I've noticed an upswing in DJ companies marketing themselves for weddings as anything but a "wedding DJ," as though somehow specializing in weddings is a bad thing. Club DJs and school DJs often see the money in spinning for weddings -- because, face it, even the simplest of wedding celebrations still requires a ton more planning, preparation and on-site work than a typical four-hour club gig, and thus justify a higher rate -- and decide their angle will be that "I'm so much cooler than a wedding DJ could ever be."
It's a ridiculous notion. For one thing, there are as many kinds of "wedding DJs" as there are colors in the rainbow. Equating a professional wedding DJ with cheesy line dances and an inherent inability to mix music is just plain disingenuous. The key is finding the right wedding DJ -- one whom you as the couple feel a connection with -- and, at least in my opinion, that individual is rarely found playing in a nightclub on a Saturday night.
There are several reasons why you may want to pass over a DJ without significant wedding experience:
They won't be familiar with wedding etiquette. Will a club DJ know the appropriate order for wedding party introductions? Will he be familiar with traditions like the anniversary dance? Possible, but highly doubtful.
They won't be a smooth emcee. No, I'm not talking about a cheesy radio voice -- I'm talking about the announcing skill that only experience can provide. Talented wedding emcees know how to introduce your divorced parents, handle a complex schedule of toasts, and direct guests to your sparkler sendoff in a way that makes sense.
They won't have a good ear for wedding-appropriate music volume, or a balanced playlist. One of the most common complaints about club DJs is that they play the music way too loud -- as you might hear in a club -- and that they're primarily concerned with playing only the latest hits and unusual remixes. Experienced wedding DJs, on the other hand, know to keep the music loud enough on the dance floor while leaving guests the ability to chat at their tables. They also know to keep the playlist balanced with music all guests will enjoy, while still respecting the wishes of the couple being married.
They don't have a vested interest in playing nicely with your other vendors. It's as simple as this: wedding DJs work in the wedding industry. It's in their best interest to coordinate with the other vendors at your wedding to ensure everything runs smoothly -- in fact, their professional reputation depends on it. Someone who doesn't make their career in the wedding field isn't likely to be as concerned with the other wedding vendors, or with you as their client. Put bluntly, they have less to lose.
Note: club experience isn't a bad thing. In fact, the opposite is true -- and, like many companies, we have several DJs who do club events throughout the week -- but wedding experience is so important. And, considering that most successful wedding DJs have a diverse performance resume and are very musically versatile, why trust such an important event to someone who's just moonlighting in the wedding world?