South Asian Wedding Entertainment 101
by Raj Desai | 3/10/19
On to one of the most CRUCIAL parts of your wedding…the music! We may have made your search for DJs easier (hey, a little shameless self-promotion never hurts), but what about making a decision on a DJ? What are the important questions that you need to be asking, and how do you gauge their responses to ensure that you’re hiring the right person for your wedding? Since we’re not experts when it comes to music we directed our questions to the insanely popular and South Asian wedding favorite, DJ Rang (seriously, y’all – do yourselves a favor and book him BEFORE you get engaged).
The first thing he emphasized to us is that prior to diving into the nitty gritty with a potential hire, the overarching thing that you and your partner will need to suss out is their style of DJing. Are they actually being creative and mixing tracks? Or are they a fancier, pricier substitute for the playlist on your phone? Can they mix Western favorites for your friends with the latest from Bollywood for your family? Ask for links to samples of their music. If they don’t have that available, that’s red flag number 1.
Read on below to see the questions you need to be asking and the responses you need to be looking for.
Question 1 – How long do you play tracks?
We’ve all experienced wedding entertainment (DJs, dances, speeches, family members who think they’re the next American Idol) who “bless” us with their talents for a little too long. I mean, Bollywood songs may last for ten minutes but that doesn’t mean that your wedding guests want to hear the whole thing. DJ Rang tells us that, “2-3 minutes per song is standard, though this number can reduce as the night progresses. Ultimately it should depend on the crowd’s response and interest in said song.”
Question 2 – How do you respond to a negative crowd reaction?
Confession – I am a grandma when it comes to music and most of the songs I wanted to hear at my wedding are 90’s Punjabi classics. At the sound of Gurdas Maan I got HYPE. Clear the center of the dance floor, White Chicks dance scene (yeah, yeah. It’s a dated movie reference) hype. Butttt everyone else hated it and would leave the dance floor as fast as I ran to it. Was I pissed that the DJ switched the song real quick? YES. Was it the right thing to do? Yes!
Again, this is a no-brainer from DJ Rang – if a DJ plays a song that isn’t received well within 20-30 seconds, they should IMMEDIATELY switch to a different one. And the really good DJ’s? “The track that didn’t get a good response will then be noted, and similar music will take a lower priority going forth throughout the night.”
Question 3 – Do you play original tracks or remixes?
There’s nothing worse than hearing a song that is remixed to hell. And on the flip side, you definitely don’t want to feel cheated by a DJ who plays it safe with ONLY original versions of songs. Now, you and your partner may lean towards one option more than the other (which is totally fine, this is your wedding after all!), but our expert recommends that whomever you hire be comfortable with a balance between both. “Personally, I play mostly original tracks, with some tasteful edits and remixes sprinkled in. The key is moderation.”
Question 4 – Do you mix live? or play pre-recorded sets?
There is only one right answer to this question – a DJ should always mix live! Otherwise it’s not DJing and you’re wasting a lot of money for a job your Spotify playlist could do just as easily. DJ Rang tells us that prerecorded mixes are a HUGE no.
Question 5 – How do you handle overtime?
The answer for this question is definitely going to vary based off of the person, and you can’t be too unreasonable with this one because your reception isn’t a party for your DJ – it’s their job. You also have to understand that going overtime is also contingent upon your reception venue. Some places are okay with the party lasting a little longer, and others are sticklers for keeping to the schedule. Venue permitting, DJ Rang says he does like to give a little bit of leeway before an overtime fee kicks in. At any rate, a start and end time should ABSOLUTELY be a part of the conversation that you have with your DJ, and details about overtime should be clearly documented either via email or in the contract itself.
Question 6 – How many people are there on staff and what are their roles?
Again, the answer to this question is going to depend on the DJ you are hiring and the services that they offer. If an entertainment company is taking care of your music, acting as the emcee, managing your lighting and other auxiliary services (photo/video booth, etc.), and will only be sending ONE person to do all of that your wedding weekend? Yeah, those alarm bells should be going off like crazy. While the exact number of staff will be different for each company, you should expect at least one other staff member to accompany and assist your DJ.
Question 7 – Do you also MC?
Remember that link we told you to ask a DJ for? This is another way it’ll come in handy. Yes, ask this question of your DJ. But don’t just take their word for it – do some research and make sure that their style of MCing jives with yours, it could make or break your event.
For those of you unfamiliar with the different styles of wedding MCing, DJ Rang is here to help us out:
First is the Showman. Your showman is a dedicated MC. This person is EXTREMELY interactive – on the dance floor, moving around while MCing, handles *all* MC duties, and is a staple on the dance floor while everyone parties during your reception.
The second style of MCing is subtle. This person can either be a dedicated MC or a DJ/MC. Unlike the Showman who is moving around constantly, a subtle MC is stationary or behind the DJ booth. But stationary doesn’t equate to boring! A subtle MC can still be extremely interactive, but without the bells and whistles of the former style. This MC will be more concise and may split their duties with one of your family members or friends.
The takeaway? DJ Rang tells us, “There is no wrong answer in MCing style, but it will depend on your particular tastes as well as how you feel your crowd will react. Gauge your crowd for which style would fit their energy better, or find a DJ/MC who can embody a happy medium between both styles.”
Question 8 – How does your sound system work?
You may find this to be a more technical aspect of vetting your DJ, but in reality a DJ’s sound system has the power to make or break your event. How?
- Repeat announcements. Ever been to a wedding where guests go to the buffet table whenever they feel like it instead of when their table number is called? And the DJ is repeating over and over again, “PLEASE WAIT UNTIL YOUR TABLE NUMBER IS CALLED”? Yeah, less to do with how tacky we are and more to do with improper sound.
- Loud guests. I’m loud on my own. And when I’m surrounded by friends, family, and an open bar? My ADD and the volume of my voice will steadily increase. If your DJ’s sound equipment isn’t sufficient, it’s gonna make it ten times easier for drunk obnoxious people like me to have loud side conversations.
- Sentimental moments? Not so much. That tear-jerking comment your sibling made? DJ Rang says, “If people can’t hear the content of your heartfelt speech, or the “I Do’s,” it diminishes the moment you’ve worked so hard to create.”
Now, to the question: Ask about room layout, speaker placement, and how your DJ will ensure that microphones can be heard everywhere in the room. DJ Rang says that you’ll typically want “2-4 speakers + 2-4 subwoofers covering just the dance floor and surrounding area. For longer horizontal room layouts (think hotel ballroom), an additional 2 speakers are typically needed to ensure even sound coverage in the wings.”
If the DJ you’re talking to can’t give a good explanation about the ins and outs of their sound system and how to make it work for your wedding, absolutely get a second opinion. “Ask your planner, venue coordinator, or other vendors who have worked the location before to see what sort of system other vendors are bringing out, and any quirks or problems they’ve encountered. Make sure room and crowd size is taken into account when planning this out, as different specifications will require different solutions.”
And there you have it! A HUGE thank you to DJ Rang for having our backs and giving us the low down on what you need to know to hire your perfect wedding DJ.
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