Updated: Jan 22, 2020
So you and your fiance are interviewing wedding DJs and a DJ-friend of yours offers to do it for free as his or her "gift to you." Amazing! Or is it? Read the 5 points below to learn what to watch out for to make sure your wedding really is amazing.
1. Are they a wedding DJ?
DJing a wedding is different than DJing at a club. It's not just about the dance set. Your DJ is responsible for the mic at your ceremony and other important details.
But the dance set is very important. What kind of DJ are they? DJs who play a specific type of music (hello tech house DJs) tend to have a harder time at weddings than ones who are versatile. Weddings have people of different ages and from different locations so the DJ needs to be familiar with many types of music.
If they are a DJ who regularly does weddings you can go with them without reservation. This article is about non-pro friends.
2. They might act unprofessionally
There's something about a financial agreement that makes people do their job isn't there? There are certain rules that I think all wedding DJs should follow: like arrive 2 hours before the event, don't drink, and only play music you know the bride and groom want to hear.
Because they're not getting paid and they are your friend they might take liberties they wouldn't take at a paying gig... Like, doing shots with members of your wedding party before the ceremony (FYI, many club DJs drink while they work), making out with their significant other on the dance floor or, playing a remix for your first dance song.
And imagine something does go wrong. It's going to be awkward to deal with (because they're you're friend) and it may put a major stress on the friendship.
3. Make an agreement (that may include money)
If you decide to hire your friend, I suggest writing up some non-negotiable rules and talk them over with him or her. All DJs who regularly do weddings have contracts so putting it in writing would be a good idea. Reach out if you want specific ideas for this.
And if you can afford it, consider paying them something. What's the average amount for a wedding gift? $200? Well the national average cost of a wedding DJ is $1,000 (and quite a bit more in major cities like NYC) so please take that into consideration.
It's nice to pay them, but the main reason to do so is that they are more likely to act professional and do the right thing if there is money involved.
4. You can hire a professional without firing your friend
I have DJed many weddings where a friend of the people getting married (and when one of them) did a DJ set. It's really fun and everyone loves it (except the DJ, because the friend, or person getting married, always gets more applause).
If they are the type of DJ who plays rare or obscure music, have them DJ during cocktail hour. If they are an EDM DJ, have them go at the very end. And if they are a very versatile DJ, or if they have done weddings before, have them go in the middle of the dance set. Their set should be about 30 minutes.
5. This goes for all wedding vendors
Did you read the examples I wrote above, like getting drunk or making out with their girlfriend on the dance floor? These really happened, except it wasn't a DJ. The drunk person was a photographer and the smoocher was a wedding planner - both friends of the married couple at different weddings where I was the DJ.
You're trying to save money, I get it. If you can afford it and you want your wedding to be the type of day you can sit back and enjoy without worry, you should have professional vendors - whether they are friends or not. And if you just don't have the budget for it, check out my blog tutorials for help.
Here's me with two dear friends, Allison and Justin. Their wedding (almost 5 years ago) is one of the best I ever DJed. This photo was taken just a few days ago at a different wedding where they happened to be guests.
Here's where I wrap it up