Friday, March 2, 2012

Help me pick a DJ! QUICK!!




Hi ESB,

I need to decide on a dj fast (this week). I had no idea they booked up so far in advance. I don't go hear djs at bars very often period, and I certainly have no experience hiring wedding djs. Having been together for several years, we feel already married, and in many ways we see our wedding almost as an excuse for a big outdoor dance party. So the dj is important.

My options:

1) A friend/acquaintance who I have heard is a great wedding dj. I have heard him dj before, though it was years ago, and he has great taste in music, obvious audiophile, sweet smart guy, etc, but he's like a stoner drug dealer dude who is questionably reliable. What if he doesn't show up? What if he gets mono the week before the wedding? He is the cheapest option.

2) A wedding dj from a pretty cool event dj company. They seem to "get" our non-mainstream musical taste, and won't do cheesy shit, but who knows? Basically they assign a dj a few weeks before the wedding and we talk to that dj to decide on music and he or she plays what we want, plus a little creative input. My fiance likes this idea because we would actually have more control of exactly what music the dj played -- less dj ego involved. I like it because we have a contract, which means someone will dj our wedding no matter what. But, we don't choose our dj, so it feels a little like a crap shoot. A lame dj would be the lamest thing we could do to our wedding.

3) Our friends out of state throw an awesome dance party that people line up around the block to get into. They could bring one of their djs to the wedding. That dj would be awesome, but very expensive, and I imagine we would have very little input as to what he/she would play. However, this dj would get the party started for sure. Again though: drugs, party monsters, bohemian, will he catch the plane and show up in one piece? Who knows.

I know this is ultimately a personal choice, but maybe as someone who has actually hired a dj before you could offer some advice? Or one of your readers?

Thanks!
DJ Challenged

*****

To recap, your options are:

1) questionably reliable

2) pretty cool

3) awesome

Am I missing something?? I mean, you did just describe your wedding as "an excuse for a big outdoor dance party."

Book the out-of-state badasses and CALM DOWN, LADYPANTS.

Sure, some DJs do a lot of drugs, but just as many of them are huge coffee drinkers.

Christian Brylle by Henrik Bülow for Dansk via The Fashionisto

24 comments:

  1. I've seen that #2 situation result in a crappy dj. Meaning, my one friend's wedding had the best dj ever but he was from some goofball collective and you could not hire/request him specifically for other events. They match you based on style (read: availability) and when my other friends got a guy, he sucked. They liked him when they met him and thought he was on the same page as they were but at their wedding he was lazy and unengaged - played terrible music, including repeating songs, etc. It was unfortunate.

    #3 sounds good - it's only expensive if the person actually shows up (so the money/unreliable things aren't connected). I mean this person is an actual DJ, yeah? Do it.

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  2. Yep, what esb said. Flashdance is pretty epic, go with him or #3. Or try to find someone who isn't a *wedding* dj if you're really worried about it.

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  3. That dj would be awesome, but very expensive, and I imagine we would have very little input as to what he/she would play.

    if this were a random party you were throwing, i'd say go with this. but given that this is your wedding, having cookie-cutter-impersonal awesome, even if it's awesome, is the sonic equivalent of wearing a crazy designer wedding dress that's empirically excellent but totally not you. why pay through the nose for someone else's style?

    go with #2 and be as pushy-project-manage-y as you need to be to ensure non-cheesiness.

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    1. I agree. We hired a DJ for the sound equipment/contract/reliability but then project managed the hell out of it (i.e. gave him a playlist for dinner and dancing). We picked every single song that was played, and he was totally cool about it. The music at our wedding was a huge hit, and about 99% of people at the wedding (of all age groups) got out on the dance floor. Like Lauren said, what if you hire #3 and it's not your taste?

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  4. Am I the only person that thinks Flashdance is douchey? I mean...it's cool if all you care about it having the "cool indy wedding blog" dj do your wedding. Hire someone you trust to show up. You don't want the anxiety. Put together your ideal playlist and hand it over to whoever they choose.

