More than 50% of your total budget will be spent on your reception, so make sure it’s everything you want it to be. After the food, your DJ can be the most important factor to whether your guests have an incredible night to remember.
Working with your wedding DJ to iron out the details of your reception is extremely important, but you need to make sure you hire the right DJ first. Let’s be clear here; the right DJ for your wedding may or may not be the DJ your cousin loved, or even the biggest name in the area. The right DJ for YOUR wedding is the one whose ideas and style align with the reception you want for your special day.
Let’s look at 16 questions you need to ask your wedding DJ.
1. Why did you become a wedding DJ?
This one got the top spot, because in my experience, it may be the most important. Of course, if your DJ doesn’t ta requests, has horrible equipment, and doesn’t like signing contracts, you may want to run far away, but the level of passion and care that he/she puts into your wedding reception can far out weigh the name on the side of the wireless he uses.
Performing a wedding should be your DJ’s favorite thing to do. He needs to love what he’s doing and have a passion for making your day special. Anything less than 110% dedication to the success of your reception should be a deal breaker.
Tip: Talk with your DJ and make sure you feel comfortable about his level of care for what he does.
2. Do you have a written contract?
This one could easily be #1, as any vendor that does not require you to sign a contract should be avoided. If your DJ does not care to protect himself from cancellations or other unexpected surprises, why would he care to protect you?
Tip: Make sure your DJ has a written contract. And make sure you read the entire thing! Don’t be afraid to ask for alterations if anything in the contract makes you uncomfortable.
3. Will YOU be our DJ, or someone from your team?
A lot of DJs are either a part of a larger company, or have one or two others who assist or take on gigs when double-booked. Be sure you’re getting the person you want.
Tip: Confirm that the person you booked is the person who will be at your wedding. If it is not, request a meeting with the DJ that will be there to make sure you’re still comfortable with them.
4. What is included in the cost for our wedding?
This should be spelled out in the contract, but make sure you understand what you’re paying for. Some DJs will charge extra for setup and tear down time, add on fees for staying 30 minutes longer than planned, and try to slip in extra costs for little unexpected things.
Your DJ should be ready and willing to help you in anyway possible. When we book a wedding, we allot plenty of time for setup and arrive as early as possible so we are available to help with other aspects of your reception.
Tip: If your DJ’s true goal is for your night to be perfect, he will be clear and concise about what he does and does not charge for, and should be willing to assist when possible, at no extra charge.
5. How do you select the music to be played at our wedding? How do you handle special requests?
Some DJs like to have complete control of the playlist, which is fine since they are the professional and have experience with what does and does not keep the dance floor full. However, this is your day and your opinion absolutely matters. Your DJ should meet with you at least once prior to the event date to cover “must play” and “do not play” lists.
When it comes to requests, a good DJ should be ready and willing to handle your guests’ requests. After all, if someone requests a song, they’ll most likely dance and get others on the floor.
Tip: Check with your reception venue to see if they have wi-fi available, and get the password beforehand. If one of your guests requests a song that is not already in the DJs library, he may need to download it and phone reception is not always great inside venues (nor is typically as fast as wi-fi).
6. What equipment do you use?
This may seem like a less than necessary question, since you probably don’t know the difference between a Yamaha S115 and a Behringer B212, or what an Eliminator LED Mushroom light is. But asking this will let you know the level of attention to detail your DJ has. If he doesn’t even know what brand of microphones he uses, or the DJ software on his laptop, you may want to reconsider. However, lack of remembering a model number for his wireless mic should not be the end-all decision-maker.
Tip: Take the makes and models of equipment provided and do a google search. If every piece of equipment comes back with horrible reviews or just looks shady, you may want to inquire as to why he DJ uses it.
Extra Tip: Make sure to ask about your DJ’s backup plan. What happens if the amp breaks or a mic goes out? Your DJ should have a backup amp, mixer, microphones, and mixing software (or hardware). The secondary system we use is not quite as flashy as our primary, but you’ll never notice a difference in sound quality.
7. Have you played at this venue before?
Having not played a venue before is no reason not to hire a DJ. But knowing whether your DJ has or has not performed there will let you know whether you need to get them a layout of the dance floor and table setup, and how much detail you need to provide.
Tip: If your DJ has never played your venue (or attending a wedding there), ask if he is willing to stop in and meet with your venue contact. Any quality DJ will be more than willing to do this, as it provides a great opportunity to get a feel for the room. Not to mention, it’s a free invite to network with another venue.
8. What will you be wearing at our wedding?
This one is often overlooked, but is still very important. One of he first questions I ask couples is, “what color are the bridesmaids wearing?” The last thing I want to do is show up in a vest that clashes with (or steals attention from) your bridesmaids. Your DJ should look to blend in, not stand out.
