Bride and Groom First Dance Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Content Creator Behind The Vows | St Pete Event Planner Coastal Coordinating | DJ Graingertainment | Photographer Dewitt for Love Photography

Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding DJ

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Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding DJ

Selecting a Tampa wedding DJ is essential to creating a lively experience for your guests, but did you know that a DJ does so much more than just “play music.”

“A Guide to Hiring a Wedding DJ in Tampa Bay” breaks down everything you need to know about hiring a wedding DJ, from understanding what to look for, how much to budget, and which questions to ask.

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Wedding DJ?

“Look for someone who not only has technical skills but also possesses charisma, adaptability, and professionalism. A great DJ should be able to read the crowd, keep the energy high, and create a memorable atmosphere. They should be organized, punctual, and responsive to your needs,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“You definitely should do your thorough research on the DJ company that you are looking to hire.  Believe it or not, your DJ will be one of the most important vendor hires for the day.  This has nothing to do with the dancing portion of your wedding either.  Your DJ does so much more than just ‘play music.’  We do so many things to keep the flow going for you and your guests while also helping to make sure everything is running smoothly for you behind the scenes alongside your planner, venue manager, etc. You want someone professional, organized, and well-mannered with good conversational skills. We suggest going to places other than Facebook for reviews. Look at Google and WeddingWire [and Marry Me Tampa Bay] to look up and down and find various places where you can see their past work history,” Ed Grube, Events Done Right

“Since you may never see your DJ actually perform (no DJ should ever let you attend someone else’s wedding to see them play, would you want strangers at your wedding? The DJ should be focused on your day, not getting future business and impressing other clients); professionalism is a huge indicator. How was their initial message? Did they offer to set up a meeting? No wedding professional, especially your DJ should ever blind quote you. The right DJ isn’t trying to fill a calendar date; they are building a relationship to make sure you know they are the perfect person for the job. Where else have they DJ’d. Resume is really important; you want a DJ who does weddings, not a ‘wedding DJ,’” Tony Mancuso, Platinum Entertainment

Why Is It Important for the DJ to Have Wedding Experience?

“Hiring an experienced wedding DJ is crucial because they bring professionalism, expertise in music selection, crowd reading skills, effective emcee abilities, problem-solving capabilities, top-notch equipment, and personalized service. Their experience ensures a seamless and unforgettable wedding reception, where they can adapt to any situation and keep the celebration lively and enjoyable for all,” Chris Grainger, Graingertainment

“Compared to a band we’re not handcuffed to a small setlist the band knows, giving you countless more options for the right music to set the mood. We play the hits by the artists you know, in a way that your guests are familiar with, and that helps pack the dance floor. Compared to DIY entertainment, the talent you hire should be able to properly host the various formalities and have manual control of the playback style of the music by blending/mixing, fading, or if you have a great DJ, they’ll have multiple edits of the songs you like and play creative mash-ups to turn up the dance floor in a way that a band or playlist couldn’t,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“Wedding receptions can be unpredictable, and an experienced DJ knows how to handle any situation that arises. They have a vast music library to cater to diverse tastes and can seamlessly transition between songs to keep the energy high. Experience also means they’ve worked at various venues and understand the logistics of different setups,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“A DJ without wedding experience could be a very scary experience for you on the day of your wedding. Inexperienced wedding DJs may not be prepared enough to handle all of the moving parts on your special day. We’ve heard many horror stories from other vendors when an inexperienced DJ handled the entertainment at a previous wedding. Think of it like a domino effect. If the DJ does one thing wrong, that could ultimately affect your photographer, videographer, caterer, etc. Everything that happens has a ripple effect and your DJ, playing such an important part of your day, could be at the very center of your date being chaotic or calm. Some people may say, ‘Well, how does a DJ get experience then?’ With our company, we actually require our DJs to train for several months before they even get a chance to host a wedding. It’s important to know all of the ins and outs of how a wedding is properly run and how to avoid possible missteps,” Ed Grube, Events Done Right

Bride and Groom First Dance Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Content Creator Behind The Vows | St Pete Event Planner Coastal Coordinating | DJ Graingertainment | Photographer Dewitt for Love Photography

What Does an Emcee Do on the Wedding Day?

