Wedding Planning - Where to Start? Advice from MyDeejay

Newly engaged and not sure how to begin planning your wedding at all, let alone the entertainment? Let Washington DC based wedding DJs MyDeejay help.






Wedding Planning - Where to Start? Advice from MyDeejay

Newly engaged and not sure how to begin planning your wedding at all, let alone the entertainment? Let Washington DC based wedding DJs MyDeejay help.





Here's an oldie but goodie, published on our site around 2006-2007. It's still valid advice today, with the exception of a few outdated planning links which we've cleared out of your way (oh, and the reference to wedding books and magazines, rather than blogs and Pinterest. How quaint!). Happy planning!

Wedding Planning: Where to Start?

Most engaged couples are going through this process for the first time, and may not know where to begin planning their special day. We suggest taking some time to carefully consider the type of wedding that appeals to you, prioritize your budget, and begin researching your vendors.

What’s Your Wedding Style?

A good place to start is developing a sense of what kind of wedding will reflect your specific tastes. There are countless wedding magazines and glossy coffee-table books on the market, and these are a great way to figure out what you like. Bookmark (or, in the case of a magazine, tear out) the photos that really speak to you. After doing this for a while, you’ll get a feel for what best suits your style, whether contemporary, classic, or somewhere in between.

Considering your own unique love story, and your background, is also key in making your wedding your own. Perhaps you may want to incorporate elements of how you and your spouse-to-be met, activities you’ve enjoyed, vacation destinations you’ve visited, or other memories of personal significance. Many couples find themselves including influences from their cultural background as well. These details can help to inspire everything from your venue to your catering, your music to your wedding attire.

Finally, you may want to consider consulting a professional wedding planner for ideas and resources on turning your wedding vision into a reality. Wedding planners do so much more than just booking vendors and handling details on the big day itself — they are truly a wealth of knowledge when it comes to making every aspect of your wedding special and unique.

The Wedding’s Going to Cost How Much?

It would be wonderful if we all had an unlimited budget to plan our dream wedding, but unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. That said, it’s a great idea to consider the major expenses of a wedding, and prioritize them according to how important they are to you. A true “foodie” might insist on a four-star menu, while a nature lover might be moved by a unique waterfront location or an environmental center. It might be your video, your flowers, or even that perfect designer dress. While common sense would tell you that the food and music will have the greatest impact on your wedding day, and the photographs are your lasting memories, the fact is that no one can tell you what’s going to mean the most to you when it comes to where you spend your money. Deciding on your priorities, and allocating your budget accordingly, will help you to make cuts where needed while still preserving the most essential elements of your big day.

Researching Your Vendors

The wedding industry truly is saturated with vendors these days, and narrowing down the list can seem like a monumental task. There are some ways to make it easier, though!

Relying on your wedding planner, if you’re using one, or your reception site coordinator for recommendations is a great place to start. These professionals have worked with many of the top wedding vendors in the area (as well as some whom they’d never recommend!), so their advice can be gold.

Of course, independent research can be equally valid. There are many great websites that can provide you with contact information and consumer reviews for numerous wedding vendors. Hearing from other brides and grooms which vendors they most enjoyed working with can be invaluable in determining who to explore further.

Finally, wedding shows can be another avenue for meeting vendors, though it should be said that these shows can be cost-prohibitive for many wedding professionals. Not to mention, the hectic environment at a show may not be conducive to actually getting to speak to someone!

Once you’ve made a list of vendors in each category, you can then begin the process of establishing contact and taking part in meetings. Remember, any wedding professional should be willing to reserve your date for a reasonable amount of time while you complete your research and compare your options. Once you’ve booked your “major” vendors, you’ll be able to truly relax and enjoy the months leading up to your big day!


MyDeejay - Advice - Questions to Ask a Wedding DJ

Want to REALLY get to know the wedding DJ you're considering? Here are 40 questions to help you determine how professional and reliable that DJ is!




MyDeejay - Advice - Questions to Ask a Wedding DJ

Want to REALLY get to know the wedding DJ you're considering? Here are 40 questions to help you determine how professional and reliable that DJ is!




Here it is...quite possibly the most plagiarized page on every version of our website from the past 13 years. (DJs, don't even think about it. Original thought is your friend.) Some of the terminology is a little different from what we use now, and the vast availability of online reviews has made it so much easier for couples to at least preliminarily assess the professionalism and reputation of DJs they're considering. Still, if you're planning a wedding, familiarizing yourself with these questions isn't a bad way to start your DJ search.

Questions to Ask a DJ

These are the 40 most important questions to ask any professional disc jockey you are considering for your wedding, and will help you accurately gauge the professionalism, reliability, and honesty of any wedding DJ you are considering. This list of questions will certainly help you once you reach the DJ interview process, but doing some research beforehand will help you determine whether certain wedding DJs are even worth interviewing.  Good luck in your search!

1. Do you offer a written contract?

All of the wedding disc jockeys you interview may not have the same standards of professionalism. A written, legal contract is one of the first indicators of whether a DJ is professional and reliable. Furthermore, a contract establishes the DJ’s obligation to the client and outlines what is required for the DJ’s success, by outlining his setup requirements and other factors related to his performance. For this reason, a written contract is absolutely essential and any DJ not using a written contract should not, in our opinion, be considered for a wedding reception.

