This artical was written by Adam Conway and published in the Capital District Wedding Association 2008 publication.
Over the last few years, the role of the DJ at a wedding reception has changed and expectations have risen. Today, disc jockeys are expected to do much more than just make introductions and play music. Brides and grooms and their guests expect more from their DJ service. They are often required to be full-service entertainers. People want a DJ that can keep an event moving by getting involved with the audience, whether it be keeping the reception running smoothly, teaching dances, or playing games. I would define disc jockey as an interactive master of ceremonies and a musical entertainer.
This evolution in the DJ industry is due in part to expanding competition. There are a considerable number of professional DJ’s to choose from, all with different characteristics and styles, increasing your opportunities as a bride and groom to find the perfect DJ for you.
Based on 18 years of professional experience and knowledge in the wedding industry, I would like to offer some helpful advice on evaluating potential DJ services. There are also a number of questions to ask yourself and/or the DJ in order to help you select the DJ service that will best suit your needs and expectations.
To begin, build a list of possible DJs from which to choose. While some people go straight to the yellow pages, wedding specific advertising can save time by narrowing down the list to those DJ services that specialize in weddings. Wedding guides, bridal websites, and bridal shows are excellent sources for finding wedding professionals. And don’t forget to take advantage of Word of Mouth. You may be able to get references from friends and family or even sources within the wedding industry. It is a good idea to ask for references from any of the other wedding professionals you may have already hired to work at your reception. For instance, a caterer or photographer who works with numerous DJs every year may have a good recommendation for you.
After you have a list, knowing the date of your reception is one of the first ways to help eliminate some of the choices. Remember, the most sought after professionals book up early, so it is best to book your event as far in advance as possible. Usually, making contact at least 12 to 16 months in advance will ensure the availability of DJ of your choice. Of course, this is also contingent upon the popularity of the date you select. Having your reception on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon will not only increase your chances of getting the DJ of your choice, but may also save you money (many DJs offer discounted rates for these days).
Speaking of saving money, cost should not be the number one criteria when choosing the person(s) who will ultimately determine the outcome of the reception. The DJ can truly make or break a party. When you think about how many thousands of dollars you may be spending on your wedding day, it doesn’t make much sense to take a chance on your entertainment just to save a couple hundred dollars. In the grand scheme of things, what you guests will remember most about your reception is whether or not they had a good time. That is the DJ’s job, and the professionals will make this happen!
When calling our meeting with a DJ service is important to know what qualities are important to you and what your expectations are. How outgoing you would like your DJ to be? Do you want an enthusiastic and energetic DJ that will do what it takes to get the crowd up and dancing? Or maybe you want a more relaxed reception, with the DJ in the background. Communicate your wishes by talking to DJ over the phone or by setting up a meeting. Then see how they respond to your requests to help get a better assessment of his/her style and personality. Does this seem like someone you will enjoy working with? Don’t underestimate the importance of a good working relationship!
Another wise step is checking the DJ’s reputation. Asking the DJ for recent references is usually one of the best ways to evaluate this. If you plan to see the DJ in action at another event before your own wedding, remember that every reception is different. Many factors such as date, time of day, bride & grooms preferences, and the guests in attendance can affect the atmosphere of the party. Be careful not to eliminate an otherwise great DJ because of factors that were beyond his/her control. This is also not one of the best ideas; you may end up being the party crasher at someone else’s reception. If you’re considering a multi-DJ service and they use a company video to demonstrate their performance at receptions, you may want to ask if the DJ in the video is the same one you will get at your reception.
Here are a few final questions to consider if they are important you. How long have they been the business and what is their experience doing wedding receptions? What they wear tuxedo (assuming your affair if formal)? Ask if they have backup equipment either built into the system or out in their vehicle in case of equipment failure. Do they have a backup DJ in case of personal emergency? You may also want to know if they have any extras such as a light show, party favor packages, live entertainment, video projection, or even karaoke. Inquire about their music collection, noting if they have a number of your favorite selections. Are they willing to get specific songs if they don’t already have them? If needed for your wedding, you may also want to ask if they can provide music for the ceremony.
Choosing which DJ service to hire for your wedding reception requires an investment of time and the willingness to communicate with the DJ’s you’re considering. Knowing your specific needs and expectations ahead of time, and asking the right questions can help ensure that you make the best decision. Ultimately, the DJ service you select should be the one you feel most closely matches your tastes and/or ideas. Remember this is your day.
If ever day of your life deserves the finest entertainment, this is it!