Selecting the right DJ can make a difference at your reception


You’d think choosing a wedding DJ might be the simplest part of making nuptial plans — just google

“Dallas wedding DJ,” call the first name that comes up, book him or her for the date, and boom, you’re done!

Not so fast.

As anyone who has ever been to a dud of a reception knows, the wrong DJ can turn even the most festive guests into wallflowers. Finding the right spin doctor requires as much attention and planning as other reception details. But, as with many of those other details, where to begin?

Neale Jones, event art director of Dallas Light and Sound — one of the most popular wedding design companies in Dallas — has some suggestions.

“You’re going to want the music to be a reflection of who you are, what you like and what your tastes are,” says Jones about the most important first step. “It’s your day.” He suggests that the couple come up with a playlist of their own to guide the DJ before the meeting, but also add a list of what you don’t want to hear. That way, if a guest comes up and says, “Can you play ‘Who Let the Dogs Out,’ the DJ can say, ‘I’m sorry, the couple has asked that we not play that.’”

A second consideration is experience. Wedding DJs don’t just spin tunes; in a sense, they run the reception, acting as master of ceremonies for toasts, timing of the special dances, introduction of the couple and cuing up the right songs to play during certain traditions.

“You want someone who is going to be more adept at working the crowd, announcing certain things that are going to happen,” Jones says. “They can kind of end up being the Voice of God, so you want someone who’s used to doing that.”

A good wedding DJ, Jones says, can run between $750 and $1,200, “depending on the size of the room, the number of people [attending] and how much equipment they have to bring.” The quoted price should cover the entire reception, from start to finish. Tipping is common if the DJ has done a good job, but not particularly expected.

What is expected: Your DJ needs to eat, so include him or her in your food cost calculations. “He or she can’t leave, so you want to make sure they’re taken care of,” Jones says.

DJs should provide their own equipment, and it usually take about an hour to set up, so be aware of that when handing over the keys to the venue or scheduling the caterer to arrive. “I always give myself an hour and half,” Jones says, “in case of things like blown circuits. There’s often some kind of power issue in the venue.”

Which brings us to a final detail many people overlook: When scoping out reception spots, check and see what kind of outlets and power sources the place has, and how many. Couples rarely do this, which can lead to some last-minute finagling. If possible, arrange for an on-site visit to make sure the

DJ has what he or she needs.

— Jonanna Widner

Dallas Light and Sound, 3818 Cedar Springs Road.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.