Tip: Provide your DJ with color swatches for your dress, your bridesmaids dresses, and the groom and groomsmen’s tuxedoes, so he can match or avoid clashes as needed. Also, make sure your DJ knows if your wedding is a bit more casual. His suit and vest with a pocket square will stick out like a sore thumb if your wedding party is in shorts and flip-flops.
Extra Tip: Be sure to ask what your DJ will wear when setting up and tearing down. A professional DJ will keep his attire professional the whole time. Although I prefer not to be in my suit and tie when setting up, I’ll never show up in shorts and a torn t-shirt, because I know your friends and family may be there helping to set up and guests can sometimes show up early.
9. What is your style?
Your DJ should ask plenty of questions to get a feel for the style of reception you want, and the way he introduces you and speaks to the crowd should fit that style.
Tip: Ask your DJ how he plans to introduce you, how he handles special announcements, and what he does to keep people on the dance floor.
10. Can we come see you perform at another wedding first?
This obviously isn’t just up to the DJ, but stopping in at another wedding to get a feel for his performance style is a great to confirm your decision. Your DJ should be more than willing to ask if you can stop in, but the final decision is up to the couple at that wedding.
Tip: Have your DJ ask to allow you in for 5-10 minutes at the next wedding. You may want to consider contacting that couple yourself. Chances are, they’ll say yes. And they should also be able to provide you with some great feedback about how it has been working with your DJ.
11. How ‘up to date’ is your music library?
There are always new songs coming out, and often times those songs currently on the top of the iTunes charts can be big hits with guests. Your DJ should know where to find the current and popular songs and he should check those lists often, including the week of your wedding date, to ensure he has all the latest hits.
Tip: Ask your DJ to walk you through his process of finding new music to add to his library.
When do you arrive to setup and how long does it take for you to tear down?
If they’re like me, your DJ will want plenty of time to set up and make sure everything is working properly and sounding great. Different rooms require different levels, positioning or speakers, and directing of lights. The more time you can give your DJ, the better. Be sure to find out how long it will take for him to tear down, as your venue may require everyone to be out by a certain time.
Tip: The answer to this question can tell you a lot about your DJ. Even though I prefer a few hours to set up, I can be set up and spinning in 15-20 minutes if needed. On average, an hour or two should be plenty for set up time. For tear down, any DJ who knows his rig should be able to tear down and be out the door in 30 minutes.
12. Do you require us to feed you?
Your DJ should never require you to feed them. I won’t even ask about it. However, offering t provide a meal (or allowing them to hit the buffet) is a nice gesture. Your DJ should be focused on keeping the party on schedule and everyone dancing, but taking a minute to refuel is not a bad thing.
Tip: Ask your DJ if he brings his own food or if he needs a meal. If he brings his own, it’s one less meal you need to pay for, but every DJ will appreciate the offer.
13. Will you be drinking at our wedding?
Let’s face it, most weddings have a lot of alcohol available and a good portion of the crowd will be drinking. A professional DJ will never drink at a wedding. You are paying a professional to perform a service and they are there to work.
Tip: Ask your DJ if he plans to drink while at your wedding. If he says yes, run away.
14. Do you offer other services, like photo booths, uplighting, etc?
A lot of DJs (especially those with entertainment companies) offer additional services for your wedding reception. Check with your DJ to see if they offer uplighting (decorative lights around the venue), a photobooth, screens or monitors for slideshows/videos, or any other type of additional service.
Tip: Check with your DJ before booking other services for your wedding reception. Even if they don’t provide that service directly, most DJs will have connections or at least solid recommendations to help get what you need.
15. Do you do music for ceremonies, too?
You may have a live musician, or just a friend with a Bluetooth speaker they can connect to your iPod to play music for the ceremony, but having a professional handle the audio for your wedding ceremony is something you should strongly consider.
Tip: Find out if your DJ offers music or audio services for your ceremony. Even if you have live musicians performing, your DJ may be able to help with setup or monitoring of their sound. You’ll most likely be able to get this handled for less than booking an additional vendor.
16. Do you put up a banner to promote your business?
Your DJ is there to do a job. And that job is not shameless self-promotion. Be weary of DJs who hang banners or pop-up displays promoting their services. If they’re good at what they do, people will approach your DJ and ask for a business card or contact info.
Tip: Confirm that your DJ does not do this. If you want, offer to include their name and info in your program or on your wedding website. If you don’t mind, let them know they can place a small stack of business cards or postcards (no larger tan 4”x6”) on their DJ table.
Your wedding DJ can make or break your wedding reception, and the decision of who to hire should not be taken lightly. Use these questions to make sure the professional you hire is the right for your wedding. Remember, around half of your total budget will be spent on your DJ. Take your time, interview several options, and make sure you get the right wedding DJ for your special day.
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