Tossing up whether to hire a DJ, band or just roll with a playlist? You’re not the first couple. With a bunch of options and the beauty of Spotify and Apple Music, it’s super easy to take that route and reconsider hiring a professional. But we would urge you (strongly) not to.
We’ve enlisted the help of the fantastic DJ Charlie Villas, one of our amazing DJ’s on WedShed, to help us answer why you should hire a DJ for your wedding and some other common questions we field from couples planning their wedding.
What is the main reason couples hire a professional wedding band/DJ?
They’re music lovers who want someone they can trust to get people onto the dancefloor and keep it well and truly packed!
Best songs to walk down the aisle to?
I don’t often get booked for the ceremony part, primarily for the reception, but I have noticed couples will opt for a tear-jerker moment for the aisle song, which is lovely. I’ve noticed that Cat Power’s ‘Sea of Love’ or The Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’ are popular.
I’m getting married later this year (wahoo!) after 15 years of being with my partner and now that we can legally do so, we’re throwing a massive party. She’s a massive Cure fan so she’s opted to enter the ceremony with one of their upbeat songs (I can’t give it away in case people attending our wedding read this, haha) which is just how we want to set the tone for the day.
That is SO lovely, congrats! OK, next question: how about some of the best songs to get the dance floor going?
There are SO many. I’ve noticed over the years that music is cultural and there are certain songs which are just a proven hit, depending on what you’re playing for.
The Pointer Sisters’ ‘Jump For My Love’ always gets the older ladies onto the dancefloor, Stealers Wheels ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ for a predominantly Anglo crowed. Of course, you can’t go past Bey and R&B throwbacks for groups of women hitting the dancefloor together and disco classics by The Weather Girls’ ‘It’s Raining Men’, Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ or Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ for queer weddings.
Band vs. DJ vs. Spotify playlists – why choose one over the other?
A few couples who have inquired with me have opted to go for a band instead. I’ve found couples will have a clear idea of whether they are after a dancefloor band or DJ. If their budget stretches, they’ll book both!
Spotify playlists are fine for the background music section of the reception. I’ve attended a friend’s wedding before where they had one speaker and an iPad playing a Spotify playlist and it was infuriating. Even though I’m a MAD Prince fan, it played three Prince songs in a row! Plus, you will have different people wanting to control the music during the dancing and it just becomes a messy free-for-all.
How do couples usually find and book their wedding band and/or DJ?
Couples usually find me through Google searches and you can’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. I’ve played for weddings where they were a guest at a previous wedding I did and loved my work, so that’s how I’ve also been booked.
Do you charge for providing a microphone for speeches?
I don’t charge for providing a microphone, however, I do charge for bringing my PA. The challenge for me is determining whether I’ll use my own PA for their wedding or have to outsource and they have to hire equipment through my supplier.
How do you feel about song requests on the night?
This comes up quite a lot! I’ve gotten used to the odd request here and there at weddings as it’s part of the parcel. When there’s alcohol involved and music, people have an opinion. However, it’s when guests start treating you like a human jukebox is where it crosses the line. That’s where the discussion with the couple about their tastes and who’s attending the wedding is so important. The couple will usually say ‘oh don’t mind my sister, she’ll probably request some ABBA’ lol.
Do you offer different packages for ceremonies and receptions? How do they work?
I don’t have a different fee structure for ceremonies and receptions, I just charge the length of the whole booking.
What’s the most common question couples ask?
Whether they can take song requests, either playing the couples’ favourite tracks or from guests on the day. Other questions are about logistics, like how much time I need to set up and what I will bring.
Will you provide your own extension cables for power?
Yes, I always bring my own cables and cords as you can’t just rely on the venue to provide one for you.
How much time do you need to flip set-up between ceremony and reception? Or do you have enough equipment to set up both in advance?
As I’m normally just booked for the reception, I always ensure the equipment is set up before guests arrive. I have a wedding coming up where I’m doing both ceremony and reception, which thankfully is all in the same place so no separate systems are needed.
How do you work best? Ie. feeling the vibe and doing what you do? Or being provided a song list?
I work best taking elements from the two – of course as a DJ you have to be able to read the crowd (it’s a psychological game after all) and change things up if necessary.
However, I also want to make sure the music reflects the couple and tells a bit about their story and how they came together. Quite often, I’ll play key tracks from their playlist and pepper the rest with some other bangers.
Do you mind if my drunk aunty pinches your bum and steals your microphone?
Haha! That’s never happened before (well, the drunk aunty coming up to me and pinching me) but I’ve found it’s been a friend of the couple who (enthusiastically) ask to borrow the microphone to bust out some singing or rapping *facepalm*. I don’t often let them especially if they’re too inebriated and as it will just open up a can of worms… karaoke time!