By asking the questions below, you’ll know what to expect from your DJ and they’ll know what you expect from them. And by asking at least three DJs, you’ll be better informed to make the right choice. Let us explain some of the questions to you now…
A career DJ has much more at stake when it comes to providing full-time professional service. A DJ company with a solid reputation will not want to send another DJ to represent them.
Once a DJ has gained experience and confidence, being an Emcee will come naturally to them. Before getting in front of your guests however, a meeting will be necessary to go over all the details in the wedding reception planner. It is common for the DJ to meet with you in your home a few months before the wedding to go over the planner, and to call you at least a week prior to the wedding. A good reception planner will have all the details of the reception including names of the bridal party; times of events happening throughout the evening; type of music to play; and all other details that will ensure the evening's perfection.
“Does your DJ have liability insurance?” is a common question asked by the venue. Liability insurance protects you, your guests, the venue and the DJ.
A good DJ will be known in their own town, so ask the DJ if they are members of a Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If so, contact the Chamber of Commerce or the BBB and inquire about their standing. Also of equal importance in Canada, is the DJ AVLA licensed to play re-recorded music? If not, you could find your entertainment cut short, as it is illegal to play re-recorded music without an AVLA license.
To be considered a professional, it takes some degree of training and experience. Inquire as to where they received their training; was it in a classroom or on the road?
To be sure your DJ will not be unloading and setting up after your guests start to arrive, ensure they will be there at least two to three hours before the event is scheduled to begin. This gives time to setup and test all equipment, and to replace any defective cables or components. It is normal for a DJ to setup the equipment in street clothes, then to change to appropriate attire shortly before the reception gets underway.
Music is very important 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. Should the DJ not have a sufficient music library, you may find your guests aren't going to be on the dance floor as much as you would have like them to be. As a minimum, 5,000 songs is a reasonable library for a professional, and 10,000 songs is a very good-sized music library. But having the song titles may not amount to much if they are not the format you are looking for.
Records scratch, cassette tapes are recorded in a specific order and the tape stretches over time. The best format is of course Compact Disc (CD). Songs on CDs are digitally recorded, so they are perfect virtually every time they are played. A new emerging format is called MP3. MP3 music are digitally recorded then ‘compressed’ to sound similar to a CD recording with slight degradation. Consider a piece of paper - if you scrunch it in your hand, then spread it back out again, it is still a full piece of paper but not exactly the same as before you compressed it.
As the guests begin to arrive, and as they enjoy their meals it is nice to have dinner music playing. DJ packages generally include at least one hour of dinner (or cocktail) music. At this time, it is customary for persons seated at the head table to make speeches or to offer advice or good wishes to the new couple. For this, a wireless microphone is a necessity. A wireless microphone enables everyone to be more relaxed and comfortable as they do not have to stand up and go to the front of the room. And maybe an elderly or handicapped guest may have something to say - a wireless microphone reaches places a standard microphone cannot.
One of the most common horror stories I hear is of equipment failure, and the DJ doesn't have backup equipment with them. Professional series DJ equipment is very expensive - and very, very mandatory. Therefore the most common advice we say to DJs starting out is, “if you can't afford to buy a backup amplifier, speakers, CD player and cables, DON'T DO WEDDING RECEPTIONS!”
After you have determined that a DJ has the right music, to ensure your guests are going to be up on the dance floor you may want to have some effects lighting. Basic lighting is generally included in any entertainment package. This may include a mirror ball with a couple spotlights, or a similar effect.
If the dance floor is large enough, adding effects lighting will generate a good deal of excitement on the dance floor. When operated correctly it also sets the mood for the song. For instance a mirror ball effect is great for the slow dances. Lighting upgrades are usually packaged together with sound upgrades.
The most common sound upgrade is bi-amping. By separating the lows (bass) from the music and amplifying it separately then playing it through bass bins, there are two benefits. First, the sound will be very crisp and clear, and second, the music is louder. For large venues accommodating over 300 guests, a bi-amped sound system is optimal.
Professional DJs charge accordingly. It is very, very seldom that a DJ will charge more than the market warrants (in fact I have never heard of it). If you find a DJ charges more than their competitors, ask them why. And of course if you encounter a DJ charging significantly more or less than their competitors, I anticipate you will know why. One or more of the above questions will tell you why there are price differences.
During the time that you book a DJ, you will need to reach them. Knowing they are available full-time without additional costs to you is comforting. A toll-free telephone number could save you quite a bit of money. And a good website will enable you to send them questions or information anytime - day or night. A well designed website may provide extra benefits such as on-line planners, pricing or upgrade information. It is a good place to begin looking for the right wedding DJ.
- Will you personally be the DJ for our reception?
- If the answer is no:
When can we meet the DJ who will work at my reception so I can see if I feel comfortable with that person/ see if we are on the same wavelength?
- If you are not talking to the disc jockey, also ask:
If the disc jockey we want no longer works for your company when our wedding comes up, what will you do?
- If you are talking to the disc jockey that will work at your reception:
Do you DJ full-time?
- What do you do the rest of the week?
- What kind of experience, background, and education do you have?
- Have you received any formal classroom training as a disc jockey?
- How long have you been a disc jockey, and how many weddings have you performed at?
- Have you handled events of my type and size before?
- What are the reasons you think we should hire you?
- Do you also Emcee the reception?
- How many consultations do you provide in your package prices?
- Do you provide an entertainment planner?
- Do you come to my home or business to go over the entertainment planner?
- Do you carry liability insurance?
- Are you a member of your local
Chamber of Commerce or BBB?
- If in Canada, is your business registered with the Audio Video Licensing Agency Inc. (AVLA) to legally play re-recorded music?
- What time do you arrive to setup your equipment?
- Hours of service:
- Do you wear a suit and tie?
- How many songs do you have in your library?
- What format is your music in? (i.e. records, cassettes, CD)
- Do you provide cocktail/ dinner music?
- Do you provide a wireless microphone for speeches?
- Do you bring backup equipment with you?
- