Don’t leave it to chance!
Hiring a strong team of vendors to work closely with you before your wedding, and behind the scenes for you the day-of are KEY to ensuring a smooth-flowing and stress-free wedding day!
Understanding the role of your DJ/MC!
Even if you’ve hired a professional wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you’ll be looking to the DJ/MC you select to help you design & execute a flow for the entertainment portion of your wedding day.
Understanding the roll of dynamics and mood in transitioning from one part of your event to another is super-important!
Keep guests involved, informed & engaged
Your guests should never be left looking around, just staring at their phones, or each other, wondering what’s going on, or what will happen next.
Getting the Ball Rolling
Once your reception is underway, knowing how to take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of each event, every special dance, and every wedding tradition is critical.
Wedding Reception Transitions
Since wedding receptions are most often chock-full of different special events requiring changes in tempo and mood, and even breaks in music altogether, the understanding of how to make these transitions smoothly becomes crucial. Your guests should feel like they are along for the ride at your celebration – not like they are being pulled along or forced to stop abruptly throughout the night.
The following is a sample time line using this approach, my “Dance Theory” if you will, and is an example of how to design an event flow that uses music thoughtfully to transition between certain parts of your reception. There are no rules of course, and I will always work with you to construct the event flow that is right for you and your guests. The below is only a general guideline meant to give an insight into the thoughtful, careful use of musical transitions throughout your event.
First Dance – For the sake of our example, we’ll start the timeline here.
Transition/Build – Build into upbeat, open dancing slowly or quickly. You decide what feels right for you and your guests. I have different ideas about how to draw your guests to the dance floor to kick off dancing. And no… they don’t include cheesy “snowball” games or putting anyone on the spot. Ask me!
First Open Dance Segment – Keep to slightly older, more accessible, and familiar mid-tempo music to encourage dancing by older folks and those who might tend to leave earlier, and/or may not dance to newer or faster music.
Wind-Down – There are times, for example, when getting ready to stop music for cake cutting, etc. that you want to wind down your upbeat, open dancing. This will provide a nice slow transition, and will eventually (by design) clear guests off the floor. Use parent dances, anniversary dances, money/dollar dances, etc. for this effect. For money/dollar-dances, stick to slower songs, so there is not an abrupt STOP when moving to cake cutting, and also because all your guests want to share this time with you, and not all folks (think older) will necessarily be comfortable with high-paced fast dance selections and may not come up to dance with you to faster songs.
Tosses – Use tosses, traditionally high-energy and emotionally charged events, involving several people on the dance-floor, to segue back into open dancing.
Second Open Dance Segment – PARTY! This second dance set is when you would start to pump it up with the newer songs, more dance/club/top-40 music for younger generations, current radio music and the hard-rock party fav’s.
At this point, all that “wedding stuff” is over and its time to let go and really just spend the night dancing and hanging out with your family and friends.
Wind-Down… or Climax… YOU Decide! – Use Last Dance and Last Song of the Night (if applicable/different) to slow back down in preparation for the end of the event. As an alternative to the wind-down, you could choose to end your celebration on a high-note with real high-energy selections right up to the end to leave everyone wanting more.
The time your guests are having when your reception ends or when they leave will likely play a large role in their lasting impressions of your celebration, so leaving them jumping and asking for more can be a good thing!
In the end, just remember: there ARE NO RULES! There is only what works best for you, your guests, and your event! My expertise is geared towards helping you find, and achieve that perfect balance!
Everyone on your guest list is very special. Whether they’re close friends or family, you want to make the most of your time with them. And you want to be sure they have the best time possible!
- But how do we make the most of their time at the reception before the party even starts?
- What can we do about guests who may be prone to leave earlier on in the reception?
- WHO is most likely to leave before the party even gets started?
- How can we make them stay longer or, even better, GIVE THEM REASONS to stay longer?
To answer these questions, we need to first understand who is most likely to leave a wedding reception “early,” and WHY.
Once we know these things, we can give them reasons to stay longer, while maximizing their enjoyment of your celebration!
There’s no telling when folks might decide or start to leave, but it’s fairly common, and pretty widely accepted as a matter of wedding etiquette, that one can leave after the cake cutting. How can we use this in our favor? Let me show you!
There’re also ways to ensure that guests with young children hang around for the fun as well. I have tons of ideas!
The bottom line?
Guests who feel involved, and are being entertained and included, won’t want to leave when the DJ plays the last song of the night, let alone sooner!
I have lots of cool ideas to help make the most of various “down time” spots at a reception, and ideas on how to get your guests involved, engaged, and interacting with one-another.
If you’re interviewing DJs for your wedding, be sure to ask each of them what types of ideas they have in this area, and ask the for suggestions on how to maximize your guests’ stay and enjoyment at your wedding. They should be able to rattle off several ideas & suggestions as easily as if they were telling you what they had for breakfast that day. If you’re met with something like a “deer-in-headlights” look (“Umm, well…”), it might be good idea to keep looking.
