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10 Tips to Finding the Best Wedding DJ

Jimmy Purifoy • Feb 28, 2020

The Brides Guide To Booking The Perfect Wedding DJ

Your probably wonder what qualifications I have to help you in finding the best wedding DJ for your big day. Well, it all started back in the lat 80's when I was still in high school. As a youth I learned FOH sound in my local church from a former touring sound technician and later took a job at the local convention center. In the early 90's I went on tour. About 2005 I did my first wedding. Later that year I attended a DJ conference to educated myself in the industry and have continued to learn and educate myself ever since. 
Using the knowledge and skills I gained from my years in event production as well as educational classes and conventions, I've to been DJ'ing private events - this includes cooperate events, Charity events, weddings, and school functions for the last 15 years. With well over 500 private events performed, I hope to help everyone from the bride or wedding planner find the wedding DJ for their wedding day. 

Not all Wedding DJ's are created equal, shop around and learn the right questions to ask!

The Different Types of wedding DJs

DJs, or "Disc Jockeys," can be categorized in many different ways:
  • Radio DJs - We all hear them on our local radio station. In most cases they are very professional and easy to work with. Often they have a local celebrity status, have great microphone skills to handle announcements, and current trends in music. The biggest problem - not all DJs are the kind that can play for a party. Radio is standardized, and is typically pre-recorded in order to add commercials and radio plugs.  
  • Mobile DJs - These DJs are the most common among the culture.  Typically working full- or part-time, doing what they love the most. It's important to understand that not all mobile DJs are the same and they certainly aren't all good. Experience is valuable when looking for a mobile Dj and most will be able to provide you with customer reviews as well as promotional materials (Videos (youtube - Vimeo,) Pics, and documentation) showing off their skills. The mobile DJ world is eager to book a gig so much so that there are DJs willing to do a wedding for $500 or less. This may sound like a great deal and I'm sure some of them can provide a satisfactory experience, but most of the time they are priced low to take gigs away from professional DJs and often leaving a bad reputation in the DJ industry. This is why its important to do your research on a potential DJ so your big day won't go sour. A lot of DJs will tell you what you want to hear to get the gig, but not all of them can deliver. Google, Facebook, Instagram, and personal interaction are the best tools for making your decision.
  • Club DJs - Usually stand out in most cities as the best and sought after for special events. They are usually current with today's hits, have exceptional mixing skills, and usually a residency at one or more venues. This experience often comes with a higher price tag, but tend to be lacking in crowd interaction due to an over-inflated ego and proper training in the wedding industry. They might be an incredibly talented DJ who is amazing to witness live but will they be a good choice for the reception on your big day?
  • Turntablist - This is a dying breed of DJs. In 1943 Jimmy_Savile launched the world's first DJ dance party. Throughout the 40's and 50's artist began sampling tracks to create new music. In 1975, Grand Wizzard Theodore invent the technique of scratching. Throughout the 80's and 90's beat juggling, aligning beats, and effects to create new songs. These typically aren't the DJs you'd want for a wedding reception but they are fun to watch.
  • Music Producers / Superstar DJs - These two are unlikely to perform at your wedding or special event. With price tags in the 10 of thousands of dollars and extensive touring schedule its almost impossible to hire this type of DJ unless your a celebrity yourself. 

Where to Look for a Wedding DJ

Chances are that if your reading this blog you've Googled DJs in your area. More than likely you got hundreds of DJ listing (especially if you live in a metropolitan area.) So, where do you begin? Most people don't search past page one and I don't blame them. Professional DJ companies spend a lot of money to make sure they show up in the top search results. This is a good sign because they are working successfully enough to pay the associated with SEO (search Engine Optimization) fees required to be on the first page. However this doesn't guarantee that they are the best in your area, it just means they have enough money to make you think they are.
First impressions are huge indicators of weather a DJ is worth taking the time to meet and discuss weather or not they are the right fit for you wedding day or event. A DJs website says a lot about them. If your having trouble navigating, find dead links, or errors on the page, the you can assume there level of detail and there willingness to go the extra mile to resolve any issues you may have.
Once you've narrowed down some options, you'll want to research the company more. My suggestions are:
  1.  Google Reviews
  2. Facebook
  3. Facebook Groups (wedding chatter that matters)
  4. Instagram
Earlier I said you should meet and discuss weather or not the DJ is a right fit for your wedding day. This is probably the most determining factor in hiring your DJ, don't be afraid to say we'll get back with you if you have any doubts or ask questions. 

