"Music is what feelings sound like."
Without a doubt, the soul of a wedding is the spirit of love between the couple being married. The guests in attendance on the special day feel it and experience joy because of it. Music, on the other hand, is the second soul of the wedding. It plays a very special part in the event and will often be remembered as being fabulous or not-so-great. This being the case, why would any couple want to hire a less-than-professional DJ, or, worse, use an iPod?
When choosing a DJ, it is essential to think of this person as you would anyone else to whom you are paying a large amount of money for a service. You expect the caterers, the florist, the photographer, the limousine company, the reception venue, the officiant and the wedding planner to know what they are doing and to do their best at whatever is their specialty. So it should be with a DJ.
When researching for a professional DJ, you can always look to the Canadian Professional DJ Association Inc. (www.cpdja.ca). This is the largest DJ Association in Canada and offers dispute resolution services through their Ombudsman to resolve issues fairly.
A license matters
Michael Coombs, National President of the CPDJA and owner of Prodigy Entertainment (www.prodigyentertainment.ca) said that "all DJ's who use recordable CD's, laptops and/or other computer hard drives need to have an AVLA (Audio-Video Licensing Agency) license. Those DJ's that use these mediums without a license are operating illegally and are subject to possible civil and criminal prosecution." As well, look for someone who has liability insurance. The insurance is necessary in the event the DJ causes harm to the venue or to a guest due to negligence.
It's a job!
For a DJ, a wedding is a job. There should be no signs about their company, business cards handed out or tip jars present. At the same time, alcohol should not be consumed. You don't expect other professionals to drink on the job so don't expect a DJ to tipple either. Since this is a job, and often a day and night with many hours in it, expect to serve the DJ a full meal. If the DJ is working from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m., that's a 10-hour work day by the time he or she has packed everything away. You cannot expect anyone to do a great job for you if they are not well fed. Most venues have specially priced vendor meals.
Meet ahead of time
Plan to meet the DJ in person to establish your likes and dislikes. A good DJ will also be an excellent MC for your event. This translates to having a fabulous flow with no empty moments. Don't get side-tracked by the need for extensive mood lighting and smoke machines. Focus on the music first. According to Mr. Coombs, "the DJ's most important job is to play music. Find out if the DJ is the right fit musically for you and your guests."
A word about iPods at weddings
There has been a trend lately to use an iPod at weddings in place of a DJ. In hard economic times, people look for ways to cut costs. Sometimes that works beautifully, sometimes not. This is true when it comes to using an iPod in place of a DJ.
A DJ keeps the momentum upbeat at your wedding; using an iPod might create embarrassingly long intervals of silence while someone tries to master the technology. And, remember, you do need a person in charge who knows what they are doing. To view an example of an iPod used at a wedding where things didn't work out well, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXj4P3iz2yg. If you are planning to use an iPod at your wedding you must have a Single Event License from AVLA. Even though you may have purchased the music, you are not licensed to entertain the public.
Music is the food of love
Spend time selecting a DJ that is right for you. Enjoy your wedding. Enjoy your music.
Courtesy of Nancy Lee, WPICC, Cameo Wedding Coordination
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