What most couples who are planning a wedding don’t know is that saving money by hiring an amateur DJ for your wedding comes with a high price tag.  Before you make a decision you regret, here are some things you need to know.

amateur dj 1

1. There’s a high probability that a cheap (or free) DJ won’t be in business by the time your wedding arrives.

Many low-priced DJs aren’t charging enough to support their own businesses for the long term; you’re just financing their hobby.  Meanwhile, your wedding is 6-12 months away or more.

We’ve received those calls from desperate couples who had a “friend of a friend” DJ cancel on them last minute.  It’s not pretty.

Do you want to risk the possibility that the cheapie DJ is bankrupt and out of business before your big day?

2.  Amateurs are less invested in their performance than a wedding professional.

The amateur DJ is doing it “for fun,” and if something goes wrong, it’s not a big deal.  A wedding professional, on the other hand, risks his entire reputation and livelihood with every performance.  One bad review can destroy his business and he knows it.

At one wedding, the DJ brought along his wife and newborn.  Their table was littered with McDonald’s bags and his wife decided to breastfeed the baby during dinner.

Would you rather have an entertainer who is 100% invested in his business and performance on your wedding day or someone who does it as a hobby?

3.  A wedding is a unique event that require the skills and experience of a wedding specialist for a smooth, flawless ceremony and reception.

It’s about more than just playing music.  Your wedding DJ is responsible for coordinating the timeline, orchestrating the introduction and flow of events, working with your other vendors, managing the guests, reading the crowd and making sure the right song is played at just the right time.

Even a DJ who is quite experienced in the club setting will be at a loss because she simply isn’t familiar with the flow of events and how to prevent disasters when something goes awry.

One inexperienced DJ mistakenly announced a special dance with the bride and her grandfather because he forgot to update his notes.  The entire family started crying because Grandpa had passed away two weeks earlier.

Are you willing to place the outcome of your wedding in the hands of someone who doesn’t “do” weddings for a living?

4.  Your guests won’t dance without an experienced entertainer who can read the crowd and keep the momentum going.

You have to play the right songs at the right time and in the right order to maintain dancing.  Oftentimes, the mood changes and your entertainer needs to change the program to maximize the dancing along the way.  

If she can’t mix from one song to another, you’ll have gaps of “dead air” or awkward rhythms that will frustrate your guests and clear the floor.

Many couples think that providing an amateur with a set list of songs they love will be enough to make a fun wedding.  It’s not.  You need someone with experience to work with your requests and what your guests are responding to in order to avoid an empty dance floor.

One bride regrets hiring her DJ because he played “Unforgettable” five times during the wedding because he didn’t know any other slow songs.

Are you willing to sacrifice the fun at your wedding to save money on a cheaper DJ?

5.  The MC (the guy or girl on the microphone) has a huge impact on the mood and outcome of your party, for better or worse.

An obnoxious DJ with an abrasive voice will irritate your guests and dampen the mood of the entire party.  Professional DJs invest in vocal training and practice to optimize their performance.

I personally witnessed one DJ and embarrass everyone by making suggestive comments to the bride over the microphone.

Do you want just anyone acting as your wedding host or do you want a professional speaker you can trust?

6.  Your special events may not happen if you don’t hire a specialist who’s experienced in channeling the flow of events.

Who will direct your bridal party and guests at the ceremony?  Who’s going to line them up for introductions?  Who’s in charge of making sure the toasts, special dances and dedications go without a hitch?

Just having the equipment and knowing how to push play doesn’t guarantee the people wrangling skills you need for a fun, smooth reception.  In most cases, your entertainer is the one who makes sure your special events are executed as you’ve requested.

One inexperienced DJ forgot to bring the couple’s First Dance song; they were forced to dance to Barbra Streisand, who they can’t stand.

Will you risk leaving your special events to chance or do you want to ensure that everything is done according to plan?

7.  An amateur doesn’t have the experience to include your unique requests in a way that truly expresses your personality AND keeps people dancing.

You can’t make your guests dance to the songs you like if they don’t feel the same way.  Your DJ needs to read the crowd and have the experience to build sets of music around your preferences.

An amateur DJ can play the songs you request, but lacks the experience necessary to make it work.

One bride told us her DJ played the unedited version of Sexxy Back during dinner and had five minutes of dead air while he queued up the next song.

Do you want your guests on the dance floor all night or is it acceptable to have large chunks of time with no dancing?

8. An amateur DJ has inadequate or non-existent backup equipment, which means that if something fails you have no music at your wedding.

A fully functional backup system on the premises is essential to making sure you have music at your wedding no matter what.  Most amateur DJs won’t have a backup plan if a speaker blows or a laptop crashes.

We were approached at the end of one wedding by a DJ in the next room who asked if he could “borrow our speakers” because his were broken.

Are you willing to takes your chances without a backup on your wedding day?

9.  DJs who charge less invest less into their equipment, which means you have inferior sound and performance at your wedding.

A stereo system that sounds great in your living room doesn’t sound good in a spacious wedding venue.  Professional speakers and equipment are necessary for clear sound that has impact at low volumes, so your guests can speak at the tables even while the dance floor is thumping.