2. Will you be the DJ at our wedding?

Often, the person you speak with is not the person who will be your DJ on your wedding day. This is a very common practice among large agencies. It is absolutely paramount that you have an opportunity to interview the specific DJ that you will be working with and determine whether you feel comfortable with them. You should also expect that the individual DJ’s name is specified on your contract – it is the only way you can be guaranteed his or her services at your wedding.

3. May we meet with you in person before we sign a contract?

Many wedding DJs attempt to conduct their interviews over the telephone and through email instead of meeting face-to-face with prospective clients. This is great in that it's generally more convenient for everyone; however, if a DJ absolutely reviews to meet with you in person, it's a big red flag. In our experience, there are two reasons a disc jockey would do this – either they don’t feel you are worth their time, or they have something to hide. Some deejays are very different in person than on the telephone and what is presented on their website, and you need to be able to determine whether they are a good match for you and your wedding.  Your “gut” feeling is very important in selecting the right disc jockey, and it’s much more difficult to make this evaluation unless you are together in person.

4. How long will you hold our date for us?

When you contact a professional disc jockey, they should be willing to hold your date for you for a reasonable amount of time in order to give you a chance to meet with them. They should also give you ample time after your meeting to make a decision and give you time to interview other DJs. Some DJs will use pressure sales tactics to “hard close” you at your meeting, offering a special sale that ends that day, or claiming that another couple is meeting with them for the same date – attempting to pressure you to make a decision on the spot. Any DJ that uses these types of tactics is unprofessional and is most likely doing so in order to keep you from meeting other DJs (whom they know you’ll like more than you like them). One week is a reasonable amount of time to expect your date to be held for you following an initial meeting.

5. Do you work exclusively for this company?

Most large agencies use independent DJ subcontractors to perform their events. Often, these DJs work for several agencies and also accept bookings directly. A disc jockey, or the agency through whom he is booked, should be able to explain the DJ’s obligation to that agency and what will happen if he leaves that agency.  Often, there is nothing more than a verbal confirmation between the independent DJ and the agency for each booking — a frequent cause of problems.  If you choose a DJ who subcontracts for several agencies and books his own events, you need to be clear on what will happen if he is accidentally double-booked for your wedding date, or what would happen to your event if you contract the DJ through an agency and he decides to skip out on your event to book something else for a higher price.  To find out whether your DJ is available independently or through numerous agencies, try performing a web search for their name and the word “DJ”.

6. How long have you been a DJ and how many weddings have you done?

A wedding is such an important occasion, and you don’t want your DJ’s first wedding to be your own. The number of years someone has been a DJ will give you some indication of their experience level, but some DJs only perform for a few events (and fewer weddings) each year. A DJ with half as many years in the industry may have many times as many weddings under his belt, so you should also ask how many weddings the DJ has done.  Also be sure to ask if the DJ has any formal training, either from a DJ company or a DJ school.

7. How many weddings do you do each year?

Just like any other profession, performing for weddings requires one’s skills to be in top form. If a DJ performs for only a few weddings per year, they may not be “at the top of their game” by the time your wedding date arrives. Asking how many weddings they do per year will give you an indication of their level of commitment to your type of event.

8. How many other types of events do you do per year?

Different DJs focus on different types of events – some consider themselves a “jack of all trades” and claim expertise in all types of events, and others are specialists. The ratio between the number of weddings a DJ performs for and the amount of other, non-wedding events they do will tell you where their focus lies. If you are looking for a “low-key” wedding DJ and someone you meet with does mostly school dances or Bar Mitzvahs, they may not be very focused on the type of sophisticated presentation you want for your wedding.

9. Do you perform for more than one event in a day?

Some DJs will do as many events as they possibly can, and often try to pack their weekends with all types of DJ work. If a disc jockey has already done an event in the afternoon before your wedding, they will likely be physically exhausted by the latter half of your wedding, which is exactly when they need to be the most alert and active. This is most common at large agencies, where “weekend warriors” may perform at four to six events over a three-day period. It is hard to believe that any DJ could give that many couples an adequate amount of attention leading up to, and on, their wedding day.

10. What makes you different from your competitors?

Any professional wedding disc jockey will take pride in their work, and be able to answer this question honestly and communicate the things that make their services unique. Some DJs, however, will take this opportunity to “bash” their competition and say negative things about specific DJs or agencies. We consider this type of behavior unprofessional (in fact, doing this is strictly forbidden for members of the American Disc Jockey Association), and is a poor reflection on them. In fact, you may want to consider making it a point to meet any DJ that they say something bad about – DJs that engage in this type of thing will often target the DJs they’re afraid you’ll book instead of them, and they’re probably right!

11. Have you played at our reception site before?

Wedding experience is important, and so is familiarity with your reception site. Every site poses different challenges – different load-in and security procedures, different room sizes and configurations, different acoustics, even antiquated electrical outlets that need to be grounded manually. Hiring a DJ that is familiar with your site will give you peace of mind that you won’t have any surprises on your wedding day. Obviously, even the best DJs can’t have performed at every site in the area (since there are hundreds available in any area), but if he hasn’t been to yours, he should be willing to adequately prepare himself prior to your event by visiting the venue and/or speaking with the site contact and studying a floor plan.

12. Do you act as the “emcee” and make all of the announcements?

Any professional wedding disc jockey should be comfortable with making announcements and serving as the emcee for the wedding, it is a standard part of the job. Some DJs, however, are not comfortable with this and prefer to pass these duties on to someone else, such as a site manager, who may not have a professional voice or experience speaking on a microphone. 

