I’ve been a wedding DJ for 16 years and I’ve seen a lot. I have a good understanding of what it takes to become one and will share this here with you.
Becoming a successful wedding DJ takes time and dedication. You will have to learn many kinds of music genres, learn how to mix, and buy the necessary gear. You’ll also need other skills for running your business, like promoting yourself and dealing with contracts.
There is a lot of detail and advice to consider. I wrote a very in-depth article, or guide, to become a successful wedding DJ. Let’s dive in.
So what is a wedding DJ
We all know them, the DJ playing at a wedding party. Yet there is still confusion about him.
A wedding DJ, also known as a mobile DJ, will play music on private parties, like of course weddings, but also birthday parties, company parties …
He will bring and set up the complete sound- and light system and will typically play the whole night. Pending on the age and music taste of the guests, a wedding or mobile DJ will have to play a lot of different styles, like 70s, 80s, disco, rock …
This in contrast with the club DJ. He will go to a club or dance venue (or music festival if he’s famous enough) with only a laptop or a couple of USB sticks. He will play for 2 or 3 hours max. A Club DJ will probably play only one or a few music genres, mostly modern dance music or hip-hop.
Although a lot of advice and tips are focussed on becoming a wedding DJ, a lot of stuff also applies if you want to become a club DJ.
What does it take to become a wedding DJ?
You need to love music. You need to LOVE music. Do I need to repeat it again? If you don’t have a passion for music, stop right here, because you’ll never make it. I’m not talking about your specific kind of genre. The music you like. No, I’m talking about ALL music genres. Your parents, uncles and even grandma will also go to weddings. Guess what, they ‘ll want to dance to the music they love. If you don’t want to go out of your bubble and deal with other genres of music, becoming a wedding DJ is not for you.
Like everything, if you are only here for the money, convinced you can earn good dollars with it, you won’t do it with passion and you will fail.
You will need to be good with people. Being socially capable of talking to and dealing with other human beings is crucial. Nobody wants an awkward wedding DJ, being scared of human interaction.
You will need to practice! Learn to mix, learn to know all kinds of music, learn microphone techniques … This won’t come overnight. Learning to mix is like learning to play a musical instrument.
You will be running a business, so you’ll need to promote yourself, create contracts, fill in taxes, deal with customers … There is a lot more in this than just playing music. You will need to learn all those skills.
You will have to do a good investment in gear, transportation and of course music.
Are you sure you want to do this?
Becoming a professional Wedding DJ means: running a business. There is a lot of hard work to do, skills to learn and it will take commitment and dedication to build your business.
I’m not going to repeat here the amount of work and skills you need and why it isn’t always easy. I wrote a complete article about that.
Check my other article, explaining why it is hard work being wedding DJ and why it isn’t always easy: https://weddingdjcentral.com/why-it-is-hard-to-be-a-dj/
But apart from that, it’s great to be a Wedding DJ. I’m a wedding DJ for 16 years now and still enjoying it. Oh, and it brings money as well …
Ok, still convinced? Still here? Great! Let’s move on and get you started, shall we?
Get the basic DJ Gear
You need DJ gear. Stuff where you can practice on. You can’t learn to play the piano if you don’t have one standing around. The same applies here.
To be very clear, this will be the gear you will use to start learning and practicing your mixing skills.
So what is basic DJ gear?
Basic DJ gear is the stuff you’ll need to become a bedroom DJ. That’s right, you set up your DJ gear in your house or garage, ready to practice for the upcoming months.
Do me a favor and become a 21st century DJ. This means: go digital. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t use a laptop to store your music library on and use some sort of good DJ software to play. Playing with CDs is going back to the 90s and vinyl records are VERY expensive. You want to comfort of playing music with a laptop.
- Laptop (or any computer)
- DJ Controller
- Sound system (amplifier and speakers)
- some cables to connect everything
- Music (duh!) as MP3 files
Let’s discuss them one by one what you really need.
Obviously you will need to buy more stuff the moment you start working as a wedding DJ. This stuff is only to get you going in your own bedroom.
