Auckland Wedding DJ Hire: The Ultimate Guide
— By Raashka Mannie
14 October 2019
Music is a crucial part of your wedding. You’ll either have guests fondly remembering the way they’d danced the night away, or heading home right after dessert because the vibe just wasn’t right. When you’re after the former, it all comes down to finding a great DJ.
Finding a good DJ, however, comes with its own set of questions. How do you know who’s really good? How do you know they’re good for you? What steps should you be following when hiring a DJ? If you’re at a loss for which direction to head in concerning wedding DJs, we’re here to lend a helping hand. In collaboration with Find A DJ, we’ve compiled 13 essential tips for hiring a wedding DJ, from how you’re going to bag the perfect DJ to when to book them.
Image by Warble Entertainment
1/ Choosing a DJ
It’s not just choosing a DJ, but choosing the right DJ. It seems to be a loose term nowadays, with just about anyone being able to claim the title as long as they’ve got a laptop and a pair of headphones. We don’t want you to end up with your aunt’s friend’s son with his collection of trap bangers from Spotify and a complete and total lack of know-how.
When you go through channels such as Instagram, Facebook or someone you kind of know, the chances are that you’ll end up with an unprofessional DJ that doesn’t quite know what they’re doing. So, sure, you might save a few dollars here and there, but you’ll be losing much more than you gain - especially since there are no contracts or deposits in place to secure your DJ’s services. If they’re double booked (or simply don’t turn up), you won’t be having a ball of a time.
DJs should be booked through an agency. With a reputable agency, you'll get a seasoned professional, top quality sound and lighting, a money back guarantee, and public liability insurance covering every eventuality. A good agency will have a contract in place that covers both parties no matter what happens. You'll get looked after as you should, with quick, professional communication as your wedding day approaches. The DJ will put together a playlist based on your preferences and requests, which’ll make everything a million times easier.
How do you go about selecting a DJ at an agency, you ask? Base it on your own location. When you’ve found a variety of DJs available in your region, narrow it down with their general songlist and the types of music they like to play. You’ll have to establish the kind of ambience you’d like at your wedding and match that to the what each DJ choice specialises in. Some DJs love Pop and Top 40s, while others like to throw it back with soul, funk and disco. Using your taste as a guidepost, look for a DJ that aligns best with the sound you’d like at your wedding.
Last, but not least, is working around your budget. With your short list of DJs in your area that play the music you like, figure out who falls within your financial means. If you’re going through an agency, contact them for a quote with your wedding date, the DJ you’re interested in and your budget, then let them get back to you. If you’re looking at an independent artist, contact them directly.
Image by Inside Weddings
2/ Experience is Everything
This should come as no surprise, but experience is everything when it comes to a wedding DJ. After all, being a wedding DJ is quite a specific market that requires its own specific set of skills. Most significantly, playing at weddings requires the DJ to leave their ego at home and play to the needs of the crowd.
Experienced DJs will know how to meet those needs, read the room and have guests pouring onto the dance floor - even the ones that aren’t usually inclined to do so. They can move with the ebb and flow of the crowd, as well as handle any atmospheric change with a certain aplomb. They’ll also be able to handle additional requirements, such as microphones and equipment for the celebrant and MC to playing the first dance song at just the right time and volume. DJs worth their salt allow for seamless transitions to ensure your wedding is nothing but smooth sailing.
3/ Meet and Greet
Much like your photographer, meeting your DJ beforehand is a must. Not only is it the best way to ensure all the bases are covered, but it’s nice to be sure you’re seeing eye to eye with the person that’s largely responsible for the atmosphere of your wedding reception. It gives you the chance to ask them questions, as well as to bounce ideas back and forth.
When meeting with your DJ, you’ll have the chance to go over everything as thoroughly as possible. You should establish if there are any special requirements you need to know about, such as the set up, the space needed, equipment requirements and so on. You’ll also be clearing up timelines with one another, so they’ve got a solid idea about the flow of your wedding. Your music preferences should be gone through in detail, so they know what you love and hate, and they’ll touch on any catering necessities (since you’ll most likely have to provide them with something to eat and drink, because a well-fed DJ is the best sort of DJ).
You should also ask about what other services the DJ provides in their package. Many DJs offer all the sound, lighting and microphones for the celebrants and speeches, as well as optional extras like photo booths, disco balls, smoke machines and more for hire. Any of these options could be finishing touches for your wedding - and with such convenience, too.
Image by Glamour
4/ Words of Wisdom
When chatting with your DJ, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them for their advice. Your DJ is going to have a wealth of experience and information stored away inside their musically-gifted mind, a good amount of which will probably pertain to weddings. If you’re indecisive about a song, aren’t sure about the vibe of the playlist or anything of the sort, ask your DJ. They’re going to be full of suggestions and advice that will help you out of any pickle. You don’t want to mess up an important moment (like the first song you dance to, for instance) by not getting advice from a seasoned professional.
