Updated: Nov 14, 2020
In terms of the actual experience you and your guests have on your wedding day, the DJ/MC may be the most important vendor you will hire! Whether you plan on dancing the night away or just sitting back and watching, your DJ will set the tone for the entire event. In addition to playing the actual music, they will keep your guests engaged and enjoying the event, and will help your coordinator make sure everything stays on schedule and moving smoothly throughout the day.
Let's discuss some important considerations that will make choosing a DJ easier, and leave you feeling confident in your choice for the perfect wedding day experience! 1. You need a DJ and a Master of Ceremonies! Most people think the DJ just needs to play the music and keep people dancing, but there's actually another responsibility that is just as important! The Master of Ceremonies makes all the announcements and introductions throughout the event, and will get your guests organized for toasts, dances and your grand exit at the end of the night!
There are some DJ's that can do both jobs, and do them very well, but there's no guarantee the DJ you hire is trained as an MC. It is a totally different skill to speak well and be understood on a microphone, so it is becoming more common for companies to have two-person teams at weddings, one to run the music and one to be the MC. When you are interviewing your list of DJ's, make sure to ask if they use this practice. If they don't offer a second person as MC, we recommend you watch video from several of their events to see how they handle that part of the workload. Ask for recommendations, and check their social media and reviews to see what former couples have to say about their MC skills.
Even if you plan to skip the DJ and do your own music at the wedding, we strongly suggest looking into an MC to help things move smoothly throughout the day. The investment will be small compared to the benefits you will receive!
2. Meet your DJ in person before you hire them: Doing the majority of planning online is becoming more commonplace these days, especially if the wedding is happening somewhere other than where you live. However, the DJ is one of the most important vendors to meet face to face, along with your coordinator and photographer, if you can do so before you finalize your decision. You want to get a feel for their personality, see if you click with them, and if their style is a good match with you and your guests. Think about yourself and your family, and how you interact when in a big group (like Thanksgiving, just more dressed up). Is it usually chaotic, or are you a more laid-back group? If you can find a DJ that matches your personality and the family dynamic, they will be able to guide you seamlessly through the event and focus on what is important to you!
3. Consider what kind of crowd you will have: No one knows your wedding guests better than you, so you want to consider the dynamics of the crowd when picking your DJ and planning the flow for the event. Are they younger party animals who are going to dance at the drop of a hat? Are they mostly older folks who will want to dance early and then head home? This is crucial in deciding what music to play, and when to play it. You may want to front-load some favorites for the older members of your crowd, and leave some of the current favorites for later in the night when the party animals are still going strong.
This same line of thinking informs the flow of the event, when various events such as toasts and dances will occur. Every DJ and MC have a preferred schedule that works best for them, and they will want to default to that. But this is where your knowledge of your group will come into play. If you know that some of your crowd will need to leave early, and you choose to have anniversary or marriage appreciation dances, you may need to schedule them according to the needs of your guests.
You can even take into consideration the type of meal you plan to have at the wedding. If your food will be buffet or stations, you should consider doing your toasts before releasing the tables to get their food, so that everyone is paying attention and can participate in the toasts.
4. Equipment and setup considerations: It's important to find out if the DJ has the correct equipment to make your vision for your day come true. If you have an indoor/outdoor event, does the DJ have wireless speakers that can bring the party from the inside to the outside space? Does the DJ have uplighting units that can give the room extra ambiance, something many now include with their service? You should also ask if the DJ has their own generator and extension cords, in case extra power is needed or if you are having your wedding in a remote area that doesn't have easy access to power.
Another important question depends directly upon your chosen venue, and that is the time the DJ has to set up and be ready for your event. In general, you want to ask how long their setups usually take, and in the case of extenuating circumstances (rain, other events running late), how quickly can they go from arriving at the venue to being ready for you to walk down the aisle?
The industry standard time for vendors to load in and get themselves ready for your event is 2 hours. A few venues will allow you to purchase more time so you can arrive earlier in the day, thus giving your vendors more time to set up. This is rare during the busy seasons (January to April, and September to December) however, so it's important your DJ is on the same page as the venue as far as the time they have available.
Thank you for joining us for this blog series, make sure to check out our Venue and Catering articles as well! Then, stay tuned here for more articles just like this, highlighting other major vendors and what to consider when choosing them for your wedding. And check out our full blog page for more tips, venue spotlights and real wedding recaps! *All photos credit of their owners/photographers.