Have your own gear
If one of your friends has some gear, and he invites you to come and practice, would that be enough? It isn’t. Only able to practice is you are with your friend is going to be a setback. You need lots of time in front of your new DJ booth, practicing and trying stuff out.
And let’s face it, how much are you really going to practice if you are hanging out with a friend. Having some beers and listen to music is not the same as practicing.
You need to get your own gear and spend a lot of time with it.
Don’t go wild on buying gear!
It’s important you don’t spend too much money on this. Some people, who found a new passion in their life, have a tendency to buy too much and too expensive. A new passion is great, and if you plan to become a wedding DJ, that’s awesome. But you don’t have to buy expensive stuff if you are a beginner.
I play the guitar as well and I still remember the dude that initially sold me my first guitar. I was 14 years old. He told me that people who want to learn how to play guitar, mostly go for expensive instruments, somehow believing that it will be a lot easier to learn. As if the instrument will do it for them, as long as they put enough money in and make sure it’s an expensive brand. He was an honest salesman because I walked out with a good but cheap instrument, perfect to start practicing.
Mastering an instrument like the guitar only happens after hours and hours of practice and hard work. In the first few months, it really doesn’t matter if you play on a fancy Fender or a cheap copy from the supermarket.
The same is true when you want to become a DJ. Don’t go too expensive. It brings no value, it is a lot more complicated to learn the basics (try learning to drive in a race car).
I understand that the Pioneer Nexus 2000 range is mind-blowing, state of the art, and beautiful. But what if you six months down, decide you don’t like it? You easily spent 8,000 dollars for this beauty below…
So, don’t buy this to start with if you never touched a mixer.
What to buy
If you have a laptop, windows or MacBook, or even a desktop computer, you have already everything you’ll need. If your computer is less than 5 years old, you’re good to go. Make sure it has 4 GB of internal memory.
The computer configuration doesn’t matter… for now! The moment you start working and you are in front of a wedding dance floor, it’s a completely different story! But we’ll talk about this later.
If you need to buy a laptop, go for a good brand. My guess is you will be using this one the moment you actually start working, as you are not going to buy a second one a few months later on. Get a decent one with at least 8 GB of RAM.
If you can afford a MacBook, go with that. At least in my opinion. I’m playing more than 10 years with a MacBook and it NEVER failed me! Of course, they are a bit pricier than other, Windows-based laptops.
If too expensive, just go for a good brand with Windows 10 on it. Any laptop above $600 will be fine. Forget about the really cheap ones, as they will backfire.
Nothing exotic! Don’t buy notebooks, Google Netbooks, or anything like that. You’ll need Windows or macOS.
Important! Make sure your laptop has at least 3 USB ports. You’ll need them. You don’t want to fiddle around with USB hubs. They will cause issues for sure! Important if you buy a MacBook, as some only have one USB port nowadays … I find it completely stupid!
It is a good idea to have a CD player connected to your laptop. Nowadays, laptops don’t come with integrated CD players anymore. Buy an external USB CD player, that way you can convert your CDs to MP3. An external CD player has become cheap. You can buy one for less than $50.
Every modern DJ plays music with a laptop. There are many DJ software applications that are really good. So it will come down to taste what you will prefer.
I always used Serato and I’m a big fan. Serato is, in my opinion, one of the best DJ software applications out there. They keep everything simple and to the basics. So no overload of effects, auto-mixing tools and bells and whistles that only make the software unstable.
Click here to visit Serato’s website.
Serato DJ Lite is a free and lite version, but yet very powerful. It has everything you need to start your journey. It has a little less functionality but nothing you will miss. If you start earning money by doing weddings, you can consider upgrading to the full version, but for now, you’re good with the free version.
But there are many alternatives:
(clicking on the link will bring you to the website of the software vendors.)
- Traktor is the competitor of Serato and equally good.
- Virtual DJ, that for years had a bad name (not stable) has much improved.
- Mixxx is open source software, so completely for free. It’s a bit more tricky to connect all hardware and find a DJ controller that works flawlessly with it, but for sure it’s a free option. (I would still prefer Serato DJ Lite, which is also for free) Keep in mind there is no customer support for Mixxx because of, yea… it’s for free!