13. How would you define your “style” when making announcements?

This is an extremely important question to ask because it will tell you whether or not the DJ is the right match for your guests and the atmosphere you’re trying to create. If you are planning an elegant, understated wedding, then utilizing the services of a “party motivator” or “entertainer DJ” may not be what you are looking for. If you know your guests will need a lot of encouragement to dance, then hiring someone who flatly refuses to make announcements probably isn’t the best idea either.

14. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?

Different wedding disc jockeys handle this situation in very different ways – some opt to use the microphone to try to “energize” your guests and motivate them to dance. Others would never do something like this and prefer to use careful song selection to ensure dance floor success. You need to know what the DJ would do in this situation, and determine if that is the way you would like the situation handled.

15. What if something happens to you and you can’t make it to the wedding?

Despite meticulous planning and preparation, accidents do happen. If the DJ is injured or otherwise unable to perform on your wedding day, what is the backup plan? Most responsible professionals have some sort of backup strategy should this situation ever arise, but others do not. Often, DJs will be members of a local DJ association, and network with other DJs who could possibly provide backup services for them in the event of an emergency. Others take this planning more seriously and reserve a specific DJ for every date, ensuring that backup is both available and prepared in case of an emergency.  You need to feel comfortable that you will still have a qualified, prepared DJ on your wedding day, regardless of the circumstances, so the answer to this question is very important.

16. Will we meet again before the wedding?

Just as some deejays will prefer not to meet you when you book them, others will prefer to conduct a “final meeting” in the weeks before your wedding over the telephone instead of in person. While having a face-to-face meeting for the final meeting is arguably less important than meeting personally for an initial interview, the DJ should still be willing to meet you in person for a second time if that’s what you prefer.

17. Can we visit you at a performance?

Hopefully the answer to this question is “no.” We’re sure that you wouldn’t appreciate the DJ inviting prospective clients to your wedding to see him in action. A professional DJ should be willing to take a stand for his clients’ privacy and not offer this as a possibility.  Professional wedding DJs never allow this.

18. May we speak to your references?

Speaking to a wedding DJ’s former clients is a great way to get a feel for what it is like to work with them, and any DJ should be ready and willing to allow you to speak with their references. He should also be willing to contact several of these references in advance of providing you with their information, so that they have his permission and so you feel comfortable calling them.

19. How do you keep your music collection up-to-date?

The majority of professional DJs subscribe to at least one of the major music update services in order to keep their collections up-to-date. These services provide the DJ with new, radio edited music, often before it is even playing on the radio. Ask the DJ if they subscribe to any of these. The most common are Promo Only, TM Century Prime Cuts, RPM Top Hits Monthly, and ERG NuTraxx.

20. How involved can we be in selecting music for our event?

This is an important question to ask, because some DJs prefer to control the majority of the playlist and supplement their choices with a small handful of your specific requests. Other disc jockeys prefer to let the client choose the majority of the music, and then use their expertise to make it all work. The DJ should be accommodating of your music tastes, and you should feel comfortable with the DJ’s approach and the amount of involvement you’ll be able to have in choosing the music.

21. When do we need to submit our music requests and event details?

Most professional DJs will give you a printed song list and planning worksheet with which to communicate the details of your event; others will give you access to an online planning system that will guide you throughout the entire process. You should be given ample time to make decisions regarding your music choices and event timeline, but the DJ should also require this information far enough in advance so that he can adequately prepare for your event. A DJ who doesn’t ask for your requests at least a couple of weeks before your wedding may not be able to fulfill them. In addition, the DJ should be willing to accommodate any later changes or additions whenever possible, rather than locking you into a first dance song that you later regret or refusing to alter the order of your toasts.

22. Do you take requests from our guests?

Most DJs are happy to do so, but you should also feel reasonably assured that any request they chose to play would not be something you didn’t like.

23. Can we submit a “Do Not Play” list?

Any professional DJ should be willing to honor your requests, including your request for certain songs and genres to not be used. Submitting a “Do Not Play” list will give a DJ a clear idea of your limits and your expectations for their song selection at your wedding.

24. When do you arrive to set up for our wedding?

When dealing with sub-standard DJs, there are often issues with them being punctual and set up well in advance of your guests’ arrival. Professional DJs will always arrive at least a full hour before their scheduled start time in order to have adequate time to set up and get organized before the wedding. MyDeejay’s policy is to arrive at least an hour and a half before our scheduled start time.

25. What will you wear to our wedding?

Most wedding DJs own, and are comfortable wearing, a tuxedo when they perform. If the groom will not be wearing a tuxedo, then it is inappropriate for the DJ to wear a tuxedo. You should also ask what type of tuxedo the DJ wears. Brands are unimportant (most tuxes look practically identical), but ask about the style of vest, cummerbund, and neckwear. Some DJs prefer a classic, understated look and others wear flashy, shimmering or patterned vests and matching bowties. It is important that the DJ’s “look” meets your expectations.

26. What will you wear when you set up and break down your equipment?

This is something that is often overlooked, but can make a big difference. If your guests arrive early for the reception or stay afterward, will they see the DJ in a sweaty undershirt and gym shorts? Professional disc jockeys maintain acceptable appearance standards regardless of the situation, including setting up and breaking down their equipment.

