Why Hire A Professional Wedding DJ?
by Ben McMillen
SO YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED!
I'm sure you have heard that your wedding DJ can make or break a wedding reception. This is arguably the most important and exciting day of your life. My name is Ben McMillen and I'm a wedding photographer. So why am I writing about wedding DJ's? Well I have a very unique perspective on the subject. First, I recently got married and planned my own wedding. And second, well, here is a little back story.
First, I'm 43 and I started in the wedding business when I was 17 as a DJ. That's right. From the age of 17 to around age 29 I was strictly a wedding DJ. I always took pride in how much I respected what I was doing for my couples. I took it very seriously and wanted everything to be perfect. I never saw what other DJ's were doing. I just assumed that every wedding DJ put that pressure on themselves. I was wrong.
It took a few years but I transitioned to wedding photography around age 30. It was then I had the opportunity to experience weddings from a whole new light. I got to see a wide range of wedding DJ's in action. Don't get me wrong most were great. There are a lot of amazing DJ's in the area. However some were not so great. Some have been so bad I have no problem saying they ruined the wedding day for a few of my couples.
WIDE RANGE OF DJ PRICES?
So how much of the wedding budget should you dedicate to booking your wedding DJ? I believe if you're hiring a wedding DJ based solely on price you're off on the wrong foot already and could potentially make a really bad decision. I suggest put budget concerns aside and create a short list of a professional and experienced DJ's that you really like. Exclude the ones you don't. Do your homework. From that short list figure out which ones you can afford and go from there. I'm not saying you have to get the most expensive DJ. But this not an area to skimp. You want the best you can afford.
HIGHER COST OF PROFESSIONAL DJ's?
So why do professional wedding DJ's charge so much vs some of the lower cost DJ's? What's the difference? Above all else, Experience. Anyone can say they have professional equipment and thousands of songs and as the client you have no idea what that even means or how it applies to your wedding. Simply put you're paying for experience. Experience to bring the right equipment to each wedding. Experience in prep and planning with the wedding couple. Being prepared for each wedding is one area a lot of new or part time DJ's fail miserably.
How about experience in song selection? Sounds easy right? DJ's just push buttons right? WRONG. If your DJ tells you that they will play every song you want in the order you want them... then why are you hiring them? You want a DJ who is comfortable telling you what works and what doesn't, all while making your wedding experience unique just for you. A great wedding DJ has the experience to manage the wedding couples wishes with guest request as well as reading the crowd to keep the wedding rocking all night. Also you want a DJ who has experience in the flow of a wedding day so things go smoothly. You should be enjoying your wedding day. Not spending the night telling the DJ what to do.
MY POINT OF VIEW AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
I won't tell horror stories or bad mouth anyone in the business. You can easily do a Google search for wedding DJ horror stories. From my point of view I can't stress enough the experience and respect your wedding day deserves. Hiring a professional wedding DJ will give you that piece of mind. Most DJ's get into DJ'ing because it looks fun and you can make some extra money. No denying that. But the DJ's that continue to do it year after year keeping their calendars full of weddings from referrals and giving up their weekends all summer long instead of spending it with their families are doing it for so much more than fun and money. The good ones love what they do. Those are the DJ's you want. Those are the ones I want to work with at your wedding.
Here is a list of professional DJ's off the top of my head I feel you should check out. I'm sure I will add more over time. All come highly recommended in no particular order.
DJ Steve Barrett (works @ McMillen Photography)
DJ Dave Plavi (works @ McMillen Photography)
DJ Sean Nice
DJ Jonathan Mihellis
Lethal DJ services
TK The DJ
Pittsburgh DJ Company
Power Alley Entertainment
Party Time Productions
DJ Brian Oliver
All Pro DJ's
DJ Paul McGrady
Have fun planning your wedding!