DJs, with their music selection and announcements, truly set the tone at your reception, so make sure you set aside time to interview your prospective wedding DJ (in person when possible). Listen (and watch) how your prospective DJ responds to the questions below. Then ask yourself if this person is a good fit (Is he likeable? Does she understand what you’re going for? Does he go above and beyond or just enough to get the job done?). You’ll know whether or not he/she sits well with you. Go with your gut. It’s better to do lots of interviews and find someone who you know will represent you well than to hire someone who you’re not completely comfortable with. Believe me, your guests won’t remember everything from your wedding, but they’ll remember the music (especially if it’s bad!).
1. Soo.. why did you become a DJ?
If your DJ has a passion for sharing music and loves creating fun dance moments, it’s likely that preparing for and creating those moments will be a top priority for him/her. If it’s not obvious that they put the music first, you might not be getting the type of expertise that you want. Anyone can buy equipment and say they’re a DJ company, but not everyone provides expert song selection and flow. Make sure they care about choosing music that fits you and your wedding before you sign the contract.
2. What are your favorite wedding songs?
You can learn a lot about DJs from their favorite wedding songs. Have you heard his/her favorite songs at every wedding you’ve attended? Are they mostly country while you’re mostly indie? If the songs they suggest aren’t your cup of tea, tell them…now. A pro DJ will go above and beyond to find songs that you’ll like and work well with your guests regardless of their own music preferences. It’s just that if you find a professional & experienced DJ whose favorite wedding songs are songs you’d want played at your own wedding, you’re one lucky duck!
3. How many weddings have you DJed?
How long have you been DJing? It’s ok if your DJ hasn’t done a hundred weddings, you just want to know that they’ve done at least 10 awesome weddings before and have every intention of doing many more. If they’ve done 100, that’s great. If they’ve been doing it since 1792, that’s.. well, that’s for you to decide. Doing at least 10 weddings gets the kinks out of setup issues and the general flow of weddings. Knowing this along with answers to the other questions can help you justify the price you’re willing to pay.
4. Will you have any assistance at the wedding?
Having an assistant or second DJ at your wedding is usually well worth the extra cost. Setup and breakdown of the heavy professional equipment is much quicker, guests requests are better accommodated, vendor cooperation is smoother, and you don’t have to worry about giving the DJs a restroom break (: Just make sure assistants are listed in the contract as well.
5. What if you’re sick or unable to make it to my event?
Accidents happen. Better safe than sorry.. Make sure you’re comfortable with your DJs contingency plan. Many will have backup DJs and a system in place for communicating your music preferences. Many won’t. This is something you want stated clearly in the contract.
6. May I see photos of your setup?
Unfortunately, every DJ setup was not created equally. Some have light-up panels (or facades) that they use to cover up their equipment. Others have compact podium-looking equipment. We’re not fans of either of these setups and you might not be either. Regardless, it’s a good idea to see photos of his/her DJ setup so you’re not surprised with flashing disco lights or a multi-colored DJ booth at your reception.
7. What is your equipment malfunction backup plan?
Will you have backup equipment onsite? I attended a wedding years ago where the DJ showed up as guests were arriving, couldn’t hook up his equipment to the venues’ speakers, and obviously had no backup plan. After a while, they hauled their stuff off and left. The bride was in tears, the guests ate without music on, and the reception was over very soon after. It’s crazy. I know. True story! I think it happened so that I would never forget the importance of backup equipment… ever.
8. What is your wedding attire?
Along with event attire, make sure to ask about what they’ll wear for setup. Setting up DJ equipment is a sweaty process that involves heavy equipment, so most DJs won’t be in formal attire during the setup process. Just make sure their attire meets your approval for early guest arrivals.
9. Do you do ceremonies?
You might have this covered by classical musicians, but if you’re holding your ceremony outdoors or at the your reception venue, you might still want a little help from your DJ. Extra speakers, microphones, and other equipment can usually be added to your DJ’s workload for less than the cost of renting. Many couples are breaking away from traditional ceremony music and using instrumental versions of their favorite songs. Here are some instrumental ceremony songs we like.
10. Are you insured?
They should be able to email you a copy of their insurance certificate without much effort. Not all venues require it, but it’s nice to know if your DJ company is investing in the health and longevity of their business and ultimately, their service to you.
11. Can you walk me through your service contract?
You’ll want to look it over together, ask about anything you don’t understand, and go over extra fees like overtime or setup charges to make sure you know exactly what to expect.
12. How will you handle guest song requests?
Make sure they are willing to match guest requests up to your “Do Not Play” list and general music preferences. Also, pro DJs have thousands of songs in their digital libraries and don’t need to lug around CD cases. If you’d like for guests to get in on the action before your big dance party, ask them to request songs in advance through your wedding website or your DJ’s website. Many DJs allow guests to make requests online in advance through a wedding specific link they provide to their couples.
13. What’s your mic style?
Can you give me an example of how you would introduce us at the reception? This is a simple way to get a feel for his/her mic style. The DJ should ask you questions about you and your wedding to get a feel for the formality and tone of your wedding, because his/her tone should of course fit your event. We generally like DJs to sound like their best selves talking to a room full of their own friends and family. If you can imagine him saying, “Let’s get rrrready to rummmmble!” or something more suitable for a sporting event, you might want to consider other options.
14. How do you encourage guests to dance?
Some DJs will teach instructional dances (think Cupid Shuffle), while others would never do such a thing. Get a good feel for whether he/she prefers using the mic, good music selections, or both for getting the crowd up on the dance floor before making your decision.
15. What’s your song selection process? Do you use a set “wedding music” list?
Your DJ should be willing to put together custom song lists created especially for you based on your preferences and the vibe of your wedding. These lists might be labeled “cocktail hour”, “dinner”, and “dancing” and include more songs than you’d have time to play. This is great if you’d like to approve a pool of songs ahead of time and leave the actual day-of picks to the pro that you hired. It’s like cake tastings, but for your music.. music tastings. I seriously might’ve just coined a new term..
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