And the Questions You’re Forgetting!
If you’ve never booked a wedding DJ before, how do you know what questions to ask them? Luckily, there is a simple answer: It all comes down to communication.
The Easy Wedding DJ Questions
In terms of wedding DJs, having all the right questions may seem top priority. But it’s best to start with just the basics. It’s important to know what you’d be signing up for, after all. So before doing any consultations with potential DJs, have in mind what you want. What kind of vibe will this hypothetical DJ create on your big day? Before even thinking of song choices or playlists or special dance song selections, what do you want the feel to be? And bearing that in mind, the following questions are a good way to start to get a feel for what your potential wedding DJ is all about.
Are you available on my date?
This should be the first question you ask any wedding vendor, and the DJ is no exception. Often, couples start looking into booking vendors 12-18 months before their date. So it’s crucial to know that the DJ will be available on the date you’ve chosen. A good follow-up question on availability would also be if they have any other weddings/events on your date that they’re DJing before or after. You don’t want a burnt out DJ or one who’s got one foot out the door thinking about their next gig. You want to be the DJs main focus, and a weekend warrior who’s booked 4 weddings in a single weekend probably won’t be able to provide that.
What kind of DJ are you and do you DJ full-time?
A good starting point is knowing what kind of DJ you’re talking to in general. Do they specialize in weddings (ie, present themselves as a “wedding DJ”)? For wedding ceremonies and receptions it’s generally recommended to go with a true “wedding DJ.” A club DJ who occasionally does weddings on the side may shine on the dance floor. But also may not be accustomed to working with wedding vendors and interacting with your guests.
That’s not to say that experience in clubs, corporate, or nightlife in general should be a disqualifier. Often, having experience with these different atmospheres can help create a well-rounded DJ who can bring more to the table in terms of popular music and crowd engagement.
Just saying they’re primarily a wedding DJ doesn’t necessarily mean that the experience is there either, though. Is this their full-time job? Will you be their top priority, or are you vying with their day job? To get the DJs full attention, it’s generally best to go with one who DJs weddings full time.
Tell me about your experience with weddings.
The answer to this short statement can often say more than the answer to any other question. Have the DJ just talk about a normal wedding but pay attention to how they describe the day.
How do they talk about the couple? Or the other vendors? Or moments other than the dance party? Is the description all about the DJ, or how the DJ worked with the couple to create the day the couple wanted? Did they DJ bad-mouth other vendors or the couple?
Another important and telling fact to know is how many weddings the DJ has under their belt. Are they just getting started or are they a well-established name in the industry?
Asking the DJ for a sample timeline from a past wedding can also be enlightening. See how the DJ manages the reception timeframe. Is it too dance heavy with not much focus on the things that make a reception a reception and not just a party? Or is there virtually no dance party at all? These types of questions can make sure how the DJ envisions a typical reception lines up with your own vision.
Deeper Wedding DJ Questions: Turning It Up A Notch
First impressions are important. After you’ve communicated with your potential DJ a little, gotten a feel of their vibe, and decided you were impressed, it’s time for phase 2: Turning It Up A Notch. Now is the time for some more in-depth questions specific to your wedding.
What is your style of DJing?
This is where deciding on the vibe you want beforehand comes in handy. Does the thought of a cheeseball DJ with props, line dances, and wedding games repulse you to your core? Or maybe you want someone who will crank it up once the older aunts and uncles leave, turning the reception into a full-blown rave? Or even just someone to blend into the wallpaper?
No matter your preference, it’s important the DJ match them. So with the vibe you want in mind, ask your potential DJ about their personal style, and make sure it lines up with the experience you want to create.
How open are you to working with us on song selection/timelines/anything else?
Your potential DJ should want your wedding to be how you want it to be. If they’re not open to collaboration, it may be time to move on. The day is about you!
Many DJs are great at talking. But are they willing to listen?
How involved are we with song selection for the dance part of the night?
The answer should generally be: as involved as you want to be. If you have a very specific vision, or are particular about your music, it’s a good idea for the DJ to be aware of that. A professional will generally ask for a list of must plays and do not plays. If your potential DJ is unwilling to work with you on song selections, this is a bad sign. Ego is something to avoid; it’s not about them, keep the focus on you!
