So you’re tying the knot. It’s both an awesome time in your life now but also a bit overwhelming at the same time. Now is the time to start to research and secure various wedding professionals. But don’t forget that the wedding DJ is a critical part of the day to not only play great music but sets the tone for each part of the night, something that I go into great length on this article. But before you pick your DJ you should get some things together to ask. Here are some top questions to ask a wedding DJ to help narrow down the field.
Is my wedding date available?
This one is pretty obvious. But be mindful that many wedding DJs book 12 to 18 months out for many dates, sometimes even two-plus years in advance. So if you have a particular DJ in mind you may want to consider checking their availability before locking in dates.
How long have you been a wedding DJ?
It is good to know if someone is new in the business or has been around for a while. Someone new may still be a great wedding DJ, but it would be wise to vet their capabilities a bit more to see if they’re up to the task. Naturally, those with deep experience will likely give you the best results, so be mindful of your choices.
Do you perform more than one event per day?
There are DJs that hustle and will book multiple events in a day, others do no more than one gig a day, or sometimes even only one gig a weekend. Personally, I would recommend picking someone that is only worried about your big day so all the attention can be on your wedding, but this ultimately a choice of preference.
Are you a “single-op” or a “multi-op”?
Time for some industry jargon. Some businesses have decided on the strategy of having multiple DJs in their stable to be able to accommodate large influxes of bookings (multi-op), there are some businesses that go it on their own and run it by themselves (single-op).
In some cases with a multi-op you may talk to someone about your booking, then someone different for your planning, and then having a separate DJ. In other cases with a multi-op, you may get someone that you work with from beginning to end. Being as I am a bit biased being a single-op, it’s hard for me not to mention that with a single-op you would always get the same person from the very first conversation to the last song of the night.
What happens if you become unavailable?
This is one of those critical questions to ask a wedding DJ, and they really should have a solid answer to this. If they become unavailable (sick, injured, etc.), how are you going to cover my event? For me personally, I have a lot of quality DJs I have great relationships within the area and I happen to take meticulous notes. So if the need ever arises the bases are covered. Knock on wood, I have never missed an event. As for a multi-op, they tend to have enough DJs available to be able to cover an event in case their assigned DJ becomes unavailable.
Have you performed at my venue?
It’s nice to have a DJ that has experience with members of that venue and knows the lay of the land. That being said, a quality DJ will perform some kind of reconnaissance with the venue prior to your wedding. So don’t automatically discredit a DJ that has not been there before, just ensure they know what they are doing. Personally, a good 30-40% of my events per year are at venues I have not performed for in the past.
What are your references?
Any DJ should be able to point to past couples and to list their accolades.
What are your personal musical tastes?
First, be sure to do write down or recollect some of the artists, genres, and periods of music that you like. There are times I have couples that want great music, but can’t remember any of the specific music they like. And While quality DJs will cover all the major genres, it’s still nice to know if that DJ has the same affinity for the music you personally like. You can always see what music largely influenced my formidable years.
What is your personality?
Now we are getting into some questions to ask a wedding DJ that people never think about. Some people want a hype DJ to get everyone going. Some want games. Some want lots of interactive elements. Some want a more laid-back style. Be sure to pick one that matches what you are looking for. Be sure to check my article on this.
What services do you provide other than music?
Music is very important. However, some DJs also include things like lighting, photo booths, and other services you may be looking for.
Do you MC and DJ the event?
There are some DJs that put the mic work on a separate MC. Be sure if they do that to get to know both individuals.
Do I get a contract?
If you don’t, RUN! Seriously. This is the most important day of your life. Don’t chance it.
Are You Insured?
Most venues make it a requirement to for their vendors to have insurance. Ensure that your DJ is insured.
What happens if your equipment fails?
Technology is a fickle friend. It’s has brought great advances in the DJing world, but reliance on technology has brought in more potential points of failure. I’ve prided myself on the fact that I have multiple redundancies in my system design. Ensure that the DJs you talk to have their fail-safes to ensure that the music keeps on playing.
Do you handle ceremony services?
Ah, one of those questions to ask a wedding DJ that people forget until they start to think more about their day. If you are having a ceremony for really more than say 75 people, or even more so if you are outdoors, it’s the best bet to have at least the officiant mic’d up and amplified. Remember the wedding DJ is more than just playing music! If you have a videographer you need to ensure that both the DJ and the videographer are in sync to capture your special moment. Ceremonies can get quite complicated and it’s best to have someone with the proper experience managing it all.
How do you help me plan the wedding?
Some wedding DJs, like myself, will have a pretty thorough set of forms to cover all the major pieces of your special day and will meet with you via face to face, Skype, or phone to ensure everything entertainment is hashed out. If they lack this kind of planning capability then the responsibility really needs to be covered by a wedding planner or even yourself (and you don’t want that). Now, not every wedding DJ does this, but it’s certainly one of those questions to ask a wedding DJ to at least know if some kind of planning is offered.
What makes you unique?
It is one of the most important things, but sometimes you will want to save this to the end as you qualify the DJ; what makes you different than the next DJ?
One of the last questions to ask a wedding DJ? What does this all cost?
Notice I put pricing on the bottom. Honestly, when it comes down to this, the price should be almost secondary. Sure everyone has budgets, but if you find the right DJ aren’t they worth the piece of mind that they will provide you on your special day? The reality is that if the DJ has explained themselves well, they will present to you the value that they will add to your special day. Their professionalism, their expertise, their ability to earn your trust that your wedding will be in great hands. Ensure that you have a proper budget in mind and you’ll be on your way to finding an awesome wedding DJ.
This blog post was originally written on January 18th 2018. On February 25th 2019 I published a video on this topic and included it into this aritcle.
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Author Biography: Lou Paris of Paris Creative
Lou Paris has been DJing since 1988 and has a deep passion for music of all styles and genres and became a wedding DJ in 2012. Coincidentally, Lou is also a successful 20+ year IT professional and has merged many technology concepts to ensure a successful night of entertainment. Click here to learn more about Lou's background.