After getting engaged the first thing most couples decide on is the actual wedding date, then booking the wedding reception venue. Next up is typically a photographer and entertainment. Some might think it is too early to book your wedding DJ that far in advance, but it is not!

There are only so many Saturday’s in a year, and when you find a DJ company you want to work with, you don’t want to lose that date, so book at least 8 months in advance, 10 or 12 months is even better! Think of it this way, do you want your second or third choice for a DJ? If you wait too long that is what might happen.

For many couples getting married, their wedding will be their first experience hiring a DJ. It’s only natural not to know what to be looking for and what questions you should be asking. Keep in mind that the entertainment at your wedding reception makes up 80% of its success!

In Montreal when we speak of a wedding DJ, typically it means a DJ and an MC team, or a DJ who will also act as the Master of Ceremonies for your wedding. You will hear terms like one-man-show and two-man-show. A one-man-show, means there is one person acting as the DJ and MC. With only one person performing both these roles the MC is not able to connect with your audience as they will need to remain behind their DJ booth to control the music while speaking. Having a two-man-show means the DJ and MC are two people. The MC is able to walk out onto the dance floor and participate with your guests. When the MC is able to interact with guests it makes for a more natural experience. Communication is key here though, make sure to ask your DJ if they MC or provide an MC, as some do not MC at all.

What happens if someone (a friend or family member) volunteers to be the MC at your wedding? Should you do it? I would recommend against this, here’s why. Being an MC is harder than it looks and it is not the same as public speaking. Unless they have formal training in being a Master of Ceremonies, would you trust them to keep the night flowing smoothly? To get everyone’s attention when needed and to clearly communicate what is happening? The MC’s role is really to help the audience feel engaged with, and feel informed about, everything that is happening.

The MC should also be coordinating with your other vendors. So many photographers are surprised (and grateful) when I notify them a few minutes before I announce the first dance (or another important moment). They are used to the MC simply announcing the special moment without staging the moment, and not letting them know so they can catch that perfect picture! For me, making sure the team you hired knows what I will do next is crucial.

Here are a few more things your Master of Ceremonies should be responsible for:

  • Communicate with the Maitre D’ throughout the dinner service
  • Keep the wedding reception flowing
  • Keep the audience informed
  • Keep the energy and enthusiasm of the audience high
  • Help the speakers feel appreciated
  • Smooth over any problems, so no one ever notices

A wedding is not the same as a corporate event, or a birthday party or an engagement party. Weddings are a special type of event for many reasons. The age range is the widest at weddings, the level of formality is typically the highest and so is the sentiment level. Then there are the expectations – you expect everything to be perfect.

What does that all mean? It means that you should do some research about the DJ you want to hire. Search for them on the web, on Facebook and YouTube (or Vimeo). Look for photos and videos from previous events. Watching their videos is a great way to see their style in action. Don’t forget to look for testimonials and reviews on Wedding Wire too!

DJ’s who are great in clubs are not always great in a wedding environment. Many DJ companies will say they specialize in weddings and sweet sixteen’s and bar mitzvahs and corporate events. How can they specialize in more than one thing? They can’t. They can perform at many types of events, but can only really specialize in one. The crowds are simply too different.

A DJ who specializes in weddings will know how move the night along at different paces, to allow those special moments to become truly special. At weddings there are always so many things happening that crowds move on and off the dance floor, and your DJ must react to that.

A wedding DJ will be able to help you plan out your reception timeline. Mixing all the formalities with fun games and dancing can be tricky. Plan too many speeches back to back and your guests might get bored. Plan too many games or too much dancing between courses and you might not be giving your guests enough time to digest and mingle. Your DJ and/or MC should be asking you what is the desired pace and energy level you want to create during the meal. Knowing that, how many speeches there will be, and what other special moments need to happen, your DJ can help create a timeline that creates those highs and lows that make a three dinner feel like one!

Another factor to be aware of when shopping for a wedding DJ is, the size of the company that you will be dealing with. Most of the time, companies will have numerous DJs working for them and the person that you will be dealing with will be the coordinator… Not the actual DJ or MC. This person will be the main animator of your special day so it is important that you know exactly who that person is! Is she/he going to mesh with your guests? Will they understand the type of wedding day that you are aiming for? Will you get along with their personality? These are all important things to know and you should not be finding out the answers on the day of your wedding! What would happen if someone shows up at your wedding, and for some odd reason, you absolutely hate the way they speak? Or worse, their level of energy is simply too overwhelming for your calm-tempered guests?

On the other hand, there are smaller DJ companies. Some smaller wedding DJ companies will only do one wedding per day, where you work one on one with the DJ and/or MC throughout the entire process. Why does this matter? It is the only way for your DJ and MC to get to know you!

By spending time with you throughout the planning process your DJ and MC will be able to learn details about you that they can use at your reception. By getting to know you, learning about friends and family, out of town guests, hearing stories, musical tastes, games to play, these are the details that can be used to make your wedding reception unique.

Wedding DJ’s aren’t only about the party however. One often overlooked portion of the night is the dinner. The music that is played during the meal is just as important as the fun party music that will come later. On top of choosing the songs that are appropriate for a wedding during the meal, the volume of the music during the meal is even more important! Have you ever been to a wedding where the DJ had the music way too loud during dinner? Having to yell at your tablemates is not fun.

Take the time to research your wedding DJ and meet more than one company before making a decision. Make sure to ask your potential wedding DJ these questions:

  • Will they actually be the DJ and/or MC at your wedding?
  • Will they have backup equipment on site?
  • Do they hold proper liability and equipment insurance?
  • Do they have the proper music licensing (CONNECT music licensing in Canada)?
  • Are they a member of a DJ association (CDJA or CPDJA)?
  • Do they have a contract and clause in case they do not show up?
  • What kind of attire do they wear?

Some of these questions might seem silly, or too detailed, but they are not. Remember how high your expectations are going to be for your wedding? Having a DJ that can answer these questions will help you choose a DJ who cares about doing things professionally, will be prepared and invested in the outcome of your reception.

Some venues are beginning to ask DJ’s to show proof of insurance before entering their premises, don’t get stuck with an uninsured DJ!

So, to summarize, a wedding DJ is more than just music, it is:

  • Understanding the kind of reception you want to have
  • Helping you plan the reception timeline
  • Knowing some of your personal tastes
  • Knowing how to pace the night
  • Acting as the Master of Ceremonies
  • Coordinating with other vendors on site
  • Being able to cater to a wide range of ages musically
  • Being aware of the volume in the room
  • And of course, smiling and having fun with the crowd!

Stefan Jez is a Wedding DJ and MC specialist with over 20 years experience, operating in and around the Montreal area. Stefan is a member of the CDJA and certified Marbecca Silver Master of Ceremonies. Contact Stefan to find out how he will deliver More Than Just Music for your wedding!

If you are looking for a wedding DJ in Montreal, Brossard, Laval, Rigaud, Tremblant or Ottawa, Uptown Xpress is your best choice for an unforgettable wedding entertainment experience. We are one of the most popular wedding MC’s and DJ’s in Montreal, contact Stefan at 514-297-3508 or to begin your experience today!