Today, we have a guest post from Nicole with Sundown Entertainment NW. She's going to help you figure out what you should be looking for and asking when you're booking your dj. I recently had the opportunity to work with Nicole on A Classic Affair, and she was fantastic! She definitely knows her stuff. I hope that this guest blog helps you a bit with your planning. What other wedding professionals would you like to hear from? Comment and let me know.
Top 10 Questions to ask your DJ
1. Do you offer a contract?
All of the wedding disc jockeys you interview may not have the same standards of professionalism. A written, legal contract is one of the first indicators of whether a DJ is professional and reliable. Furthermore, a contract establishes the DJ’s obligation to the client and outlines what is required for the DJ’s success. For this reason, a written contract is absolutely essential and any DJ not using a written contract in our opinion, should not be considered for a wedding.
2. May we meet with you in person before we sign a contract?
Many wedding DJs and DJ companies attempt to conduct their interviews over the telephone and through email instead of meeting face-to-face with prospective clients. In our experience, there are two reasons a DJ company would do this – either they don’t feel you are worth their time, or they have something to hide. So ask them this question, because a great company will want to meet you as much as you want to meet them, so they can figure out if they are also the best fit for you.
3. How long have you been a DJ and how many weddings have you done?
A wedding is such an important occasion, and you don’t want your DJ’s first wedding to be your own. The number of years someone has been a DJ will give you some indication of their experience level, but some DJs only perform for a few events (and fewer weddings) each year. A DJ with half as many years in the industry may have many times as many weddings under his belt, so you should also ask how many weddings the DJ has done.
4. How many weddings do you do each year?
Just like any other profession, performing for weddings requires one’s skills to be in top form. If a DJ performs for only a few weddings per year, they may not be “at the top of their game” by the time your wedding date arrives. Asking how many weddings they do per year will give you an indication of their level of commitment to your type of event.
5. Do you perform for more than one event in a day?
Some DJs will do as many events as they possibly can, and often try to pack their weekends with all types of DJ work. If a disc jockey has already done an event in the afternoon before your wedding, they will likely be physically exhausted by the latter half of your wedding, which is exactly when they need to be the most alert and active. This is most common at large agencies, where “weekend warriors” may perform at four to six events over a three-day period. It is hard to believe that any DJ could give that many couples an adequate amount of attention leading up to, and on, their wedding day. For us at Sundown Entertainment, we have each DJ only perform one wedding per day.
6. Have you played at our Venue before?
Wedding experience is important, and so is familiarity with your reception site. Every site poses different challenges – different load-in and security procedures, different room sizes and configurations, different acoustics, even antiquated electrical outlets that need to be grounded manually. Hiring a DJ that is familiar with your site will give you peace of mind that you won’t have any surprises on your wedding day. Obviously, even the best DJs can’t have performed at every site in the area (since there are hundreds available in any area), but if he hasn’t been to yours, he should be willing to adequately prepare himself prior to your event by visiting the venue and/or speaking with the site contact and studying a floor plan. At Sundown Entertainment we actually like to meet up with our clients a few months before their wedding date at the venue, to go over the layout of the spaces and the overall plan of the day. So when we walk in, we are prepared, know where to go and place our equipment, and are fully prepared for the events throughout the wedding.
7. Do you act as the “emcee” and make all of the announcements?
Any professional wedding disc jockey should be comfortable with making announcements and serving as the emcee for the wedding, it is a standard part of the job. Some DJs, however, are not comfortable with this and prefer to pass these duties on to someone else, such as a site manager, who may not have a professional voice or experience speaking on a microphone.
8. Can we visit you at a performance?
Hopefully the answer to this question is “no.” We’re sure that you wouldn’t appreciate the DJ inviting prospective clients to your wedding to see him in action. A professional DJ should be willing to take a stand for his clients’ privacy and not offer this as a possibility. Professional wedding DJs never allow this.
9. When do we need to submit our music requests and event details?
Most professional DJs will give you a printed song list and planning worksheet with which to communicate the details of your event; others will give you access to an online planning system that will guide you throughout the entire process. You should be given ample time to make decisions regarding your music choices and event timeline, but the DJ should also require this information far enough in advance so that he can adequately prepare for your event. A DJ who doesn’t ask for your requests at least a couple of weeks before your wedding, may not be able to fulfill them. In addition, the DJ should be willing to accommodate any later changes or additions whenever possible, rather than locking you into a first dance song that you later regret or refusing to alter the order of your toasts.
10. Do you bring backup equipment with you to the wedding?
Even the very best and most well-maintained equipment will malfunction at some point. Your DJ needs to be prepared in case this happens at your wedding. The only way you will not suffer a setback on your special day is if the DJ brings a full second sound system with them to each and every wedding. Having backup equipment in a warehouse 50 miles from your reception site won’t do much good if there is no music at your wedding for an hour.
We hope this helps to ease a little stress, when choosing your next DJ for your wedding day! Just remember, professional companies will answer these questions and more. They WILL want to meet with you ahead of signing a contract if they genuinely care about you and the outcome of your day. I know that we take pride in meeting our clients and building a friendship with them. How else would we be able to cater our equipment to your specific needs and be able to make your day how you envision.
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