Having a destination wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean requires solid planning and when you have some questions, it’s always a good idea to call in an expert. That’s why we chatted with DJ Monica of Planet DJ Productions to get the details on how to make sure you set the right vibe at your wedding reception with the best DJ and music.
We loved hearing what it takes to be an in-demand DJ like her. You’ll find her background especially interesting as a DJ who is a woman and an Indian-American who also speaks Spanish. Monica provided some excellent tips that will make your wedding even better.
- Monica, what made you decide to become a DJ?
I love music. I’ve been involved with dance and music since I was a kid. I’ve always been energized by EDM and used to create playlists for studying and running. It used to just be a dream, but when I found a school/company where I could get formally trained to be a DJ and receive a mixing certification, I jumped at the opportunity. This helped me gain both the skill set and confidence to DJ professionally.
Being an Indian-American that speaks Spanish and has traveled to many countries, has led me to becoming well-versed with various cultures and genres of music, all of which allows me to make receptions – especially for fusion weddings – an absolute blast.
Incredible! She’s a true music mixologist! We love that you have both the formal education and the experience to back up your incredible skills. And being able to speak Spanish is a major plus as a DJ.
- So, what locations have you DJ’d in the past? (Mexico? Europe?)
I’ve been honored to DJ weddings in Mexico, Jamaica, Austria, and England. The majority of my local gigs are in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Being able to travel to so different places like this, especially to Mexico and the Caribbean, means you know how to work with staff at any type of location. Brilliant!
- How would you describe your style as a DJ?
I’ve DJed in a variety of settings and for diverse events – from house parties, to nightlife, dance fitness classes, sweet sixteens, school dances, birthday parties and of course, the majority is weddings. A good DJ adapts their style to the event and audience, so it is hard to specify my style. Generally, I’d consider myself to be flexible, fun, and unassuming. I love adding my club-style flavor to events. I mix quickly and keep the energy up by throwing in unexpected songs or remixes that end up being a hit on the dance floor.
We love that you’ve done different kinds of events because it helps you know how to excite any kind of crowd. This is such a good quality to look for in a DJ. And you are absolutely right: A good DJ has to know how to adjust to keep the crowd going. Not all crowds react to the same songs you’ve done for others so you have to know how to adjust quickly as needed. As couples look for a DJ, these are great qualities to ask about to ensure they will be the best fit for you.
- What are 3-5 of the biggest tips you’d give to brides and grooms for their wedding when it comes to deciding on a DJ?
Choose someone who:
- is part of a company that has been in the industry for a while and a DJ that has experience DJing weddings;
- wants to personalize your special day and customize your dance floor set based on your preferences;
- is flexible and accommodating given that sometimes unexpected things happen leading up to and on the day or night of the event.
- is culturally-competent and well-versed in a variety of genres and is able to blend a range of music.
- is organized and communicative.
These are outstanding tips! Being organized and communicative are two especially important qualities that couples should look for as well especially for a destination wedding where you have so many moving parts.
- What advice would you give to couples when it comes to creating a song list for their destination wedding?
Your song list for various events doesn’t have to change based on the destination, or because of the fact that it is a destination wedding. No matter where your wedding events take place, there are opportunities to set the mood and create an ambience with music of your choice! Of course, keep in mind the different guests that are attending, and consider what types of songs they might be requesting as well. Make sure your DJ knows and is ready to play songs that they may not ordinarily play, and provide them the names of specific songs/artists if possible so they can prepare accordingly.
Finding a DJ who knows how to read a room and play music that will work for everyone is important! The crowd at many South Asian weddings is usually a mixed one: some will be adults, some might be children, some will be from an older generation who likes old school South Asian love songs, while others want to hear the latest American pop music. Knowing how to cater to that type of crowd is crucial and you’ve got to know to do it right!
- Have there been any interesting wedding music trends you’ve noticed over the past few years? (For example, maybe certain songs are making a comeback or brides and grooms have been requesting a certain style of music more so recently)
I have noticed more events having both live bands in addition to DJs. Sometimes we go back and forth with our sets, or just have two separate set times. I’ve also seen couples hire dhol players or other instrumentalists, for example an electric violinist, to play alongside the DJ on the dancefloor. Another trend has been to have the DJ mix at the after-party which often can be a blast (it feels like you and just your friends in a VIP section at a club)!
