Interviewing DJs? Here's Your "How To" Guide.
Updated: Mar 1
This post covers the importance of hiring a professional vs. amateur DJ. While on the surface, it may seem like a DJ is just a DJ, we’ve seen and heard stories where couples found out… on their wedding day… that hiring a DJ for less almost always meant getting less of a DJ. Far too often, it also means not getting the day you envisioned, or even worse, a ruined wedding day. In an effort to create & plan a great wedding celebration, see below for the steps you can take to make sure you have one heck of a party!
One Caveat: If you're in search of a low-key event where music is not hugely important, then this may not be a post you'll benefit from. We do understand that the role of a DJ may not be as important to some people. If you are looking for the celebration of a lifetime, choosing the right DJ is critical to the success of your wedding day.
As Written For “The Overwhelmed Bride” By Kurtis Cross
Looking for a DJ is no easy task. From Craigslist to a family friend…a referral from a colleague or a typical web search, your search for a DJ will yield plenty of results. Quite often however, too many choices can be overwhelming. After sifting through the available choices, there are must-haves and red flags that should be considered before choosing “the one.” Knowing the right questions to ask, when searching for a professional wedding DJ, will help your search! So let’s get right to them!
Questions To Ask
Besides the usual “Do you have my date available?” and “What is your cost?”, there are some very important questions that are definite musts when interviewing a potential DJ.
1. What services do you provide?
It may seem silly, but really, it’s not! A DJ doesn’t just play music, they provide the entertainment for the night. Packaging their additional services, such as lighting, will not only save you some bucks, but will save you time in searching for additional vendors for these other services.
2. Will you be my DJ?
Many DJ services act as a "booking agency" whereby the person you email or chat with, may not be the actual DJ. Hiring a DJ is something that you'll want to do by getting to know the personality of the actual DJ who will work your wedding. So ask to be in contact with the actual DJ. This is a sure-fire way to make sure that your personalities mesh and that the details of your wedding are understood by the person who will be at your wedding.
3. Are you a full-time professional wedding DJ?
You know, there is nothing wrong with a DJ who has another job on the side. But hiring a professional WEDDING DJ is a must! There is a difference between a great nightclub or private party DJ and a wedding DJ. The person you hire needs to be able to run your celebration smoothly from beginning to end. This can only come from experience.
4. What is your backup plan in case your equipment fails that night?
Every professional DJ is going to have fantastic equipment. So I wouldn't worry about brand names & model #'s. You do, however, want to know what their back-up plan is, in the event of equipment failure. A professional DJ should have back-up equipment at your event location. Some deejays will tell you that they've never had an issue with equipment or that their equipment is "the best." This sounds great, but your wedding day is the wrong day for their first equipment failure. Back-up equipment is a must!
The Five Requirements
1. Public Reputation – What are people saying on wedding chat boards and reviews? Don’t look for just a few glowing reviews. A professional & reputable DJ will have plenty of reviews. Look for 20, 30 or more POSITIVE reviews. Now, there is nothing wrong with one or two negative reviews. Remember, reviews are subjective. A couple of negative reviews should not alter your opinion of a great vendor, especially if there are plenty of positive reviews to the vendor's credit.
2. Experience – Although every DJ has to get their start somewhere, your wedding day is not where a DJ should gain this experience. It takes more than 20 or 30 weddings to become a pro. The type of DJ experience is important as well. A veteran nightclub or school dance DJ will not make for the perfect wedding DJ. An experienced wedding DJ is what you'll want to look for.
3. Flexibility – As this is your wedding day, you’ll want to work with someone who is in tune with your needs and is willing to be flexible and/or adjust to accommodate you. Each wedding & each couple is different. Does your DJ have the experience to be flexible and offer solutions to accomplish your vision on wedding day?
4. Responsiveness – A professional will be attentive and responsive to your needs. Responses to e-mails and phone calls should be efficient and thorough. While an immediate response to each email is not expected, a professional should respond to you within 24 hours or by COB Monday, after a weekend.
5. Personality – You may find someone with experience, great equipment and the right price… however, if their personality does not match with yours or their style is not in tune with what you are looking for, then (sorry!) you do not have the right match. The personality of your DJ is a key ingredient to the success of your wedding celebration.
The RED FLAGS: Do NOT Hire A DJ If Any Of The Following Is True!
1. No Website – Any professional vendor, will have a website. If they don’t… RUN!
2. No Insurance – A comprehensive liability insurance policy is a must. Not only do many hotels, banquet halls and venues require this, but a DJ who has not invested in this essential business policy is rolling the dice.
3. Lots Of Nightclub Experience – A great nightclub DJ does not make a great wedding DJ. I’ve been on both sides of this. I started as a nightclub DJ years ago. I had a blast and was a part of many successful nightclub ventures from NYC to Miami, FL. When I got into performing for weddings, it was a humbling experience. Weddings require more polish, experience, professionalism and attention to detail. While you may hear a great DJ at a nightclub, this seldom transfers into a great wedding DJ.
4. Lack Of Willingness To Meet – You should always meet your DJ, either via FaceTime, video chat or in-person. You’ll want to get a feel for their personality, appearance and how they will interact with you and your guests. If it's tough to get an appointment to chat or meet, this is a sign of the difficulty you'll have in communicating with them, down the road.
5. Negative Reviews Or Very Few Reviews – Again, every DJ has to get his/her start somewhere, right? Your wedding, however, is too important for a DJ to use this day as practice. A DJ with many negative or very few reviews likely lacks the experience and quality needed to successfully perform at your wedding celebration. Look for at least a 90% positive review rating.
6. Bargain Basement Pricing – Quite simply put, a DJ for less is less of a DJ. The cheapest DJ in town is likely a "weekend warrior" or "basement DJ" who has not invested in their business. From equipment to experience, the cheapest DJs are never the best choice.
7. No Contract – Enough said! No written contract? Walk away.
So how do you know when you’ve found “the one”?
The right DJ for you, must first be a professional. Your personalities will mesh well. He/she will be responsive to your needs and will go the extra mile for you from your first phone call or e-mail through your final dance. Not only can you see this DJ as your M.C. but you’ll feel a sense of relief when hiring them. You’ll be able to trust that your needs will be covered from start to finish. You won’t second guess their ideology because you are confident in your choice. They’ll have a variety of music, a great reputation and they will be willing to exercise flexibility to accomplish your dream wedding day. You’ll feel comfortable enough to call or e-mail them with questions and ideas. They'll be on your side... they'll make the planning process, stress-free. Last but not least, you’ll know that their primary goal is to HELP you achieve your dream wedding celebration.