(by Stephanie Padovani)
What most couples who are planning a wedding don’t know is that saving money by hiring an amateur DJ for your wedding comes with a high price tag. Before you make a decision you regret, here are some things you need to know.
1. There’s a high probability that a cheap (or free) DJ won’t be in business by the time your wedding arrives.
Many low-priced DJs aren’t charging enough to support their own businesses for the long term; you’re just financing their hobby. Meanwhile, your wedding is 6-12 months away or more.
We’ve received those calls from desperate couples who had a “friend of a friend” DJ cancel on them last minute. It’s not pretty.
Do you want to risk the possibility that the cheapie DJ is bankrupt and out of business before your big day?
2. Amateurs are less invested in their performance than a wedding professional.
The amateur DJ is doing it “for fun,” and if something goes wrong, it’s not a big deal. A wedding professional, on the other hand, risks his entire reputation and livelihood with every performance. One bad review can destroy his business and he knows it.
At one wedding, the DJ brought along his wife and newborn. Their table was littered with McDonald’s bags and his wife decided to breastfeed the baby during dinner.
Would you rather have an entertainer who is 100% invested in his business and performance on your wedding day or someone who does it as a hobby?
3. A wedding is a unique event that require the skills and experience of a wedding specialist for a smooth, flawless ceremony and reception.
It’s about more than just playing music. Your wedding DJ is responsible for coordinating the timeline, orchestrating the introduction and flow of events, working with your other vendors, managing the guests, reading the crowd and making sure the right song is played at just the right time.
Even a DJ who is quite experienced in the club setting will be at a loss because she simply isn’t familiar with the flow of events and how to prevent disasters when something goes awry.
One inexperienced DJ mistakenly announced a special dance with the bride and her grandfather because he forgot to update his notes. The entire family started crying because Grandpa had passed away two weeks earlier.
Are you willing to place the outcome of your wedding in the hands of someone who doesn’t “do” weddings for a living?
4. Your guests won’t dance without an experienced entertainer who can read the crowd and keep the momentum going.
You have to play the right songs at the right time and in the right order to maintain dancing. Oftentimes, the mood changes and your entertainer needs to change the program to maximize the dancing along the way.
If she can’t mix from one song to another, you’ll have gaps of “dead air” or awkward rhythms that will frustrate your guests and clear the floor.
Many couples think that providing an amateur with a set list of songs they love will be enough to make a fun wedding. It’s not. You need someone with experience to work with your requests and what your guests are responding to in order to avoid an empty dance floor.
One bride regrets hiring her DJ because he played “Unforgettable” five times during the wedding because he didn’t know any other slow songs.
Are you willing to sacrifice the fun at your wedding to save money on a cheaper DJ?
5. The MC (the guy or girl on the microphone) has a huge impact on the mood and outcome of your party, for better or worse.
An obnoxious DJ with an abrasive voice will irritate your guests and dampen the mood of the entire party. Professional DJs invest in vocal training and practice to optimize their performance.
I personally witnessed one DJ and embarrass everyone by making suggestive comments to the bride over the microphone.
Do you want just anyone acting as your wedding host or do you want a professional speaker you can trust?
6. Your special events may not happen if you don’t hire a specialist who’s experienced in channeling the flow of events.
Who will direct your bridal party and guests at the ceremony? Who’s going to line them up for introductions? Who’s in charge of making sure the toasts, special dances and dedications go without a hitch?
Just having the equipment and knowing how to push play doesn’t guarantee the people wrangling skills you need for a fun, smooth reception. In most cases, your entertainer is the one who makes sure your special events are executed as you’ve requested.
One inexperienced DJ forgot to bring the couple’s First Dance song; they were forced to dance to Barbra Streisand, who they can’t stand.
Will you risk leaving your special events to chance or do you want to ensure that everything is done according to plan?
7. An amateur doesn’t have the experience to include your unique requests in a way that truly expresses your personality AND keeps people dancing.
You can’t make your guests dance to the songs you like if they don’t feel the same way. Your DJ needs to read the crowd and have the experience to build sets of music around your preferences.
An amateur DJ can play the songs you request, but lacks the experience necessary to make it work.
One bride told us her DJ played the unedited version of Sexxy Back during dinner and had five minutes of dead air while he queued up the next song.
Do you want your guests on the dance floor all night or is it acceptable to have large chunks of time with no dancing?
If you’re in need of inspiration for some of the all time greatest songs suitable for your wedding playlist, take a look at this list courtesy of Headliner.
8. An amateur DJ has inadequate or non-existent backup equipment, which means that if something fails you have no music at your wedding.
As reliable as equipment like the Numark Mixtrack Platinum FX is, you never know what will happen at a wedding that could cause some of your equipment to stop working. A fully functional backup system on the premises is essential to making sure you have music at your wedding no matter what. Most amateur DJs won’t have a backup plan if a speaker blows or a laptop crashes.
We were approached at the end of one wedding by a DJ in the next room who asked if he could “borrow our speakers” because his were broken.
Are you willing to takes your chances without a backup on your wedding day?
9. DJs who charge less invest less into their equipment, which means you have inferior sound and performance at your wedding.
A stereo system that sounds great in your living room doesn’t sound good in a spacious wedding venue. A professional DJ might know precisely where to invest, whether it’s in DJ insurance (view it now), professional speakers, or top-of-the-line equipment, because s/he understands how important those things are.
Professional speakers and equipment are necessary for clear sound that has at impact at low volumes, so your guests can speak at the tables even while the dance floor is thumping.
If you want your guests to actually hear your exchange of vows at the ceremony, you’ll need professional equipment and an onsite tech to make sure that happens.
One DJ showed up at a venue for the first time without ANY speakers or mixer because he’s been told that he could, “use the venue’s sound system” and he didn’t call ahead to verify.
Are sound issues like blasting music or impossible to understand audio acceptable on your wedding day?
If you’re not planning to have any formal events at your wedding, and you’d like a cocktail party more than a dance party, it may make sense to save money by hiring a non-professional. But if you’re investing thousands of dollars on creating the perfect day, please don’t jeopardize it by hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Your wedding day only happens once; make sure you hire a DJ who gets it right.