Most people have no experience hiring a DJ. It can be an unsettling experience–after all, the photographer can show you pictures, the caterer lets you sample the food, and you can see and physically touch the venues you visit. So how do you hire a DJ? Sure, we can show you a performance in pictures, short You Tube clips or give you a presentation on a laptop. But it’s not the same.
One would suppose the best way to see our work would be to go to a wedding where we we are performing. Some DJs will let you do that, though I personally am against the idea. Would you want some strange couple wandering into your reception uninvited? Even if you gave the DJ permission, you still don’t know how this particular couple will behave. There are too many variables to this scenario that I’m not comfortable with.
How do you decide on a DJ?
Referrals and testimonials are a great place to start. A good portion of our events come from referrals of past clients. But what if you don’t know anyone that’s used a DJ or everyone you know has had bad experiences? Hopefully we can help you answer any questions you may have. Obviously I are biased towards our own business, but by no means am I asking you to book us just from this article. Do your research!
Where should I start?
First, find a handful of DJs that you like the look and feel of. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean bad, nor does expensive necessarily mean good. Price isn’t always an indicator of talent or quality, but it can definitely be an indicator of the amount of experience a DJ has or of the equipment and professional quality–if you need custom monogram lights, uplighting, photo-booths, etc... expect to pay more. Check what is included in their quote. Remember you should shop for value rather than price, there is a difference.
There is no set price for DJ services and you’ll see that prices vary wildly between us.
We love what we do and charge a reasonable rate that is not the cheapest, nor is it the most expensive. I love performing at weddings – every couple, every venue and every weekend is different. I am not discounting those that charge more –but be cautious that adding the word ‘wedding’ inflates the price for many vendors–sometimes justifiably, sometimes not. Don't get me wrong there is a considerable amount of preparation that goes into a wedding before the event. Don't hire a DJ who thinks otherwise. We will spend 12-30 hours on your wedding preparation before the day even arrives.
How should I contact the DJs?
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search a bit, it’s time to contact the DJ companies you like. I recommend calling them. You will get a better feel for the company if you speak with them in person. If you do text or email leave your phone number so they may call you.
Keep in mind the most important part of a DJ company is the DJ itself. It is important to know who your DJ will be, read their profile, read testimonials about them, speak with them on the phone and please meet with themcloser to your wedding to discuss all the details for the running of the day.
What sort of DJ Company should I be looking for?
There are two types of DJ companies out there, the single operators and the multi-ops–meaning they have a staff of DJs. Technically I have three other DJs that work with me so I fall into the latter category. However I do a lot of the shows myself. Some multi-ops are so large that they have many offices in many different cities. The problem with many of these companies is that they will have you meet with the owner or local sales rep, he’ll give you a great sales pitch and then you’ll get any DJ they have available for your wedding without you actually speaking with the DJ prior to your special day, or reading their profile, or any reviews, or even knowing anything about them at all.
I never let a couple book us without ensuring them they can meet, or at the very least speak, with their DJ. I also recommend meeting with your DJ a week or two before the wedding to go over the finer details. You are hiring a DJ company and part of that hiring process is making sure you and your DJ vibe. I have detailed profiles of all my DJs for couples to read before contracting us for their wedding.
What style of DJ should I choose?
Very closely tied to DJ personality is style. A common misconception is that all DJs do the same thing. DJs have their own speciality, style, music and level of professionalism. When looking for a DJ, start by looking for one that specialises in weddings. A DJ that performs for clubs, radio stations, or school dances may not be prepared to handle the formalities of a wedding. A good DJ will offer to meet you to go over your needs and their experience.
The DJ stereotype is of the guy with the cheesy radio voice who plays the Macarena, and Chicken Dance. He may bring props, and talk way too much on the mic. There are many DJs who will subscribe to this formula, and that is fine–but make sure that’s what you want. Remember it’s your wedding. Most couples I meet are looking for a low key DJ that is willing to act as the Master of Ceremonies (MC) but only make announcements when necessary (like introductions, first dance, etc). Make sure the DJ company you choose is of the same mindset as you are.
What about the music?
There are a few important things to ask your DJ about their music. First, do they have or are they willing to get all of the music you want prior to your event? I’ll be the first to admit that despite having almost a million songs I still get stumped from time to time. That’s why I ask for my reception itinerary to be filled out at least 4 weeks in advance. It gives me time to find the music you want. Most DJs however don’t have nearly as much music as we do, and that’s perfectly fine. You honestly don’t need anywhere near that much. But you do need to make sure they have what you want for your event. Ask.
