Booking a DJ

If you’ve listened to 96.5 WOXL, Asheville’s classic-hits station, chances are you’ve heard DJ Sid the Surf. The no-holds-barred personality has been in radio for 40 years and has been DJ-ing parties for more than 30 years. Here are his expert tips on booking a DJ for a wedding reception.

• “It’s important to know what you want to accomplish,” Sid points out. Laid-back receptions with candles and Sinatra tunes aren’t his bag, but he’s happy to make referrals.

• Make sure your DJ is reliable and has liability insurance.

• Appropriate music is key, so know your crowd. “Look for somebody who can play the type of music you’re looking for,” Sid insists.

• How do you convey what type of songs you’re after? “I tell the bride to make three lists of music,” the DJ says. “The first list is the most important songs to the bride and groom, as well as songs for the father-daughter and mother-son dances, and the top 10 dance songs that the couple wants to hear.” The second list is a general collection of what they’d like to hear, and the third list is anything they don’t want to hear. Sid also suggests adding specifications, such as “No country, no matter how hard the crowd begs.” Then let the DJ know if they should stick to the list or take requests.

• Want to know what crowds love? In this DJ’s experience, “Most people want to hear rap and hip-hop. It’s the rule of the charts, and it’s good dance music.” Other across-the-board favorites include Motown, funk and disco. “Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ is a favorite as much as hip-hop,” Sid reveals, “and ‘Play that Funky Music’ by Wild Cherry is the all-time biggest dance song.”

• Location, location, location. “Take into consideration what happens if it rains,” says Sid. “If people knew what I know, they’d never have a reception outside.” He suggests using a hotel because “they’re set up for that kind of thing, and they have rooms for guests who drink too much and shouldn’t drive.”

• Finally, Sid points out that who is invited affects the reception more than anything else. “The room and the music make a difference, but there’s only so much the DJ can do,” he notes. “Ultimately, the people make the party.”

Learn more about Sid the Surf at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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One thought on “Booking a DJ

  1. If someone is spending a great deal of time, concern, and money on a wedding, why would they want to cheapen it with a DJ?!
    Sure, the dj can play any song “just like the record” but only if they have evey song and even then there is no spark of authenticity and unique-ness, just the same old stuff.
    Sure a dj may charge less although sometimes I really doubt it unless they’re not very good. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!
    Live music adds a special magic to your special event. There is the visual thing as well as the fact that with live music every song is personalized.
    Also live musicians are, well, living.
    The trick with all music for a wedding is to shop, ask questions, and get the band leader to help you plan the details. If they are experienced musicians you are going to get much more than you will ever get from someone spinning discs at some rediculous price.
    The is nothing like the real thing, ever.

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