How to DJ & MC A Wedding
If you want to know how to DJ a wedding then this is the only guide you will ever need. I have DJ’d for literally hundreds of weddings and in this guide will give you a full run down on exactly how to DJ a wedding. So let’s get right into it.
A majority of weddings will not need a DJ for the ceremony. The ceremony will normally be held during the day a few hours before the wedding reception and getting a DJ in just for this part can be costly for the customer and not necessary as not much volume is required. I will recommend wedding couples to arrange a portable speaker system to play some soft music as people find their seats, and perhaps as they walk down the isle, and afterwards during the signing of the register. If they do require a speaker system or DJ for the ceremony, then it is ideal to bring one active speaker and control the music with an iphone or directly from your laptop.
The Wedding Reception
Weddings will usually have two main formats, that is they are either a cocktail wedding or a sit down wedding with a three course meal. If it is a cocktail wedding then it will be much more casual and similar to that of an engagement or birthday celebration. Let’s quickly look a the run sheet of a standard sit down wedding reception as a cocktail wedding will be very similar except without the meals.
Typical Time Schedule
For a typical wedding starting at 7:00PM here is the most common format:
3:00PM | Wedding Ceremony (This will be at another location from the Wedding Reception)
3:30PM | Wedding Ceremony Finishes (After the ceremony will be the signing of the register)
3:45PM | Bride & Groom move to new location for photos with the photographe
6:00PM | DJ Arrives
7:00PM | Pre Dinner Drinks ( This is sometimes in the foyer of the building or can also be in the same room as the DJ)
7:30PM | Guests Seated (MC will announce the guests to take their seats)
7:40PM | Introduction of the Bridal Party (MC will introduce the bridal party into the room – DJ to play “Introduction Song”)
7:45PM | Entree is Served
8:30PM | Main Meal is Served
9:00PM | Speeches
9:30PM | Cutting of the Cake (MC to announce the Cake – Welcomes guests to take photos – DJ to play “Cake Song”)
9:40PM | First Dance / Bridal Waltz (DJ to play “First Dance Song / Bridal Waltz”)
9:45PM | Dance Bracket Begins (If a family orientated crowd, recommended for DJ to start with older music)
10:00PM | Dessert is Served (MC may or may not announce desert, it is recommended for people to have the choice to keep dancing)
11:00PM | Throwing of the Boquet / The Garter Toss (MC announces Boquet and Garter Toss)
11:40PM | Farewell Circle (MC announces the Farewell Circle – Guests asked to make a circle on the dance floor and say goodbye to Bride & Groom)
12:00AM | Music Finishes (DJ may play one more song as the Bride & Groom leave the room)
Now this is a standard wedding format, of course they can vary a little but this is how 90% of them are. For example, sometimes people may have booked their photographer and/ or videographer only until 1 hour into the reception. Therefore right after the introductions they may go straight into the Cutting of the CakeA traditional event at a wedding where the bride and groom cut the cake together and photos are taken by the photographer and guests.. Sometimes for the same reason, people may also then go straight into the Bridal WaltzAlso known as the First Dance, this is a traditional event at a wedding where the Bride & Groom have their first dance together as husband and wife. before even sitting down. Sometimes also the speech can be squeezed in between the Entree and the Main Meal.
Now let’s take a look at each formality one by one.
Wedding Reception Formalities
Pre Dinner Drinks
Pre Dinner drinks go for about 30 minutes at the very begging of the wedding reception. Guests are standing as they are served alcoholic beverages and finger foods while they catch up and chat together.
Pre Dinner drinks can sometimes be in another area away from the DJ, in the foyer of the wedding reception. If it is in the same room, it is best to play something a little upbeat, but still background music. It can be something suave like St Germaine or Cafe Del Mar, or it could be a selection of mid tempo classic hits or something for something different you could play Classical Music or Classic Jazz.
The Introductions / Introduction of the Bridal Party
The Introductions will be held shortly after the guests have been seated and the Bride & Groom have arrived back from getting their photos. Before the big day, you will ask the for a preferred song to be played as them and their bridal party is introduced into the room. Some couples may choose to have a different song for the bridal party and for them, or some may even ask to have a different song for each couple. I guess it’s up to you how much choice you give them and if you are co-ordinated enough to pull that off. For most couples however, one song will do.
