In years past, mobile disc jockeys were a rare breed. In the days prior to CDs, DJs were required to own and transport their cumbersome vinyl collections to an event. Fast forwarding to 2012, nearly all DJs perform from a laptop computer using MP3s. Equipment costs have plummeted, and professional audio equipment is readily available at mass market retailers like Best Buy. As a result, the supply of disc jockeys (and so-called “Wedding DJs”) has increased exponentially. Here are seven questions that are important for you to ask your prospective wedding DJ in order to identify a great match:
1) How did you get into DJing? This is a great opening question, as it puts the DJ at ease and you will learn about their background and what motivated him or her into the business. Find out where their passions lie – whether with the music, being the center of attention, or the prestige of performing at formal events. With a timeline, you can also learn how long this person has been performing as a DJ.
2) What is your Style? DJs run the gamut from extremely interactive to those who make sparse announcements and primarily mix the music. In recent years, there has been a trend towards “non-tacky” wedding receptions that eliminate “cheesy” features like the Electric Slide. Perhaps you want a high-energy Emcee who really gets the crowd going. There is no right or wrong answer – but you need to align yourself with a DJ who is a good stylistic match for your vision. You should be proactive in asking this question, as some DJs might first ask you about your expectations, and then cater their answer to appease you.
3) How Many Weddings Did You Perform at Last Year? This will give you a great idea on how experienced the DJ is in performing at weddings. An experienced wedding DJ is desirable as he or she will have the requisite experience to preside over a seamless evening of music and entertainment, also working well with the extended wedding team (i.e., wedding planner, banquet hall manager, photographer, videographer). Hiring an inexperienced wedding DJ exposes you to the risk of becoming the next Youtube sensation. While your DJ does not need to perform on a full-time basis, he or she should be performing regularly at weddings.
4) What Would You Do if a Guest Spilled a Drink on Your Laptop Computer During Our Wedding? This question asks about back-up equipment, which a professional wedding DJ should always bring to an event so that your party is not shut down by a technical glitch. It also give you an idea on whether the DJ is a person who is a problem solver, or merely somebody who tries to pass the blame elsewhere.
5) What is Your Approach to Musical Programming at a Wedding? This question will reveal how flexible a DJ is in his musical programming, and what sort of musical vibe will prevail at your celebration. Try asking, “if we did not provide you with a strict playlist, what are some songs that you might program for cocktail hour, dinner music and peak hour open dancing?” An experienced wedding DJ will have some very well thought-out answers. Programming at weddings can be tricky, given the wide range of guest ages and musical tastes. I have often said that the art of the wedding DJ is to make each and every guest feel like they just had the time of their life! Keep in mind that inappropriate musical programming and music played at brutal volumes are two of the biggest complaints against wedding DJs!
6) Are You Insured? If your banquet hall requires liability insurance (as many of the finer facilities do), an uninsured DJ company will not be allowed to perform at your event. There is no sense in spending any serious time interviewing a DJ company if they will be unable to perform. Professional DJ companies carry liability insurance, while less professional operations often do not.
7) Can You Provide References Who I Can Call or Email? An experienced professional wedding DJ will have a thick stack of satisfied clients and be happy to provide references. If a DJ goes on the defensive from this question, it could be a red flag. Additionally, it is not recommended that you ask the DJ if you can drop in to observe one of their wedding performances. At your own wedding reception, would you want your DJ trying to book their next gig?
What about Pricing? Of course, price is a very important factor, but this question is best asked towards the end of a consultation after you have gathered facts and learned about the DJ’s experience level. Asked too early, it can create an awkward tone for the meeting. In general, there is a strong correlation between the quality of DJ services and pricing. Your wedding DJ will be critically important to the success of your reception, and it is recommended that you procure the best wedding entertainment that you can afford. If you are on a strict budget, then before spending time out of your busy schedule (and the DJ’s), you should get an idea on where that DJ’s prices start at, and if this is within your budget. With higher-end packages and options, the final price could run higher, but most DJ companies should be willing to share the starting price of their packages, or else quote you a range. Ask these insightful questions, and you will be well on your way to picking the perfect wedding DJ to provide a magical evening of music and entertainment!