DJing the celebration of love is an important task. Music plays a massive role in creating the right vibe at weddings, and DJs are the architects behind it. Singa asked Flamingo Boss’ Events Manager, Marcos Aranibar, who has over 25 years of hosting experience under his belt, how to DJ a wedding.
“As a DJ, you make or break the important day. If you break it, you’ll be known everywhere for all the wrong reasons. If you make it, you just got 150 potential customers wanting to book you again.”
So, no pressure 😅. Here are Aranibar’s 10 tips on DJing weddings like a champ.
1. Communication is everything
Communication is a vital part of DJing weddings. You need to know your clients' wishes and give them realistic expectations of what you can deliver.
“Understand your customer and find out about their expectations. Be honest and tell them what you can and can’t do. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver – do it the other way around. Promise what you’re going to do and then overdeliver. You’ll win your customer every time,” Aranibar advises.
A big part of communication is transparency and putting the customer’s needs first. It means targeting the right service for the right customer. Aranibar explains: “If it’s a wedding of around 60 people, we’ll recommend our smaller package. There is no point in us taking all the other equipment only to collect their money. We give our customers what they need, not what we want them to have.”
2. Do the prep work
At weddings, you've got everyone from babies to old uncle Bob. With a diverse demographic, a DJ can’t please every single person all the time. That is where preparation comes in. Aranibar suggests getting a list of 10–15 songs which the bridal couple wants to hear, as well as songs they dislike. The pair's favorite tunes create the height of the party, which is usually the last two hours on the dance floor.
The trick to handling a diverse audience is to play music through the decades.
“First, I tick off the eldest on my list: I play Motown, Northern Soul, and a little bit of rock ‘n roll. Now, the grandparents and parents can’t come up to me and ask for those songs later on – I already played them. Then, I move to disco music. Everybody loves disco, and it makes people dance. Depending on the crowd, I proceed to either ‘80s, ‘90s, or ‘00s. The highlight of the evening is the 10–15 songs the bride and groom requested.”
3. Get the right gear and songs
The minimum sound equipment for DJing weddings:
- A DJ booth for presentation
- A decent pair of modern PA speakers – try not to use tripods, they often make your setup look messy
- A laptop with the right kind of modern music
- Access to your backup in the cloud service
Aranibar explains: “We use a lot of speakers where it’s just a box on the floor, a pole, and a satellite speaker at the top. It’s more pleasing for the eye and looks modern. When it comes to delivering songs, our mixing style is continuous. Make sure you’ve got the right DJ versions of songs with intros and outros.”
4. Appearance matters
“It’s always about the presentation before you even play a record.”
Events Manager Marcos Aranibar emphasizes the importance of how things look as part of a great DJ service. It includes both the host’s appearance and gear.
“For weddings, we turn up with bow ties and vest jackets.”
5. Get to know the venue
Find out about all the limitations with the venue well before the event. Some places don’t, for example, allow haze machines because it sets the alarms off. You might also have limitations with the volume of the music.
DJing outdoor weddings has special requirements too. Observe:
- Where your electric power is coming from
- Where you’re positioned
- Who you’re working alongside with (a band or a singer)
- That you and the equipment are under a cover and not exposed to the forces of the weather
“Ultimately, you don’t want to plug your equipment into something which will fry your laptop,” Aranibar says.
6. Offer karaoke as part of the wedding fun
“For me, karaoke fits into any event: weddings, birthdays, corporate events, a night out at a pub, or a hen party with the girls. Karaoke is the fun aspect of things,” Aranibar says.
Equipment-wise, adding karaoke to a wedding party is easy – simply bring a bigger mixer, the iPads, and TV screens, or projectors to make sure everybody sees the lyrics. For karaoke hosts, Aranibar recommends Singa as software – it is modern and intuitive. "It's by far, in my opinion, the best system out there."
An ideal time for karaoke at weddings is one or two songs after the first dance. That’s when things tend to fizzle out. For karaoke, you need the first brave individual to start singing, but Aranibar has a pro tip for breaking the ice.
“I highly recommend taking song requests before the wedding reception. This way, you will be calling people out to get the fun going. How can you refuse to get up and sing in front of everybody when you know you put the slip in already a week or two before the party?”
7. Hone your hosting
Hosting skills and reading the room is very important for event professionals. Flamingo Boss doesn't label themselves as DJs or KJs – they are hosts on all occasions. However, traditionally, DJs play songs and make sure the music flows, whereas karaoke jockeys or karaoke hosts manage song requests from eager singers. KJs take care of the queue and decide when new singers can go up the stage. KJs’ task is highly interactive: they host, introduce the singers and welcome them to the stage. After the performance, it's up to them to get the audience cheering.
Managing song orders and queues can be challenging. Luckily, Singa offers KJs a great hassle-free tool. Guests can request songs from their mobile phones, and all the song requests are directed to the KJ's Singa Business Pro iPad. Goodbye booklets and paper slips! More tips on being a great KJ here.
8. Create the perfect balance
DJs need to pay attention to the musical arc of the event. Aranibar thinks that adding upbeat background music after melancholic karaoke performances creates the right kind of atmosphere.
“Imagine someone just sang a really sad song, and everybody mellowed down a bit. You need something upbeat to get the party going and people dancing again. It’s a great trick in keeping the flow going.”
9. Be approachable but set limits
For a DJ to be successful, it’s important to come across as welcoming. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the wedding and encourage people to come and say hi, and even request specific songs. However, there is a caveat:
“If you’re not going to play the song, just be honest about it.”
Aranibar has developed a clever gatekeeper system he thinks any DJ should have: a notepad and a pen. If people want to talk to him when he is busy putting the next track on, he asks them to write it down on the notepad next to his DJ desk. As soon as he has played the requested song – unless it kills the dance floor, and he skips playing it – he crosses it out on the notepad. It's is all about transparency.
10. Strive for excellence
For Aranibar, the formula for nailing wedding DJing boils down to giving people what they want and even more. Whenever possible, he encourages doing a little extra.
“DJs can do little things that the client wasn't expecting but enhances their experience. For example, you might take some extra lighting with you or shoot confetti cannons if they are allowed at the venue. It all lasts like two seconds but looks amazing in photos. I like adding in little secrets to surprise the bride and groom.”
Checklist for wedding DJs:
As a recap, here are 10 rocking tips and tricks for DJing weddings:
- Communicate with the bridal couple as well as the venue
- Do your homework and prepare the right kind of music for the wedding
- Get your DJ gear together
- Make your setup look brilliant
- Find out about the venue’s DOs and DONT’s
- Suggest karaoke and take the fun to the next level
- Boost your hosting skills
- Take care of the musical arc of the event
- DON’T be shy but DO create boundaries for social interactions
- Smash the party by doing a little extra
Armed with these tips, you can’t go wrong. Happy wedding DJing! ❤️