What Should My Wedding DJ Provide?

This is a tough question to answer because every wedding is different and require unique attention to detail. However, in general your DJ should provide at minimum:
  • Professional speaker system adequate for the room size and guest count
  • Laptop and/or controller for mixing music tracks and seamless playback
  • Wireless hand held mics for announcements and lapel mics if needed
  • Dance lighting (usually 2 to 4 lights)
  • Speaker stands, DJ table, facade, cable management and clean setup
Your wedding DJ should be willing to help you plan your timeline, research song and make suggestions as per my blog What Does A wedding DJ Do?

How Much Should A Wedding DJ Cost?

There are a lot of variables including different personalities, levels of expertise, and experience along with the cost of doing business when it comes to wedding DJ cost.  Like i said in one of my other blogs, How Much Does A Wedding DJ Cost?,  you can expect to pay somewhere around $900 for a professional Wedding DJ in Arkansas with most couples spending between $700 to $1,500. 

Tips & Trick To Save Money

It's no secret that weddings can be expensive, but there are some ways to save and still get what you want that doesn't break the budget. Below I've listed a few of the industry secrets:
  •  Friday and Sunday weddings aren't as common as the 30 or so Saturdays here in Arkansas. This opens the door to negotiation for lower prices and discounts.
  • Off-season weddings in Arkansas are usually January, February, November, and December. Most couples avoid winter weather weddings, but not only can you save on venue rate who offer off-season rates, but other vendors as well may offer discounts.
  • Booking multiple services from your Dj, such as designer lighting or photo-booth, is a great way to save. Most DJ companies have package pricing that can save you a bundle. A few Dj companies offer multiple vendor services at discounts when you hire vendors they work closely with as well.
  • Always shop around, but remember when comparing prices compare services as well and always work with vendors you feel comfortable with even if it means paying a little more. Trusting your vendors is key to having a enjoyable wedding without unwanted stress.

Multi-Operator DJ Vs Owner-Operator DJ

 Choosing between a Multi-Op and an Independent DJ in the end really comes down to your preface.  Both can save you money depending on your wedding needs and wants, but there are some differences you need to be aware of. 
Multi-Ops tend too have more equipment and options than independent DJS, larger staff, and offer multiple vendor services. One of the things to look out for when working with multi-ops is that they don't allow you, the customer, to choose a DJ that fits your style and personality. Many companies will assign you a DJ and well, this is a disservice to you, the couple and you guest. 
Independent Wedding DJS are a great option despite the limited size. You know who your DJ is going to be, and you can build a TRUST to provide an optimal experience for everyone. Because the use less staffing overhead, they can typically offer better pricing and greater attention to detail than a larger company.

Event Coordination and The Wedding DJS Role

A good DJ will help in the planning of your reception and offer valuable advice on timeline options and how to create smooth transitions from formality to the next. The average timeline for a reception will look something like this.
  • 5 pm - Guest arrive
  • 5 - 6 pm - Cocktail/social hour
  • 6-6:10 pm - Guest seated (dinner music)
  • 6-6:15 pm - Bridal party introduction (2 songs needed)
  • 6:20-6:25 pm Cake cutting (1 song)
  • 6:25 pm Blessing (if desired)
  • 6:25 pm First course dinner, or toast if buffet
  • 7:30 pm - Parent Dances (2 songs)
  • 7:40 pm - Open dance
  • 7:50 pm - Bouquet and Garter (4 songs)
  • 8:00 pm - Dollar Dance (2-3 songs)
  • 8:15 pm - Anniversary Dance
  • 10:00 pm - Last Dance (1 song)
Notice how the evening flows with something happening at all times, it's clearly marked for when the DJ needs music and when he'll have to make sure that everyone involved where they need to be. This makes for a smooth pace and provides ample time for staff to take care of guest, and the couple plenty of time to celebrate with their friends.  Learn more in my article about "What Does A Wedding DJ DO?"

Your Music Needs

Most often the first meeting with the client (you) the DJ discusses your vision for the perfect reception as well as plan your musical needs based off your timeline and specific needs for the day.  This will vary from wedding to wedding as most couples want their wedding to be unique. You will need songs for the ceremony and reception if your DJ is providing services for both. Because most couples have never planned a wedding before, I have taken the time to write in more detail about Your Music Needs and Wants.

