Same Old Song And Dance

By Tom Roebuck

December 18, 2009 5 min read

No matter how much time a bride and groom spend planning their wedding, there are bound to be a few things that don't go according to the plan. Some are unavoidable, such as bad weather, the best man's coming down with a cold or an out-of-town guest's missing a flight. These are bad breaks but hardly enough to derail the big day.

One of the biggest train wrecks that can happen to a wedding is booking the wrong disc jockey. Finding the right one can be just as important as finding the right officiant. The officiant oversees the marriage ceremony, but the DJ oversees the reception and single-handedly can make it a night to remember, for better or for worse.

The first step for most couples looking for DJs is the Internet, searching for companies that serve their areas. Any reputable DJ will have a Web site that lists not only his/her services and prices but also his/her sense of style. Then there are independent Web sites, such as WeddingWire, on which couples post their experiences with different vendors. That can give you an idea of whom to pursue and whom to avoid.

But searching the Web should only be a first step. A couple never should make a decision without a face-to-face meeting with the DJ who will be working that night, according to Evan Reitmeyer, president of

"People can come across very differently on their Web site or on the telephone than they can in person," Reitmeyer says. "You can spot a fake in person very easily."

The pre-wedding meeting is the time for the couple and the DJ to go over the reception's timeline, playlist and style. A couple may be looking for a polished professional who can emcee the evening without being overbearing, minus the big, flashy introductions of the wedding party. They may have a list of songs for the entire night, or they may have a few in mind and let the DJ pick the rest. Getting everything in order beforehand will make things a lot easier when the big day arrives.

Though the reception is the time for everybody to let loose and have a good time, more couples are skipping stale routines, such as the chicken dance and the Macarena, and leaving the Village People costumes and other props at home. A good playlist that features a mixture of upbeat songs from various eras, along with a good DJ who knows how to read an audience, should be enough to get people on the dance floor. An open bar always helps, too.

"Cheese is on its way out, and really individualized music, custom timelines and things being nontraditional are what's in fashion right now," Reitmeyer says.

Some traditions are too special to go away, such as the first dance. Others are fading away, notably the bouquet and garter tosses.

"This generation that's getting married now is a little more sensitive to calling out all of their single friends and saying, 'Hey, everyone, look at all of these girls that aren't married yet,'" Reitmeyer says.

More and more couples are going with the concept that less is more, opting for receptions that aren't cluttered with too many gimmicks.

"More traditions are ending than being created," Reitmeyer says.

With fewer traditions being carried out, the playlist becomes even more important. It's the music that will make or break the evening.

"The biggest thing to having a successful wedding reception is having a bride and groom that are a little self-aware and also aware of the guests that are coming and the age ranges of those guests," Reitmeyer says.

One trend that is becoming more popular is skipping a professional DJ and plugging in an iPod or a laptop to a sound system. This might work for a small, simple gathering, but for many weddings, the potential problems make it a big gamble. Brides are posting stories online about weddings ruined by broken equipment, uncensored rap songs and drunken fights over what to play next. Seeing as you'd have to rent a sound system, the money saved would not be significant, and you'd lose the professional touch that a good DJ can provide.

"Since we're in the position of making all of the announcements, it's up to us to make sure that everything's in order before the announcement is made," Reitmeyer says.

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