were going to hear top 40 anyway, why not hear the real thing,
the DJ is cheaper, and they are there dynamically working the
crowd for 4 hours. In rare cases a band might party hardy
and decide they don't want to show up. This probably happens
more than a DJ not showing up. They always arrive late at my
friend's recording studio. And before any musicians get all
indignant, it happened to my sister. She hired a highly
recommended harpist who was out getting drunk when she should
have been at the wedding. Luckily I had brought a wedding CD and
the catering manager brought out a CD player, and we had music
for me to walk her up the aisle with. This does not mean it will
happen to you, but it does happen. Just monitor the
alt.wedding newsgroup for 2 weeks and you'll see how often it
References From Friends, Coworkers, Reception Halls.
Your best resource is
people you know. Ask around, try locally famous DJs from radio
stations. Some people moonlight as wedding DJs and are great.
Talk to recent newlyweds. If you are having the reception at a
decent hotel or resort, they may have a list of preferred
vendors that you may want to call. This list contains vendors
that the resort has worked with and knows to be reliable and
professional. Remember, the resort's reputation is stake also.
But beware of secondary hotels or reception sites that might not
be as scrupulous. Some caterers may get a kickback, so know who
you are dealing with. Our DJ was recommended to us by the
catering manager at the Boca Raton Resort where we had the
reception. Our DJ did her wedding, and she oversees many
weddings every year so she knew who the right DJ was, and boy
was she right!
3 - 5 Disc Jockeys.
Don't just rush right in
to pick your wedding DJ, they all have different personalities.
Ask to see videos from previous weddings so you can view a few
minutes of their work. A better alternative to a video would be
if you can see your DJ at another wedding before you make your
decision. If you have any special songs, ask the DJ if they have
it or can get it. Depending on how complex your reception is, if
your reception is in a big well known resort or hotel you really
want a true professional who works in the big places, not
someone who travels around the condo clubhouse circuit. Many
DJ's may get offended by this, but you really want someone with
the experience of working with the catering departments of these
larger venues. This synergy between DJ and catering
manager is what keeps your function running smoothly. A
DJ's talent should reach far beyond just motivating the crowd or
making the announcements at the right time. They must have
their finger on the pulse of your wedding and know everything
that is going on. The only way this can happen is when
they have a good working relationship with the venue staff.
To Avoid DJ Horror Stories Written
by a knowledgeable DJ, this book debunks common
DJ-related myths; alerts you to the sleazy tactics used
by ethically-challenged DJs, while also teaching you to
spot those all-too-familiar cheesy DJs. Now you can make
an informed, confident decision regarding the most
important element of any event--the music.
To Ask Your Potential DJ:
the DJ if they have ever performed at your reception site
before. It helps that they know the place, how to get there, and
they have a report with the staff there. They may also be
better prepared to deal with known issues or caveats with the
reception hall. Every little thing like this just makes it less
likely that you will have any problems. It does not mean
you should not use the DJ if they have not been there before, it
just gives them another notch in their favor.
type of attire will your DJ be wearing at your wedding?
Sounds like a no brainer, but you usually want them in a tuxedo
or whatever type of dress that you request. The DJ at my
brother's wedding was wearing black jeans and a shirt that was
hanging out. He was supposed to be wearing a tuxedo.
Even the photographer went up to this DJ and chastised him.
them about their company, their experience, and if they will
play CD's you provide. Some DJ's will have a stock list of
songs they play and except for the first dance, do not give you
much choice. Our DJ to allowed us to choose at least 50% of the
songs which is not the norm, but let your DJ be your guide as to
what songs should be played. A good DJ will read the crowd and
know what to play. Just make sure they know what not to
play, or any specials songs that you do want them to play, and
let them handle the rest. Ask if they will accept a request from
your guests. You want a wedding DJ who is flexible, and has a
selection, so that requests from your guests can be fulfilled.
This step is VERY crucial, because the DJ will be playing about
60 songs during your reception, and you want nothing but the
best tunes to keep your dance floor crowded. If the DJ needs to
intervene and suggest a song, heed them as they generally know
what they are doing and keep up with the current trends. You
want a DJ who can adapt to any crowd. This DJ will be
someone who is very well versed in all areas music. Don't try to
give the DJ a tape or a list of 100% of the songs to play for
the night. You hired a DJ not a juke box operator.