Also ask about guest requests. Assuming you are cool with guest requests your DJ should be as well, provided they stay within the parameters of your Do-Not-Play list (also something you should ask about.) Occasionally guests will requests songs that aren’t necessarily appropriate for a wedding, which is why we use professional discretion. However be sure to clarify your expectation in regards to this with your DJ.
How big will the DJs set-up be?
When talking about the DJ’s set-up, make sure you are comfortable with the space they are going to take up at your event. Depending on equipment a DJ can use a very small space or a very large space. The most common complaint I hear is about lighting trusses. Basically these are the very large black lighting trusses that span the DJ’s 6-8 foot table and take up a ton of space. They are also very conspicuous. While they are very functional and when used correctly can hold a ton of lights they aren’t always necessary. I personally only use one lighting tripod that sits either behind me or behind a speaker and takes up very little space and is very inconspicuous. The downfall is that if you are looking for a blow-your-mind light show this type of setup won’t deliver. It will most certainly fill a dance floor but can only hold so many lights. I think it is a nice balance between classy and club, but again it’s all about what you want for your event.
Make sure you clarify a DJs advertising policy at your event. Some will display giant banners advertising their service ruining the beautiful ambiance you worked so hard to create. Others will setup banners in hallways or foyers. I personally put a few business cards next to my computer and DJ console. Simple and tasteful. If a DJ does a good job referrals will automatically come–they don’t need to put up a billboard at your event.
What if the DJ is not familiar with my venue?
When talking about the space, ask if the DJ is familiar with your venue. Just because a DJ hasn’t been there doesn’t mean you shouldn’t book them but it does mean he should be willing to check out the facilities before the event. If a DJ isn’t intimately familiar with your choice of venue he may meet you there to talk about table placement, sound coverage and logistics (like load-in and out). This can also be done with a good quality floor plan and photos. This isn’t always necessary. However with the literally hundreds of venues in Adelaide and South Australia there is a chance that a DJ hasn’t been to your venue. That’s not a negative but an unwillingness to visit the venue is.
Most venues also require that your DJ carries public liability insurance, though only a few require the DJ to prove it. The DJ should be able to provide you with proof of insurance. The average policy is $10,000,000 per occurrence. I am insured for $20,000,000. Though I’ve never had to use mine, there has been a few events where my heart skipped a beat as little kids running around came dangerously close to my speakers when I had my back turned taking a request from a guest. God forbid a 15 kilo speaker 2 meters in the air were to topple on someone after they bumped into a tripod. A good DJ will take precautions and locate equipment (especially tripod legs) out of the way of traffic but accidents do happen. Make sure they are insured. All DJs working for Adelaide DJ Services are licensed and insured DJs. I have a insurance certificate of currency for each DJ and can supply these on request.
Should I trust the DJ to be my MC?
Finally make sure that your DJ is comfortable acting as a coordinator and MC. You may have a planner or your venue may offer a coordinator, but ultimately the flow of events is in the hands of the DJ. We are the ones with the microphone and music. The DJ should have a timeline worked out with you well in advance of your event. The way I like to do it is to have a general timeline (like pre-dinner drinks from 6-7 and dinner 7-8) with a specific order of events. Some couples (or venues) will have a timeline down to the minute for each event e.g. cake cutting at 9:08 PM. I’ve never seen one go exactly on time. Rather, I like to know that the cake cutting will be after dinner, followed by first dances etc. So if dinner isn't until 8 the cake cutting will be somewhere around then depending on factors such as guests finishing dinner, if the bride and groom would like to mingle for a bit, etc. However, there is fine line between sticking to a schedule to the minute and a "whatever" approach. If dinner finishes at 8 and the bride and groom only have two more tables of guests to speak to (out of 20) the DJ should let them finish. But if they’ve only spoken to two out of twenty tables by 8 then the DJ should take a different approach. Make sure your DJ clarifies how he handles timelines and order of events. Every DJ is different and no specific approach is perfect but make sure you are both on the same page.
Ask questions of your DJ.
I could keep going on , but without being too redundant ask questions of your DJ–ask questions, ask questions, ask questions!
Remember, the guests may forget what the cake looked like, they may even forget what they had for dinner, but they’ll never forget how much fun they had at your wedding. Put your event in the hands of people you trust. Hire an experienced professional wedding DJ.