A key element for any couple putting together a wedding reception is entertainment. Having a live band make for an exceptional party experience, but may not always be cost-effective. That’s when a wedding “Disc Jockey” or “DJ” may be better fit. But how do you find and research a DJ? What do you look for? Will this DJ fulfill your needs during your reception? Can they deliver a fun, festive event? Sometimes, it’s not always clear.
So we decided to ask some of the experts in the field. We asked those who have years of experience in event entertainment on what couples should look for when shopping for entertainment for the biggest day of their lives.
The number one piece of advice disc jockeys have for couples is to look for those businesses with wedding event experience. In researching, you will find all different types of DJs. Club DJs, radio DJs and DJ who are producers. Though, having a big name or working at a radio station looks great on a resume, they are not always the right fit for a wedding.
Look for DJs with long-standing experience in the wedding event culture. Peninsula DJ Cesar Aldea says “Try to look for a DJ that has dealt with the type of wedding culture.” Find those DJs who specialize in special events. They understand the want and the needs a couple has while planning their wedding. And always check to see how long they have been in the wedding/event industry.
The main reason you hire a DJ is for entertainment, hands down. It takes more to entertain than just playing music. DJs create the party atmosphere. They enhance the show. They are an integral part of your wedding day.
Look for DJs that has a vast music selection and flexibility to maneuver between different genres. It is a skill a versatile DJ has to offer. Make sure your DJ has the music you want heard during your wedding. Nothing is worse than having to tell your DJ what to play. You wouldn’t tell your chef how to cook. Your DJ should know well in advance on what you & your guests want and would like to hear and dance to.
Music knowledge is key and knowing what a crowd likes is, talent. Chris Debol of long-time Bay Area DJ company “Spintronix Entertainment” and Northern California-based DJ company “Mix Different” says “Find out their music background and if they know the music you are asking them to provide. Test them on their emcee (MC) skills.”
A master of ceremonies is important to keep your guests entertained and to make your event a grand affair. Look for DJs who also emcee. Often overlooked, the emcee is essential to keep up the momentum of your wedding. You wouldn’t ride a bus without a driver? Ask your DJ how they are with interacting with crowds. When researching potential candidates, observe and ask yourself, are they extraverted or introverted? You want someone who is not afraid of public speaking, able to move and control a crowd. Be able to lead and inspire others to, what else? Dance!
Turntables, a microphone, speakers and lighting are all hardware essentials in a DJ/emcee’s arsenal. Often overlooked, lighting and video projection systems are an important part to a good wedding. Most of the time, lighting is included in the overall entertainment package. Keep in mind, some venues will charge extra for additional lighting.
When initially meeting with a DJ, ask for photos of previous weddings to get an idea of the type of equipment they can bring to your event. Also with Spintronix, Chris Miguel says “It also doesn’t hurt when clients are referred to DJs because they are on a venues preferred vendor list.” Vendor lists can help narrow down your search as those businesses on the list are trusted.
As with any business and service, professionalism is a mark of quality. Appearance and reliability are factors any DJ understands and respects. When having a formal event, you would want everyone, including your staff to dress accordingly. You wouldn’t want your waiters dressed in jeans or sporting apparel as they serve you dinner? The same goes for your DJ and how they conduct themselves. Look for DJs who set-up early for an event. Look for clean and organize DJs, both in appearance and with their equipment. Spintronix’ Scotty Fox maintains reliability of service makes for professional and well-organized event.
Also, the mark of a professional DJ is positive referrals. Past clients can give you insight on their previous experience. Lorenzo Cordova, a long-time DJ in Daly City emphasizes viewing videos of their prior wedding events from potential DJs and/or asking for letters of recommendation. Ask for a sample of their music selection either in written form or through a digital sample (once called a “mix-tape”).
Chris Debol also suggest couples should check for website, a business license, and that they have the proper insurance.
Aldea says, “Avoid the cheap ones, because you get what you pay for.” It’s important to know when shopping for a DJ, cost is a factor. Don’t get sticker shock when a DJ quotes you over $1,000. The cost to run a business in the entertainment industry is not cheap. Keep in mind you are paying for music knowledge, entertainment ability, equipment use, transportation and most of all, experience. Scotty Fox says “…a good DJ isn’t cheap and a cheap DJ isn’t good.”