Shopping For A Wedding DJ
Shopping for a wedding DJ is really important and it will directly impact the success of your wedding. Here are some things to consider as you begin your search.
The first and most important thing to ask yourself is – How important is a DJ when it comes to the grand scheme of your wedding reception? Everyone has priorities and it’s important to decide what you want your wedding day to look, feel, and sound like. What do you want the wedding experience to be like for your family and friends?
Maybe the thing you care about the most is the meal. Maybe the setting & venue are the things you want your guests to remember forever. You have to say to yourself – “after my wedding day is over, what do I want my family and friends to say a few days later, a few weeks later, a few months later, and a few years later?”. Do you expect people to just hang around chatting with little to no dancing? Do you expect a packed dance floor the entire evening?
Take a minute and think about some of the weddings and events you’ve been to as a guest.
I think it’s safe to say that the flowers didn’t make your night (even though they were probably beautiful and made the photos look stunning)! You might not remember what you had to eat, BUT I bet you DO remember if you had fun. When you break things down and look at the overall wedding experience – The DJ is the biggest contributor to “did I have fun”.
It’s our job to set and create the tone, mood, flow, and energy. It’s our job to guide you and your guests through an amazing experience. I’ve had people joke with me that my job is just creating a playlist and hitting the play button, but that is very far from reality.
An experienced wedding DJ has a lot of hats to wear and a lot of responsibilities. Leading up to the wedding, a lot of time is dedicated to learning about the couple, their family and friends, and their wishes and wants.
From there, it’s about crafting the perfect vibe and flow of events. We want the day/night to be seamless, stress-free, and with the perfect level of energy to keep your family and friends smiling, laughing, and dancing.
On the day of the wedding, we help keep things moving by working with your event planner or function manager so everything is smooth and enjoyable while you get to relax and enjoy every moment with your family and friends. When it comes time for music and dancing, it’s the DJ’s job to create the soundtrack to the night.
A real and experienced DJ knows how to combine your wishes and our general knowledge to make sure your guests laugh, smile, and dance. It’s about taking people through a musical journey by playing songs that aren’t only perfect for dancing, but also make you feel good by bringing back fantastic memories from years past.
Most couples want people to dance and never leave the dance floor! Knowing how to “read” the crowd and build and maintain energy is extremely important. We know how to adapt and change based on how the dance floor reacts. I think we really all want the same thing, which is to keep the most people dancing for the longest amount of time possible.
We always ask couples to tell us about weddings they’ve been to. We want to know what they thought and if they had fun. We ask in a very open ended way so that they can literally talk about anything to do with the weddings they went to.
Guess what 19 out of 20 couples end up talking about and focusing on?! Yup! The music and the DJ. We hear stuff like “the wedding was amazing and we danced all night” or “it was okay, the music wasn’t really that good and the DJ didn’t really play what people wanted to dance to”. Or even stuff like “It didn’t really flow that well. There was a lot of downtime, and I didn’t even know the parent dances were happening when they were happening.”
When you are a guest, do you judge the success of the event by the music and dancing? If you do, than hiring an experienced wedding DJ should be one of the most important things on your wedding to-do list, and your budget for entertainment should reflect this.
There are different styles of DJs. Do you know what style you are looking for?
There are 3 main categories that make up the majority of DJs. What type is right for you and your wedding? Make sure you ask prospective DJs about what category they fall into and what their skill set is like.
- Mix & Blend Djs (These are DJs that have perfected the art of music mixing. This style is ideal for weddings because the philosophy behind mixing music is to ensure seamless transitions without dips in energy. This is perfect for keeping a dance floor packed for an extended period of time.)
- Turntablist DJs (The most identifiable trademark of a turntablist is when you see or hear dj’s that “scratch”. Historically, turntablists were associated with hip hop – but, with the widespread availability of controllers and computers, a turntablist can now be associated with many genres.)
