How to: Choose the right DJ for your wedding
Choosing the right DJ for your wedding is a huge decision. Music and entertainment is the foundation of any great wedding or celebration. Not only will your DJ be responsible for entertaining your guests, they will most likely be responsible for the technical production as well - think lighting, sound reinforcement and special FX. The ideal candidate will not only be able to rock a dance-floor all night long but must also have excellent organizational skills and be well groomed, experienced and have high quality equipment.
1. Excellent Reviews
It's no secret that most of us read reviews before using a business. A wedding DJ or DJ hire business should be no exception to this rule. By sneaking into their review page on google and having a good snoop around you will get a good idea of past customer experiences. Make sure to look for the key word "Wedding", and look at the name of the DJ in the review. It's one thing to be good at DJ'ing parties, but performing successfully at weddings is a different ball game. DJ'ing weddings requires a lot more preparation and an eye for detail that birthday parties simply do not demand.
2. Single Owner/Operator or DJ Agency?
The next important thing to consider is whether you will hire an agency who could prescribe any number of DJ's or a "one-man-dj operation". While most agencies only offer talented performers, they still lack the consistency of a single owner/operator. It's unlikely that equipment and music selection / ability of each DJ will be equal. If enquiring with an agency it is important to find out from the get-go who your DJ will be so that you can scour the web for their name and reviews! There's certainly a few agencies that use DJ's straight outta high school, pay them a pittance and give them shoddy equipment to use. Should you go down the DJ Agency route and be located in South East Queensland I can highly recommend the services of "We R DJ's". There are many advantages of hiring an owner/operator DJ. Firstly it simplifies things, meaning less stress and consistent service. You will deal with one person throughout the entire process which streamlines things and makes for total accountability. Secondly you know exactly who you are getting and their experience level. Thirdly is that the reviews on the web will pertain directly to them, giving you an excellent overall picture of previous customer experiences.
3. Production Quality – Equipment, Inclusions & Appearance
This is often overlooked by soon-to-be newlyweds and for good reason - we just have faith in the DJ having good equipment. Well as somebody who worked in a local equipment sales and Hire shop for 4 years I can tell you for certain that unfortunately it's simply not the case. I regularly saw banged up, scratched DJ speakers and wireless microphones coming in for repair having failed on the job. Just like any other tradesperson, DJ's want to get maximum bang for buck out of their tools and as a result some run them into the ground until they are at the end of their service life. The problem with this is that they can fail at any moment and when they do, it will probably be right in the middle of a speech (murphy’s law). Almost worse than this is a DJ with cheap low-quality speakers or microphones that sound terrible and are prone to interference. Having confirmed with your potential DJ company the quality of the equipment, the next thing you want to check is inclusions. At a bare minimum, the DJ should be providing two high quality speakers, a wireless microphone and some party lights. The best thing to do here is ask for a photo of their setup. Pay close attention to the cable management and overall tidiness of the setup - this is a huge clue as to the overall organization, professionalism and eye for detail of a DJ.
4. Does the DJ Offer Add-on Packages & Special FX?
If you are looking for extra wow-factor effects at your wedding and you have the budget available, it’s worthwhile to check your DJ supplier can in fact supply them. I'm talking "dancing on clouds" effects, architectural lighting such as indoor "up-lighting" and indoor fireworks. If you really want them but the DJ you are thinking of hiring doesn't offer them, it may be time to look for an alternative. While you can hire them yourself through an equipment supplier such as Bj's Sound & Lighting, it's much easier and stress free if the DJ can manage it all. It’s one less vendor to deal with and they will have the past experience and technical know-how necessary to use special FX machines properly and safely.
5. What Planning Procedures does the DJ use?
Another critical element to discuss before booking is the planning procedure. The Ideal DJ will meet with you face-to-face well prior to the big day to discuss logistics and music selection for the day. Think ceremony music, canapés, dinner and dancing music (as well as the special rite of passage songs)! The ideal DJ will accept music "to play" lists, "do not play" lists and will be available via email and phone for any changes or questions leading up to the day. Some DJ's offer an online planning portal which is a huge added benefit for those organizational freaks amongst us!
6. What is a Fair Cost for a Wedding DJ?
How long is a piece of string? There are so many variables when it comes to DJ pricing: experience, equipment quality and market demand to name a few. When looking at price it's important to remember that you are not just paying for the 5 hours or 6 hours of performance. Just like a skilled tradesperson, you are paying for hundreds or even thousands of hours of practice and experience. In addition to this you are paying for preparation, travel, licensing and tools (expensive!). For that reason, I believe the average base rate of a quality DJ to be around the $1000 mark. You must resist temptation to cut costs on selecting the right entertainment. It is such a HUGE element of your big day (and night)!
I hope by reading this you have gained some valuable insight that will aid you in choosing the right DJ. If you’re getting married in South East Queensland and you don't mind a bit of shameless self-promotion on my behalf, get in touch here and we can have a chat to see if I'm the right DJ for you.
Written by DJ Saxon Evans