Booking a good wedding DJ is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly – more often than not a good wedding DJ could be the difference between a very enjoyable and successful party and a empty dance floor! I’ve been in the industry now for over 10 years and played at over 1500 weddings across the UK and Europe – here are my top 10 tips to consider when booking the ultimate wedding DJ!
1. Don’t always go for the cheapest option: sure, there are guys out there who would take on a job for £150.00, but you are running the risk of getting a very inexperienced DJ for that price. PA quality and quality/quantity of lighting may also fall short. Would you choose the cheapest photographer? The cheapest caterer? Why risk it with your DJ for your big day.
2. Always ask for references: If your DJ has a lot of experience then he/she should have a good collection of testimonials from previous weddings. Ask to see these – if he doesn’t have any to hand, ask for a few email addresses from previous clients who can provide references.
3. Check the DJ’s lighting package: When booking your DJ always make sure he/she has an adequate lighting rig for your event. The DJ should have three lights at a minimum and these would ideally be mounted on a tripod stand for optimum effect. Find out if your DJ uses haze/smoke as standard as some venues will not allow this and it could cause problems with fire alarms etc.
To get a good idea of what your DJ will be bringing on the night, always ask for a few snaps of their kit so you know what they will be arriving with. A top of the range sound system can make a big difference especially if you are using it for speeches as well as music.
4. Are they happy to play requests? Always make sure your DJ has a very good idea of how you want the evening to go musically. A good experienced wedding DJ should be able to cope with all genres and be able to blend them together seamlessly to create a great vibe on the dance-floor. Suss the DJ out on the phone beforehand to make sure he/she is the one for you musically and to ensure they are prepared to work with your playlist. However, be aware that a good DJ will constantly be monitoring the mood of the crowd and so may need to adapt your playlist, within reason, in order to keep the dance-floor packed.
5. Does the DJ have a back-up plan? Weddings are stressful enough but learning that your DJ has flu a day before your wedding could be a disaster. A good booking agent like Function Central will be able to send in a replacement DJ at a moment’s notice, in case disaster strikes. Also, equipment does fail occasionally and for this reason a good DJ should have a spare mixer, amp and cables with him at all times.
6. Pay a deposit and request a confirmation: I always take a deposit for every wedding I do, this is beneficial to both parties as it gives you the assurance that you have your DJ confirmed. Once the deposit has been paid, always ask for a receipt and confirmation of the booking.
7. Set out your requirements early on: all DJs have different styles and characters so it’s always best to make it clear early on how you want your DJ to behave. For example, some people prefer the DJ to use the mic between songs and some hate it. Some prefer their DJ to perform in black tie, and some prefer a more casual look. Always outline your requirements before the big day.
8. First dance & last dance: the bride and groom’s first dance is always a very important part of the evening – use it as an opener for the evening section of the wedding and always go straight into party music afterwards as this will be your best opportunity to gather everyone around you on dance-floor. I would recommend you don’t rush into your first dance immediately after the speeches. Let you guests relax and have a drink and wait for your evening guests to arrive. The DJ can always play background music until the first dance starts.
In my opinion the final song of the evening can be as important as the first dance so its always a good idea to give your DJ a song you would really like to end the night on. You can always leave it up to them but you run the risk of them playing something you may hate, so have a chat beforehand with your DJ if you can’t choose one and ask what song they would recommend.
9. DJ Music Formats: most wedding DJs these days use a laptop with a DJ controller – these give the DJ a potentially limitless source of music, since songs can simply be downloaded and played immediately if needed. You need never then hear the line “sorry, I haven’t got that song” again! CDs are still used and are also fine, Vinyl is rarely used now for weddings as it limits the repertoire and is very heavy and difficult to transport. Don’t worry too much about what format your DJ uses, as longs as the songs are reasonably high-resolution MP3s, they will sound great!
10. Is the DJ’s equipment fully PAT tested and do they have PLI? A simple question like this can give you an immediate impression of the DJ you are dealing with, if they haven’t got the relevant equipment testing certificates or haven’t got public liability insurance then the chances are you are dealing with a cowboy – any wedding DJ worth their salt would have all the necessary certificates and insurances.
Written by DJ Rory.