Chances are, your wedding guests will leave your wedding and best remember the reception.  They will remember how great the beef tips were or how bad the rubber chicken was.  Maybe, they will be impressed with the great dance music or be depressed with the downer songs.  But, no matter what stands out in the minds of your guests, there is one person who is most responsible to set the mood at your reception—the DJ. 

Usually, the DJ is one of the least paid of your wedding vendors, but this does not mean their role is unimportant.  If your DJ is bad, they could nearly ruin the reception.  But if they are good, you should hardly even notice. 

Find DJ’s Online

The first and best place you should look for your wedding DJ is on the internet.  A quick Google search should reveal a number of DJ in your area.  Visit their website, and if they do not have a website, give them a phone call.  Listed below are a few questions that will determine if you want to physically meet with a DJ and book them for your wedding. 

  • Are you open for our wedding date? 
  • What do you charge per hour? 
  • How many years of experience do you have? 

There are many other questions that you will eventually need to ask your DJ (some more are listed below), but these three questions should help you determine if you want to further consider a DJ for your wedding. 

Obviously, they need to have your wedding date open to be considered for your wedding.  If you are in a bind to book a DJ, you may need to have your date “penciled” in, which usually means that a DJ will hold your wedding date for a given period of time usually lasting no more than two weeks.  Holding your date may require a deposit. 

Weddings on a budget seem to be more popular now than ever.  As such, your question regarding price is of the utmost importance.  Hopefully you and your fiancée created a detailed wedding budget before you even began looking for vendor.  Use this budget to determine which DJs are within your price range.  Although they might warrant a face-to-face meet up, be wary of DJs that are extremely inexpensive as this may be from a lack of experience.  Oftentimes it is the DJs with very little experience that can ruin a reception.  So, before you pick which DJs you want to meet with make sure that they are within your budget and that they have some experience to backup their performance. 

Meet With A Few DJ’s In Your Price Range

Once you have narrowed down your initial list of available DJs, ask if you can individually meet with every one of them (try to narrow it down to only two or three, otherwise you might spread yourself too thin).  If someone is not willing to meet with you, move on to someone else.  They are not worth your time. 

At this meet up make sure that you have a notebook with a list of questions to ask this potential vendor.  Here are some typical and important questions that every DJ should be able to answer:

  • Do you have your own equipment?  Do you charge for extra equipment such as lighting? 
  • Do you “emcee” throughout the reception? 
  • How much control do we have over the music that you play? 
  • What types of music do you specialize in playing? 
  • Do you display a sign while you DJ? 
  • Have you worked at our reception venue before? 

Most DJs come with their own equipment, but some will charge extra for specialty items.  Make sure you are upfront with your expectations for your reception.  Do you want a fog machine or is simple lighting OK? 

It might seem self-evident that your DJ should announce everything that goes on during the reception (you can see why they are so important now, right?), but you must be up front with your expectations.  A DJ should announce everything from your entrance to the reception till when you leave at the end of the night.  Make sure they are there, able, and willing to announce your entire events. 

Some DJs can be control freaks.  They like to play the music they want when they want, but they must understand that you are the one that is hiring them.  Make sure that they will play the music that you want.  That does not mean that you have a playlist for the entire night, but you should certainly have a “Do Not Play” and “Must Play” list.  Also, some DJs specialize in certain types of music such as country, hip-hop, or party jams.  If you cannot stand country music, then make it clear to your DJ to not play any country unless specifically requested by a wedding guest. 

Make sure that your DJ does not intend to post a marketing sign at his or her table during your wedding.  This piece of self-promotion can often make it into your professional photographs and should just be avoided at any cost. 

Although not a make or break issue for your DJ, previous work at your reception venue will give you piece of mind on your wedding day.  Every reception site is different and poses different challenges and opportunities for a DJ.  At the very least, the DJ should be willing to visit your reception location before your wedding date. 

Ask For Referrals For Other Vendors

Ask your prospective DJs for suggestions regarding other wedding vendors.  Chances are, if he or she is good, they will have a network of other quality wedding vendors to refer your way.  Once you contact these other vendors, you should also be able to get a third party perspective on a DJ.  Other vendors seem to have strong opinions regarding who is good and bad in the wedding business.  So tap into this network of knowledge and use it to your advantage. 

Here is a quick list of all the other vendors you must book for your wedding day:

  • Cake Baker
  • Florist
  • Reception Venue
  • Ceremony Venue
  • Caterer
  • Officiant
  • Videographer
  • Photographer