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with Relationship Speaker/Author/Coach...
Larry James

How to Hire a Disc Jockey
Questions & Tips from a Professional Disc Jockey

Mark Sanchez, Guest Author

Mark Sanchez, DeeJay, Doing his thing!
Mark Sanchez, DJ &
Wedding Entertainment Specialist
"The price a client pays for entertainment is directly proportional to the quality they receive, which is directly proportional to the success of their event."

Before you read Mark's article, you may want to listen to a radio interview with Peter Merry, former President of the American Disc Jockey Association. Read The Best Wedding Reception Ever! - Peter Merry.

Your wedding reception DJ determines whether your reception is a hit or a miss!

One of the most confusing things you will notice is the great disparity of pricing from one DJ service to the next. You should ask about pricing, but I would suggest making it your last question.

First, you need to find out what makes the DJ worth their fee and what kind of service they provide. Entertainment is a talent based service and each DJ entertainer will bring a different level of talent, quality of service, experience, and expertise to your wedding day.

Your enterainment can make or break a reception, and remember there is no second chance to get it right. Most people make the mistake thinking, "It's just music, all DJ's are the same," and that a cheaper DJ is the better value. Not true!

While it may be attractive to shop for a DJ based on price, just as with every other wedding vendor, price alone is not the definitive factor in this decision. All DJ services are NOT equal.

Here are some of the important questions you should ask before hiring your DJ (plus a few tips!):

    Check box Are you available for my date? - Better check this first! If they are not available, no sense in talking much further! You are encouraged to book your disc jockey at least 6 to 9 months in advance.

    Check box Will you provide ceremony music? - Most wedding DJ's can provide ceremony music service at the reception site. Sometimes a separate sound system is used since the ceremony location may be a distance from the reception.

    Ceremony services may include appropriate music during the seating of guests, wedding party processional, lighting of the unity candle or sand ceremony and the recessional. A wireless microphone is usually provided for the ceremony minister.

    Check box Are you the DJ who will be at the reception? - Keep in mind that some DJ companies subcontract their services and they may always indicate that they are available. Will he guarantee in writing that they will be the DJ at your event? Be sure the DJ you interview will be your DJ.

    Check box How many weddings have hired you as the entertainer? - Can he meet with you at your convenience, even if it's during the day? Is he a full-time DJ professional? Never hire a "newbie" or cousin Jimmy to be your disc jockey. They mean well, but to have a memorable event you need a pro! Knowing your DJ is available full-time without additional costs to you is comforting.

    Check box Do you provide a written contract? - Get everything in writing! If your DJ is not willing to provide you with a written commitment, then shout, "No Thanks," and move on.

    Check box May we contact your references? - When you ask for references make sure you get previous clients and venues at which the DJ has performed.

    Check box Will you go over the wedding planning with us? - How will he handle the details of the introductions, first dance, toast, blessing, cake cutting, bouquet & garter toss and special requested dances? What will they do at your reception that makes their service unique?

    Check box Do you take requests? - An professional DJ blends requests with songs that will get your guests up and dancing. The art of a DJ is timing, and this takes years of experience. A versatile Disc Jockey will be willing to listen to your suggestions, give you feedback and play from your desired song list.

    Check box Will you also make announcements and emcee the reception? - Does he have the ability and willingness to "read" and motivate the crowd to get on the dance floor to get the party started?

    The seasoned professional will also know how to introduce interactivity into the night in a tasteful and energetic manner. Will he keep your guests' attention where it belongs - on you?

    Check box How large is your music collection? - Will he provide any special music you require at your reception? Your wedding will most likely require music to satisfy all ages and musical tastes so ask about variety. Can he show you a "song list?"

    Check box Do you use professional equipment? - A friend's stereo might sound great in the friend's basement, but, it may be barely heard when put into a banquet hall of 200 or more guests. A DJ should have professional sound equipment. If lighting is important to you, ask about these special effects.

    Check box Do you bring backup equipment? - If a speaker blows or the microphone stops working, does he have the replacements with him? (Extra CD player, amplifier, mixer, etc.)

    Check box Do you coordinate with the minister? - It is important for the DJ to be familiar with the order of the ceremony.

