If you read one article about wedding DJ's, read this one


I made the headline for this article so straight to the point that I better get there with this article. Beating around the bush in this instance just won't cut it. So...

There are three things you absolutely have to know when hiring a wedding DJ:

1) There is no such thing as a stupid question. Never assume the DJ, no matter how much experience, knows what you want. If you don't tell them, any disk jockey is just guessing. If they don't ask, they are not the DJ company for you.

2) DJ'ing is less about being a "DJ" and more about creating emotion. The music should be selected and mixed in a way that gets the most amount of people feeling the emotion of the music and your event. One DJ can take the same 50 songs and have a completely different night than another DJ with the same 50 songs. The DJ who creates the most emotion (fun, romance, joy...) wins.

2) You, the client, want to work with the DJ to ensure that your vision and the music you think is best for you and your guests is played at the event. It's not just, let the DJ pick all the music. It's not that you should pick all the music. This is a partnership for the best outcome for your guests. You're hiring a DJ to fill in the gaps, use their expertise and make sure he/she caters to your crowd, but this is your wedding. Share with the DJ your expectations and make sure they can match them.

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WHERE TO START

How many times in your life have you said or felt "if you want something done, do it yourself". I can bet you've felt that way a lot and I'll tell you why. Despite how much we wish things were different, there really just aren't a lot of really reliable people out there.

But, don't fool yourself. 99.9% of you out there are not professional DJ's. Even if you are, you shouldn't be the DJ at your own event.

You pay any DJ company for one real reason - to help you create a party you can be proud of. Basic expectations are that they will dress appropriately, be there before your guests, have a good selection of music, understand your crowd, likely have a mic and lighting. The more professional companies will have back-ups, insurance, licensing and a wireless mic plus a few critical features we'll explain later in this article. The basic expectations are things you should ensure your DJ has at a bare minimum.

However, there is a big big difference between a wedding DJ who provides these basics but can also tackle the larger roles and more pressure cooker features.

First, you should make a list of exactly what you want. Are you searching for a DJ in Edmonton who just plays music and doesn't talk? Or, a DJ in Calgary who can be interactive with your guests all night? a St. Albert Karaoke DJ? or an artist from Fort Saskatchewan who can also sing at your event? Maybe a Spruce Grove local DJ who can act as an MC?

If you happen to need all of these things in your DJ, be ready that it won't come cheap and that nine out of ten disc jockey companies you chat with won't be able to do all of these things -- at least not well. You may have to specialize and that requires a bit of homework.

THE MUSIC

Find a DJ who is well-versed in many different genres. Perhaps they specialize in one area - hopefully an area that you are keying in on; but ensure that they can cover many different years and styles of music. Your guests will be varied so your music should match.

A good DJ should be able to seamlessly mix music together. Now, this may not be a priority for you,and MixMaster Mike your DJ may not need to be; but what you don't want is a DJ who doesn't understand the concept of dead air or the flow of a dance floor.

Dead air is when there is a gap between the end of a song and the start of a new one. Dead air will kill your dance floor and ensure your guests are unable to get into any kind of rhythm. Dead air often equals a dead wedding reception and you don't want that. The same goes for the order of songs, building the crowd up, bringing a crowd down, burning the crowd out...

Do you want your DJ to be able to take requests? If so, a large number of tracks is important, but it's also wise to ask if the DJ brings their entire library. There are a lot of songs out there not worth playing at an event, especially those of the inappropriate nature. Remixes are cool, but not in every situation. More often than not, people just want to be able to sing a long. In many cases, it's best your DJ just not bring those types of songs, so tell them what you don't want.

THE CONTRACT

If I'm writing about what should be included in your contract, it stands to reason I'm expecting you know that in any circumstance, that you the client will receive a contract. It goes without saying, no contract, no booking.

At a minimum, each contract should have the following:

* Name and contact information for you and the DJ company
* Location of event
* Start time and end time of the services being provided
* Total cost(s) and any additional fees or services that may include charges
* Signatures verifying the offer

Anything relevant to the venue should be part of the contract including barriers to entry or set-up times that both parties should be aware of.

You should know or have included whether you permit a DJ company to bring guests. These could include significant others, potential clients who want to see the DJ in action or another DJ your disc jockey company may be training. Common sense says these people should respect the intimacy of your event, but that isn't always the case. Food, seating, noise, phones... you name it can become a factor when people you aren't expecting start popping up at your event.

