I recently had a great Reno/Tahoe wedding planner, Marci Bogs, ask me some questions to help her clients choose a DJ. The questions were really good. I spent considerable time answering the questions; so I thought I’d also share the answers with my clients and potential clients. I hope you find this helpful!

How long have you been in business?
Six years. I started DJing shortly after my own wedding. I tried to DJ my own wedding, which is a terrible idea. But I realized I could be good at it and have lots of fun.

What do you do?
I DJ weddings. I provide photo booths. I also offer uplighting, lighted monograms, and projectors & screens.

What are some things you provide that most people don’t know you do?
I make recordings of ceremonies and toasts. I usually surprise couples with the recordings after the wedding. I’m also starting to bring foam LED light sticks for dance time. These aren’t the tiny glow sticks you’ve seen for years. These are the size of batons. They’re fun on the dance floor, and they’re great for send-offs. Finally, I’ve recently been putting together dance mixes for father-daughter and mother-son dances. You’ve seen them on YouTube – where father and daughter slow dance for a couple minutes, the record scratches, and suddenly, they break into choreographed dances to upbeat songs. Loads of fun, and it requires a DJ to mix those songs properly, usually before the wedding day.

What’s your price range?
$1,295 to $1,895 for DJ services. It depends on the time of the year, day of the week, and distance. For a Saturday during wedding season, I usually charge $1,695 for a wedding of up to 6 hours. For photo booths, it will range from $395 to around a thousand based on what the client wants.

What’s the planning process like with you?
After booking, I send a questionnaire. It covers music selections, music preferences, and the wedding day schedule. If a couple wants to work on it alone, that’s fine, but I offer to help at the beginning. The questionnaire is due three weeks before the wedding. After I look it over, the couple and I will typically talk for an hour to make sure we’re on the same page. Since I have the microphone, I run the reception a lot of the time, and I want to make sure I’m doing a great job of it.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love speaking on the microphone. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t babble on the microphone and draw attention to myself. My job is to direct attention to the bride and groom. I’m also there to make sure guests are having fun. But I get more compliments on my mic skills than anything else, and I’m flattered by that because public speaking isn’t easy.

What’s the most important thing couples should look for when hiring a DJ?
That depends. If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, you want a DJ who’s organized because he or she will be the person running your reception. If he or she doesn’t take on that responsibility or isn’t good at it, your reception schedule can fall apart. On the other hand, if you have a good wedding coordinator (I recommend Marci!), you want a DJ who is good at picking music. Many couples don’t realize how hard it is to keep people on the dance floor at a wedding. At a club, people come to dance, but at a wedding, lots of people come with other plans. Some guests don’t like dancing. Others are tired before dance time even arrives. And many guests dance during some songs but take significant breaks. I know the success of the dance floor is often based solely upon the next song I pick. I often see keeping the dance floor packed as a challenge. It’s not easy, but I often do a pretty good job of it.

How much money should they plan to set aside for a DJ?
As much as I quote! Haha. While I joke, I do think my pricing is more than fair, so I believe there’s a lot of truth to my first statement. I usually work 14 hours on a wedding day if you include travel, set up, and tear down. After that, I typically spend seven to twelve hours preparing for a wedding. That’s twenty-one to twenty-six hours of total work. I put the hours in because I truly care about peoples’ weddings, and I treat them like I would my own. Do unto others, right?

Are their different types of DJ’s? Can you break them down for us?
There’s the club DJ. This DJ is great at mixing songs and creating their own music. However, he or she often isn’t experienced at running weddings or picking songs for wedding crowds, and those crowds, as I mentioned, are often more fickle.

Next, there’s the professional wedding DJ. This DJ is adept at running weddings and picking exactly the right song to keep wedding guests on the dance floor. This DJ may or may not be good at mixing music and rarely creates music. I’m a professional wedding DJ. I’m good at mixing but not amazing. I don’t create my own music currently.

There’s also the part-time wedding DJ. He or she is similar to the professional wedding DJ but usually less on-the-ball. This DJ is competent but isn’t prepared for the worst. He or she doesn’t bring backup equipment in case something fails. This DJ won’t put a positive spin on things and find a way to make guests happy when the bar hasn’t served alcohol for the last hour (This happened at one of my weddings, and most of the guests were actually cheering before I turned my mic off. I’m not always this great at my job, but I strive to be!) The part-time DJ also doesn’t show up with the intention of making your wedding completely awesome. It’s a part-time gig.

If I were getting married, I’d get a professional wedding DJ. A DJ can easily make or break your party.

Do you have a DJ or photo booth question you want me to answer? If you leave your question in the comments, I’ll answer there. Otherwise, you can contact me directly. I’d love to hear from you.