Below is a list of the most important questions to ask a wedding DJ before you hire them. These questions will not only ensure your DJ meets professional standards, but will also help you accurately gauge the DJ’s skill set, reliability, personality, honesty, and professionalism.
I understand that most engaged couples have never hired a wedding MC & DJ before; this usually means most couples also don’t know what to ask when inquiring and meeting with potential wedding DJs. To help you make a more informed decision about who handles this very important role at your reception – as well as determining which of the wedding DJs you are interviewing is the right fit for you and your reception – I’ve compiled the following list of questions below, along with guidance on what to look for in their answers.
This list is split into three sections: questions to ask as you research and inquire with DJs in your area; questions to ask the wedding DJs you choose to meet with; and finally, questions that can be asked at any time, but do need to be answered before you hire your DJ.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN MAKING AN INQUIRY
Ask these questions before deciding whether to schedule a consultation with the wedding DJ candidate or not.
1. Do you have my wedding date open?
This should be the very first question you ask, as there is no sense wasting your time if the DJ isn’t available for your date. You may also want to follow up this question with, “How many other active couples have inquired about my wedding date?” as that answer may indicate whether or not you need to take a more urgent approach. If you have a popular wedding date, don’t assume the wedding DJs you contact today will still be available a month later.
2. Have you done weddings at my ceremony and/or reception venue before?
As with experience, familiarity with a wedding venue can give you a sense of peace of mind. Each venue poses different challenges – load-in procedures, room configurations, acoustics, availability of electricity, etc. – so hiring a wedding DJ that is familiar with your venue will prevent wedding day surprises. However, even the top wedding DJs in your area may not have performed at your venue before, so make sure the DJ is willing to do a site visit. If you are planning a destination wedding, the site contact should be able to provide a floor plan/layout, photos, and answers to any questions your DJ may have.
3. How many weddings have you done?
Only you can determine what an acceptable answer to this question is. Since most couples view their wedding reception as an important occasion, they obviously don’t want their DJ’s first wedding to be their own. Is the DJ completing formal training? Do they come across as confident and competent? Is the DJ constantly evolving? Or does it feel like the DJ has been doing the same wedding style for twenty years? These are the questions that will make better sense of extremely low or high numbers.
4. How many weddings will you do on the weekend of my wedding?
For most DJs, the answer is between one and three. If your wedding is on a Sunday, and the DJ is already booked for the Friday and Saturday of that weekend, it is fair to be concerned about physical exhaustion, and if you will receive an adequate amount of attention leading up to, and on, your wedding day.
5. Do you perform at more than one wedding in a day?
Some DJs are “weekend warriors” and will try to cram as many gigs into a weekend as possible. From experience, I once booked a wedding in the morning and evening – that day was mentally and physically exhausting. Not to mention the stress that can occur between events if there is an unforeseen traffic issue. Most top wedding DJs would rather book one event per day, arrive early for setup, and offer you the adequate amount of attention you deserve on your wedding day.
6. Is this your full-time profession?
Let me preface this question with this: whether a wedding DJ does this full-time or part-time doesn’t indicate how talented they are. When it comes to scheduling meetings and quickly responding to emails, a full-time DJ will have greater flexibility with their time, and more often than not, be much quicker to respond. If you are a need-it-now personality type, a part-time DJ may not be the right fit for you.
7. Do you carry liability insurance?
Because liability insurance protects you and the venue in the unlikely event that your wedding DJ injures one of your guests or causes damage to the venue, the answer to this question MUST be yes. The full liability insurance policy should be for at least one million dollars; and since the cost of this policy is about $1,000 per year, being uninsured is inexcusable. Some venues now require all wedding vendors to provide proof of insurance before working at their facility, which I believe all venues should have as a mandatory requirement.
8. Are there any other services that you provide, such as uplighting or photo booths?
Because there can be so many vendors to keep track of, it is nice to know if your wedding DJ can provide additional services. Oftentimes, they will have package deals that can save you money versus individually booking each service through different vendors. If they do offer these additional services, please do your due diligence and ensure that the quality and value are worth the savings.
9. Do you have any video footage of your prior wedding performances?
In this day and age with iPhones and Androids that shoot 4k videos, it is almost inexcusable to not have video footage for couples to review. Photos can easily be stolen from a Google search – and trust me, a lot of DJs sell work that isn’t theirs – but videos are much harder to steal. While 15-second clips of a packed dance floor doing the Cupid Shuffle seems impressive on Instagram, ask for unedited footage of their MC & DJ performance. How do they really sound on the mic when doing a Grand Entrance? Is the dance floor still packed when they mix from song to song? This is a great way to audition your potential wedding DJ candidates.
