Hey Mr. DJImage credit: Bruce Harrison DJ/MC

The task of choosing a professional wedding DJ or wedding band for your special day can be overwhelming. As Emily Sparshott discovers, a DJ at the decks can offer more than simply spinning your favourite tunes.

When picturing your ideal wedding, there will be certain elements that will make your day unique. What reflects you are all the little things, whether your wedding follows a certain theme, is held in a special location or caters for small or large numbers.

Music is one important aspect of your wedding planning that deserves consideration. Special songs, bands and genres provide significant meaning to certain couples. How your day is presented with music, therefore, is a vital factor to think about.

Bruce Harrison is an experienced wedding DJ and MC, having been in the business for more than a decade. Here, Melbourne Wedding & Bride chats to Harrison to discover the benefits of hiring a DJ for your wedding, and why choosing one can be vital to the success of your celebrations.

When it comes to planning wedding music, couples have two choices: a band or a wedding DJ. Bands can offer certain benefits, such as live performances and personality. However, a professional wedding DJ offers a myriad of benefits too.

Furthermore, choosing a band can prove to be tricky, especially if they adhere to a specific musical genre. However, opting for a professional DJ eliminates the possibility of committing to a band’s style and music taste.

“I love music in most incarnations … being predominantly a wedding DJ, I play a wide variety of music to cater to all generations,” Harrison explains.

Wedding bands tend to limit the variety of music available on the day. They are also usually only available for your reception. This may leave the processional music in the hands of a guest, which is a less than ideal situation! This is where the help of a professional wedding DJ comes in handy.

“When a client engages my services, I am exclusively theirs for the entire day,” Harrison says.

“I often play the ceremony music, as well as cater for the wedding reception entertainment.

“What I really love about being there for the ceremony is I feel that I am involved in the whole day. If I’m only doing the reception entertainment, it’s like coming in half-way through a movie. I feel like I’m missing a lot of the background story.”

Once you have decided on hiring a DJ, the first – and arguably most important – step is to meet with the DJ to discuss your preferences and vision.

“I always ask my clients to provide me with approximately 20 of their favourite songs, bands or artists, in addition to them choosing the ‘special songs’ for their reception, [including] the bridal waltz, entrance songs, etc,” Harrison says.

“I also ask that they let me know what songs they don’t want to hear at their wedding! This gives me an idea of their music preferences and allows me to ‘read’ the dancefloor, which is a DJ’s most valuable skill.”

What makes a wedding DJ so versatile is their ability to gauge the atmosphere of the room. Then, to dramatically change the vibe by switching to relaxed and romantic or energetic and lively. As Harrison says, it’s best to provide your DJ with a comprehensive list of likes and dislikes. This ensures your day is exactly how you pictured.

As there is a plethora of DJs and MCs ripe for the picking, it’s important you are well-prepared when deciding on your musical match. Get the most out of your Dj, with these tips from Harrison.

“With entertainment being responsible for so much of the success of a wedding, it’s vitally important that your entertainer understands exactly what you and your partner are looking for. And of course, that they fulfil or exceed that obligation on the day,” Harrison explains.

“Always do your research first. Use Google, look for online reviews [and] search wedding forums. Once you have a shortlist [of DJs], either phone or send an email – but please don’t just ask about price; ask about [their] value.

“Prices for wedding DJs vary significantly and in most cases, the more experienced professional DJ will charge more than the cheaper hobby DJ, because they provide more value.”

Building a rapport with your wedding DJ is paramount. This will be the key to ensuring you are both on the same page when it comes to conveying a certain message and theme.

As Harrison recommends, “scheduling a friendly meeting with a professional wedding entertainer prior to you signing a contract is always a good idea”. This will help to establish whether or not you should invest your time and money into certain DJs.

Finally, Harrison provides some fundamental questions you should ask your DJ before booking with them:

“Do they connect with you? Are they committed to your wedding? Do they seem genuinely excited about being the entertainer at one of the most important days of your life?”

The bottom line is that your music should be entertaining and meaningful. What your wedding DJ plays should translate what you are trying to convey on the day.

As Harrison acknowledges, “the unique thing about music is that it moves people – it can create a new experience or recall an emotional [and] sometimes very powerful memory.”

A professional like Harrison will ensure your wedding soundtrack is presented seamlessly. Well-presented music will also allow you to make fond new memories.

As Harrison quips, it is important for couples to “stop for a moment once in a while to take a mental photograph of all the people who have come to celebrate with you.

“And finally, dance … a lot.”