Can we see you perform?
Hopefully the answer is no. Professional DJs and DJ companies generally value the privacy of their clients and the specialness of their day. So they won’t often be too keen on bringing strangers to someone else’s wedding so they can take notes.
A good alternative to this is to ask if they have any videos or sample mixes. Videos from actual receptions can help you develop a clear mental picture of what your potential DJ would be like at your reception.
Everything so far so good? Is your potential DJ answering all your questions with a style and bravado that has you thinking “I can see him/her MCing my wedding”? Then it’s time to dig a little deeper. Really getting into the logistics of what working with a specific DJ would be like is a crucial (and oft overlooked) part of the deal.
You don’t just want someone who’s great at answering questions. When working with a wedding DJ, you need a partner and collaborator. Also, you want to know what you’re getting into money-wise. With this in mind, the following questions can help you gage if your interviewee is The One.
Are there any extra fees for your services?
Many DJ companies offer more than a “one size fits all” wedding and reception package. If your potential DJ is promising the world in terms of extra lighting, overtime, or custom-made songs, it’s time to ask “at what cost?” They should be ready and willing to provide exact pricing details for all of their services. Is dance floor lighting included? Or will you find out 3 weeks before your date that was an addon you needed to pay for, and you now need to shell out more money to have your wedding match the way you saw it in your head?
How available are you for planning help leading up to the wedding?
This is where you’d want an answer along the lines of “you can absolutely email/call/text me with any questions you have and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.” You should feel free to contact your future DJ with wedding planning questions, and you deserve a timely response. Maybe even asking them how quickly they usually get back to clients or when would be good hours to call if something comes up.
Response time is important. Maybe they’re the best wedding DJ in the world, but if you can’t get them to respond to you, how will you know you’re on the same page when it comes to your wedding day? Or if you have a question that only they can answer?
Asking how open they are to collaboration on song selection can also be important. For some couples, it’s more about the day and the people than the music. If music choice is very important to you, then you absolutely want your DJ so at the very least have the capability to accommodate. It doesn’t matter what kind of music they personally like, it’s about the mood that you want to set for your wedding. So if they’re unable or unwilling to work with you on dance playlists… it’s time to move on.
Do you have backup plans?
For an occasion like a wedding there’s a lot of room for mistakes. Ideally, nothing will go wrong and the day goes perfectly. But what about unforeseeable circumstances? Does your potential DJ have a plan to deal with any hiccups that may arise so the reception doesn’t come to a grinding halt? How have they dealt with things not going according to plan in the past? Are they capable of helping other vendors if issues arise?
It’s reassuring to know there are contingency plans in place. For no reason should a ceremony or reception just stop mid-way through. Ask your potential DJ how they would deal with situations like a flat tire, tuberculosis, or a power outage.
And if all their answers thus far check out, it’s time to move on to…
The Nitty Gritty
If your potential DJ has checked all your mental boxes thus far (professionalism, experience, and flexibility), the hour is upon you to move into the final phase: the Nitty Gritty. Which really boils down to two main wedding DJ questions:
What do you need from us?
Whether it’s deposits to reserve your date, info on what addons you want to add so they can compile a contract, or details about your venue to plan the set-up, this is a two-way street. What information does your DJ need from you to make sure everything goes perfectly?
And what do we need to do for next steps?
Now is the time to ask about their booking process. It’s standard to sign a contract and put down a deposit to fully reserve a DJ’s services. This is also when other financials should come up.
While price range is obviously important, it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when looking into wedding DJs. If you like one better than the other but they’re a little more expensive, why risk not having the reception you want with the DJ you felt most comfortable with? Many DJ services have different rates for time of year, or offer free addons to couples who book within specific timeframes. The end would be the time to ask questions like this.
What You’re Forgetting: More Wedding DJ Questions
How do you handle requests?
While every DJ has their own way of saying “no” if an unruly guest approaches them, this is an important hypothetical. You want a DJ who is open to requests to please the crowd, but not one who takes every single request at the expense of the vibe or dance floor life. A good question for your wedding DJ is if they’re open to getting a do not play list from you. That way, they can make sure they don’t take any requests that you don’t want to hear.
