Choosing the Best DJ & Wedding Music for Your Reception

Choosing the Best DJ & Wedding Music for Your Reception

The Many Responsibilities of a Professional DJ

How To Choose A DJ & Music For Your Reception

When planning a wedding, few couples truly understand the enormous impact that choosing a wedding DJ will have on their wedding night. Underestimating the significance of the DJ at your wedding reception is like underestimating the importance of the pilot on a trip across the Atlantic. The DJ you choose for your wedding reception will, absolutely, make or break your wedding night. The problem, though, is that most couples have no experience whatsoever in hiring a professional DJ. They don’t have the experience to know what questions to ask or even what responsibilities a professional DJ should have. Without this knowledge, it’s hard to know what the differences are between a good wedding DJ and a bad one. This report is designed to help educate you on the particulars of hiring the right DJ for your wedding reception. You will learn what questions to ask, what to look for and what to avoid when searching for a wedding DJ.

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The Many Responsibilities of a Professional DJ


It is important to first understand what responsibilities a professional DJ should have on your wedding day. The foremost responsibility, as you might imagine, is to play music at your reception that will keep the party going. However, there is more to this than you might expect. In fact, the most common mistake couples make when choosing a DJ is to overestimate the ease of playing music that keeps a crowd on the dance floor. For this reason, many couples will opt to have a friend or coworker DJ their wedding reception rather than hire a professional. In reality though, nowhere is the difference between a professional DJ and an amateur more apparent than on the dance floor. As we will see, just because someone has DJ equipment does not mean that they know what they are doing.

Many amateur DJs will tout at least some experience playing music in clubs or at house parties. However, playing music at a club is absolutely nothing like playing music at a wedding reception. At a club, most people are around the same age and have similar tastes in music. That’s why they’re there! This leads the inexperienced DJ to assume that everyone likes the same kind of music as they do. At a wedding, however, there may be people from ages 8 to 80 on the dance floor at any one time and the differences in their musical tastes will be vast.

Only experience will teach a wedding DJ the need for variety. Their job is to appeal to the masses by playing all styles of familiar party music. An experienced wedding DJ will understand that everyone is passionate about “their style” of music and know how to tap into that passion and present it in a manner that everyone on the dance floor can get excited about together. They will know how to correctly weave in and out of many different styles of music and, ultimately, keep the party going all night long.

DJs with little or no wedding experience, on the other hand, may not even consider the diversity on the dance floor. When people don’t respond to their music selections they may get frustrated and simply blame the “lame crowd” rather than digging in and working the music to find something that works for everyone. Remember, a professional has a sense of pride to keep people on the dance floor, whereas amateurs believe people should be on the dance floor out of an obligation to them! This is why the experience of your DJ is paramount to the success of your wedding night.

It is also important to make sure that your DJ has a large selection of song titles, 12,000 is usually a good place to start. Without an adequate selection of music, it is difficult to satisfy a large variety of age groups and musical interests. In addition to just owning the music, a DJ should have extensive knowledge of the music as well; this includes everything from popular foxtrots and waltzes to the latest club hits. Furthermore, be sure that your DJ will play the songs you want to hear, not just the songs they want to hear. Many frustrated newlyweds have spent their wedding night listening to their DJs favorite tunes! And lastly, be wary of the DJ whose presentation is obnoxious or cheesy. You don’t want a DJ who thinks that he or she is the star of the show.

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Choosing the Best DJ & Wedding Music for Your Reception

Coordinating the Event

While playing music is the most obvious responsibility of a wedding DJ, it is certainly not the only one. Many couples don’t realize that one of the biggest responsibilities of the wedding DJ is to coordinate the evening’s events. This is the job that will make the single biggest difference between your guests remembering a wedding that was smooth and effortless or one that was awkward and clumsy.

As couples soon discover as they plan their wedding, there are many different people who must contribute to the success of their wedding day. These include the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the hall manager, the videographer, the photographer, the church personnel and more! In addition to the people, there are also events that need to be coordinated, such as the cake cutting ceremony, toasts, grace, introductions, bouquet toss, the bridal dance and more. A professional DJ will be able to walk the bride and groom through the evening’s events with ease and grace by working with all the parties involved to ensure things run smoothly and as planned. Be wary of amateurs without experience! You will put a lot of work into planning your wedding. A DJ without experience can easily become overwhelmed at this enormous responsibility and may forget important events, causing stress, chaos, confusion, and disappointment.

In short, a DJ needs to be organized, perceptive and efficient to properly orchestrate the evening’s events. Some things your DJ should be watching for to ensure the night runs smoothly include: Checking with the hall to make sure that dinner is actually ready to be served before asking people to sit down; letting the photographer know what’s coming up next so they aren’t outside smoking a cigarette or in the restroom while the cake is being cut or the bridal dance starts; making sure that the champagne is served before handing the microphone to best man for his toast; or checking for utensils on the cake table so when you go to cut the cake, you have something to cut it with! A good wedding DJ is detailed oriented and will keep an eye out for things that are missing or out of place. These little things certainly won’t ruin your wedding night, but added up; they will surely cause anxiety for you, as well as your guests.

