Questions to ask when hiring a DJ for your wedding

Choosing the music and entertainment for your wedding should never be an afterthought. It plays an essential role in creating the tone and ambiance of your wedding. The right choice of music for your ceremony and wedding reception is critical to fulfilling your dream. Professional wedding DJs are adept at reading the crowd. They create an unforgettable atmosphere by playing the right music to get your guests of all ages dancing. Here are some guidelines to help you with hiring a wedding DJ for your wedding.

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Experience is critical when looking for the best DJ for your wedding. One of the biggest, and most detrimental, mistakes a couple can make is hiring an inexperienced wedding DJ. Your wedding is your very special moment and, believe me, every DJ feels the pressure. Professional wedding DJs are familiar, and prepared to deal with, all the details and distinctions that every unique wedding necessitates.

You need to rely on your wedding DJ to not only show up at your wedding, but also to be professional and experienced enough to know how to facilitate your wedding reception. An experienced DJ knows how to read a crowd, how to transition into toasts, first dance and the other formalities associated with weddings. He, or she, will have experience as a MC. They will be able to appropriately announce your entrance as a married couple, as well as knowing and recognising the ideal song to set the right mood for each part of your wedding reception.

Where you do not have your own wedding co-ordinator, a professional and experienced wedding DJ often fills this vital role keeping your wedding reception and formalities on track. The comfort of having a professional DJ who can do all this, and more, makes it well worth hiring an experienced wedding DJ with a proven track record.

DJ Brent at work at a wedding
DJ Brent working as a DJ at a wedding

How much does it cost hiring a DJ for your wedding?

Being diligent with your wedding budget is an essential part of your wedding planning. Prioritising your needs and desires for your wedding will help you in establishing your budget that works best for you. How much is it hiring a DJ for your wedding? You might have heard the saying, “You get what you pay for,” and that often rings true for hiring DJs. Trying to reduce your wedding entertainment cost by spending as little as possible on a DJ may seem like a good idea, but it very well could end up being a decision you deeply regret.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect to pay a very low price for very good service as professional wedding DJs are experienced enough to know the value of their services. There’s an old saying that goes, “Good DJs aren’t cheap, and cheap DJs aren’t good.” That said, a good DJ shouldn’t necessary cost you an arm and a leg, but they’re unlikely to be at the lowest end of the price structure.

Remember, you are not hiring someone to only DJ. A professional DJ generally also provides you with a reliable and professional sound and lighting system, does the setup and breakdown for you, as well as performing as your DJ, MC and, often, acting as your wedding co-ordinator. A professional DJ also has a backup plan in case of equipment failure, and brings backup equipment with them, so that you’ll not have a lot of embarrassing silence at your wedding. 

Also bear in mind that your DJ will probably be putting as much as 30 hours of work into your wedding. This entails planning, leasing with the venue and/or your wedding planner (if you have one), checking and transporting the equipment, setting up and tearing down, doing the sound checks and performing at your wedding as a DJ and MC. They will often act as your event co-ordinator on the day, if you don’t have a professional wedding planner. Considering all this, a professional wedding DJ generally provides outstanding value for your wedding.

A possible scary drawback to a low-cost DJ is the potential for equipment failure or lack of quality equipment. A less-expensive DJ may not have the right equipment or as reliable equipment, nor backup equipment, as hiring a professional DJ that costs very little more.

It’s far better to take a look at how much value you are getting when you hire your DJ – instead of looking at how much a DJ costs. See if the DJ offers wedding packages – they are generally substantially discounted and offer great value.

Bear in mind, most of your guests will remember how much fun your reception was based on the music they danced to! Interestingly, several reliable wedding publications state that the entertainment chosen for a wedding is responsible for 80% of its success. South African weddings cost about R70 000 to R80 000 on average (sources:,, but can go well over R200 000, and the average cost of a Wedding DJ in Cape Town is R8 000 for a basic wedding and R15 000 for an elaborate wedding (source:

Take a look at how much value you are getting when you hire your wedding DJ

“Take a look at how much value you are getting when you hire your DJ”

– DJ Brent

Finding the Right Fit

The last thing you want is a DJ that doesn’t fit into your special day. The way your DJ facilitates your wedding day can have a major impact not only on your guests and whether or not they enjoy themselves, but on you as well. Your guests can quickly be turned off by either a DJ who is not reading the crowd and being unpleasant or, on the other hand, being boring and not engaging your guests at all. By meeting with your DJ and making sure they understand what kind of event you are planning, you’ll be sure to have the wedding reception you’ve been dreaming of.

