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How Do We Find the Best Wedding DJ?

Close up photo of a DJ adjusting switches on his panel

Heather Featherston

January 16, 2024

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Congratulations on your engagement! You’re about to begin an exciting journey as you plan your wedding day. An important decision you’ll make is choosing the right wedding entertainment. After all, the music sets the tone for the entire celebration and keeps your guests engaged and dancing all night long. We’re here to help you find the perfect wedding DJ for your special day!

We recommend you start looking for musicians or DJs nine months to a year before your wedding date. Friends and relatives may have favorite musicians or DJs they can recommend. In addition, our wedding professionals maintain a great list of vendors we love. It’s made up of professionals we’ve had the opportunity to work with. Using this list, you can begin your search for vendors by having access to professionals we’ve already vetted.

As you begin your search, decide what kind of music and entertainment you want to carry out your dream and theme for your wedding. Every party has its own dynamic or energy, and a professional DJ or live musicians will use music to build on that dynamic for a successful party.

Do you want a DJ who will be the center of attention or one who will fade into the background and let the music do the talking? A good wedding DJ should be able to strike the right balance between being engaging and allowing the spotlight to remain on you. If you want a DJ who can also provide lighting, emcee services, and other extras, make sure to ask about these services when you’re researching your options.

Staying On-Budget

Your budget will play a big role in your decision, so you need to do a little homework on the costs of live musicians and entertainment services before you begin your search.

Entertainment professionals agree that you should not look merely for the cheapest entertainer, be it DJ or live musician. A big part of the success of your celebration will ride on your choice of music professionals-not just their skills but also their understanding and cooperation in carrying out your goals.

If your DJ or bandleader is also your master of ceremonies, you’ll be placing the dynamics and control of your event in their hands. Look for a professional with experience at weddings who uses professional equipment. With a little research, you can find talented entertainers who will provide excellent service at reasonable rates.

Interviewing and Hiring a DJ

Interview several DJs to find the one whose personality is best suited to the mood and tone you want for your celebration and, of course, to your own personality and that of your groom. Make sure that you and your DJ are compatible and can work well together.

During your interviews, ask lots of questions. Entertainment professionals recommend that you work with a DJ who is in the business full-time to ensure that you get the focus of his attention. Find out how long the DJ has been in the business. How many weddings has he done in the past year? How does she work with her clients to plan wedding entertainment?

Ask each potential DJ about their experience with weddings the same size as yours and in the same venue. Ask for references and get about ten names of previous clients. Call at least five people on the list and ask how satisfied they were with the DJ and his services.

The best way to pick a DJ is to catch a live act, but that may not be possible, so give yourself time to get acquainted with those you interview. You are choosing the person who will control the character and energy of your wedding celebration, so pay attention to their personality as well as the responses to your questions during your interviews.

DJ Shayna mixing songs for an event

What to Ask DJs

We recommend that you ask the DJs you interview about following items:

  • A written contract: As with all of your wedding suppliers, get everything in writing. A written contract should detail exactly who will perform at your wedding, what music and services you want and will receive, and the cost of all services provided.
  • Liability insurance: Most wedding venues require liability insurance covering them if a mishap occurs at your event. Make sure your DJ has coverage.
  • Convenient means of communication: A full-time, professional entertainment company will have several means of communication so that you can reach them at any time to ask questions or resolve issues. Get all their info: social media pages, email address, cell phone number, as well as their landline phone number if they have one.
  • Licenses: Some cities require entertainment companies to be licensed to perform in their jurisdiction. Make sure your DJ has current licenses where needed.
  • Professional sound equipment: It’s unlikely that you will know what sound equipment is professional quality just by its name, so ask to hear an example of its sound. Ask what backup systems will be in place if something goes wrong or malfunctions. Ask what extra equipment might be necessary at your chosen venue.
  • A detailed plan for your wedding: Get a written schedule of wedding activities from your DJ detailing what will happen when, who is doing it, and where it will happen so the other wedding vendors (and you!) can be on the same page during the event.
  • Be prepared to tip. Prepare and label an envelope ahead of time and give it to your wedding coordinator or another trusted friend or family member.

What an Entertainment Specialist Does

An entertainment specialist, such as a DJ, orchestrates the whole wedding, handling every detail of the reception smoothly and seamlessly. For example, he announces grand entrances, the first dance, the father-daughter dance, various toasts, the garter and bouquet toss, the cake cutting, and the farewell dance.

He will be in constant communication with the caterer, photographer, videographer, and wedding planner to make sure no activity conflicts with another. It is very important, for example, that the photographer and videographer are set up and ready to capture the images of the first dance, bouquet toss, or cake cutting at just the right moment.

Meeting the actual DJ who will work at your wedding is important. Since major entertainment companies employ several disc jockeys, you need to be sure that you talk to the actual DJ assigned to your wedding. Developing a good rapport and getting your DJ’s cooperation are essential to your party’s success.

Woman playing the harp

Making Music

Every bride knows how important music is to a great reception. To make sure you get it right, decide on what type of feel you’d like. Talk with your DJ about incorporating live music to your event, such as a strolling guitarist, acapella group, or drumming troupe. These can be great additions to a cocktail hour or during meal service, shifting to more danceable tunes played by your DJ later in the event.

Another elegant option, although less mobile, is a harpist. It’s a sound your guests are likely not used to hearing, and watching a harpist play is a memorable artistic experience.

A DJ is an excellent choice if you’re looking for interactive entertainment to enliven your reception. He will coordinate activities, make introductions and announcements, play a variety of music, and monitor the enthusiasm and energy of the event.

Given the wide range of ages represented by the guests at any wedding, it is very important that you trust your entertainment professional to find the right combination of music to engage and entertain your guests. An experienced wedding DJ will know how to read the crowd and keep the dance floor packed. They’ll also be able to help you create a playlist that reflects your and your fiancé’s personalities and musical tastes.

As you seek out a wedding reception DJ, our team of professionals at Rough & Ready Vineyards is here to help. Contact us today by email or phone to learn more about our outdoor wedding venue and how we can help make your wedding day unforgettable.

Learn More About Featured DJs

As you conduct your search for the best wedding DJ for your style and budget, it can help to hear directly from the professionals themselves. We’ve featured four wedding DJs here on our blog, and each shared about their experience and journey. Click on each DJ’s name below to hear their story and get samples of their work:

DJ Shayna

Music Xpress

TSP DJ (Steve Allard)

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 27, 2023, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

Heather, an Event Manager for the Rough & Ready Vineyards, oversees the day-to-day operations. She takes satisfaction in seeing everyone happy and is always grateful for the opportunity to make this happen. Heather enjoys meeting with brides-to-be in order to gather the details needed to ensure their wedding day is perfect! “Every wedding and reception at the Rough & Ready Vineyards is so beautiful,” she says. “I love being able to see people enjoy the amazing venue we have created here!”

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