- There are many more! Search for DJ Software, you will find dozens.
Conclusion: I would stick to Serato or Traktor. They have earned their stripes over the years and the most famous DJs in the world are using it. Maybe give Virtual DJ a try if you want to. Personally I would stay away from the exotic ones.
Important If you already own a DJ Controller, check if it is compatible with the DJ Software. Next, more on DJ Controllers.
You need a DJ controller. A DJ controller will … well, control your DJ Software, allowing you to mix two songs together. (Or more, but let’s forget mixing more than 2 songs for now)
Don’t think you can DJ well with a mouse and a laptop keyboard. You really need a controller.
Controllers exist in all price ranges. Again, I wouldn’t go for the most expensive one! But also avoid the cheapest child stuff. I would stay away from Hercules. (Although I heard they also improved over the years)
If you can afford it and you want the Rolls-Royce of the controllers then go for the Pioneer DDJ-800. It’s the industry standard and very good. But it is expensive. The good thing is, if you buy this one, you won’t need to worry to buy something more decent once you are ready to start working.
Is it one of the best out there? Yes. Do you need it immediately? Not at all,
Just make sure that your controller will match your DJ Software. If you go with Serato, or Traktor, with Pioneer, you’re good.
If not insist on buying something more exotic, make sure you check the manuals that the controller is supported by the DJ software, or you are going to have a bad time.
Wait, where are the CD players? Do I need them?
No, you don’t. Welcome to the 21st Century. A laptop, a good DJ software program and a DJ Controller are everything you need. You don’t need anything like CDs, media players or vinyl turntables.
But what if your dad still has a mixer and 2 CD players, collecting dust on the attic? Could you use this once to start learning? Yes, but it’s going to make your life harder. You’ll have to burn all your music on CDs. Also, there is no visual aide while mixing (more on this later).
A classic mixer and CD players can help you to learn the basics, but at some point, you want to move to a laptop and controller. Can you cross a lake with a canoe? Well, yes, but with a speedboat, it is much easier!
The moment you start working, you might need a CD player around, because people might bring a CD with them, asking if you can play that one song. They will be confused if you tell you can’t play CDs …
I want to mention there are also hybrid systems. These systems are using classic CD/media players to control a laptop. Instead of loading a CD with music, you insert a control audio CD. This contains a signal that is sent to your laptop. The software recognizes, based on that signal, where it is in the MP3 and how fast to play it.
It’s very powerful, but I think it’s too complex for a beginner DJ. I would stick to a DJ Controller, which gets the job done just as fine, and is far less complex and expensive.
You need headphones. Any over-ear headphones will do. Later, if you start working, you’ll need something more robust, because headphones get abused a lot. You will drop them a lot, pull on the cables, step on them … those poor things have a heavy life. Cheap stuff will easily break down, but to start with, anything will do.
I wouldn’t recommend Bluetooth. Be old-fashioned and stick with cables. It will make your life easier. If you already have a Bluetooth one, feel free to use it, you don’t have to buy a new one.
Try to avoid in-ears. The stuff that comes with your mobile phone, is not going to cut it.
Also, avoid noise-canceling headphones. The idea is that you can hear the music coming out of the speakers, at the same time as you play a second track through the headphone. Noise-canceling headphones is going to make this more difficult.
Keep in mind your mixer or controller will need a big jack and not a mini-jack which you typically will find on your in-ears. If your headphone should have a mini-jack, you can buy a converter really cheap.
You’ll need an amplifier and speakers. If you have something at home where you can connect your DJ Controller to, that’s more than enough. The old HIFI rack in the corner of the room that is collecting dust for some time? It will be perfect.
You don’t have to buy heavy audio systems. Trust me, you don’t want to terrorize the street. You also want to keep your ears in good condition.
If you really have nothing and have some money to spare, I suggest you buy a DJ booth monitor. It’s compact and the moment you start working as a wedding DJ, you can take it with you to get a better sound of the room. Trust me, if you are behind the speakers, the sound isn’t always that great and clear. Having your own little speaker
Look at this picture below: it has some nice DJ monitors, a DJ controller to control the laptop, and additionally 2 turntables. You don’t need the turntables to start learning, but sure it’s very nice!
