Wedding DJs run the show. DJs announce newlyweds, guide guests to food, signal cake cutting, cue champagne toasts, and get the dance floor rocking. Great DJs also keep the vibe positive, keep grandma and your bratty teen cousin groovin’, and work with other vendors to put on your gorgeous event. Henry Richard of A Touch of Class DJ Service in Chicago, Illinois and Lowell Price of Price Entertainment in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma clue you in on what’s involved when hiring the perfect DJ.
What questions should someone ask before hiring a wedding DJ?
You want them to be covered for liability and meet the requirements of your venue, so Henry suggests making sure they have insurance. He also recommends checking their website and ensuring they’re a legit business as required by their city or county. Lowell seconds that emotion and suggests you ask after references (or check online reviews).
Logistically, make sure the DJ offers everything you want. If you know you need lights, make sure they’re equipped to bring their own. Lowell says it’s also important to clarify what the price quoted includes. For example, if your reception is 45 minutes out of town at the perfect rustic barn, are travel costs included in the quote? You don’t want any last minute cost surprises.
What exactly does a wedding DJ do?
On average, Henry says, a DJ invests about 15-20 hours of work into each wedding. His company provides two sit down meetings prior to the wedding to lay out the order of events, understand playlist requests, and meet any needs for the rehearsal dinner. He arrives at least two hours prior for setup (more for larger events), the actual event is usually five to seven hours, and then one or two hours of breakdown. DJs are the liaison between the couple and the timing of their wedding. You can request as much or as little MC interaction as you desire.
What are standard rates for wedding DJs in your region?
Fees always vary, but in Oklahoma City, Price Entertainment always offers a flat rate that includes mileage as well as any special request music downloaded for the event. They create tiered packages based on need: sound only, sound and lights, sound and lights and karaoke and MC, etc.
In Chicago, A Touch of Class DJ Service sees services range from $1,000-$2,500, depending on the size of the package requested. He notes that DJs bring anywhere from $8,000-$10,000 worth of equipment to every event (if you request a special effects-heavy package, that amount might be even larger)—so insurance is definitely a must.
What are some of the coolest trends in weddings when it comes to special effects?
Lowell is loving that brides are bucking traditional songs for bouquet tosses. He’s also liking the black light trend during the dancing.
Henry is all about the extras that bring the wow factor, and warns against DJs that might promise lots of the cool effects without any upcharge. He says you won’t get the same high-end effect if it comes for free. Make sure you see portfolio photos or visit the studio to ensure you don’t have a sad surprise on your big day if the free dance floor lighting turns out to be super wimpy looking.
A positive trend that Henry’s seeing are the online event planners where clients can create their playlists and formals (father/daughter dance, first dance, etc.) at their convenience through their profile. Finally something useful you can do with those wee hours of wedding planning insomnia!
How far in advance should a couple book a wedding DJ?
If you know you have a quality DJ, book ASAP, says Lowell. DJs often give a courtesy “soft hold” for a date, but dates are only set in stone once the deposit and paperwork are received. Just like when hiring your wedding cake specialist, it makes sense to secure who you want.
Please share about a wedding you loved DJing at, and what made it special.
Lowell recalls two special weddings he was able to DJ. The first was a childhood friend who requested him to play her reception. She had just married her wife in Hawaii the week before, and they wanted to throw a special party for friends and family back home. Growing up with her had been fun, but reuniting during the celebration of their love was so touching. He was incredibly honored to do it! The second wedding was between an autistic couple. Both the ceremony and reception were full of romantic gestures, love, and family members who came together because they saw the purest form of love there was. It did his heart good to be chosen for this.
For Henry, being a DJ means each wedding he engages with becomes personal and special in its own way. As an entertainer, he works to bring the couple’s vision to life as if it were his own son or daughter’s wedding. He says there are always unique moments, or incredible wedding venues, but as a performer with a technical job, it’s about helping to create that magic at each wedding.
What’s the most requested wedding song you get?
The 80’s and 90’s songs never get old. People just want to dance to music that makes them remember a fun time, says Lowell. It’s all about mixing up the love at the special event.