by Bill Keeler

Bill and Alison Keeler exiting Lady of Lourdes in Utica on September 5th, 1998 as husband and wife. This year Bill and Ali celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. (Photo from Alison Keeler)

I spent more than 10 years as a wedding deejay and I think I know a thing or two about the party after the nuptials.

First, schedule a meeting with your deejay and make sure he or she is going to live up to your expectations.  I always interviewed the couple before I booked the party to make sure I was right for the job. I'm not talking about the meeting to go over the format, I'm talking about a basic interview to see if this is the right deejay for you.

My Example Number One

Bride and Groom 'A' were lovers of electronic beat music and that's all they would allow me to play;  one 'Chicken Dance' or 'Electric Slide,' even "Mony Mony," and I wouldn't get paid.  I'm sure nobody at that party ever booked me for another gig because I was the one blamed for the crazy electronic music.  Once I got through that bad experience, I began turning future brides down who asked me to play anything abnormal, because it was simply bad for business.

The problem for new brides is that some deejays aren't completely honest and when guests start requesting songs, some deejays fall under the pressure and do what 'they' think is best and not what you asked them to do.  Simply put: know your deejay and make sure he or she is willing to do what you want.

My Example number two

Another thing to consider is to make sure your deejay dresses properly.  I always wore a tuxedo.

I had a wedding at the Beeches in Rome.  We loaded equipment, drove to Rome and set up an hour before the party.  My rule was to bring my tux along and not wear it, to avoid getting all sweaty during the set-up.  Following the sound check, I went to the bathroom to change only to find that my tuxedo pants were missing.

Everything else was there.  White shirt, black bow tie, sport coat, cumber bun, black socks and patent leather shoes. No pants.

I can't imagine the people at the party waiting for the deejay to find his pants so, I did the first half of the party all dressed from the waist-up while wearing shorts. By the way, my slacks were on a hanger on the ground in my parents driveway where I used to store my equipment.

My Example number three

Here's a useful tip when it comes to hiring a deejay or band:  work things out for an extra hour or two with the restaurant before you ask the deejay or band to play another hour.

The party was scheduled for 6 'til 10 and the dance floor was packed (I won't say where this was).  The bride and groom came up and paid me in cash to go ONE MORE HOUR!  I kept the music flowing for about two minutes until the unbelievable happened.  My power was unplugged and everything went silent.  It was the owner who unplugged me from the outlet.

"This is my place and nobody goes longer without clearing it through me first," he shouted.  Keep in mind, this was all on display for everybody to see and hear. The bride tried to work it out; but, the owner said it was too late.

"Everybody out," he shouted and the night was officially over.  By the way, I had to give the money back for the extra hour.  I certainly couldn't keep it!

A Wedding Planner who's really a deejay?

A good wedding deejay should actually serve as your quasi-wedding planner.  Many places that hold receptions don't have the right staff member to guide you through the formalities, so it falls on the deejay.  You should ask both the deejay and your venue contact who is responsible for what.  Make sure everybody knows their role.

On the Flip side...

There's actually one more very important tip that might be bigger than all of them. Make sure your deejay doesn't get drunk.

I remember this moment like it was yesterday and for the record, I never had a drunk moment as a deejay.  I bring this story up when talking about alcohol because there's already so much room for something to go wrong, the last thing your deejay needs is excessive cocktailing to increase the chances of a disaster.  Case in point, I was doing a wedding at the Valley View in Utica and I was up to the part where I was supposed to introduce the groom and his mom for their special dance.  They selected the song, "Times of Our Life" by Paul Anka (the song from the old Kodak commercial).

This was the early 1980's and I was playing music on a turntable. "Times of Your Life" was on an 'oldies 45 rpm record' and I cued up the song and made my introduction.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Please welcome the groom and his mom for their very special dance to the very special song they requested."

The groom and his mom walked to the dance floor, hugged and began to dance.  Unfortunately, I had cued the song up to the flip side of the Paul Anka 45 rpm record and the wrong song played.  This was probably the most embarrassing moment of my wedding deejay career and I couldn't kill the volume quick enough.

If you're wondering, by the way, what song the flip side of that 45 was that the groom and his mom danced to, feel free to hit the play button below.  You'll see why it was my most embarrassing moment ever.

Bill Keeler was a wedding deejay from 1986 until 1996.