How to Pick and Indian Wedding DJ | Desi Ultimate Guide (2023-2024)
Updated: Dec 10, 2022
Looking for an Indian wedding DJ in North America in 2019? Everything you need to know is below and sample prices are here. Before you ask them for a price, please ask them about the points we listed below, as you will save money and they will know you mean business!
Weddings are an exciting time, and big fat Indian weddings are a class apart. There is food, fashion, hotels, decorators, designs, mood boards, family fun (and drama), sangeets, Sabyasachi, social media, hashtags...and of course, it all comes together...with your DJ?
Why Your DJ is More Important Than You Think
A lot of couples spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on flowers, Ritz Carlton ballrooms overlooking the ocean, fancy outfits and sushi but then make a lot of mistakes that actually take away from the warmth and joy of the celebration. These mistakes include:
Disappearing for 40 minutes of a 3 hour reception (when family from across the world are there, for you!) to have a photoshoot.
Going crazy on canapes and fancy european appetizers even though auntie just wants her samosa and chai.
Entering the venue too late because the makeup artist spent another 20 minutes taking photos for his/her instagram of the bride, rather than the 300 peole who are waiting for their grand entrance.
In reality however, It's the big day. 200 to 400 of your friends and family are here FOR YOU. The dinner is served, the drinks are flowing. Now how do you tie it all together? Time to party! DJ drop that beat! DJ!?!?
Types of DJ's you Will Contact
1. Beginner: You may hear of a DJ through a relative or family friend or that person from college. You don't really see their work active on Instagram or a website, but you know they've played at some parties. If you're having a small 50 person wedding, it might make sense. Otherwise, SKIP!
2. Indian DJ: You've seen him or her at desi events. You know they DJ but also are an accountant, or own a store, or have a full-time job. They don't exactly come in a truck with a full team, but they know the same Daler Mehndi tracks and whatever is hot from Bollywood. Probably not amazing at mixing, but they can rock a party if needed. If you have a wedding with 75 to 150 people, this could make sense if your crowd isn't too fussed about music.
3. South Asian Wedding DJ Professional: They're full time into events. Weddings, Websites, corporate events and a fully licensed team. That's us and probably most of our competitors in the big fat wedding space. They work with decorators, they'll ask you to meet a few times to understand your crowd, and yes, they're much more expensive than the previous two.
Things to Consider When Hiring a Wedding DJ
When contacting Indian wedding DJs for quotes, here are six things you need to know or ask when looking for a great DJ for your big fat wedding day. AGAIN PLEASE READ THESE BEFORE YOU CONTACT THEM!
1. What Do You Do When People Don't Dance?
Often times it takes people time to warm up. You should ask your specific DJ how they plan to tackle this all too common problem.
Do they grab the mic and encourage the crowd?
Do they walk around?
Do they suggest you do a father/daughter dance and then let people join?
Some DJs just play the music and leave the rest up to you, but it's much more beyond that. Make sure your DJ is not shy to work the crowd when required.
2. How Do You Mix and Vary the Music?
A good DJ is able to know when to play what music. For example, after a heavy buffet you know people are going to take a few minutes to get moving, and at 1AM the grandma's aren't going to be shaking it to Drake.
If they're more auntie/uncle types on the crowd, maybe Bollywood or Punjabi music is the order of the evening.
If ten college kids want Lady Gaga but everybody else would empty the dance floor if they heard it, how do they handle that?
3. What's the Process for Requests?
Many times people come up to the DJ asking for music because that was "a song they all loved from high school."
Well, that's great..but what if playing a 1975 hit single isn't exactly what's going to move the under 30 crowd, and risk emptying the entire dance floor?
A good DJ will take requests before your event, try to slot them into the evening and offer suggestions on when to do it, and also be able to accommodate many requests on the day of the event.
4. Do You Emcee or Provide Extra Emcee Services?
Most professional DJ company's will offer basic Emcee services as part of the evening (announcements, entry of couples, dance performances).
But many also offer additional Emcee packages that hype the dancing for the wedding, offer audio editing for dance performances and can crack a few jokes for the special night or perform ice breaker functions.
Ask your DJ what else they do besides play the music!
Many couples also think "oh my buddy will MC" and then their buddy is at the bar and not even sure of who is supposed to walk up when. MAKE SURE YOU TREAT YOUR ENTRANCES AS IF YOU'RE RUNNING THE OSCARS...TIMING AND PLANNING ARE CRUCIAL!
5. What About Gujarati, Tamil, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, etc..?
Indian culture is a mix of so many others. Indian, especially in America and Canada could mean:
Hip Hop, etc..
Make sure you ask your DJ what specific communities within the Indian sub-continent they have done, what languages they speak and know so you can get a sense of how versatile they can be WITHIN the Indian communities.
Your grandma who flew from Baroda or Chennai will feel so special that in America she's hearing that old Gujarati song she used to play when you were just two years old.
Regional content within the sub-continent is huge, and often time we have mixed Indian weddings like Tamil-Punjabi, Malu-Gujurati, etc.. It's important to mix all the flavors and don't hestiate to ask your DJ these things!
Or ask them what you want to hear and make sure they're prepared with it.
