When you start thinking about entertainment for your wedding, Make sure to remember that there is far more to consider than just hiring someone to play music.
First you need to get some referrals. Start with friends, family, parents, photographers, caterers and hotels (friends and family who have had a wedding in the past year or two… ask them if they have a story about their wedding DJ).
You can also use major search engines such as Yahoo, Google, or others. There are also Bridal Magazines and the Yellow pages. Be careful about this though, as many DJ websites are deceitful about price. They pull a “bait and switch’ throwing out ridiculously low numbers and say “starting at” to get you interested. Then they tack on $100-200 per “add-on”. Hire a DJ that is honest about their prices up front (aka, a professional who knows what they are worth and stands by it!).
One thing you will notice right from the start is the great disparity of pricing from one DJ service to the next (see above). However, we suggest that you leave the price topic for last. First you need to find out what makes the DJ worth their asking price. Remember, your entertainment can make or break a reception. While it may be attractive to shop for a DJ by price, just as with every other wedding service vendor, price alone should not be the primary factor in your decision. All DJ services are not equal. Ask these questions in order…(bolded questions are more important)…
- Are you available for my date?
- Do you provide a written contract? (If not, run.)
- How many playing hours are included?
- Will it BE YOU that performs or do you have other DJ’s? (This is critical! Insist on meeting the actual person who will perform. Don’t trust, insist!)
- How early do you need arrive to set up?
- Do you charge by the hour or do you have a package?
- Is there an extra charge for additional hours?
- Can you explain how you conduct the evening?
- Do you plan and prepare the night ahead of time? How so?
- What do you wear?
- Do you do the announcements? Are you the Emcee?
- Are you open to requests? From us? From the guests?
- How large is your music collection and is it varied.
- How do we pick our music for the event?
- Is a wireless mic for speeches included?
- Is basic dance lighting included in the price?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have references I can contact? (If not, run.)
- What type of equipment do you have? (Discuss with them if it’s professional equipment)
- Do you bring back up equipment?
- How much is your deposit/retainer?
- What is the total price for the package?
- Are there any additional charges?
- How is payment arranged?
Remember, there is a lot of prep work that should be done prior to the wedding by the DJ. He/she should absolutely be able to explain what they will do for you in advance to ensure the success of the event. This includes providing a planner, sample format of how the evening will go, a tentative timeline, making sure they have the music you want and more. Advance preparation is what a professional DJ does as part of their service.
A true professional will spend a minimum of 5-10 hours preparing for your reception. This includes going over your plans (consultations), creating custom music playlists and editing, setting up and tearing down equipment, working with other vendors, etc. In other words, what you are paying for is more than just a body pushing play!
Music however, is a very important element at your wedding reception. You have thought about the music you would like and probably imagined the evening as you would like it to be. If the DJ does not have a sufficient music library, you may find your guests won’t be on the dance floor as much as you would like. A budget DJ simply has not invested the amount of money necessary to provide you with a first class selection of music. At a minimum, 5,000 songs is a necessity today for a professional, and 10,000 or more songs makes for a very good music library. Therefore, it is important for you to select a DJ who has invested in an extensive music library. However, along with having the song titles, your DJ should also have a variety of music genres AND the know how to blend them into a pleasing mix. Also, find out if the DJ encourages requests from the guests or does he/she have a set music program. Decide in advance which you prefer. At Seattle Wedding DJ, we have a music library of 10,000 plus songs from ALL genres. We encourage requests (Wedding guests LOVE hearing the request that they just made! We also have hotspot technology to “get” any song that we don’t have… on the spot!
As the guests begin to arrive and enjoy cocktails and their meals, it is nice to have quiet background music playing. At some point after the arrival of the Bridal Party, it is customary for a toast(s) to be made to the new couple. For this, a wireless microphone is a necessity. A wireless microphone allows each speaker to be more relaxed and comfortable and make their speech where they are and a wireless microphone reaches places a standard microphone cannot. A professional DJ should never charge extra to bring or use a wireless mic. Today, it should be a standard part of their equipment setup.
After you book a DJ, you will need to reach them. Knowing they are available full-time without additional costs to you is comforting. Finally, listen to the DJ as they speak. Does he/she have a pleasing voice and personality? Do they act and sound professional? Will they be able to handle “glitches” on that day quickly and with grace? Remember, what you hear on the phone will be twice as good or bad when amplified on a sound system. Make sure the person you are talking to is the one that will do the wedding reception. If they try to pawn you off on one of their employees, ask to speak to the DJ who will be doing the reception. Never, ever accept someone you have never talked to. Remember, having confidence in WHO you hire is of prime importance in all of your planning. As with all things in life, quality and professionalism are priceless.