Club DJ vs. Wedding DJ

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One of the most frequent questions I am asked in meetings and emails is what is the difference between a “club” DJ and a wedding DJ. I got my start in clubs and still play them alongside weddings and events and they are very different. Not many DJs in New York can live in both worlds but I’ve had success in both for the past few years and I believe it’s helped make me a more well rounded DJ. But enough about me…

In many cities, the divide between DJs really isn’t there. All DJs are basically the same. But in the Big Apple there are enough people that you can have a specialty as a DJ. You can be successful as an Indian Wedding DJ. You can make a living playing 50′s Rockabilly parties. There is truly a market for everything.

The most common DJ you’ll find in New York City’s hippest spots is the open format DJ. Open format DJs will play a mix of music throughout the night – Hip-Hop,House,Top 40,80′s,Classic Rock, Mash-Ups and more all mixed together. So for the sake of this discussion we’ll use this type of DJ as the club DJ example.

You need to hire a DJ for your upcoming wedding or event. In New York your options are in the thousands. Do you hire a traditional wedding DJ, or go for a current club rocker? Let’s look at the differences:

Wedding/Event DJ:

Knows how to play to crowds of various ages

Are Grandma and Grandpa slightly opinionated? Is your boss super conservative and hates any music made after 1984? Most wedding and event DJs can navigate through these shallow waters.

Many club DJs aren’t experienced enough to entertain anyone from the pre-social network era. 

Knows how to work around the details of the event

Are you planning a traditional wedding with first dances, cake cutting, etc? Are you planning on having the CEO and/or CFO speak at your event? Your Wedding and Event DJ will know how to lead into these moments without any awkward pauses and confusion from guest.

Club DJs often times don’t take these moments into account when playing. They can be more concerned with the dance floor than making sure the event is running as planned. 

Limited in their music knowledge

Many Wedding and Event DJs aren’t on top of the latest music trends. Some keep up with Top 40 Radio and the iTunes Top 20. Many play as if it’s 1992. Still.

Club DJs are more musically savvy and aren’t scared to take risk playing newer, more underground tunes. 


Do you look forward to hearing YMCA at your event? Didn’t think so.

A club DJ risk being pulled right off the set and banished from any DJ booth in New York if he plays anything in this lane. 


 Club DJ

Know how to rock party

If your event will cater to a younger, more loose crowd a club DJ is perfect. They know exactly what people are into at the moment and can bring a younger energy to your event.

Wedding and Event DJs tend to stay in the predictable lane, playing what they know works, regardless of the crowd. 

Don’t use tricks or games

No self respecting Club DJ will ever use magic tricks, games, funny hats, or any other shtick to entertain you.

Many Wedding and Event DJs keep these weapons at their disposal and use them (too) frequently. 

Have technical talent

Not just anyone can work as a DJ in New York. Crowds can be unforgiving and club owners and managers won’t hesitate to replace you if you sound bad. Either way, if you don’t know what your doing behind the booth you won’t be working for long.

Many Wedding and Event DJs use basic, simple equipment and would be lost in a nightclub DJ booth. You’ll also find most don’t have any technical DJ skills that separate them from a iPod. 

Not much Wedding/Event experience

Life for most club DJs is simple. Come to venue, play music, get paid, go home. They don’t know the difference between cocktail hour and real party time and don’t have the experience to transition between special dances.

Wedding and Event DJs know the ins and outs of your event and will work with you to shape the music of the event around any special moments. 

Bad follow up

This goes along with above. Clubs DJs work and stay out late, wake up late, drink often. I’s more awesome than it sounds! But it makes them a little lackadaisical towards the smaller things…like returning phone calls and emails.

For most Wedding and Event DJs this is a business, and they treat it as such. Many DJs have a team that is involved in your event. From meetings to follow-up questions to working with other vendors, you’ll know the music is covered with your event.

To summarize

This is a general list of differences I’ve experienced in my years of playing. There are DJs out there like myself that can give you the best of both worlds but we are few and far between. There are also wedding DJs and club DJs  that are just plain bad at all the above and really should be working at a gas station instead of passing themselves off as DJs.

The most important thing to keep in mind is your preferences: there is no right or wrong style of DJ. There is a right and wrong DJ for the type of event you want to throw.

Whether you want a club or a wedding and event DJ make sure your the DJ asking questions about their style and experience and decide from there if it will be the right for the event your putting on.

And make sure they don’t play YMCA…that’s just bad.