Tuesday, October 18, 2011



I was a pro wedding and party and club DJ for a year in 86, I was a DJ working for a Mobile Company in K.C.  I did receptions from 50 to 500, parties, clubs, reunions, etc. But specialized in wedding receptions where brides always wound up writing thank you letters and recommending me to all their friends.

Of course most of that was due to the extensive training I received from "the Master" DJ at the service. No one was better at weddings.  He made sure I worked hard learning the grunt work, then accompanying him on countless gigs as an observer and assistant. It was almost six months before he let me do a reception on my own, and even then he snuck in the back and observed me, checking with the family unbeknownst to me.  He is a fantastic teacher and business man and talent.  He did not unleash new DJ's on customers unless he was sure they were totally ready.  After every gig, he reviews with his DJ's.

My goal was to be sure the bride floated out of the room on Cloud Nine when she left the reception, having had a wonderful time.  I also wanted the groom and the families happy and all the guests to have a truly good time.  Something for everyone.

So... I'm sharing some quickly typed up information in case you are getting married and/or planning a wedding reception where you would like to have a professional Mobile DJ Service provide their services.  I suggest you might give this a read, it might give you some ideas or questions you can go over with your own DJ provider, to make sure you have a great time.  I wish you joy.

Is someone going to "coordinate" the whole reception for you as a "live" leader from the time the help sets up to guests leave? Will these duties be shared amongst some family member/s, caterer, and the DJ? or an emcee?  Just wonderin.

A fact that always amazed me was that no matter how many wedding receptions people had been to, even the parents, when the real thing began, they all got amnesia and did not know what to do, when to do it, or how to make the reception go smoothly, this is where I would step in and "run" the reception for them coordinating with the caterer and photog and family and friends. They were always extremely grateful to have someone who was not in shock and knew what to do take charge at the event.  A quick rundown of things that usually happen at a reception is:

Bride and groom are spotted approaching the door, a look out tells the DJ who plays the wedding march as they enter the reception, and announces them over speakers as married couple name.

DJ then makes announcements or gives mike to family rep who tells attendees when food line will be open, when toast will be, there will be pauses for photo ops, and announcements soo everyone will know when cutting cake, feeding each other pieces, opening of food buffet or food is served, make sure everyone gets a drink ready for the toast, toasts (usually after people have their food ready to eat) then everyone eats including couple, then photo ops with couple.

Dj or one running schedule makes sure to check with photog and caterer all the time to be sure they are getting enough time for each step.

When people are mostly done eating, should do removing of the garter, tossing of bouquet, announce that there will be first dance, dad/daughter dance and mom/son dance if doing that, money dance if doing that, then ask all guests to stay and enjoy dancing and food until hall has to be vacated, couple may sneak out at any time then or after they have done some fun dances with friends and family such as hokey pokey, shout, maybe a stroll line, polka, in the mood.

Music for older guests should be played early on cuz they want to go home. :) oh yeah, older folks like the lights on full to dance, younger ones like it real dark.  If you want the scene where friends \fam see you off in car, then announce when leaving so they can go outside (take pics inside if already dark) if not leaving early, then can circulate to all tables.

Some people open presents, some don't.  Just be sure someone is watching them, strangers will walk in to reception or church and just pick up envelopes or gifts and walk off with them.
If you are not going to open them at reception, then have a trusted person pack them up and take them home and lock them up.  IF there are any family sensitive issues, be sure they are discussed with DJ, caterer, photog, in advance of reception start, so they do what bride and groom want.

Usually DJ takes cues from whomever is paying them, unless bride overrides it.  It is critically important to get this settled and clear up front with everyone.  You don't want the paid people trying to follow conflicting orders. Be sure each paid person knows who is going to pay them and when, and you be sure its provided for, if you are leaving early.

And an outline should be made on paper for the emcee/dj/reception leader whoever it is, to go by.  Dont be afraid to put times on it, what time to start each thing, how long to allow etc.  This will help emcee.  Even how you want the Bride and Groom announced in terms of married names.

The special family gotchas include: Such as only announce certain peoples names, don't do certain family dances, don't let certain guests on the microphone, etc. to keep the peace or whatever. The Bride & Or the person paying gets to decide.

Just remember that a great reception is kept moving along promptly with a good emcee or dj or family member running things and doing announcing of how things will go, what is coming up so can get cameras ready, get your drink, get in place, go to bathroom, etc. a well informed crowd is a happy crowd, and couple gets all their photos and everything runs smoothly and they either dance their buns off with their friends and family till the wee hours, or get the main things done dance a little then do your escape.

Be sure someone is in charge of cleanup and being sure place is vacated on time, dont you do that. lean on your friends, they want to help.  Remember the DJ and caterer need "load out" time with the lights on, before doors are locked.