27. How much of a deposit is required to secure our date?

Almost every DJ will require some sort of deposit or retainer in order to secure your date. This is for their protection and yours. The industry standard for deposits is 50%. Some DJs require far less, but this is not always a good idea. If the contract language doesn’t stipulate a specific guarantee of services and clearly outline a cancellation policy, the DJ may only legally be responsible for returning your deposit (sometimes as little as $25) in order to back out of doing your wedding. While it would certainly be considered unprofessional, there certainly isn’t any financial incentive for the DJ if he’s only forced to pay a small fee for backing out on you.

28. What is included in the cost of my event?

DJs use vastly different systems when pricing their services. Most DJs price their services a la carte, charging an hourly rate and adding charges for any additional equipment needed. Others choose to use a flat-rate pricing system and make their packages all-inclusive. You need to be clear about what a DJ is offering for the price they’ve quoted you, so you can compare their package to those of the other DJs you are interviewing.

29. How much would you charge for overtime?

Hopefully your DJ will do such a wonderful job at your wedding that you’d like to keep dancing! Be sure that the DJ’s contract outlines a specific rate for additional time at the end of the night, whether it is a set price or a pro-rated amount based on the original price.

30. What do you require from us?

Every DJ will require a few things that you’ll need to provide them in order to be successful. The most common are adequate shelter, electricity, and a table for their equipment. Make sure that you understand exactly what the DJ needs from you so you can communicate those needs to your reception site and caterer.

31. Do you require a meal?

Some DJs require that they receive a meal at the wedding, and some even demand that they be fed the same food as your guests. Others do not require a meal at all, or simply accept one if you happen to offer. Again, be sure you know what the DJ’s requirements are so you can plan accordingly.

32. Are you insured?

It is absolutely essential that any DJ you consider carries a full liability insurance policy. They are fairly inexpensive (less than $250 per year in some cases), so being uninsured is inexcusable. Some reception sites have even taken the step of requiring all vendors working at their facility to provide proof of insurance before the wedding. Liability insurance protects you and the reception site in the unlikely event that your DJ injures one of your guests or burns your reception site to the ground.

33. Do you take any breaks?

One of the major advantages to using a DJ instead of a band is that a DJ does not need to take breaks, outside of using the restroom and possibly eating a meal quickly in another room (if this is what your site contact or caterer requires). In any case, the DJ should assure you that there will be no break in the music at any point during the reception.

34. What is your policy on alcohol or smoking during the wedding?

A professional DJ will never consume alcohol or take cigarette breaks during your wedding. If you interview a DJ and he tells you he needs a few drinks to “loosen up” while working, you should probably look for a DJ with higher standards of professionalism.

35. What kind of equipment do you use?

Any DJ you consider should be proud of his sound system, and should be using professional-grade equipment. Most DJs understand that you are very unlikely to have a working knowledge ofprofessional DJ equipment, but he should be able to describe his sound system to you. You should not hear very many “home audio” brands in what he describes – the top brands for DJ equipment are Pioneer, Denon, PCDJ, Traktor, Serato, Electro-Voice (EV), JBL, Bose, Mackie, RANE, QSC, and Shure.

36. Do you bring backup equipment with you to the wedding?

Even the very best and most well-maintained equipment will malfunction at some point. Your DJ needs to be prepared in case this happens at your wedding. The only way you will not suffer a setback on your special day is if the DJ brings a full second sound system with them to each and every wedding. Having backup equipment in a warehouse 50 miles from your reception site won’t do much good if there is no music at your wedding for an hour.

37. Do you have a wireless microphone?

Every professional wedding DJ should offer a wireless microphone to be used for your guests’ toasts, blessing, and any other speeches that need to be made. The industry standard for wireless microphones is Shure, and most professional DJs use Shure wireless technology.

38. Do you have a “light show”?

Some DJs also offer “party lights,” either as part of their package or as an additional service they can provide. You should find out whether the DJ plans on setting up lights for the dance floor, and whether this matches your preferences. Also, if you do desire a light show, you may want to ask how this will affect the aesthetics of your reception (in other words, how bulky/cumbersome the setup is) and the quality of your photographs or video. In our experience, most weddings do not need (and practically none of our clients even ask for) a light show.

39. Do you set up a sign or banner with your equipment?

Shameless self-promotion sometimes rears its ugly head at wedding receptions in the form of a sign or banner advertising the DJ’s company name and contact information. These items inevitably find their way into your wedding pictures and video, and ruin what is an otherwise commercial-free event. This practice is repulsive and completely unprofessional, and we believe that any DJ that does this should never be hired for a wedding.

40. Do you belong to any professional associations or trade groups?

If a DJ is serious about his craft and interested in becoming a better performer, they will often join a local DJ association or trade group. These are opportunities for DJs to interact with one another, share ideas, and network with other DJs who might be able to help them should they ever have an emergency. While membership in one of these organizations is not a guarantee of that DJ’s talent level, it does at least show a willingness to grow and improve and become a better DJ.



Advice - Should You Hire a Band or DJ for Your Wedding?

Unsure whether to use a band or DJ for your wedding entertainment? Washington DC based wedding DJs MyDeejay outline the pros and cons of each.




Advice - Should You Hire a Band or DJ for Your Wedding?

Unsure whether to use a band or DJ for your wedding entertainment? Washington DC based wedding DJs MyDeejay outline the pros and cons of each.




