Don’t trust this VERY IMPORTANT part of your wedding day to just anyone…
I have been a DJ on the radio, at the Statehouse, at the frat-house, in swanky ballrooms and, in da club… The event where the DJ matters most of all is at your wedding! Let’s be honest here: Too many weddings suffer due to a generic/lame DJ. Ask the following questions when booking your DJ to find the right fit for you:
What is your experience as a Wedding DJ/MC? Seriously, you are taking a huge risk if you do not hire a talented, experienced Wedding DJ. Wedding DJs play non-stop music, run lights, manage the timeline, coordinate with other vendors (this alone is a BIG part of my job; making sure the camera people are present for toasts/formal dances/etc…), make announcements, take requests and interact with your guests (many of whom are lovely, some whom are emotional, some over-served, some extra-grace-required). An experienced DJ helps tremendously to set the mood and energy of your wedding reception, maintaining a friendly, upbeat manner. It’s trickier than most realize.
What is your experience at my wedding venue? This is a big deal. Each venue is different…each presents a unique challenge when it comes to how good it will sound at your wedding. If your DJ has experience at your venue, this is a BIG PLUS. He/she will understand how to set up equipment…how to avoid a table filled with your grandparents and your father’s boss two feet from a 1000 watt sub-woofer (that’s an unhappy table.) Many venues really push you to hire DJs on their preferred list…these are DJs who have earned the trust of the venue. These preferred lists are generally good guides.
How do you describe your style? I realize how cliché that sounds…ask anyway. A quality DJ will know how to answer and describe their DJ service. How much are they on the mic? How inter-active do you want them to be? An excellent DJ will give you a feeling of confidence about their DJ/MC process. IMPORTANT: THIS IS WHY I RECOMMEND MEETING YOUR DJ PRIOR TO BOOKING. Most of us are happy to meet at your favorite coffee/deli/tequila place, no-obligation, to see if we are a good match. This is the best way to gauge the personality of your potential DJ. Thinking of hiring a DJ not on the venue list? Just ask your contact person about the DJ to see if they have experience working with him/her.
What is your process when it comes to the music? This is what really matters in the first place, right? The music is indeed important. Ask your DJ how they will collaborate with you to customize the music for your wedding. I have a simple, easy-to-communicate process for making sure my couples are thrilled with their music, from the prelude and recessional, through cocktails & dinner, to packing the dance floor, to the final song.
How do you handle specialty equipment requests? If you are hiring a DJ for your ceremony as well as your reception, you will likely need an extra mic for your officiant and possibly readers and/or vocalists. I am often asked to mic musicians for ceremonies. Sometimes the ceremony is in a different room than the reception, requiring a second sound system. I pride myself in my ability to come up with solutions to all my couple’s equipment needs.
Will it be YOU at my wedding? Will anyone be with you? Certainly learn right away if you are booking the DJ you are meeting or if they are sending an assistant/colleague in their place. Unless it is simply impossible, meet your DJ before your wedding. These meetings rarely last more than an hour. They are essential…and fun! Ask your DJ if they have an assistant or if they will be solo. Some DJs work with a helper, which is fine, as long as the helper is, um helping…!!!…and not a girlfriend or buddy slouching at one of your guest tables looking at their phone (or drinking on your tab.)
What is your policy regarding illness/emergency? Things happen. Life is life. In 20+ years of DJ work, I have missed exactly…one (1) event, due to a death in the family. Solid DJ pros have talented backups and seamless plans for turnover of your details. This is your wedding. A good DJ (or any other vendor) will truly care about this.
Are you insured? In the words of Billie Eilish, “duh…” Many venues will not let us in without liability insurance. Asking about insurance is a super-easy way to tell the difference between a professional DJ and a hobbyist.
May we see you in action at an upcoming event? There are differing opinions here. Do you want your DJ inviting other couples to wander into your wedding reception? Still, I get quite a few requests from couples who want to see me in action. I always clear this first with the couple who have already booked me, and their venue. I ask my visitors to be respectful and brief…and it has always worked out fine. Also…I have multiple Wedding DJ videos of myself on my website and YouTube to share with couples, and I host weekly Big Bad Music Trivia shows in Columbus, OH. Many couples visit me at Music Trivia to get a good idea of my style and personality on the mic.
What are your rates? Most couples are not independently wealthy and tripping over money, and likely want to know how much it will cost to book their DJ. My rates are on my website and easy to calculate. I am happy to discuss the cost and confirm a total price with anyone who asks. Two quick closing thoughts: (1) We know couples are trying their best to make every dollar count…we get it, we relate and we want to make the budget conversation open and comfortable. (2) You truly DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. An excellent DJ will be in demand and able to ask for a bigger fee. If you hire a bargain-priced DJ, you can expect a bargain-priced experience.