Choosing A Wedding DJ: Separating The Experts From The Amateurs
I have a confession: My name is Stephen Scott, and I am not gay. On top of that, I have not even performed at one same sex wedding ceremony. Not one—zero.
So what makes me think I’m an expert on being gay? Absolutely nothing. You guys are going to have to figure out how to be gay on your own. I can’t help you there. What I do know is how to plan a wedding.
In fact, I consider myself an expert on the subject.
It’s entirely true to say that Stephen Scott thinks he knows everything about weddings. I have two websites, two blogs, 3 Facebook entities, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera to back me up.
Which brings me to the situation at hand. I recently had my first meeting with a same-sex couple about their wedding, and even I was a little anxious before the meeting started. What were they going to do, what should I call them, etc. I tried to do some research on the internet before they arrived and got quite frustrated.
The only advice I could find was to treat a same-sex wedding the same way you would treat a traditional wedding. This is where being a professional wedding DJ came in very handy, since I am trained at detecting and ignoring bull when I see it. Just going through the motions the same way as everybody else would be very lazy (and I am not a lazy DJ).
An excellent DJ knows the difference between a bat mitzvah, a sweet sixteen and your same-sex wedding. They also understand what traditions, songs and announcements make each event special.
Wedding Vows for Gay Couples
Making it Special
The are many things about a same-sex wedding that are the same as other weddings. A lazy DJ plays music during dinner, makes announcements and runs dance floor music at both. An excellent DJ focuses on the details and specific differences between a same-sex and other ceremonies. Your DJ should know the details.
Meeting with the couple turned out to be a lot of fun. There were a few details that we needed to adjust, but it wasn’t like we had to reinvent the wheel. That led me to write this blog, which I hope will let same-sex couples get started planning their wedding celebrations. The following advice is derived from my traditional Wedding plans, but it does take into account the few adjustments a same-sex couple is likely to want to make.
The particulars of each event depend on the couple. Will there be two bouquets, one, or none all together? How will you cut the cake? Do you prefer being called "brides," "grooms," "partners," or something else?
As a wedding DJ, I focus on what works best for each part of the program, how to add fun and make everything special for both the couple and guests. Couples should meet with their DJ to go over the timeline of events. Your DJ can help you with song selection and timing.
The DJ typically plays music during these parts of a traditional wedding ceremony:
Seating of Parents
Wedding Party Processional
Choosing A DJ
Hiring a DJ should be one of the first things you do after choosing the venue. A DJ should not accept a deposit without a date (more on deposits below), and you do not really have a date until you have a place. Dates during the busy Wedding Season may usually start to book up to a year in advance.
The most important thing to look for is flexibility and willingness to work with you on your particular taste in music. If they are not asking you questions about what you like, how are they going to know? Some DJs are surprisingly unwilling to take requests (tell them a few of your favorite songs and see if he takes notes). All of the experience in the world will not help if the DJ does not play the kind of music YOU like.
If you have any special requests, just let them know as soon as you think about it. Chances are good an experienced DJ may have done something similar in the past and be able to help out with the specifics. Don’t feel bad about special requests, those are the things that make your Wedding interesting. DJs get tired of going to the same old wedding time after time too. So, tell them your ideas. It should be fun.
I would also be careful about working with anyone that specifically asks for a cash payment. It probably means they are not an actual "business" and they just do this as a hobby. A check made out to the company’s name is the safest way to pay. Most businesses also accept credit cards, some will charge a small processing fee for this, some will not.
A deposit is usually required to hold the date. Typically the better DJs will expect to be paid in advance, some (but not all) will allow a partial payment on the day of the event.
Preparing For The Ceremony
I would recommend meeting with a DJ as early as possible, the sooner the better. A wedding DJ usually goes over all of the activities, what you will do, in what order, etc. You may not know exactly what you want to do, but going over the possibilities will help you visualize how you actually want to spend the day. Once you start to have that vision, the rest of your planning will be easier.
Shopping for Wedding Bands
In-person planning sessions are typical around 60 days before the event to go over the schedule. Work out as many of the details as possible, with anything you are not sure of flagged for follow up. Then around 14 days before the event to double check and finalize everything, either in person or through email or phone. Waiting until the last week is not advised—you can count on being extra busy that week.
Is Your DJ Gay-Friendly?
Since same sex weddings are becoming legal in different parts of the country at different times, many DJs may not have experience or be aware of the same-sex market and I am hoping no one would actually turn anybody down over this. Most DJs like to list all of the types of events they have experience in: Weddings, birthdays, school dances, etc. If they list commitment ceremonies or same sex weddings in that list, they are obviously going after that market niche. If it’s not on the list, it probably means it’s not very common in their area just yet. Try a quick call or email to check the date and availability—you’ll need to do that anyway—and mention that it’s a same-sex wedding.
Where To Find A DJ
Weddings are a big part of most mobile DJ’s business. Looking for a local bridal fair is a great place. Online, try these national wedding websites which offer listing of local vendors and 3rd party reviews:
or Google search: [The name of your town] + "Wedding DJ"
I would also like to recommend scheduling time to meet with 2 or 3 DJs in person will make it a lot easier. It may be difficult to tell the difference between DJs based solely looking at their websites. However, if you can spend 45 minutes with them in person you will instinctively know which one you trust more.
Seize The Opportunity
There’s an opportunity for couples to create traditions of their own and we can help each other out by sharing ideas. Please comment here or blog about your experiences with same-sex weddings. There is an audience and a need that is being overlooked.
DJ Stephen Scott is a 14-year veteran DJ. In 2010 he started Stephen Scott's Amazing Weddings, a Kansas City-based ceremony entertainment company.