Going The Extra Mile BY: Tim Ewing

One of the things that I learned early on in my DJ career is the importance of being personal, approachable, and willing to go the extra mile. There is nothing a bride and groom appreciates more than a DJ who actually takes the time to listen and really evaluate their needs. I have found that the more organized and prepared a DJ is for an event, the smoother and better the party runs.

For this article, I will attempt to share a few little things that may seem insignificant to some, but that make a tremendous difference when it comes to the bride and groom. Most of the things I will share you may already know, but then again, it’s also good to get a reminder every once and awhile.

Brides love it when DJ’s call them in advance. The bride usually has a million things on their plate, and when a DJ can help alleviate some of that stress by taking away the musical responsibility, brides most times breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve found that brides appreciate a DJ that not only gets the musical requests that they want, but also takes the time to evaluate their requests, organize their requests, and put them together in a logical way that the party will flow beautifully and smoothly throughout the night. You’ll find that the more you pay attention to the specific requests, the easier it is to make the party a success.

Most brides and grooms usually struggle with their selection of their entrance songs, the garter/bouquet songs, and cake cutting songs. One way that you can go the extra mile, is to offer suggestions for each. By doing so, you’re helping to narrow down the choices for the client and also making it easier for the bride and or groom to decide what they want.

One of the biggest fears I’ve found that some DJ’s have is performing the entrances of the family members and bridal parties. The most common mistake is pronouncing the names of the people in the party wrong. This is something that should never happen, but often times occur more frequently than we would like. One way to fix this problem is to write out the names of each member being introduced phonetically. By doing this, it makes it easier to read the name correctly because it’s written the way it sounds. Another helpful hint is to have either the bride or groom pronounce the name of the person a few times out loud for you and then you repeat it back to assure that it is correct.

There’s no greater feeling than nailing the intros, having the first dances go smoothly, have the garter/bouquet go off without a hitch and the cake cutting song ready and looped. This is something that takes time to master, but is something that all DJ’s strive for each gig they do. One way to make sure that you have perfection each time is to have your music organized and lined up ready to go for the time it is needed. This can be done one of two ways. For those who still use CD’s, have each CD labeled with a sticky note or marker so that you know what the song is, what track number it is and when it is to be played. Another great hint is to put all the songs on one CD so the music is back to back. All you have to do is advance it each time the next track and you’re ready to go. For those using laptops, making a wait list with the songs ready to go would also be a huge asset for success.

Another no brainer, that I hate to even mention, but feel is important to mention is the importance of being on time. The company policy is to be there an hour early, however, sometimes if needed, it might be helpful to get there even earlier than that. By being set up and ready to go way in advance, that makes life easier for not only you, but for the wait staff as well. Also, this gives you time now to talk to whomever you need to talk with and get any final details that you need without having to run around last minute.

Something many DJ’s fail to remember that there are also videographers and photographers at their events. Some DJs will have special moments happen and they will never check to see if the videographers or photographers are ready to capture it. So, my suggestion to going the extra mile for this would be to be in contact with both the videographer and photographer throughout the night to ensure that you all are on the same page. Give the videographers and photographers a five to ten minute warning, so if they need to change film, or an SD card or change batteries, they have time to do so and still be ready. In turn it is also important to be in contact with the wait staff, preferable the maitr’d or one in charge to make sure that they are ready for each special event that takes place.
Having equipment working properly is essential to a successful party. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a microphone with a dead battery, a CD skipping or an electrical or technical malfunction. Though most of the time, technical difficulties are out of our control, but there are also ways to try to prevent them from happening. First, it’s important to always have fresh batteries as well as back ups. It’s amazing how quickly the life is drained from the batteries from usage. Second, always test the music you have before you play it. Like I said before there’s nothing more embarrassing than music stopping or skipping for a gig. Third, test your equipment before hand to make sure that all the levels are where they need to be. Though we can’t control everything, doing these little things can make a huge difference.

Dress to impress. You may not realize it, but your appearance is important. You are the one person that everyone is looking at once the party is underway. Make sure that your clothing is clean, neat, and that you’re groomed properly with combed hair. This is a great way to make a good impression. Remember, you’re not only representing yourself, but the Pros organization as well.

Finally, be ready and willing to go the extra mile even when it’s last minute. If a bride or groom decides to change a song, or add something unexpected to the event, do your best to accommodate and work it out even if it’s an inconvenience for you. For me, I hate more than anything having to say to a bride or groom, I am unable to provide that song or I am unable to do that for you, so I personally strive to do whatever it takes to make sure this never comes out of my mouth. A prime example of this: This past weekend I DJed a wedding for a Spanish couple. The bride had selected Daddy’s Little Girl for her father/daughter dance and wanted that to be their song. The night before the wedding, she called me up and said she wanted to change her father/daughter dance to a song called “Daddy” by TJ Loughran. I quickly found out that the only way to get this song was to order it from TJ’s website and that it would have to be shipped through the mail. Limewire, bear share, I Tunes, etc did not carry the song. Beings it was Saturday getting the CD shipped in time was impossible. However, I was determined to get the song for the bride. So I went the extra mile by researching the artist online. I looked for almost 3 hours until I found a phone number. I then called him personally and asked him if he could provide the song for me via email. To make a long story short, he sent me the song in email, I copied it, and the bride was nearly in tears that I went through such trouble to make her father/daughter dance special. Though these situations happen sometimes, and the easy thing to do would be to say, “I’m screwed” or “I’m sorry you’ll have to find an alternative,” try to think outside the box and go the extra mile and you’ll be amazed at what happens.

As I close, I hope that this has been helpful in seeing the importance of going the extra mile. You’ll find the brides and grooms will appreciate it, your company will appreciate it, and you’ll get satisfaction knowing that by going above and beyond the call of duty to make each event memorable and extraordinary. Plus the extra money you’ll make in tips always helps too. Until next time, keep doing a great job and remember that you can never go wrong by going the extra mile.

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