5 Ways a DJ Can Ruin a Reception

Since I do not have an ounce of DJ experience up my sleeve, I teamed up with my buddy, David from Encore Sounds to help me write up this blog. Now, while I don't have any experience DJ-ing a wedding, I do have experience in dealing with many, many, DJs...and I can promise you that not having the right DJ at your event will surely spoil things. Tony and I have seen it all- from the DJ playing the wrong first dance song, to the DJ not remembering the bride and groom's names...we have seen a lot of mistakes happen. These mistakes can be prevented with a little investigation on your part. 

David is the owner of Encore Sounds (in Cleveland, Ohio) and he has busted his butt establishing a company that is based on trust, confidence, stellar customer service and outstanding DJ performance. Both of us being wedding vendors, we often share horror stories with each other- let us help you stay away from any type of horror story on your wedding day. 

Let's get right into it...here are the top 5 ways a DJ can ruin your reception: 

5.) Not having right sized equipment for the venue.

Like I said, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that little boombox the DJ carried in won't fill your venue with any sound. Turns out, I'm right, but the opposite is also true. If your venue isn't that big and your DJ is schlepping around one big speaker after the next...your guests will leave with a monster headache. As it turns out, it's not always "all about that Bass". You don't want your venue walls, or your guests shaking from the vibration. In most cases, the DJ needs minimal equipment to do the job nicely. 

“99% of the DJs out there aren’t “bad” because they don’t know music. They are bad because they didn’t take the time to think the event through. That’s why we invest about 20 hours of pre-event planning with the entire vendor team. GOD that is so important.”
— David Ruffo, Encore Sounds

4.) Not studying up on the event.

Unfortunately, we've worked with a few DJs who could not, for the life of them, remember their client's names. You might not think this is a big deal UNTIL it's announcement time. If the DJ cannot remember your name or how to pronounce your name, it's going to be awkward. This also applies to the wedding party's names. To go along with this, we've also experienced a DJ playing the incorrect first dance song. This was very awkward to watch because everyone seemed to know it was wrong...except the DJ. Like true angels, the bride and groom danced along. Thank goodness you'd never know he played the wrong song from their wedding photos though. 

Make sure your DJ is in communication with you even after booking. Ask them if they offer a phone or in-person consult before the wedding to go through all of the timelines. If an e-mail is not enough to communicate timelines, then ask them for a phone call. 

3.) Displaying terrible lighting. 

Have you ever been to a wedding where the DJ has a red or blue "police siren" light on their booth? Classy. Have you ever been to a wedding where the couple's first dance was destroyed by a laser light show? As a photographer, I do NOT want my newly weds to be speckled in multi-colored polka dots during their first dance. The photos will be awful! Please, tell your DJ to control their laser lights until group dancing commences! 


2.) Not getting "with the times" 

David uses the term, "Dinosaur DJ," and I love that, so I'm going to use it too. A dinosaur DJ is an older person, typically an older gentleman who arrives to your event in an outdated suit/tux and DJ equipment from the 1970's. He might also show up looking like a game show host. Make sure your DJ will arrive to your event dressed appropriately. If you're having a laid back, outside event, then a short-sleeved shirt might be okay; however, if you're having an upscale event, please ask them if they'll keep it simple and classy. 

1.) Drinking 

This has to be #1.  DJ's have a bad rap for getting drunk at receptions. Do not be ashamed to ask your DJ if they will be drinking at the event. While you might not think it's a problem, it very well could be.  A professional DJ should NOT be drinking alcohol on the job! Would you let your photographer(s) drink on the job? No, probably not- not if you want your photos to be in focus! 


To sum it up- this all comes down to planning and knowing who you're working with. Just like with the rest of your details, don't be scared to make sure they're perfect!