10. Do you bring backup equipment?
The answer should be yes, and the DJ should be able to expand on backup procedures if their laptop crashes or a piece of equipment malfunctions.
11. Do you offer a written contract?
A written, legal contract is a must as it protects both you and the DJ while outlining the obligations each party is responsible for. It is my belief that a written contract is a standard of professionalism, and indicates reliability. Therefore, it is absolutely essential and any DJ not utilizing a written contract should be struck from consideration for your wedding reception.
12. Will you be the DJ at our wedding?
For the purposes of clarity, it is important to know if you are talking to the DJ who will be at your wedding or if you are talking to a sales representative for the DJ company. If the latter is the case, the next question will be applicable to you.
13. If you are not our wedding DJ, may we meet our DJ before we sign a contract?
If you believe that your Wedding MC & DJ is critical to the success of your wedding, it is a must that you meet the DJ who will be at your wedding and that their name is on the contract. Protect yourself from day-of surprises as some entertainment companies try to book as many events as possible, and then try to source out local talent in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding date. I know this to be true because every summer, I receive spam emails from national entertainment companies asking me if I am available to DJ a wedding in my area for $400. No thanks.
14. Can we request songs?
The answer to this question should be indubitably yes. It is your private event, and you have the right to have a reasonable influence on the music played and featured throughout the celebration.
15. Do you take requests from our guests?
If you would like your guests to be able to make requests, the answer should be yes. If you don’t want your guests to make requests, you don’t need to ask this question but do let the DJ know your wishes.
16. Can we submit a “Do Not Play” list?
The answer should be yes. A great follow-up question would be, “What happens if you play a song on my Do Not Play List?” The answer will give some insight into the company’s standards and policies.
17. What is your starting price for my wedding date?
Some wedding DJs offer various packages upfront on their websites. Other DJs offer custom quotes determined from a consultation. To complicate it even further, most DJs also have seasonal and day-of-the-week rates. Regardless of their selected pricing method, all DJs should be able to provide you with the starting price (aka “Event Minimum”) for your wedding date.
18. What is the average price range most couples invest with you?
In order to get you to meet with them, some DJs will say their starting price for the day is the cost of the ceremony coverage. I feel this is deceitful and inauthentic, and most couples agree. Therefore, this question is a more realistic pricing question to determine if the DJ you are interested in fits within your allocated DJ budget or not. For example, on my Services page, I let engaged couples know that on average, my clients invest $2,750 to $4,000 with me, before any applicable travel charges. Now, there are outliers on either side, but for most wedding dates, that is a reasonable range to expect.
19. What is your policy on alcohol or smoking during the wedding?
It is a standard in the wedding industry that professional vendors do not need to consume alcohol or take smoke breaks during your reception. If your DJ tells you he/she needs a few drinks to “loosen up” or “get on the same level as the dance floor”, you probably should look for other wedding DJs with higher standards of professionalism.
20. Can you provide me with a 30+ minute sample of you DJing?
In this day and age, it is almost inexcusable for a wedding DJ to not be able to offer a 30-60 minute live mix from a recent wedding performance. This mix will allow you to audition how the DJ performs; as some DJs mix songs seamlessly, while others play songs from start to finish like a radio DJ. It is important to find the right performance style for your event and not be surprised when the dancing starts.
21. Do you have two wireless microphones available?
It is my opinion that two wireless microphones are the standard for every wedding ceremony and reception. Not only are transitions between formalities seamless, but two wireless microphones also imply that there is a backup solution if one of the microphones has technical difficulties.
22. Do you set up a sign or banner with your equipment?
It is tacky, repulsive, and completely unprofessional for a DJ to display a sign or banner advertisement at a wedding reception. Quite simply, it ruins photos and videos and has no place at what is otherwise a commercial-free event.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE CONSULTATION
For the three to five wedding DJs you are most interested in hiring, ask these questions during your consultations with them.
1. Do you DJ exclusively for this company?
If the answer is no, you may be interviewing a DJ who is an independent subcontractor that works for several companies, and who may accept bookings directly. If this is the case, and to avoid headaches down the road, seek clarification on what happens if the DJ is accidentally double-booked for your wedding date, or if the DJ leaves the agency prior to your wedding date.
2. How many other types of events do you DJ per year?
Are weddings a primary focus for this DJ? Some DJs claim to be an expert in all events, while others primarily specialize in weddings and may do a small number of other events. There are certain events – weddings, mitzvahs, etc. – that I believe require a specialist to achieve each couple’s desired results. So in the case of your wedding, you may want to look for someone who primarily specializes in weddings.
