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Hiring a DJ from a Grooms point of view – From “Bridal Tips”

This write up is all reprinted from a national website about hiring wedding DJ’s from a grooms point of view – not ours… But

Get Wedding DJ References From Friends, Coworkers, Wedding Reception Halls
Your best resource in finding your wedding DJ is people you know. Ask around, try locally famous DJs from radio stations. Some people moonlight as wedding disc jockeys and are good at it. Talk to recent newlyweds, ask your wedding reception hotel or resort, they may have a list of preferred vendors for you to call, wedding DJs whom they trust. They also see the horror stories and know who to avoid.
This list contains vendors that the resort has worked with and knows to be reliable and professional. The resort’s reputation is stake also. But beware of secondary hotels or reception sites that might not be as scrupulous. Some caterers may get a kickback, so know who you are dealing with. Our DJ was recommended to us by the catering manager at the Boca Raton Resort where we had our reception. Our DJ also worked her wedding, and she oversees many weddings every year so she knew who the right DJ was, and boy was she right!

If your reception is complex, and in a big well known resort or hotel you want a true professional who works in the big places, not someone who travels the condo clubhouse circuit. Many DJ’s may get offended by this, but you really want someone with the experience of working with the catering departments of these larger venues.  This synergy between DJ and catering manager is what keeps your function running smoothly.  A DJ’s talent should reach far beyond just motivating the crowd or making the announcements at the right time.  They must have their finger on the pulse of your wedding and know everything that is going on.  The only way this can happen is when they have a good working relationship with the venue staff.

Is the DJ familiar with your wedding venue?Ask your DJ if they have done weddings at your reception site before. It helps that they know the wedding venue, how to get there, and they have a familiarity with the staff.  Your wedding disc jockey may also be better prepared to deal with known issues or caveats with the wedding reception hall. Every little positive wedding DJ bullet item you find makes it less likely that you will have problems with your DJ.  It does not mean you should reject the DJ if they have not been there before, but it’s a nod in their favor.

What about wedding DJ overtime, and other unexpected or hidden fees?

 Your contract should clearly specify all costs including any assistant disc jockeys they will have with them, as well as special equipment lighting packages, or other fees that they pass on to you the client.  Be wary of vendors who give you low ball quotes, but only give you 3 hours of time.  If your reception runs longer, you find out “it’s another $200 per hour or we walk out right now”. You must also plan for overtime in case the reception runs longer than the contract specifies.  The contract should clearly spell out how much extra it will cost you to have your wedding DJ for an extra hour or 2.  It can cost $150 or more. Do not believe verbal promises stating they will work extra hours for free.  Put it in writing in the contract, or they will not do it. Don’t be blindsided like many brides and grooms are when there event runs over.  I receive complaints from brides whose wedding ran over, and the DJ threatened to leave if not paid in cash right now. You don’t want surprises, your wedding DJ contract should be a game plan that covers all bases so  you know exactly how much your DJ will cost you.

What attire will your wedding disc jockey wear at your wedding?

 Sounds like a no brainer, but you usually want your DJ to wear a tuxedo.  The DJ at my brother’s wedding was wearing black jeans and a shirt that was hanging out.  He was supposed to be wearing a tuxedo.  Even the photographer went up to him and chastised him.

How many years experience does this wedding DJ have? Will they play CD’s you provide?

Some wedding disc jockey folks have a list of songs they play and except for the bride and groom first dance, do not give you much choice. Our wedding DJ to allowed us to choose at least 50% which is not the norm. Let your DJ be your guide as to what songs should be played. A good disc jockey reads the crowd and knows what to play.  Be sure they know what NOT to play, as well as special songs you want to hear. Ask if they will accept requests from wedding guests. Your wedding disc jockey should be flexible with a wide selection, so requests from your wedding guests can be fulfilled. This step is VERY crucial, because your wedding DJ plays about 60 songs during your reception, and you want nothing but the best tunes to keep your dance floor crowded. If the DJ needs to intervene and suggest a song, heed them as they generally know what they are doing and keep up with the current trends. You want a wedding DJ who can adapt to any crowd.  This DJ will be someone who is very well versed in all areas music. Don’t try to give the DJ a tape or a list of 100% of the songs to play for the night.  You hired a DJ not a juke box operator.  If they stick to your play list, I can guarantee you’ll have an empty dance floor. Your musical taste is not the same as 120 people at your wedding. Let your DJ do their job and keep your wedding guests happy.

Will your wedding disc jockey need to be fed at your wedding?

