Last year I was at a wedding. The venue and the decoration were amazing, the dress was perfect, and the ceremony was lovely, but all I can think about when I remember the wedding is the awkward flow of the entire evening. It kept dragging on and on. It’s like no one was in charge. Are we cutting the cake next, or are we toasting? Then the wedding party just left for about 20 minutes to take pictures while the guests just sat around. When the reception finally started, the energy of the guests had run out. There were a few people on the dance floor, but the 60s and 70s music didn’t really fit the beautiful décor that had been thought out to perfection. Even though the wedding planners had put so much effort into planning the perfect day, my memory of the event was, “I hope I never have to do that again!”
What Makes a Great MC (Master of Ceremonies)?
- Sets the right tone for the wedding
- Connects and is able to read the crowd
- Progresses the event according to schedule
- Smooths gaps or lags during transitions
- Depending on your direction, the MC may fill in gaps with light humor.
What Makes a Great DJ (Disc Jockey)?
- Connects songs seamlessly including speed and key
- Reads and moves the crowd. Think full dance floor vs empty.
- Personalizes the music, schedule, and the mood for the bride and groom
- Feels out a crowd by testing different genres and keying into what makes them move.
- Balances personalization for bride and groom while providing maximum entertainment for the guests
It’s important to understand that the skills that make a great DJ and the skills that make a great MC are very different. If you are hiring the same person to do both, be on the lookout for someone that is skilled at both.
What does an MC and a DJ need from you to help you create a memorable event?
1. Know your program. What is the timing?
- Guest signing?
- Bouquet throw?
- First dance?
- Cake cutting?
- Will there be pauses in the action for things like pictures?
2. Know your feel. Think of your DJ as the entertainer for your party.
- Who will be attending?
- Will there be a lot of kids or mostly adults?
- Will it be a family friendly fun party, more of a formal traditional feel, casual, or some sort of hybrid? The more specific you are the more effective you will on hiring and directing your DJ.
3. Communicate the schedule with your MC and DJ. If there are lags in the programming for pictures or something else, communicate with your MC. Be clear on your schedule. A good MC will be ready to be flexible when something unexpected happens.
Beyond a search, where do I find a good DJ?
- Have you been to a reception that had a fantastic DJ?
- Ask around. Do any of your friends know a great DJ?
Budget For Your DJ and MC
Basing your decision solely on cost will lead to a less than memorable wedding. Some companies that specialize in weddings have people that do a great job playing both MC and DJ roles. Separating the roles for different people will likely land you hosts that are more skilled at each, but will increase your cost. You may even consider a family friend that has experience in public speaking as a host, and then just hiring the DJ. Most people plan to spend between $500 – and $2500 depending on the qualifications of the host(s) and the equipment needed.
Have you noticed when you are hiring someone, everyone sounds amazing? It’s important to try to figure out some good questions to ask in order to filter the good fit vs the poor fit. Here are a few questions for you to consider.
- Will you be our DJ or will someone else be assigned?
- How long have you been in business?
- What experience do you have hosting weddings?
- Is there a club or a public event we can come and watch? (DO NOT ask to be invited to a private party or a wedding… awkward!)
- What equipment will you be using? What do I need to budget for that?
- How do you handle requests?
- DO YOU LIKE THE DJs ENERGY? This one is key. If you like the DJs energy, chances are that your guests will too.
- What kind of budget do we need to plan if we hire you?
- Do you just play music or will you also MC.
- Do you have any samples I can listen to?
A good DJ and MC can help reduce stress for the bride and groom and really keep guests engaged. Keeping your guests engaged and having fun can change the whole energy level at your wedding that can be the difference between a somewhat awkward wedding vs a very memorable day that people remember for years to come.