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I often get calls or emails from couples who have an idea the DJ should start at 8pm, or with the first dance.  Sometimes it’s the venue that suggested it, perhaps the wedding planner, or any number of wedding magazine or online planning articles.

Someone recently contacted me needing a Wedding DJ to play a song for their ceremony, dinner music, and be finished by 12 midnight.  With a 5pm ceremony start time, they suggested it was only 8 hours work for me.

So let’s break that down –
5pm to 12am is 7 hours.  That leaves one hour to:

  • test equipment – lighting, sound, music, etc
  • load equipment into the vehicle
  • drive to the event
  • roll equipment into the venue (this particular venue was a looooong load in down twisty corridors miles from any parking)
  • set up
  • change into professional attire (at least a suit, tie, shiny shoes right?)
  • pack up at the end of the night and roll gear out again

That’s all part of the event, indirectly or otherwise and while DJs don’t usually charge separately or itemise those, it’s all time beyond the “press play” portion of the event.

But wait – there’s more!

How long does that ceremony song need to be?  How many bridesmaids?  What about music while signing the legal documentation?  The guests might like to hear what’s going on, so why don’t we use a wireless microphone?  And at the end of the ceremony, should I be playing something (recessional) there too?  How will the celebrant end the ceremony?  That would be great information to have, sure makes it easier to start that recessional song spot on cue.

On the surface, much of what I do looks easy but for years I’ve promoted my service as being “more than just press play”.  I am ready before the first guest arrives at a wedding, but before I’ve even arrived at the wedding venue, I come prepared.  Preparation is one of the things you can’t put into a timeline, and this means:

  • When I start, I know the MCs name (if I’m not the master of ceremonies at that wedding) and usually have had some contact with them.
  • I know not only what the first dance is, but exactly where the couple needs to be on the floor before starting that song.
  • I know if I’m inviting other guests to join them during the first dance and at what point.
  • I know which songs NOT to play (“do not play” lists are arguably more important than request lists).
  • I’ve shared advice with the bride about what she will probably find the hardest part of the day and then given ideas that in most cases help her relax. (go on – ask me)
  • I’ve met with the couple more than once and have a good grasp of what’s most important to them about the day, and why certain things are happening in a specific way.
  • I know their timeline which means I can help the MC if and when and where needed, ensuring the photographer, videographer, venue/catering staff, and any VIPs are ready and aware before any important moments take place.
  • There’s more…. much more.

These things all take time, it’s called preparation, and it’s NEVER a consideration when someone tries to dictate how long a DJ’s workday will be.

It doesn’t really matter what the DJ charges or how many hours are on the contract – how much work are they really doing for you?  What went on behind the scenes before the guests arrived that make everything look so seamless and easy?  Isn’t that alone worth something?

Not all DJs care or understand how privileged they are to be part of such a special event.

Not all DJs are created equal.

Not all DJs know how to do anything more than just music.

Some DJs really shouldn’t do more.

If all you really want is someone to turn up and press play, then yes, those guys are out there.  As long as you are making an informed decision and know you have choices.  A lot of choices.  When it comes to DJ hire in Auckland there is probably more that 50 different DJ options including the multi-DJ company DJs, single operator DJs, fly-by-night DJs, sometimes-radio-DJ-sometimes-nightclub-DJ-so-why-not-a-wedding-DJ, just do it for fun DJs, beer money DJs, just starting out DJs, how-hard-can-it-be-DJs, trainee DJs, never done a wedding DJs, out-of-town DJs, and Nick Logan Wedding Dj (hello!).

But putting all of the above aside, we still haven’t talked about the immeasurable factor – “experience”.  How do you factor experience into that original 8 hour math?

When something happens that nobody could prepare for, experience determines the outcome.

I hope this helps!

Thoughts?  Comment below.


Nick Logan
Auckland Wedding DJ