Vetting a Wedding Band or DJ

Wedding singer with a guitar performing at a wedding reception

Music provides the vibe for your entire wedding reception. You want people to have fun and you want the entertainment to make it memorable for you as a couple. Choosing a wedding band or DJ can be a tough task as there are hundreds of options just waiting to be chosen for your big day. We have a few ways for you to find the best entertainment for your wedding.

Vendor Contract

A vendor contract should be a no-brainer when it comes to any vendor for your wedding. You need requests and the price in writing so nothing is left unspoken. Sometimes you may think a DJ or band is just so cool they won’t need a contract or everything is arranged by word of mouth. However, problems can arise when something goes wrong and you need proof that it’s all there in the contract. Pricing, hours, needs, and requests need to be outlined in a legal way. You don’t want to learn the hard way when something falls through and you don’t have any entertainment because nothing was in writing.

Music Style

Always ask the DJ or band about their style of music. Do they play a little of everything or do they stick to a certain type of music? You may want certain songs played and/or you may need help figuring out what songs are best played at weddings. Talk to the DJ or wedding band about a playlist and ask them if they are open to your input. You may have a certain style and want to stick by that type of music for the reception. Most entertainment vendors should understand not every bride and groom want the Chicken Dance and YMCA played at their wedding. If they only like to play rock n’ roll and you love country, you might not be the best match. One thing to understand is no matter their style is that music and banter take time, so not every single song you put on a playlist will get played.

A couple looking over papers together

How Many Hours Are Included in the Price?

Both bands and DJs will usually only play a specified amount of time for their listed price. If you want them to play over this, you usually pay extra. You also need to ask them how many breaks they will need. Bands usually need breaks while DJs can just turn on a quick playlist if they need to take a quick break. Make sure the bands offer filler music for no extra charge during their breaks as well. You may think a listed four hours is enough, but you could be very wrong. The DJ or band will need to start as soon as everyone starts to arrive and they need to stay until you make your big exit at the end of the night. This could be an extensive number of hours so make sure you are all on the same page or have a backup plan.

Hidden Upcharges

Sometimes a price that is too good to be true just might be too good to be true. Ask the band or DJ if they have everything they need for the entertainment or if you need to rent/provide any of it. Sometimes they need extra amps or draping (to hide equipment). Many times there is an upcharge for extra lighting or special effects. Sometimes musicians provide fog machines while others want you to rent their equipment for an extra cost. Always ask what is included in their price. Is the price for a certain number of hours and if it’s a band, do you need to pay extra for more musicians? After you know all that is included, make sure it is all written into the contract.

Do Your Research

Never judge a book by its cover. You may stumble across an entertainment website with all the bells and whistles, yet in person the entertainment is less than subpar. Check out online reviews, like on our own Local Vendors section, to see what others truly have to say about them. Their flyer may have big light shows and fun colors thrown across the room, but it might come with a crazy upcharge you aren’t willing to pay once you do your research. The band may sound great in all their online clips, yet in person their acoustics are off and the crowd could never connect with the band.

DJ performing at a wedding reception

Spirit Level

A bored crowd means a boring wedding reception. Ask the DJ or wedding band how they intend to engage the crowd. Anyone can set up a playlist on an iPod and just hit play, letting the guests dance. What happens when you need introductions or toasts? You want a fun, engaging entertainer to help you with these things so you aren’t stuck with even more on your plate. Ask them what fun throwback songs they will play so your college friends can take a step back in time or what slow songs they will play so your grandparents can have a sweet dance. You can even ask them for a demo or to watch a video performance clip so you can get a taste of the action.

Backup Equipment

A musician never goes onstage with just one microphone. It may sound like something that everyone knows, but an amateur may show up without any backup equipment. Anything can fail so make sure they have backup plans. The DJ and/or band need to know how to use all of the equipment in the actual venue, understanding how it all connects and sounds. They need to know if the sound is muffled in the venue so they can rework their system to ensure the sound is crisp. Turntables allow DJs to manipulate the sound, tone, and speed so they need backup equipment in case this fails to ensure your wedding reception’s music is still good.

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