You’ll need some cables to connect everything.
Typically, your DJ Connector will have something already in the box. An RCA connector/cable is the most common. It will fit in almost any audio device you have.
You’ll need one 1 of these, from the DJ Controller to your audio device.
The DJ Controller will connect to your laptop with USB. Again, this should be in the box with the DJ Controller.
Depending on your gear you might need something else, but in most cases, that would be it.
Some last words about buying DJ gear
One more thing about buying DJ gear. Please do not get a loan for it from a bank. Do not buy in on credit. Seriously, it’s not needed and just plain stupid.
If you can’t afford expensive gear, go to the budget-friendly brands. You really don’t need to buy the expensive stuff to start practicing from home.
Don’t get yourself into financial trouble, just because you want to shine with fancy DJ gear. It’s not worth it. Not as long as it doesn’t bring in any money.
Buying second hand
Have a look at the second-hand market. A lot of people are buying expensive DJ equipment, and then they decide they don’t like it. There is absolutely no issue starting off on second-hand material.
If you want to learn to become a Wedding DJ, first you need to become a DJ. It’s time to rearrange your room.
What about light effects?
A light show is important for your dance floor. But not just yet. You need to focus on learning the skills. You don’t need a huge laser show for this.
If you really insist on turning the room into the disco-vibe, maybe buy something, but don’t focus on it, it’s only going to distract you.
Once you start working as a wedding DJ, you’ll need some good light show. More on this later.
Rearrange your bedroom
Now there are some exciting times. You bought your new toys, it’s time to set them up! Pick a good location, somewhere you can go and spend some time on your own, without disturbing other people in the house (or get disturbed/distracted yourself)
It’s important that your setup can stay there, connected, ready to go when you are there. The last thing you want to do is to set it up every time you have some time to practice. You will lose a lot of time. Trust me, you won’t do it.
So don’t put it on the kitchen table, so you have to remove it every time you want to eat dinner. Have it installed, and leave it there, make the room some cozy place you want to be. Automatically you will practice a lot more, and trust me, that is needed.
Learn to mix
You have to learn to mix. Transitioning between 2 songs need to go fluent. If you can’t mix, you are not really a DJ. It makes a world of difference!
Sadly a lot of (older) wedding DJs can’t mix. They don’t really grasp the concept of it. They just wait until the playing song ends and release the new song, back to back. This is bad! You can do it once or twice to surprise the dancing crowd, but if you do it too often (or even worse, if you can’t do anything else) it is very annoying and will break the rhythm of the dance floor.
This article does not go into detail on how to mix. I could write books on this topic. It’s not the main idea of this article. Besides, YouTube will show you in detail how to mix.
But I’ll give you the basic idea:
Mixing: You need to make sure that both songs have the same speed and that the “beat” sounds like one. This can be obtained by using the pitch on the controller.
The pitch will speed up or slow down the song that will be the next that the people on the dance floor will hear. The moment you are preparing the song, you are the only one that will hear it through your headphones.
Once both songs have the exact same speed and are aligned, on the good moment, you can bring in the new song and fade out the song that was playing.
This is the short-short version. There is a ton to learn about mixing. What styles you can mix, speeds, the key of the songs… You will need to go and do some research, watch some YouTube videos and practice!
Because mixing is hard. It’s not different from learning a musical instrument. Nobody is born with this skill.
Yea, some people are more talented than others and will take less time to master it, but in the end, everyone needs to learn it. In the beginning, you won’t hear if the next song needs to speed up or slowed down, even if your life would depend on it. It will sound like a mess. No worries, keep practicing, you’ll get better at it.
It will take a few weeks before you can mix basic songs together. After a few months (depending on your talent and dedication), you will be able to mix 75% of all the songs together. The rest of the 25% will take years to develop.
I recommend starting with electrical dance music, between 120 and 130 bpm. For now, stay away from rock, pop, and hip-hop because they are much harder and don’t nice intros and outros where you have a lot of space to mix in another song.