Understanding your Wedding DJS Contract

Contracts can be sneaky and confusing at times. Most contracts will place the important information you're looking for in a paragraph or in fine print at the bottom of the page. Here you find the rules and regulations or the lack of. Another line to read closely is the paragraph that declares exactly what you can and cannot hold your DJ liable for.  Accidents and "Acts of God" are different and knowing "what is" and "what could" result in a refund follow catastrophe.
Always Have your lawyer read your contract if possible. 
If you'd like to view Wylder Entertainments contract you can do so by sending me and email and simply asking to view it.

I'm not happy with my DJ - What Should I Do?

It's not uncommon for a couple to have second thoughts about their entertainment. After all, the music can make or break an event.  Some DJS aren't cut out for weddings and make promises they can't keep. If you find yourself in this situation don't panic as there are things you can do. Review your contract and its cancellation policy. Most often you'll be able to cancel 60 to 90 days in advance and still receive a refund or at least a partial one.

After The Wedding

Congratulations, you've made it though the day with the prefect DJ! Following the last dance or send off your DJ will work quickly to take down their equipment and load everything out of the venue without disturbing your guest.
It is acceptable to tip you DJ but it is not required by any means. If you feel that they have earned a tip you may want to read my article on How Much To Tip Your Wedding Vendors.   If your on a tight budget and really want to show your appreciation to your DJ, a thoughtful honest review on google, Facebook, Yelp, The Knot or Wedding Wire would help to encourage others in the future to book them. 

Wylder provides the best planning tools, tips and inspiration for your wedding.

Wylder Entertainment DJ Blog

By Jimmy Purifoy 24 Feb, 2020
With the average wedding in Arkansas costing around $17,489 (according to wedding report ,) gratuities often add up, and it's easy to exceed a budget. Knowing when, how and what to tip each of your wedding pros will help in budget planning and is considered a nice surprise for most vendors. So don't forget to factor in tips when making your wedding budget.
Though tipping has become more custom at weddings, it isn't mandatory but is always appreciated for a job well done. You should always tip vendors who exceed or offer exceptional service. If your budget doesn't allow for a modest tip for all vendors there are a few gestures that are appreciated. Send an email with a review, a hand written thank you note, or leave a review on Google or yelp . These gestures also help the vendors in booking future clients.
A few things to consider is some vendors will expect a gratuity, and other gratuities will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Business owners of larger companies don't get tipped—just their employees—but you can and should tip an owner when the service exceeds expectations. Small business owners (DJS, Caters, etc...) should never be overlooked either, since their businesses are often run by just one person.
You should assign the responsibility of handing them out tips to a trusted person, such as your wedding planner, a parent or wedding party member. Here's a helpful breakdown of what's customary for tipping each vendor.
By Jimmy Purifoy 18 Feb, 2020
Choosing a wedding DJ based on price is only one element to making the best entertainment decision of your wedding day. The greatest factor I cannot stress enough is Value . Everyone wants to get the best for their money spent and why should choosing a DJ be any different? DJS have different personalities, levels of expertise, and experience. This is why I encourage you to set aside some time to talk with your potential DJ face-to-face, over the phone, on Skype, or even email to build trust and understand the value your DJ will provide from beginning to end. Here are some questions and answers to help aid in your search.
Questions to ask a wedding DJ
By Jimmy Purifoy 02 Dec, 2019
So, you’re tying the knot. It’s both an awesome time in your life now but also a bit overwhelming at the same time. Now is the time to start to research and secure various wedding professionals. But before you pick your DJ you should get some things together to ask. Here are some top questions to ask a wedding DJ.
Tips for your wedding day
By Jimmy Purifoy 29 Nov, 2019
As time quickly approaches for your wedding, it can be easy to lose track of the most important things, especially fully enjoying your wedding day. These are some tips for your wedding day that I like to stress to my couples to ensure things can run as smooth as possible.
What Does a Wedding DJ Do?
By Jimmy Purifoy 21 Nov, 2019
For those that aren’t familiar with professional wedding DJs, it may seem all they do is push a button and play music. While planning and playing back music is one of the core functions of the DJ, there is so much more that goes on. The Wedding DJ is your entertainment coordinator and any times the wedding DJ stands in as pseudo-Wedding Coordinator. So, what does a wedding do?
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