Many couples wrestle with the decision of whether to hire a band or a DJ for their wedding entertainment (some lucky folks have the budget to hire both, which is always fun!). This classic article from our site still contains some useful information to keep in mind as you weigh the options.

Bands vs. DJs for Weddings

Bands are often considered the most traditional choice for a wedding reception. Some brides appreciate the look of a live band’s expansive setup, or feel their guests will expect the “showiness” of a band’s performance.  There are many factors, however, that make a DJ a more attractive and flexible option:

  • Versatility: A DJ is able to appeal to a more diverse range of music tastes and can accommodate a much more eclectic request list.  Whether you want to incorporate indie music, international styles, or your aunt and uncle’s first dance song from 30 years ago, a DJ can make this happen on a moment’s notice.  A DJ is also accessible to you, your guests, and your vendors in a way that a performing bandleader is not.
  • Familiarity and Popularity of Songs: With a DJ, you and your guests are able to hear the versions of your favorite songs that you enjoy most.  If vocal timbre and instrumentation weren’t important, you’d be equally pleased with any version of a song you like — that usually isn’t the case.  A DJ can also provide much more contemporary music, something many couples appreciate during the latter part of their reception.  From current radio hits to unusual remixes, a DJ can maintain the energy of your younger crowd even after your older guests have departed.
  • Quality of Emcee Work: A professional DJ is an expert at providing impeccable announcements, something at which few bandleaders excel.
  • Consistency: A DJ does not require breaks, thereby keeping the music and atmosphere consistent.  Nothing is more jarring than a festive band suddenly putting on a CD and leaving the room.
  • Space, Power and Acoustics: A band can easily overpower a small room or one with low ceilings, and in a more expansive room, increased volume isn’t always the best option — sometimes multiple smaller speakers placed throughout the space is necessary for optimal sound quality.
  • Subtlety: A band is certainly a flashy option, but some couples know their guests won’t appreciate being singled out by an overzealous bandleader that jumps into the crowd.  There is no question who will be the center of attention when a large band, often costumed or utilizing lights and props, is dominating the room.
  • Cost: Even the best DJs cost less than the least-known bands, something that is becoming increasingly important to many couples as they develop their wedding budget.  The cost of some of the largest bands could pay for your honeymoon or for the catering for 100 guests.  Utilizing a band can also require you to pay for five to 15 additional meals, staging rental, or supplemental audio equipment.


Advice - Using an iPod for Your Wedding is a Horrible Idea

Are you so over the DJ search that you're thinking of going the DIY music route? Here's why iPod weddings are a disaster in the making, by MyDeejay.




Advice - Using an iPod for Your Wedding is a Horrible Idea

Are you so over the DJ search that you're thinking of going the DIY music route? Here's why iPod weddings are a disaster in the making, by MyDeejay.




This article was originally written by my former business partner circa 2007, when iPods began to gain popularity as an alternative to the stereotypical "cheesy" wedding DJ. I'm so glad that there are many more professional entertainment options available to clients now, making iPods less of a commonly considered choice. However, there are still some holdouts who strongly think about going the DIY route, so with that mind, I present the MyDeejay classic...

Why Using an iPod for Your Wedding is a Horrible Idea

I’ve read several articles and have been asked a lot of questions regarding the trend of couples deciding to use an iPod instead of a DJ at their wedding reception. I can certainly appreciate the need to cut costs if a couple is struggling to pay for their wedding, but entertainment is quite possibly the worst place to make that cut. So much of the success of a wedding reception is tied directly to both the music being played and the timely, appropriate, and professional announcements made by an experienced emcee – I really can’t comprehend the decision. Why would people even consider doing this?

Budget – Supposedly using an iPod is less expensive than a DJ. Even after purchasing enough music to cover a four to five hour wedding and renting a professional sound system, it will probably cost less than hiring a professional wedding DJ.

Programming Control – Couples that use an iPod have total control over the songs on the playlist, which they generate before the wedding, and the order in which those songs are played. I’ve seen it mentioned that this “makes the music more personal for the bride and groom.”

Not Cheesy – Many couples that choose to use an iPod say they are doing so in order to prevent a “cheesy” wedding DJ from ruining their wedding. They have seen bad wedding DJs in the past, and don’t want to have inflatable instruments, party hats, and overzealous line dance instruction at their wedding.

I can understand the premise of all three of these arguments. All three of them make perfect sense. However, all three of them have simple solutions that don’t involve using an iPod instead of a professional disc jockey at your wedding reception.

Your Vision, Flawlessly Executed

The playlist control argument baffles me a bit. Where are all these DJs coming from that don’t do exactly what you want for your wedding? Even more important, why the heck are people hiring them? When you interview a potential DJ, simply tell them that you plan on submitting a comprehensive playlist for the evening and that they are not to add songs to it, remove songs from it, change the order of the songs, or take requests from your guests. Ensure that he is completely cooperative with this requirement (and if he’s not, keep interviewing until you find someone who is). Congratulations, you’ve just established total control over the music at your wedding. Most professionals, while they may not agree wholeheartedly with this approach, are willing to accommodate it. If they have a problem with this request, there is a very simple solution – DON’T HIRE THEM!

All Wedding DJs Are Not Created Equal

As far as the “cheesy” thing goes, this is another great case for spending the extra money to get exactly what you want. I will concur that using an iPod at your wedding is better than having a really bad DJ. The remedy is to hire a good DJ, not cut out the DJ entirely! There are plenty of non-cheesy wedding DJs out there – I am one of them and I have several DJs that work for me that have the same sophisticated approach and performance philosophy. Search online. Ask your reception site contact. Ask your photographer. Call a wedding planner and ask her if she would be willing to refer you to a good, non-cheesy DJ free of charge. It may take a little work, but you can find a DJ that matches the style you’re looking for.