“The Emcee is essentially the master of ceremonies, responsible for guiding your guests through the event timeline. They make announcements, introduce speeches and special moments, and ensure that everything runs smoothly. A skilled Emcee knows how to captivate the audience and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere without overshadowing the couple,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“They should make your guests feel welcomed and informed, then lead your guests through the flow of the evening and tastefully encourage participation. Emcees should be flexible and participate as much or as little as you want them to,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“A great Emcee has consulted with the couple and made certain to get the exact song selections and timing confirmed prior to the day. On the day of, they are showing up early, setting up and testing all equipment, well before the ceremony begins, to ensure the event is done right,” Reiaz Tihal, Events Done Right

How Do I Know if I’m Hiring the Right DJ?

“I get asked this one a lot!  Unfortunately, you don’t know you’re hiring the right DJ until your wedding day gets closer. That’s why it’s so important to do such thorough research before your big day to feel comfortable about who you are hiring. There are plenty of very talented and recommended DJ companies here in the Tampa Bay area that will do a phenomenal job. You just have to find one of them. In this day and age, everything is digital so text and email are just easier to communicate. However, we always try to have a phone call with our prospective couples before booking so that they can feel comfortable with who is going to be handling the entertainment on one of the most important days of their lives!  If you just get pricing and details through email and compare it with other companies, you don’t know who the person is that you are communicating with digitally. Think about it like this! On your big day, your DJ/MC isn’t going to be emailing your guests on where the cocktail hour is taking place!  Your DJ/MC isn’t going to be texting everyone your wedding party introductions! Your DJ/MC will be speaking on the microphone so it’s important for you to see how they speak, communicate, and handle themselves in a conversation,” Ed Grube, Events Done Right

“To ensure you’re hiring the right DJ for your event, look for experience, positive reviews, clear communication, versatility in music selection, reliable equipment, engaging personality, and a solid contract outlining all terms,” Chris Grainger, Graingertainment

“Communication is key when working with your DJ and other vendors. Be clear about your expectations, preferences, and any special requests you may have. Trust your instincts when choosing vendors and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from friends, family, or wedding planners. It’s not just about finding someone who can play music; it’s about finding a DJ who understands your vision and can bring it to life. Look for someone who takes the time to get to know you and your preferences, and who is willing to collaborate to create the perfect playlist for your big day. Trust your instincts and choose someone with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the process and focus on what truly matters – celebrating your love surrounded by your nearest and dearest” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment.

“You won’t know if you don’t ask. No question is a dumb question! Office staff are there to make your planning process less stressful, so if that means you have small questions each week, or big ones closer to your event, ask them! If someone makes you feel like a burden, chances are that company is not for you,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“References, references, references. The proof is in the reputation and history, not a flashy website or bragging and self-promotion. Ask your venue for references. They see and hear DJs every weekend!” -Jaime Corbitt, Grant Hemond & Associates

How Do I Know If a DJ Is Skilled in the Type of Music I Want?

“A skilled DJ should be versatile and knowledgeable about a wide range of music genres. They should be able to seamlessly blend different styles and eras to create a cohesive and enjoyable experience for all guests. Ask about their experience with your preferred genres and whether they can accommodate special requests or cultural traditions,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“Selecting a DJ company that has DJs who specialize in non-mainstream genres, as well as professionals who have a broad knowledge base of music,” Reiaz Tihal, DJ, Events Done Right

Bride and Groom First Dance Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay DJ Breezin Entertainment

A Stewart Photo and Video | Breezin’ Entertainment

How Much Does Equipment Matter?

