How To Hire a DJ

Do you remember when you first started to daydream about your wedding? If you're like most brides, it was years before he asked you to spend the rest of your lives together. Back then you couldn't possibly imagine how much work, how many decisions, and how much money it would take to create the wedding of your dreams. Well, reality time is here and it can be overwhelming!

The first place to begin planning any wedding is to decide your budget. Too often this is done in hindsight with the realization that some things are just going to have to be eliminated or pared down. By starting with a realistic budget, you'll find yourself making better decisions with fewer regrets. Unfortunately, when the money starts to run thin, one of the more common places couples opt to cut back is on their reception entertainment. This has often proven to be a disastrous mistake. One way to think about your reception entertainment is to consider it to be an insurance policy on the rest of your investment. The fact is, it won't matter how beautiful your decorations are, how delicious the meal is, how artistic the cake is, if your entertainment fails to meet your needs and expectations. The entertainment is the one factor that can "make or break" your event. While it's attractive to shop by price, just as with every other wedding service vendor, price alone is not the definitive factor in this decision. All DJ services are not equal. You don't want to rush into this important decision based simply on price. As a mobile disc jockey, let me point out a few things that you'll want to consider:

1. Experience - The first thing to consider is experience, specifically with wedding receptions. A DJ who does primarily club work will most likely not have the variety of music that is necessary to perform at weddings, nor will he or she have the experience necessary to professionally emcee the reception events. A good reception entertainer has many responsibilities. He or she needs to be an event manager, know the kinds of music that will satisfy your guests, and how to work with other professionals. A reception is a coordinated effort between many professionals. You want someone who has had experience working with caterers, photographers, and videographers so that everything runs smoothly. One indication of an experienced reception DJ is that he or she will have a thorough event planner for you to complete or that will be completed with you during a planning meeting. This will cover everything from the names of your bridal party, songs to be played for your formal dances, special requests, songs to NOT play, and many other factors that will help things run smoothly.

2. Music Library - This factor alone varies greatly amongst people who provide this service. Is their library all-digital or does it include cassette? Compact discs or laptop computer hard drives are the medium of choice for mobile professionals who keep their libraries current. In addition, while it can be expected that any DJ have a variety of music that includes several genres, are they really equipped to play the music that you and your guests want? How many selections does the DJ have? While 300-400 CDs may sound like a lot compared to your personal collection that will almost always be insufficient for a professional. Even if the DJ is using primarily compilation discs, they will most likely not be able to handle many of your guests' requests. For a reception you expect a variety of ages and music tastes. The budget DJ simply has not invested the amount of money necessary to provide you with a first class selection of music. Therefore, it is important for you to select a DJ who has invested in an extensive music library.

3. Equipment - Your disc jockey should have high quality, professional equipment that is designed for mobile use and that is neatly cased. Cordless mics are also a nice touch for the blessing & the toasts. This is another feature that you often don't find with a budget DJ. Although you might not be familiar with brands for professional equipment, it will not be the brands that you find at electronics stores. While it is highly unlikely that your disc jockey will experience any equipment problems, he or she should have back-up equipment readily available.

4. Personality/Interaction - It is important for you to select a DJ who will provide the style and personality that you prefer. Do you want an energetic person who will interact with your guests, or do you prefer that the disc jockey provide a more low key approach and only make necessary announcements? These are questions you should ask yourself, and the disc jockey. Make sure that you have a match between your needs and tastes to the ability and style of the disc jockey. A professional service will be capable of providing any style that you prefer. They will keep perspective and perform knowing that it is YOUR day and not their show.

5. Appearance/Dress - Unfortunately, this is an issue that must be examined prior to hiring your disc jockey. If your wedding is a formal event, your DJ should be dressed appropriately in a tuxedo or formalwear. A DJ who is dressed casually will take away from the overall look of your reception.

6. Contracts/Reliability - The importance of getting a written contract from your disc jockey cannot be overemphasized. In a vast majority of cases where there have been last minute problems, there was NO written contract or the DJ was a "friend" of the family. You may have a very capable friend who has offered to provide you disc jockey services at a discounted rate. The most important social event of your life is NOT the time to mix business with friendship. What if the performance is not up to your expectations? Your reception is disappointing and a friendship is compromised. If you have no contract do you really want to take the chance of the DJ not showing up for your event, or canceling at the last minute? A written contract is imperative. You want it to clearly state who your DJ will be, what hours are covered, and what is included in the price. Often lighting and other options are available at an additional fee.

7. So, you know some of the criteria you need to consider. How do you go about gathering this information? Well, of course the best way would be if you have recently attended a reception and liked the DJ that performed. However, if this is not the case for you, the Yellow Pages and the Internet are where to begin. Be cautious of splashy ads…the biggest ad and the fancies website doesn't necessarily reflect the best quality. Large multi-system corporations or agencies have the money to invest in advertising but that doesn't mean they've also invested in training, quality equipment and solid music libraries.

8. Many DJ companies have lists of references and possibly even videos that you can view of DJs "in action." Remember that a great video can be more indicative of talented and creative editing rather than a talented DJ. No one is going to show footage of an empty dance floor! Another caution about videos is to NOT assume that the DJ you see will be the one who will actually perform at your reception. You have to ask! Often with large national chains, the video is professionally produced using their top talent. It's possible that the DJ on the video is not even in your area. Regarding references, please realize that no one is going to give references that are less than glowing. You must proceed with caution regarding anything you watch or read.

9. There is one great way you can decide if a DJ is right for you. Talk with him or her. Who would've thought it could be so simple! Over the phone, or better, in person, you can get a good feel for the persona and style of the person you are considering. Pay attention to your degree of comfort while in this person's company. Listen to his or her voice tone and inflection. These will be good indictors of what you can expect in terms of professional performance. Pay attention to the questions that you are asked. This will give you an idea of both how organized and how tuned in to your needs and expectations he or she may be. Expect questions like where your event is located, number of guests you anticipate, and what type of atmosphere you are hoping to create.

10. What should you talk about? You want to be prepared with questions that address the criteria examined in this article. That means you have to ask yourself a lot of questions first. Most important, you need to ask yourself how much is quality entertainment at your reception worth to you? Comparatively speaking, your entertainment will be one of the least expensive factors in your reception. It will be worth investing a bit more for a top-notch DJ. It's one of the most important decisions you will make. Years from now your guests will still remember that your reception was fun!