3. If you DJ other events, what clubs, lounges, and corporate clients have you performed for in addition to weddings?
A well-rounded DJ who primarily specializes in weddings can bring an unparalleled level of expertise, creativity, inspiration, and versatility to your reception. Learn about the DJ’s resume, as it might provide insight if they are the right fit for your reception’s style and presentation.
4. How will you customize the music experience for us?
Look for a DJ who will create the soundtrack to the style, taste, and vision of your ceremony and reception. Do they need you to pick all of the songs? Do you need to just describe genres you would like featured? What is their philosophy on programming music for the different periods of the night? This is a conversation topic, and it will lead to some interesting responses and approaches for you to evaluate.
5. What is your style as an MC and as a DJ?
While most wedding DJs will adapt to the crowd, they all have a preferred style when they perform. Some are boisterous on the microphone, while others are laid-back and prefer to say only what is necessary. Some DJs mix, others do not. There is no right answer to this art form, but there is the right type of MC and DJ for your wedding’s style and presentation.
6. Do you act as the Master of Ceremonies and make all of the announcements?
Most professional wedding DJs understand this is a standard role within the job description, and they are perfectly comfortable making announcements and serving as the Master of Ceremonies. However, some DJs are not comfortable on the mic and prefer to pass these duties off to an assistant (if this is the case, make sure to meet with the assistant prior to signing a contract!) or look to have someone else fulfill the Master of Ceremonies duties, such as the wedding planner or venue coordinator. These individuals – who already have their own roles and obligations to complete at your wedding – may not have public speaking backgrounds, nor feel comfortable speaking on the microphone either.
7. How would you introduce my (insert formality here)?
This question allows you to evaluate how skilled the Master of Ceremonies is, as well as their preferred speaking style. Pick any formality you like: Grand Entrance, Toast, Cake Cutting, Father/Daughter Dance, etc. This is your chance to audition and compare your prospective DJ candidates against each other. I highly recommend this question to every couple.
8. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?
If dancing is a huge priority for you, this is a great question to ask as different wedding DJs handle this situation differently. Will they use the microphone to try to lift the energy level? Will they play a popular participation dance song? Or do they have another method or viewpoint for the situation? Ask your DJ what they would do, and determine if that is the way you would like it handled for your event.
9. Will we meet again before the wedding?
The answer should be yes, and if not, this should raise concern. Whether that meeting is in-person or virtually over video conferencing, the wedding DJ should be able to layout their full planning process, as well as when each phase of the planning process will take place. Don’t risk the chance of a DJ who claims they just need you to submit some online forms and they can show up at your wedding and be rock it. These also tend to be the wedding DJs that magically disappear right before wedding day.
10. How much time will you need for setup and breakdown on the day of the event?
Because you may have your venue booked for a limited number of hours, it is important to make sure the DJ has enough time for setup and breakdown or to plan for additional labor to be brought in. A good follow-up question is, “How early will you arrive for setup?” Most professional DJs will arrive early enough to complete setups and sound checks in all locations, change into their performance attire, and allow for some “buffer time” in the event of minor technical difficulties or assisting other vendors in a team effort to get everything perfect before your guests arrive.
11. What is your pricing, and what does it include?
As mentioned before, DJs use vastly different pricing models for their services. Some feature packages, some price a la carte, and some charge a flat, all-inclusive rate. No matter the model they use, you need to be clear on what is offered for the package they are quoting you.
12. How much is the deposit, and what is the payment schedule?
It is important to know and understand the payment obligations prior to booking. Some wedding DJs are very rigid, while others are flexible.
13. What is your refund policy if for some reason I need to cancel or change my date?
This will vary from DJ to DJ, but make sure it is in writing on the contract you sign!
14. Are there any additional fees that I could accrue, like travel expenses or charges for special song requests?
Make sure there are no hidden charges! Most DJs will include additional fees as a line item in your written quote and on the contract. If you don’t see any mention of it, ask before you leave the consultation or sign the contract!
15. How long will you hold our date for us?
If you are very interested in booking the wedding DJ you’ve met with, please ask this question before leaving the consultation. Do not assume there is a hold of any type for your wedding date. Some DJs will offer a temporary hold, others won’t unless a contract has been issued. To prevent future headaches and frustration, ask this question if the DJ doesn’t make it clear.
16. Can you assist me in choosing the music for my Processional, Recessional, Cake Cutting, Father/Daughter Dance, etc.?
The answer should be yes. Each DJ will have unique ways of handling these requests. Some will provide you with popular suggestions based on a database of thousands of weddings around the country, others, such as myself, have created their own Wedding Music Guide.
