Photo by Libby Lewis
1. In your area of the wedding day, where do you find the planned timing is most critical? Where is it most commonly off? Any parts of the day where scheduling is needed but usually lacking?
Ceremony music is the most critical as there is a fixed window of opportunity when the wedding party is walking up, so the music needs to sync perfectly in the allotted time. If a rehearsal is possible, it is always good to time the processional, so you’re confident of the music start and end times, and don’t leave anything to guesswork at this critical portion of the wedding. The reception should have a timeline, but there is usually some flexibility, and you don’t want to be too rigid as sometimes the spontaneous bits end up being the best. So I try to go with the flow, within the framework of an established timeline for receptions. As a DJ, I always try to coordinate with the officiant as to what the last words he/she will say before I start the music. This is another detail that is critical, but easy to overlook. No one wants to hear the officiant trying to conduct a prayer while the speakers are blaring the recessional music!
2. Any recommendations to couples in that regard? Do you have any timing rules of thumb?
Time tends to be very compressed during a wedding. 30 seconds feels like a minute, 1 minute like 2, etc., etc. My best of advice is to take a deep breath before you walk down the aisle and don’t be afraid of walking too slowly. Slower is better than faster. Same holds true for first dances. Take your time and enjoy the moment. It’s the only one you’re gonna get. Edit songs in advance (or have your DJ do it) but don’t shortchange yourself by cutting it too short. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Enjoy it!
3. How does having a professional DJ, as opposed to a friend or family member with music equipment, or even an iPod set up help in the planning and execution of the day timing-wise?
Family members are great, and they can save you some money, but when it comes right down to it, they are a guest at your wedding. To put that kind of responsibility on a guest isn’t fair to them, and it isn’t fair to you. And, as the day wears on, there could be a price to pay. I do not recommend trying to DJ your own wedding with an iPod, anymore than I would recommend you baking your own wedding cake or sewing your own wedding dress.
4. Any specific experiences you can relate where things have worked well, or not?
Pre-made edits are a smart and foolproof way to assure your wedding music comes off EXACTLY the way you want it. I deejayed a wedding recently where the couple wanted me to play the first 40 seconds of “Beyond The Sea” and then cut to “Hey Ya!” for their first dance. I did the edit in advance with the sound of a needle scratching vinyl separating the two tracks. The effect was dramatic, and everybody loved it! I'm not sure I could have pulled it off in a live mix, and even if I could have, I would have been anxious about it. So the readymade edit was definitely the way to go!