If you want your guests to actually hear your exchange of vows at the ceremony, you’ll need professional equipment and an onsite tech to make sure that happens.

One DJ showed up at a venue for the first time without ANY speakers or mixer because he’s been told that he could, “use the venue’s sound system” and he didn’t call ahead to verify.

Are sound issues like blasting music or impossible to understand audio acceptable on your wedding day?

If you’re not planning to have any formal events at your wedding, and you’d like a cocktail party more than a dance party, it may make sense to save money by hiring a non-professional.  But if you’re investing thousands of dollars on creating the perfect day, please don’t jeopardize it by hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Your wedding day only happens once; make sure you hire a DJ who gets it right.

You have our permission to share and republish this post as long as you link to this page because it contains vital information couples need to know about the wedding industry.

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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20 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why Hiring an Amateur Wedding DJ Is a Huge Mistake”

  1. Chris says:

    I love this article. I’m referring this article to my clients through my own website at bbdjservices.com

  2. BMac says:

    I don’t agree at all with this article. There are tons of low priced DJs that are better performers then higher priced ones. Most low priced DJs can charge their low rate because they probably have a full time job and DJ on the side for extra cash. That is what I do and I get better reviews than any of the DJs in my area, especially the high priced ones. It is foolish to think that just because a DJ is cheap, he or she is an amateur and not as good of a performer as DJs that charge twice the amount for an event. Part-time DJs have taken over the market and you can get a great one for a low cost. Price is not a valid indicator of performance. Don’t be fooled.

    1. While it’s GENERALLY true that you get what you pay for, that’s never the case 100% of the time. There are always exceptions.

      The point is that if a bride/groom is very picky about their wedding or values music highly, it makes sense to invest in someone with more experience…and probably a higher price tag to match.

      I’m curious why you’d argue for charging lower prices?

    2. Chris says:

      Says the amateur DJ. You’re doing this on the side, you’re not a balls to the walls wedding DJ, BMac. Besides, who does a wedding and names themselves after a mcdonalds entree?

  3. Your says:

    Putting people down is really going to shy others away, after all there are a lot of good DJS out there for less. Seems like some snooty people think there better then anyone else. That will push the crowd in a different direction. Putting people down is idiotic, and will tell the kind of people they would be dealing with. Personally, I would not give this company the time of day! Neither will my friends .

  4. Wanda Butler says:

    First if all, I read your article and it was very informative. I am a DJ as well and I totally agree that hiring an in expensive DJ can cause your wedding to turn into a nightmare.

    Scenario: The client hired a DJ she did not know anything about him; but she heard about him through a friend. The DJ Showed up with a sweat suit on and a glass full of liquor in his hand. His equipment was terrible because he had 2 Speakers and a crowd of 400 people. To make a long story short the DJ disappeared the client shifted gears to panic mode. The client found him in the bathroom on the floor drunk pissed hisself and the wedding was a total disaster. (Don’t Let This Happen to you).

    Yes , hiring entertainment is a job within it self and remember Cheap Ain’t Good and Good Ain’t Cheap. I cannot provide a great deal of information at one time but Lord Knows I Have Many Stories to tell. I can say when hiring a DJ on the most important day of your life spare no expense because it will make all the difference in the world. Please do not hire your cousin with the IPOD or your uncle’s girlfriends boyfriend that may or may not have a phone. Please do not hire a DJ that does not have a contract, several contact numbers and do not pay him in full he will not show up.

    Yes equipment is very important to your event and back up equipment as well especially those djs that use laptops. Hey the laptop will crash at the most in opportune time. The way to prevent this from happening is, ask the DJ if they can provide a list of equipment they will use at your wedding and call a store that sells professional equipment. I can be reached at ladyjay61gmail.com for more information……

  5. Jason R says:

    Yes, I certainly agree! These are great reasons, and there are many more! Yes, good wedding and event DJs are more expensive, but you can be reassured that your wedding/event will go well and it will be memorable and fun! You want good memories of your wedding, not bad ones! Great article!

  6. Terry R says:

    Hi, Stephanie.
    Thank you kindly for posting this article. Its nice to see, especially when I see national TV telling everyone to look around for the best possible dj bargain. There does however, seem to be a shortage of “caring” entertainment owners who just don’t seem to “get it”. Cheers to those who dedicate themselves, run a good business and command a proper, respectable fee.

  7. Hiring a DJ in a wedding party, can makes the party, is more joyful and also more entertaining. Above discussion is more helpful for the people who plan to make a joyful wedding party. Thanks for describing this kind of entertaining view……..

  8. Hello, Stephanie.

    While I appreciate that your point is a good one…WAIT — scratch that: BECAUSE your point is a good one.

    BECAUSE your point is a good one, I wonder why it was necessary for you to make a dig at breastfeeding mothers in the grandest, most misplaced display of fallacious argumentum ad hominem I’ve seen in quite awhile.

    Your argument was already sound, then you added another, highly stigmatizing, element for no real good reason that I can see. Why did you feel the need to do this?