Once you can mix simple stuff, you can look further and do more complicated stuff, but one step at the time.
Learn about music
I have already addressed it. It doesn’t matter what music you like, as a wedding DJ, you will need to know a lot of different genres. Wedding receptions have all kinds of people of all ages. They will all want to hear different music.
You’ll need to know all the hits, that get everyone moving. 70s disco, rock, salsa, Latin, even ballroom dances… because sooner or later (rather sooner!) you will have to put them on.
You need stuff like The Beatles, Barry White, CCR, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Rod Steward … If all those names don’t tell you anything, you have a lot of work to do!
If you don’t have Elvis, you are not a Wedding DJ!
Relax, of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to play modern dance music you also like. I played a lot of deep electric dance music on many wedding parties with big success.
Do not Stream!
Many DJ applications let you stream music. If you have a Spotify subscription, you might be able to use it in your DJ application, streaming all music from there.
I must warn you this is a very bad practice. Not only you are legally not allowed to do this. Those streaming services provide music to play for your ears only (and your family’s ears). You are not allowed to play it for strangers, let alone make money from it.
Talk to your mom
When you are building your music collection, talk to your mom. And other family members. Find out what they like and what they would dance to. Don’t forget to take notes.
Buy your music
Listen. I know it is relatively easy to “find” music in non-legal ways. Let me be clear: you cannot do this! You are about to make money with music that other people have written. So you’ll need to buy it. If your father has some nice CD collection you want to put on your laptop, I still can agree on that, but that’s where the line is drawn.
A song costs about $2 on iTunes. Don’t get me wrong, building a big music collection is going to be expensive. But that’s just part of the game. You’ll have it back after a couple of gigs you played. Remember the old days when DJs still had to buy CDs, paying fortunes for it.
There are also a lot of record pools online. Subscription-based websites where you can download (legally!) new music. I wouldn’t waste money on this as a wedding DJ. It’s gold if you are a modern club DJ, but pretty useless as a wedding DJ. Because you can’t play any music that at least 75% of the people don’t know. Very different from playing in a club.
You want to have some insurance. If a light effect ever comes down, hitting someone on the head, you are in deep trouble. It shouldn’t cost the world, but you’ll need it. Talk to a few insurance agencies and see what they can offer you?
Get your Licenses
You are starting a business. Depending on where you live, there will be legal obligations you need to fulfill. When in doubt, consult an accountant.
As a DJ, you may need additional licenses to play music. Normally, stuff like an ASCAP license is handled by the venues, but it’s still worth checking if you need anything else, depending on the place you live.
Find a DJ Mentor
Ok, we’re a couple of months in. You bought your gear and practiced a lot. You know how to mix and you learned about danceable hit music in a lot of genres that get people moving.
What you are still missing is experience and the ability to evaluate the dance floor. Both things you won’t learn in your bedroom, so you need to be in front of a live dance floor.
You need a mentor. An experienced DJ that is in the business for many years and knows all the tricks of the trade.
If you can join a professional DJ on a weekly bases, seeing first hand what he is doing, and getting tips, you will learn a ton.
In return, you offer him your services, like unloading the gear from the car, helping set up the speakers, connect the cables, keep an eye on everything when the DJ needs to pee … that kind of things.
Learn as much as you can. Learn how to set up the gear, See how the DJ is handling some situations, how he interacts with people, and of course, what music he plays and when.
Don’t forget to bring a notebook and takes notes. Don’t think you can remember everything, because you will forget stuff.
You can ask questions, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be the annoying enthusiast.
Ask to take over
Watching and dragging with gear is all good and fun, but you’re there to become a DJ, and they are behind the buttons.
At some point, your mentor will ask if you want to mix in the next song. He’s not going to ask this on a full dance floor where the stakes are high. No, the first time he will ask you when it’s already late and the party is coming to an end. If you would screw up, nobody will probably notice, as they are all too drunk, too tired, or just talking.
If he doesn’t offer, you can ask yourself. I wouldn’t recommend asking the first party you are joining him. Wait at least for the second or even the third.
At some point, he will start trusting you more. As a result, you will be able to mix more and at better moments. Like, when people are actually dancing, wouldn’t that be awesome?
