But the most important skills a good DJ will bring to your wedding is a honed personality, a formal-friendly image, and an absolute mastery of what gets crowds on their feet. You understand that not all DJs are alike and that a good one brings as much your wedding as any premium florist or baker.
Some people think so poorly of DJs, and they prefer to eliminate them entirely, soundtracking the dance portion of the night with iPods or laptops. This isn’t easy — it requires you to rent expensive sound equipment, find someone to mind the iPod, possibly buy insurance, and somehow get around or ignore the technical issues, like the inevitable three-second delay between songs you get on an iPod. And yet some people find that preferable to risking the Chicken Dance scenario on their Big Day.
Perhaps it’s hard for the average bride and groom to grasp the difference between a green DJ with low-end equipment, and a seasoned one who knows how to transform shy and retiring Clark Kents into dance floor superheroes.
The first may be nothing more than a glorified CD changer. He may or may not have a firm grasp of the different musical needs that accompany standard reception rituals, like the cake cutting or the father/daughter dance. He may lug in his entry-level Peavy subwoofers and arrange his sound system in ways that ignore your venue’s peculiarities.
The second may have emceed hundreds of weddings. Along the way, he’s developed something subtle but important known as voice and personality — not an imitation of some radio host’s, but his own. He doesn’t practice on your wedding; he brings his skills to it, along with a top-of-the-line sound system, which he’ll arrange differently depending on factors like whether or not your venue is broken up into several chambers (the cocktail lounge and the banquet area, for example).
If he’s a gearhead, he might even offer specialty lighting abilities you might not think of, such as the ability to shine gobos on the dance floor — gobos being customized templates that display things like your wedding monogram. Some DJs even offer giant video screens and live replays of key points in the reception.
DJs that Take Their Job Seriously
Skip the part-timers — they’re still learning the ropes, and they’ll be practicing on your wedding. Instead, look for full-timers who show their commitment to the profession by belonging to professional DJ associations such as CPDJA, ADJA, & NAME, or NADJ in the UK.
Paul adds, “Ask if they have public liability insurance (in case Grandma trips over a speaker wire) and PAT electrical test certificates (to insure their equipment is safe). This also shows they’re professionals and not cutting corners.”
Meet with them in person, and take a gander at their sound systems. You might not know your Geminis or Peaveys from your Mackies or QSCs, but even a casual glance should tell you whether the DJ or company invest in good equipment. Most will be delighted to run you through their top-of-the-line systems if you give them the slightest excuse.
While you’re there, please take a look at their promotional photos and videos. Are they wearing tuxes? Do they look sharp?
Your X-Ray Vision
Everyone has what it takes to pick a great DJ. You have to meet with them in person and absorb what they have to offer.
“Talk to them — their personality should shine through. While you’re there, ask them what special qualities they can bring to their wedding. Ask how they’re prepared to work with you to make your day extraordinary.”
The DJ should be happy to meet you, seem interested in the specifics of your venue, and ask questions. “Any DJ who seems phased or reluctant by any of this — they’re not the one. If your DJ seems bored or gives you the sense you’ll be just another date on their calendar, they’re also not the one.”
It’s true with the cake, it’s true with the steak tartar, and it’s true for your DJ — the final word is quality, not price. As Paul puts it, “When you look back on your wedding reception in years to come, do you want to remember what a fantastic time everyone had? Or do you want to say, ‘Well, at least we saved some money on the DJ?’
Good DJs see themselves as part of the larger picture. They expect to work closely with your coordinator, photographer, and videographer, and to custom-fit their setup to your venue. So hire a good DJ — one who can help you tailor the night’s entertainment for your wedding.
Choosing a DJ for your Wedding Reception
Depending on what type of wedding reception you will
behaving, you may be in need of a disc jockey so that
your guests can dance. As with a wedding photographer,
you are going to want to do some research and find the
disc jockey that will make your reception fun.
Ask friends and family – Friends and family who have
had a wedding will give you an honest opinion of the
disc jockey that they have used so talking to them is
the first step that you should take.
If you have been to their weddings personally, you
will have had the first-hand experience. But there may
have been things that you weren’t aware of that
happened, so it’s always a good idea to ask them even
if you were there.
Do interviews – Talk to a few disc jockeys and tell
them when your wedding is. Let them know what kind of
music you want, and what your special dance songs are.
This will ensure that they have time to get it before
the big day if they don’t already have it.
You want to be sure that the person you choose as your
disc jockey is personable and will ensure that
everyone has a good time. They should have a lot of
personality and be able to get people dancing. Be sure
that you let them know exactly what kind of music you
want so that they are prepared.
Find the Right Wedding DJ
Take some time to cruise the Internet and locate DJs who specialize in weddings. Make a list and run the names by your caterer, photographer, and the manager of your reception venue. They should be familiar with DJs and can help you narrow down your list.
Is it the Right Music for You?
Once you have narrowed the field, it’s time to start making calls. If you have a particular type of music you’d like played at your reception, check to see if he has that music available. Keep in mind, though, that your reception is likely to include guests ranging in age and musical preferences. A professional DJ will have an eclectic mix of music that will get everyone to his or her feet. By all means, ensure that the songs you want are on his playlist, but also realize that part of his job is to set the cadence for your reception. By starting your reception off with light music, your DJ will help to put everyone at ease. Through music, he’ll help to move the event along, from your first dance with your new husband, to the cutting of the wedding cake, the tossing of your bouquet, and the departure of you and the groom.
A Wedding DJ Provides More than Music
When choosing from among DJs, remember that you not only want him to provide terrific musical entertainment but also to act as an emcee. For that reason, you need to check out the DJ’s attitude, personality, promptness, and ability to please the wedding guests. The best way to ensure your wedding reception will be handled professionally is to stop by another wedding reception and watch him in action. By seeing him perform, you will get to know his personality, the quality of his performance, and the reaction he receives from the guests.
Important Things to Consider when Hiring a Wedding DJ
Before you sign a contract with a Houston wedding DJ, make sure that he has (or will get) the songs you would like played at your reception. Make sure that he accepts requests, as your guests will enjoy being able to dance to their favorite tunes.
Even if you don’t know much about sound equipment ask about it. A professional DJ should have the top quality equipment and high-end professional lighting, both of which will make your reception more enjoyable for your guests.
If you don’t have the opportunity to watch him perform, be sure to ask the DJ what he will be wearing at your reception. Most DJs wear tuxedos to weddings, but there are some who don’t. By discussing this with the DJ in advance, you’ll eliminate any problems or embarrassing moments on your big day.
Having the right DJ will not only guarantee that your special day is well-organized but will add to wonderful, lifelong memories.