An organized wedding reception starts with a DJ who cares, and who takes pride in being prepared. A good DJ should begin preparation for your wedding reception for many days in advance. It is extremely important for a bride and groom to be given the chance to convey to the DJ what they want their wedding reception to be like. Couples will hear many different opinions about what their reception should be like, and a good wedding DJ will go over every aspect of the wedding reception with the bride and groom to fully understand what they expect.

Watch out for unscrupulous DJ companies who will send out DJs who have never even talked to the bride and groom. And be equally cautious of amateurs who will only do things their way – the only way they know how. In addition, be sure your DJ will arrive at the wedding hall for at least an hour and a half before the wedding. A good DJ will have everything set up – music playing, tuxedo on, excess gear put away, cords neatly taped down, etc. – before guests begin arriving. You don’t want your DJ setting up gear while your guests are arriving for cocktails.

Master of Ceremonies

Finally, a professional wedding DJ should be a well-trained Master of Ceremonies. This means being confident on the microphone and able to make important announcements and introductions in a classy, charismatic manner. Professionals will spend time preparing their announcements and have pride in their ability to pronounce everyone’s name correctly. Nowhere will lack of experience be more obvious than in a Master of Ceremonies. Unprofessional announcements, mispronounced names and titles, and inappropriate remarks are just a few of the ways an MC might show their inexperience. Nothing makes a crowd more uncomfortable than to sit in front of someone who is nervous and stuttering on the microphone. Often times, a DJ may try to hide this nervousness by turning into a cheesy “party motivator”, annoying guests and embarrassing the bride and groom. A professional clearly understands their boundaries and will never try to upstage the bride and groom by putting undue attention on themselves.

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The Differences between Professionals and Amateurs


Even if you are able to find a DJ who is competent enough to handle the primary responsibilities – keeping the dance floor filled, effectively coordinating events, and being a well-trained Master of Ceremonies – there are still several other factors to consider before knowing whether or not they are right for the job. For instance, be sure your DJ invests in professional sound equipment. Professional equipment provides superb-quality sound resulting in crystal-clear announcements that everyone can understand, as well as allowing comfortable music volumes and displaying a classy appearance. DJs that use old and ragged gear may instead use novelty items, such as bubbles and smoke, in order to hide the fact that their gear is inappropriate for the occasion. Also beware of DJ’s that offer to bring an entire production to your wedding reception. Too many lights, lasers and other toys are simply a distraction and often “dress down” an otherwise beautifully decorated room. It is also critical that your DJ brings backup equipment to your reception in the event of a malfunction. Nothing stops a party faster than a burned out amplifier or blown speakers!

The Right Attitude

You should make it a point to look for a DJ that is willing to partner with you in the success of your wedding. It is very important that your DJ’s motto be “the customer is always right” and that they stand by this motto. A good DJ will always have your best interests in mind and not make decisions based on what is easiest or most convenient for them. They should understand that they are working for you, and follow your directions to the tee. Many amateurs consider themselves to be “self-employed” and, therefore, don’t like to be told what to do.

Your wedding will be one of the most spectacular days of your life. Your DJ should feel honored to be a part of such a special event and not see it as “just another gig”. They should feel a deep sense of responsibility toward you and respect the importance of the occasion. Likewise, they should take as much pride in their appearance as anyone in the wedding party – by wearing a nice tuxedo, with a freshly pressed shirt and shined shoes. It is not uncommon for newlyweds to walk into their wedding reception and find their DJ wearing a really bad suit or, even worse, jeans.

The Right Personality

It is extremely important to find a DJ that fits the style of your wedding. You don’t want a DJ that is too overbearing and obnoxious, and believes that that your wedding reception is his “show”. Consequently, you don’t want a DJ who looks bored or disinterested, either. Beware of company’s that ask you to choose the “energy level” of your DJ. Most couples don’t want a high energy DJ as much as they want a high energy feeling in the room. A great DJ will know how to create this feeling without coming on too strong or by acting cheesy or unprofessional. A pro will be charismatic when making important announcements and introductions and will be able to properly gauge when and when not to talk on the mic.

The Right Company

It is also important to find a DJ company that has a full-time staff available so you can talk to someone when you need to. It’s a bad sign when a DJ company doesn’t answer the phone or, worse, doesn’t call you back right away. Imagine what they’ll be like after they get your deposit! In addition, when hiring a DJ from a professional DJ company, be sure that you will be getting the DJ you are promised and that you know how much experience they have. Your wedding night should not be on-the-job training for beginners. As a rule of thumb, look for a DJ with a minimum of 3-5 years experience or 100 weddings under their belt.

Friends Do NOT Hire Friends to DJ their Wedding!!

Some of the worst wedding disasters are because of bride’s who hire “a friend” to DJ their wedding. Just because a friend might have some equipment and a great CD collection doesn’t mean he can successfully DJ a wedding. That is the equivalent to thinking that just because a friend has a nice camera they can be a wedding photographer, or because they are a great cook they can bake the wedding cake. Unless the “friend” is a professional wedding DJ with years of specialized training, an emergency back up plan and at least 100 references, invite them TO the wedding, NOT to DJ the wedding!