    Check box Do you belong to any professional associations? - Is the DJ a member of ADJA (American Disc Jockey Association) or any other DJ organization which carefully screens their members? What are they currently doing to improve their entertainment skills?

    Although belonging to an organization or trade group does not guarantee the talent or professionalism of a disc jockey, it may indicate the DJ's willingness to network, learn and grow.

    Check box How early do you arrive to set up? - Punctuality is an absolute. Setup should be complete before the stated contract time. Sound checks need to be performed.

    Check box Are you insured? - This is a good sign of professionalism. A professional disc jockey will carry business liability insurance to respond to any claims resulting from his services.

    Check box How will you be dressed? - Is he well groomed? Formal attire or coat and tie are the most popular forms of attire.

    Check box What is included in your price? - Get all the details. Is a gratuity included in the price?

    Check box Are there any hidden charges? - In addition to the base price, is there a set-up fee? Are there charges for additional meetings, tear down, or travel time?

    Check box What are the reasons you think we should hire you? - Listen to his answer!

References are the best way to start your search. Some great resources to start with are other wedding professionals. Photographers, catering managers, ministers, and wedding coordinators work sise-by-side with disc jockeys. An experienced DJ will be able to handle unforeseen circumstances and work in concert with the other vendors.

He should provide a planner, a tentative time line, the music you want, and more. A professional DJ should provide advance preparation as part of his service. A pro aways returns your phone calls promptly.

A reception should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom but there should also be some flexibility allotted to the DJ to appeal to all of your guest's varied tastes. This may include a few songs that you are not particularly fond of. A good question to ask yourself is, "Can I trust the DJ I hired to use all the music at his disposal to ensure everyone has fun?"

You should be able to meet with your prospective DJ first before any commitment is made. A professional DJ will know music, communicate in a friendly and helpful manner, and should be genuinely interested in what you and your guests want. He should entertain with style, microphone presence and proper volume.

The best weddings are classy yet fun, well planned and well run. Above all, you want your wedding reception to be memorable, fun, worry-free and a good time for your family and guests.

A full-service, professional disc jockey will normally invest 12 to 30 hours in your special event although it may appear that you are only paying for "4 or 5 hours." Face-to-face consultations, music purchasing & editing, preparation, set-up and tear-down, education and other business related endeavors add up to the overall success of your very special day.

If there is one area of your reception where you shouldn't try to cut corners, it's your entertainment. Hire a DJ who is an entertainer. Remember, there is a lot of prep work that should be done prior to your wedding by the DJ. He should be able to explain what he will do for you in advance to ensure the success of your big day.

Not surprisingly, most professional, reputable DJs charge more for their services than a hobby DJ who is just looking to make a few extra bucks on the side. Cutting corners on entertainment is a recipe for disaster. No one will remember if the meal was overly cooked, or how nice the reception hall was decorated, but everyone will remember if they had a great time at the reception because of DJ's ability to entertain.

Be prepared to pay for quality, just like any other goods and services. Reception DJ's only have one opportunity to get it right once! The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

One final suggestion is for you to carefully listen to not only what an event professional says when you ask questions, but how they say it. Do they speak with knowledge, passion, and a desire to truly help you create a successful event? If so, you may have a keeper! Trust your instincts. If you find a disc jockey that you consider a real pro. . . hire him! The choice dates for professional DJs who are entertainers book up fast.

•    •    •

Visit Mark's BLOG!

Take a look at what one of Mark's "very satisfied" clients has to say. Click here.

•    •    •

Copyright © - Mark Sanchez. Mark Sanchez has performed more than 900 weddings in the Great Phoenix area. He started his career at local valley night spots where he received years of personalized training by some of the best entertainment directors. In 1990 he performed his first wedding working for a reputable mobile DJ service in Phoenix primarily as a DJ/Emcee for weddings. Today he is a career DJ who runs his own business as a full time owner/operator specializing in weddings. www.ProfessionalMobileENT.com - Send e-mail to Mark Sanchez!

Special Note: I've worked with Mark Sanchez many times and he delivers a professional, quality show from beginning to end. He is the owner of Professional Mobile Entertainment. - 5 Stars from Larry James!

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