When it comes to working with vendors for your wedding day, you really want to make sure you hire professionals whose work you like and that you feel comfortable working with. In order to ensure you choose the right vendors for your wedding, you need to be super thorough in your interviews to ensure you're a proper fit for each other. One way to get to the bottom of things is to know which questions to ask each particular vendor, from the photographer down to your wedding DJ.
The wedding DJ is one of very few vendors who can truly make or break your reception. If your DJ is great, the dance floor will be packed and your wedding will be remembered as the most awesome party ever. But a terrible wedding DJ could commit any number of wedding reception sins including playing awful music, boring your guests to tears, being awkward or embarrassing, or the worst: be offensive. So before you sign a contract with a wedding DJ, make sure you’ve asked him or her these important questions:
- Do you have a written contract?
As with the rest of your wedding vendors, do NOT proceed without a written contract. If they won’t provide one, it’s time to look elsewhere.
- Can we meet the person who will be actually working my event before we sign a contract? If you're working with a DJ company who employs several different DJs, you'll definitely want to make sure you're comfortable with the actual person who'll be at your reception. Do they seem cool, fun, and also respectful? Are they listening to the questions you're asking, and giving you thoughtful responses? Do they seem like someone you could have a fun time with?
- Will you work with my playlist AND my do not play list?
Wedding DJs love to have autonomy and play whatever they want to. But since it’s your wedding, you should get to have input about what gets played and what doesn’t. If you have some "deal breaker" songs, be sure to share them with your potential DJ and make sure he or she understands your wishes.
- Will your equipment allow you to mix one song into another so that there are no breaks in between songs?
One of the top reasons to hire a wedding DJ rather than just using an iPod is that they should be able to provide a seamless flow of music. If they can't, it's time to look elsewhere.
- Will you take breaks? If so, what happens during the breaks?
Again, unlike a band or an iPod, a DJ should be able to have a seamless flow of music with no breaks.
- Will you take requests during the wedding?
Some wedding DJs love requests, while others don't like having to hunt for an obscure song or interrupting their playlist.
- Will you act as emcee and announce the cake cutting, first dance, toasts, etc? Can someone else act as emcee if you don't provide these services?
Most DJs are used to making these types of announcements, but if you want a more personal touch you may want to ask your father or another charismatic person to act as emcee. Sometimes even the wedding planner will step in if the wedding DJ doesn't make announcements, so there are always options to consider.
- Can you give us an example of how you will make these announcements?
Wedding DJs usually use a big Vegas-style or Radio Host voice, but you might want something more refined or elegant if that's not your style.
- How many weddings do you DJ each year? Will you have another event on the same day?
Since DJs often work corporate events, bars, bar mitzvahs and birthday parties, you want to make sure he or she is comfortable with weddings and the higher level of sophistication they require. You'll also want to make sure there aren't any possible scheduling conflicts as a result of having multiple events booked for the same day.
- Have you worked at our reception site before?
If he or she already knows the setup and staff there, it can make things more seamless on the day of the wedding. It's not necessary, but it's nice to have that reassurance that your wedding DJ is familiar with the layout and setup.
- What sort of equipment do you use? Do your prices include the sound system, speakers, wireless microphone for the toasts, etc?
You'll want to make sure he or she has the necessary equipment required to fill your event space with sound. Each of these extras can add up quickly. Your event space may already have them available, but it's good to have backups in case of equipment failure.
- What do you do if nobody is dancing?
If for any reason your guests aren't feeling the musical selections, how does the DJ handle it?
- How current is your music collection?
Does he or she have access to the newest music? Do you want the newest pop hit played at your reception or do you just want to stick to your old favorites?
- What if we really want to hear songs that aren’t in your music collection?
If for some reason the DJ doesn't have some music or songs that you really love, will he be able to acquire it or is that not possible?
- Will you advertise your services to our guests? Will you be discrete?
Your wedding is a job, not a networking opportunity. You want to make sure the DJ you're working with doesn't seem sleazy or slimy, or like he'll be looking for his next job while in the middle of working your wedding.
- What do you wear as a wedding DJ?
You'll want to ensure that your wedding DJ is dressed appropriately for the formality of your big day. No blue jeans or Hawaiian T-shirts, right?
- Can I see a video of you playing at a wedding?
Ask to see footage of your DJ working at a wedding so you can get a feel for his or her style, personality and character.
If you ask these questions, you should have a pretty good idea if your wedding DJ is something you want to work with or not.
Updated and Edited by Jessica Bishop in May 2016