If they just stuck to your play list, I can guarantee you that
you'll have an empty dance floor, because your musical taste is
not the same as 120 other people at your wedding. By playing
just a tape that you give them, your DJ would lose the ability
to dynamically read the crowd and adjust the mix of songs
accordingly. Let your DJ do their job and they will keep your
the DJ where they will setup in the room, and if they bring a
dance floor with them. This is a rare need, but keep in
mind that some reception sites require the DJ to bring a dance
floor depending on what room you choose for the reception. Some
hotel banquet halls like the one we used were all carpeted, and
just don't have a hard floor for dancing. Also, you MAY
not want a DJ who comes in and elevates themselves on the stage.
We liked our DJ's philosophy that the DJ should NEVER overshadow
the bride and groom and he did NOT want to be up on the stage.
Rather, he setup off the right, and bucking tradition at the
resort, we put the entire bridal party head table up on the
stage. This allowed more space in the room for the guests, and
ALL of them could see us too.
sure to feed your DJ. Ask the DJ if they want to be fed,
some want food, some do not want to eat while they work.
They deserve it though, because they might be there 4 hours with
nothing to eat or drink.. The caterer needs to know so they can
bill you accordingly. They usually make sandwiches for the DJ's,
musicians, photographers, etc., or you can just let them eat off
your buffet. But check with the resort on the pricing, you would
not want them to charge you $100 per head for the DJ and their
assistant. Our DJ refused to be served food, don't know why. He
feels we are spending enough money and should not have to spend
more to feed the DJ, so he eats before the wedding. He
also felt it was unprofessional for the DJ to be eating when
they should be working. We really admired his philosophy
on this topic, but it's still ok to feed them, they'll be there
4 hours. The hotel would have charged $18 for his food. We could
not even get him to take a Coke. It's always nice to feed
your vendors. We even gave him some chocolate and a
centerpiece to take home to his wife after the reception.
for a list of wedding requests and suggestions in all
categories. Some DJs have a request form for you to fill out.
not a necessity, ask the DJ if they ever do corporate functions.
If you can get a talented experienced wedding DJ who has
experience in corporate functions also, then you really have
someone worth their weight in gold, because these are true
professionals dealing with large scale projects and all the
SNAFUs that go along with them. The DJ we chose does numerous
corporate functions in addition to being an excellent wedding
DJ, and companies have paid to fly him all over the place. If
you are a DJ, this is a good selling point. Not a deal maker,
but impressive, and it's ok to use a DJ that does not do
the DJ what problems they have encountered at weddings and how
they got around them. And of course, what's the cost? Most DJ's
charge $400 and up, way up depending on the area. Your
area may be less or more. There are moonlighting DJ's that
might only charge $200. As an example, our DJ's employees
charged $500. But we chose the owner, who was $750. Our DJ
charges a bit more than most local DJ's, as he is very much in
demand and highly recommended by several of our vendors.
That's a great way to find vendors also. When several
different vendors all point to the same person as the best, they
are usually right. Our DJ more than proved he was worth his
weight in gold, as the evening went flawless, not one incidence
of feedback, and the wireless headphone mic never gave out on
him. Friends of mine several years ago had a local famous radio
station DJ do their wedding, that was pretty cool.
Let the DJ ask you
questions too like what you do or don't want to hear. You want
someone who takes an interest in what YOU want. We also met with
the DJ one last time a few days before the wedding where he
phonetically went over each person's name he was going to
introduce at the wedding. This is a great added touch because no
one likes to have their name mispronounced at a wedding. You may
want to hire the owner of the DJ company, like we did, even
though they usually charge more than the employees. The owner
usually is the smartest one and has the most experience.
DJ Tricks You
may want to prevent some of these things from happening at your
reception, a lot of them are preference.
Cards On Display!
We were at a wedding
where the DJ had several different vendors' business cards
sprawled out on top a speaker, and it made the place look like a
flea market. If anyone wants the DJ's card, they can ask for
one. It's not like he's going to dole out 120 cards that night.
