Ask The Experts: Tips On Hiring a DJs For Your Wedding

February 8, 2018
Spintronix DJ Wedding

Wedding DJ (Photo credit: Spintronix)

One of the key elements for planning a wedding reception is entertainment. Having a live band makes for an exceptional party experience, but may not always be cost-effective. That’s when a wedding "Disc Jockey" or "DJ" may be better fit. But how do you find a DJ? What do you look for? Can they deliver a fun, festive event? Sometimes, it’s not always clear.

So we decided to ask some of the experts in the field. We didn't really had to go that far. Our own Q102 Mix DJs Chris The Rebel and Scotty Fox combined has years of expertise under their wings. We also asked some Bay Area DJs with years of experience in event entertainment on what couples should look for when shopping for entertainment for the biggest day of their lives.

Experience: The number one piece of advice DJs have for couples is to look for vendors with vast experience in wedding coordination. You will find all different types turntablists from club DJs, radio DJs and some DJ are also music producers. Look for DJs with long-standing experience in the wedding event culture. Cesar Aldea aka DJ 8-Ball says "Try to look for a DJ that has dealt with the type of wedding culture." Find those DJs who specialize in special events. They understand the want and the needs a couple has while planning their wedding. Plus, always check to see how long they have been in the wedding/event industry.

Entertainment Ability: The main reason you hire a DJ is for entertainment, hands down. It takes more to entertain than just putting a needle on a record. DJs create the party atmosphere. They enhance the show. They are an integral part of your wedding day.

Look for DJs with a large music selection, old and new. They would have the skill and flexibility to maneuver between different forms of genres, from the waltz to salsa to Hip-Hop, Disco and even Rock. Make sure your DJ has the music you want heard during your wedding. Nothing is worse than having to tell your DJ what to play. You wouldn't tell your chef how to cook. Your DJ should know well in advance on what you and your guests would like to hear and dance to. It is a skill a versatile DJ has to offer to make your wedding night a success.

Knowledge in all forms of music is talent. Being intuitive to what a crowd likes is key for a DJ. Long-time Bay Area DJ Chris The Rebel of Q102 and Northern California-based DJ company Spintronix Entertainment says "Find out their music background and if they know the music you are asking them to provide. Test them on their emcee (MC) skills." A master of ceremonies is important to keep your guests entertained and to make your event a grand affair. Often overlooked, the emcee is essential to keep up the momentum of your wedding. You wouldn’t ride a bus without a driver? Ask your DJ how they are with interacting with crowds. When researching potential candidates, observe and ask yourself, are they extraverted or introverted? You want someone who is not afraid of public speaking, able to move and control a crowd. Be able to lead and inspire others to, what else? DANCE!

Equipment: Turntables, a microphone, speakers and lighting are all part of the essential hardware in a DJ/emcee's arsenal. Often overlooked, lighting and video projection systems are an important part to a beautiful wedding. Most of the time, lighting is included in the overall entertainment package. When meeting with a DJ for the first time, ask for photos from previous weddings they performed at to get a sense of their equipment they bring to an event. With Spintronix, Chris Miguel says "It also doesn't hurt when clients are referred to DJs because they are on a venues preferred vendor list." Vendor lists can help narrow down your search as those businesses on the list are trusted. Keep in mind, if a DJ has little to no lighting, some venues will charge extra for additional for their in-house lighting.

Professionalism: As with any business or service, professionalism is the mark of quality. Appearance and reliability are factors any DJ understands and respects. When having a formal event, you would want everyone, including your staff, to dress accordingly. You wouldn’t want your waiters dressed in jeans or sporting apparel as they serve you dinner? The same goes for your DJ and how they conduct themselves. Look for DJs who set-up early for an event. Look for clean and organized DJs, both in appearance and with their equipment. Q102’s Scotty Fox maintains reliability of service makes for professional and well-organized event.

Positive referrals is the mark of a true professional DJ. Clients can give you insight on a DJ's previous experience. Lorenzo Cordova, a long-time Daly City DJ suggests viewing videos of prior wedding events for potential DJs and/or ask for letters of recommendation. Get a sample of a DJ's music selection either through a digital sample (once called a "mix-tape") or at the very least, in written form.

Chris The Rebel emphasizes couples should always check for a website, a business license and that potential DJs have the proper insurance.

Cost: "Avoid the cheap ones," Aldea says, "Because you get what you pay for." It's important to know when shopping for a DJ, cost is a factor. Don't get sticker shock when a DJ quotes you over $1,000. The cost to run a business in the entertainment industry is not cheap. Keep in mind you are paying for music knowledge, entertainment ability, equipment use, transportation and most of all, experience. Scotty Fox says "...a good DJ isn’t cheap and a cheap DJ isn’t good."

Further information on Spintronix Entertainment can be found at their website and listen every weekend to Q102 FM.