What Does a Wedding DJ Do?

Has anyone planned a wedding before? Yeah, I guess. But most of my clients haven't! Many of them don't know what to ask me. They just don't know what a wedding DJ does.

In this article, I am going to lay out the main things a wedding DJ does. I'm not going to list every thing they ever do, just the things they will be doing for you during your event. Read on and I will answer the following question in 5 parts...

What Does a Wedding DJ Do?

what does a wedding dj do
Laura Huertas Photography

Chooses Music

So, of course, a wedding DJ plays music. They fire up their DJ doohickey, press a button, and out comes a song. Any DJ can do that. In fact, any person can do that. That's not what makes a good DJ.

A good DJ chooses songs that make your guests dance.

The dance set starts. Your DJ tries a song. Then tries another. Within 5 or 10 minutes (but probably closer to 5), a good DJ will have all your guests dancing. Guests who are sitting at their tables will get up to see what's going on. Then they'll join in.

And a good DJ can sustain that for 2 or 3 hours. Just by choosing the right songs. That's not easy. Actually it's hard. It comes with a lot of experience

But usually, a wedding DJ doesn't choose all the songs. Sometimes, yes. But usually not. Usually, the couple getting married provides their DJ with a list of songs they want to hear. The DJ will play them, and complement them with similar songs that will get all the guests dancing.

Some DJs have knowledge of a dozen or more different musical genres. They know which songs will make the average crowd dance, and which ones won't. Many of them curate each dance set to the unique taste of their clients and still get everyone dancing.

For many DJs, this is their number one skill.

what does a wedding dj do
Andrea Arostegui Photography

Makes Announcements or "Emcees"

While some DJs focus on music, others focus on "emceeing" or making announcements on the microphone. Many DJs have differing opinions about this one. I'll give you examples of two types of DJs.

The Minimal MC

  • Makes announcements in a natural voice

  • If you're doing an introduction, he or she will just announce the guests in your wedding party

  • Makes announcements to get your guests to do something

  • Or to get them to pay attention to something

  • That's it

The Traditional MC

  • Makes announcements in an MC voice

  • Your introduction will be longer. They may add a short story and a few jokes before announcing your guests with a theatrical flourish

  • During your dance set, he or she may "hype up" the crowd by saying things like "hands up," "here we go," or "make some noise"

  • They may stay on the dance floor with your guests to do sing-alongs or to lead line dances

  • They often work in pairs during the dance set (and intros) with the less experienced DJ playing the music and the more experienced one acting as an MC on the dance floor

Ask your DJ which one of these they are. Ask them to do a sample announcement for you. If you want a traditional MC (or want to avoid one), ask them if they lead line dances or talk on the mic during the dance set. If they use the word "interaction" on their website, they probably lean traditional. Disclaimer: I lean minimal.

what does a wedding dj do
Sarah Ginder Photography

Brings a Soundsystem

Many DJs who work in clubs can roll up with a backpack and DJ all night. That's not how it is for wedding DJs. We have to pack our tiny little car (ok maybe that's just me who has a tiny car) and bring a full sound system. Here are all the times your DJ could possibly provide a mic and/or music at your wedding:

  • Pre-ceremony

  • Ceremony

  • Cocktail hour

  • Dinner