What To Look For When Looking For A DJ.
*Warning: Not All DJs Are Created Equally*
Isn’t It Just Music?
Quite often, choosing a DJ for your wedding reception can be hit or miss. From Craigslist to The Knot… A family friend to WeddingWire, it is not difficult to find a “DJ.” These days, it seems as though anyone with a laptop and internet access can purchase a microphone, some speakers and consider themselves a “DJ for hire.” The wedding business has always been filled with eager first timers & “basement DJ’s” looking to make a quick buck, believing that they have what it takes. With so many choices, why should it matter who you hire? It is just music right? For some, this is correct. If your wedding reception is a gathering of friends and family, where music is simply for background effect, then you’ll probably do just fine by hiring any DJ. This article, however, is for the couple looking to create a fabulous wedding celebration where your dance floor is packed because you hired a professional, experienced DJ. A little research will get extraordinary results and a celebration that your guests will remember for all the right reasons.
Hiring A Professional vs. An Amateur
•A professional DJ will always have a contract, online/public reviews and a great reputation in the wedding industry. Reviews should be recent & should be from wedding couples. References for nightclubs or school dances are not the same. Wedding sites such as WeddingWire or The Knot are great resources for reading reviews. Reviews will help you to get a feel for consumer confidence. An amateur will have little to no experience with very little public praise. Google the name of the DJ you are considering. Many negative reviews or no Google presence means you likely want to walk away from this potential DJ.
•A professional DJ will be experienced with all traditions and customs. He or she will make all announcements and offer ideas on how to make your wedding celebration flow with ease. Their experience will result in a smooth running wedding reception from start to finish. An amateur DJ may be treating your wedding as on-the-job training. Their lack of experience will result in an inability to handle the "day-of" details with ease.
•A professional DJ will be an expert problem solver. While we never intend for plans to go wrong, your DJ must be well versed in handling any issue with ease. This will only come from experience. Often an amateur’s resolution will make matters even worse.
•A professional DJ will dress appropriately, arrive at least one hour in advance and have all professional sound and lighting equipment.
•A professional DJ will never invite prospective clients to view their performance at your wedding. Your wedding day is a private event which should not include wedding crashers.
•A professional DJ will have back-up equipment if anything is to go wrong. Back-up should be immediately available on-site, just in case. Don’t be fooled by a DJ who claims that their equipment is the best and/or will not fail. Back-up equipment is a must!
•A professional DJ is willing to schedule either an in-person or FaceTime/video conference to meet with you, in advance. They will answer phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner and is accommodating to your needs. They will be a full-time professional DJ, not a “weekend warrior.”
•A professional DJ will accept requests, stay away from music choices that you do not want and will easily be able to build a dance floor vibe that keeps your guests engaged. An amateur will likely use "trial & error" as their method to creating a great dance floor.
•A professional DJ will not drink on the job or take breaks. He/she will not use your wedding as a social hour. A friend, relative or rookie DJ may take liberties... treating your wedding as their opportunity to be a "guest."
•The personality of your DJ should mesh well with the vision you have for your wedding reception. They should have the voice qualities for polished & professional announcements, a demeanor that is welcoming of your guests and an attitude that puts you first.
•A professional DJ will have liability insurance, a qualified back-up DJ available and reliable transportation for getting to your wedding celebration, while an amateur has likely not made this investment in the DJ business as a career.
•A professional DJ will have all songs in digital, high quality MP3 format and those songs will be backed up on a hard drive in case of digital failure. Although technology improvements have made things easier, technology can fail. Back-up is ALWAYS essential.
•A professional DJ will not advertise during your wedding or use your wedding day as a promotional opportunity. This is your day and the focus should be on you.
•A professional DJ will be easy to find on Google and other search engines. Google any professional vendor you are considering. Are you happy with the search results?
The Bottom Line: This is your wedding day and you deserve more than an amateur who is using your wedding as practice. Remember, you get one day to have the celebration of a lifetime. As you enjoy this day with the love of your life, your family and your friends, you’ll want your DJ to be a professional who is experienced in weddings. A DJ resumé with 500 nightclub performances is far less valuable than one with 200 wedding performances. We are talking quality of performance, not quantity. On your best day, you’ll want the confidence of having made the right decision in your wedding DJ.
Five Rules For Hiring A Professional Wedding DJ
Do Not Hire Family – Your DJ should be completely focussed on his/her performance, with a limited attachment (emotionally) to the bride & groom.
Referrals & Reviews – Two of your best sources for finding a great wedding DJ are word-of-mouth and public opinion. Sources such as WeddingWire & The Knot are widely known as trusted resources for couples. Research wedding DJs or any vendor, by utilizing these comprehensive tools. Chances are, you also have a friend or co-worker who can make a recommendation.
Interview Any Potential DJ – Whether by FaceTime or in-person, schedule a date & time to ask your questions. Any professional DJ will gladly take the time to listen to and answer your questions. Your choice in DJ entertainment is an investment in a wonderful wedding day. You owe it to yourself to do your research and ask your questions.
Get It In Writing – Prior to submitting a deposit, request a contract which outlines the services you will receive for the agreed price. Make sure that the expected arrival time (at least one hour in advance of the start time) and performance times are clearly outlined. This contract should also include a contingency plan, in the event of an emergency.
Price Alone Should Not Be The Determining Factor – Cost for a DJ can range from $300 – $3,000. A DJ for less often means less of a DJ. Pricing should be consistent with experience, quality of equipment, services offered and entertainment value. Remember, no price is worth it if your wedding day is ruined.
Once you’ve found the professional DJ that you know fits with what you want, book them! The most sought after professional DJs can book 12-18 months in advance. Make sure that you get the talent you want by getting an early start.