Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Economy of Salvation: DJ DIY

{creative ways to save your pennies on the most expensive day of your life}

First off, an apology.  No post on Monday.  "Time makes fools of us all," according to Albus Dumbledore and all that.

Anyway, I'm so excited to show you a little something new today!  This feature is all about saving your sweet cash money while still entering into a nuptial Mass that opens up the heavens and throwing a classy, delicious, fire-burning-on-the-dance-floor reception you'll always remember.  So the question is, where should you splurge and where should you save?  I think I've mentioned before that I've been to tons of weddings in the past year and a half or so.  One thing I've realized is that your DJ can definitely make or break your festivities; after all, he's basically carrying the whole party by transitioning between things like entrances, grace, toasts, and special dances.  He can keep everything running smoothly, dispel any awkwardness, get your shyer guests out on the dance floor, and make any announcements you like.  That said, I'm not so sure I'd recommend foregoing a DJ altogether, but here's a few suggestions for cutting down on the bill:

  • Have you noticed I've been constantly saying "DJ," not "band?"  I mean, don't get me wrong, you guys.  Wedding bands are so great.  Swing, bluegrass, oldies...of course they'd do a bang-up job.  I'd wager, though, that your guests will have just as good a time without one, and a DJ also offers you the option of greater variety in your musical selections.  That means your cousins can bop around to that Call Me Maybe song, your grandparents can still slow dance to Frank Sinatra, and your uncles can bust out their best Y.M.C.A.  Or maybe it's just my uncles who do that. 
  • Word of mouth is a powerful thing.  Our DJ was a friend of my mom's from church, who also happened to run a professional DJ'ing business.  Without her encouragement, I probably would've spent hours shopping around and stressing about whom to chose.  As it was though, I had the peace of mind of already knowing his personality (jokey, charismatic, and mega-talented but not a stealer of the spotlight--all three great qualities to look for!).  And, he offered an hourly discount to parishioners and friends--if there's someone you're connected with, don't be afraid to nicely ask!
  • DJ companies staff several DJs and hire them out (hmm.  Maybe there was a less sketchy way of phrasing that sentence?).  That means they offer you an easy way to get a hold of someone, but it seems to me like independent DJs who own their own businesses, rather than work for a service, are a better choice.  They'll most likely have more freedom within their contracts, and since big companies tend to be better known, the indie route probably won't charge as much. 
  • If you're really tight on cash, one option might be to have a DJ on hand for most of your reception, so he can announce all the big moments and get everyone having fun, and then do your own tunes for the last hour or so.  It's not hard to put a playlist together and appoint someone, maybe from your wedding party, to keep everything running nicely along.

Regardless of whether you hire a DJ for the whole evening, or just part of it, the best suggestion I can offer you is to be super-clear on what you want him to play.  That's not to say you need to hand in a 5-hour list, coordinated down to the second, but just to communicate well about what you like.  My DJ, Jack, was so awesome.  He ran the whole show like a pro, and beforehand, he told me that his only goal at each wedding was to make the bride and groom happy.  He mentioned that the most helpful thing for a DJ is to know what you don't want played, rather than what you do.  That way, there's no question in his mind about what you consider appropriate, but he can still observe and work the crowd, which is why you hired him in the first place.

If you need a few suggestions to get things rolling, I've put together a list of songs I love and that I think would be perfectly reception-worthy.  Most are popular, a few aren't (I found that it's more engaging to play songs people know), and there are styles varied enough for plenty of your guests.  Enjoy!

Chime in!  Would you enjoy seeing more playlists on Captive the Heart?

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