Although you’ll want your wedding hall to be filled with positive energy and loving spirits, having good music and getting your wedding guests hyped up will certainly elevate the tone of your big day. A pre-recorded list of songs can do the job, but a DJ can masterfully play music to fit the different moods and events of your wedding day and make sure both your friends and your mom's aunty friends get on the dance floor. From a romantic Desi-remix with Bollywood and Punjabi favorites for your entrance, to hip hop throwbacks to get everyone on the dance floor, your wedding DJ may just be a must-have! While below we focus on the DJ, other entertainment options like dance groups or musicians like flutists and violists are additional options to set the tone for your wedding events! You will find the top Desi weddings DJs in Dallas, Houston, and Austin on The Desi Bride.
While most DJs will play a range of Bollywood and America’s top 40 hits, you’ll want to verify that they meet your wants and needs.
When you ask guests what they remember most about the wedding, it’s usually how good the food was and how much fun they had. The DJ’s role is to make sure your guests have a fun and memorable time. They have to feel your guests and set the tone for events, whether it’s a sophisticated and beautiful undertone for your wedding ceremony or a pumped-up, party all-night celebration at the reception. While an autoplay playlist may save you money for an event like a mehndi or haldi, we highly recommend hiring a Desi DJ to help engage your guests at events like the sangeet and wedding reception.
A legal contract is the mark of a reliable, professional DJ, ask for a contract that outlines all the terms clearly. If you’re signing up with an agency, then make sure you meet the DJ beforehand to see whether he or she would be a good fit. A contract is necessary whether you are working with an independent DJ or booked someone through an agency.
Your first instinct might be to do an online search. Nothing wrong with that but there should be no problem in asking the DJ directly as well. Even if some DJs don’t perform at numerous weddings, you should know the types of other events they perform at and the music they lean towards. Some DJs stick to weddings whereas others host events like parties and concerts. While professional experience is one thing, experience absolutely counts.
Large DJ teams or agencies often have multiple DJs. Especially on weekends and peak wedding season, DJs may have multiple events for the same day as your sangeet or reception. It’s important to understand how many events they might typically book on one day, and how they will ensure that they are 100% attentive and available for your event.
There are DJs that work independently, but there are also many DJs that are affiliated with a larger group. It’s helpful to understand whether they are independent or work with an agency or association to understand insurance, terms of the contract, last-minute changes, and equipment-related questions.
Remember the experience question from before? Well, this is where it counts. A wedding DJ with experience would probably know the venue – the room size or floor plan, acoustics, electricals, security. Familiarity with all these factors helps.
Additionally, special arrangements may need to be made on-site for electricity or equipment. You may need to rent lighting, sound equipment, or projectors, so if your DJ is familiar with the venue, he or she can guide you in what equipment you need to rent for your wedding celebrations.
If your wedding DJ has never played at your venue before, it’s always helpful to do a walk-through with them and site the manager (or your wedding planner) or make sure they have an understanding of the setup and equipment needs before your wedding!
Not only do most venues require a liability insurance policy, it’s always better to make sure your DJ has adequate documentation and a liability insurance policy in place.
In case there is a last-minute hiccup, and your original DJ cannot attend, ask about the company’s Plan B options. Do they have a group of DJs or an association where they can re-assign a different DJ for your South Asian wedding?
A professional DJ will set up before your guests arrive or before the scheduled time. Set up, soundcheck and backup take time. Once you understand the DJ’s arrival time, you can community this to the venue site manager or your wedding planner to make sure they are prepared for the DJ’s arrival and have other prep activities squared away (e.g., DJ booth should be set up before DJ arrives if décor company is supplying it). If your wedding is in Austin, and you hire a wedding DJ in Houston or a wedding DJ in Dallas, make sure they factor in travel time and traffic and arrive early.
There are as many music genres as there are weddings. There are DJs for Pakistani weddings, DJs for Indian weddings, DJs for Nepali weddings etc. A desi wedding might have Bollywood remixes, fusion music, a mix of western and Asian music, traditional music, trending numbers, music as per ceremonies. If you are having an interracial wedding, you will want to make sure your wedding DJ can mix music across cultural borders to ensure all of your guests have a good time. Having a frank conversation with the DJ will help you select the type of music you want before the wedding and give the DJ guidance on the type of music your guests might want. So, whether you want the dance floor to pop with Cardi B or Yo Yo Honey Singh, it’s always best to spell it before booking your Desi wedding DJ.
Sometimes, at desi weddings, there is an impromptu dance performance from the ladkiwaale or ladkewaale (the bride’s side or groom’s side). Or your chacha or mama might decide to dedicate an Arijit Singh song to you and want the musicals in the background. For such spontaneous events, ask your wedding DJ whether or not they can accommodate these requests and if there needs to be a process when you interview them.