Keep your criticism
Nobody likes smart asses. Keep your opinions for yourself. If you think your mentor DJ is doing something wrong, don’t yet it out to him. Don’t go into pointless arguments with him, even if you are right.
You are there to learn, so trust what he is doing. You can’t tell him you want to learn what he is doing, only to reject every piece of advice.
Again, if you know him long enough, and your skills are growing, there might be some room for discussions, but not sooner.
You don’t have to believe every word he’s saying. Of course, you can have your own opinion. You can also learn a lot from his mistakes. Even professional DJs make mistakes on occasions. (not me! I’m flawless! …)
So keep your eyes and ears open en be critical. Just make sure you keep it to yourself.
Don’t expect payment
Don’t expect any payment. You will probably get a free meal and free drinks, but that’s it.
Maybe, after a while, if you get closer to your mentor, he trusts you and sees value in you, he might pay you something, like 50 bucks.
Remember, you are there to learn, not to earn money. That will come if you are a working wedding DJ yourself.
Action: find your mentor!
See what DJs are operating in your area. Send them a polite e-mail, explain that you want to become a wedding DJ. Ask if they need any assistance and that you are happy to assist them and you hope to learn a few things from them.
Example of an e-mail you can send to a potential DJ mentor and ask if you can be of any service. You might want to use your own name.
My name is Mike and I want to become a wedding DJ. I found your DJ website online and I’m taking the liberty to send you this email.
I practiced a lot and learned about different genres of music. I’m looking for an experienced DJ to assist, so I get the chance to learn more, in front of a real dance floor.
Could I please offer my services to you? I would like to join you to the wedding parties where I will assist you moving and setting up all the gear. in return, I hope I can learn as much as possible from you.
Please let me know if you are interested, so we can have a talk on the phone.
Looking forward to hear from you,
MikeExample of e-mail you can send to find a DJ mentor.
For sure a few will respond. An experienced DJ probably works every weekend, especially during summer. If he does this a couple of years, he is not too thrilled anymore to move, set up and take down all the gear. Every weekend again and again …
And it’s just nice to have someone around to talk to. You are always around people, yet, being a wedding DJ can sometimes be pretty lonely. Remember that you don’t know anyone there.
A few won’t respond. Or respond grumpily. Ignore them, you don’t want to be working for them anyway.
Time to move on
Don’t think you have learned everything after 2 or 3 wedding parties. Stay with your mentor for at least 10 parties.
But if you feel ready and confident to start doing this on your own, it’s time to take the next step.
Don’t drop out just like that. It’s good there is some overlap. You can start doing smaller parties and still join him on occasions to learn more.
When the wedding season is over, and you are confident you can’t really learn anything anymore, talk to your mentor about it. he might be said you are leaving, as he had a good helping hand. But you need to move on, you can’t be the apprentice forever. Be sure to leave as friends.
Keep in touch
That doesn’t mean you can completely forget about your mentor. Stay connected with him. The more DJs you know in this world, the better. It’s all about having business partners. He might give you work in the future if he is already booked and another booking request comes in.
Pay it forward
Remember what you learned from your mentor. If you are a couple of years in, and a young guy knocks on your door to help you, in return for your wisdom, give him a chance.
Pick a DJ Name
You’ll need a name to put on your website, email address, on flyers…
Don’t get too hung up on this one. You are not a famous nightclub DJ whose name will be on the billboard. Try to go for something simple and classy.
People don’t care about your name. They just want you to play good music at their wedding party.
Stay away from funky, complicated names with impossible spellings, like “swampfy DJ triiiplxxx” Nobody is going to hire you as their wedding DJ with that name. Keep it simple and classic. Having the name “wedding” in it isn’t too stupid.
So take something simple. “Wedding DJ John” is a good choice (taken your real name is John…)
Get additional gear
The time has come to buy some additional stuff. You have already your laptop and controller, obviously, you need speakers and a decent light show
A good start is trying to find a business that is renting out DJ equipment like speakers and light shows. This way you don’t have to make a big investment.
