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Hiring a DJ for Your Wedding and Reception Entertainment

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Decide what role you want your entertainer to play. Will they act as an emcee, host, coordinator and entertainer, or just play music? Do your personalities match? Go listen to them perform. The  American Disc Jockey Association recommends that you ask the following questions:

1- Are you insured?
Many responsible business owners carry liability insurance to protect their businesses and the consumer. Many locations are beginning to require proof of liability. Ask for proof of liability insurance such as a “Certificate of Liability.”

2- Will you be willing to play requests and discuss music ahead of time?
A versatile Disc Jockey is willing to listen to your suggestions, give you feedback and play from your desired song list. A professional Disc Jockey will also accept the fact you may not want certain songs played. A professional Disc Jockey cannot know everything about your musical preferences and entertainment needs without communication.

3- Do you use Professional Equipment?
Ask your prospective Disc Jockey ifhe/she works with professional audio equipment. If you are not sure, ask for their equipment list and check with a local music dealer or the A.D.J.A. to verify they are using professional-grade sound gear.

4- Do you provide backup equipment at my event?
Although equipment failure is rare, do you really want your special occasion ruined because your Disc Jockey did not come prepared? It is also important to know if your Disc Jockey has a back-up plan in case of illness or an accident. Booking a reliable Disc Jockey is a very important decision for the success of your party.

5- Does the Disc Jockey know the proper etiquette for your type of party?
A professional Disc Jockey will assist you with the planning of your special day. Most professional entertainers will coordinate, emcee and provide the music that you desire.

6- How much time do you allow for set-up?
Punctuality is a necessity. Most Disc Jockeys arrive at least one hour prior to the start time you’ve given them. Your entertainer should ideally be setup and in-place before your first guest walks through the door.

7- Do you provide a written contract?
It is extremely important to have your booking confirmed in writing. Ask for a written agreement, especially if you are paying an initial retainer. The standard initial payment for entertainment services is 50%. If you are expecting a specific entertainer, make sure you get it in writing as well.

8- Will you be suitably dressed for our occasion?
Specify the type of apparel that your Disc Jockey is expected to wear for your occasion. Formal attire or coat & tie are the most popular forms of attire.

9- Do you belong to any professional associations or trade groups?
An involved person shows a willingness to learn, network and share ideas. Belonging to a professional group reflect a caring attitude.

10- How long have you been in business?
Experience brings knowledge of common problems and situations. Be sure your DJ has experience with your type of event.

11- May we call your references?
References are a major part of the entertainment business.

Disc Jockey rates vary based on talent, popularity, experience, emcee ability, service, coordination, equipment needed, music knowledge, mixing ability, personality, professionalism, talent, creativity and other factors. Rates for the DJ industry vary greatly, ranging from $350.00 to $3,500.00 with an average of $1,200.00 for services that include delivery, set-up and tear down of a professional sound system, emcee services, coordination, music programming and 3 to 6 hours of entertainment. Other options that may not be included would be lighting effects, Karaoke equipment, props, dancers, a second entertainer, etc. The best price is not always the best deal, especially if you are planning a wedding.

A full-service disc jockey company will normally invest 12 to 30 hours to your special event but it may appear that you are only paying for “4 hours”. Consultations, music purchasing & editing, preparation, set-up and teardown, education and other business related endeavors add up to the overall success of your special occasion.


72% of all brides say they would have spent more time choosing their reception entertainment. During wedding planning, Brides say their highest priority is their attire, followed by the reception site and caterer – reception entertainment is among the least of their priorities. Within one week after their reception, 78% of Brides say they would have made the entertainment their highest priority! When asked, 81% of guests say the thing they remember most about a wedding is the entertainment.
*St. Louis Bride and Groom Magazine, 2003
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Entertainment / DJ Tips