Understand the policy on deposits. Most DJ companies will require one, but it's your job to know what happens to that deposit if the event is canceled, postponed or another service is hired instead. You may come across DJ companies who even have it written into the contract that a balance is due should you cancel the event close to your event date and not provide sufficient time for that DJ to re-book themselves to another client. Make sure you ask.

Understand the end time of any contract. There may be times a DJ company will say they offer "service all night" or until a certain time, but those times may not mesh with your venue or in small print, "if" a certain number of guests are in attendance. Maybe all night has overtime charges that you need to know. The last thing you want is to think your DJ will stay until 3 am, but find any services provided after 1 am is $200 per hour overtime and the venue is charging you as well. That's an expensive mistake to make.

EQUIPMENT

While you may not know a turn table from a wrist watch, make sure you find out the type of equipment your DJ will be bringing to the event.

I don't mean, know the brands, the style and the features... that stuff is cool, but it honestly matters very little in the overall result of your event. Is it professional equipment? Is it suitable for the venue? Is it old or new? Can it do the specific things you may need?

I hope it goes without saying that your DJ should use professional grade equipment and not home stereo systems, but I've seen it, so I suppose I shouldn't always assume the obvious. DJ's should be using mixers, speakers, mics, LED lights, laptops and more. Once you dig a bit deeper, you should be asking things like does your DJ include a laptop with a music subscription service? Do your packages include lighting or is lighting not a part of the original pricing? Is the mic we get wired or a wireless microphone?

Gifts and prizes, props, fog or smoke machines, projectors and screens, ceremony equipment, certain lighting, up lighting for the room, or other select items likely have an extra cost. Find out if and what that extra cost is going to be if you want those items.

If your event is outdoors, does your DJ provide power if there are no outlets for them to plug into? Do you have a generator? Do they? What will it cost?

BEHIND THE SCENES

There are a lot of factors that behind the scenes and are not directly viewed by you and your guests at a wedding that can make or break your reception.

Does your DJ company license their music? Are they legally allowed to be downloading, buying and subscribing to music services and then playing them commercially for a large number of people? A lot of disc jockeys don't take this critical step. It can be a costly mistake.

Does your DJ have liability insurance and is insurance required by your venue? What happens if an accident occurs at your event. What if that accident involves your DJ?

Does your DJ service provide a back-up in case of emergency? There are countless reasons a DJ may not be able to make your event. Sickness, family emergency, car trouble, weather, broken down or equipment in for repair, stolen items, out of town delays or other that while inconvenient may be somewhat acceptable excuses as to why your DJ cannot make your event. If your DJ company is professional, they'll have other options for you if the poop hits the fan.

PRICING

Well, for many of you, even though it shouldn't be, this is the biggest factor in your decision. So here's what you should know:

1) Check out a bunch of different companies in your area and get a ballpark range of pricing. Most areas, like Edmonton or Calgary will have DJ companies who offer rates as low as a few hundred dollars and DJ's who are over $4000. You'll only know what's fair once you start to get a number that appears often and provides obvious value.

2) Understand that not always, but often price can reflect quality. You can pay too much, so watch for this and you'll need to find out what's included at $2000 that isn't at $1000, but if a DJ company can charge that much, there's probably a reason. If your DJ company is offering a $500 DJ on the busiest Saturday in your city's prime wedding season, that should be treated as a warning sign. Do yourself a favor and don't go there.

3) The words "Basic" or "introductory" shouldn't be ignored in any package. How one defines those terms can be very different. What one DJ sees as "basic" may not be what another DJ defines as "introductory" and you need to ask and know what's included. Different sized groups, times of day, day of the week, month of the year and locations of your event all may change the pure definition of the word as described or hidden by your DJ company.

You'll have to do a little homework.

LARGER DJ COMPANIES

In some cases, you may be dealing with DJ companies who have more than one DJ option at their disposal. Which DJ are you getting? Do you get to meet the DJ or do you want to meet the DJ? Are there testimonials or samples of the DJ you can hear or view? How much experience does each DJ have? What kind of library does each DJ have?

Some DJ services may use agents or booking agencies to obtain their work. Who is being represented at these events? What is the share? Are both parties insured and licensed? Who guarantees the contracts?

WHO TO CALL

There is a lot of information here and as a result, you may now have a lot of questions. We're happy to answer those questions.

If you need more than what this article provides, call us at 1-844-378-3532 and we'll happily share everything we can to help you make an informed decision.