Choosing a Wedding DJ

I was wondering what questions I should ask a wedding DJ in terms of choosing one. When I looked up the information, these are the most critical questions.

So, what to ask a wedding DJ ← In terms of choosing a wedding DJ? The main thing is the budget and cost. Always make sure you get what you pay for. If you don’t ask the right questions and do your research about what you should expect from a Wedding DJ, you may not get what you want and need. Next thing, make sure the playlist fits the crowd. The DJ should be able to deliver the mix of music you need in the playlists for your wedding. Always ask for references and years of experience. You can’t afford to take any chances with a Wedding DJ. It’s one of the most important elements of your Wedding Day experience. So, questions about reliability should also be at the top of the list. Here are some of the questions to ask:

What Are the Rates and Playlist?

You’re looking for an immersive experience, and a big part of that is the type of music that plays at your wedding. The celebration of your nuptials is wonderful, but you need to decide how big a part you want it to play. Determine how specific you want to be about the talent, substance, and experience that the Wedding DJ will offer.

Cost Factors

Make sure you understand what’s included in the event pricing. Some Wedding DJs only offer a complete package, with all their equipment, set-up time, travel, consulting, full-event coverage, announcements, special dances, etc.

Here are additional related questions you might ask.

  • What’s included in the quoted rate? (Is it in writing?)
    Since the average cost is $100/hour, how do the Wedding DJ’s rates compare? You need to know what’s included in the pricing, and whether you’ll end up paying twice as much after the add-ons are tallied up.
  • Are there any hidden fees or costs?
    Does the Wedding DJ charge for the initial consultation or any other setup or site fees? Hidden or unknown costs can add an unwelcome stress factor to the couple’s Wedding day experience.
  • Does the rate include travel? Or is that extra?
    Travel costs may not be a factor if it’s a local venue. If you’re asking the Wedding DJ to travel any distance or a hard-to-access venue, ask if there will be costs involved.
  • Is there a contract? Or is it a handshake deal?
    Even when there’s a friend-of-family connection, it’s best to have something in writing to avoid misunderstanding or confusion.

Current Playlists

Make sure you understand what on the “playlist.” The Wedding DJ may only offer a limited, and rather generic, list of music for the wedding. So, you may need to decide how important having a dynamic and upbeat experience at your wedding really is.

Here are additional related questions you might ask.

  • How would you describe your music style?
    If they can’t describe their music style, or if there’s no flexibility in what they will play, you might want to consider other options.
  • Can you share a few upcoming events?
    It’s great if you can go check out the Wedding DJ at an upcoming event, even if you need to get special permission from the event coordinator or the wedding point person.
  • Have you performed at [setting/venue]?
    Depending on the location and venue, it may not be possible to find a Wedding DJ who is familiar with the setting. It’s still worth asking the question. If the Wedding DJ is familiar with the venue, it could be a more streamlined experience.

Custom Options

Find out if the Wedding DJ is willing to work with you on pricing and playlists. It’s possible that you only need them for a short time, and you may have very simple requests. The Wedding DJ may be willing to offer you a special discount or basic-package deal for a more streamlined Wedding DJ experience. Or, there may be more bells and whistles, special effects, acoustic options, etc. that would add cost to the experience.

Here are additional related questions you might ask.

  • Can I add a traditional/cultural song to the playlist?
    It’s not always possible for the Wedding DJ to have all the songs you’d like to include in their music collection. Find out how they handle unique additions to the playlist.
  • Are there options for special effects like a fog machine, a pyrotechnic fountain, fireworks, a scenic backdrop, or lighting features?
    If you’re looking for special effects and lighting features, it’s possible that the Wedding DJ can and will perform additional tasks to make your wedding one-of-a-kind. Make sure that safety is the first concern, and check with the venue about possible restrictions. Finally, don’t heap too many tasks on one person. It might just affect the overall quality of the entire experience.
  • What are the options for attire?
    If it’s a theme-style wedding, can the Wedding DJ dress appropriately. Similarly, does the Wedding DJ dress in jeans and a t-shirt no matter what the gig is? Think about the image you want the person to portray.
  • How do you handle special requests or karaoke?
    Some Wedding DJs will play any request, while other DJs run it by the host or a designated selection person. It may not matter to you what the person plays if everyone is having fun. Or you may have a prescribed style and perfected playlist.