Flawless Announcements

The single biggest drawback to not using a professional wedding DJ is the lack of a polished, capable emcee for the evening. Does your fiancé’s college buddy have the right balance of intuition and experience to make smooth transitions between the various formalities at your wedding? Does he posses the attention to detail and quick thinking to smooth over an awkward moment by gracefully diverting your guests’ attention to something else? I can tell you that it takes years of experience and hundreds of performances to acquire the confidence and competence to deliver flawless emcee work at a wedding, and chances are that your friend doesn’t have this skill set.

Versatility and Flexibility

Even the best plans sometimes fail miserably. I have had numerous clients over the years that probably would have bet me double my rate that they knew their guests well enough to pick every single song for the evening, in order, and have the dance floor packed all night. Very rarely would they have been they correct. An experienced professional has the ability to “read the crowd,” to sense when it’s beneficial to extend a particular set or to put on a slow song to get the rest of your guests involved. This sense of the “flow” of the evening only comes with the knowledge gained from performing at hundreds of weddings, and is something that would be completely absent if you chose to use an iPod instead of a professional wedding disc jockey. Also, even a music expert can’t always predict in advance which songs your guests will respond favorably to, and the last thing you want to do is break up a full dance floor with an ill-timed slow song (or empty a dance floor filled with happy couples by throwing on a party song at the wrong moment).

Variety is the Spice of Life

If you are passionate about music, your tastes will most likely include music from many different genres. Many of your guests probably feel the same way. A good variety of music makes for a great wedding reception. So, in addition to paying for a rental sound system, you’ll also have to purchase $40-$60 worth of music to make sure everyone is happy. Or, you could always hire a professional DJ – he probably owns all of the music you’ll need for your wedding and will most likely purchase any that he doesn’t.

Beatmixing and the Two-Second Gap

Another factor to consider is an iPod’s inability to beatmix – blending songs together and keeping the beat going from one song to the next. Beatmixing is a tool used religiously by good DJs and is impossible for an iPod to accomplish (plus, it takes a bit of planning ahead to put songs with a similar tempo next to one another in a set). On top of this lack of mixing, an iPod doesn’t have the ability to remove the two-second gap between songs while it plays. Using a laptop instead of an iPod can eliminate this gap, but still doesn’t address the issue of beatmixing (or mixing in general, other than just fading songs together).

Radio-Edited Music

One point I think most couples overlook when considering to use an iPod for their wedding is their access (or lack thereof) to radio-edited versions of popular songs. Online music sources sometimes offer these versions, but not always. In fact, some artists and record companies make edited versions of their songs only available on the CD single in order to force people to find and purchase a separate disc. The majority of professional DJs, on the other hand, subscribe to one or many music update services that mail them CDs (or give them access to mp3’s) of all of the new music about to come out on the radio, fully edited just like the versions you hear on your way home from work. These subscription services are only available to professional DJs, and there is a lengthy process by which one has to prove they are a legitimate DJ and should be given access to promotional copies of music. Is your grandmother going to understand when you explain that you couldn’t find a clean version of that new hip-hop song, but you still wanted to play it?

Your DJ Offers You His Protection

Part of the issue with this “do-it-yourself” attitude is that your guests may think they can do it too. I had one wedding planner tell me that, instead of drawing less attention than a traditional DJ, the iPod DJ setup the couple rented created a bit of a scene when two of the groom’s friends spent the entire night arguing over what to play next. I can attest to the fact that, at practically every wedding I perform for, there is at least one guy that constantly requests terrible music. He needs someone to tell him no, because his taste in music is abysmal and his instincts are even worse. This guy is going to be the one that looks through your iPod (or brings his own) until he finds the worst song possible, and places that song in the worst spot possible, because there is nobody there to tell him to go away. Plus, he’s probably going to find a way to mess things up and you’ll be the one over at the iPod table trying to resurrect your playlist instead of enjoying your reception.

Would Anyone Care for a Lawsuit?

Another factor to consider when making this decision is liability – you may actually be exposing yourself to a lawsuit by using an iPod and a rented sound system. A professional DJ will carry liability insurance that covers him in case one of his speakers falls over and injures someone, or his equipment starts an electrical fire and burns your reception site to the ground. Since you are the one putting the speaker there, and you are the one responsible for the equipment, you are the one who is going to be sued if anything happens. Your homeowners’ policy may cover you in this instance, but the insurance agents I asked about this all told me that the homeowners’ policies they offered would not. You could purchase liability insurance for one day (at a minimum of $200) to make sure you are covered, but is it really worth the trouble?

Murphy’s Law

Even the best equipment will fail at some point, and it’s impossible for you to tell if the sound system you’ve rented has been properly cared for and maintained. If the channel fader block on your rented mixer blows out, do you know how to work around it? Do any of your guests? A professional wedding DJ will have the equipment knowledge to quickly solve any malfunction, or will have backup equipment with him just in case something can’t be fixed. If you don’t feel comfortable troubleshooting professional audio gear and renting a full backup sound system, you may be left without the music on which you’ve been so focused.