Here are some fun out-of-the-box ideas from TLC on keeping your guests engaged at your reception as well.
If you are in need of DJ & Entertainment services for your upcoming wedding, I’d be honored if you’d consider my services.
This is an important question, and one you should be asking all your DJ candidates. Hopefully, they have a really good answer!
Getting a dance floor started at a wedding can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Don’t let any other DJ tell you differently! The demographics of your audience, the day of the week, the time of day, the location and type of wedding venue… The list goes on and on.
One of those challenges, and perhaps the most difficult to overcome, is that no one wants to be the FIRST ONE to get out and dance!
Your DJ should be able to give you many different ideas on how to get your dance floor started on your wedding day. Most importantly, he or she should be able to get folks on the dance floor without resorting to cheesy or embarrassing routines, or putting anyone on the spot. It should be a natural-feeling progression for everyone involved, and all that is needed is to find creative ways to capitalize on your guests’ innate desire to help you celebrate. After all, that IS why they’re there in the first place!
I’ll focus on one such idea here, and this is just one suggestion to get your dance floor started.
Let’s imagine YOUR wedding day…
All eyes are on you because you just shared your first dance together, and emotions in the room are high. Your dance song fades, and I (yes ME, your DJ, RIGHT…?) remain silent and let nature take its course. The whole room erupts into applause!
Then, as this applause fades out, I congratulate you both. While you remain on the dance floor, I then invite ALL of the other couples present to JOIN YOU on the dance floor to share a slow dance with you on your wedding day!
VIOLA! You get an INSTANT packed dance floor, and it feels completely natural to everyone involved because this dance is something you wanted to share with them, and is something they’ll want to share with YOU on your special day! That IS why they’re there after all, right – to share such moments with you!
Even though you and I know it’s intentional and strategically planned, it doesn’t feel that way to your guests.
This idea is great for several reasons:
1) You get an INSTANT packed dance floor! After that slow song, I go right into an upbeat dance selection, and people keep moving. We start dancing the night away!
2) It gives older friends and family, and folks who might not consider themselves “dancers” a chance to get out on the floor and share a dance with their special someone. We’ll have more slow songs and all types of genres throughout the night, but this dance is a nice way for people to feel comfortable on the floor without feeling that all eyes are on them.
3) It makes a GREAT photo-op for your photographer! They get to start the night off with a fantastic shot of a PACKED dance floor with you sharing an intimate time with all who are closest to you!
There are other variations of this technique that I’d love to share with you, but this one is by far the most popular and commonly picked by my couples because of it’s effectiveness, and subtlety.
More than “just music.”
So you see, finding a great DJ is about more than finding someone to “play some music” and “make some announcements.”
It’s about finding someone who understands the psychology of your guests, and who knows how to guide the flow of your wedding from beginning to end to make sure that everyone is involved and has the best time possible at your wedding!
Sure, a DJ can get your dance floor filled without employing a creative strategy like the one above, but how long will it take them to get that first, second, and third person on the floor? How many different songs and genres will they cycle through – each one making the whole thing more and more awkward for you, and your guests – before they find one that will actually get someone to come to the floor? This is the type of situation you can easily avoid by making sure your DJ has a solid plan that MAKES SENSE when you ask them this important question.
Want more cool ideas like this?
I’ve got ’em, and I’d love to discuss them with you! My planning materials cover all types of different scenarios and key questions to help you & your guests get the most out of your wedding day celebration!
If you are in need of DJ & Entertainment services for your upcoming wedding, I’d be honored if you would consider my services.
Okay, I admit it. I like cookies.
No… I LOVE cookies!
With many DJ services though, the planning process, and indeed the wedding day itself, kinda looks and feels just like this picture.
How do we break the cycle? How do we make sure your wedding is not only customized, but PERSONALIZED?
What IS the difference? (Hint: Ask the other DJs. If they don’t know the difference, you certainly won’t SEE the difference on your wedding day!)
Call me, let’s chat! 916.223.4508
As a wedding DJ, I’ll occasionally be asked to give a Last Call for the bar. Usually the request comes from a well-meaning staff member at a venue. They ask me to do it because, well, it’s something they’re just “used to doing.”
While it may be convenient for the venue and bar staff, doing a Last Call over the mic can have unintended effects on your celebration. Unless one is well-versed or experienced in designing, nurturing, and maintaining the flow and continuity of the entertainment portion of special events like weddings, we might not necessarily anticipate what those adverse effects might be.
That’s why it’s so important you work with an experienced team of vendors to help you stage the best reception possible, and to help you get the most out of it right until the very end!
