What To Look For In A Wedding DJ?

If you're looking to hire a DJ for your wedding, you should keep in mind that Wedding DJ's have a unique skill set that is specifically taylored to weddings.  It might come as a surprise that DJing a wedding and a nightclub require two very different skillsets.  To help you find a good wedding DJ, we've put together some suggestions that will help you identify the right candidate for your wedding.  Some of these questions are borrowed and used with permission of the American Disc Jockey Association.  Others are based on over 15 years of experience as wedding entertainment professionals in Southern California.

Questions you should ask before you hire a Wedding DJ

This first set of questions is aimed at getting an idea of their experience, business legitimacy and professionalism

  1. How many years have you been DJing? Look for a minimum of 3-5 years in the industry.  Avoid DJ's who are just starting and looking for a way to build up their portfolio.
  2. How did you learn how to DJ? Look for training under other established DJ's and Entertainment Companies.  
  3. How many weddings have you done? Look for a minimum of 15 weddings.  Preferrably over 50.
  4. How is a wedding DJ different? Look for a clear and complete understanding of what a wedding involves.  It requires different equipment, a different skillset and a different mentality.  If your DJ says "I can keep them dancing all night" run!  Wedding DJ's need to do more than just get people dancing.
  5. Where do you get your music? Look for subscriptions to music pools.  The leading pools are Promo Only and PrimeCuts.  If a DJ is downloading music "on a hard drive" chances are their music library is pirated.  So you should ask yourself:  Do you want to hire a "pirate" to DJ your wedding?  If they are not ethical in the way they acquire music, do you think they would treat you ethically as well?
  6. Are you insured? There are many venues that require their DJ to be insured.  A $1M (one million) dollar liability policy is typically required.
  7. Do you use professional equipment? Look for brands like Pioneer, Numark, Denon, Bose.
  8. Will you have backup equipment at my wedding? I have seen many DJ's who claim to have backup equipment.  And they probably do.  But it's not going to do much good if they leave it at home on your wedding day.  A professional DJ should have at least one additional sound system on the premises on your wedding day.
  9. What would you do if your computer crashed the day before my wedding? Look for "multiple" laptops/computers, loaded with all your music.  Some DJ's also go as far as making copies of your most important songs (first dance, ceremony music, etc.), and having a CD ready to go with all the special music for your wedding.  
  10. What are your backup plans in case of an emergency? Look for different forms of redundancy and networking.  For me, as a member of the ADJA, I rely and call upon fellow DJ's to help me out in times of need.
  11. Do you offer a written contract?   Look for a written contract that clearly specifies the services.  Ceremony, reception, cocktail, etc.  If lighting and other additional services are required, these should be spelled out as well.
  12. Can we meet before we book your services? Look for flexibility to meet with you.  Lack of flexibility may mean that the DJ has other business priorities.  This doesn't mean that a "part-time" DJ is necessarily a bad choice.  It just means they may not be at your beck and call whenever you have a question.

The next set of questions is related to their performance, skill and ability to perform professionally and efficiently at your wedding.

  1. Do you offer planning assistance? Most professional DJ's will help you plan a working timeline and help you select music.  Most DJ's will meet with you to help you plan your wedding.  In addition, some have an online planner or web page where you can make modifications at any time and exchange/interact with your DJ using this valuable tool.
  2. How many staff members will you have at my wedding? Most professional DJ's use a two man team for many reasons.  Typically one works as a dedicated Master of Ceremonies (MC) while the other handles the music (DJ).  This also speeds up the setup and break-down process before and after your wedding so you may avoid incurring additional charges.  A two-man team usually offers more continuity and flexibility for your wedding.
  3. What makes you different than the next DJ? Look for unique ideas and skills that fit your ideals.  Are they using intricate ideas while you're planning a simple wedding?  Do they really "get" what type of wedding you want?
  4. How would you dress for my wedding? Look for flexibility.  You wouldn't want your DJ to be dressed in jeans when you're having a black-tie wedding…  or vice-versa.  Make sure, whatever your DJ wears is acceptable to you and fits with your overall wedding theme and ideas.
  5. Do you have some pictures of your setup? Make sure your DJ sets up cleanly.  No loose wires/cables that are unsightly or create a trip hazard. Some DJ's have recently adopted the use of DJ facades that "hide" their equipment with/without lighting.
  6. Do you have/offer a wireless microphone for toasts? A wireless microphone has become a staple of the wedding reception.  Make sure your DJ has at least one, or two wireless microphones.
  7. How would you stimulate a dying dance floor? There are many techniques that an experienced DJ can use to stimulate a dying dance floor.  Some DJ's will have additional activities available as well.
  8. Do you have references? Most experienced DJ's will have references from other wedding professionals.  Perhaps they've worked with your photographer, your venue, or your florist in the past?
  9. Do you have any reviews? Look for online reviews on established wedding web pages such as TheKnot.Com or WeddingWire.Com.

The next set of questions is related to additional services they might offer

  1. Do you offer a photo booth? Photobooths are rapidly becoming the next big thing in wedding entertainment.  Not only do you get an opportunity to entertain, but you have a keepsake for you and your guests to treasure.  A much better alternative to wedding favors!
  2. Do you offer decorative lighting? Another current trend is the use of uplighting to enhance your venue.  Even the most elegant of venues can be greatly enhances with uplighting, custom monograms and pinspot lights.
  3. Do you have different packages? Look for variety.  No two weddings are alike, so your DJ should have different wedding packages to accommodate your needs and those of other couples who might want something different.
  4. Do you have references? Look for
  5. Do you have any reviews? Look for
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  7. Do you offer additional services?  Look for

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