“When it comes to sound equipment, most local mobile DJs typically use the same setup for every event. The most common setup is a 12” black speaker on a tripod stand. That may not be enough sound based on the size of your venue/floor plan, number of guests, and type of music requested. We always recommend working with a company that gives you rental and production options to create the proper atmosphere for your reception. Microphones react differently in environments close to military bases (like MacDill AFB), near emergency service buildings, or high population density locations. It’s important to ensure that the DJ uses the correct microphone based on the geographical location. Commonly known brand names do not hold as much weight in 2024, as many companies, such as JBL or Bose, have both professional and consumer-grade equipment. High-end brands like RCF or L-Acoustics are not well known to the household consumer market but are utilized by concert and large event professionals for quality. We recommend hiring a DJ who is an industry expert so they can walk you through the logistics required to host a successful wedding day,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“Equipment is everything next to the professionalism and skill level of a DJ. You don’t have to be an audio engineer to question your DJ about their equipment. A few simple questions can tell you a lot. How old is your equipment? A professional DJ cycles out their equipment every five to six years (if they work a lot their equipment gets used and beat up). New equipment is more reliable. What brand of microphones do you use? Shure or Sennheiser is the industry standard; some other brands are ok, but quality matters. They should also cost more than $500 per system. No one wants a cheap microphone cutting out during the ceremony, or speeches. What DJ software do you use? 90% of professional DJs use Serato; anything else typically means they are not a full-time professional DJ (they should have an answer for you about what happens if their laptop or software freezes). Do you stream or download the music for our wedding day? If they say stream, DO NOT hire them. Music should be downloaded and stored safely on a hard drive. Your 1st dance shouldn’t cut out because wi-fi does,” Tony Mancuso, Platinum Entertainment

“A state-of-the-art sound system with backup protocol is essential for any legit DJ. Sound quality and lighting go a long way in making your event a memorable one! ” -Jaime Corbitt, Grant Hemond & Associates

How Much Should I Expect to Budget for a Wedding DJ?

“The cost of hiring a wedding DJ can vary widely depending on factors such as their experience, reputation, location, and the services they offer. While it’s tempting to cut costs, remember that your DJ plays a crucial role in setting the tone for your celebration and keeping the energy high throughout the night. On average, budget between $800 to $2,500 for a professional wedding DJ. Remember, investing in a skilled DJ is worth it for a memorable celebration,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“This completely depends on the level of expectation and the headlining talent you want for your guests. Typically DJ fees should include the following items; the DJ/EMCEE talent, production (audio and lighting design, equipment rental, delivery and labor), office and admin work, enhancements (i.e. live musicians, special effects, etc.), and any related travel costs for destination work,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“The cost of hiring a wedding DJ can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, duration of service, equipment, and additional services. On average, couples typically budget between $800 to $2,500 for a professional wedding DJ. This range can go higher for more experienced DJs or those offering additional services like lighting, MC services, or photo booths. It’s essential to discuss pricing and services upfront to ensure you’re getting the best value for your budget,” Chris Grainger, Graingertainment

“There isn’t a certain budget to expect for a wedding DJ.  Most DJ companies with a reputable background will be at least four figures to start out, and then depending on how long you need or what is required is where you should expect to see the price start to increase. There are many fees that go into running a reputable company, such as insurance, music costs, licensing, equipment upgrades/repairs, taxes, and much, much more.  Anyone who is operating at a super low rate, we suggest doing lots of research on them.  We understand that a couple is ultimately going to choose the company that they feel most comfortable with, we just say please make sure you are doing your due diligence. Unfortunately, once your day happens, you can’t get that time back.  We just had a couple call us the other day and their wedding is in two weeks because their DJ was offering them ‘everything under the sun’ for a super cheap rate. Two weeks before the wedding, that so-called ‘bargain DJ’ decided he wouldn’t be able to service their date anymore.  This happens way too often in such an important industry, and we hate to hear these stories after it’s too late. Will they show up on your big day? Will they show up late? Will they show up with an iPod and a disco ball? You shouldn’t have to worry about any of these things happening when you hire your DJ company.  Do thorough research and have that phone call so you feel better about who is going to rock your big day!” Ed Grube, Events Done Right

