Five questions to ask before hiring a wedding DJ

The longer I’m in the wedding industry, the deeper realization I have that most couples who are in need of wedding entertainment don’t really know what to look for.  It’s to be expected though, since they likely haven’t had a need to hire wedding entertainment in the past.  Couples planning a wedding need to know but typically don’t know the top five questions to ask before hiring a wedding DJ.

I see posts on social media where people ask for recommendations for vendors.  I think this is just about as good as asking for someone to recommend what meal they should eat at a restaurant they’ve never been to.  While each person will have their own favorites, their tastes are likely different than the tastes of the person asking.  Even more comparable would be to ask the public to recommend a car to you when it’s time for a new one.  There are so many good ones, so how would anyone else know what might be right for you?

A few things that a couple really needs to find out before hiring a wedding DJ:

1) Every DJ plays music.  Not all are good at mixing or blending or even picking the right song for the moment.  How would you know which ones are going to do those things well for your group?  Ask about music selection and experience with the genres that you and your guests will enjoy.  It’s certainly going to be important but honestly, very few people realize that every DJ has their own expertise so when hiring a company of more than one DJ, having a conversation about this may actually not be with the person who will actually arrive to play the music at your event.  Some DJs are great at playing house music, others rap and R&B.  Some play Latin while other are experts at playing a variety of genres.

2) I suggest asking about the company size.  A group of DJs or even a single DJ owner-operator who overbooks more events than they can handle may leave you with an experience that’s different than your expectations.  It’s kind of a common thing to hire a DJ company and then find out that they will send a different person of their choosing.  Sometimes that person may be someone on staff (an employee) and sometimes it’s anyone they can find (online posts asking for available DJs a few hours or days before an event are happening online too).  If that person doesn’t come through, sometimes their services may be canceled, leaving little time to find a replacement.  This is definitely a topic to discuss to ensure that the company’s business practices don’t surprise you at the worst possible time.

3) Requests:  While some DJs will welcome advance requests as well as guests coming up to them during the reception to ask for a song, others may want the freedom to play whatever they want (or what they think will be best for you).  So long as these tactics align with your expectations and the party atmosphere you’re expecting, then all will be well.  But, sometimes that creative freedom or… the opposite, a strict play list prescribed by the couple, could be a mismatch with the audience.  If the guests aren’t digging the music, they aren’t likely to stick around.

4) MC skills and crowd interaction: Almost every wedding DJ that’s really good will have these skills.  Some DJs do not like to use a microphone and even pair up with another person who likes to MC.  This can create a different atmosphere as the MC may actually be or be perceived as a “hype man”, providing a bit of extra wording throughout the experience.  On the other end of the spectrum are those who aren’t lively or interactive with the crowd at all.  You’ll have to decide for yourself where you are in regard to wanting almost no interaction and vocal “enhancements” to full on “hype”.

Wedding DJ/MC Matt Saltzer addresses the guests

5) Ask to see examples of what their equipment installation may look like.  If it doesn’t fit the aesthetic or your vision for the day, ask if they have options that actually will fit your vision and put something in writing to make sure you aren’t surprised upon arrival to the reception.

There are certainly more than five questions to ask before hiring a wedding DJ.  For example; What guarantees do they provide?  You’ll probably find out that very few offer any type of assurance at all.  While a small percentage (around 5%) of them will provide the illusion of a guarantee, even fewer put anything in writing.  Find the answers to these questions and more here:  You can find other questions to ask as well at various sites, including this one: The Most Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding DJ (