The downside is that renting is expensive. You’ll pay a big part of what you will earn to the company. You might want to save the money that you earn from playing weddings, and invest it in your own gear, so you can keep the money in your pockets.
If you buy speakers, make sure they are active. This means that the amplifier is inside the speakers.
Trust me, you don’t want to fiddle around with an external amplifier. Also, calculating the ohms so what speaker can connect to what amplifier isn’t too easy for beginners. If you miss, you can destroy your material.
Another benefit of active speakers is that if one amplifier breaks down, you still have one in the other speaker. Both speakers have their own amplifier build-in,
Your speakers – how powerful?
Obviously, the heavier your speakers are, the more people you can play for. Don’t overdo it, You’re not going to play for 400 people anytime soon.
In general, you need 10 Watt RMS per person indoor. So if you buy 2 active speakers with both 500 Watt RMS, you will be able to give parties up to 100 persons (indoor!) To start with that should be more than enough.
You need a light show. This is very personal. Some people do find this very important and others don’t give too many beeps about it. There are very expensive brands out there and you can easily pay a fortune for it.
American DJ is one of the brands that have professional material, but very expensive. JBSystems have good and affordable lights. Normally I wouldn’t recommend JBSystems, but for light shows and lasers you are good.
Make sure you can put all the lights on automatic mode, so they will run on their own. The last thing you want to do if you are a starting DJ is fiddling with DMX controllers.
A DMX controller lets you program a complete light show, telling each laser what to do at each moment. It’s a skill on its own.
Trust me, the first time you are doing wedding parties, it will already be stressful enough without you have to think about DMX and light controllers.
If the light effect is “Sound Activated” it means it will react to the music, that’s all you’ll need for now.
So what to buy?
It’s very personal what to buy. I would buy 2 PAR LED lights and 1 or 2 light effects.
250 to 300 dollars should be more than enough to start with.
You can check second-hand. Be sure to buy LED lights. You don’t want the old, heavy lights that take 1000 watt each!
A smoke machine is also very nice. Without smoke, you only see the lasers on the walls. If you put some smoke, you’ll see it through the room.
Just be aware that not every wedding venue will allow you to use it. And be careful not to trigger fire alarms! I triggered plenty already!
I guess we can all agree you can’t go to a wedding party on a bike. For sure not if you have to bring all the gear with you.
You’ll need a pretty big car to fit all the stuff in. If you don’t have a car, you’ll need to improvise.
Play for friends and family
The first party you will play I suggest you do it for somebody you know. Do it for some friends or family. Probably you will be nervous and will screw up a few things. You don’t want to make stupid mistakes in front of a wedding dance floor.
So talk to your friends and family and take the opportunity if there is a party to do the music. You probably won’t get paid, but you can make some good screw-ups here without too much harm other than your ego.
Look for house parties, barbecues, birthdays … and offer to play music. Don’t expect people to actually dance. At best, they will just enjoy your music. And for sure Uncle Dave, who knows a lot about music (so he says) will be annoying enough to come and ask too many requests. Welcome to the world of Wedding DJs!
Play some birthday parties
The goal is to become a wedding DJ. But wedding DJs are all mobile DJs. And they can do a lot more than wedding parties.
I suggest doing a few birthday parties first. You’ll notice that they are less demanding (in general).
So good look for small parties. The difference between the small family parties is that, here, people will want to dance. So it will be more challenging.
If possible, don’t do this for free. I would ask maybe 50 or 100 dollars.
Set your area
Think about how far you want to go. The further you want to go, the more you will probably play. But the harder the job will be. If you need to drive 200 miles back after a party when it’s 6 in the morning… I can’t tell you, it’s no fun!
Make a Website
Obviously you need a website. This number is straight out of my butt, but I think 90%of all bookings will happen over the internet If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.
You’ll need a domain name, some web hosting space, and of course, you need to build the website itself.
Choose your domain name
Start off with the domain name. This will be the address for your website.
So if you selected “Wedding DJ John” as your official DJ name, you might want to go for WeddingDjJohn.com. Your website will be reachable at www.weddingdjjohn.com.
