How To Choose A Wedding DJ

How To Choose A Wedding DJ
The Expert Tips & Advice is an interview series with local wedding professionals. We talk about trends, ideas and advice to make wedding planning easier for the couple.

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Choosing the right wedding DJ is an important decision for a couple.

Having a good DJ is crucial to a successful wedding reception because your DJ will be with you the whole evening and really sets the mood of your reception. “You want to choose a DJ that will build excitement around your wedding reception and get the crowd involved in the fun and excitement of the day,” says Max Johnson of Center Stage Productions.

As a DJ, Max is passionate about music and about brides and grooms having a great dance on their wedding day. Max’s love of music goes back further than his love of being a DJ. He was in a band that played oldies and classic rock and says he has always loved music. “The greatest feeling when playing in a band was to play the first few chords of a song and people know exactly what it is and get excited to dance and sing along.” He gets that same feeling when he sees a wedding guest hear their favorite song start and they get so excited–he loves seeing that reaction.

Max offers these tips to help you choose a DJ for your wedding:

  • Meet your potential DJ in person to get to know their personality;
  • Verify your final fee so there won’t be any surprises; ask if there’s a payment plan or if fees need to be all paid upfront;
  • Is there more than one person that works for the DJ company? Who will really be your DJ on the wedding day?
  • Have clear expectations written down of what your DJ will be doing for you, including hours of coverage with start and stop times. Will your DJ be providing dinner music? Will set-up be done during the reception or before the reception begins?
  • If you want to include some of the popular elements couples add, such as the anniversary dance or games, discuss that with your DJ ahead of time;
  • Find out if they have references and real feedback of what others have said about their services. If they have photos of their set-up or videos of their events, that could be helpful to you as well.

wedding reception dance DJ

What makes a good DJ actually depends on the couple’s preferences. To see if a DJ is a good fit for your “reception personality,” ask how they would motivate a shy crowd to the dance floor. If the answer fits with your vision of the reception, that is a great gauge.

“The groundwork for the dance starts way before the dance even begins,” says Max. “I try to build excitement through the dinner music I play, upping the tempo as we get ready for the bride and groom’s first dance. My personality comes across on the microphone when I’m making announcements and talking about the couple. When introducing the dances, I try to involve the crowd. Usually by the time the dance starts, I already have a few song requests. I try to find out what music the crowd likes, as there are “ace in the hole” songs for all genres.”

Max is often asked whether the couple can pick the dance music. “Of course the answer is yes,” says Max, but he also recommends the couple be open to change. While they can certainly plan songs they would love to hear, it’s good to let the DJ make changes based on getting people out on the dance floor and accommodating guest song request. “A good DJ will play to the crowd, playing classics that everyone loves to hear,” says Max. “I try to shy away from playing cliché songs, but they always pop up because it’s what people expect at these kind of events.”

An important reminder for wedding couples is to think about what songs they want played for the special moments throughout the wedding day. It’s important to think about ceremony music, including songs for seating family, precessional and recessional. Additionally, you’ll want to consider songs for not only the couple’s first dance, but also other special dances, such as father-daughter and mother-son dances.

wedding reception dance lighting center stage DJ

Max is the owner and sole contact for his business, Center Stage Productions, so you always know who you’ll be working with throughout the entire process. Max offers an inclusive “flat rate” for his lighting and DJ reception services and doesn’t want couples to sacrifice having a good reception based on their budget. “I offer unlimited hours for the dance, dance floor lighting and uplighting, microphones, as well as fog, and all are included in the flat rate.” A little bonus that Max likes to surprise couples with is a lighting monogram, where he’ll personalize a design for the couple’s dance floor. Additionally, Max has recently added decoration rentals. He wants to make things as easy as possible for his clients. His inventory is in the early stages, but as he gets more, photos are uploaded to his Facebook page, so it’s always up-to-date.

Max treats each wedding reception as an audition for the next, he says. You don’t have to worry because you can depend on him he to accommodate unexpected challenges. He wants to make the wedding reception easy and laid-back so you can relax and enjoy the party.

A’s to my Q’s: Max says…
Weddings and stressful fun go hand in hand.
To have an unforgettable wedding, sometimes you have to: splurge.
Electric Slide, Chicken Dance or watching from the bar?  Watching from the bar

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About Becky Appleby

Becky's clients rely on her easy creativity to make them look good, while her attention to details give them one less thing to worry about. She's a freelance writer and blogger for businesses at For over 15 years, she has also run Appleby Photography, photographing hundreds of weddings and creating gorgeous albums for her brides. Visit her websites to learn more.