17. What kind of equipment will you use for my wedding, and what will the setup look like?
Any wedding DJ should be proud of their sound system, and use equipment by professional-grade brands such as Pioneer, Rane, Serato, Electro-Voice, RCF, Bose, JBL, Mackie, Rane, QSC, Shure, and Sennheiser. While most DJs understand that you are unlikely to have a working knowledge of what is what, they should be able to show you some of their past setups and, if they don’t already have a photo from a past event at your venue, show you which setup you could expect to see at your wedding.
18. When do we need to submit our music requests and event details?
It is important to understand when your “homework” is due. Most professional DJs will have a deadline of a month or two prior, allowing for adequate time to build the entertainment itinerary, prepare all music, and write the MC script for your wedding.
19. Do I need lighting for my dance floor, and if so, what will that look like?
The answer to this question is venue-specific, but each wedding DJ should be able to offer you their professional insight and expertise. They should also offer you a look that accommodates your venue and the presentation style of your wedding reception. A small point of emphasis: make sure that lasers are not offered, as they ruin photos. Any photographer will testify to that.
20. Can we see a copy of your Certificate of Insurance (COI) for your general liability insurance policy?
It is easy for a DJ to say they have a one-million-dollar general liability insurance policy. It’s another thing to actually provide a copy of it and prove it. This is an honesty and integrity check; I highly recommend it.
21. What sets you apart from your competition?
Does your DJ say the same thing as everyone else? Or have they truly created a first-class service? Any professional wedding DJ will take pride in what they do, and answer this question thoughtfully, honestly, and authentically. However, some DJs will try to “bash” their competition and say negative things about specific DJs and/or companies. It’s unprofessional, in poor taste, and an indication that they may talk negatively about you behind your back.
22. Can you provide me with 3-4 recent couples that I can contact for references?
While online reviews are abundant, it is nice to have the opportunity to ask specific questions and to get a great feel of what it is like to work with the wedding DJ you are considering booking. Do allow for the DJ to get permission from couples that are willing to speak with you, as this will help you feel more comfortable reaching out to them.
23. Do you have any questions for us?
At a minimum, each wedding DJ should take interest in you as a couple and want to learn about how you met, became engaged, and what your musical preferences are. If they don’t, that might be an indicator of how much time and attention they are willing to devote to you as your wedding day approaches.
GENERAL QUESTIONS TO ASK
These questions can be asked at any time and should be answered prior to making your final decision on which wedding DJ to hire.
1. How long have you been DJing professionally?
While the number of years given will give some insight into their level of experience, more doesn’t necessarily equate to better. Some wedding DJs constantly evolve and improve their skill set, while others have done the same ol’ song and dance for twenty-plus years. Also, there is a difference between a DJ who has done volunteer gigs for a number of years and is just starting to book paid performance events, versus a DJ with a proven professional track record.
2. If the wedding lasts longer than scheduled, what are the overtime charges?
It should be in the written contract, but even if it isn’t, it’s important to know what the additional charges for additional time will be. Also good to know: “What payment methods are accepted for overtime, and when must it be paid?”
3. How extensive is your music library?
It is important for a DJ to have enough music to accommodate the requests of you and your guests. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
4. What genres are your specialty?
Every DJ has genres that they personally enjoy and extensively know. For me, it is Country, Rap, Classic Rock, and Top 40. A party that predominantly features those genres I know I will crush.
5. What genres are your weakness?
Conversely, every DJ has genres they don’t really care for, and would rather not play. For me, it is Metal and Alternative Rock. Fortunately, I don’t book events where those genres are predominantly featured.
6. How do you keep your music collection up-to-date?
The majority of professional wedding DJs subscribe to at least one major music service pool and use iTunes or Amazon MP3 to find anything else that the pool doesn’t offer. These service pools provide new, radio-edited music, with the most common services being Promo Only, TM Century Prime Cuts, RPM Top Hits Monthly, New Music Server, and ERG NuTraxx, among others.
7. How involved can we be in selecting music for our event?
The answer should be, “As involved as you would like to be”. Remember, it is your private event, therefore, you get influence over the music programming.
8. What happens if you don’t have a song that we request?
It is important to understand the DJ’s policy in this situation. Most DJs will gladly purchase the song off of iTunes or Amazon MP3 if it is easily accessible. However, if the song isn’t, then what? Some DJs may ask that you provide the song ahead of time.
9. Can you provide wireless lavaliere (clip-on) mics for the ceremony?
It is of this DJ’s opinion that two wireless lavaliere microphones are the professional standard for the ceremony where only the bride, groom, and officiant need to be mic’d up. Unless provided for a reader or song performer, a wireless handheld microphone, even on a stand, is simply unprofessional and is far too obtrusive for photos and video. The only exception would be extreme wind, as lavliere microphones are far too sensitive in the wind. Do it right, or find another DJ that can.
