How to Hire an Epic DJ for Your Wedding Reception

Find the Right Disc Jockey for your Big Day

You may think that anyone can step up and play some songs for your reception and you’d probably be right.  You can give your cousin an iPod and a speaker and they can make music for you.  We know you can do this, but we’re going to recommend against it.

The DJ that you hire doesn’t have to be epic, but a great DJ can be an integral part of your day.  They can keep your party in high gear and make sure your crowd is having a good time.  A DJ can read a crowd and knows when it’s time to insert a slow song and when it’s time to get everyone back onto the dance floor.

Your DJ may also be your Master of Ceremonies so they’ll have a hand, along with your wedding coordinator, in keeping your timeline under control.  From the first toast to the send off they will help make sure your guests enjoy the party.

You’ll be counting on them to make announcements and direct your guests to view the cake cutting, the tossing of the bouquet and garter and any of the other special things you have planned for your celebration.

Here’s what you need to know to hire a dj for your wedding day, or for any other event that you might be hosting.

Check Your Budget

Be sure to review your budget before you begin the search for a dj.  Some of the wedding professional dj’s will have a variety of packages for events, but if you’re looking for the popular club dj in your city it can be real pricey.

And sometimes the club dj might not be the best wedding dj.

You want to find the best service in your price range and that’s why we you should follow these steps.

Ask a Friend

Start off with referrals because that’s always the best way to find any of your vendors.  Be sure to ask your family, friends and coworkers if they have any recommendations.  If they’ve been to a recent event they may know of someone.

If you’ve hired any other wedding vendors ask them for suggestions.  Most vendors have worked with each other at events and will happily share recommendations.  It’s a small world out there sometimes.

Your favorite club DJ may also perform at weddings but make sure that they do before you hire them.  Everyone might not want their “hands in the air” all night long.

Check Their Websites

Can you imagine what it was like planning a wedding before we had the internet?  We have so much information right at our fingertips these days in the form of the internet.

We need to just take a moment and be thankful.

Okay, moment over.  Back to research.

A DJ’s website should give you some information about them and their style or expertise.  Many of the sites now have a calendar where you can check availability, or even go see them live.

Some sites may also include links to YouTube so that you can see the dj when they’ve performed at an event.  There’s a lot more to this job than just playing some music.

Schedule a Meeting With Each DJ

It’s always best to meet someone face to face (or via Skype) to get a feeling for their personality and how you’ll work together.

You don’t want the person acting as your MC to mumble or not speak clearly.  Whether they need to have a little personality to interact with your crowd or you just want them to fade into the background, you’ll get a feel for this in a face to face meeting.

Ask Questions

Of course you have to start with the basic questions about open dates and availability. That’s just the start and hopefully you can find that information out before you set up a meeting.

When you meet with them you want to learn a little bit about their business and their personality.  You want to feel comfortable around them and confident that they’ll be able to help you throw a great party.

If your DJ is also going to be your Master of Ceremonies ask them to explain how that works and how they’ve handled other weddings.  If your wedding and reception are at different sites (or in different places at the same site) will they need time to move equipment or do they have enough for both sites.  Do they have a helper or are they a solo show?

Other great questions to ask:

  • How long have you been working weddings and how did you get started?
  • How many events do you typically perform in a weekend?  Will there be any on the same day as mine?
  • What other services do you offer?  (Such as lighting or stage)
  • Is the Ceremony an additional charge?
  • Do you have any tricks to get the crowd on the dance floor?
  • Who are your favorite artists?
  • Do you have a suggested playlist or can you help us put one together?
  • How many hours are included?  Does this include set-up and breakdown?
  • What is the charge for additional time?

This is also a good time to talk about how your dj will handle requests from the crowd.  If you’ve got a specific playlist for them to stick to then they need a way to handle requests.  If the dj is going to accept requests they need to establish a way for your friends to submit them.

Before you leave you’ll want to get a list of references to check too.  Follow up by checking those references.

Have a Playlist and a Do Not Playlist

If you think you’re just choosing songs for your reception you might be surprised at how many songs there are in a wedding and reception.  If you have some favorite songs be sure that before you hire a dj be sure they understand that those are on your must play list.

You’ll need a playlist that has enough music and then some for your entire event and you’ll also want  a do not playlist that includes the songs you never want to hear again.  You don’t want your dj to play those even if they are requested by the crowd.

Along with your special song, you can expect to be choosing songs for:

Ceremony Songs

  • Prelude Music (the music being played while guests are being seated)
  • Processional Music (music while the bridal party enters)
  • Brides Processional (here comes the bride)
  • Recessional Music (the song/music that the bride and groom exit too)

Reception Music

  • Cocktail music (pre-entrance)
  • Entrance Song
  • First Dance
  • Father/Daughter Dance
  • Mother/Son Dance
  • Dinner Music
  • Cake Cutting/Garter Throwing/Bouquet Toss
  • Dance Music
  • Last Song

Review The Contract

Once you’ve met the dj you’d like to hire and you’re ready to move forward read that contract.  Read the whole thing and understand it.  Ask questions if you don’t understand something or it needs to be clarified about your event.

Be sure that your contract includes all the necessary information about your event and includes the time that the dj will be there to set up.  It should include the date, time and your venue, along with how many hours are included,

Understand the cancellation and refund policy.

Be specific about what you expect the dj to wear.  If they should be in a tux note that in their contract.  Or ask what they generally wear and you can approve that.  Many DJ’s will wear all black and then they just sort of blend into the background.

Verify what equipment your dj will be planning to use.  If they aren’t familiar with your venue will they do a site visit in advance?  It will be helpful if they’re familiar with the venue, but if not they need to arrive in plenty of time for setup.  If there are special electrical requirements at your venue that’s an important factor.

Now you’re ready to hire a DJ for your wedding day.  It’s time for you to get your dance on, and be sure to have the camera’s ready when you get Uncle Jim out there on the floor doing the chicken dance.

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