Hiring a Professional Wedding DJ (Disc Jockey)

Choosing entertainment for your wedding reception can be a simple task if you know what to look for in a professional disc jockey. A professional wedding DJ will act as master of ceremonies, music programmer and reception coordinator. Since your DJ will represent you in front of your guests, you should be able to communicate well with him or her. The following questions will help you hire a professional disc jockey.

Do you use professional audio equipment, including a wireless microphone?

The ability to mix music properly comes with the use of professional audio gear. Once your guests begin to dance, it is important that your DJ knows how to mix well enough to build momentum.

Some DJs claim their personality will get them through an event without having professional CD Players (or related equipment). Although a good personality is important, it is also important to have a DJ that knows how to mix well; they don't have to be a club remixer but should know how to create energy.

A wireless microphone will allow anyone doing a toast the ability to speak at the bridal table which will help your photographer get much better photographs than if toasts are spoken near the DJ or dance floor because of a wired microphone limitation.

Do you Carry Back-up equipment?

Since your event is once-in-a-lifetime, the ADJA feels it is important for your DJ to have a back-up amplifier, music player and cables for emergencies. Although rare, don't let equipment failure bring your party to an end prematurely; you've invested too much time and money.

Do you carry liability insurance?

Any legitimate business person carries liability insurance to protect themselves along with you and your guests. Some locations may require your DJ to have liability insurance.

Do you have client and business references?

It is a good idea to talk with past clients and related business people so that you may alleviate any concerns you may have regarding your prospective DJ. Past clients can give you insight to how they felt on the day of their event, while related wedding vendors can give you insight as to how well your prospective DJ works with others.

Are you a member of any trade organizations?

There are numerous trade organizations for disc jockeys. If your prospective DJ is active in an association, it may mean they attend monthly meetings, visit DJ conventions and network with their peers. Involved DJ's tend to keep up with musical trends, improve their public speaking skills, learn how to become better entertainers and grow as business professionals.

Will you play requests?

A good DJ will take requests from you and your guests. If a DJ starts to limit your ability to ask for music, it may mean they have a limited selection of music or they have a lack of music knowledge. Ask about the policy for accepting song lists and audience requests. If you are not concerned with dancing but want to create a specific atmosphere, make sure your DJ understands what you have in mind.

Do you have experience with weddings?

It is important that you choose a DJ that understands wedding protocol. Your emcee should have the ability to communicate effectively. Your initial phone conversation may already give you clues; pay attention.

There is also a belief that "radio" personalities or famous club jocks are superior to mobile disc jockeys. This is a fallacy. Many club and radio DJ's simply lack the experience of coordinating a wedding reception and communicating to a live audience face-to-face; wedding experience counts.

How will you be dressed?

Tuxedo attire is standard at most weddings. Coat & Tie is also very popular. It is a good idea to tell your DJ what type of attire you expect them to wear.

How early will you arrive?

The standard set-up time for most DJs is one hour prior to the guests? arrival. If you have live music for the first part of the reception, pay your DJ to arrive early. Introductions, toasts, and other announcements are usually required within the first 60 to 90 minutes of the reception.

Remember, the DJ will be working behind the scenes to keep your event organized while the band is playing. It also looks much nicer to have the DJ set-up instead of having them move equipment through your guests.

Are we guaranteed the DJ of our choice and will you provide us with a written contract?

Always get a written agreement which clearly indicates the specific entertainer you have chosen. Remember to read any agreement carefully before signing it. Understand cancellation policies, payment procedures and company stipulations since they vary greatly.

If you have the time, meet with your prospective entertainer to get to know who will be representing you on your big day. A meeting will give you information to help you decide whether you are comfortable with your prospective.

If you want to see your DJ "in action" ask for a video. Some DJs will allow you to come to an upcoming event. The ADJA does not recommend this since your prospective DJ should be focusing all their time and energy on their present client's special occasion instead of auditioning for their next job. Ask yourself if you would you want strangers roaming around on your special day or would you prefer invited guests that are dressed appropriately?

The professional fee for a full-time disc jockey ranges from $800 to $3000, with the average rate being $1200. You should expect a professional sound system, emcee services, music programming, event pre-planning, coordination services, and four to six hours of music and entertainment.

Rates will vary based on location, popularity, talent, music knowledge, organizational skills, mixing ability, and professionalism. Most DJs offer additional options that include: effect lighting, party novelties, enhanced sound systems, two-person shows, dancers, and additional PA (Public Address Sound System) systems or sound systems when necessary. The ADJA hope these tips will help make your wedding day unforgettable.

Article Written By

Mark Thomas, Former ADJA President
American Disc Jockey Association
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