Just like your body, every moving part of a wedding reception has to work together if you want the event to be a success. If your right leg doesn’t know what your left leg is doing, soon you will be walking around in circles getting nowhere fast.
If there is no wedding planner (and sometimes even if there is), you as the DJ have the responsibility to coordinate and communicate the timeline to the other wedding vendors. Using the body analogy, the DJ needs to be the brain and the heart of the event.
Develop a Timeline
Well before the day of the reception, you should work very closely with the bride and groom to develop a very detailed timeline. It should contain song cues, speaking cues, lighting cues, etc. The more detailed the better. I even color code my timelines. Yellow highlights equal song cues, blue equals speaking cues, green are administrative duties, and so on.
Once the clients approve your final timeline, email it to all of the other wedding vendors, even if you don’t think someone (like the cake vendor) needs it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The BIG Benefits
The big benefits to communicating the itinerary in this manner are that the other wedding vendors will no doubt be impressed with your initiative and professionalism, possibly leading to referrals down the road. It can also avoid a disaster.
For example, let’s say that you are the DJ at an outdoor summer wedding. The person in charge of the food at the venue needs to know when you plan to have the bride and groom cut the cake so that it is not put out too early. After all, if the frosting is only going to stay pretty for two hours before it starts to melt, you can’t schedule the cake cutting three hours after the Grand Entrance.
On occasion, the photographer may need more or less time after the ceremony depending on when the majority of the pictures are being taken, which will change the length of the cocktail hour. The caterer will need to know the anticipated length of the cocktail hour to make sure the food is ready when the guests are.
Once the event is underway, make sure you keep in contact with all the vendors, especially the photographer! Never make an announcement about an upcoming event within the reception without knowing if he/she is ready.
In addition to sending the timeline, ask the vendors for their input. Make sure that everything you had planned is in line with everything they were thinking and planning.
Avoid a Horror Story
I’ve heard of horror stories where the DJ announced the Father-Daughter Dance while the photographer was in the restroom and missed the entire thing! If that happens, the bride and groom are going to be angry with photographer and the photographer is going to be angry with you – and you certainly don’t want that to happen or you can say “goodbye” to a potential referral.
Sure it’s a little extra work to make sure all of the wedding vendors are kept in the loop, but the results are worth it. Even if something goes wrong behind the scenes, the clients and guests will never know about it when everyone works together as a team. The end result? A flawless wedding reception that is memorable for all the right reasons!