If you have any favorite Bollywood or classic songs that are must-haves, then ask if the DJ can play them at select events. Especially if you have a planned sangeet or Garba with choreographed dances, we recommend putting together a playlist with all of the relevant songs and approximate timing and event, so your DJ can prep the playlist in advance and make sure the music flows seamlessly. Finally, are there any “do not play” songs (e.g., explicit words that your Nani or Nana might not love or a song that just kills you)? While the exact playlist does not need to be confirmed while you are booking your DJ, it’s helpful to understand the process and your options for customizing the playlist.
Wedding DJ costs may vary based on services you select and the number of events they will host. DJs may charge an hourly rate or a package rate depending upon the number and length of events. You may go all out and want a DJ on Day 1 for the mehndi, Day 2 for the sangeet, and Day 3 for the wedding ceremony and sangeet, or perhaps you choose to hire a DJ only for the sangeet and reception. Note that the pricing of the DJ is not just their time but can include other services like lighting, customized or monogram stages, dhol player, photo booth, and many other options. Per event pricing for Desi weddings in Texas typically started around $2,000 and can go up to $5,000+.
While you may see the price of a DJ and feel the sticker shock, there’s more to a DJ than just showing up and playing music.
To secure dates, most wedding DJs will charge an advance deposit. The industry standard is 50%. This amount may or may not be refundable in case of cancellation by either party.
Let’s admit it – we all love to groove to Bollywood songs! At your wedding, sangeet, reception or other events, your guests may be having an amazing time on the dance floor, and you might decide to extend the event last minute. Understand what an additional hour or two might cost, so you can easily make the decision on the spot.
Just like bookings, cancellations are also part of the deal. Ask about the backups, cancellation charges, refunds and when will you be informed about the change of plans in case of cancellations. With the pandemic and uncertainty of upcoming months, it’s always helpful to understand what the DJ’s change policy is if you end up having to postpone your wedding.
Pricing may actually vary based on the setup required and “performance” time at each event. Most DJs will offer packages for multiple events. It’s helpful to provide them with the different events and hours you will want them for at each event to get an accurate price.
There is no clear black and white rule here. If your DJ does an amazing job engaging your guests, then a 10-15% gratuity is a thoughtful gesture. While tips are not necessarily expected, they are always appreciated.
In Texas, professional Dhol players go for $250+ per hour. Rates may start at $150+ per hour if you go for a standalone traditional Dhol player, but just note that they may not be able to mix modern and traditional music as well as someone who has more experience. If you are negotiating a package with a DJ, you may be able to get a better all-inclusive package rate for multiple services, including the Dhol.
Often, DJs, especially larger groups or associations, offer several other services for your Desi wedding:
Some DJs might have an all-inclusive package whereas others may charge by the hour or have line-item charges based on the services you pick. Make sure you understand the total charges, especially if you are adding on the below services:
DJs work across weddings, regardless of budget. Don’t hesitate to ask the cost of services at a line item level, so you can decide which services you need and will fall under your budget.
What’s a wedding without band-baajaa … and dhol. A live dhol adds that extra zing to the wedding, sangeet or reception. It’s that lively factor in South Asian and Indian weddings, especially Punjabi weddings. Many DJs will offer you an option to book a dhol player for the entire or part of an event. Alternately, you can find a standalone dhol player as well.
If you want to include classical, traditional live music at your wedding, you may want to reserve a separate corner for a Shehnai or tabla or even have a vocalist sing ghazals for cocktail hour at the reception. We recommend asking your DJ if they offer these services or working with a standalone vendor.
While DJ will help liven up the dance floor and keep the party going for the guests, there are additional options to create a memorable experience.
Some DJs have affiliate dance partners for special performances/requests such as Bhangra, dhol, Garba among others that really set the mood for the evening. The Desi Bride also has dance choreographers and dance teams that can help entertain your guests!
From Desi Junction to NachLe Entertainment, you'll find several popular wedding DJ options in the Houston area, serving Sugarland, Katy, The Woodlands, and all over Houston. The Desi Bride has curated the best wedding DJs in Houston. Scroll up to see your DJ options.
While there are limited local Indian wedding DJs in Austin, most wedding DJs from Dallas and Houston are willing to travel to Austin for Desi weddings. If you are hosting a multi-day wedding with a sangeet, wedding, and reception, you may need to cover transportation and 1-2 nights of accommodation costs. The Desi Bride has aggregated the top wedding DJs willing to travel to Austin for weddings. Scroll up to find your wedding DJ today.