How do you handle reception transitions (ceremony to reception, intros to dinner…)?
It’s important that there be a natural flow to the day. Successfully creating an organic flow between ceremony and reception events is like art: it’s hard to define. But also like art, you know it when you see it. So asking for some examples of how they’ve created a flow to the day in the past can help you form a mental picture of how the day in it’s entirety will go. Not just the individual events, but how they fit together into a cohesive whole.
Tell me about your microphones.
Microphones are arguably the most crucial and most overlooked part of a wedding DJ’s arsenal. How will they direct the day if no one can hear what they’re saying?
Scenario: the DJ has amazing, top-of-the-line speakers and music mixing equipment. But cheaps out on the mics. Which will people remember, how crisp the dinner music was, or how the officiant’s mic kept cutting out mid-ceremony? Or how the mic just went kaput when Uncle Jeff was giving his toast?
Any DJ worth their salt is happy to talk about their gear. But don’t get carried away with technical questions! Just making sure their gear is up to snuff and not some bedroom mixing gear is enough to ensure you’re dealing with a professional, not a weekend hobbyist.
Do you network with other vendors in the area?
Often the wedding vendor community is a small one. And many of the players know and have worked with each other. So if you need recommendations or suggestions, a good place to start is with vendors you’ve already booked.
Further, if your potential DJ is unknown among the wedding vendor community, this may be a bad sign. A reputable DJ with many successful weddings under their belt will have made an impression on the local vendor scene. There’s no way around that fact.
And from another angle, if your potential DJ has many connections with the vendor community, they may be able to save the day if (heaven forbid) something does go very very wrong. Say a photographer has to drop out at the last minute. But your trusty DJ, with their many networking connections, is able to hit up other photographers they know in the area and save the day.
While not having a local networking presence is by no means a deal-breaker, having a well-connected vendor can have many, many benefits. And is a good question for your wedding DJ!
There are a lot of suggestions floating around online about what types of questions you should ask your future wedding DJ. But all the questions really come down to three main factors: professionalism, experience, and flexibility.
Noticing how they present themselves to you initially, the vibe they put off, and the way they speak (remember, this will be the voice on the other end of the microphone). Asking how they would behave in different social situations (unruly guests, no one dancing, being offered alcohol) and listening to their responses. Do they seem like a professional? Or someone who’s just now looking to get into weddings? Do they offer you a contract? Do they have reviews on industry-recognized sites?
These are questions that help you determine if you’re dealing with a professional.
Questions like how many weddings have they done in the last 6 months? The last year? Asking them to describe a typical wedding, or break down a well-planned timeline. Finding out about their relationships with previous couples or other vendors.
Straightforward answers to all the questions in this category show that they’re someone familiar with weddings and have experience in successfully directing a wedding and reception.
How willing are they to work with you? How involved are you in the music planning process? Are they open to must play and do not playlists? Do they realize it’s about you?
Remember whom the day really is about! It’s your vision, and the DJs role should be as a collaborator to help you achieve it. So you want someone who’s willing to be as flexible as you need them to be on the parts that make your wedding your wedding, and not just a wedding.
With these questions and tips in mind, we have one final suggestion: don’t entirely go by any “questions to ask your DJ” list.
Think of your vision. How you want your day to be. Then how the DJ you’re speaking with can help you achieve that vision. And with those factors in mind, tailor the questions you have to your vision.
If the dance part isn’t as important to you as the feel of the dinner music, or the energy level of the bridal party introductions, then focus on those things! Your DJ will be able to tell which aspects are most important to you, and they can work on making them exactly how you picture them.
Sadly, there is no secret “ask these 5 questions for your wedding DJ and immediately know they’re The One 100% guarantee!” But taking into account your wants and musts, there are questions you can ask to narrow down your wedding DJ selections.
In the end what it really comes down to is you. Consider what you want for your day, as well as the feeling you get when talking with the wedding DJ, and ask questions that will give you a feel for those things. And take it from there!
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