In terms of music and genres, it really has varied and depended on the couple! I have had more requests for 90s hip hop in the last couple of years.
These are very interesting trends to think about, Monica. You don’t have to pick one or the other: you can have both a DJ and instrumentalists, too!
- What mistakes would you recommend that couples avoid when it comes to working with a DJ for their destination wedding?
Avoid requesting or providing specific versions/remixes for special dances at the last minute. Relying on sending something over WIFI may not be reliable in a last minute scenario, especially abroad.
Make sure you are aware of the venue’s restrictions for noise curfew and noise limits. Also be aware of the venue’s and the local AV company’s policies and pricing on extending your reception time. Just because your DJ is willing to continue mixing, doesn’t mean he/she will be able to!
You don’t have to be best friends with your vendors, but be kind, and try to develop a cordial relationship with them. Chances are they will go the extra mile for you when you’ve developed a connection.
Noise curfews are so important to keep in mind. And yes, knowing the policies around extending the reception time will save couples a lot of headaches (and cash) later on.
- What are some of your favorite ways to hype up the crowd and keep the energy up?
Generally, I create a high energy dance floor and keep guests on their toes by mixing in and out of songs quickly (unless explicitly asked to play out songs longer). Whereas some DJs use the mic a lot to motivate the crowd, I mix and let the music do all the talking, and it brings and keeps people on the dance floor. Also, unless specifically requested for me to not do so, I’ll play remixed versions of songs that keep the energy up, especially if the original version has a less-danceable tempo.
Those are all excellent ways to keep the crowd going, Monica!
- Beyond the date of the wedding, location and wedding schedule, what other information should couples provide their DJ to make the experience a smooth one for everyone?
The more information the better. Don’t be shy. This is your day. Allow the DJ to get to know you, what kind of music you like, and what you don’t like (this is just as important!). You can ask detailed questions and let them do the same so they can prepare and ensure that you have the best wedding celebration ever.
Let your DJ know of any specific announcements you’d want them to make, anything unique with a family situation they should be aware of, run through how to pronounce names of all friends and family members they might be announcing, and who to communicate with on the day/night of if you’ve gotten any requests that need to be approved (i.e. in a scenario where that uncle wants to sing a song or give a speech at the last minute!)
Announcements are a small detail that is easy to forget to mention ahead of time to your DJ. Good one!
- What are some of your favorite first dance songs? Grand entrance song for the newly wedded bride and groom? Is there any specific song that couples have been using a lot?
I often have gotten first dance requests for songs by these artists: Beyonce, John Legend, Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, and Louis Armstrong, but honestly it has really varied.
rand entrance songs are typically high energy (like ones from Calvin Harris or Major Lazer), but these have been different based on each couple’s favorite songs, personalities and relationships. Ultimately the couple should choose songs that are fun or meaningful to them – not based on what’s popular.
Those are good songs to keep in mind! Making sure you pick songs that reflect your personality helps to ensure you and your guests will have fun!
- As a DJ, what have been some of your biggest challenges that you’ve overcome at a wedding?
It can sometimes be challenging when recent changes haven’t been communicated, or if there are many last-minute requests, but our team adapts easily and can handle high stress situations, so we’ve always been able to make sure that the event continues to run smoothly!
Another thing that was personally challenging early on was feeling that sometimes I was underestimated as a female DJ, or when a tech (that was male) next to me is recognized as the DJ even though I am the one that’s actually mixing. I stay focused on my job, and love exceeding expectations by rocking the dance floor, which can help change perspectives and break that bias.
Those are very good insights for couples to keep in mind: make sure to communicate with your DJ so you are all on the same page. And getting the respect you deserve is always important as a woman. We’re so grateful you’ve shared that with us! And given your wonderful background, we know that you do a superb job for your clients!
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting some insight from a DJ with experience in destination weddings. If you’re looking for an outstanding DJ to make your reception unforgettable, Indian Destination Wedding can help you with that! We’ll make sure to match you with the DJ that will be flexible, friendly, talented and communicative from beginning to end!
Ready to plan out your wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean? We’ll help you find the right resort for you and bring together all the travel details for you and your guests. And we’ll even connect you with vendors that specialize in South Asian weddings so you can shorten your wedding to-do list.