If the customer has not chosen a song, then I will play ‘The Way You Look Tonight – Michael Bubble’ or ‘Fever – Michael Bubble’ for the bridal party entrance and then ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Michael Bubble’ for the Bride and Groom, this works well.
During the speeches you will not have to do anything except sit back and wait for them to finish. Of course be ready and on stand by as soon as they finish because they will be going straight into the Cutting of the Cake.
Cutting of the Cake
The Cutting of the Cake will involve the bride and groom making their way over to the cake to get their photos taken by the photographer. The MC will also ask everyone present to come a little closer to take photos. I don’t usually play any music until they actually cut the cake and the MC asks for a round of applause. Then play the song chosen by the customer, or if they have not chosen a song I recommend ‘I Do – 98 Degrees’.
First Dance / Bridal Waltz
Some people call this the first dance and others call it the Bridal Waltz, that’s not really important but just know they are the same thing. Now for the Bridal Waltz there will be two main songs that you need to play. Once for the bride & groom, and a 2nd slow song for the bridal party, parents and guests.
Some couples will have a choreographed dance, so if this is the case you need to know exactly when their routine finishes so if you are the MC, you can call for an applause. Right after this then the bridal party will be announced to join them, followed by the guests. Some weddings however the parents may be asked to join the dance floor before the bridal party. Once again, before the wedding day it’s a good idea to ask who will be introduced and in what order? And how many minutes and seconds before the first group will be welcomed onto the dance floor.
Note: 2 songs to be played, first one is the bridal waltz, 2nd song is for the bridal party/parents and guests, then the dancing begins.
If the customer does not choose a second song,
Here are some suggestions:
The Way You Look Tonight – Michael Bubble
Everything I Do – Brandy
Stand By Me – Ben E King
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Vallie
The dance segment will go for about two hours. I will recommend that if you have a mostly older audience, then start the first hour with classic hits and end the second hour with new music. If it is a mostly younger crowd, however not common, then start with the newer music and end with the classic hits.
Right after the 2 bridal songs it is good to play another song for couples to dance to as people will already be dancing in couples.
Here are some song suggestions:
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Frankie Vallie
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
Sway – Michael Bubble
Moondance – Michael Bubble
Swing the Mood – Jive Bunny Megamix
Throwing of the Bouquet
The throwing of the bouquet is usually left til near the end of the wedding reception. Wait til the bride has made her way onto the dance floor and the MC has announced all the single ladies onto the dance floor. I will play a song like ‘Single Ladies – Beyonce’ or ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cindi Lauper’. To create some added suspense, I will stop the music while the bouquet is in mid air, and start the song again as soon as someone catches it!
Getting / Throwing the Garter
The Getting and Throwing of the Garter happens in two parts. First the bride will sit on a chair while the groom gets on his knees and tries to locate the garter, which is on the brides thigh, and collect it with his teeth. A fantastic song I like to play here is ‘Cream – Prince’ as it’s a little raunchy and get’s everyone hyped and in a cheery vibe.
Once the garter has been collected by the groom, he will then throw it to all the single guys in the room. Another great song to play at this time is ‘Thunderstruck – AC/DC’ or anything else to get all the guys in the room pumped up!
The Farewell Circle is where all the guests come onto the dance floor and make a circle so the bride and groom and can say goodbye to each person one by one. The bride and groom will start at the same point, but move separately around the room anti-clockwise. This will take about twenty minutes and I think at this time it’s best to play songs that people can sing to.
Here are some suggestions:
Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers
Stand By Me – Ben E King
More Than Words – Extreme
How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees
Just the Two Of Us – Bill Withers
Weddings are always good to end with a blast. If the bride and groom will be leaving the room before the guests, play something really upbeat and fun. Here are some suggestions:
Hot Hot Hot – Arrow
The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin
Hey Baby – DJ Otzi
So there you have it, the ultimate guide on How to DJ a Wedding that will hopefully save your life if you have never DJ’d a wedding before. I hope you find this useful and if you do please share this article with your fellow DJs and come back again to use it as a reference for your next wedding. I will leave you with a video I made a few years back of me DJing and MCing a wedding.
Paul Anthony is the Managing Director of Event Master Pro and Discosource DJ’s based in Phuket, Thailand. With over 20 years experience as a Professional DJ he built a nation wide DJ service across every major city in Australia teaching over 50 DJs his craft and now developing the EMP online application for DJs.