Hiring a DJ for Your Wedding Early

Understandably booking your wedding DJ might not be the first task on your wedding planning timeline. However, be wary of waiting too long as you may not be able to choose the DJ you want and you will be forced to book one that’s left.

Many reputable and in-demand wedding DJs book events six months to a year in advance. Pushing the booking of your DJ near the top of your to-do list will help ensure that you can select the DJ you’re want or who comes highly recommended. To ensure you have choices, start meeting with your potential DJs early in your wedding planning.

Aside from ensuring you have the best choice in DJs, being able to check a big task off your to-do list will help you be able to focus on other areas of your planning process.

Wedding DJ and mobile DJ, DJ Brent is a based in Cape Town and servicing the Western Cape
De-Uijlenes-Wedding-Venue with wedding DJ Brent

Check What Equipment Your Wedding DJ Will Provide

It is important that you understand what equipment your wedding DJ will bring. Most professional DJs offer different package options (often substantially discounted and great value) which list what they provide for that specific package. They also often offer an A-La-Carte menu which provides a base setup with many add-on options to tailor it to your precise and unique needs – often in consultation and with advice from your DJ. It is therefore possible for your DJ to tailor the sound and lighting equipment to cater to your specific desire and venue.

If you have your ceremony in a separate area on-site, you may need audio equipment setup in that area as well. Do you plan on having a cocktail hour? You might need audio there to play background music. Are you having live musicians perform that need amplification? Make sure that your DJ can provide what you need, instead of assuming and being caught without the proper equipment.

Even if you do not understand much, ask the DJ what equipment he/she uses and have a look at some pictures of his/her gear. An established DJ should have at least a few photos of their equipment set up at some event on their website.

You can use this to check with someone who knows a little more, and if you pay attention to the details around the gear, you should be able to see the care he/she takes to serve clients. Poor equipment does not only sound unpleasant, but it can also be inconsistent, with the possibility of failing.

Discuss Your Desires and Needs

Having an open discussion about what you would like to include and leave out is an essential step in making sure you and your DJ are on the same page. By discussing your thoughts and desires, your DJ can ensure your day goes how you’ve planned, and you won’t be left with any surprises.

If you have any specific songs, style of music to be played, unique requests or an idea about how you’d like your special day to flow, include your DJ in these discussions. By sharing your wishes for your ceremony and reception you are giving your DJ an opportunity to acquire any additional unique songs and prepare for your event musically.

Clients that book with us, for example, are given access to a complete free wedding online planning portal to help to make it easy to ensure that everyone involved in your wedding is on the same page. It also allows us to prepare for the final meeting with you prior to your event so that we can insure that your special day goes as you planned and that all your bases are covered.

Make sure you and your DJ are on the same page

“Having an open discussion about what you would like to include and leave out is an essential step in making sure you and your DJ are on the same page”

– DJ Brent

Backup Plan

A professional DJ always has backup plans. Make sure he/she has backup plans in case their equipment gets damaged the night before, or on the day of your event.  Also find out if they are able to have another professional replace them in the case of an unfortunate occurrence. Most professional DJs know and respect each other and it should be possible for him/her to find an equally professional replacement for you.

If the backup plan’s equipment isn’t in your DJs van, you could have a lot of silence at your wedding—and, I promise, it won’t be golden.

Getting Your Crowd Going

What happens if your guests don’t want to dance? Ask your DJ how they get the crowd going if no-one is dancing. This is not only of concern to you but believe me its every DJs biggest nightmare. Fortunately professional DJs are experienced enough to respond to the situation and will generally have a few tricks up their sleeves. Speaking from my own experience (I performed at my first wedding way back in 1980), I have never seen an empty dance floor where no-one wanted to dance. Remember, your guests are coming to your wedding with the idea of celebrating with you and having a great party.