One or 2 at most so he can keep them in his pocket. Your
reception is not a community bulletin board. All
DJs take note: In our opinion, this is one of the
tackiest things DJs do. Many guests at weddings we
attended agree. This was the first thing we demanded but of
course our DJ did not condone this activity either. I've
had a few DJ's tell me that this is acceptable, as they claim
people don't want to interrupt a DJ for their card. This will
always be a controversial issue, but let me just point out that
the DJ we used agrees with us and does not believe in putting
business cards out. It all depends on your comfort factor.
How about a compromise. I should point out that everyone I
asked about this disagrees with the DJs who send us the letters
telling us how wrong we are on this subject, and some of them
are down right rude and arrogant about it. OK so we are
wrong and all our friends are wrong, and all our co workers are
wrong, and we are the customers who don't really know what we
want, and we are all ust wrong? Give me a break.
No Revolving Police Lights!
See this light off to the
left? You don't want it at your wedding. This is just OUR
opinion, but this is on the Tacky Top Ten.
Good Music Selection!
We attended a wedding
where my own 430 CDs were more than the DJ's! I know, he may
only play 60 songs the whole night, so how many CD's does he
need? Apparently he did not have the standard songs that guests
were requesting, nor could he read the crowd to play the songs
that would keep them dancing. At one wedding the DJ really
played some old dried out useless songs, and did not have half
the songs people requested. The quality is more important
than the quantity. Most DJ's use many compilation CD's and
order through a record pool buying service These compilations
are great cost effective ways for DJ's to buy all the hits.
Why spend $12.00 on a CD with 1 or 2 hits when you can spend
$12.00 on a CD with 20 hits?
The problem with the
DJ at my friend's wedding was he had about 100 regular CD's, so
I would have to fish through 10 of them to find 2 decent hits
that I thought the crowd might enjoy. This DJ and his
setup were not even facing the dance floor!! Could anyone be
more stupid! He spent most of the time with his back to the
dance floor (his equipment was facing the back wall) flipping
through his small collection of CDs for the next song when he
should have been reading the crowd. He even played several songs
more than once! Loser! Then he complained to me that no one was
out there dancing. Gee, I think we're going to have to book time
on the Pentagon's Cray III computer to figure this one out. Obviously
the DJ did not determine ahead of time what musical preferences
would be, nor did he read the crowd properly. So no
wonder the dance floor was empty.
BAD DJ CAN RUIN THE BEST OF WEDDINGS!
The same aforementioned
DJ asked me to pick a few songs from his collection to
get the crowd going, which I did. He lacked 2 songs that several
guests asked to hear, which every DJ should have. Also, he did
such a poor job wiring his Karaoke monitor, that he had to
fiddle with it a many times during the reception, and finally
gave up. No more Karaoke. He hardly ever got on the mic to
motivate anyone to dance either. It seemed like he was there to
just queue up CD's and nothing else. Heck I'd have done that for
free and saved my friend the money and aggravation. The bride
was upset after the wedding about this. No wonder the DJ
complained to me there was no one on the dance floor. We had to
choose a couple of tunes for him which DID fill the dance floor.
If the DJ is not constantly motivating the crowd, the floor will
be empty, and your reception will be a bust. It's like a strange
quiet party. You need constant motivation from an experienced
crowd pleaser. This same DJ did not even help us during the
Macarena (it was the craze back then). At our wedding, the DJ
and assistant both showed us the moves so we did not all crash
into each other and abandon the floor like my friend's wedding.
After the wedding the bride expressed her anguish, shaking her
head, saying this guy came highly recommended. Keep in
mind this is the exception, not the norm.
The DJ at my brother's
wedding really screwed things up. He was so highly
recommended by everyone and my brother was at a loss for words
trying to figure out how everything went south on him. The
DJ did not play the songs he was supposed to play. He
missed the song for the Bride & Dad dance, a big mistake.
During the Groom & Mom dance, the groom and mom were kept
waiting alone on the empty dance floor for 5 minutes because the
DJ could not get his player to work. Let's see I think you
just push the one that says "play"....
Most DJ's are
excellent, but you can see the importance of a little due
diligence ahead of time. Try to see them at a function
first or on video.
