Wedding Disco – Guide to DJ Hire

You’ve tied the knot, made your groom’s speech, had your first dance, and had a drink or two. Now it’s time to celebrate. Most wedding receptions end with either a live band or a disco. A wedding disco is the more common alternative. Here’s our guide to getting it right.

Book direct, or through an agency?

It can be surprisingly difficult to book a DJ directly, as many of them work through entertainment agencies.

Booking through an agency can have its advantages – for example if your DJ has to pull out at the last minute due to illness or other reasons then the agency should help to find a quick replacement.

However, there are downsides too – most agencies will be able to arrange for you to speak to the DJ directly but they will insist on acting as “middle man” for all the arrangements.

Either route should work out fine, provided you do your homework.

Obtaining recommendations

Chances are that this is the first time you’ve planned a disco in your life. Also, there are a lot of mediocre quality amateur DJs out there.  Therefore, always try to book through personal recommendation where possible. If you’ve been to a wedding recently where the disco was really good, try to find out who the DJ was. Ask friends and relatives if they have any recommendations.

Does your venue have any requirements for DJs?

Your chosen wedding venue may have specific requirements for DJs who operate on the premises. It’s always worth checking with the venue before you start looking for a DJ. Common requirements are for the DJ:

  • To have his own public liability insurance
  • To have “Portable Appliance Test” certificates for his electrical equipment (which shows that the equipment is safe)
  • To agree to hook up his equipment to a noise meter (this will cut the power to the DJ’s equipment if noise exceeds a certain level – most DJs are used to working with them)

Questions to ask

When speaking to DJs, you should obviously ask them about any requirements from your venue. It’s also worth asking them the following questions:

  • How long have you been a DJ?
  • How many wedding discos have you done before?
  • Do you carry spare equipment?
  • In particular, do you bring a spare amp to all venues?
  • What sort of lighting equipment do you have?

Making the booking

Once you’re happy with your DJ, it’s time to make the booking. You might be asked to pay a deposit, which should be no more than about 25% for a reputable DJ. The remainder should be payable after the wedding. Make sure that you receive a written confirmation of the booking. Usually you will be given written terms and conditions to sign – make sure that you have read them and are happy with them.

Guidance for your DJ

Your DJ is likely to ask you for guidance on the age range of your guests and the type of music you want to be played. A good wedding disco will generally cover a range of musical eras, but the perfect balance will depend on the composition of the guests.

Try to give your DJ as much information as possible to ensure that he can do his job properly. Most couples just want a DJ to play the right music to get their guests on the dancefloor and having a good time. However, there are still three important decisions you need to make.

  • First, should your DJ be allowed to accept requests from guests? Allowing requests will keep at least some of your guests happy, but a few badly chosen songs can really put a dampener on the atmosphere. This decision falls to personal preference. Some people allow requests but place limits – for example, “nothing tacky”. For more control you can allow requests but give your DJ a blacklist – no Macarena and no boy bands, for example.
  • Second, you need to decide whether or not to give your DJ a playlist. You may feel that you are doing part of the DJ’s job for them, but in fact most DJs welcome a playlist. Provided you are confident in your musical tastes and those of your guests, this is a surefire way to make sure your DJ gets it right. However, it can be a lot of work to put together. Try inviting your best man and bridesmaids round for help! Our wedding disco playlist can get you started.
  • Third, do you have any preference as to what your DJ should wear? Some couples expect the DJ to blend in with other wedding guests. Others don’t mind what the DJ wears so long as it is reasonably smart.

On the night

Listen to what your DJ is playing and check that they are following your instructions. Pay particular attention to the volume. Ideally it should be loud enough to create an atmosphere, but no so deafening that your seated guests cannot talk comfortably.

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