When you think "cheesy", what comes to mind? The Birdie Song? Superman? The Music Man? (anything by Black Lace for that matter).
You may even think the likes of Robbie Williams, Abba and Taylor Swift is cheesy too.
When you think Wedding DJ, what comes to mind? Is it someone who will play all of the classics, including "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", "Living On A Prayer" and "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Someone who will let the entire song play through to the end, and simply press play on the next? Someone who will announce each song?
More and more couples I speak to are requesting less of the above, and something a bit more "cooler", more "trendier". To an extent, a lot of people are bored of going to wedding after wedding, hearing the same pool of songs. More and more newly-engaged couples are looking for a Wedding DJ that can provide a mix of music that doesn't scream cheese. Don't get me wrong, some couples are still very happy to hear a big mix of cheese. But for many I speak to, they're looking music that they listen to when they go (or went) clubbing!
This may include genres such as UKG, House, Drum & Bass, and Urban. For these sort of genres, a DJ who can mix confidently (and at the right time) will really elevate the dancefloor. Letting the entire song play just doesn't cut it, especially for these genres. You may think every DJ can mix, but unfortunately in the Wedding DJ world, there are a lot that don't mix (or hardly mixes).
At most weddings, you tend to see a big range of ages, from children to great grandparents. Because of this, it's always good to have a wide range of music that has something for everyone. An effective structure normally comprises of music that appeals to kids at the beginning of the evening, then something that appeals to the grandparents, then, as you go later in to the night, music which the bride/groom and their friends all enjoy. This structure won't be effective at every wedding, but if you have a big mix of ages, then it's a good place to start.
If you have a few DJ's in mind, my advice would be to ask to see any videos of their past events, or mixes they've made. Reviews are obviously a good place to start, but I definitely think it's wise to dig a little bit deeper. Remember, a 5 star experience to someone else, may not be a 5 star experience to you. This is especially true when it comes to looking for a wedding DJ. Someone may have given "DJ X" a 5 star review because they were fantastic at providing a whole night of wedding classics that got the dancefloor going. But if you're not looking for that vibe, "DJ X" may not be able to provide the vibe you're looking for.
I've DJ'd from ultimate-cheese to ultimate-underground, but some DJ's prefer to focus on a particular area on that spectrum (which is totally fine). Just make sure the DJ you choose is good at playing the the type music you're looking for. I'm more than happy to provide a "minimix" of 5 of your favourite songs, to give you an idea of my mixing style.
Of course, it isn't all about mixing. A confident DJ with an upbeat personality is a great addition. Someone who can get the balance between mic work and letting the music do the talking.
In summary, I think a "cheesy wedding DJ" is someone who fits the age-old stereotype of a wedding DJ. That stereotype being someone who:
plays the wedding classics such as Abba, Wham, Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley etc.
lets every song play until it finishes
uses the mic very often
uses more of a retro-disco setup, or something a little bit more messy or hectic
A "non cheesy wedding DJ" is someone who
plays music that is associated more with nightclubs such as commercial house, urban, drum and bass, UKG, and even more underground variants such as deep house, general "rave" music.
plays songs not necessarily from the start, and doesn't wait until the end before playing the next
mixes seamlessly from one song to the next, and at the right time
gets a good balance between mic work and letting the music and mixing do its thing
uses a more contemporary, sleek and modern setup
It goes without saying, but all the above is entirely subjective, but from experience, this is what many couples who ask for a non-cheesy DJ are looking for!
Let me also make this clear: a cheesy wedding DJ is in no way inferior to a non-cheesy wedding DJ. There are good and bad cheesy wedding DJs and there are good and bad non-cheesy wedding DJs. It's entirely down to individual preference. Most couples have an idea in their head of what they're looking for. It's about finding the DJ that can execute that idea the best!
I hope this helps you, and if you'd like to listen to a few of my mixes, you can do so here.
- DJ James Stephens