Know The Itinerary!
It is the DJ's
responsibility to know when all the events are supposed to occur
during reception, like cake cutting, bouquet tosses, birthday
surprises, etc. The DJ we mentioned in the preceding paragraph
did not know when anything was being done. Around cake cutting
time, I asked him when it was going to occur and he had no clue.
The DJ's job is to work with catering, and know when meals are
being served and when the milestone events are to take place.
NOBODY in the whole wedding knew when anything was happening so
it was somewhat confusing. The DJ and the caterer should have
this under control before your reception begins! The DJ,
caterer, and Photographer should all be in contact and playing
off the same sheet of music.
I'm sure some DJ's will
gripe at me for this, but the the mic chord is a safety hazard,
and it is restricting. A wireless mic system, if properly
setup and sound checked, and stocked with a redundant backup
with batteries, should work out just fine. Sure there's
headaches associated with wireless systems, but testing and
redundancy is the key. We had no problems at all during
our 4 hour reception, and our DJ used only a wireless headset
the whole evening. This is not a requirement, just a
preference. Many fine DJ's are still using corded mics.
Also, some areas you just cannot use wireless mics due to local
Chicken Dance, or Hokey Pokey?
Some people love it, some
people hate it. The consensus among our friends and numerous
coworkers is that we made the right choice in NOT allowing it in
our wedding. I believe these songs are outlawed in fifteen
states now, anyway. Just kidding. Most guests feel Uncomfortable
doing these cheesy dances. I even felt uncomfortable doing the
Macarena. But it's your wedding, and you might want to
hear them, that's fine too. But the point is at least let
the DJ know your preference. If you hate these songs, you
would hate to be surprised by your DJ playing them at the
reception. Group effort songs (i.e. the old "Electric
Slide" always fills the floor. The Macarena and the
Electric Slide became popular in their day because people who
can't dance will usually get up and dance to a "group
activity song. A good conga line will always fill the
floor. Each group of people is different. I polled several
friends, coworkers, and wedding guests of other weddings we
attended, and it was unanimous: No Chicken Dance, it
belongs at Octoberfest, not a wedding. But then many DJs
email us to say that it's a favorite crowd pleaser at many
weddings they do. Your group of people might have the best time
in the world with it, but it's your decision.
You want a wedding DJ who can
motivate a crowd:
Everyone overlooks this,
but it is an important factor when choosing your DJ. You are
paying money for a professional and they better know their
equipment. Ask them what speakers and amps they use. The better
names are JBL and Electrovoice, with the "EV" on the
speaker. This is another reason why you asked the DJ if they do
corporate affairs, because they may use the same high quality
equipment at your wedding. You don't want them using home
stereo amplifiers and speakers because they will fail under the
volume of use. We were at a wedding once and could not
hear the DJ announcing the bridal party because the volume was
too low and it was muffled, all base and hardly any treble. This
DJ did not test the acoustics of the room with a simple sound
check before they started. Can you say.... Equalizer? This
is why they must have good equipment, and know how to set it up.
A DJ with a wireless
headset is a plus. With the headset mic, the element is always
right in front of the DJ's mouth, and the gain need not be set
as high as a handheld microphone. Thus the headset is less
likely to cause feedback, and if they place the antenna
properly, there won't be any noise or interference. Also
the DJ can easily roam around hands free, or even blend in with
the crowd during group effort dances. Sometimes wireless
mics are not practical in areas where there is interference.
If a DJ tells you wireless mics don't work, or give excuses why
they don't work, it's because they either used cheap equipment,
did not want to spend the money, or simply did not know how to
properly setup tricky setup wireless mics. They can be
difficult to setup. I've been to dozens of concerts with
wireless mics and never saw a problem. Used properly,
these units are great tools of the trade. On the other
hand, I've seen DJs walk around swinging the mic, not noticing
they are about to step into the Twilight Zone in front of the
speaker and violate Jeff's Law of Wedding Acoustics mentioned
earlier. Then, a loud shrill of feedback fills the room.
Lighting is another
thing to consider. Can your DJ get additional lighting? Some
people want it, some could care less if they want to save money.