5/ The Price is Right
Cutting corners when it comes to wedding DJ hire is a firm no. You’ve got a budget to stick to, we know, but your wedding DJ isn’t the place to scrimp. With DJs, like with most things in life, you’re getting what you pay for. If your DJ seems suspiciously cheaper than other DJs, you’re saving money but paying for their lack of experience. Top DJs do cost a little more, but their pricing will reflect their experience, sound and lighting equipment, and the service they provide. After all, a wedding is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many, so shelling out some extra cash, in the long run, is not all bad - especially if it means you’re securing yourself a fabulous DJ.
6/ The Early Bird
If you’ve contacted your preferred agency/DJ and they’ve gotten back to you with a quote and available dates, it’s crunch time. Booking as early as possible is essential when it comes to all things to do with weddings, but is especially true when it comes to DJs. Popular DJs will book out months in advance, so, as soon as you’ve confirmed your date and secured your venue, music should be the very next step. The earlier you cross it off your to-do list, the better. As soon as your preferred agency/DJ gives you the greenlight, lock in your DJ ASAP and get to planning the next stage of your wedding!
Image by Massetone Entertainment
7/ The Full Package
Some operators will give you a quote for the DJ and the DJ alone, which means that the overall price you’ll end up paying will include sound and lighting hire, setup and packdown, travel, overnight accommodation and a ton more. This is a kind of “hidden cost” that can catch people off-guard and, sometimes, leave them in the lurch. To avoid this, when you ask for a quote, find out exactly which services that quote covers. Ensure that the final quote is for the full package, so there are no unexpected costs that pop out after you’ve already signed the contract. Full disclosure is key to hiring a wedding DJ.
8/ The Same DJ
Once you’ve contacted your preferred agency/DJ, you should already know which wedding DJ you’ve booked for hire. If you don’t, you need to check for clarity. Most agencies have several DJs on their books and, if you don’t specify exactly who you’d like, they may assign you whichever DJ is available and within your budget for your chosen date. Other agencies may not commit to a particular DJ at all, which will leave you with a virtual stranger providing the backdrop for the most important day of your life. Not ideal.
It’s important that you ask your preferred agency to provide confirmation - in writing - of the artist you’ve requested. Once this is all confirmed, find out what the backup plan is in case your DJ, for whatever reason, cannot make it. Can they provide a DJ that will match your style and can follow the plan you’ve mapped out with your original DJ? A contingency plan is necessary in this situation, as you don’t want any unwelcome surprises on your wedding day.
Image by Hollow & Co.
9/ Venue Check
Has your DJ played at your venue before? If they have, that means they’ll have a familiarity with the space, know who to talk to, how to pack in and out, how everything works and how long it will take to get there. If they haven’t, it means that they know none of these important things, and arranging a site inspection is a good idea so they’re comfortable when the day comes. They’ll want to set themselves up just right, so they’ll be grateful for the chance to look around and establish a rough idea of how things will work on your wedding day.
Whilst you’ll have a good idea of your DJs taste in music, they’re not going to have a reference list of your taste in music. Giving your DJ a playlist of music you like/want at the wedding is always a good idea, as it will help them to develop a set list that suits the vibe of your wedding. You can also ask your DJ if they can review their song lists so you can pick out the tracks you like best, so they can work on building a set list based around their current library. A professional DJ should have the capacity to put together a bespoke song list just for you. Additionally, if you have songs that you absolutely need to or cannot have played at your wedding, be extra sure that your DJ is aware of them.
11/ Dress Codes
Yes, how the DJ dresses is pretty much up to you. It’s such a power rush, we know, but don’t let it overwhelm you. You can say something as simple as “wedding formal” and it will be more than enough. Feel free to add your own notes to it, such as making ties optional or believing a nice dress shirt is all that’s required. If there are specific rules to follow concerning the dress code at your wedding (perhaps you’ve chosen a theme, or you’re a stickler for a black tie affair), clear this with your wedding DJ so they can prepare for it. This way, they don’t show up in comfy t-shirt whilst everyone else is dressed to the nines (or, less likely but equally unwanted, the other way around).
Image by This Day Forward Wedding Photography
Check your DJ’s references (not topically, but professionally). Professional DJs should have reviews or testimonials on their site available for you to peruse through before you go about hiring them. You should ask for a few phone numbers of previous clients and give them a call to see how things went. With their experiences in mind, you can have a clearer picture of the DJ you’re about to hire and what to expect.
13/ Trust the DJ
It seems like it should be obvious enough, but do trust your DJ. If you’re hiring a professional with years of experience, the DJ knows how to do their job and you’ve got to let them do it. There’s no need to detail every song they play throughout the night - they know what to play and when. They’ve been doing it for a long time, after all. The DJ will enjoy themselves and get into the party a lot more if given the freedom to do their job the best way they know how. All you really have to do at your wedding, besides the marriage and whatnot, is eat cake.
To find out more about DJs in New Zealand, check out Find A DJ here.