Backstage Rentals

10 things you need to know before hiring a DJ

A DJ does much more at a wedding than just show up, play music, and leave.  You should expect a good DJ to spend some time with you to understand your specific wants and needs.  Working with the venue, coordinating timing and announcements, arranging with the photographer & wedding or event planner, laying out the timeline, and all long before your event!  Not to mention spending time on several playlists that include all of the special dance songs and any requests you may have.

When it comes to your special day, you want everything to be perfect!  Don't leave the sound track of the most important day of your life to chance!  The term "dance music" can mean a slow, romantic dance to Frank Sinatra, or a high energy wave of the hottest pop hits!  Don't assume your tastes are the same as your DJ!   After years of setting up sound equipment for events and weddings all over San Diego & Orange County - we've complied a list of the wisdom we've accrued, just for you, in an easy Top 10 List to help you find the perfect DJ!

1. Who will REALLY show up at your event? Many companies, even with big names, contract out their DJ's, so you may not know exactly who you're getting until the big night!  Make sure to ask about the exact person who will be assigned to your event so you can scope them out on your own time!  Is your DJ trained by or approved by the company, or is it an informal "directory" of DJs?  A random collection of DJs may not carry a quality core of music - make sure they have a variety of music available for all tastes!

2. What kind of music do you want? A good DJ will be able to put together a great song list for each part of the wedding - from ceremony to reception.  Let the DJ know if you have special requests, what the mood of the wedding should be, and exactly what music you want at your event so they'll have time to prepare. If they don’t have a song you want in their collection, a good DJ will find it for you & have it ready!

3. Will you take song requests from guests?  Most DJs take requests and will play them in the order they're requested, as long as it's in line with the theme the bride & groom want.  Let the DJ know if he gets a request for Metallica at your wedding, to please ask you first before going off course!   Off the wall songs can be fun, and a good DJ should have enough experience to read the crowd!

4. Do you use quality equipment? Many professional DJ's have and care for their own equipment.  DJ equipment is expensive, so as a general rule it should be in decent working order, as most DJ's would throw themselves in front of a bus rather than scratch their stuff.  Not all DJ's can afford thousands of dollars worth of equipment however - often they need to rent from an amazing place like BackstageRentals.com!  Which is fine by us.  If they need to get their sound gear from another place, it may not hurt to do a quick google search to learn more about where it's coming from.

5. What will you wear? Many DJ's will dress according to your request, so it's perfectly reasonable to make one.  A traditional and easy favorite for DJ's is black pants and a black short sleeved shirt (it gets hot!).  If you're hiring a "friend of a friend" type of DJ you haven't met, you may want to inquire about any piercings, tattoos, jewelry, or unusual hairstyle that may or may not appeal to your wedding aesthetics.

6.  Do you have references? Depending on the formality of your event - you'll want at least a few references for the person who will be autonomously hosting the biggest night of your life.  A good DJ will be glad to provide them.  Beware a DJ who cannot produce any references.  This indicates inexpereince or worse, bad experience. 

7. Do you have backup equipment?  Stuff happens, even to the best of us.  Ask about the DJ's backup plan, just in case!

8. Will you make my event fun? DJ's can make a party come alive with all kinds of fun interactions with the crowd, from the chicken dance, to letting guests make shout outs, have karaoke, dance competitions, and many other things!  Ask your DJ if they have any time tested crowd pleasers, or, if you definitely don't want any "cheese" at your event - you'll want to let your DJ know in advance!

9. My friend is a DJ - should I hire them to save a few bucks? This is tricky.  Unless your friend has a well established reputation as a professional DJ, this is one of those situations that almost never ends well.  If you or your guests are not 100% happy with the quality, timing, or music - you may not complain or ask for any changes to avoid hurting their feelings.  If you do mention it, you will hurt their feelings.  Either way, it generally does not end well.  We recommend hiring professionals who take time and pride in their craft, and whom you pay for a service, not friendship.  This way, when you ask for something to change, the DJ is happy to comply!

10.  When will you arrive to set up? It is critical for a DJ to show up early for several reasons.  The first reason is to settle the bride's nerves that he will, in fact, be there for the event.  The 2nd reason is that most DJ's prefer to be at your event about one hour before guests arrive to est up, go over any timeline or song requests with you or your wedding planner. A great DJ loves to entertain, and should be able to answer each of these questions easily and openly!

We hope this list of 10 things to know before hiring a DJ was helpful!  For recommendations, or to be your own DJ with one of our DIY, easy to use and affordable sound rental packages - contact us at BackstageRentals.com today!

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