Gainesville, FL-based DJ Gary McClain (a.k.a. DJ Ruckus) offers his expert advice on planning a kickass destination wedding that will have everyone dancing from dusk till dawn 🎶
Q: What do engaged couples need to look for when trying to find a DJ for their wedding (specifically a destination wedding)?
A: First, you need to look for a DJ who’s willing to travel and has done so in the past. Once that's done, it's time to think about what you want your wedding reception to look like. Do you want a showman or someone classic and straight to the point? Maybe a combination of the two? Finding a good DJ is best done by word of mouth or scanning Google for DJs with quality reviews from previous weddings they’ve done.
Q: Let’s talk destination wedding specifically. What are some of the challenges of hiring a DJ onsite vs. bringing your fave DJ abroad with you? What are the advantages of bringing our beloved DJ Ruckus along for the ride?
A: There's nothing better than having your own DJ in your corner for a destination wedding. The planning and attention to detail outweigh everything simply because we can communicate and have any and all kinks ironed out before we even leave!
This allows you to tick that box off with confidence and move forward with planning the rest of your wedding. The DJ onsite has no idea who you are and won't have the same interest in the success of your big day that your friendly neighborhood DJ has—this is someone you trust and have built a relationship with, and they’ve got your back completely. Bringing your DJ along for the ride means he or she already knows the wedding itinerary back to front and will be communicating with your wedding coordinator throughout your special day to make sure everything’s flowing well.
Having me at your destination wedding is a huge advantage! I've perfected so many details—so many dos and don'ts—over the last 20 years of DJing that you’ll never have to worry about hiccups. Your only job will be to focus on having the best day of your life and creating memories that will never die! I'm big on crowd participation and creating a fun-loving environment for everyone with my music and charisma, including getting the party started with dances and wedding games if the interest is there for it.
Q: What are some must-have songs for weddings that always get the crowd going?
A: Well, there's a laundry list of songs and it depends, of course, on the crowd and what genres they like. I'll give you my top 10 neutral songs that never fail! (I gotta save some ammo for the wedding, after all 😉)
I Got a Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Love Shack - B-52s
Shout - Temptations
Low - Flo Rida
Yeah! - Usher
Let's Get Married (Remix) - Jagged Edge feat. RUN DMC
Cupid Shuffle - Cupid
September - Earth, Wind & Fire
Old Time Rock & Roll
Q: What is something a couple might forget to consider when thinking about what music to play for their guests?
A: This is a great question. I find that sometimes the bride and groom tend to gravitate towards the type of music that they personally listen to without thinking too much about whether or not everyone will enjoy those genres.
You gotta think about the party overall and make sure there’s enough variety in the playlist to keep everyone excited because they know there will be music they like mixed in at some point. Not liking Top 40 stuff, Classic Hits, or slides and shuffles can be a setback. Always keep your guests in mind and build a party atmosphere around your crowd with versatility and music that everyone typically knows.
Q: What's the best way to take the party to the next level? How can newlyweds give their guests that WOW factor???
A: Booking an outstanding DJ or host is number one! People like to see that there's order and feel like someone’s running the show. In addition to having the vendors put on a well-run production, the couple can really WOW their guests by being calm, happy, sharing the love in the room, interacting, and giving thanks as the evening moves along. There’s nothing better than showing your appreciation, as it makes the guests feel happy to be sharing these memories-in-the-making with you.
Q: What are your thoughts on a couple choosing to use a simple playlist hooked up to an iPhone for their wedding?
A: ABSOLUTE NO!! There are way too many variables that get neglected when you don't hire a quality DJ or host, especially if all you’re doing is playing music from a playlist. Music selections, the timing of songs, announcements, and level of hospitality can make or break a wedding. All that combined makes up about 70% of your day, so always keep hiring a pro in the plans and find somewhere else to cut corners if necessary.
Q: What is the most helpful thing a couple can do after hiring a DJ?
A: Communicating what they want with regards to the song list as well as setting up a timeline that's based around the music selections and announcements to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Q: Is there anything other advice you’d like to share with engaged couples?
A: Always remember to take your guests and bridal party into consideration when planning your reception. To have a successful party, you want things to move smoothly and somewhat quickly to keep everyone engaged. Song selections that cater to all ages are always helpful to keep your crowd entertained, dancing, and not looking to turn in early. At the end of the day, you want to think of this as putting on your own personal production to share your special day with family and friends!
ABOUT DJ RUCKUS
Hi, I'm Gary McClain, also known as "GMac" or "DJ Ruckus." I've been DJing for 19 years, having started this journey in high school with a pieced-together turntable set and my parents’ old vinyl just for fun and a new challenge.
I've played everywhere from weddings to parties to clubs, and the list goes on. I've had the opportunity to DJ/host over 200 weddings in my time thus far. Being versatile has allowed me to take bits and pieces from different atmospheres and use those tools to best fit any event that comes my way.
DJ Ruckus Entertainment
*Affiliated with Genius Entertainment
Gainesville, FL. (Serving all of North Central FL.)