“To Hire a DJ or not Hire a DJ: That is the Question.”

When planning an event, specifically a wedding, two of the most important vendors you will hire are your photographer and your DJ. The photographer is never a difficult sell. The vast majority of clients realize the value of having a talented photographer present to capture the event and immortalize it in perfectly edited photographs forever. However, more often than not, it takes more than a little bit of persuading to convince my clients about the importance of hiring a professional DJ.

Here are some of the biggest misconceptions about DJ’s and some of the most common arguments I hear when deciding whether or not to hire a DJ:

1. “My venue has a sound system. I’m just going to load up an iPod with songs my guests will like and play the music.”
There is SO much more to being a great DJ than just playing music. If it was as simple as creating an iPod playlist and pressing “Shuffle,” everyone would be doing it. The DJ functions as the Master of Ceremonies (MC) at your wedding. It is the DJ who is the voice of the wedding and lets the guests know the status of the evening’s activities, it is the DJ who keeps the “flow” going and who feels out the energy of the crowd to gage what type of music is currently appropriate to play, and it is the DJ who can almost solely affect the amount of fun your wedding will be (of course an open bar and dim lighting help as well….but that’s for another posting!). These tasks simply cannot be accomplished by an iPod. Playing the music is the smallest task the DJ has. Anyone with decent sound equipment can play music that is loud enough for a room full of people to hear, but to truly conduct the flow of your wedding reception…..that takes talent!

2. “I have a friend who has great sound equipment and can function as my DJ. I plan to hire him. We’re just going to create a contract and have him sign it.”
I won’t be redundant here and go into the aforementioned argument; however, I always advise against involving friends and family providing services for the wedding. A wedding, quite bluntly, carries far too much emotional pressure to put this burden on a close friend or family member with whom you would like to remain close! This is one of the most important days of your life. If that “friend” DJ does not perform to your expectations, the Maid of Honor’s floral arrangments didn’t quite come out like the pictures on The Knot that she showed you, Uncle Bob’s knowledge of capturing the right moments in photography and limited experience with Photoshop have left you with only 20 photos to choose from rather than 200, you are going to bear resentment towards that person for a very long time. It is too much pressure for you and for your friends and family, and it should be left to professionals who are emotionally detached from your day. And there are so many great event vendors who are happy to work with a tight budget, that the small extra fee you will pay for that professional DJ, in this case, will be well worth it in the end.

And along these same lines is the issue of a contract. Creating a piece of paper for your friend to sign does not constitute a legal document. A professional DJ will always have a legal contract for you to sign which protects you and your finances in the case the DJ fails to show up for the wedding or does not provide the agreed upon services. Another thing all professional DJ’s will have is liability insurance. What happens if your friend who is functioning as your DJ does not properly secure his cords and a guests trips over a cord and breaks a leg? That DJ can subsequently be held liable, and if he/she does not carry insurance, the next person getting sued is you. It’s just not worth it.

3. “I know someone who is a professional nightclub DJ. Can he/she serve as my wedding DJ?”
There are definitely DJ’s who function both as nightclub DJ’s and private event DJ’s; however, more often than not, they choose one role or the other. Chuck Johnson, Orlando, Florida area DJ and author of the book The Inside Secrets to Hiring a Wedding Reception DJ states, “You should be wary of hiring a club DJ who has never hosted a wedding. Their beat-mixing skills will be excellent, but a club is an entirely different story than a reception. A club DJ may have no idea how to MC your particular event, and may only be familiar with certain types of music.” Would you hire a band who specializes primarily in Country music to perform Disco hits at your event? Would you hire a food photographer to take your wedding photos? While these individuals function in the same type of profession, they have entirely different skill sets. It is the same with a nightclub DJ and an Master of Ceremonies.

My last piece of advice is to always give a professional DJ the chance to meet and speak with you about your wedding before making a decision. Their consultations are usually free of charge and they can help you make the most informed decision.