If you’d like to let your guests know when the bar will be closing, consider a nice, simple sign like the one below as an alternative to having your DJ announce the last call over the microphone.
This has approach has several benefits.
- Heads-Up. It’s let your guests know ahead of time, and early on when the bar will be closing so they can plan accordingly.
- Keep your dancefloor FULL! If we think about it, 30 minutes or so prior to closing is when last call usually occurs. But, that’s also when your party is (should be!) at it’s absolute PEAK on the dancefloor. Asking a DJ to make that announcement is really asking them to kill the dancefloor! Not literally what you’re asking of course, but that is most often an unintended consequence. Remember as well that those who are the most active on the floor until the very end are usually the ones who are already drinking the most!
- Maintains momentum. Making an announcement for a Last Call will send a large number of folks to the bar at once, causing a line. As a result, it’ll take longer to get everyone refocused, and re-engaged for the last few precious (and memorable, if you’re doing it right) moments of the party.
- Safety. Above all, encouraging or enabling “one last binge” right before closing means that those who probably should have stopped drinking earlier on will be going back for more. This could result in them, and perhaps others, being put at risk if they get behind the wheel.
From my experience, the best way to close the bar is either with a subtle sign like the one above, or with what’s called a “soft close” where no announcement is made at all, and the bartender just shuts things down naturally and quietly while everyone is working it out on the floor – getting ready to give YOU the ULTIMATE send off!
Isn’t that what the last few moments of the night should be about, after all?
Inspired by the musings of one of my favorite merry-making cohorts, and your best choice for Wedding DJ & MC Entertainment in Dayton, OH and beyond, Brian Harris Entertainment – Thanks, Brian!
I actually tied for 3rd place, alongside some very good friends of mine.
So, if you’re looking for one of the best Sacramento Wedding DJs around, you can rest assured that with Sounds To Go, you’ll be in good hands!
If that link doesn’t work, access the editions here.
Photo by & courtesy of, Kay Kroshus Photography
So much fun to be had at Brian & Carly’s wedding reception at Putah Creek Stables in Davis, CA!
Their ceremony was held at a local church, the same one Carly’s parents were married in over 30 years ago! Though I didn’t work with them on their ceremony at the church, I knew they’d have a wonderful service, because I have worked with their officiant Rev. Jeri Murphy many times before. I knew she’d send them off, and over to me at the reception in high style!
As guests arrived, we enjoyed a lot of classic rock, soul/R&B, and just the right mix of contemporary music for their cocktail hour, which carried over into dinner time as well.
Not so much for traditions for their own sake, Brian & Carly opted out of some of the more traditional wedding elements in favor of a more laid-back, party-type vibe that saw us dancing full-tilt and non-stop for almost 4 hours!
We knew going into the wedding that they really enjoyed older musics, and they really wanted a lot of throwback to 90’s through early 2000’s, and we had such an awesome time taking a stroll through all those fav’s while still mixing it up with just the right amount of contemporary hits and classic floor fillers.
If you’d enjoy more of a throwback vibe for your wedding or special event, we should DEFINITELY talk!
Have you ever wondered (okay, probably not, but I’m going to tell you anyway!) WHERE and HOW DJs get all their awesome music, and keep up with what’s hot?
How do professional DJs get all the hits BEFORE they’re hits, and before YOU want to hear them at your party, wedding, or special event?
With all the different genres and charts, keeping up on it all sure does seem like an impossible task. Heck, to do it right would be a full-time job all on its own!
Luckily for us DJs – AND OUR CLIENTS – there are folks who’s job is just that!
While DJs will get the occasional odd request or random new track from the same types of legal music purchasing outlets you would (iTunes, Amazon.com, etc.), once we have a solid physical library built, we keep ourselves current across all the major genres and radio formats by subscribing to weekly and monthly music services like Prime Cuts music, shown in the picture here.
Each week, I get access to the newest downloads, and then I get the discs as well!
Why is it better?
Using these subscription services is more efficient, and economical that trying to pay per-song for all of the songs you might need to get to keep up.
That’s one benefit for us that works its way down to you, but what does it mean for you and your event?
- We have access to new music QUICKER. We get the songs from the same services that release them to radio, so we don’t wait for a song to chart to realize “oooh, may I should get this!” At that point, it’s too late, and you, your friends, and family already know and want the song, and we’d have to lose time at your event to download it online, or worse, tell you “sorry, I don’t have that one!” (L.A.M.E.!)
- Clean edits! We get the edits that are released to radio, so they’re already pre-screened. In addition to the radio edits, some services, like one I belong to, edits songs even further to make them even more friendly to the types of functions (schools, family functions, etc.) that mobile DJ’s tend to do. You have to be careful with consumer outlets like iTunes, Amazon, etc. Many songs are tagged wrong, and you may think you’re getting a clean version, and you’re not. Or, you may get a version that says “clean,” but still has objectionable content because they only took out some of the potentially questionable content.
