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A Few Tips from DJ Derrick Keith

I've done a lot of weddings over the last 17 years and I've learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way.  Check out a few of the things below that I've learned that will guarantee a great party!

  • Budget for fun!  Every bride wants their wedding reception to be special and fun. There's no secret there.  What a lot of brides tell me after their reception with another DJ company is that they didn't allocate their budget properly.  They forgot to spend money on fun!  Bride and bride has told me that they spent so much money on a fancy wedding photographer, upscale dining options for the reception and exotic flowers for the ceremony and centerpieces but they forgot to consider the party!  It wasn't until the reception party was over and the guests had gone home did each bride realize that the once the flowers were wilted, the photographer was gone and the food was barely eaten that they never really had a fun party.  Many brides want a memorable reception but only realize it after it's too late.  Without great entertainment, brides and grooms take a risk that the event could be a flop.  Do you want your family and friends to remember the food or the fun night of dancing and entertainment?  Are the $3,000 reception pictures going to capture the lack of fun at a boring reception?  

  • Kids at a wedding?  I know this is a touchy subject and I was hesitant about saying anything about kids because I don't want people to think I don't like children.  With that said, it is a good, time-tested idea to ask your guests to leave their children with a caretaker the night of your wedding.  I say this for a few reasons.  First, children come to a wedding, exert a lot energy in the beginning of the dinner service causing unnecessary annoyance to other guests and then get bored, cranky and unsettled as the night goes on.  When this happens, your guests may leave early or stay and not enjoy the reception that you've worked so hard on.  Second, vendors bring in expensive equipment, linens, lights and customized work that can easily get trampled on, broken or damaged by wildly running children.  Keep in mind that when this happens, it is the responsibility of the client to assume liability for such damage.  Trust me, your guests will thank you later even after they had to pay for a babysitter!

  • Don't hide the DJ!  I can't tell you the amount of times I've gone to set up equipment for a wedding and the DJ area is at the opposite end of the space, away from the guests and the dance floor.  These days, wedding planners face the challenge of incorporating less traditional wedding reception designs that in-turn cause the center of the reception, the DJ to be tossed aside and away from the party.  Don't let this happen!  I have THE BEST SOUND SYSTEM OF ANY DJ IN ST LOUIS, hands down!  The sound fills the room without being loud and distorted.  The crystal clear, powerful sound is something that you can hear and certainly feel without being painful.  For proper sound use, I continually advise wedding planners and brides to place the DJ next to the dance floor and towards the center of the event space.  By placing a DJ in a corner away from the guests, you disproportionately affect guests closer to the DJ and diminish the entertainment factor for those guests farther from the DJ.  Allowing the DJ to be in the center of the event space maximizes your entertainment "sound dollar" and equally balances and fills the room with sound.  

  • It's fun until the lights go out!  Yes, there is a catch.  To have a great party with great sound and lighting, you need a great power source!  I'll admit, there have been a few times I've been the DJ at a wedding and just as the newest song hits a hard beat, the lights go out, the sound stops and we regretfully admit that the breaker was blown!  It's always best to avoid this embarrassment by selecting an event space with a sufficient power supply.  So many DJs in St. Louis have only a 1,000 watt amplifier and two small, tin-cup sounding speakers that are lifted in the air.  When An Instant Party rolls in, we bring in 17,000 watts of amplification and road-tour quality speakers.  To create such high-quality sound, we require two isolated  20 amp circuits.

  • You only need a few hours!  Remember when you could party till the sun came up?  Remember how that last hour of that early morning partying was kinda quiet and not all it was cracked up to?  Whenever a bride plans a wedding with me and I ask them how long should I play for, they often burst out quickly with a 6p-1am request. Sometimes they even say 2am!  After I quietly chuckle a little, I ask them, "why so long"?  They often want the party to go and go. They want their friends to have a "blow out party". I've learned that it's better to end a wedding reception on a high, rather than as a sad party of two guests dancing alone at 1am.  After four or five hours of great music, great drinks and great dancing with your friends and family, finish your night before the guests are worn out, tired and uncomfortable.  End your event on the best sing-a-long song or the most romantic last dance.  It's classy to end on a memory setting moment with your friends and family, not when the event space turns on the bright lights and the cleaning service is clearing the tables.  Keep it fun and keep it memorable.

  • Set-up Time Contacts! This is something clients often forget about.  When vendors are setting up for an event, it's important that you insist that your event space have a single-point-of-contact (SPOC) on staff during setup.  Vendors need to know where they have access to, what can be moved, changed or added to make your event space even better!  When one SPOC exists, everyone works on the same schedule with the same rules and the same restrictions. Your event will be even better with a dedicated SPOC!

  • Do you want an iPod or a DJ?  So often, clients hire An Instant Party because they want a fun, lively reception. It makes sense because that's what we do.  However, they soon will submit a list of every song they want played, in order and at what time.  I always scratch my head a little and wonder why they hired a DJ when they could simply make a playlist and plug in an iPod.  What usually happens in these cases is that the prearranged playlist is only what the client thinks people want to hear.  As a DJ, it's important that I stay very engaged in the party to dynamically alter the music as the crowd tastes change.  Sometimes what the client feels is everyone's favorite song turns into the reality of an overplayed song or simply a bad song choice.  When hiring a DJ, it's important to submit your favorite songs and encourage others to submit their favorite songs as well. However, let the DJ work the room. A professional DJ will always choose the best music based on the crowd and within the client's music tastes.