Being asked to be a friend’s wedding DJ and host when you’re not a professional wedding DJ is a huge honor – and a huge job, especially if you don’t know how to hang up a wedding. The couple obviously think high enough of you to trust you to keep a great mood throughout the wedding and think that you are responsible enough to put such an important aspect of the event in your trusting hands. While this may sound a little intimidating, my intention is not to freak you out … well, to be honest, it kind of is.

Here’s the thing – I’ve seen many different types of DJs at weddings, including many who aren’t professional DJs. It takes a special person to be a successful DJ, but the most successful DJs aren’t the ones who are incredibly funny, charming, or talented as most people think. The best DJs are those who take their role really seriously, plan ahead and understand the logistical side of an event.

When I coordinate a wedding, the DJ and I always work very closely together and together we make sure that everything goes according to plan. While it looks pretty effortless, there is a lot of pre-planning and work behind the scenes to make sure it looks like this.

So here’s what it takes to be an incredibly cool DJ at a friend’s wedding, and when I say “DJ” I’m also including all of the non-professional presenters in the world. Whether you’re using an iPod to hang up the wedding or are a step – or a few steps – away from being Sir Mix-a-Lot, these tips will ensure that your wedding debut as a DJ absolutely rocks.

1. Be a team player

When you hang up a wedding, you are a very important part of a large orchestrated event. This means that whatever you do should be a contribution to the wedding team (which is made up of all wedding providers and helpers). The common goal of all is to help the couple have a smooth, enjoyable wedding and you want to focus on how you can work with others to make it happen. It’s never a good idea to make decisions independently, do something as a surprise that only you know about, or do something else that could turn your teammates upside down.

2. Be super prepared

The DJ’s preparation for a wedding should start weeks in advance. Check with the wedding coordinator or couple about your exact responsibilities, make sure you have the necessary equipment, and come up with a plan for how you will be set up at the venue, including the location of the power source and cables that you will use must be connected to the sound system.

3. Know the timeline

The most important aspect of being a DJ is knowing that you are largely responsible for the smooth running of the event, and you can only do this if you know the full schedule for the event. That way, you’ll know how best to deal with any minor hiccups along the way without affecting your next steps in the timeline. Be sure to bring a copy of the timeline (or even two!) And refer to it throughout the wedding.

4. Be flexible

This really is such an important property because often no matter how much is planned in advance for an event, decisions still have to be made. Have your timeline, stick to it, but be ready to roll with the beats as needed. Before playing an important song (like the first dance) or making an announcement to get the crowd’s attention (like an absolutely epic mother-and-son dance), always check with the wedding coordinator first to make sure every other member of the wedding team is ready. It may take the caterer a few more minutes to put the finishing touches on the food, or it may take the photographer a few minutes to prepare the shot. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and hang up.

With that in mind, you should never have enough songs for the length of the wedding. Make sure you have backup music in case any part of the wedding lasts longer and you can add it to your set if needed.

5. Go through the entire event in your head

When preparing for a wedding as a DJ, you want to imagine how the entire event will go and anticipate where the hiccups can occur. What will you do if the song ends before the bride walks down the aisle? If you are playing music at the ceremony location and need to move your equipment to the receiving location, how do you pack it up and then quickly set it up again? Do you need someone to help you? What if it rains What will you do to protect your equipment and make sure there is music for the ceremony and / or reception? Professional DJs always have the answers to these questions, and walking through the day and anticipating problems in advance prepares you like a pro.

6. Read the crowd and the event

As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to check in with the wedding coordinator throughout the event, but you’ll also want to take the time to see how things are going overall. As the poet John Donne said, “Nobody is an island,” and that’s absolutely true when you’re working on a wedding. Take your time and look around to see how things are going. Are there people on the dance floor? If not, make sure you play songs that will get people to the dance floor. Do the waiters look calm or are they scurrying around for something? If so, ask the coordinator whether the cake will be cut on time. This will help you see your place in the bigger picture and help you come up with some tweaks to keep things running smoothly, rather than just removing items from the timeline. A great DJ watches how things are going and adjusts his sails (and songs) accordingly.

7. Remember, this is not about you

Lastly, remember that you are a member of a team that is trying to help your friends have the best possible wedding day. It’s your job to help make the event run smoothly, and contrary to what many people believe, it’s not your job to entertain the crowd – it’s the couple who lead the crowd with their first dance, cake cutting, and any other surprises that come with the crowd they have to be entertained their sleeves for the wedding.

When people start thinking that being a DJ means being an entertainer, things go wrong: inappropriate jokes are made on a whim, the timeline goes out of the window, and unnecessarily long monologues become awkward.

When it comes to first time DJing for a wedding, less is more. Of course, if you just make things go the way they’re supposed to, guests will think you’re fun, charming, talented, and all the other good things that they associate with DJs. And most importantly, remember to have some fun. If you’re having fun, everyone else will too.

Images: artistfilms / Pixabay; Unsplash / Pixabay; Unsplash / Pixabay; OmarMedinaRD / Pixabay; Vlad-Style / Pixabay; kbatx / Pixabay

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