Your wedding entertainment is one way you can make sure your guests have a blast. It can also be another way of adding your own personal touch to the event. Your wedding is a party, after all! You want to make it a kick-ass party that your guests won't soon forget. Whether your goal is to get people moving on the dance floor or just to have some great music accompanying the reception, hiring a wedding DJ can be a great option.
Now your wedding is around the corner, and it slowly dawns that the show must be perfect. Nothing should be compromised. Having checked all other boxes like venue, outfit, flowers, it's time to let the music play to the high heavens. Music is one of the intricate fibres that make up a near-perfect wedding. Guests may easily forget that the dessert didn't get to their corner of the hall but will not as easily forget how the music you played made them feel. Music and entertainment are significant in determining what kind of memory the guests will leave with. While the most important part of the day is the exchange of vows between two lovebirds, music comes next quite closely. Interestingly, statistics show that about 72% of brides say they wished they had spent more time carefully choosing their music vendors. 65% of couples that chose a band to entertain at their wedding said, if they had to do it all over again, they would have chosen a disc jockey.
The back and forth that go on in the minds of couples, on whether or not to use a band or DJ is worthy of note. Both have a lot of good to offer when got right. However, you can't afford to risk anything, especially the entertainment at your wedding. Sad as it may sound, you just can't hide bad music, so it behoves you to get it right. A lot of working DJ's are part-time hobbyists who do it just for fun. You'll want to get a professional to stand to avoid sad stories. How then do you check that box perfectly?
Once you have decided that you want a DJ to provide the music for your wedding reception, you have to pick the DJ. Picking the right DJ for your wedding can seem like a daunting task because you know that the DJ sets the tone for the reception. Pick a great DJ, and it is going to be hard for your reception to be anything less than spectacular. Pick a so-so DJ, and even with the best food and venue, you are still probably only going to have a so-so reception. However, there are so many choices in DJs that you may be overwhelmed. Even if Limelight Entertainment is not your choice, we want you to be confident and knowledgeable when selecting your DJ
Unlike a live band, a DJ can play the actual recordings that your guests love and crossfade them, so there's no awkward silence between songs. Which DJ you hire will depend in great part on what kind of music you want and what your guests will be excited to hear. If you want a dance party, you'll find plenty of DJs who can give you one. You can also find DJs who will customize a playlist for you, whatever your tastes. Here are some tips to keep in mind when hiring a wedding DJ.
Know what to look for and where
The most common option is to go with a DJ whose primary business is weddings. These wedding DJs know the ins and outs of wedding receptions and may even be great at serving as an emcee to make announcements. To find one of these, do the usual web searching and asking for referrals from other vendors.
If your focus is on having excellent dance music, you may consider a DJ from the local club scene. These DJs may actually charge cheaper rates, but they won't necessarily be experienced with weddings. To find one, you can start by asking at local clubs.
If you really want to go all-out on music, you may be able to find a wedding DJ who is also renowned for its great music or a club DJ who has lots of wedding experience. These can be ideal options, but be aware that they may cost you. A professional wedding DJ of this variety will probably be well known in your area. Just ask vendors.
Ask to hear samples of the wedding DJ's work
Once you've found a DJ or two that seems right for your wedding, ask to see examples of their work. This could be a video of a live performance, a mixtape, or sample playlists. The more important to you, the quality of the music is, the more you should see and hear before hiring.
Give the DJ your playlist and your "do not play" list
If you're already set on a playlist, discuss it with DJs and make sure they are willing to follow it. You may also want to create a "do not play" list and share it to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Ask how they get the crowd going
If you want your DJ to be really involved in making your reception fun, make sure to ask about how they engage a crowd. Some important questions to ask:
- How does the DJ get people dancing if they seem reluctant?
- Will they accept requests from guests?
- Is the DJ willing to also act as an emcee and make announcements?
What should I look for in finding a good wedding DJ?
Get a DJ with contract
As with all vendors, you should get a contract. Don't work with someone who won't provide one! Be sure to check our guide to hiring wedding vendors for general tips on finding, vetting and reviewing contracts.
Take your time to search them out. Go out to some events and get the contacts of the DJ's behind the parties you enjoyed. Ask friends and family to recommend a few and then create a list. Carry out some level of research on those on your list. What equipment are they using? What attitude do they exude when on duty? Read reviews and then decide who to pursue.
Stand your ground
You may have picked out a DJ, now be sure to communicate exactly what you want. Some DJ's may wish to side-track you and have their own way, don't let them. Make him listen to you and your demands. If that's such a hard thing for him to do, it's time to change DJ's.