10. Do you have any special electrical needs that I need to inform my venue about?
Unless there is a need for a 240-volt power distribution box, or extremely long power extension cords, the answer to this question is likely no. However, some venues may have antiquated two-prong receptacles that may need special grounded adapters in order to work with modern-day electronics. So, it is important for the DJ to either be familiar with the venue or make plans well in advance of the wedding day to visit the venue and evaluate if any special electrical requirements will be necessary.
11. What if something happens to you and you can’t make it to the wedding?
Accidents happen, and any reputable company will have a backup strategy in place in the rare circumstance that a DJ is unable to make it to the wedding. At a minimum, DJs will have a network of other DJs who can help out in the event of an emergency. Some companies will reserve a DJ for every date, ensuring a backup is both available and prepared in case of an emergency. Furthermore, some companies will even have a money-back guarantee and pay for the replacement DJ for you. The answer to this question is important, so you need to feel comfortable that if something unfortunate should occur, you will still have a qualified, prepared DJ at your wedding celebration.
12. Can we visit you at another wedding performance?
Because weddings are exclusively private affairs, the answer to this question should always be “No”. The wedding DJ is there to perform for that couple, not to audition for his next booking. Therefore, the best way to audition your DJ is in person at the consultation, as well as requesting video and audio samples. Finally, think of it this way: would you want two strangers showing up and watching your wedding reception from the back? My bet is no.
13. What will you wear to our wedding?
It is important that your DJ’s look meets your expectations. Most DJs will want to understand the dress code for your event before they describe their look, as it would seem odd to wear a black tuxedo to a casual wedding reception, such as a beach or barn wedding.
14. What will you wear when you set up and break down your equipment?
This is important as some guests tend to arrive earlier than expected or stay after the reception has concluded. Will they see a DJ in a sweaty t-shirt and basketball shorts? Or, will they see someone setting up/breaking down in a more acceptable appearance standard?
15. What technical requirements do you require from us?
Every wedding DJ will have different requirements in order to perform their duties. For some, it may be as simple as a six-foot table and access to power within twenty-five feet; for others, they may require a table, a generator, etc. in order to be successful. Make sure you understand exactly what your DJ needs, so those needs can be forwarded to your venue coordinator, wedding planner, and catering contact.
16. How many people will you staff at my wedding?
Some DJs work alone, while others have a small crew on-site to assist in various duties. If you are planning to provide your vendors with a meal, this question will help you plan accordingly.
17. Do you require a meal?
Some DJs will require that they receive a meal, while others won’t. Some will demand they be fed the same food as your guests, while others will be simply grateful you offered them anything at all. Whether it is out of pure generosity, or because it is a requirement, it is important to know the answer to this question so you can plan accordingly.
18. Do you take breaks?
The answer to this question is “No”. One of the benefits of booking a DJ over a band is that a DJ doesn’t need to take breaks, as the party never stops.
19. Will you meet with me at the venue for a site visit? Is there a charge?
If your wedding DJ is a full-time professional, they should have no issue with meeting you at the venue for a complimentary site visit. Even if they have performed at the venue dozens of times before, the site visit is about accommodating your needs and making sure all vendors (venue coordinator, wedding planner, caterer, decor, etc.) are all on the same page with the floor plan and decor design. If you are booking a part-time professional DJ, this may not be as easy to accommodate on a less flexible schedule. Remember, whether full-time or part-time, DJs are rarely available on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, as those days are reserved exclusively for weddings and events.
20. What type of payment do you accept (cash, check, credit card, Venmo, Pay Pal, etc.)?
Not only is it important to understand what payment methods your DJ accepts, but it is important to understand if any surcharges will be applied for specific payment methods.
21. How far in advance do I need to secure your services?
An experienced, professional wedding DJ will be able to tell you if your date is popular and how far out it is typically booked. They will also give you the courtesy of knowing how many active inquiries they have for your date, which may influence your booking timeline. Generally, in-season Saturdays can be booked anywhere from 8-14 months in advance, and for some DJs in some regions across the country, up to two years in advance.
22. Is there anything we should know about your services that I haven’t asked about?
While this list of questions to ask a wedding DJ covers just about everything you need to know to make an informed decision of who to book, there may be something you don’t know to ask but is important to know about the DJ’s service. Similar to the “What sets you apart from your competition?” question, this question gives your wedding DJ a chance to shine.
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Originally Published: December 1, 2019
Last Updated: January 12, 2022
Image Credit: Dana Pleasant Photography