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Hiring The Right Entertainment/DJ For Your Wedding

We recently asked brides “What are you most worried about for your wedding?”

We received so many different answers – many said rain which we blogged about earlier, but several said they worried about the entertainment, that no one would dance and their guests would be bored.

We got some quick advice in that blog, but there is so much more to say so let’s get into it! Introducing our friend and guest blogger Art Armani of Armani Entertainment to give you the best advice for the reception you want.

Art Armani of Armani Entertainment
Art Armani, Armani Entertainment

Before hiring a band or DJ, ask yourself if you can remember the flowers or linens at the last wedding you attended? Most likely not. 

You will remember the bride’s dress, the food, and the entertainment.  Prioritize your budget in that that order and you will most likely have the wedding you dreamed of!

As an entertainer of 20 plus years and owner of Armani Entertainment I can tell you from a DJ’s POV that there are many factors that can affect the outcome of a wedding reception’s success. I want to share this knowledge with you.

Use these factors below to set your dance floor expectations:

  • The Bride and The Groom’s involvement is the biggest factor to success.  The focus of the reception itself is always on the Bride and Groom.  Guests will follow them around the whole night so if the bride and groom are outside taking breaks, people will follow them outside.  If the bride and groom don’t hit the dance floor, the chances of a full dance floor for the whole evening is decreased.  So we always encourage at a minimum, the Bride to get out there and dance.
  • Day of week and time of reception.  If the wedding is an early one and on a Sunday we usually see less activity on the floor as people are used to the party / dance atmosphere in the evenings and on a Friday or Saturday night.  So if your party is in the middle of the week, early in the day or on a Sunday evening when most people have to get back to work on Monday, the guests may take it a little easier than they do on a Friday or Saturday night.
  • The venue itself.  We have been at a few venues where the room was too small, not well ventilated and the party was spread out between multiple rooms and even outdoors.  Having a situation like this can also hinder a dance floor.  If it’s too hot, people tend to go outside for fresh air or where it’s cooler thus making it harder to keep a dance floor full.  We often see this in the barn venues and historic house venues.
  • Too many formalities and breaks in the flow.  These days we are seeing longer dance times and fuller floors when there are less breaks such as formal cake cuttings, garter and bouquet tosses, parents dances, sparkler sendoffs that happen too early and end the party too soon.  Get the formalities out of the way as soon as you can including the introductions, parent dances and toasts so that those are out of the way and you can get to dancing right after dinner. 

Give the DJ an idea of the age groups and types of music your guests may like.  Giving this information to the DJ can help them prepare the right entertainment for your guests ahead of time. Include a note in the invitation asking for one song that would make them get up and dance.  Then compile these for the DJ and present at your final planning meeting.

Don’t have a Must Play list over 25 songs – doing this can make the DJ part seem staged and confines the DJ to not be able to have some creative freedom.  Instead hand over a few must plays and describe the styles / decades of music that the guests are into.  Dictating too much of a playlist, you might be better off just hooking up an iPod.

Along the same lines, don’t have a huge Do Not Play List.  Doing so handicaps the DJ and leaves less room to play the hits that your guests will want to hear. 

One thing I tell my couples is that the dance part is a way to thank the guests for taking the time to attend, book hotel rooms, travel etc.  Thank them by allowing them to hear the music that makes them dance.

Definitely warn us if Uncle Joe has a habit of requesting the ‘odd unknown B side track from a 70s album’. We know how to handle that and sometimes fit it in at an appropriate time as to not disrupt a dance floor.  If Uncle Joe comes up later and requests that song later in the evening while the dance floor is packed, we know how to curb it politely.

Hire a DJ that knows how to read a crowd and notice what is working and can build on that, and one who knows how to seamlessly mix out of a song that isn’t working.  A good DJ should be able to end a song early if it’s not working and mix into another one to keep testing until people are on the dance floor. 

If the floor is completely empty and the DJ lets the track play until the end.. you hired the wrong DJ.

Don’t panic during the coffee / desert time if the dance floor is less.  Let them eat cake and refuel for the final hour/s of the reception.  That time is actually a great time to fit in a snippet of Uncle Joe’s oddball song request!

Just because people are not dancing does not mean they are not enjoying the music or aren’t having a good time!  Sometimes guests are very content with a laid back reception dance floor.

Hire a DJ that knows when to and when not to jump on the microphone.  The DJ doesn’t always have to be yelling into the microphone… let the music speak for itself.

Hire a DJ that knows how to control the sound volumes so that it’s not so loud that people don’t want to get near the dance floor.  The volume should be at a point where people want to move to the dance floor to feel the music, and feel safe at their tables to get away, relax and chat etc.  Creating that safe buffer zone works wonders.

Have a question about the entertainment for your wedding? Let us know – or contact Art directly through his website! He is an entertainment professional with over 20 years experience, 5-star google ratings and a consistent winner of the Happenings Lists!

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