6. Will they Challenge You on your Schedule?
No, this isn't a bad thing. DJ's should offer better suggestions.
Many times as DJs, we hear the client's suggestions and know very simple things we can suggest that will make a huge difference in their event.
For example, a bride recently asked if we can start the dancing at 5PM (after the ceremony), then break for drinks at 7PM, then Dinner from 8 to 10PM, and then start again at 11PM.
While it does sound fun at first, we had to tell her that after a 2 hour ceremony people are going to want to socialize and not dance, especially before they had anything to drink.
Additionally, in the off chance people do drink and dance at 5PM, guess what...after dinner, they're going to sleep!
So make sure you ask your DJ company..."Hey, where do you think we're going wrong and do you have any suggestions for our big day?"
A good DJ will cross all areas of your wedding (venue, decoration, lighting, food) and offer his or her own suggestions that span these areas. Not only will you appreciate the honesty, you'll start to think of other areas and opportunities (photography, decoration) that might make your day even better!
7. What Questions Do They Ask You that You never Thought about?
A good DJ will call you into his/her office or ask you to meet or jump on a few skype calls. They want to get a great read on your crowd to make it a special and unique event.
They also want to make sure every Indian wedding in New Jersey doesn't feel the same, especially for the crowds that attend a wedding at least once a month.
They will likely email/call you with questions like:
What's the age group of your crowd? If it's 400 people, what percent is below 30, above 30, etc..?
What are some special songs between you and your parter?
What are some songs special to your family?
How many speeches? Oh you don't know, let's plan it out then.
What's the itinerary of events?
How many sangeet dances are you planning? Do you need help with the music or do you got it?
Can you give me a list of all the important family members, including their full names, how they're related to you, and any special notes, etc..?
8. How do they work the Baraat?
In Indian weddings, especially traditional Hindu weddings the Baraat has grown to become one of the most exciting events of the weekend. For those who are new, it's basically a small party that serves as the groom's entrance to the wedding ceremony.
It used to be he just comes in on a horse, but now it's a mini-parade with a mobile DJ sound system and a live dhol player.
Your DJ should provide a mobile baraat system service so that the music rocks, and emcee the baraat as well to get all your shy friends from Accenture or Microsoft to turn the light bulb up in the air!
9. Do they Offer Dhol services, and jam with a Dhol player?
One of the most exciting parts of our wedding scenes in the last few years has been the addition of a live Dhol player, which becomes the X factor in how much first time Indian weddings guests enjoy your wedding.
No other culture gets a live drummer to do live mashups with Bollywood and Hip Hop beats right?
Dhol players are inexpensive and really highlight your event, so wherever you are in America or Canada, ask your desi wedding DJ if they can help or suggest a good dhol professional.
Here is one of ours, for folks on the west coast of the United States jamming with B Funk dance!
10. Social Media Updates
Nightclub gigs? YouTube channel? Are they active on blogs, social media, sound cloud or even have great shared playlists on Spotify or Apple music?
These are all parts of a DJ's resume and should inspire confidence in your selection, and also help you get a sense of their styles.
At the very least, we try on our Instagram to highlight our events to show our clients we're busy pretty much every weekend and folks are having a great time.
Every Indian wedding we do, after 20 years in this business now requires lighting. It used to be a separate deal but now most South Asian DJ companies offer this in house. Lighting is extremely important for your event, because it sets the tone for your photographs and overall mood/decor.
You know when you see a great big ballroom and the mood feels off? Or a bit empty? That's usually lighting, which gives the ballroom that empty/corporate feel.
Ask your DJ how much they charge for uplights (wall lighting), pinspots (centerpiece lighting), intelligent lighting (dance floor) and pretty much their lighting costing sheet. This should give you an idea.
12. Have they Worked this Venue Before?
They're only so many Indian wedding friendly places in cities like San Francisco, New Jersey, Chicago, Orange County and Los Angeles. Chances are your professional DJ company would have been there!
So instead of wasting weeks to get a quote, ask them..."Hey, I'm doing my 500 person Indian wedding at the Long Beach Hyatt. You've done it before right? Ok, good. Can you give me a rough quote for that based on a Sangeet, Ceremony and Reception?
13. Is their pricing and quote process somewhat transparent?
Every wedding is different, but in case two weddings have very similar requirements, the costs shouldn't be. We offer guidelines on a pricing range, and we find customers are happy to at least have some set of expectations.
A range of $1000 to $25,000 isn't helping anyone.
To get a quick, somewhat accurate quote, your DJ should ask you:
How many events?
How many people per each event?
What's the venue?
Do you also need lighting?
Do you also need a barat system?
Is there a band that needs support?
Unless you don't plan to finish off your wedding on the dance floor, your DJ is extremely important in how you and your guests experience and remember your wedding.
Good music and a professional party expert knows how to hype the crowd and get the oldies and youngsters all on the dance floor, to share this celebration with YOU.
A good DJ will also help make:
Good food experience (after dancing!)
The author Daniel Kahneman said we have two selves, the experiencing self and the remembering self, and both play a big role in our lives. So whichever city or country you're in, make sure you experience and remember a great time by selecting the right wedding DJ!