Music, Maestro! Advice from an Expert DJ on the Côte d'Azur
Updated: Apr 24
The entertainment that you choose for your wedding really comes down to whatever music you love to listen to, and of course your budget. A DJ is a great option for ensuring a wide variety of songs, genres and eras is covered.
We asked Nick Boot at Wildfire DJs, the #1 supplier of Anglophone DJs in Provence and the French Riviera, to give us his sound advice (pardon the pun) on the music planning for a wedding and things to consider equipment-wise.
Psst... Scroll to the end also for our dance floor rules... Not to be missed....
Take it away Nick!
For many people organising the music and entertainment for a wedding is a daunting affair and some of the typical questions include:
What song should I walk down the aisle to?
When will we need background music?
How do we make sure everyone dances at the party but we also hear the songs we like?
How do we tell a good DJ from a bad one?
For those getting married overseas there is even more to worry about. Will the DJ speak my language?
Will they really understand our musical tastes?
With music playing such a crucial role in the success of any event the fear is that the DJ gets it wrong and your big day falls flat at the end.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR WEDDING MUSIC PROVIDER
Experience – when researching your DJ ask yourself, do they have a good track record providing wedding services? Do they have evidence of happy customers with all different tastes and backgrounds? Can they provide you with testimonials? Independent wedding sites like www.weddingwire.com are a good place to check your suppliers credentials.
Personable – This person is going to be with you all day, guiding the atmosphere therefore it is very important to get them on the phone or even better on a video call before you make any decisions. Then ask; did they truly listen to you? Did you get on with them? Do you feel safe in their hands? Are you happy to share your day with them? Would you be comfortable with them interacting with all your guests, young and old?
Reliable – When you communicate with your DJ via email and calls are they responding to you in a timely, professional manner? This will indicate the kind of service and attention you can expect to receive on your wedding day. Do their testimonials back this up from other couples?
Professional – A good DJ will always provide you with a contract to ensure you both agree on the terms of the service. They should also be able to reassure you that they have the correct insurances and paperwork to provide these services in France.
WHAT KIND OF DJ AM I LOOKING FOR?
For a wedding you generally want someone who is able to play ‘open format’, meaning that they will play all kinds of genres and styles of music.
A DJ who is experienced and passionate about his craft will have years of experience catering to a wide range of audiences and will have a back catalogue of tunes (new and old) that will get the place rocking.
The DJ will also have strong technical ability to seamlessly blend from one genre to the next without any jarring changes that cause the dancefloor to empty.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DJ
What is their style. Aim for someone who is open to playing all different genres of music but has evidence of good mixing ability.
Ask them to send you a couple of their past mixes so you can see if they hit the mark.
Make sure they will use the playlist you provide them with.
Will they be willing to take requests?
WHAT EQUIPMENT SHOULD THE DJ PROVIDE?
A DJ CONTROLLER OR DECKS
Each DJ will have their own preferred setup for how they mix their tracks. Though using vinyl can have a lovely retro feel it very much limits the number of songs that can be played so most wedding DJs will use a controller or CDJs/mixer (they do the same thing) connected to a laptop or USB drive. This means they have access to literally thousands of songs.
For a wedding, you will need one set of speakers for the party and another set to be used for the ceremony and for background music during cocktails and dinner.
With two sets and a willingness to move things around as the day progresses you can cover any number of different areas and always have music playing when you get to the next stage of the day.
For the party you should also ensure there is a sub-woofer if you have more than 80 guests or you want a real pumping party!
It is recommended to have a wireless microphone for the ceremony so that your guests can hear you say your vows and those doing readings can also be heard.
The same for the dinner and people doing speeches. Whilst some people may think they are a loud speaker it is very easy to be misheard especially when outside or when there is background noise.
If you are having a videographer they will also want to capture every word so will often plug a recorder into the DJ’s audio equipment.
DANCE FLOOR LIGHTING
To create the best party atmosphere you’ll need what’s called intelligent lighting with moving heads which should be installed a couple of meters up on totems.
Add to this a smoke or fog machine, used sparingly, and you’ve got a great setup for your dancefloor.
Uplighters (coloured LEDs that light up walls, trees, etc.) are also really useful for transforming any space from a plain area into a beautiful event room. A few of these placed around the dancefloor complete the perfect setup for your wedding party.
Including a disco ball will also bring a really cool, retro nightclub vibe, adding extra atmosphere.