Back Up Plans

Lastly, and most importantly, be certain that your DJ has a back-up plan, including equipment and contingencies for an emergency in case the DJ can’t be there. They should have back-up sound gear

on-site in the event of an equipment malfunction, as well as having a DJ on-call in case of emergencies or unforeseen events. A DJ may not be able to make it to your wedding through no fault of their own, such as an accident or medical emergency. Hobbyists or inexperienced DJs will have no back-up plan, feeling confident that they can “wing-it” in case of an emergency. Don’t accept the idea that a DJ has some “friends” he can call in a pinch. A professional company will have a well thought out emergency plan and have paid DJ’s on-call and ready to go. Remember, the worst possible thing that can happen is for your DJ not to show up or have their equipment fail during your reception. DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER A DJ THAT DOESN’T HAVE AN ABSOLUTE FOOL PROOF BACK-UP PLAN.




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Promises, Promises, Promises!

The last thing you need to know about hiring a professional DJ is how to make sure they are who they say they are and can deliver what they say they can. A money-back guarantee is the best sign that the company you’ve hired will be able to deliver what they say they can. No one wants to work for free, no matter how much they enjoy their work.

The second-best way to determine the reputability of your DJ is to call references. Some DJs will have a list of references that they will gladly give you to call. However, these will either be hand-picked couples or, worse, people who’ve never actually hired the DJ. A professional DJ is booked almost every weekend during the busy season, so ask the DJ for the phone number of a couple from a random date to call for a reference. Any company that balks at this is most likely hiding something. A good DJ will feel confident that every wedding they’ve done was of the highest quality.

Stay away from DJs who will allow you to check up on them at someone else’s wedding. First off, it is VERY unprofessional to invite strangers to a private reception. Secondly, if a DJ is willing to be distracted at someone else’s wedding to talk to you; he will also indulge in this unprofessional manner at your wedding reception. Plus, you will never get a complete picture of the DJ’s abilities by spending a few minutes standing in the corner at a stranger’s wedding. It is what you DON’T see that will hurt you, such as, if was he on time, if he was prepared and organized, if he pronounced everyone’s name correctly, etc. More than one of the brides from the stories above watched their DJ at a stranger’s wedding and later regretted it by saying, “I went and saw him and he looked like he was doing fine.” This type of “preview” can only give a false sense of security about your DJ’s abilities.


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A DJ company you can trust and get excited about

Mike Staff Productions is a different kind of DJ Company. Founded in 1986 by popular 101 WRIF air personality Mike Staff, this company is built on a foundation of quality, experience and unsurpassed client satisfaction.

Mike Staff Productions is Michigan’s most respected DJ service and is referred by dozens of banquet facilities, wedding professionals and most of all, thousands of past clients. Mike Staff’s “Money Back Guarantee” is unprecedented in the industry, proving that there is no substitute for quality and integrity. “I refuse to accept payment from a client who doesn’t feel as if we exceeded their expectations”, says Mike. “First and foremost, we take care of the client. Everything else will fall into place naturally”.

Mike Staff personally handpicks every one of his DJ’s. Experience is the first criteria in which DJ’s are selected. No beginners here! Mike looks for a minimum of 3-5 years of experience, with a strong emphasis on wedding receptions. “The experience that is needed to successfully execute a wedding reception is much different from the experience one might get in a nightclub or even on the radio”, says Mike. “I only want DJ’s that can gracefully and professionally coordinate the evening’s events, so the bride and groom can relax and have a great time”.

Experience is also paramount to keeping a party going. It takes time to learn how to correctly read a dance floor and play just the right song at just the right time. Their DJ’s are well versed and extremely knowledgeable in all styles of music, from the classic crooners to the latest pop stars, and everything in between.

The next thing Mike looks for in a DJ is the right attitude and demeanor. Their DJ’s clearly understand who the boss is…YOU! Everything needs to be done to your specifications. Their DJ’s are professional and pride themselves in presenting a classy, fun night to your guests.

Mike Staff Productions takes the responsibility of earning your trust seriously. That is why they have taken extreme measures to shelter you against unforeseen events that could jeopardize your important day. Their DJ’s always carry a full back up system in case of equipment malfunctions. Additionally, every weekend they pay DJ’s to be “on-call” in the event of an emergency that would prevent your DJ from being to your party on time. Thankfully, in over 20 years of business they have never called on their back-up DJ, however, Mike believes it’s in your best interest to have a back up plan in place before it’s needed! No other DJ company has taken these steps to insulate you from worry. You can trust Mike Staff Productions.

There are many other things that distinguish Mike Staff Productions from other DJ’s. Such as reasonable all-inclusive pricing, full time wedding consultants available to help you plan your night, a huge music library with over 78,000 songs, a beautiful light show and more.


Ready to bring your wedding to life? Mike Staff Productions is here to help with any of your wedding planning questions! Feel free to give us a call (877.689.0777) or email us at [email protected]


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