Katherine D asked us, “How do I pick the right DJ? What special qualities am I looking for?”
It’s an important part of the wedding, and there are a number of things to consider when picking a DJ. Here’s my advice…
1. Start early
The sooner you book your DJ, the better. Not that you should rush to a decision, but a DJ’s datebook fills up fast and you want to be sure to get the DJ you want for the date you want. Going through all the trouble to find the perfect DJ only to discover that they already have a wedding set for the same day is a huge disappointment and means you’ve wasted some time. You don’t need to worry yet about picking your playlist or have the whole evening planned down to the second. Just find the right DJ and go from there.
2. Set your budget
The budget for DJs/entertainment/music is generally 5-10% of the overall wedding budget. Obviously if you haven’t set the overall budget yet, do that first. And once you set your budget, stick to it. If you’ve set a realistic budget (frugal is fine; cheap is not), you should be able to find a DJ that meets your requirements.
3. Get some names
The BEST way to find a DJ is through referrals. If you have a friend (or even a friend of a friend, if you’re really desperate) who was super happy with their DJ, or you remember loving a DJ at a wedding you attended, get those names and contact details. Trusting your DJ is important, and you’ll have a better foundation for establishing trust if there’s a personal recommendation.
If you can’t get any names that way, head to the web. Find local online forums where people are discussing their wedding planning, and some names and recommendations will surface. But you need to be savvy here because there are some people out there who will post fake endorsements. If you want to verify the authenticity of a recommendation, see how active (how many times they’ve posted and over how long a period of time) that participant is on the forum. And if you want further information, you can send them a private message. Someone who has genuinely recommended a service (and is still active on the forum) will likely respond to your message.
4. Research the crap out of those names
You’ve got a bunch of names, but you don’t want to meet with fifteen different DJs. So again it’s time to web hunt. Bring out your inner stalker (is it okay to say that?) and find out everything you can about your DJ. Focus more on his or her work rather than personal life (don’t be too much of a stalker, alright?), and see how many real recommendations you can find, browse their website, find their rates, and maybe see if there are any videos of them on YouTube doing their DJ thing. It’s a process of elimination at this point, so see who still feels right to you and meets your requirements.
5. Meet them in person
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, set up some meetings for the three of you (the DJ, your fiancé(e) and you). If it’s really difficult to arrange a time to meet up, that might be a sign that DJ isn’t right for you, but if they’re really good on paper then it is worth the hassle to meet them. After you’ve done a bit of chatting, there will be questions to answer. DJs worth their salt will have questions for you, too, and this will help you gauge how organized and professional they are. Have your own list of questions ready (we’ll be sharing a list of Bridebird-recommended questions in another post!), and DO TAKE NOTES! It’s possible you’ll have a bunch of DJs to meet with, and you’ll want to clearly remember later who is who.
6. Discuss, discuss, discuss
Right after your meeting, you and your fiance should rank the DJ on a scale of 1–10, plus write down any additional comments (ugly tie, annoying personality, weird laugh… or maybe awesome style, charming and with a voice like silk!). If one of you loved him and the other one is less enthusiastic, average out the score. But if one of you hated him, I wouldn’t recommend hiring. Talk about trust and whether you feel comfortable with this DJ. Once you’ve done all the meetings and rankings, the process of elimination should produce one stellar candidate. It’s entirely possible that when THE RIGHT DJ appears, the heavens will open and angels will descend blaring their trumpets.
7. Sign on the dotted line
Once you’ve picked out your DJ, don’t delay. Hire him (or her) right away! Make sure he reserves your wedding date. He’ll likely have a prepared contract, but read it through carefully (as with all contracts) and question anything that doesn’t seem right to you. Remember, this is someone you are hiring for YOUR event. (I rarely sign a contract without altering it in some way. All you have to do is draw a line through what you don’t like or write an addition.) When everyone signs, then it’s a done deal. Congratulations!
As you can see, it’s a simple process that can take a lot of time and effort. We wish you luck! Or perhaps you’ve already been through this ordeal and have some of your own suggestions? Please share in the comments!
P.S. In addition to the list of Bridebird-recommended questions to ask a potential DJ, we’re also going to share what planning needs to happen with the DJ between signing the contract and your wedding date. Stay tuned!