    Also...if you're int he LA area we hired http://redshoela.com/. Ian was awesome. They're friends with our friends and DJed their wedding in Austin with more indy stuff and did ours with more mainstream stuff...but they were very into what you wanted and you'll know who is doing your wedding.

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    1. HAVE YOU HEARD THE FLASHDANCE SPIN?

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    2. He did my wedding in Maine and people are still talking about it. And no, he was not remotely "douchey" or too cool for school. He did the night before, which was a casual pool party, and the wedding, and it was a blast in every way. No regrets whatsoever. The best part was that he didn't look jaded about it. He even did a spin on the dance floor at the very end.

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  5. What's wrong with hiring your friend #1, paying him a deposit, and both signing a contract? He comes recommended as a wedding DJ, seems to be local in case he gets mono (and can find someone to cover for him in an emergency), and probably has a better sense of what you are into based on mutual friends. He also seems the most likely to play what you want him to play.

    Do NOT hire "awesome house party DJs" who have never played at a wedding and hope it will work out. People honestly just want to dance to songs they know at weddings, and I worry they might have a specific genre that may not have broad appeal. An awesome house party where everyone likes 90s house music is not the same as a wedding where you (generally) need announcements and want olds and youngs up on the dance floor.

    Option 2 could go either way, but it seems to freak you out the least. There's something said for that.

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    1. Yeah, I don't know what the age range will be at the wedding, but I'm in favor of having at least the first hour or so be stuff that the aunts and grandmas are comfortable getting down with. If he/she is a good DJ they can do this without being cheesy or just doing totally obvious motown stuff. Grandmas don't get invited to that many dance parties, so I kind of want them to have fun at out wedding, not awkwardly try to get down to Baltimore club or whatever. A supercool dj may just want to play the coolest shit and not the grandma friendly shit.

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  6. Option #2 would be my first choice - especially since your fiancé is on board with that one. And there's a contract. And they have experience with DJ-ing weddings. And they're open to your music requests. DONE.

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  7. Did I miss where you are located? I have THE BEST DJ EVER in New York City. He's a resident DJ at an awesome bar in NYC but does weddings on the side and he literally made our wedding into a seven hour dance party - no cheesy music involved. If you are near NYC and want his info let me know britliggett[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  8. Must agree with Nicole. #2 seems like the most experienced and understanding.

    While the idea of #3 is nice, there is so much that could go wrong! #2 gets what you want, and you have met with him.

    Are you having an after party? maybe you could incorporate something a little more like #3 for something like that?

    Hope this helps!

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    1. No, it says that they haven't met DJ #2 and won't until right before the wedding. He's assigned to them. They won't have heard him perform or anything.

      I disagree with everyone talking about wedding DJs and playing music for grandmas, etc. It sounds like the bride DOESN'T want that. Plus, we didn't have ANY announcements of any kind at our wedding so that's not applicable for everyone.

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  9. I'm with ESB here - it seems like you can't go wrong. Book who you are most excited about that is within your price range. But regardless of who you book, you should work up a contract that both parties think is fair. I think that this is especially important when some of the people you are going to be working with are your friends. Contracts show that you respect the work of the people that are going to make your wedding happen. They represent that both parties are committed and on the same page. Embrace contracts! Option 2 should not be better simply because they have a written contract in place that you can sign today.

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  10. Depends on your personality. I'd go with # 2 because uncertainty frightens me, and I'd want to have a contract and a lot of input on the music. So...if you're a planner and like control, #2. If you're spontaneous, go with the flow, and don't need to have a lot of input (and are okay with spending a lot of money), #3.

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  11. If the music is your top priority, and it sounds like it is, drop the cash on #3. Easy.

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  12. While I would agree that if your number one priority here is Dance Party, you should definitely go with the Most Awesome DJ. However, I have two stipulations: 1) Do you actually know that this party your friends throw is a "line around the block" type of deal, or is that just what they say? Do you know what type of music the DJ will play (ie: do your friends' music tastes jive with yours? 2) You should still have the Awesome DJ sign some sort of contract or agree to some sort of deal in writing. You're not seriously suggesting that your friends will just "bring him over on the plane" are you? Its true, something could happen (and if he's a stoner): "oh, that wedding was todayyy?" Just be smart about it, thats all.