Be sure to feed your DJ, with travel, setup, performance, tear-down and return travel, they often go 10 or 12 hours without eating  Ask if they want to be fed. Some disc jockeys want food, some do not want to eat while they work.  They deserve it though, because they might be there 4 hours with nothing to eat or drink. The caterer needs to know so they can bill you accordingly. They usually make sandwiches for the DJ’s, musicians, photographers, etc., or you can just let them eat off your buffet. Verify pricing with the caterer, you would not want them to charge you $150 per head for a DJ and an assistant disc jockey. The DJ at our wedding refused to be served food, don’t know why. He felt we spent enough money and should not have to spend more to feed the DJ, so he eats before the wedding.  He also felt it was unprofessional for the DJ to be eating when they should be working. We really admired his philosophy on this topic, but it’s still ok to feed them, they’ll be there 4 hours or more plus setup time. The hotel would have charged $18 for his food. We could not even get him to take a Coke.  It’s always nice to feed your vendors.  We even gave him some chocolate and a centerpiece to take home to his wife after the reception.

Does your wedding DJ have a request form for you to fill out?

Ask for a list of wedding requests and suggestions in all categories. Some wedding DJs have a request form for you to fill out, so they can have everything ready for the wedding.  Some obscure songs can take a while for them to obtain.

How Much Do Wedding DJs cost?

The best thing about wedding DJs is you can find a DJ to fit your budget, from casual guys who moonlight on parties, all the way up to professional wedding and corporate types. There are moonlighting DJ’s that might only charge $300. You’ll find DJ’s charge $400 up to $1900 depending on the area.  Your area may be less or more. In San Diego for example, you might expect to pay in the $1300 for a true professional top notch wedding DJ, and no fancy lighting. In 1996 in Boca Raton, FL, our DJ’s employees charged $500. But we chose the owner, who was $750 and the price might be higher by now. Our DJ charged a bit more than most local DJ’s, as he is very much in demand and highly recommended by several of our vendors.  That’s a great way to find vendors also.  When several different wedding vendors point to the same person as the best, they are usually right. Our wedding DJ more than proved he was worth his weight in gold, as the evening went flawless, not one incidence of feedback, and the wireless headphone mic never gave out on him. Friends of mine several years ago had a local famous radio station DJ do their wedding too, that was pretty cool.

Let the DJ ask you questions too like what you do or don’t want to hear. You want someone who takes an interest in what YOU want. We also met with the DJ one last time a few days before the wedding where he phonetically pronounced each person’s name he was going to introduce at the wedding. This is a great added touch because no one likes to have their name mispronounced at a wedding. You may want to hire the owner of the DJ company, like we did, even though they usually charge more than the employees. The owner usually is the smartest one and has the most experience.

DJ’s Should Know The Itinerary at your wedding reception!

It is the DJ’s responsibility to know when all the events are supposed to occur during reception, like cake cutting, bouquet tosses, birthday surprises, etc. The DJ we mentioned in the preceding paragraph did not know when anything was being done. Around cake cutting time, I asked him when it was going to occur and he had no clue. The DJ’s job is to work with catering, and know when meals are being served and when the milestone events are to take place. NOBODY in the whole wedding knew when anything was happening so it was somewhat confusing. The DJ and the caterer should have this under control before your reception begins! The DJ, caterer, and Photographer should all be in contact and playing off the same sheet of music.

What about Chicken Dance, or Hokey Pokey?
Some people love it, some people hate it. The consensus among our friends and numerous coworkers is that we made the right choice in NOT allowing it in our wedding. I believe these songs are outlawed in fifteen states now, anyway. Just kidding. Most guests feel Uncomfortable doing these cheesy dances. I even felt uncomfortable doing the Macarena.  But it’s your wedding, and you might want to hear them, that’s fine too.  But the point is let the wedding disc jockey know your preference.  If you hate these songs, you would hate to be surprised by your DJ playing them at the reception.  Group effort songs (i.e. the old “Electric Slide” always fills the floor. The Macarena and the Electric Slide became popular in their day because people who can’t dance will usually get up and dance to a group activity song.  A good conga line will always fill the floor.  Each group of people is different. I polled several friends, coworkers, and wedding guests of other weddings we attended, and it was unanimous:  No Chicken Dance, it belongs at Oktoberfest, not a wedding.  But then many DJs email us to say that it’s a favorite crowd pleaser at many weddings they do. Your group of people might have the best time in the world with it, but it’s your decision.