- Fade in / Fade out DJs (The most basic skill set out of all the DJ genres where the DJ simply fades one song in, and one song out – pretty much what we call the “iTunes Effect”. This type of DJ is not as skilled at keeping energy high with music transitions and is not the ideal candidate for a dancing crowd. There is very little skill involved compared to the high level of skill you would find with both Mix DJs and Turntablist DJs.)
Things to think about.
There are many ways to find a DJ. Of course there are wedding websites, google, yelp, facebook, and most importantly, first hand recommendations. It’s always a good thing when you get a first hand account of what it was like to work with someone, or how awesome that person/company was when it came to rocking an actual wedding. The next most important research avenue is wedding websites.
Did you know that we all pay to be listed on sites like the knot and wedding wire? Did you also know that even though we pay, we have absolutely no control over the reviews that are there? Yup. It’s true. The reviews you see are the real deal and even if someone said something we didn’t like, there’s nothing we can do about it.
One of the most confusing places to go DJ Shopping would be online “free for all” forums like Facebook groups. Why? Well it’s simple. When someone posts something like “We are looking for a DJ for …..”, the majority of the replies are going to be from DJs trying to grab your attention. What about the people that comment with suggestions that are not actual DJs? Well, I bet they either work for a DJ or are friends with one of the DJs they recommend lol.
Questions to ask when you interview a potential DJ.
Here are a few great questions to get the conversation started when you chat with a potential wedding DJ.
- How would you describe your style as a DJ? (Styles described above!)
- Do you make announcements? How would you describe your style on the microphone? (We find that most couples want someone very well spoken but not OVER spoken. Meaning, someone confident and capable of making sure the special moments are highlighted, while also knowing when to fall back and let the music speak for itself – without yelling and screaming over each song.)
- Do you do games or other activities? (This is a pretty significant question. Some people like games and some people are completely against them like we are! After all, it’s a wedding, not a birthday party or corporate “get to know you” event.)
- How do you help couples plan? How are all the details of the day handled and organized? (Is it all on paper? Do they have an online portal where you can go through an interactive planning assistant?)
- Do you let couples help with song selection? (Do they allow a do not play list? What about a list of songs you love? Is it interactive and online based?)
- What are your general thoughts and philosophies when it comes to DJing a wedding? (How do they look at weddings as a whole? How do they see themselves playing a part in your day?)
- What is your favorite part about being a wedding DJ?
Do your homework and make sure the company is the real deal. Do they have social media channels with compelling content? Do they have a professional website? Do they have a real email address at their business’s domain name, or are they still using gmail or yahoo for their business communications? Are they insured? (Most venues now require it.) Are they quick and efficient with communicating with you? Are their emails and phone calls professional and prompt?
Often times you get what you pay for in life. When you sit and figure out your wedding budget, make sure that the numbers are divided up and correctly represent the items and services that are the most important to you. For instance, If the food is the most important thing you care about, and you only budget $50 per plate/person – You might have to revisit that budget breakdown. Just the same, if all you care about is a packed dance floor and people raving about how amazing the energy was – and you only have $1000 allocated for your entertainment, you won’t end up with the results you really want because you don’t have the appropriate money budgeted for a top tier DJ.
Sometimes you have to think about the old saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. If you saw a 2021 BMW advertised on Craigslist for $2,000, you might suspect something is not quite right. The same thing goes for professional wedding services. If you see something that seems too cheap, there is probably a reason. If you speak with someone that throws in a bunch of additional services just so you book them, there is probably a reason. If you meet with someone and they start your relationship by pressuring you to hire them at the end of your meeting without giving you time to think about things, there is probably a reason.
Don’t forget that impatient professionals and thrown in bonuses are usually not a great sign. If you have someone that you meet or speak with that wants you to “sign now”, or they will throw in all kinds of extras at “no charge” to earn your business, you have to stop and think about why that might be.
Set realistic wedding goals and then come up with a budget that makes sense and supports the parts of the wedding experience that are the most important to you, your partner, and your group of family & friends.
Good luck planning, check out those online reviews, and as always, reach out to us if we can help answer any questions to help you along the way!
Written By: Andy Sussman, Founder, Wedding Host, & DJ, TSG Weddings