Questions to ask your wedding DJ before you book.
Finding the DJ that is the best fit for your event can be very difficult. After all, your DJ is the most important vendor for your reception! The DJ is your advocate between you and all of your other vendors and guests. We know what’s out there from our photo booth & photography work. Even if we aren’t available, we are here to make sure you get the best DJ. Here are the questions we would ask as professionals when hiring a DJ.
What is your cost? – Professional DJs will charge $900 to $1400 in West Michigan. DJ/Photo Booth combos will charge $1500 to $2200. Cost is usually dependent on day of the week, location, added ceremony service, and sometimes number of guests. Professionals will offer a 6 hour package. 99% of wedding receptions are 6 hours. They will offer overtime at a reasonable rate. Some services will offer an inexpensive 4 hours, then a $300 – $400 hourly rate after that, all while knowing most events are 6 hours. Our overtime is $175 DJ $200 photo booth.
What’s included in your rate? – MC/Coordination, Audio, Lighting, setup/tear down, travel within an hour of their city.
Do you MC? – All professional DJs will expertly handle your announcements. This means not only saying, “We have some toasts tonight,” but also directing the flow, announcing before and asking for applause after each speaker, & coaching them up before they speak to hold the microphone close and speak loudly. They should also have clear and concise announcements. Your DJ should not have a “DJ voice.” This can be described as a Cedar Point ride host or game show host. You should ask them to demonstrate or ask for a video sample.
Do you coordinate events? – All professional DJs will coordinate events with your photographer, caterer, photo booth, videographer, & any guests that are needed for any events or dances. In working events with our photo booths, we have seen caterers running up to stop the DJ after he announced the buffet, as they needed to serve salads/bread. This happens very regularly. You definitely want the DJ to be actively communicating upcoming events with any vendors as to make sure nothing is missed.
What do you bring for audio? – Your DJs sound system should include two main speakers(vocals/instruments) and one sub woofer(bass,) 2 or more wireless microphones, mixer/controller, computer & backup, amplifier with backup or powered speakers.
What do you bring for lighting? – Lighting should be included. You should hear brands like American DJ & Chauvet. Ask to see YouTube links of the lights they will bring to your event.
What is your setup? – Ask to see pictures of what their equipment set up will look like at your event.
Do you help with planning? – All professionals will help you with anything they can. This includes, room layout, event timing, playlist, etc. Your DJ should have planning paperwork which helps you organize the night.
Good & Bad Ideas – You do not want a “Yes man” as your DJ. Most couple’s have not been married before. You want an experienced wedding industry professional who is not afraid to speak up if something doesn’t sound right or sound like it will work. The final decision should be up to the bride, but it is your DJs ( and all other vendors!) responsibility to have your best interests at heart and tell you if something isn’t a good idea.
Can we meet? – Always! You should always meet your DJ in person if possible or over Skype if a face to face meeting isn’t possible. In the meeting you will go over paperwork, talk about expectations of the DJ/Bride & Groom, Ideas for the event, your room, & many other things so you can both get an idea if you are a good match. You should meet with the DJ that will be at your wedding not just the owner or manager of the company.
Music Played – All great DJs will let you have a must play & do not play list. Do not feel like you should pick every song for the entire night or cross off too many songs from the playlist. You want your DJ to be able to adjust to the current circumstances on the dance floor. Provide your DJ with favorite genres, artists, and other style suggestions. DJs should be playing edited and appropriate music for your event.
Requests – This is becoming a very important topic lately. All great DJs will take requests. All great DJs will also understand requests are not mandatory. Who’s job is it to make sure the BEST songs are played and at the right moment? Dance floor music needs to make sense from one song to the next. Someone needs to make decisions on songs be it the DJ or the bride. You will not please everyone. With every song played, somebody at your event will not like it. It is the DJs job to please the most amount of people possible.
What is your dance floor theory? – Our dance floor theory is to please women. Women are 90% of the dance floor at almost all events. We also like to start in the 60s (and work our way up,) as we know older guests leave earlier. We can then please the most amount of people possible with the short amount of time we have. The dance floor is always in a state of rotation or adjustment. We are constantly connecting songs to what’s currently working or not working to maintain the dance floor. We are also aware or the other areas of the room. The dance floor isn’t always your best indicator of success. Some groups like to talk, drink, play lawn games, etc. We want to see people having a good time everywhere, not just the dance floor.
Do you have a contract? Yes. All professionals will have a contract for your date. The contract should clearly state costs, date, location, what client needs to provide, cancellation terms, payment policies. All without lots of legal jargon.
What is your retainer? Our retainer is $200/$300 depending on if you are booking one or two services. Be leery of any service which has a high deposit. This might be an indicator that clients might try and cancel with them often. Some services have deposits as high as 50%.
Do you offer ceremony service? Yes. On site ceremonies are very popular. We offer a separate smaller sound system with lapel microphone for ceremonies.
How many events do you do in a day, year? How many wedding have you done? We almost never perform more than one event per day per DJ. If there is no risk associated, we might. An example would be a sporting event in the morning then a wedding starting in the evening. We are at 100-150 events per year over all of our services offered. We have no idea how many weddings total we have been a part of.
Is this your career? What else do you do? Yes. This is our career. We are at many sports events as audio or announcers, many school or college parties as photo booth and DJs, many corporate events as photo booth and DJs. We also contribute to Alternatives in motion. Find out more on our GIVING page.
Have you been to our venue? We most likely have. If not, we research the website, talk to the venue, and might even stop out. As professionals, we need to be able to adjust to whatever set up scenario we find ourselves in. This means even if we haven’t been to your venue, we will be more than ok with whatever is thrown at us.
Have you ever missed an event? No. We have never missed an event. If a catastrophe happens, we have a network of DJs we trust to handle the event for us.
When will we go over final event details? We like to meet two weeks before your event. If we meet sooner, we have found there is a high chance of things changing and us not being told about them. We also take care of final payment at this meeting.
Can we see you in action? We never invite perspective clients to current clients weddings. This is a very bad idea and you should run from any DJ who suggests this. It is very unprofessional and completely out of bounds. After all, would you want strangers crashing your wedding? We invite clients to read our reviews and our follow up emails from clients.
How early do you need to set up? We arrive anywhere from 60-120 minutes before the event depending on what we have to set up. We also must be informed of any special set up situations or venue rules about set up ahead of time.
What do you wear? We like to look nice, but not like the caterers or wedding party. The days of a cheesy DJ in a wild tuxedo are over. We usually wear dress khaki or black pants and a button up or polo if it’s hot. We also might wear a dress jacket. Our photo booth attendants will be in business casual wear.
Do you have any up charges, hidden fees, or other additions we should be aware of? The only additional charge we would have is our screen and projector rental. This is popular for slide shows and is rented usually 10 times per year. We do have a small travel charge for events far from our base.
Do you smoke? Do you drink? No we do not smoke at your event or ever. Yes we drink, but not while working. There is no reason your vendors should be drinking at your event. They should also not be dancing with guests or hitting on women/men.
Do you brand your set up? No. There should be no signs, banners, announcements or other shameless self promoting at your event.
Do you have “dead air,” between songs? No. Absolutely not. The only time your music will stop, is during toasts, prayer, and or other planned times. Your music should completely stop during special moments or announcements.