But chances are very big this is already taken by another DJ named John, so you’ll need to add some words in. Adding the region in it is a good idea and will help people finding your website on Google. They will search for: Wedding DJ Idaho Springfield.
If your domain name is weddingDjJohnSpringfiel.com, chances are very high you will end up at the top of their Google search. This is what you want.
If you want to be WeddingDJ-John-NewYork.com, probably this will be taken as well. You will need to add something more to become unique. Be a little creative, but not too much.
Building a professional website isn’t cheap. If you don’t have the skills you can hire an agency, but the price can go up to 2000 dollars and more. I wouldn’t recommend that.
But you don’t have to be a programmer to create your own website. A very easy and good solution is Weebly.com. Using drag & drop you can create a nice looking website in a few hours.
It’s even free if you don’t want to link a domain on it. Your website would be something like https://weddingdjmike.weebly.com
It is possible, but for me, it screams amateurism. I wouldn’t recommend it. For 60 dollars a year, you can connect your domain name and have some better features. I would highly suggest doing this.
Wix is a competitor of Weebly, but I don’t really like it, as I always had issues with it. Maybe you have more luck. Give both a free try if you want.
Some website tips
- A web hosting and domain name will cost you around 150 to 200 dollars a year.
- Buy the web hosting and domain name together at the same provider, it will be cheaper.
- Go for a .com extension. Stay away from all the rest. People don’t grasp it.
- Domain names are case INsensitive, So don’t worry about that, you can write it however you want. www.WeddingDjMike.com and www.weddingdjmike.com are exactly the same.
- Make sure the words DJ and Wedding are IN the domain name (for Google SEO reasons)
- Watch out for too many dashes in your domain name. One or Two are ok but don’t overdo it.
- Make sure your website has an SSL certificate. This means your website is reachable with https (instead of http), making everything encrypted. Google doesn’t like non-encrypted websites, so you probably won’t show up in the search results.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Same story: Google doesn’t like websites that are not mobile-friendly. And nowadays, everyone is booking DJs through their phone! So don’t miss out!
there is a free alternative on Weebly.
At the very least, your website should contain:
- your contact details,
- the area you are playing,
- some nice pictures
- what gear you are using and what light show you have
- optionally you can put your price.
Pricing: how much to charge
How much should a wedding DJ without too much experience ask? I would suggest for the first parties, to stay around 500 dollars. It’s for sure not the world, but you are not ready to ask $1000 and more.
If you become good and wanted, sure you can boost your prices, but in the beginning, it’s all about finding work and building that experience. If you ask 2000 dollars, for sure you can’t afford to make any mistakes. Something you can’t guarantee if you are just starting out
Start promoting yourself
So you have a shiny new website, but that’s not enough to promote you. Don’t expect that people will instantly knock on your door and give you work. It will take time to get your business rolling. Time, and promotion.
This is not a course in marketing. Just think, the more noise you make in promoting yourself, the better. Some ideas:
- Create a Facebook page and send it to everyone you know.
- You need business cards and maybe some flyers. Vistaprint.com is a cheap and good option, but for sure there are more in your area.
- Contact wedding venues and ask if you can come over to put some flyers. Ask if they can suggest you to their customers. Be careful with this. As you are just starting, you don’t have much experience and references. They might not want to suggest you to their customers, without hearing you play. If you are a bad DJ, destroying a wedding party, they were the ones that suggested you to their customers. Without knowing, you and having worked with you, they probably won’t take the risk.
- Think about promoting yourself with ads. Obviously this costs money. You’ll need to spend some money to earn money, right.
Connect with other wedding DJs
Get some friends in the DJ world. It’s not only nice to hang out with them and talk DJ-stuff, but it will also help you if you need advice on something.
Having a business network can give you work, as you might receive bookings if one of your friends can’t play. And you have a fallback if you ever need replacement because you were stupid enough to break your leg 1 week before a wedding party.
Become a Professional
You made it. You are a wedding DJ. Remember there is still a lot to learn and experience to gain. Every party you will play will be different.
Next: Check my article on how to become a professional DJ
Also: Check out the 12 unusual things, you as a wedding DJ, should bring to the party!