A couple weeks ago we posted an advice piece on how to choose a wedding DJ. So if you haven’t read that yet, you should do so before going through this list of questions. It will provide context and help you find someone to interview.
Okay, now assuming you’ve read the other piece, here’s what to do once you’ve found the guy or gal who you think might be THE ONE (and by THE ONE we mean YOUR WEDDING DJ).
Before you meet
– Ask if the DJ is willing to meet you in person. If the answer is “no” then look elsewhere. You want to be sure the person has the right vibe, because the DJ will largely be responsible for how people remember your wedding. Keep in mind that sometimes you will be dealing with a company, so be sure to only meet with the person who would actually be DJing your wedding. Meeting with anyone else is a waste of time!
– Ask for a resume or some kind of written overview of their experience. This saves some time during the actual interview, and it could give you a good idea of whether or not this is the right DJ for you. If he/she mostly DJs for corporate events, you should keep looking for someone with more wedding experience.
– Ask for an equipment list and a photo of the DJ setup. The DJ you hire should have quality gear, plus backups. Also, most DJs get pretty nerdy about their gear, so if they don’t want to show off what they’ve got, something is fishy. And if you want to know what their setup will look like at your wedding, ask for photos of him/her performing at a few different weddings. You’ll be able to see both what the DJ wears and if they have any banners or tacky self-promotion.
Questions for when you meet
– Why did you become a DJ? It’s a good idea to start with a friendly question to help break the ice. This one works well, plus you’ll learn something about the human side of the DJ (as opposed to the purely business side).
– How long have you been a DJ? How many events have you DJed? It would be awesome if you could find a DJ that has been working for several years and DJed hundreds of weddings and events. But that isn’t always possible, so go with someone who has done at least a dozen weddings. Someone who is a musician and clearly takes music seriously? Even better.
– Do you make announcements and MC? What is your speaking style? Personally, I find peppy and over-the-top DJs to be really annoying. But everyone has their personal preferences, so just ask and see if it works for you. Also, if you have a difficult time understanding or hearing the responses during the interview, a microphone will not improve the situation. If you need music or announcements during the ceremony, this is a good time to address that with the DJ and see if he/she can help.
– Have you performed at our reception site before? If not, will you do a location visit in advance of the wedding? It’s important for the DJ to understand the acoustics of a venue, plus figuring out where they will setup their gear.
– What is your backup plan if your equipment isn’t working properly or if you aren’t able to DJ our wedding? Every DJ should have a backup plan in case of an emergency. Find out what it is. And if a backup DJ is called in, make sure there is a significant discount on the cost.
– What are your rates? What do you charge for overtime, and how much do you require for a deposit? Are you insured? If you’ve set a budget for wedding entertainment, then you already know if you can afford the DJ or not based on the rates they give. Deposits are generally 50% of the total cost, but it’s usually negotiable. Insurance should NOT be negotiable. (All of the vendors you hire, plus the venues, should have their own insurance. You don’t want to be left with a big bill if something goes wrong.)
– What is included in the cost of hiring you to DJ? Don’t leave anything to guesswork. The DJ should be able to answer this in clear and certain terms. Know what you’re getting!
– How do you keep your music collection updated, and how do you customize the music for each wedding? How involved can we be in selecting music? If you or your significant other are serious music fans, you’ll likely want a say in what is played at your wedding. Find out how involved you can be, and how the DJ usually handles the collaboration (deadlines for submitting playlists, etc.). If you don’t care so much about particular songs but more about the unique feel of your party, see how the DJ arranges that.
– How do you prepare for a wedding? What do you need from us? The answers to these questions helps you understand the DJ’s process and see how organized he/she is. And knowing what the DJ needs from you and when keeps responsibilities clear so everything can run smoothly.
Some additional considerations
– Do not under any circumstances forgo signing a contract! It is essential.
– Make it clear that drinking alcohol and taking smoking breaks aren’t cool. The music should play continuously, and no one wants to deal with a drunk, smelly DJ.
– If you’re having a fairly formal wedding, specify that you’d like the DJ to dress in business casual attire if he/she wants to wear different clothing during set up and take down.
– Consider that the DJ may need or want to eat, so find out and then be sure to include him/her in the count for the caterer.
– Feel free to ask for references!
The thing about interviews is that you aren’t just seeking answers to your questions. You’re also getting a feel for the candidate to see how knowledgeable and experienced the DJ is, not to mention how confident and whether their persona is one that you like. Keep this in mind as you talk with the prospective DJ, and do not ignore your gut feelings!
Have any questions for Rachel? Ask away, and she’ll address them in the comments.