Over the years, I have seen a lot of trepidation from customers who want to hire a DJ for their wedding. They have already decided that hiring a band is limiting, but they don’t know really what extra stuff a DJ will bring to the table. It is true. There are a ton of people out there who consider themselves “Disc Jockeys,” but they all offer many different things. There are a number of things to look for, to make sure you pick the right DJ for your wedding ceremony and/or wedding reception.
If you are in The Capital District, you are already going to hire me of course! So the rest of this article is for the rest of the world. (Just kidding!) …There are a number of questions and things to think about when hiring a DJ. Here is my Top 10 list of topics:
1. DO THEY KNOW MUSIC? Make sure they know about the music you like, and also the music your guests like. This is very important. If they are not very familiar with songs or artists across many genres, the music you get may not be what you are looking for.
2. PERSONALITY. Are they fun? Are they professional? Are they willing to meet you face to face if possible before hiring them? Will they share stories of experience, or pictures of them DJ’ing in action?
3. REQUESTS Do they have a huge library? If so and they are able to provide your party with pretty much any song ever, how good is their ability to screen requests? Make sure they are willing to take requests and customize the night for you and your guests. However, make sure they have a plan on eliminating song that people may ask for that you do not want at your reception.
4. CUSTOMIZABILITY. Can they cater to your specific needs, or do they force you into buying everything by saying everything is included? Individual packages are the key to finding an affordable DJ. If you don’t care about karaoke and lights and a smoke machine, but it is all including, you are probably being charged for it. Ala carte when the prices are reasonable could save you good money and get you exactly what you want without paying more.
5. EXPERIENCE ACROSS THE BOARD. Weddings have a little bit of every demographic. Try to find someone who has been doing it at least 3-5 years, and not only at a bar scene. Bars these days hire ANYONE, and the demographic is not exactly what you will find at your wedding.
Your DJ should have experience across the board and be able to tell you stories about all kinds of different parties that they have worked for. Sweet sixteen’s and school dances mean they can handle your young guests without a problem. Holiday Parties and other events may prove young to middle age is no problem. Anniversary and retirement parties mean they have experience in catering to older clientele. Make sure they have good experience in all categories and all your guests will be satisfied!
6. FAIR PRICE. Look around and see what other experienced DJ’s are charging. Find the DJ who seems right for you and in the ballpark.
Cheap DJ – Very cheap quotes may spell inexperience or desperation and could destroy your party. Make sure you know exactly what kind of gear the DJ uses, and also what kind of experience they have. Do they have different packages available? What do they do at weddings that make them worth looking at?
Expensive DJ – Overpriced DJ’s, on the other hand, may warn you not to go with any DJ who charges under, say $700, or whatever the overpriced DJ wants to charge you. They may say that under a certain price means a DJ is “not a professional” or “will do a lousy job.” This is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. This only said to command more money and scare you into hiring them. Using fear tactics and negativity to try and secure your business is NOT GOOD BUSINESS. Trash talking other DJ’s openly is also a bad sign.
7. PROFESSIONALISM. Can they actually blend the music together? Some DJ’s have moved over to laptop set ups which can be great, but if they do not have professional DJ programs, then there could be gaps of “dead air” between songs. Ask about this first, as dead air in any dose can kill your party.
Do they offer something in writing? Do they have professional gear? Do they have a web site or something you can look at? Do they have a business card? Do they have back up DJ’s and or equipment available? Or is it only them with one set up? Can you see them publicly in action somewhere?
8. FLEXIBILTY. The DJ cannot be “stubborn” or “set in his own way.” They are there to serve you and do what you want. If you do not want The Dreaded Chicken Dance, then don’t let him tell you that is going to happen!
Are they okay with playing music that they do not like? Some DJ’s refuse to play certain songs, because they feel it may not get them gigs by potential customers at your party. However, if this is the case, then they are more worried about their image than they are doing a good job for you. They are there to work for you, not be a commercial for themselves. Make sure they will do what you ask them to, within reason. At the same time, make sure they do also know what is appropriate to play and professional. As Ali G says, “Respect!”
9. REFERENCES - Ask for references! Duh!
10. FUN AND CLASSY? – Can they do both? It takes a great DJ to be good in both departments. If it is your special day, you will probably want some seriousness, as well as craziness to remember.
DJ Kenny Casanova - is a professional wedding reception mobile dj and professional wrestling ring announcer out of Albany, NY and Troy, NY. You can email him at ken@theDJservice.com.
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