Turning lights low can get people to dance.  Happy couple going to tables and taking people by hands can start dance floor filling.  I would usually play softer slower love mood music before and after couple arrived while people eating and rituals observed, and make sure I had gone over the couples music list for first song etc. and faves they wanted to be sure got played.

I always took requests pleasantly and said I'd see what I could do to work them in to the choices the couple really loved. If people requested songs the couple wanted anyway, I'd announce them as requests by so and so, or by the couple. :) People are happy if the DJ takes their request and smiles and sincerely says they'll try.  If it does not get played, it's not that bad, especially if the DJ shows the requestor the list of music the married couple has requested.

If you are not having a pro DJ service, but a friend do music, then have an outgoing, bossy but nice family member or friend do the emceeing to keep the reception clicking along.  Everyone leaves happy, especially the bride and groom floating on air happy, knowing their reception went well and was fun.

So it's important to have someone "run" it live at the time, not too bossy, but keeping things moving and reminding everyone what happens next, giving time for photos both by photog and family snaps.  These are the receptions everyone remembers as being a blast, whether they end with small groups of family and friends sitting drinking and yakking in the dim light or younger friends dancing their asses off until they are kicked out of the place.

Whether the couple leaves early to go on trip, or go home and change, whether they come back or not, having someone "run" it gives the bride and groom peace of mind that all will get done and they dont have to worry.  If you are paying for catering, dj, photog etc. it can't hurt to remind them before reception that their most important goal is to have the bride and groom float out the door on cloud nine, it is your special day! Everything else should be geared to that.

Second is to have all your guests be happy and have fun in their own ways.  And to let your friends participate and feel needed and that they helped if they want to.  I hope you'll have a wonderful day full of love.  Any bad weather will miss you completely or just serve to make the air smell fresh and clean.

Don't forget, if you and your family had a good time thanks to the DJ service, write them an actual letter they can use as a reference, and recommend them to your friends. They get most of their business that way.

Some wedding reception songs that used to be good in the eighties (most of them).  Sorry I'm not "up" on the nineties and later.  Most Pro DJ Services have song lists to give you organized by theme and time period etc. and you just check off songs you like.

if you leave, OMD, love mood
take my breath away, Berlin, love mood
celebrate, kool and the gang, dance floor filler
old time rock and roll, bruce springsteen, dance floor filler
in the mood, glenn miller orchestra, big band swing for older peeps, fills the floor
the stripper, David Rose, good for mood for removing the garter
beer barrel polka, frankie yankovic, polka for older
who stole the keishka?, frankie yankovic, polka (who stold the big old sausage)
jump (for my love), pointer sisters, dance floor filler
dancing on the ceiling, lionel richie, great following jump especially mixed in
Daddy's Little Girl, great for father daughter dance
Mother, Pal and Sweetheart, great for mother son dance
you can't touch this, fun time dance
hokey pokey, fun group dance all ages
cotton eyed joe, rednex, fast dance
brick house, commodores, floor filler
you dropped a bomb on me, floor filler
west end girls, pet shop boys, old fave
don't go, yaz, old new age dance fave
Bela Lugosi's Dead, Bauhaus, for the goths and vampires in the house
How soon is now, the Smiths, another for the odd bunch
Relax, frankie goes to hollywood, floor filler dance
you spin me right round, dead or alive, dance club floor filler, not that flo rid a crud
takin care of business, bachman turner overdrive, floor filler
what you need, inxs, popular dance
the men all pause, klymaxx, popular dance
nasty, janet jackson, pop dance
hound dog, elvis
one thing leads to another, the fixx, good dance
don't stop believin, journey, very popular again
r.o.c.k. in the u.s.a. mellencamp, popular
addicted to love, robert palmer, popular dance
we got the beat, the gogo's, floor filler
beat it, michael jackson, popular dance
rock lobster, the b52-s, classic
love shack, b52's, classic
word up! cameo, great dance
Get down tonight, KC and the sunshine band, floor filler
footloose, kenny loggins, everybody knows,
wonderful tonight, clapton, slow dance
unchained melody, righteous brothers, slow dance everyone knows
get this party started, pink, floor filler  (okay this one is modern)
shout, isley brothers, from animal house soundtrack is best, group dance favorite
your song, elton john, slow dance
love train, the ojays, old favorite
respect, arethra franklin, old favorite
the twist, chubby checker, older people may dance
shake your body down to the ground, jackson five, good dance
how will I know?, whitney houston, old fave
my heart will go on, celine dion, slow love song, or can use dance mix
Holiday, Madonna, floor filler
Into the groove, Madonna, floor filler

 Copyright 2011 VROUK

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