The Reliability Factors

The Wedding DJ must be a reliable and high-quality solution for your wedding, but it’s not always easy to tell from a website portal how good they really are. If you’re really worried about whether you can trust the Wedding DJ, you can run a background check, search for court records, or investigate their business license. You can learn a lot by asking questions, and then verifying that what they tell you is true. Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • How many years have you been in business?
    It’s better to have a Wedding DJ who has been doing this a while, so they won’t be caught off-guard or unprepared by unavoidable situations.
  • What do you do to ensure satisfaction?
    They may not promise you anything, but at least you’ll know if they have a policy for unsatisfied clients.
  • Do you have a business license?
    Not every Wedding DJ may have a business license. The person may be a freelancer. You’ll probably pay more for a Wedding DJ with a business license, but it may mean that the person is more reliable.
  • What is the sick-day policy? (Is there a back-up option if needed?)
    When the day is set, it’s set. So, you need to know whether you’ll need to make your own plans for backup music.
  • Is there back-up equipment if needed?
    You need to find out what their plan is if an accident or unforeseen circumstance damages the DJ equipment. It would be nice to think that everything will be seamless and uneventful, but you need to be prepared with contingency solutions.

Price (Again)

Price is an important indicator of a Wedding DJ’s reliability. A low-cost Wedding DJ could indicate that the person is desperate because he/she hasn’t been able to find gigs. Of course, it could just mean that the person is not particularly good at marketing or there could be other mitigating circumstances involved. Don’t discount a Wedding DJ’s reliability just because you’re getting a good deal. It may really be that you have gotten lucky. Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • Why do you charge these rates?
    Some Wedding DJs may not entertain a discussion about why they charge what they do, but if you ask, you may just get a better sense of what you’re getting for the package or per-hour rate that you’re paying.
  • What is it about you that makes the rate worth it?
    This question goes back to education, experience, and even talent, so it may already be covered. It still bears repeating. Find out the value proposition of the Wedding DJ. Determine why they believe they stand out in comparison with your other options.
  • If they are significantly lower than the industry standard rates, be sure to ask why.
    It could be that the Wedding DJ is just starting out, or they need some extra cash, or they have some spare time. It could be that you just got lucky to get a rock-bottom rate for an experienced and talented Wedding DJ. You still need to ask why.

Customer Service

How a Wedding DJ treats the clients is a great indicator of how the person will treat you. You need someone who will be responsive both before, during, and after the Wedding ceremony. It’s a stressful time, and you need someone who can respond with the details you need in a timely manner.

Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • What is your typical response time?
    You can’t expect the Wedding DJ to be available for a response to your questions 24/7, but they should be able to answer your questions within a few business days.
  • Who handles Customer Service, and what is that person’s relationship to the DJ?
    You need to know if the Customer Service rep is the Wedding DJ or a disjointed 3rd party who is not speaking for the DJ at all.
  • Can I get that in writing?
    Even if the Customer Service rep sounds great, and you trust the person, get it in writing. Make sure you confirm the dates, location, and all critical details in a written statement, with acknowledgment from the Wedding DJ.

Sync Up?

When you meet the Wedding DJ or at other times in the vendor evaluation process, you may be pleasantly pleased or terribly disappointed. It might be nothing that the person did right or wrong, but just the vibe that you get about the person. You need to feel comfortable with the Wedding DJ who will be handling the music at your wedding. It’s as simple as that.

Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • How do you tailor your playlists to mesh with a theme and style?
    The Wedding DJ’s playlist may just be a great indicator of how well the person will meet your needs.  
  • What do you do to keep the audience engaged and excited?
    Listen to what the Wedding DJ says about how they engage with the audience. To get a better sense, you can also see the person in action and judge for yourself.
  • Why did you decide to become a DJ, and why do you enjoy it?
    You’re trying to get a sense of whether the gig is just a payday or something more personal.

Get the DJ’s References

Your perception of the Wedding DJ is important, but it’s also important to find out the perception of other professionals, previous clients, venue contacts, and online reviews. Not all the references will be positive, but by doing your research, you will get a better sense of what to expect in a real-life wedding situation.

Professional References

The best Wedding DJs offer professional references who speak to the person’s talents and expertise. The references could be former clients or business contacts who can offer a wealth of insider details on what it’s like to work with the Wedding DJ.

Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • Do you belong to any business or professional organizations?
    You can find out about the person’s level of dedication by digging into professional reputation and affiliation.
  • Can you share several references for weddings you’ve DJ’d?
    Wedding clients may offer insight on how easy or hard it is to work with the Wedding DJ.
  • How would your references describe your skills and talent?
    Just like with a job interview, you need to know what kind of a person the Wedding DJ is.

Online Review

Since 97% of customers read online reviews, they are a great way to learn about Wedding DJs. They’re not all glowing reviews, and some of them may be downright malicious. So, always take everything you read with a grain of salt. Still, you might just get a better sense of the Wedding DJ you’re hiring.

Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • Do you have a reputable name in the industry, with your peers and clients?
    It’s unlikely that a Wedding DJ will denigrate their own talent, but the answer will give you a sense of how they perceive their talent and experience.
  • How do you respond to a negative review?
    Not every online review will be positive, but how they respond to negative feedback may give you a better sense of how they will respond to your requests for your Wedding Day music.

Venue References

If the Wedding DJ has a lot of experience in the local market, it’s likely the person has worked at most of the most popular wedding venues. Ask the Wedding DJs which venues he/she has worked, and then reach out to the venue to ask about the professional interaction.

Here are a few questions and considerations.

  • What do you need from the venue?
    You can learn a lot about the expertise of the Wedding DJ by how they respond when asked about what they need from a venue/site. Is the person familiar with the level of A/V equipment available at most sites?
  • Do you have liability coverage?
    Some venues require that the DJ is covered for damages or personal injuries. Find out if the Wedding DJ is prepared to accommodate that request.
  • Have you ever had issues with the venue where the event/Wedding took place?
    This is a give-and-take relationship. You need to know what has happened in the past, so those situations can inform your present decision. Weddings and other events can be stressful situations, and emotions can get in the way of open communication. What you’re really looking for is for a Wedding DJ who will be open and honest with you about his/her background and experience. You need to get a sense of what to expect on your wedding day.

Related Questions:

Can I request a “Do Not Playlist?”

Yes. It is the couple’s special day, and the couple has the right to the perfect music.

Are there any questions I should avoid asking?

Use your best judgment. Don’t insult the DJ’s intelligence or experience. They are there to serve you on your special day. Ask them any questions you would ask at any business meeting. Do not harass the person or ask inappropriate questions, but that should go without saying.

Can I ask if there’s another event on the same day?

It’s natural to be nervous that something will go wrong on your wedding day. You can ask the Wedding DJ about other events on the same day, particularly if you’re nervous that the person will arrive late or leave early. It’s not uncommon for a Wedding DJ to work multiple events on the weekend. If you want exclusive service, you may have to pay more or book them for a longer span of time.

Will the Wedding DJ visit the venue beforehand?

If you’re nervous about setup, find out as much about the venue beforehand and share the information with the Wedding DJ. If it’s a popular venue, it’s possible the person has already worked there before. Even if the person has never set up in that space before, you need to make sure you hire a Wedding DJ who is experienced and professional enough to be able to make it work in nearly any space.

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