    “An (unprofessional) dad dragged a mom and a young child to a loud party.” That can be the end of the story. You don’t need to criticize the mother with a below-the-bra jab for her personal baby-feeding and -comforting preferences, too — it makes you look tacky and judgmental, and it makes your article about something else entirely than what you claim your thesis is. What mom did isn’t academically relevant to your story… unless you want to discuss another topic. Did you want to discuss that other topic? I’m guessing you do not, because I’m guessing that the kind of traffic discussing that topic will draw isn’t the same clientele that Book More Brides is hoping to attract, as — generally — the two markets of brides and people who want to debate about breastfeeding don’t overlap compellingly.

    I hope you will consider my constructive criticism in shaping this into an article that is more worthy of your byline, since you are obviously too intelligent to partake in Mom-shaming. I’m choosing to believe that you’re better than this. Please take the opportunity to prove me right.

    Anna-Jeannine K. Herman
    Entertainer, Mother, and Breastfeeding Advocate

    1. Hi Anna, While I appreciate your point as well, I have a hard time seeing a dig on breastfeeding mothers (which actually took place) in this piece. Maybe you’re being just a wee bit sensitive? The only time breastfeeding was mentioned was here:

      “At one wedding, the DJ brought along his wife and newborn. Their table was littered with McDonald’s bags and his wife decided to breastfeed the baby during dinner.”

      I guess we could have swapped out breastfeeding for something else but then it wouldn’t be an actual true story. If it had been a DJ with his wife feeding her teenage son at the DJ booth wouldn’t it be just as distracting and wrong for the situation? I guess then we would be insensitive to people who feed their teenage kids for writing it?

      I totally support breastfeeding and you’re right, Steph is way too intelligent to Mom-shame.

      Thanks for your point of view.


      1. Aaron says:

        I support breastfeeding as well, but the point is 100% correct. If I hire you, I am not inviting your family. Nor do I find it appropriate for someone who was uninvited to my wedding to breastfeed during it. This isn’t a dig at breastfeeding, it is a dig at inappropriate behavior by someone who is supposed to be professional. And inappropriate behavior IS someone I don’t know who has invaded my personal space that I paid good money for on my special day. Not a family member. Not a friend. A random person.

        Get off your stupid soapbox and stop being so damn sensitive. You aren’t an advocate. You’re a fanatic. It isn’t all about you and your quest to make breastfeeding appropriate in all locations no matter where.

        I have to poop. Should I just walk into your house and poop with the door open? It is a perfectly natural bodily function. No. I have to fart. That’s perfectly natural too. Should I do that in the middle of a group of people or quietly walk to a corner so that nobody notices?

        Women shouldn’t have to be relegated to breastfeeding in the bathroom (gross) or be looked at funny, but to have a little courtesy for other people isn’t a bad thing.

  9. Mike Jones says:

    Thank You! I met with a new client and I was the first to ask about her family and if there were any sensitive subjects, before talking about what we do. The previous dj failed to ask certain questions and preceded to talk about her father daughter dance…he had already passed. This is an emotional day and should be treated as such.

  10. This is great advice for all wedding couples that can’t decide between hiring a seasoned, well-organized Wedding DJ/MC or having an inexperienced friend or a “non-crowd reading ability” I-Pod provide the music. Great weddings feature a great DJ/MC. Saving a few dollars on a DJ is a big mistake.

    A popular line to remember if your price shopping for a Wedding DJ. “What is the difference between hiring a bad/mediocre DJ for your event and a Great DJ/MC? A few dollars, why risk it.”
    At your service,
    Robert Bonham – Wedding DJ/MC Specialist
    Music De-Lite DJ Service
    Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia-Puget Sound, WA

  11. Thank you Stephanie! This is the kind of useful information I love sharing with customers and my wedding clients.


  12. You are a true hero to every real professional wedding entertainer! Since wedding magazines, television shows, bride websites, etc simply avoid this subject, brides often misplace priorities and the DJ is last on the list. Plus they have no idea of the value of a professional. I am truly grateful to you for writing such a remarkable article on this subject. Thank you kindly Stephanie, I wish you unlimited success!
    Eddie L, DJ MC Entertainment Director
    Pro Wedding Entertainment

  13. This article layouts out some of the key points all wedding couples should consider when deciding between using and I-pod, having a friend DJ play music or doing it right and hire a reputable seasoned Wedding DJ/MC that has the music, talent and passion to their one big day a delight! The choice seems simple. The investment is just a few hundred dollars more but the difference in the outcome of your event is huge!
    Robert Bonham
    Wedding DJ/MC for Music De-Lite DJ Service

  14. You are most welcome. If I left out any reasons, let me know.

  15. Chris R says:

    Great article! Keep up the good work!

  16. Jimmy says:

    Thank you so much for saying what ALL of us (the professional wedding DJs you speak of) have been conveying to our clients for years! Your post is not only absolutely true, but it is complete and concise. We appreciate your words and your efforts! Thanks again, Stephanie! You rock!

    Jimmy Harris
    Entertainment Director
    DeepBlu Entertainment

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