The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Wedding DJ

Don’t trust your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day to flimsy promises. Learn how to hire a wedding DJ.

How to Hire a Wedding DJ

Music can make or break a party, which means the wedding DJ you hire is one of the most important factors of your reception.

You definitely don’t want to hire someone without thoroughly vetting them first. Most couples have no experience in hiring a professional DJ.

Without this knowledge, it’s hard to know what the differences are between a great wedding DJ and a bad one. Learn the essentials for how to hire a wedding DJ.

We Make Brides Dance!

The Many Responsibilities of a Professional Wedding DJ

There is more to being a wedding DJ then just playing music. In fact, the most common mistake couples make when choosing a DJ is to overestimate the ease of playing music that keeps a crowd on the dance floor.

For this reason, many couples will opt to have a friend or coworker DJ their wedding reception rather than hire a professional. In reality, just because someone has a playlist and DJ equipment does not mean that they know what they are doing.

wedding DJ packs dance floor

Appealing to All Ages

Many amateur DJs will tout at least some experience playing music in bars or events. However, playing music at a nightclub is absolutely nothing like playing music at a wedding reception. At a club, most people are around the same age and have similar tastes in music. This leads the inexperienced DJ to assume that everyone likes the same kind of music as they do. At a wedding, there are people from ages 8 to 80 on the dance floor at any one time and the differences in their musical tastes will be vast.

Only experience will teach a wedding DJ the need for variety and how to play many different genres of music. Their job is to appeal to the masses by playing all styles of familiar party music. An experienced wedding DJ will understand that everyone is passionate about ‘their’ style of music and know how to tap into that passion and present it in a manner that everyone on the dance floor can get excited about together. They will know how to correctly weave in and out of many different styles of music and, ultimately, keep the party going all night long.

Coordinating Your Event

Many couples don’t realize that one of the biggest responsibilities of the wedding DJ is to coordinate the evening’s events. This is the job that will make the single biggest difference between your guests remembering a wedding that was smooth and effortless or one that was awkward and clumsy.

Bottom line, someone needs to make sure your reception stays on time and flows properly. I mean, you have the cake cutting ceremony, toasts, grace, introductions, the bridal dance and more. A professional DJ will be able to walk the bride and groom through the evening’s events with ease by working with all the parties involved to ensure things run smoothly and as planned. This is where a wedding DJ without experience can easily become overwhelmed.

In short, your wedding DJ needs to be organized, perceptive and efficient to properly orchestrate the evening’s events. Some things your Disc Jockey should be watching for to ensure the night runs smoothly include:

  • Checking with the hall to make sure that dinner is actually ready to be served on time before asking people to sit down.
  • Letting the photographer know what’s coming up next so they don’t miss a crucial wedding moment. No wants a photographer taking a bathroom break while the cake is being cut or the bridal dance starts.
  • Making sure that the champagne is poured before handing the microphone to best man for his toast.
  • Checking for utensils on the cake table so when you go to cut the cake, so you have something to cut it with!

Who knew, right? A great wedding music professional is detailed oriented and will keep an eye out for the small details that are missing or out of place. These little things certainly won’t ruin your wedding night, but added up; they will surely cause anxiety for you, as well as your guests.

Emcee & Master of Ceremonies

Finally, a professional wedding DJ should be a well-trained Master of Ceremonies. This means being confident on the microphone and able to make important announcements and introductions in a classy, charismatic manner. Professionals will spend time preparing their announcements and have pride in their ability to pronounce everyone’s name correctly.

Just imagine; unprofessional announcements, mispronounced names and titles, and inappropriate remarks – talk about an easy way to ruin a wedding!  Nothing makes a crowd more uncomfortable than to sit in front of someone who is nervous and stuttering on the microphone. Often times, a DJ may try to hide this nervousness by turning into a cheesy “party motivator”, annoying guests and embarrassing the bride and groom. A professional clearly understands their boundaries and will never try to upstage the bride and groom by putting undue attention on themselves.

Commonly Asked Questions
how to hire a wedding dj

Wedding DJ Horror Stories From Brides That Hired the WRONG DJ

Now onto the scary stuff. You’re about to read cringe-worthy DJ horror stories straight from Detroit area couples.

These are the scenarios we are trying to help you avoid by providing you with this valuable information.

Remember, a DJ can make or break your party and let’s just say these receptions were memorable for all the wrong reasons.

No Personal Connection

  • Jennifer, a newlywed from Sterling Heights tells her story. “The first thing my DJ said to me when I walked into Penna ’s was ‘Congratulations Julie!’. That was just the beginning. He referred to me as Julie twice more, including in our introductions! I was so embarrassed, and so were my guests.”
  • Danielle and Mike recall a similar experience at their wedding reception at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, “We gave our DJ a list of our favorite songs that we wanted played during our party and he didn’t play one. We asked him repeatedly to play them and kept saying he knew what people wanted to dance to better than we did.”

Zero Peace of Mind

  • Dave and Jill weren’t so lucky during their reception at The Colony Club in Detroit. “We were dancing like maniacs, when all of sudden, silence. Our DJ lost power to his speakers for some reason and our party was pretty much over. It ruined our entire night.”
  • “I think our DJ started to drink during dinner,” recall Martin and Holly, who hosted a barn wedding in Holly, MI.  “By the time he was supposed to introduce the bridal dances he was slurring his words. Around 10:30pm he began to get belligerent with some of the guests. Then, near the end of the night, he passed out in the bathroom! It was a total nightmare.”

