Being a good and professional wedding DJ takes a lot more than just playing good music and have a nice light show.
A professional wedding DJ plays all the right music that people on the party want to hear, he manages to have a full dance floor for the most part of the evening, he is never late, dresses up, and he doesn’t have a huge ego. He runs his DJ business as a manager as if it was any other business.
Let’s talk about all the small detail here what it takes to be or what to expect from a professional wedding DJ.
If you are not a DJ but want to hire one, this article is also interesting for you. You will know what should expect from that guy.
Be on time!
There is no excuse to be late. People have booked you to perform on one of the most important days in their life. Being late is not an option.
If you still need to set up all your gear, the last thing you want is stressing out to be ready, before the guests arrive. You don’t want a race against the clock and already be annoyed before the party even begins.
I always took at least 1 hour of a buffer, in case something goes wrong. You know Murphy’s law, if you are already late, for sure you will have a cable that needs fixing or a flat tire on your car. Don’t be late.
Have a Signed Contract and be clear about Prices
You are running a business: A Wedding DJ business. This means you need to address it like that. You need to send offers, negotiate with customers, have meetings with them, pay taxes, and of course, have a signed contract.
Having a signed contract with your customers is important. Both parties know what was agreed on, what the timings are, and what they need to pay you.
Clear agreements, put on paper, prevent discussions afterward and give some level of security for both you and your customers.
You are there to work, not to party
Someone hired you to deliver service at their wedding party. And they are paying you well for your service. You’ll have to deliver and make sure the dance floor is full. This means it’s hard work.
You are not there to seduce the ladies, be lazy on your phone, or to chill out with some drinks. Or worse, to get drunk. You have a job to do. If you are not sure how much work it is to be a wedding DJ, check this article.
Don’t drink and DJ
Stay away from alcohol. Maybe have 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks at the beginning of the evening, during the reception. But when it’s time to start the hard work and make sure the people are dancing, stick to water.
If you are drunk, for sure your level of service will decrease. Again, you are at the wedding reception to work, not to party. You’ll still need to drive home at some point. You will be tired and the sun will probably be up already. Being drunk doesn’t help in avoiding killing yourself in a car accident.
Try to stay away from sugary drinks as well. Think about your health, stick to water.
Forget your own Taste of Music
A famous DJ, traveling the world and playing on big music festivals, can play whatever he wants (well… sort of), you are a wedding DJ, so you need to play the type of music the guests want to hear.
Depending on the music style your guests prefer (and their age), on occasions this will mean you need to play the music you’ll hate. Or at least the type of music you find boring. If you can’t cope with that, you shouldn’t be a wedding DJ.
Learn to mix
You are a DJ, so you need to mix. Are you hearing this? A DJ that can’t mix is like a baker that can’t bake bread. It’s absurd. Invest a few months and learn to mix, no excuses.
Read the dance floor… Play the right music
A DJ needs to be able to read the energy on the dance floor. This will dictate the next song and direction to steer the party. Do the guests want more? Faster, more energy? Or do they want to be brought down with a slower song? This he will need to do continuously.
Reading the dance floor isn’t always easy and needs time and practice to become good at. A mistake can wipe the dance floor.
Have your gear in good shape
The gear should be clean. I can’t tell you how many Saturday mornings I spend cleaning all the gear and the cables. They lay on the floor, people spill drinks on them and walk over them. Yik!
Fix everything that is loose or broken. Did you find a cable that doesn’t work? Throw it away immediately.
You need to be a professional. Your DJ gear should show this as well.
Have backup gear available
Always have a backup plan. Always have enough backup gear to prevent the party from going to a grinding halt.
If your mixer breaks down, and you don’t have a spear one in your car, it’s game over. Trust me, I’ve been there. Luckily I had a backup one with me.
Your backup gear doesn’t need to be as fancy or expensive as your main gear. As long as it will get the job done and it can save your butt, you’re good.
If your music source is coming from a laptop with an external disk, the same applies: make sure you have a backup with an exact copy of all your music.
Trust me, if you do this long enough, the day will come that you will try to start your laptop … only to see nothing is moving. Have a backup plan.
Have a Backup Network
Not only your gear can break down. The same applies to your body. I played a few times with the flu and fever, and I can tell you it’s not fun, but still doable. However, if you break your leg, or have something else more severe, it’s game over.
Nobody is safe here. So try to build up a network with other DJ’s and stay in touch. The more DJs you know, the more chance you have you can send a replacement DJ in those worst-case scenarios. It happened twice in my 16-year DJ career.
You don’t have to show up in a tuxedo if this is not your style. Although I know enough DJs that actually wear this at every wedding they are working. I just wear a nice shirt, shoes, and pants.
Leave your dirty sneakers and low-hanging jeans at home and have some style! Checking upfront if there is dress code is also a good idea.
You are a professional. This means you need to be polite to everyone. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. Because you will have to deal with all kinds of people, and they won’t be nice to you all the time.
Amongst a lot of nice people, you will face drunk people, annoying people, stupid people …
It’s important you stay polite to everyone. If there is an issue, talk to the person who hired you or the venue manager, but you’ll need to be professional and always show good manners.
Ever saw a DJ sitting on his butt, playing music from behind a table? I hope not, because it’s pretty boring. Remember that you, as a wedding DJ, are responsible for a full dance floor. If you are not jumping, dancing, and smiling behind your booth, don’t expect that the rest of the people will do this.
So put your best smile and move, showing you are enjoying the music you are playing. It will make a world of difference.
14. Be Humble
You may be responsible for the dancing part of the party, but you are not a rock star. You are part of a machine that makes the party run. Nobody at the party will care about you, so don’t grow a big ego. A good wedding DJ is invisible and is there to serve.
Don’t overuse the Microphone
You are not a radio station. There is nothing wrong with saying a few words to the people, but don’t overdo it.
It can be very annoying when people are dancing if they constantly have to listen to you, yelling something in the microphone.
Again, you are not a rock star DJ on a big stage on some sort of music festival.
Talk to the people
When the party is on and you are behind the decks, you won’t have much time to talk to anyone.
But for sure there is enough time before the dancing starts. If you have some free time, don’ t be the dork who’s sitting in a corner staring at his phone. Mingle in the crowd and talk to people. Be social. Introduce yourself as the DJ and have some conversations. Maybe ask what music they like.
Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.
Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume there are extension cables at the venue. Bring them instead. Don’t assume there will be an internet connection at the party. Make sure you know. When in doubt, pick up the phone.
Be flexible and Adapt!
Life doesn’t always go according to plan. The same applies to wedding parties. Sometimes you need to improvise. I remember setting up at a venue when it was very hot outside.
At some point, the wedding couple asked me if I could set up the gear outside. So I dragged everything outside.
Two hours later, a big storm came around, so I had to put everything back inside … where the party continued. Lots of work, but everybody was very happy.
Don’t be stubborn in your routines. If there is a problem or something unexpected turns up, be ready to improvise, adapt, and bring value.