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  13. A number 2 DJ (heehee) can be such a snore. I've been to these weddings and I've been all "I'm bored. How is this possible? This is such a FUN couple. I'm bored at their wedding!?".

    A number 3 DJ can make your day an epic party. If you have the funds, I think you should go for it!

    My fiance just found a number 3 DJ who was local. And we knew we found 'the one' when we asked that he not play the Black Eyed Peas. He declared that he would NEVER, EVER play them.

    Forever and ever, amen.

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  14. Okay, first of all my husband is a resident club DJ and is very nice and responsible, as are the people he works with, even the ones who like to party.

    #2 will be less cool but the nice part about hiring a #2 is they come with their sound system, PA, turntables, lighting and all that crap along with the contract. If #3 is stumbling off a plane and coming to your wedding you might be renting a lot of stuff so just keep that in mind. If you have the budget for an epic Ibiza party type dj though then I'm sure you have the budget for equipment. I'm sure your friends would hook you up with one of their djs who was reliable and wants to do a wedding too, right? And yes, make sure you have a contract and all that and don't pay him until s/he provides the services! Also, have you been to this club night? Do you have any idea what kind of music it is? If it's all house music and you wanted top 40 you may be bummed.

    My husband spins with some guys who do clubs AND have a wedding business--they do exist. Actually, if you are in Seattle let me know and I could get you their info.

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  15. Can you meet with #2 before you sign a contract?

    We went through a DJ company and at first the owner was gonna give us one person but when he saw our tastes he switched us to another who just happened to spin at cool places right near us (Wurstkuche anyone?). We were really happy with him because he was a club DJ that did weddings on the side and had actually worked a wedding at our venue. My husband even got kinda obsessed with his soundcloud mixes.

    We looked into The Flashdance but Michael wasn't avail and the lady he referred to us (who seemed awesome) was still way out of our price range and you have to pay for equipment rental separately. I think they're great and not douchey at all, but they ARE pricey. You can find perfectly good options for a lower price, especially if you are prepared to give them some direction. If you've got the budget hire The Flashdance, we needed that money for food and booze. It's certainly not worth it if you have to have a cash bar.

    As far as getting the older folks out on the dance floor, if your DJ spins good dance-able music that younger people are dancing to they will get up. A good DJ can read the crowd and play what will get them to move.

    I would go with #2 or #3 , and make sure you really talk to them beforehand and for sure get a contract. Hiring friends can be tricky, it's much easier to communicate with someone that knows they're working for you.

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  16. I'm not going to offer an opinion on which # to go with, but I WILL say that good, experienced, popular DJs don't get to where they are by being on drugs/late/generally fucking up. I've hired scores of DJs for various pretty-effing-cool events, and the only ones who have disappointed me (overslept, not brought turntable needles, etc.) have been the free, friend-of-a-friend volunteers -- never the professionals with agents, companies etc.

    DJs are a crucial element of parties and those who can't hang don't get hired again. If I were you, I'd be most concerned with the expert's taste, not his/her drug of choice.

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  17. Thank you all for your help! Unfortunately we aren't located where any of you are (Arizona with potential awesome DJs in LA). I'll let you know our final decision. It's good to hear from people with some experience on this. Rachel (and others) you are absolutely right that quality DJs should know how to hold it together, and our sweet party promoter friends would never bring a party monster to our wedding. The horror story from Heather about DJ #2 made me realize how bad that option can be.

    Basically any of these DJs could go horribly wrong or wonderfully right! Meaning, it just comes down to choosing who I want to hear at my wedding, then hoping for the best. It seems like everything in wedding planning comes down to that.

    Maybe wedding planning will finally cure me of my control-freak ways. That would be the ultimate wedding gift to my husband.

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  18. Cheers, DJ seeker! Sounds like you're on the way to trusting the pros, which is probably a really good idea. Good luck & hope you have loads of fun dancing your pants (garters?) off.

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    1. Thanks! We can't wait!

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