Your New Brother-In-Law is Not a Sound Reinforcement Expert

Unless you rent a sound system from a DJ familiar with your reception site and he chooses to give you good advice, chances are you aren’t going to know exactly what equipment to procure. Is a 300-Watt sound system adequate for a 60’ x 100’ ballroom with 120 guests in it? It’s more powerful than your home sound system, but is it enough? What if you are in a room with windows on two sides, a vaulted ceiling and a tile floor? Do you know how to set up the sound system so it doesn’t create an echo chamber? An experienced wedding disc jockey will know how to “tune a room” to get the best sound, and will know how much power is enough to cover your reception site.

You’re Not Saving That Much

Let’s total things up and take a look at how they compare with hiring a professional DJ. First, you had to buy the iPod. Let’s say you already have one or can borrow one from a friend, or you decided to use a laptop to eliminate the gap between songs and borrowed that. But you did have to buy $40 worth of music to complete your playlist. Then you had to rent the sound system – let’s say you went small and only got one capable of 300 watts (my setup is well over 1600 watts, continuous, so this is pretty small) and it cost you $150. You decided to play it safe and rent a second sound system as a backup, in case of an equipment malfunction. You can’t be too careful! That’s $150 x 2, plus the $40 for the music, so we’re up to $340. Wait! You almost forgot to rent a wireless microphone for the toasts and blessing and the welcome speech by the father of the bride. That’s another $75. Now we’re at $415. You don’t want to get sued by anyone, so you decide to buy the cheapest single-day liability insurance coverage you could find, for a mere $200. Total it all up, and you’re more than $600 into this iPod idea, and you still have to ask one of your guests to make your announcements for you. Is it really worth it?

Your Money, Well Spent

None of your guests will remember their meal (unless it’s really bad), your centerpieces, your chairs, your favors, your invitations, your cake (unless it’s really bad), or your bouquet. They certainly won’t remember your wedding pictures or video, because chances are they will never see them. What they will remember, however, is if they had a good time. This, to me, makes the case for spending more money on entertainment and cutting costs somewhere else. My advice is to seek the services of an experienced professional, one that shares your views and will honor your requests. Your guests will thank you, and you will be able to enjoy your wedding reception in the care of someone you trust.




MyDeejay Wedding Planning Advice - Ceremony Music Suggestions

Not sure what songs to pick for your wedding ceremony? Washington DC wedding DJs MyDeejay have classical and contemporary ceremony music ideas to share!

MyDeejay Wedding Planning Advice - Ceremony Music Suggestions

Not sure what songs to pick for your wedding ceremony? Washington DC wedding DJs MyDeejay have classical and contemporary ceremony music ideas to share!

Originally compiled as a resource on our site in the mid '00s, most of these ceremony selections still work just fine today (after all, classical music, and even contemporary love songs, don't change too much!). Your DJ can provide additional suggestions for ceremony music if you'd prefer to keep things more current.

Wedding Ceremony Music Suggestions

Ceremonies can be traditional or whimsical, whatever suits the couple best. Do not limit yourself to what you feel should be played if tradition is not your style. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to choose traditional selections if a classic and timeless ceremony is your ideal. Your disc jockey or musician should be able to provide a variety of selections to suit your taste.

Below is a list of the most classic pieces for wedding ceremonies:


  • “Canon in D” (Johann Pachelbel)
  • “Bridal Chorus” from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner)
  • “Air” from Water Music Suite (George Frederic Handel)
  • “Wedding March” from The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • “Trumpet Voluntary in D” (Henry Purcell)
  • “Trumpet Voluntary” (Jeremiah Clarke)
  • “Trumpet Voluntary” (John Stanley)
  • “Guitar Concerto in D Major, Largo” (Antonio Vivaldi)
  • “Te Deum” (Marc-Antoine Charpentier)
  • “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • “Overture” from Royal Fireworks Music (George Frederic Handel)

Traditional Songs for the Recessional:

  • “Ode to Joy” (Ludwig von Beethoven)
  • “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Felix Mendelssohn)
  • “Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Allegro” (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • “Brandenberg Concerto No. 4, Allegro” (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • “Hallelujah Chorus” from The Messiah (George Frederic Handel)
  • “Spring, Allegro,” from The Four Seasons (Antonio Vivaldi)
  • “Toccata,” from Symphony 5, opus 42 (Charles-Marie Widor)
  • “Trumpet Tune and Bell Symphony” (Henry Purcell)

Again, a wide variety of more contemporary, unique selections are also appropriate for wedding ceremonies. You may choose the popular versions by the original artists, or in some cases, softer instrumental versions (such as those on piano or classical guitar) are available as well. Your DJ or musician can guide you to the available versions of your songs of choice.


  • “Wedding Processional” from The Sound of Music (Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein)
  • “All I Want Is You” (U2)
  • “Ribbon in the Sky” (Stevie Wonder)
  • “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)
  • “Angel” (Sarah McLachlan)
  • “Only Time” (Enya)
  • “To Make You Feel My Love” (Adele)
  • “This Year’s Love” (David Gray)
  • “Forever” (Ben Harper)

Contemporary/Alternative Selections for the Recessional:

  • “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (Stevie Wonder)
  • “Your Love (Is Lifting Me Higher)” (Otis Redding)
  • “Here Comes the Sun” (The Beatles)
  • “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” (Natalie Cole)
  • “Tonight, Tonight” (The Smashing Pumpkins)
  • “Oh, Happy Day” (various artists)
  • “The Sweetest Thing” (U2)
  • “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz)

Planning Advice - Making Your Wedding Unique and Personal

Personal touches can make your wedding unique and memorable. Here's advice from MyDeejay, DC based wedding DJs, on how to make it happen.

