By Debbie McKenzie, Amazing Sounds Mobile DJ Services, Oxnard, Calif.

It is a misnomer that wedding DJs “just play music.”  Most professional and experienced entertainment companies offer many services beyond that scope including DJ and emcee, coordination, lighting, and more. Unlike some vendors, however, the DJ is there from start to finish.  As with wedding planners, this can mean working anywhere from six to 12 hours straight, just for a four-to-six hour event. Since wedding planners and disc jockeys work in such close proximity and such long hours on their clients’ dream day, a good working relationship is critical. How can you ensure that everything goes off without a hitch?

Help your client choose the proper DJ
Find a DJ who is a wedding specialist. You wouldn’t advise clients to hire a taco truck vendor to prepare lobster and prime rib, so 
you shouldn’t advise them to hire a “school dance” or “club” DJ for their wedding. They won’t have the necessary emcee skills for performing at a wedding.

Plan a joint site visit
Professional disc jockeys visit the event venue ahead of time to assess things. This ensures less chance of problems on the day of the event. It is highly recommended that wedding planners and their clients meet with the DJ at the venue well before the big day to ensure everyone is aware of the floor plan and has a chance to review power needs and other key elements. Doing so helps eliminate some of the DJ’s biggest concerns:
•    Will there be enough electricity and 
    convenient location of power sources?
•    Where will the speakers, dance floor, and lighting be?
•    Will there be children at the dance?
•    Where will the elderly and those with hearing aids be seated?
•    Will the DJ be provided a meal?
•    Is there an event timeline?

Realize that DJs need power
DJ’s need electricity.  It’s important that the DJ knows the location of outlets ahead of time, as well as what else might be hooked up to that same circuit.  It may be hard to believe, but nothing blows DJ equipment faster than a coffee urn.

Make sure guests dance the night away—safely
The dance floor is for dancing, which means the best location for speakers and dance lighting is at the dance floor. Please make sure there is adequate room there and that the DJ is located close by. The further the DJ is from the dance floor, the louder the music will have to be, which, in turn, will bother those seated next to the speakers.  Also, be aware of where cables are running and ensure they are secure. A major safety issue is when cables are run under tables to reach a dance floor in the middle of the room.

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What to know about up lighting
These days many couples are asking for up lighting. This means, for safety, that tables and chairs can’t be too close to the walls and lights. Up lights need approximately a three-foot clearance from the wall so guests won’t trip over them.  Ask the DJ or lighting technician exactly how much space they need before the day of the event, and, whenever possible, provide them with a layout of the room.

Watch out for the children
If small children are attending, it’s highly recommended that activities be available for them so everybody has a chance to dance. We’ve all seen it. As soon as the children are done eating, they “take over” the dance floor. This can be dangerous. The kids slide and jump around, often coming close to speakers and other equipment, which makes most DJs cringe in fear that the speakers will be knocked over and hurt someone. Have activities for them, such as a craft table, or provide child care so someone is able to watch them while mom and dad have their own fun.

Be mindful of the elderly
Older people want to sit “up front,” next to the dance floor, but, at the same time, they are inclined to “chat” as well.  The combination of elderly with hearing aids being seated next to the dance floor or speakers could equal misery. Don’t hesitate to remind your couple that as they write their seating chart, the best location for the elderly is at the far sides or back of the room—away from the speakers.

Feed your DJ
Here is one of those great debates—should vendors be fed?  Keep in mind that those who work for six to 12 hours need food to stay alert and functioning properly. Be sure the DJ is fed early since they often start events as guests finish eating. Trying to eat at the same time they work is distracting and nearly impossible as their full concentration is required on the job. DJs who bring their own food usually eat during the guest’s meal just for this reason.  Speaking of full concentration, DJs should not drink alcohol. Make sure they and your clients are aware of this.

Timing is everything!  
You are the first person a couple goes to when planning their big day, but please be realistic with the timing of events.  Keep the actual timeframes somewhat loose while still keeping the order of events. All vendors want to stick to the agenda, but sometimes, circumstances require a slight change. It is difficult if the DJ is told the toast is before dinner and the planner was told after. DJs plan certain music for events and when they have to hurriedly find that special song on a moment’s notice, it doesn’t look good for the DJ or the planner.

Share changes
Above all, for the wedding day to run smoothly, it’s important to keep the DJ informed about changes made to the day. Remembering that you are, together, part of the same team is essential. Both are there to make the couple’s event one that will be cherished and remembered for years.

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