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If you're planning a wedding reception right now, you're facing an enormous amount of choices. One significant decision is finding the right entertainment for your event. The range is limitless, from a single harp player, to a six-piece live band, to a disc jockey. The type of entertainment you select, however, will set the tone for the entire reception. When considering these alternatives, you've probably asked yourself if a disc jockey might be the best option.

To make the best choice, you must first know what a dj can provide. You can expect the disc jockey to act as master of ceremonies, directing the cake cutting, toast, bouquet toss, and all the other traditional reception activities. Beyond just making announcements, a dj should act as a coordinator for these special events, shouldering the responsibility to assure all goes smoothly and timely. A professional, organized dj should ask beforehand for a list of events in order, so he/she can review it in the days before the reception.

You can expect an experienced dj to offer the participation dances that are popular at receptions such as the dollar dance, locomotion, birdie/chicken dance, and hokey pokey. If you require ethnic or other types of specialty music, he/she should attempt to provide it. In addition, if you or your family wish to bring some of your own music, the dj should readily agree to include it.

Without someone in this "leadership" position, a beautiful reception can quickly deteriorate, since you have a number of things to accomplish in a set amount of time. Remember, the photographer, caterer, even your new mother-in-law all have agendas in mind. If there is any question about the order of events, the disc jockey has a copy of your list.

If you're selective about your musical types and styles, a disc jockey can supply a wide variety. That means if your grandfather loves Glenn Miller, your favorite Aunt Cathy wants to hear a polka, and your new husband adores rock and roll, you can have it all. During the course of the evening, there is something for everyone and no segment of your guest list will feel alienated.

A conscientious disc jockey will ask you to provide a list of specific songs and/or artists two to three weeks before the reception, so that he/she can assemble the music library. If you'd rather not prepare a list, you always have the option of letting the dj choose the music. Djs are trained to read the likes and dislikes of the audience.

Live entertainment can be somewhat limited in playing a variety of music. Although a band may include excellent musicians, it's difficult for any band to specialize in music from five different decades. The first dance is an important part of most receptions, and a live band may not be prepared to play the song of your choice. Find out before your hire the band. With a dj, you are much more likely to get the specific song you desire.

Unfortunately, some overly aggressive disc jockeys have given the professional ones a bad name, ignoring requests and "hogging the show." If, for example, the client says no dirty lyrics, the disc jockey should respect such wishes. Sometimes there is a fine line between being outgoing and being obnoxious.

One way to avoid such problems is to check the local references of entertainers. Also, if you have hired a dj service, rather than an individual operator, ask to speak directly to the person who will be at your reception, prior to the event. If you have a personality conflict or any problem whatsoever, don't hesitate to ask for someone else.

Cost is another major factor to take into consideration. Generally, a dj will cost less than half that of a four- or five-piece band. Depending on the region, a quality disc jockey will run between $300-$700, while a good band may be over $1,500.

A professional entertainer, including a dj, should be willing and eager to sign a contract as a safety feature for you. Don't rely on a verbal agreement only, because djs and live entertainers have been known to back out at the last moment if a higher paying party comes along. In addition, expect to pay a deposit to hold your date.

Beware of a disc jockey who emphasizes his equipment, rather than his experience. The newest, fanciest gadgets are fine, but will not necessarily make the most appropriate and proficient disc jockey. An agreeable personality and experience play the biggest role, along with fair pricing and willingness to work with each client.

To help you decide, here are some pertinent questions to ask yourself:

1. Does my guest list include diverse age groups and types of people?

2. How much can I spend on reception entertainment?

3. Do I want to have a great deal of input into the music selection, or not be bothered?

4. Are my guests conservative and not likely to dance?

5. Would my guests prefer a mix of singing and dancing?

6. Is there adequate space for a dj and dance floor in the room I've selected?