Money Down the Drain

  • “We gave our DJ a $400.00 deposit over a year before our wedding,” says Robin who after a long engagement to Dan had their wedding reception at the Pine Knob Mansion. “About a month before our wedding we called the number on the contract and it was disconnected!  It was so stressful trying to find a DJ a month before our wedding. We still don’t know what happened to him, or our deposit.”
  • Kathleen and Brian tried to save money by hiring a less-expensive DJ. They got what they paid for during their reception at Sycamore Hills in Macomb. Kathleen remembers, “Our DJ didn’t even come prepared with any of the songs we discussed, not even the song Brian and I were going to dance to for our bridal dance! We ended up dancing to some song we never even heard of. I still don’t know why he couldn’t have just downloaded them.”

Lack of Professionalism

  • Amy and Joel’s DJ was dressed appropriately for their reception at Solitude Links Golf Course in Kimball, MI.  However, they had a different problem. Andrew tells it best, “Our DJ was late. He was carrying his speakers and lights in while people were already having cocktails.  He looked completely disorganized and flustered. We didn’t even have any music until just before dinner”.
  • Denise and Randy also had a disorganized DJ at their reception at Fox Hills in Plymouth.“Our DJ was a nice guy, but I don’t think he had any idea what he was doing,” explains Denise. “He didn’t introduce our bridal party correctly, he forgot to announce the cake being cut, and it took us forever to start dancing after dinner. When we finally did our bridal dance, the DJ did it so abruptly that our photographer was still in the lobby taking pictures of our parents. Not only did the photographer miss the dance, so did our parents! It was a total disaster.”

11 Common Wedding Guest Complaints 

Few experiences are truly once-in-a-lifetime. But your wedding? This isn’t a first; it’s a once. You get two “I dos” and exactly zero do-overs. 

That might not bother you so much if you were in total control. But you’re not: You’re hiring other people to make things happen. And if they don’t do their jobs, your once-in-a-lifetime wedding can become a nightmare.

At Mike Staff Productions, we’ve been in this business long enough to hear all sorts of wedding horror stories—and we’ve figured out how to avoid them all. Every single one of them. 


wedding reception first dance

The Difference between Professionals Wedding DJ and Amateurs 

Do They Have a Back Up Plan?

One of the most important things you can find out before hiring, does the DJ have a back up plan? Including:

  • Equipment contingencies
  • Back-up sound gear on-site in the event of an equipment malfunction
  • DJ on-call in case of emergencies or unforeseen events.

Let’s be real, emergencies happen and a DJ may not be able to make it to your wedding through no fault of their own, such as an accident or medical emergency.

A professional company will have a well thought out emergency plan and have paid DJ’s on-call and ready to go.  Remember, the worst possible thing that can happen is for your DJ not to show up or have their equipment fail during your reception.

Do They Have the Right Personality?

It is extremely important to find a DJ that fits the style of your wedding.  You don’t want a DJ that is too overbearing and obnoxious, and believes that your wedding reception is his “show”.  Consequently, you don’t want a DJ who looks bored or disinterested, either. Beware of companies that ask you to choose the “energy level” of your DJ.  Most couples don’t want a high energy DJ as much as they want a high energy feeling in the room.  A great DJ will know how to create this feeling without coming on too strong or by acting cheesy or unprofessional.  A pro will be charismatic when making important announcements and introductions and will be able to properly gauge when and when not to talk on the mic.

how to hire a wedding dj for reception
DJ microphone

Do They Have Professional Equipment?

Even if you are able to find a Disc Jockey who is competent enough to handle the primary responsibilities – keeping the dance floor filled, effectively coordinating events, and being a well-trained Master of Ceremonies – there are still several other factors to consider before knowing whether or not they are right for the job. For instance, be sure your DJ invests in professional sound equipment.

  • Professional equipment provides superb-quality sound resulting in crystal-clear announcements that everyone can understand, as well as allowing comfortable music volumes and displaying a classy appearance.
  • DJs that use old and ragged gear may instead use novelty items, such as bubbles and smoke, in order to hide the fact that their gear is inappropriate for the occasion.
  • Beware of DJ’s that offer to bring an entire production to your wedding reception. Too many lights, lasers, and other toys are simply a distraction and often “dress down” an otherwise beautifully decorated room.
  • It is also critical that your DJ brings backup equipment to your reception in the event of a malfunction. Nothing stops a party faster than a burned out amplifier or blown speakers!
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How Much Should a Great Wedding DJ Cost?

Your guests are likely to remember only one thing about your wedding when they leave: Did they have a good time? When deciding how much you can afford for entertainment, first think about how much you can afford to lose if your entertainment is poor or mediocre.

PRO TIP: Investing 8-10% of your wedding budget on your DJ is actually a great value, considering that the DJ is responsible for handling 80% of your wedding reception.

packed dance floor bride and groom

Get uncompromising quality without compromising your budget.

All DJ packages include:
Certified DJ of your choice, who’ll also serve as your professional (not obnoxious, not cheesy) emcee
Certified back-up DJ on call for emergencies
Superb-quality sound system adjusted to the perfect volume
Back-up equipment on site
Six hours of nonstop music and entertainment
Personalized playlists
Dance floor lighting
Decorative room uplighting available for an additional charge

DJ Services

Starting at $1095

Only 3% of DJ applicants pass our rigorous certification process, and our team members have been packing dance floors for an average of 13 years. Plus, they’re wonderful people—the kind you’d invite to your wedding.

Team Approach Package


Get your photographer, videography and DJ (plus $1,500 in extras) for this all-inclusive price.

Plus, you get the peace of mind of our crazy-effective team approach.

Imagine booking three key services with just one contact.

DJ Plus

Save $200

Bundle DJ with either photography or videography services to save loads of time and money.

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