- Backup! Because I get discs with all of the new music each month in addition to weekly downloads, I have physical copies of all my new music, and music going back many years. If something were ever to happen to one of my computers or hard drives before an event (I have backups anyway), I wouldn’t LOSE any of my library or have to scramble to find my music. Having the physical copies means I always have my complete library at my disposal. iTunes and Amazon DJs who strictly download can’t say that.
- Faster than “The Cloud.” In the age where we can back everything up to the cloud, one might wonder why a DJ doesn’t just back their library up on the cloud. Many do. There are many great reasons to do this, but this is for archival purposes, and with the access times and bandwidth limitations involved in downloading music files, the cloud and cloud-based services are not an answer, or a solution, for quick recovery from a disaster. Besides, you certainly should not/would not want your DJ to be streaming the music for your event anyway. Regardless of the strength of the signal, we all know how wireless and data connections go. DJs should always play from local, physical (meaning physically-stored digital) libraries, and they should only download the occasional on-the-spot request at an event. They should never be streaming the song you’re dancing to RIGHT NOW. It’s not a matter of if, only when that goes bad. And when it does, it will be embarrassing and frustrating for everyone involved.
There are many such services available to professional DJs, not just the one I use. Some are highly specific, catering more to club and remix DJs. Others, like the service I use, focus on providing content to the mobile DJ who plays the songs people want to hear, the way they expect to her them, at all types of events. Don’t worry though – we still get enough remixes, dance-edits, and alternate versions to keep things interesting!
See more about my music library, learn more about the great care I take in helping you program your event, and see the latest charts on my website. If it’s listed in the weekly charts there, I have it for your special event, guaranteed!
As a wedding vendor, I often run into the perception that the size (guest count) of a wedding should matter, or make a difference, in the base rate a DJ would charge for a wedding.
While it’s definitely the case that pricing can and should reasonably go up with significantly larger crowd sizes, the fact of the matter is that size on the lower end of the scale really doesn’t matter, and isn’t really a factor in pricing at all.
To understand why, we need to look at different types of vendors and services that are usually used for weddings, we need to understand what makes them fundamentally different.
There are things that go into your wedding whose final price does depends almost entirely on how many guests you have, and hence “how much stuff” you need to rent or purchase.
Obvious examples of this are the total cost for meal service, costs for flowers, chair cover and linen rentals, etc. All of these are things that are based on a quantity of hard goods rented or purchased, or are consumable/disposable items that cost to produce, and that are gone once they are delivered or provided. These types of items that vary based on the “size” of your wedding are not at all analogous to DJ services, because we aren’t renting you “things,” and you aren’t purchasing single-serving-sized portion-packs of good times and fun.
What ARE we providing then, and what ARE you getting? Most accurately and succinctly, you’re hiring a talent-based creative and consultative service that culminates in a talent-based (hopefully, right?!) performance. Someone who consults with you to design and create a wedding day timeline and a flow that has several specific goals (“FUN” being among them) in mind. The time, talents, and experience required to do this, as well as executing the plan the day-of, do not vary based on the number of people who will be there having said fun.
Let’s look at it this way… Would your hairstylist or makeup artist charge differently if there are going to be 50 people looking at their work on your wedding day, versus 500? Chances are they won’t. And they shouldn’t! Why? Because you want to look just as fabulous for a small crowd of 40 friends and family as you would for a larger crowd of 200!
It’s all about the results, and we should be thinking of our DJ along these same lines.
As always, take the time to compare apples-to-apples in considering your services. Sure, some services will likely offer discounts or lower pricing for smaller-sized weddings, but these providers aren’t focused on giving you the time and attention your wedding day deserves, and are instead offering a bare-bones minimum of in just about every aspect of their service (“just music and some announcements”). Anyone offering more, and bringing more to the table to ensure the overall success of your wedding day for you and your guests, is going to have a minimum service rate that doesn’t drop once your guest count dips below a certain number.
Do you really want to sacrifice quality of service and the experience you want all your guests to have simply because there are fewer of them? That’s not a choice or reasonable compromise at all, really, but that’s what you’re going to end up with if you hire a service that drastically lowers their rate because you have “a smaller crowd.”
Of course, there are different sound and lighting options, etc. that will change based on guest count, how big your room or space is, what you would like for your event, etc., but we’re not talking about those types of “extras” here. Those things, understandably, make rates go up.
We’re talking about “FUN,” and until they find a way to vacuum seal that in handy, individual plastic pouches that we can hand out as favors at your wedding, we shouldn’t expect our professional DJ to charge any differently for 50 people than they do for 150. Because regardless of how many people you’re sharing your day with, every one of them should have the same great, uncompromising experience!