How to Hire a DJ

Let me first say congratulations on your up and coming event.  This is a very important day for you.  Every part of this day needs to be planned carefully.  Entertainment is an important part of many events and parties.  I would like to take a moment to discuss the advantages and some disadvantages to selecting a Disc Jockey for entertainment during your reception.  I will also discuss some decision every couple will have to make in choosing their DJ.

First the advantages.  Often a DJ is less expensive than a band.  I have seen DJ that would dress more casual that bands.  In many cases the DJ can often obtain a Tuxedo if this is a requirement.  Expect this to add some additional cost if the DJ does not own a Tux.  Sound Entertainment DJs always wear a full Tux or suit for the weddings that we perform for.  DJ's, because their music is prerecorded, have a broader repertoire of songs available for requests.  This allows the DJ to appeal to a wider range of guest. Ideally you should see the DJ in action.  In many cases this may not be possible.  When that is not possible you should ask the entertainer for references and then call them.  Please remember that a DJ is not going to give you what he or she feels would be a bad reference.  I consider the best references to be those in the service industry, such as photographers, caterers, videographers or any of the numerous providers of services for events.  My reason for this is that these people have seen many entertainers and can identify the ones that provide consistent quality at each event.  

When considering a particular DJ you've never seen perform, call him and ask if you can drop by a wedding reception where he is performing.  If the DJ agrees my advice to the bride or groom is to hang up and call another DJ.  This is not a professional customer client relationship if the DJ will invite potential clients to a wedding just to obtain a booking.

Some pitfalls in hiring a DJ are the best radio or club DJs can turn out to be the worst mobile entertainer for weddings - not always but often.  The reason being, playing for a club clientele is much different than playing for your friends along with your parents and their friends.  When dealing with a large agency you could in effect be calling 1-800-POT-LUCK.  Many times these agencies represent a wide range of entertainment.  Many times 20% to 50% of the fees you pay are going into the pocket of the agency and they will not be at your reception to answer for any problems, which may occur.   

Price is one consideration in hiring a DJ.  The adage "You get what you pay for" does apply.  You don't want to be on your honeymoon thinking "I wish we had spent the extra $100 and got the other DJ."  A bargain in this business is rarely a bargain.  Ask about their base price and overtime fees. If a party is going well, why stop it?  If a DJ tries to charge you for pre-time (set-up and preparation) this is a rip-off.  But if you require a DJ to provide dinner music before the contract time be prepared to pay extra for his or her time. 

Payment arrangements for services rendered are usually worked out months in advance.  Most DJ's will require a deposit to hold the clients date.  The DJ will expect to be paid by the day of the performance.  In many cases this will take one less problem off the shoulders of the bride and groom if he is paid in advance.  The latter part is to avoid any embarrassment by "which man in the Tux" will be paying or confusion as to whose job it is to hand the envelope to the DJ. 

A Few other points to cover in hiring a DJ.

  • When hiring a DJ, the client must make the choice. Does the party require a personality jock or a polished professional entertainer?

  • Beware of gimmickry.  A state-of-the-art sound and light show is a necessary part of the DJ trade. No home sound equipment. But also, if the banquet facilities are beginning to look like a rock concert then all the flash may be hiding a lack of talent by the entertainer.

  • The Client, the person who signs the contract and the check, is the boss.  The professional DJ's first responsibility is to please the person responsible for the party.  The crowd is second. Often satisfying the client means changes in protocol and the playlist.  The client should take this responsibility seriously.

  • Accidents do happen.  People and equipment aren't perfect.    Many DJ's state in their contract that they will not be held liable for damages exceeding the actual cost of the   entertainment.  That is, they may return the money the client paid but not punitive damages.

  • The DJ should do two things to put the clients mind at ease.  One he should call a week ahead of time to iron out details.     And two he should arrive at least one and a half hour before the contract time in order to set up equipment before the guest arrive.

One last piece of advice to the new couple.  Seat your younger friends near the DJ booth or speakers and the older guest at the back of the room when this is possible.

If you have any questions or need any further help please call me at:

(704) 873-1386.

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This site last modified: 06/19/07