Finding the Perfect DJ
You’ve found the perfect person, now it’s time to pick the perfect DJ. It’s no secret that the music at a wedding set the overall tone and vibe of the night so getting it right is vitally important.
A man who understands this better than anyone is none other than our resident alternative Disc Jockey Nicky Coghlan! He gives us his top tips for picking the right sound to make sure your guest will be on the dance floor all night long...
The first time I ever saw someone DJ was at my Aunt’s wedding. I was nine, obsessed with my dad’s old 7inch records and I was immediately transfixed. I know now in retrospect that he pulled every trick he could out of the bag. Rock the Boat, Limbo Dancing, a conga line, every hackneyed old chestnut you’ve ever seen done at a wedding, he did it. Had it been released, I’m sure he’d have played Maniac 2000!
The modern wedding
So, I know where my interest in Djing started. But I know that I’ve come a long way from that first experience, and I’d like to think others have too. For years I avoided Djing for Weddings, focusing instead on pubs and clubs where it’s accepted that you be esoteric and even a bit challenging in terms of what you play. Wedding’s seemed the antithesis of creative playing out. But then I did one wedding and everything clicked. I realised that the couples now getting married are people who met on dance floors, at festivals, in school. That the soundtrack to their teens and twenties was the music I love to play. The indie disco, mash up mentality was one they remember fondly and want to recapture for their big day. And I realised I enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.
The pressure to be unique
Wedding’s take months if not years to plan, all to happen over the course of a single day. The focus on making that day right is immense for every couple. And one of the key things they want is for their day to feel unique and representative of who they are. And if you want your wedding to stand out and be memorable for you and your people, Music is an essential part. All the Wedding’s I’ve done have been DJ only, rather than a follow up to the band. I’m happy to follow but having a DJ all night gives me the time to really move the party through different stages. I meet every couple for a few hours months in advance of the Wedding so as they feel reassured that I get them and the kind of day they want. There’s no point getting a DJ if all you want is a set of 100 songs all played in order. You’re way better just having a playlist if that’s what you want.
Selecting a DJ for an Alternative Wedding
When you’re choosing a DJ, the first thing is to listen to their mixes online. This way you get a sense of how they mix and blend music. Mine are here. Ask yourself, do I want a DJ who is great at playing Hip Hop or Trap or Pop because I love it, or do I need someone who understands the wide swathe of ages that will be at the party? I never put up Wedding Mixes as these are all tailored to the couples.
Joining the dots
My approach is to ask for about 10 or 15 songs that give me an indication of the kinds of music you like. I see these as points on a map and it’s my job to fit them in to what I do, join the dots; marrying my style of mixing with these songs and those I think will work in a way that is sympathetic, but, way more than that, as entertaining as possible! I want your wedding to feel like the best Party you’ve ever been to! I want people to talk about how they wanted to sit but couldn’t as the next song compelled them to keep dancing. One of my favourite Wedding moments was seeing the 72 year old, American father of the bride losing his nut to 'Hey Boy Hey Girl' by the Chemical Brothers. Afterwards, he came up to thank me for helping him way surpass his steps for the day!
Making your day musically yours
There is no one type of alternative wedding. After all, that would be a total contradiction. I think a wedding should be the couple putting their best feet forward in front of those they love. If they have parents and friends who love Disco, great, I’ll fit it in. But if the couple love Indie, Dance or Soul and want this at the fore I’ll make sure that the blend is perfect. I’ll imbue it with my style, but ensure that the familiar engages far more than the obvious wedding standards might annoy. So, I’m the alternative to the Obvious!
If you’re concerned a DJ won’t work, listen to their mixes and see if they work for you on a normal day. If they do, get in touch and ask for suggestions of mixes that might work for them. Then meet. I find the meeting is the best chance for you to get to know each other. It may seem like bad business but I have dissuaded several couples from using me for their wedding at the early stages (before meeting) because I didn’t think what I do would work. I can make any crowd
move and I want to feel challenged, but the last thing anyone wants is for their day to feel like a struggle. As a result, the weddings I’ve done have usually worked perfectly for all involved. I get the gear in early, I prepare thoroughly for every wedding and I ensure that, having met you, the music that ends your day will be the best combination of songs you could ever imagine. From Aphex Twin to Arcade Fire, from Donna Summer to LCD Soundsystem, the set should be as genre spanning and representative of your life and relationship as is possible. And so far, I’ve made it work!