In regard to choosing your wedding reception entertainment, a DJ is no doubt a popular choice, and a budget-friendly one as well. So, if you’ve found your perfect music mastermind and they’re available on your big day, you’re probably eager to book them quickly.
Not so fast! As with any wedding vendor, there are several questions you should ask before signing on the dotted line. While things may look perfect at first, it’s important to understand the fine print before making your final decision. Wondering what you should know before making it official? Here are a few key points you should inquire about.
1. What Does the Rate Include?
There’s nothing more annoying than a surprise bill at the end of a fun day, so go over what the DJ’s rate includes and if there will be any extra fees on top. Things like travel expenses, parking, etc. are often forgotten at first glance. Don’t forget gratuity, either. Unless stated in the contract, expect to pay anywhere from 10-20% on top of their rate.
Inquiring about the rate is also important because you’ll verify what they will or won’t do. Set up and take down is especially worth double-checking. Although DJs will often take care of everything themselves, in some venues, that may not be possible for one person to do alone or the venue may require their own staff to hook up any electric or sound equipment (and they might have a fee for that as well).
2. How Flexible Are You on the Playlist?
You probably already got a taste for the DJ’s music, but who knows what your preferences will be closer to the date? In which case, do ask if they have a set playlist or if it’s completely customizable. And if you have specific song requests, either beforehand or on the day-of, will they be able to accommodate? Unfortunately, due to licensing requirements in certain situations, some music may be limited, in which case it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.
This is also important if you plan to have your guests put in requests throughout the day or if you have a “do-not-play” list. Ideally, a DJ might let you go through their plan a week or so prior to the event so that there will be no surprises.
3. Can You Double as an Emcee?
A lot of couples expect that a DJ will also function as a master of ceremonies (or emcee), making announcements about when dinner’s ready or if it’s time for a toast. While in most cases this is true, it’s better to double-check with the DJ instead of assuming anything. On a similar note, do ask how they handle the crowds, or lack thereof, during the reception. Will they motivate your guests to get on the dance floor or do they simply switch up the music until the floor fills itself? This may be important if you have a certain atmosphere you want to create at your wedding. For example, a guy shouting, “Let’s make some noise!” at a highly formal event may not be your cup of tea. In which case, asking ahead of time can prevent problems later.
4. Do You Have a Plan B?
It’s important to be prepared as anything can go wrong—maybe the DJ gets sick or their equipment malfunctions. Whatever the case, you should know what their plan B is should the worst-case scenario hit. Do they have a colleague that can fill in for them? Do they have extra equipment? And, of course, do they have insurance should they cancel altogether? This is arguably the most important question you should ask, so you will have one less thing to worry about on your wedding day.
5. Will You Need Me to Provide Anything?
It’s safe to assume a DJ has all the necessary equipment, but occasionally they may require a few basics such as a table or lighting, which you will need to provide yourself. In addition, it’s smart to inquire about how much space they will need, and if they have any power or amplification requirements.
6. What Will Your Schedule Look Like?
Everyone needs a break and if a DJ is working alone, they’ll probably need several. It’s a good idea to know how many breaks they will take, how often, and what they will do to fill in their absence. Most DJs will put on filler music while they rest so if that’s not suitable for you, ask if they can hire an assistant to take over in the meantime. On a related note, you should also ask if they will be needing a meal—most of the time the answer is yes.
7. What Will You Wear?
DJs are pretty flexible in their “uniform,” but if you have a set style in mind, make sure they can dress the part. For example, if you’re hosting a formal affair, double-check that the DJ has a tux!
8. What Else Do You Do?
Many DJs are starting to double-dip with their services, offering more than just a killer playlist. In which case, you might save both money and stress by asking one person to handle two (or more) jobs. For example, there are DJs that also specialize in wedding planning—who knew? Or, they are able to provide other entertainment such as a photo booth for your big day.