hand." The New York Times. Oct. 13, 2005. (May 29, 2011).http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/13/arts/music/13beet.html/partner/rssnyt