Did you and your partner recently get engaged? Congratulations! You are ready to take the next big step in your relationship—wedding planning.

Weddings can be remarkably simple celebrations, or they can be elaborate gala events. You may not care at all about what the table centerpieces look like, or if the dinner napkins match the table linens and chair covers. On the other hand, you may spend days deciding which font and paper selection you should use for the menu cards, and flip through dozens of guest books in order to find just the right one.

Whether modest or grand, your wedding reception can be made into a most memorable party if you hire the right wedding DJ.

Think back to the wedding receptions you have attended in the past. What were the most memorable details from those events? Most guests recall these three items:

  • The food and drink served
  • The bride’s dress
  • The music played at the dance

Of all the wedding reception details to spend your money on, hiring a professional wedding DJ service will give you the best bang for your buck. But, what should you look for in a wedding DJ?

Tips for choosing a wedding DJ

Professional wedding DJs are usually independents who own their own equipment, or they contract out through an event services company that provides the sound and lighting systems. These companies handle a variety of functions including corporate events, private parties, and weddings.

When dealing with professional DJ services, ask them to provide at least two references or testimonials from previous clients. Check out their social media pages for customer reviews, as well as photos and videos of previous events.

If you are dealing with an independent DJ, ask them about their previous experience, and if they have previous clients you can get a reference from. More importantly, ask about their equipment, and whether they have a back-up solution if their primary DJ system breaks down. A DJ from an event services company will almost always have back-up equipment available if something unfortunate happens—this isn’t necessarily the case with independent DJs.

Of course, you should speak to friends and family members about their experiences with wedding DJs, and get their recommendations as well.

A basic DJ package for a wedding reception generally includes the following services:

  • Music for the cocktail hour as guests arrive
  • Background music for the dinner service
  • Music for the wedding reception dance
  • A basic lighting package for the dance floor

The cost of a basic package will depend on several factors, including the size of the venue and the number of guests attending. Larger venues require more powerful DJ systems to provide the appropriate sound levels.

Pro Tip: The event manager at your reception venue is a well-informed source of intelligence on local wedding DJ services. They see dozens of wedding receptions every year, and are usually happy to share their observations and recommendations with you.

Beyond the basics, there are other features that many DJ services can provide. Here are some examples of things you can shop around for when choosing a wedding DJ:

Advanced Lighting Packages: DJ lighting can be as simple as a sparkling mirror ball and a few colored spotlights, or it can include elaborate banks of LED illumination and trellis-mounted lighting effects. Just be aware that the bigger the light show, the higher the bill will be.

Audio/Video Extras: Depending on where you hold your reception, you may need the DJ to provide a wireless microphone for toasts and speeches. Another popular A/V extra is a video screen or projector so you can show a photo montage or a specially prepared video to your guests.

Add-ons: Some DJ services have a variety of small add-ons that can add a lot to your special evening. How about some glow sticks to hand out to the young children in attendance? Or a handheld “cannon” that showers the newlyweds with a rain of streamers and confetti during their first dance? Some DJs will run an entertaining mini-event before or during the dance, usually a game involving the bride and groom or the members of their wedding party.

The event manager at your reception venue is a well-informed source of intelligence on wedding DJs. Click To Tweet

Should you hire a live band instead of a wedding DJ?

In most major cities, you can find a number of live bands that specialize in performing at private parties and wedding receptions. Depending on your preferences and the type of guests you are inviting, a live band may be preferable over a DJ.

Some of the advantages a live band has over a DJ are:

  • Live musicians can be more energetic and interactive
  • A live performance is more memorable for you and your guests
  • Smaller bands can be less expensive than a DJ
  • A live band performance makes a great keepsake video of your dance

Here are some potential disadvantages a live band has compared to a DJ:

  • Live bands can’t cover as many different styles of music
  • Live performers are not as flexible at taking song requests
  • Large bands are more expensive than DJs
  • Live bands require more space in a venue

If you are thinking of hiring a live band for your wedding reception, make sure you have a chance to see them in action first, either by arranging to attend an event they’re playing or by asking for a demo video from one of their recent gigs. If you decide to hire the band, you should use a relevant performance contract to document the details of the booking.

Make your wedding reception one to remember

There are dozens of details you can look at when planning your wedding reception, but the music played at the dance should be one of your more important investments. The right wedding DJ service will turn your reception into a dance party that you and your guests will remember long after the flowers have wilted and the cake has been eaten.

What would you pick as the first dance song at your wedding reception?

Posted by Aaron Axline

Aaron Axline is an author, technology journalist, blogger, and knowledge management expert.


  1. I really like how you said that you can talk to the event manager you have hired for your reception to get a good opinion on which live performance DJ to hire. My daughter is going to be getting married soon and wants music but we haven’t been able to find a DJ quite yet. It would be a good idea for her to talk to her wedding planner and friends to see if they know anybody who would be a good fit for the style she wants.

  2. Hi there! You’re absolutely right, it is a great idea to get feedback from different people about their experiences with wedding DJ services; hotel and banquet facility managers get to see (and hear) a lot of wedding receptions, and can often be very helpful. Best wishes for your daughter’s special day!

  3. My cousin is getting married soon and has put me in charge of finding a DJ for the wedding. I like that you suggest asking the DJ for two previous references so you can get a feel for their quality of work. I tend to trust people if they have good things to say, especially multiple people, so I’ll be sure to try this. Thanks for the help!

  4. Hi Derek, good luck in finding a DJ for your cousin’s wedding! We’re glad you enjoyed our post.

  5. It was nice to know that one of the best ways to find a good DJ is by checking their social media accounts to see customer reviews. I guess I can give that a try since it looks like a harmless and effortless way to find a good DJ. I am always so busy, so this is important. Thanks. Hopefully, I can find a good DJ through this since my sister’s wedding means a lot to all of us.

  6. You’re welcome! We’re glad you found our DJ-hiring tactics helpful.

  7. My fiance and I are looking into details about our wedding and one of the details is a DJ. We need all the help that we can get to ensure we have the best wedding DJ. It is comforting to know that most venues will have services in mind to go to.

  8. We’re glad to hear that you enjoyed the post. We hope you have a wonderful wedding day!

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