5 Tips From a Destination DJWords by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of Dear Wesleyann
Music at a wedding is like icing on a cake. It just wouldn’t be the same without it. It can also make or break your event. Investing in the right kind of music is key to creating proper flow, ambiance and ensuring guests (as well as yourselves) have the best experience.
We enlisted the help of one of the best in the biz to lead us on a musical prelude for your wedding day. DJ Brian B has created mix-sets for the likes of Snoop Dogg, P Diddy, Jim Carrey and even Elton John (to name a few) and performs for events that run the gamut. Everything from Hollywood gigs and weddings to bar mitzvahs and corporate events, DJ Brian B has engaged a myriad of guests. “I love taking my audience on a musical journey of ‘highs and lows,’ until you get to that crescendo of music and they are right there with you the whole time.”
Who better than DJ Brian B to advise in creating the ultimate musical interlude for your most important of milestone events? Read on to have your playlist dreams met…or skip to the end for sample playlists!
1. When someone is trying to decide between hiring a disc jockey and a live band, what advice can you give them in making their decision?
A. They both have their pros and cons, but I think one of the most overlooked factors is the number of guests. A small guest list would be overwhelmed by a large band and, conversely, a large event with a DJ on a large stage might feel inadequate. There are those rare entertainers who can thrive no matter the guest count, but that’s a good place to start. Other things you should consider when deciding between the two:
- What does the band’s playlist look like? Are they willing to learn songs for your event? Do they take breaks? If so, how long?
- Does the DJ actually “mix” songs or do they just “fade in, fade out?” Is he/she cheesy? Will they take requests?
- Would either be open to incorporating the other? For example, the band handles the primary music duties while the DJ handles the “break” music and all of the MC work.
2. Does being a "destination” DJ, add a lot of cost when someone decides to hire you?
A. It really depends on where the event is taking place. For instance, if it’s in a major city, the ability to rent gear is easy and affordable, so you’re looking at just transportation and accommodations beyond the standard performance fee. However, if it’s in a remote location, it can add to the cost just as it would for any vendor. That said, the couples who choose an obscure location understand that type of cost comes with the territory.
Yet, there are advantages to a destination DJ cost-wise. They can cover other events for you if they’re already there. I recently worked with a wedding client in Highlands, North Carolina and I was there from Thursday through Sunday. I played the “welcome party,” put on a playlist and handled the A/V for speeches with the rehearsal dinner, did the same for the ceremony, headlined the cocktail hour/reception and then played the brunch music the day after the wedding. To deal with only one vendor for all those events is a huge weight off a client’s shoulders. It also allows me to build rapport with the client, as well as their guests and I’m definitely willing to work out better pricing with all those elements and events.
3. Many couples say, "I'm going to make my own Spotify or iTunes playlist," in order to save money. What are the risks with this choice and how can it impact a wedding event?
A. So many things can impact the day – the weather, how long the guests have been there, how much they’ve had to drink, etc. and that all plays a part in deciding which songs can work best. Even as a DJ, I may have a general idea of what I’m going to play going in, but I never pre-plan my exact sets. I want it to feel a bit fluid and organic. The dangers are that the pre-mix may not fit the vibe of the event, the songs aren’t mixed together, long intros or awkward fade-outs, etc. This doesn’t even take into account the MC element. Having someone “host” the event is critical. A great DJ also has a keen awareness of how to direct the event without being cheesy or making the event about themselves by over-talking. Even a fantastic playlist will not be able to Band-Aid that missing element.
4. Many hotels and venues have noise curfews for amplified music. Do you have advice for couples who want to keep the party going into the night?
A. One option is to see if the venue has an “indoor” space they can transition to. They may be willing to work with you on this, because they’d rather you spend all your money with them than source out a new venue.
An alternative is a “silent-disco.” It is a fantastic option for noise ordinance locations and is a blast. Guests are given wireless headphones and the DJ’s music is transmitted to them. As someone who has seen it without headphones, it’s hilarious to watch because guests are singing and dancing, but with no music being amplified. It makes for some great pictures and an unforgettable experience for everyone.
5. As a professional DJ, what tips do you have to keep a dance party going?
A. Programming and timing are the major factors. Knowing what music to play when is critical. By timing, I’m referring to when things are scheduled. I know some clients who will say they have the best party crowd ever and yet the party never reaches its true potential because the agenda isn’t organized in a way to allow guests to let loose.
Other factors that can affect the party are lighting and room design. A huge space with a small guest count is a death sentence for most parties, as is no dynamics with the lighting (i.e. lights on all night). Having those elements right can really take a party to the next level and keep people dancing a lot longer.
DJ Brian B has generously created some sample original playlists to take you from getting ready to “I do,” click below:
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