Planning Advice - Making Your Wedding Unique and Personal

Personal touches can make your wedding unique and memorable. Here's advice from MyDeejay, DC based wedding DJs, on how to make it happen.

Here's a classic article I wrote around 2006, when I was still doing some freelance event planning (after getting my start in wedding planning on-site at venues). Some of the language is a little dated, but most of the advice is still pretty solid. -J.

Making Your Wedding Unique and Personal

No one wants a “cookie cutter” wedding. Yet, most brides and grooms want to incorporate timeless traditions and classic themes to their event, while creating unique touches that make the wedding truly theirs. A wedding is likely the biggest, and certainly the most meaningful, event a couple will ever plan in their lives. Making it unique and personal will ensure the wedding is a true reflection of whom they are, and will make the wedding more memorable and special for all who attend.

A good starting point for couples wishing to personalize their wedding is to spend some time reflecting on their own love story. Some questions to consider:

  • How did we meet?
  • What did we do on our first date?
  • What other activities do we enjoy?
  • What do we have in common?
  • What was the setting the first time we said “I love you?”
  • What was the setting when we got engaged?
  • What nicknames do we call each other?
  • What family traditions do we have?
  • What cultural/ethnic traditions are important to us and our families?
  • What are the traditions of our respective hometowns, schools, or organizations?
  • Any other special memories?

There are limitless opportunities to incorporate unique touches into a wedding. Some couples choose a common theme and interject it into nearly every aspect of their event. Still others plan a surprise or two to reflect their individual taste and their history as a couple.

Some ways to personalize:

  • Invitations and “Save the Date” Cards: Consider a custom design (perhaps created by a talented friend or relative), unusual materials (such as “natural” or handmade paper, ribbon, or raffia) or a unique shape. You can also make your own invitations; high-end stationery stores and invitation galleries sell many colors and stock weights of paper with corresponding envelopes. Incorporating a photo, favorite illustration, quotation, words from your upcoming vows, or preferred color scheme are just a few ways to make the invitations a perfect first impression of the event to come.
  • Ceremony/reception site: This is an excellent starting point for personalizing your event. Book lovers and scholars will appreciate the ambience of a picturesque library or museum, while nature lovers might be happiest in a garden or park setting, an aquarium, or an indoor room with panoramic views of the outdoors. Hosting your reception at a favorite or meaningful hotel or restaurant is another option. Whether your taste leans toward the historic, the classic, the romantic, the modern or the truly unusual, there are literally hundreds of sites in the Baltimore/Washington area from which to choose.
  • Food: This is one of the easiest parts of the wedding to customize – what’s your favorite thing to eat? Even the simplest foods can be “dressed up” for a wedding, and will often be the most appreciated by your guests! Menus are also an excellent way to reflect different ethnic backgrounds or special themes. Seated meals, buffets, or plentiful food stations can all be tailored to include the foods you’ve enjoyed together or individually.
  • Music: Nearly everyone wants a music set that can be enjoyed by all guests. Most weddings will incorporate songs from several decades, with love and celebration as the common theme. However, songs that are especially meaningful to a few guests in particular can also be used to make the event more unique. Consider playing the first dance songs of other special couples at the event, from your grandparents to your best friends. Think about songs you shared with parents or friends in your childhood. Many couples like to play their alma mater’s fight song if many of their classmates will be in attendance. Finally, by carefully selecting the songs that will be used for the special events of the wedding, such as the first dance, parent dances, and last dances, you can make the music for your wedding stand out as being perfectly true to you.
  • Other Entertainment: Many couples shy away from having entertainers other than the DJ or band, afraid that they, as the bride and groom, will lose the spotlight. Actually, supplemental entertainers can be an exciting surprise for guests and a great way to pass the time during the cocktail hour, while the bridal party is taking pictures. Dancers (ranging from professional swing dancers to Oriental-style ribbon dancers to breakdancers), contortionists, minstrels, fire-eaters, magicians, strolling magicians, casino dealers, impersonators, fortune tellers, henna artists and herald trumpeters are just a few of the options available for a uniquely entertaining event.
  • Favors: Guests who receive favors are leaving your wedding with a small remembrance of your event and the couple who gave it to them. Why not make it something that speaks uniquely of you? Small edibles (such as chocolates or Jordan almonds) are popular, but there are endless other possibilities as well. Gifts that are useful during the wedding, such as wine glass charms, wedding sparklers, or comfortable “dancing socks” are always appreciated. You might also consider hiring a caricature artist or a novelty photographer (who brings a decorative backdrop and an instant or digital camera with computer equipment) to entertain guests during the event and provide a memento that lasts. Of course, gifts that can be enjoyed at home, long after the festivities end, are always appropriate as well – custom-created CD’s, bottles of wine, and photos of the happy couple are personal and special. And, in the spirit of giving, many couples are choosing to forego a take-home gift and are opting instead to make a small donation in each guest’s name to a favorite charity or organization.

With endless choices for every wedding detail, there is no reason to sacrifice creativity and individuality on this, the most important day of your life. Making the effort to design an event that is perfectly and uniquely yours is well worth the beautiful memories for you and your guests.