Without being a 'bridezilla', you can politely table your music plan. Find a DJ who understands the kind of songs you want to be played in every section of the event. He must be willing to create fun and show-stopping playlists for different categories. Research shows that professional DJ's prefer it, when the client clearly tells them what they want to hear. Walkthrough playlists for the father-daughter dance, bride procession, parent's procession, couples are dancing and more. Don't be afraid to be thorough.
Create your playlist early
It may sound like a flimsy part of the process, but it's not. It's advisable to get your playlist to your DJ at least two weeks before your wedding day, so he gets familiar with what you want. The Dj who makes that demand knows his onions indeed. Stick with him. Let him know the songs that must not be played. If you can't stand songs with swear words, let him know. If you don't like a particular artist, let him know as well. But be an early bird and have his work cut out for him.
I know a lot of brides have too much on their plate to care much about, but it does pay to get to know your Dj. Know his office, read up on him/her, search out some FAQ's online or plan a meet so you can look him in the eye and know what your guts tell you.
Find a DJ that does more than just play music at the reception
You have a playlist. You also have a do not playlist. You hire someone who knows how to mix music well. How hard can it be? The truth is, it's not. Music should be the easy part for the best wedding DJs. Most brides and grooms today are looking for a lot of dancing at their wedding, and while you'll want a legit DJ spinning your music, the secret isn't all about the mix.
Talk about timelines
More often than not, you're going to want your wedding DJ to make announcements and play music. But what you didn't know is that you should look for a DJ that takes it even further. The best wedding DJs know how to create and run a wedding timeline that is engaging and ensures that all of the details are covered. Things like checking in with the bride and groom, making sure photographers capture the important moments, and working directly with the banquet manager are just a few of the most basic details that the best wedding DJs are trained to cover. If you enjoy the perfection, you'll want a DJ that will ensure you can relax and be a guest when it matters most.
Hire a two-person wedding DJ team.
The best wedding DJs consist of a two-person team, an emcee and a DJ. It's practically impossible for one person to play music and run your wedding reception at the same time. Formalities can be announced from behind the turntables, but don't be surprised if the solo DJ talent that you hired to focus on the music for the reception is a little overwhelmed by the additional demands that come from performing for a wedding (as opposed to a nightlife event). A two-person team will make formalities smoother, allow the emcee to check-in where needed, and much more. In addition, some venues that host multiple weddings on the same day only allow for a small window of time for your vendors to set up. If this is the case, hiring a two-person team is going to ensure that they are set up in time. You should have a great DJ focused on the music at all times, and a great emcee to focus on the rest of the party.
Beware of the all-in-one.
Generally, any company that provides a lot of multiple services such photography, videography, entertainment, decorations, etc. in one package is not great at any of those things, or only great at one of those things. Your DJ should be able to provide you with music for your ceremony & cocktail hour, and also lighting and sound for your reception. But beyond that, you're not going to find the best of anything all from one single vendor.
Know what you should wait for, and know what you shouldn't.
Uplighting gets cheaper every year. There's a new style photo booth coming out each month. The point is, no one is going to run out of a commodity like lighting or photo favors for your wedding date. However, great wedding DJs get booked up far in advance because they have a high demand. With only 52 weekends a year to perform from the 100s of requests they get each year, make sure you don't wait too long to secure a DJ unless you don't want the best, which in case you should wait as long as you'd like.
A good DJ is worth his weight in gold, and it's important to choose value over cost. While you have a budget to work with, do remember not to ruin a great wedding with a bad DJ.
What Makes a Good Wedding DJ?
Being a DJ is about way more than pushing "play" on an iPad playlist. Here are the qualities that set a good wedding DJ apart from the crowd.
If we could only give you one tip, it would be this!
Your DJ is going to be responsible for setting the tone of the evening. If you have a boring DJ that means a boring wedding.
A DJ's personality is the most important clue you're going to get. Instead of relying on emails and texts, meet with your DJ in person to talk about your vibe, needs, and favorite music. This will help you decide whether they can create the party atmosphere you're looking for.
You've probably been hearing how important communication is during all those premarital classes. Well, working as a DJ is no different.
Playing music is only part of what a DJ does. The other half is talking. From making sure you're on the same page regarding the "do not play" list to making sure the photographer captures the cake cutting, wedding DJs need to communicate, and they need to do it well.
This is why it's so crucial to hire a wedding DJ that can also MC. Other than your wedding planner, your DJ is the one person keeping everything together!
Any DJ who specializes in weddings will end up working a lot of them, so they need to be organized. But when those plans go awry, they also need to be flexible.
