You and your fiance sit down to discuss your wedding plans and priorities, and you keep circling back to one idea – you just want your guests to have fun! Yes, you want everything to look and feel beautiful, but above all else, you want your family and friends to have a really good time at your wedding. But how do you make sure that happens? There are plenty of entertainment options if you want to get creative or give guests a fun surprise, but the most sure-fire way to show your guests a good time is to get them out on the dance floor with an incredible DJ leading the way. So how to you make sure you hire the best DJ for your big day?
So Tell me What you Want, What you Really, Really Want in a DJ
Before you ever consider giving someone your hard earned money, you need to know that they can provide you with the services you want and need… but what do you want and need? Really dive into what your dream wedding looks like, especially when it comes to the dance floor. Do you want more slow dancing, do you want a club vibe, or do you want more DJ games and activities? What genres do you love, and what do your guests love dancing to (and if those are different genres, how can they be combined on the playlists)? Do you want your DJ to provide the ceremony and cocktail hour music, or just the reception? Do you plan on having the DJ be your emcee as well?
Once you have your general list of priorities, this will help direct your conversations with potential DJs. If you know that your bridesmaid wants to serenade you during the reception, can the DJ provide an instrumental version of that song and a microphone for the bridesmaid? If you have a traditional/cultural song that is special to you, with the DJ be able to play that? If you want the anniversary dance, can the DJ oblige?
I’ve Been Looking for You
Now that you’ve jotted down some notes about what you’re looking for, it’s a lot easier to search for your perfect fit. Online directories and a Google search with those specific DJ qualities will help you create a list of options in your area that meet your basic requirements, and their websites will often have prices listed to help you stick with your budget. But as with any vendor selection, recommendations from friends and your trusted vendors can go a long way. If you know someone who had to hire a DJ for their own wedding or event, you can ask them what they loved and didn’t love about their experience, and if they’d recommend the DJ they worked with.
Create a short list of three or four DJs who can meet your requests and fall within your price point, and get ready to send some emails to narrow down the list.
This is the greatest show… right?
Since the DJs work can’t truly be photographed, you may have to go an extra step to see their past experience and make sure they’re the right fit for you. If you don’t have any recommendations for a particular DJ yet, make sure you read any online reviews and ask if you can reach out to one of their past clients to learn about the experience.
You’ll also want to make sure (via their website or email) that you can listen to sound clips or watch videos that show off their past experience. Check with the DJ to see if they primarily work weddings, clubs, or if they do this as a hobby. This may influence whether or not you feel like they are a good fit for your day. After all, you want your wedding to be the greatest day, and the entertainment matters.
Who Run the Wedding? – DJs
While some DJs are only hired for the reception music, many are also present for the ceremony and cocktail hour music – which means they can greatly influence how smoothly the whole day runs, from one stage to the next. If you want the DJ to facilitate the cocktail hour and act as the emcee for the reception, you’ll want to check and make sure those options are available in the package you select.
The way they interact with your guests may impact the experience at your wedding. Do you want your DJ to pump up the crowd and get them on the dance floor by interacting with them and hyping guests up over the microphone, or would you rather she adjust the music selection based on the crowds reactions?
If the DJ will be the emcee, what is his announcer style? Does he get excited and announce you to the reception like you’re the stars of your favorite team? Or does she keep a calm, relaxed atmosphere through the event? And if you want to include any DJ games like the shoe game or anniversary dance, does the DJ have experience with activities like this?
Play that Funky Music, DJ
If you feel like the DJs personality will work with your wedding style, it’s time to start talking about music. Make sure that your DJ will have your favorite genres and songs, since they won’t have every song ever in their music library. And if there is a specific song you request that they don’t have, are they able to add new songs to their library? You’ll also want to ask if you can provide the DJ with a playlist of favorites, as well as a do-not-play list so you don’t hear anything that you don’t like.
Beyond the pre-planned music, think about if you want your guests to be able to make requests during the wedding – and then ask how the DJ handles these situations. You may be particular about what music is played on your big day, and you know a friend or two who might make a request that you don’t approve of; let your (potential) DJ know how you would prefer the evening go in this regard, so there are no unwelcome surprises.
Whatcha working with?
You might not know much about sound equipment, but it’s still important to ask what the DJ is working with – after all, you don’t want someone to show up with an iPhone playlist and a small speaker! Decide if you want state of the art equipment, and be sure to ask if the DJ has backup equipment in case something happens.
Where will the DJ be working within your venue? If it’s multiple sites, such as an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, will they be able to provide speakers, mic for officiant, and sound equipment for your ceremony space? Will they need to move anything between the ceremony and cocktail areas? Will there be extra microphones for toasts? Additionally, see if your DJ has ever worked at your chosen venue, since each venue can have different acoustics that affect how she works – while previous experience there is not necessary, it can be an added value.
The Dirty Details
So, you’ve found a quality entertainer who will keep your dance floor packed – but before you sign anything, make sure you’ve got all the dirty details figured out. Double check how many hours are included in the base package, and how many you need. What would an extra hour of service cost, in case you need to adjust closer to the wedding date? If you want to have an after party or stay later into the night, will the DJ be able to stay for an extra cost per hour? If guests ask for an encore (’cause he’s just that good), will he play an extra song for free or stop strictly at the end of his contract?
And finally, are there any extra services you want, or they offer, that sound good to you? Many DJ services have optional special lighting, fog machines, and other special effects. If any such items are also desired, make sure you discuss the details of those items as well.