Event Professional Confessions – What No One Tells You About DJs

The Truth About Wedding DJs

We love what we do and we've been doing it for a long time. That said, event entertainment has always had a low barrier to entry. Being able to claim you are a DJ and truly acting as a professional entertainer aren't mutually inclusive. The last thing we want to do is say anything negative about our profession nor create fear in couples minds needlessly. We do, however, have a responsibility to educate our clients. With our wedding clients specifically, there's a very difficult learning curve for most looking to hire professionals in order for their dream day to be realized. In our experience, very few couples have had significant entertainment negotiations prior to their wedding which often results in undue stress and even bad decision making. 

While we could tell you horror stories we've heard from our wedding industry friends over the past decade, we don't want to do that. In all honesty, most DJs we've encountered are good people who got into entertaining for the right reasons. There is a wild skill level difference between the different ends of the spectrum but we encounter much more instances of altruistic entertainer than charlatans. In our ongoing effort to educate our region on what professional wedding entertainment services should be, we've once again asked regional industry leaders what they look out for. It's our hope that these third-party voices might give you suggestions on things to be aware for not only professional and unprofessional behaviors but also traits that aren't compatible with who you are. 

Brett Yacovella, Creative Director / Wedding Photographer

Making the Moment

Whats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

making the moment Cleveland photographerMost of the DJ's we work with on any given event are professional and help everything go smoothly for our couples and their families (especially the team over at Selective Sound!). However, there are some decisions that (from our perception) can make the event feel a bit funny. Probably the most noticeable is when a well intended DJ makes the mistake of making the event about themselves. Everyone loves a good emcee that will help guide the event through, but the more I experience events and listen to feedback from couples, we're all annoyed by a DJ that showboats too hard; leading the night with long winded diatribes, predictably cheesy jokes and one-liners that they'e rehashed and re-used throughout past events. In short, speeches and toasts should be reserved for the families or the couple, not for the DJ to become a pseudo-star.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

A DJ really understands their profession when they work hard to understand what the couple wants out of the evening, rather than assuming and working on a pre-formatted script. The best DJ's I work with know how to influence the night to become what the couple wants; paying careful attention to pace and flow of the night, while working in response to what the guests are providing  (in terms of energy and response) all the while using the couple's desires as a north-star for the journey. On a professional level, I always feel confident in a DJ when they take the time up front to greet our photography and video staff when we arrive at a venue. It's SUCH a great show of teamwork when I know the DJ is going to work hard to communicate with our teams to ensure we don't miss a moment.

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Trust your friends, your instincts, and your vendors. Ask your friends how they felt about their DJ, would they recommend them? Have you been to an incredible wedding lately? Who was the DJ there? Ask your vendors  (photographers and videographers especially). Each of us are "attending" 20-30 weddings a year, and so really have the opportunity to give good feedback here. The Making the Moment staff knows who the great wedding DJ's are, simply because we're fully present throughout the ENTIRE wedding reception. We don't leave the night early and we stay throughout the entire party. We LOVE experiencing a good wedding reception; not only is it fun for us and our couples, but it also makes the imagery and our wedding films SO much better.


Terry Superchick Goodman, Lead Photographer/Owner

Platinum Photography Ohio

Platinum Photography OhioWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

I find quite a few Djs don't know how to read a room. I've seen many dance floors empty because they just can't seem to play the right song to pull someone onto the dance floor.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

The sign of a great DJ is when the dance floor is packed and people are dancing the whole night.

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Talk to your actual DJ in person to get a feel for their personality. Talk to friends and family who've already been married and ask if they loved their DJ or not. Then you get a feel for who you should be checking out.


Justin Ketchem, Owner

Justin Ketchem Photography

justin ketchem wedding Photography clevelandWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

Not taking the time to learn the names or pronunciation of the wedding party for the introduction.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

Being well organized and knowing when to play certain kinds of music.

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Observe the DJ during the intros, speeches and parts of the wedding that require MC work. That will give a good indication of the Dj's preparation, organization and style.


Nicole Sebrasky, Owner/Photography

Brass Key Photography

brass key photography sebrasky clevelandWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

Dinner Music! Most DJ's seem to default to a Frank Sinatra and instrumental playlist for dinner. In my opinion that is the worst thing you can do! What happens when you feed your guests a good meal, turn the lights down and put on slow music? YOU PUT YOUR DANCERS TO SLEEP BEFORE THE DANCE FLOOR OPENS! Odds are your guests will be seated with people they either dont know or havent seen in years. They need things to get them to socialize. Food and music are two things where people can find things in common and start conversations. We recommend our couples pick a playlist of their favorite songs that you love to hear but cant dance to. Coldplay, Queen, Smashing Pumpkins, 80's & 90's undanceable Hits and ballads, etc. That will get people saying "OMG I havent heard this in forever". Not only will it keep your non dancing guests around longer if they make a new friends, but it will also get your guests energized and excited for the dance floor to open!

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

Your dj should outline the entire reception timeline. Knowing what is happening when and being prepared for it is key! Your dj is your emcee for the night and once the reception starts, he is in charge of the flow. Having a game plan in writing that he can share with other professionals is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and ready to go when the time comes!

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

MEET THEM! Spend time with them. If their personality doesnt match yours, odds are they wont on your wedding day either. If their energy level is low or they dont speak clearly, you should look elsewhere. Your entertainment will make or break your party. You are paying thousands of dollars, spending months or years and countless hours planning this major event.... if you dont have someone who can keep your guests happy and having fun, you are wasting all of the effort you are putting in!


Jeff Jones, Photographer

Jeff Jones Photography

jeff jones photography for weddingsWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

Talk to much or sing with the song that they are playing.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

Keeping the guest on the dance floor the entire evening.

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Hire a professional that has many years of experience in the field.


Heather Morse, Event Planner

Marigold Catering

marigold catering a wedding venueWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

Some DJ's tend to talk a little too much.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

They have a clear passion for the event and all vendors involved. They communicate their needs to vendors/the caterer before an event.

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Make sure that your wants are more important than theirs. Make sure the DJ wants to represent you as a couple through the music.


Brandi Hamerstone, Owner

All Events Planned

Brandi Hamerstone wedding planningWhats a common mistake DJs make that negatively impacts the event?

Trying to run the event "their" way vs the way that the client wants the event to run. Suggesting things because they think they "work" better instead of listening to the client and trying to make their way work for everyone. Trying to sell the clients on additional items and upgrades just to make money off of the account. Sometimes the client doesn't need them and the suggestions are purely out of the desire to make more of a profit.

What is a sign that a Wedding DJ really understands their profession?

They are active in pursuing knowledge in all aspects of the wedding day so that they understand why the timing of the day happens beyond what they see. They are open to clients suggestions and ideas and are always on the look out for ways to better improve who they are and what they do

Whats one piece of advice you have for couples before they choose a DJ for their wedding?

Sit down and interview them either in person or on the phone to figure out if their personality is a good fit. No matter how good the DJ if you don't "click" with them, they won't work for your wedding day. NEVER hire a DJ without talking with them.


Now that you've read these honest answers to simple questions that we asked veteran industry professionals, you have some homework. What are deal breakers for you when it comes to hiring a DJ for your wedding? What would stress you out if you had to deal with during your wedding? What are the most important qualities that add up to being a professional in your mind? 

With over two decades of event entertainment experience, we've seen a lot but no two events of ours is the same. Our clients stories are as unique as each reception we have the privilege of working on.

Ask us how we'd help express your dream.

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