An organized DJ has a copy of the evening's timeline so they can keep events on track. But if the bride and groom are an hour late, they should be able to adapt on the fly so that you and your guests are able to enjoy the evening without feeling rushed (with plenty of time for dancing).
How to Choose a Wedding DJ?
If you're meeting with multiple wedding DJs, it can be hard to choose just one. Here are some questions you can ask to help you choose the perfect DJ.
Do you DJ full-time?
It's not always easy to tell from a website whether a DJ is working weddings on the side or as a full-time gig. All things being equal, you want someone who's fully dedicated to making your day amazing.
Are you insured?
DJ-ing doesn't sound like a terribly risky job, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your wedding DJ is licensed and insured.
How many DJs do you have?
If a DJ company has a team of DJs, find out which one will be working at your wedding. You don't want to do all of your meetings with the company owner, only to find out that you don't vibe with the person actually at your wedding.
What other services do you offer?
Many DJ companies now offer uplighting, photo booths, and other add-ons to make your reception extra special. Many even offer packages that make these extras a little more affordable.
Do you specialize in weddings?
Corporate events, nightclubs, and weddings might all have DJs in common, but the experiences are completely different. Make sure you find a wedding DJ, not just a DJ who's willing to do weddings.
Do you have a preferred style?
If possible, look for a wedding DJ who's music style closely matches your own. If you love hip hop and he listens to Garth Brooks, you probably won't be able to rely on him for song suggestions.
What do you typically wear?
It's not something most couples think of, but having a wedding DJ in the wrong attire can make for an awkward event. You wouldn't want someone to show up at your casual beach wedding in a full tux. Or show up at a ballroom wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
How will you build our playlist?
Ask your wedding DJ how they learn about your likes/dislikes and build a playlist for you. Will it happen in one meeting? Will they submit a song list via email for your approval? Do they have an online hub where you can submit suggestions?
How do you keep the dance floor packed?
They don't need to provide you with their trade secrets, but a good wedding DJ should have an answer for how they keep people on the dance floor. At the very least, they should be able to read a room to see which songs are hitting and which are falling flat.
How do you handle song requests?
If you'd like guests to make song requests, ask the DJ what their method is. (And if they say they never take requests, RUN!)
Do you have back-up equipment/DJ?
Anything can go wrong. Yes, even with a professional DJ! We've personally been at weddings where the power has gone out, and we had to come up with a solution on the fly. DJs get sick, and equipment suddenly breaks, the venue's sound system isn't compatible with the audio setup you name it, and it can happen.
But a professional wedding DJ will have a Plan B (and C) in case something goes wrong.
Are you familiar with our venue?
If a wedding DJ has worked at your chosen venue before, even better! Every wedding venue has different quirks and layouts that can take some getting used to. But if your DJ has dealt with them before (and already knows the staff), that's one less thing to worry about.
Can I see a video of your work?
Remember how we said DJs needed to be good communicators? Well, you want to find one who can do more than just talk a good talk. Ask if they have video clips of other weddings they've worked so you can get a feel of what they're like "on stage."
Hiring a wedding DJ is one decision that makes a huge impact on your big day.
So much of your wedding day—from the ceremony to the reception—hinges on having the perfect atmosphere to set the mood. The wrong DJ can easily kill that vibe with the wrong song selection, a misspoken word, or a missed opportunity.
Hire a cheap wedding DJ, and you'll find it to be the worst money you've ever saved. A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Make sure you do it upright.
Frequently Asked Questions
A bad DJ will not be able to make adjustments on the fly, in the best case, making your event flow awkwardly, and in some worst cases, causing you to run out of time for certain events like your cake cutting, your first dances, your bouquet toss, etc. As you know, you only get one chance to do your wedding day.
iTunes is the biggest and for DJs we have Beatport.com. Beatport is one of the most popular digital download services for DJs to buy and download tracks. Others include Juno, Bandcamp and Apple Music (Formerly iTunes). Bandcamp is the best online retailer of music to support because they support the artist.
Your DJ will be responsible for not only keeping the reception on track for toasts, dances, and cake-cutting, but also for enticing people to have fun, dance, and participate. You'll want to make sure your DJ matches your wedding theme and tone as well as your style as a couple.
If you want to book a world-famous DJ like Calvin Harris for your big summer blowout, you can expect to easily pay $100,000 or more. Local DJs with regional celebrity won't cost in the hundreds of thousands, but you may expect to pay more than the average $500 DJ party cost.
Large weddings may mean a higher DJ bill if additional speakers, microphones or upgraded sound equipment are required to properly serve the crowd. Costs may increase if the wedding DJ is required to set up outdoors because additional equipment such as power cords and other items may be needed.