In this series of posts, “How to DJ a Wedding,” we’ll go through the intricacies and attributes of a flawless performance. The first installment is from Kurtus Nichols, owner of K-Sound Entertainment in Crooksville, Ohio.
From when I first started my DJ business 17 years ago, my marketing model has relied on the following concept: “DJ at one wedding, and from that I’ll book plenty more.”
It’s simple: I DJ a wedding with 200+ guests, and a majority of them reside within 30 miles. If I do a great job, odds are that over the next year, a few of the 200+ guests will have the opportunity to tell someone who’s planning a wedding about the experience they had with me as the DJ/MC.
I’m not a salesman, but I’ve come to realize something: if you sell yourself, people will buy whatever you’re offering. You can turn guests into your advertisers — if you employ the skill-set that will set you apart from the next DJ: your personality, and being able to engage guests on and off the microphone (which will help avoid this annoying habit of so many prospects).
But you can’t do that without building rapport. And there are plenty of opportunities during a wedding where you can do this. Here are 4 of them:
1. The ceremony entry
Nearly every wedding reception proceeds after the ceremony — at the same location. Before the ceremony, I position myself where the guests are flowing into the room. I smile, give eye-to-eye contact and nod my head slightly as they pass. This subtle establishment of “connection,” without saying a word, is the foundation of rapport. This also helps me gauge the status of the guests — specifically, how many have wedding rings, how many are dating, etc. It takes just a minute to spot the couples “in love.”
2. Before the couple says “I do”
Just before the ceremony begins, my brides have the option of allowing me to inform the guests about keeping their cell phones out of the way of the procession in the aisle. That 15-second script is delivered while glancing eye-to-eye with 80% of the guests, with confidence and a smile. I usually make a quick gesture of holding a cellphone up or out in the aisle and say “…trying to get a picture when we have a professional photographer to capture them shots, and frankly folks, we don’t want to capture you trying your darnedest just to get a picture.” It ends with “…silent or vibrate, thank you.” This is the first time guests hear me engage them, off the mic, and of course it’s delivered with a smile.
The guests laugh, check their phones, they breath and settle in for the marriage and celebration. The energy has changed completely.
3. The party starts — time for a group picture
Another opportunity to build rapport is during a “group picture” requested by all my brides. Within 60 seconds after the formalities end — grand entrance, cake cutting, toast, etc — I invite all guests to surround the bride and groom for a group picture, and I announce that only the married couple is allowed to kiss, saying “My couples dating or engaged, you don’t get to kiss in this picture, only if it’s your day and you’re the newlyweds!”
4. During the party
As I said, I’m aware of the couples who are dating or engaged. If you give them the experience as a guest that they would want for their guests to experience, they’ll approach your booth and ask for information — maybe not so if they’re in the dating stage, but it’s happened. “If [my boyfriend] EVER proposes, you have to be the DJ, do you have a card?” Within 30 minutes of their arrival, I usually know which couples will approach me.
In closing, build rapport with everyone you get a chance to meet during an event, and if you do your job great, you’ll get to meet them again! Everyone from that photographer trying to sit their stuff behind your booth, to the caterer asking you to release tables; they all know someone planning a wedding.
Kurtus Nichols is a two-time reigning champion on Carnival Cruise Lines lip-sync competition (He won both times with Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”).