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Getting Married in Manhattan?: Finding a Wedding DJ in NYC

By Edited Jun 25, 2016 0 3

If you’re getting married in Manhattan, or in one of the many boroughs near New York City, you need to be able to find a professional wedding DJ to spin the perfect wedding songs for your big day. Solid DJs provide a wide array of support to your wedding that includes reinforcing your schedule, providing cocktail hour ambience, fielding requests from family and friends, playing special music for important dances and more, and general MC work for introductions and to keep your guests informed of what’s happening next. They usually interface well with any other musicians you hire, and can also work closely with a wedding planner, or an onsite venue manager. A disc jockey can be such an important addition to a wedding that you should know what to look for, and only hire the best.   

Why Choose a Wedding DJ in New York City? 

Some of the best GB or ‘general business’ wedding bands are booked for years in advance, so unless you have already contracted with one of these premiere entertainment acts for your wedding, you might end up with a ‘freelance’ band that comes together just for your big day. With professional musicians this is fine -- and will likely be top quality -- but if your wedding falls on a very busy nuptial weekend - your special music needs could be covered by last-minute ‘weekend warriors’ or newly-minted music school graduates. Save your money for a great venue!

Wedding DJs usually work alone, or in pairs -- sometimes with the assistance of tech or road support for the set-up and tear-down at your reception venue. Why does this matter? You are likely only hiring one person -- so it’s much easier logistically to find a professional DJ in NYC who can accomodate your wedding schedule.

Benefits of a DJ over a Wedding Band (GB band = general business)

Wedding DJs in NYC aren’t cheap and they shouldn’t be  -- but they’re clearly less expensive than an eight to ten piece wedding band. Why? If you hope to cover a wide range of popular songs at weddings, many function bands have someone on piano and guitar, male and female vocalists, saxophone or trumpet, plus a bass player and drummer in the rhythm section -- that’s eight musicians already. If you add extra percussion -- which is cool for dancing -- and another singer who specializes in the oldies or jazz standards, you’ve already crossed the point of hiring ten musicians. 

DJs at weddings are also a way to accomodate a wider range of musical interests represented by your future spouse, your friends, and your family. If a typical group wants to hear Sinatra, Avril Lavigne, Extreme, Shania Twain, Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Aerosmith, and Adele -- then it’s pretty hard to hire one wedding band to represent all that well. (In fairness to wedding pros, there are many bands that can do it -- so if you find them -- book them NOW!!) From big band jazz, to rock ballads, to country and disco -- DJs give you that flexibility of each individual recording played as needed.

Plan Your Event: Live Music and Wedding DJ Combinations

One of the best parts about hiring a wedding DJ is that you can see their entire song list in advance, or at least request every song you will require. Very often wedding bands will let you request some custom music -- but there will often be a surcharge if they have to learn too many new tunes for your event. As you are planning your wedding, here are ways to include a wedding DJ:

     -Complete Event DJ: the wedding DJ fulfills all the music needs from cocktail hour, to first dances, dinner music, and dancing - you may or may not have separate ceremony music at another location.

     -Reception Only DJ: The ceremony happens in a place of worship with live musicians (organist, string quartet, brass, soprano soloist, harp, or other), then live musicians provide cocktail hour (perhaps a jazz trio: piano, acoustic bass, and drums, or quartet with trumpet, jazz saxophone, or vocalist); and then the DJ takes over as MC to introduce the wedding party and spin custom music for the rest of the night -- often giving the wedding videographer perfect music under every scene.

     -Cocktail Hour Only DJ and then Later Reception: It’s possible to just hire a DJ to play the cocktail hour and perhaps dinner part of your reception, switch over to a live wedding band, and then later switch back to DJ after the band finishes for the night. This plan is better if you have a very long event planned - where the reception ‘after-party’ is beyond the five or six hour mark. (Most guests will be wiped out and leave before that, but if that’s the plan -- go for it!)

Other Considerations: Contracts, Function DJ vs. Club DJ, and Deposits

Always make sure you get a fully executed contract that spells out the professional music services you require from a wedding DJ and their total fee. The contract is not just for the wedding DJ to ensure the booking is solid -- but for the bride and groom to know they are set for their busy wedding weekend, and that their wedding song list will be played. Although cancellations are rare, the contract should stipulate the recourse, penalties, and the forfeiture of any deposits that takes place if either side breaks the contract. The contract should also plainly spell out what mobile DJ equipment will be brought to your wedding, and what back-up plans they have in place for malfunctions. Some DJs may even bring some lights or other dance accessories if you ask!  

When you hire a DJ for a wedding in NYC, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Long Island, New Jersey, or Connecticut - make sure you are hiring a professional with function experience and not just a club DJ. While the skills of a professional nightclub DJ are related -- unless your wedding requires that kind of vibe, you likely have different needs. Dance club DJs provide continuous thumping music often mashed together to make a seamless bed of music all night. They are often full-scale performers in their own right and many won’t do weddings anyways -- but make sure your DJ has the experience you need.

Some DJs can sound great on the telephone, have a great song list, but then not really look or act the part for your wedding. If you have a preference for someone without extra piercings, tattoos, or crazy hair -- then be sure you see a photo of the person you are hiring before your wedding day. You don’t want your bridal party to be upstaged by a wedding DJ with loud stage clothes, huge hair, and a massive nose ring. (If you don’t care about these things... great -- you also don’t want your cool tattooed friends seeing a goofy, nerdy DJ with a polyester suit looking like a floor manager in JC Penney.) Either way, the overall look and style of your DJ matters.

Oh yeah, and have fun at your wedding!



Apr 9, 2012 1:49pm
This is great information for anyone planning a wedding in NYC!
Apr 13, 2012 10:02am
Apr 13, 2012 10:19am
Surprised to know it could be so complicated.Lends itself to moving out of the city for the wedding but the hiring issues would likely be similar. Thanks
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