But we wanted to put on a show they would remember. If you want
state of the art lighting, some of the bigger DJ companies can
master this for you very easily. Again, this is where DJs with
corporate event experience really excel. They usually have the
top notch lighting, not old cheesy disco balls with 2 glorified
lawn lights. We did go a little overboard, spending $800 on an
intelligent lighting system consisting of 4 intelligent units
and 2 sound activated gobos. Man what a show that was. The
ballroom was FILLED with light. Many guests told us it looked
like a rock concert, with numerous beams everywhere. And this
did not upset the older crowd either, which was a worry of mine.
We were pleasantly surprised to see many of them out there
dancing the new tunes with us. This may not be for all of you,
but if you have the means, go for it. Our wedding video looks
like Soul Train. I was surprised that our DJ tried to talk us
out of this package, stating corporations are the typical
customer. But more and more "consumer" affairs are
going this way.
BridalTips.com Consumer Alert
Must Have A Clear, Concise, Written Contract! The
contract should clearly state WHO will be your DJ. If it
is the owner, you want that name on there. You spent
time interviewing the owner and you want that DJ listed.
Be wary if they try to leave the name off, there could
be a bait and switch. If they are using an assistant,
make them itemize that as well. Did you agree to rent
any additional lighting through your DJ? Better have
that on there too. Your contract should list what
type of standard lighting you are getting as well.
Also have them list what their overtime charge is in
case you decide to run late. You don't want any
surprises there. Make sure all correct dates, times,
address, phone numbers, and deposits are listed.
was our final package? We had the owner for 4 hours at $750,
plus $850 for the computerized lighting. This also included an
assistant, which is a great thing for a DJ to have. I know we
went overboard, but what a show. It was still cheaper than
the bands we looked at. One band was $12000! We
ended up keeping the DJ for an extra hour and paid another $150,
which was already stated in the contract. Sure this seems steep,
and yes we could have done just the bare bones package, but it
was a typical wedding for professional working people like my
wife and I. This is not necessarily the way to go if you
are trying to save money. Remember though, you get what
you pay for. We got more than what we paid for. How
many weddings were you at where several guests commented it was
the best DJ they've ever seen? Our wedding was like that.
There are plenty of
inexpensive DJs out there who will give you a wonderful evening.
Some of you may not want all the glitz and flash we had. Some of
you will be happy with an informal DJ who DOES do the condo or
bar circuit. We just wanted to shed the light on it and abuse
our First Amendment rights by stating many of our opinions on
certain subjects. We did find the DJs however, to be the easiest
of all the wedding industry people to work with. And you don't
have to spend $1600!
Can I Have
had a beautiful, mystical grandiose 7:00 minute New Age
piece called Antarctica
from the album Themes
- Best Of Vangelis playing as our guests
ascended up the twin spiral staircases into the
ballroom. Our DJ liked our choice of this song and
may use it at future weddings. If you decide to have
CD's played at the ceremony, I highly recommend Hymne
as a great song to walk the bride down the aisle. This
song is also found on Themes
- Best Of Vangelis. This spiritually classy
moving piece of new age excellence was popular on the
Gallo Wine TV ads in the late 80's. If you want to hear
sounds like, click here: Hymne.mid
Keep in mind, the CD sounds much better, and much
more grandiose and ethereal than than the cheezey midi
file. The MIDI file is not a recording of the
actual song, but a playback of a synthesizer that was
saved as sort of a "player piano" type file
that your sound card can play.
supplied the CD for our First Dance to the DJ, which was
The romantic Anyone
Can Light A Candle from the excellent
Jon & Vangelis album Page
Of Life. One of the truly greet songs in
existence. The First Dance for the rest of the crowd was
When The Night Comes
Jon & Vangelis album Private
Collection. This is in my opinion one of
the top CDs ever made from two incredible music talents.
Both songs will leave your guests breathless. The music
is a reflection of your unique personality. If you want
to leave your guests impressed with how classy the music
was at your wedding, these songs here will do it.
They are refreshingly unlike any music you normally
useful sites for you to use:
is a great resource you can use to lookup Djs and Photographers
in your area, along with other merchants.
one offers some tips on avoiding some common DJ scams: http://www.musicdj.com
luck, and let me know how you did in your search for the perfect