Many DJ services will also offer ambient lighting (fairy lights, festoon/garland lights, path lighting and floodlights) which, when installed will totally transform your venue.
Fairy or festoon lights are a beautiful way to enhance courtyards, terraces and trees creating a warm glow to your outside dining experience.
If you are looking to rent a photobooth for your wedding ask your DJ if he is able to provide one for you. Hiring the photobooth from your DJ will mean you will capture memories right up until the last track is played, hiring from an independent may mean you will only have it for a limited time. E.g. until midnight.
Things like confetti cannons, or bubble machines and firework backdrops are also a brilliant way to create that perfect ‘Instagram moment’ during special moments like your first dance.
You may also want to create a projection of your unique wedding logo onto the façade of your venue. Your DJ should be able to provide these for you.
By using a single supplier for each of these options there are some valuable cost savings to be made on installations and delivery as well as the reduced headache of dealing with multiple providers and contracts.
Once you’re happy you have the DJ that ticks all the boxes above you can get down to planning.
PLANNING THE MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY
You will need to have a think about which songs you would like for all the special moments on the wedding day and if needed get advice from your DJ on what has worked well in the past.
An experienced wedding DJ should be able to provide you with playlists for each stage of the day.
Here is a list of some of the times you will need to choose music for:
As your guests arrive it is nice to have some ambient music to set the mood and get everyone calm and relaxed for the big entrance. You should ensure you have 45 minutes to an hour of music, depending on how late the bride may be!
The entrance of the bride, groom or others in the bridal party.
SIGNING THE REGISTER
If you are having this as part of your ceremony it’s advisable to have some music at this point as guests tend not talk whilst this happens. Something calm with a soft theme about love tends to work well.
The exit of the happy couple. This can either be something romantic or a big loud celebratory song that gets everyone up and clapping as you head off for a well-deserved drink.
As your guests enjoy some post-ceremony drinks and nibbles you will need some background music to set the mood. Your DJ will be able to help you create a playlist that enhances the venue, theme and stage of the day.
ENTRANCE TO DINNER
A really special part of the day for many couples is to have everyone seated for dinner then for them to make a big entrance accompanied by a big track to get everyone up and cheering for you.
This should generally be an upbeat song that raises the energy and gets people on their feet.
DINNER BACKGROUND MUSIC
As with every other stage of the day, music during dinner can play a key role in setting the mood. This is a nice moment to create a playlist of songs that are special to you, your family and friends. Your DJ can prepare this for you.
Another great opportunity to set the right tone for this whether romantic or party style, your DJ should co-ordinate with the caterer to launch the perfect song as the cake is brought out.
Whether you want to do a slow dance, a choreographed routine or a party-starting anthem or nothing your DJ will be able to help you find the perfect song and even make an edit of it to fit with your needs.
For some, this is the chance to dance with parents to show gratitude for everything they’ve done. For others it’s just a chance to get the party started. You should discuss this with your DJ so he/she knows where you want the party to go after the first dance.
So, this is really the part that will make your wedding one to remember. Whilst music for other stages of the day is important for setting the right mood, the dancefloor is where it needs to be just right for you and your guests.
There’s nothing worse than people wanting to dance but not liking the music so it’s important to make sure your DJ is keeping everyone happy.
To get the best from your DJ during the party you should aim to provide them with 20-40 tracks plus a list of songs or genres you definitely don’t want to hear and then leave them to fill in the gaps.
20-40 tracks gives your DJ a solid foundation to understand what will make you and your guests hit the dancefloor and what will turn you off.
A wedding DJ set will usually be around 3-5 hours in length which will get you somewhere between 50 and 80 tracks.
Your DJ will take your list and then weave in tried and tested anthems of the same genre to keep the dancefloor busy.
LAST SONG OF THE NIGHT
A chance for you to end the wedding with a song that is special to you and your guests. You can decide this in advance with your DJ or leave it to them to read the mood. Depending on the crowd either a good old singalong or a total party banger works well!
To chat with Nick about your music requirements, his contact is below (and don't forget to mention MY RIVIERA WEDDINGS):
+33 (0) 6 80 75 77 32
And finally MY RIVIERA WEDDINGS recommends...
DANCE FLOOR RULES
The dance floor should always be occupied.
Lunges are encouraged.
'Dance offs' should take place where appropriate... But often.
All styles and talents are welcome.
Good dancing should be applauded.
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