Getting Your Dance Crowd Going
DJ Brent is a Wedding DJ based in Cape Town Western Cape

Your Music Preferences

A professional DJ always discusses with the couple the songs they would like. This is how he or she gets to know about your tastes and preferences. Being an established professional, he/she will be able to recommend some wedding ideas if you seem to be a little lost.

Of course your DJ is expected to be knowledgeable and able to take care of the best wedding music for you, but definitely you will want to hire someone who cares about your tastes and your unique wedding music list. Most of the time a wedding reception has people of many ages, and tastes, and your DJ needs to be prepared to play music from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, 90s, 2000’s and today – unless, of course, you prefer something else.

Clients that book with us, for example, are able to specify their music tastes and special songs using the free wedding planning portal given to you as part of your planning process (you can use username: C398297 and password: tcupw to have a look). This free wedding planning portal also gives you access to an enormous database of music with suggestions of popular and special music. There is even a link that you can share with all, or selected guests, for them to submit a few song requests. We then discuss these with you, at our final meeting before your big day, to ensure that your wedding day will be everything you envisaged it would be.

Free online wedding planning portal
An example of an online planning portal to help you plan your wedding. Offered free to clients of DJ Brent.

DJ Dress Code

A professional DJ will usually have several choices for you to pick from, such as a tuxedo, a suite or simple coordinated outfits, like black shirts and slacks.


Check if your DJ has performed before at the venue where you will have your reception. If not, find out whether he or she will liaise with the venue and perform a site inspection, if necessary,  prior to your wedding. Some venues have a difficult route to unload and load the gear, some have columns or walls in unusual places, some of them have noise or gear restrictions, some have limited access to a power outlet and some may have unique issues. The acoustics of the venue is also important and dictates the necessary equipment for the correct volume.

Handling Song Requests

Although your DJ is expected to be knowledgeable and able to take care of the best wedding music for you, check what the protocol will be for making sure your guests hear their favourite tunes (that is if you even want them to have that creative option). A professional DJ may prefer to get requests in a certain way (probably not shouted at them while they’re working).

We try and pre-empt this by allowing you, via your free online wedding planning portal, the opportunity to allow your guests (or selected guests) to submit their favourite tunes they would like to dance to prior to your special day (you can use username: C398297 and password: tcupw to have a look). We will take requests on the day and would happily play any requests, if we have it, and provided they suite your mood and vibe.

Always ask for a proper invoice and contract when hiring a wedding DJ

“Always ask for a proper invoice and contract when hiring a wedding DJ”

– DJ Brent

Acting as Master of Ceremonies

Most professional wedding DJs are established and experienced Master of Ceremonies. They are able to keep the vibe of your reception flowing and to professionally take care of the necessary announcements such as introducing the speech givers, announcing your first dance or telling people when dinner is served. A professional MC also, in a sense, acts as your wedding co-ordinator by keeping everything on schedule. Check that your DJ is able to perform this function if you haven’t someone else doing these duties.

Wedding MC based in Cape Town Western Cape
DJ Brent as the Master of Ceremonies at a wedding

Sign a Contract When Hiring a DJ for your Wedding

Always ask for a proper invoice and contract when hiring a wedding DJ, including the date and everything that is included in their service. Some DJs work informally and do not offer written contracts. Be careful with these type of DJs, if there is a problem it will be difficult to prove what you have hired and agreed to.


Busy professional DJs often require a deposit to secure the date on their calendars (50% is a usual amount) and in case you change your mind, this amount is not refundable. Also, they will ask for the balance to be settled before your wedding. Collecting payments at your reception is not the best way for established professionals.

Conclusion to Hiring a DJ for Your Wedding

Your wedding day is one of your most memorable and unforgettable moments in your life. The amount of planning, work, and dreaming that goes into it will bear fruit on your big day.

Hiring the right DJ for your wedding will ensure that everyone has a memorable time and your wedding runs smoothly. Your DJ will be able to run your show with professionalism, knowledge, and attention to detail. You should be able to relax and enjoy yourself on your very special day and it helps leaving your day’s events and schedule in your DJ’s capable hands with full confidence in their abilities. 

At the end of the event you’ll be able to reflect on the best day of your life, how much fun you’ve had, and the wonderful memories that were created.

For more information you can contact DJ Brent, who is a Cape Town based wedding DJ. You can phone him on 073 834 4742, email him at or visit his website at