“No DJ should be cheaper than $2,000 for your wedding day. I understand not everyone can afford that budget, but if you think about it, you are asking a person to come and set up thousands of dollars worth of equipment (a professional arrives a minimum of two hours before the event starts), DJ/MC the entire day, and make sure all the formalities go perfectly smooth while coordinating with all your other professionals so they are in place to perform their tasks and provide the quality you expect out of them, then kick off the party and keep a packed dance floor for two+ hours and leave your guests wanting more when it’s all done. Not to mention the hours spent with the client, preparing for the event, making sure the couple get a uniquely tailored celebration worthy of what they envisioned in their heads. Some DJs (such as ourselves) offer amazing upgrades such as cold sparkler effects and dancing on clouds. These effects require very intricate processes to make happen and the equipment to do so is very expensive. The end result takes a ton of preparation and perfect timing and execution. Leaving all of this up to a budget DJ will leave you regretting the decision, and you can’t get this day back. I tell all my clients, ‘How do you amortize 30-40 years worth of memories? You get what you pay for, and a professional and amazing DJ is worth every penny,’” -Tony Mancuso, Platinum Entertainment

“With DJ’ing, like most things, you get what you pay for. A low-cost DJ typically delivers a low-cost experience, and the more valuable DJs and DJ companies charge, but they are worth it,” Reiaz Tihal, Events Done Right

Should I Attend a Wedding to See a DJ in Action?

“As much as we are extremely honored that you would like to see us rock a party live, we highly advise against this. We like to think of each event as a personal and private memory. As much as we loved the movie, and unless you’re a guest of the family, we see it as a form of party crashing. We also like to focus on our client at hand while we are at your party. It would be pretty tacky for us to try to pitch another potential client while we are currently paid to entertain particular guests. We love the fact that you are trying to do your due diligence in selecting your DJ however we suggest checking out their reviews, YouTube page, Facebook, Instagram, etc.,” Ed Grube, Events Done Right

“Although it might sound good in theory, we would politely say no. Each event is custom-tailored to that specific couple’s taste. Their music selection and interaction level from the DJ might be completely different from yours. Also, how would you feel if uninvited people showed up at your wedding?” Jaime Corbitt, Grant Hemond & Associates

“No, it’s not necessarily a representation of the service we would provide, as each performance is unique based on the client’s requests, culture, etc. Not to mention this is widely considered ‘wedding crashing’ and most venues wouldn’t allow it,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

What To Know About Other Wedding Day Music/Entertainment:

“While the DJ plays a central role in keeping the party going, consider incorporating other forms of entertainment to enhance the overall experience. This could include live music during the ceremony, cocktail hour, a photo booth for guests to enjoy, or even a surprise performance to wow your guests and make your wedding truly unforgettable. Choose entertainment that aligns with your interests and complements the overall theme and atmosphere of your wedding,” Anna Shvaykova, Breezin Entertainment

“Know what the company provides in terms of lighting, production, live musicians, and enhancements. When it comes to confetti, atmospheric effects, or noise ordinances you’ll need to find out what’s allowed by the venue or the local authority having jurisdiction,” Cory Barron, Tampa Bay DJ Company

“If a couple also has a musician playing live music, they should connect that musician with the DJ so they can communicate and establish timing as well as equipment placement,” Reiaz Tihal, Events Done Right

Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pros

Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.

Feature Credits

Vendors and venues marked with

are Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros and have been personally vetted by our editor.

DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentBreezin’ Entertainment
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentEvents Done Right
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentPlatinum Entertainment
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentGraingertainment
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentTampa Bay DJ Company
DJ/Band & Live EntertainmentGrant Hemond & Associates

About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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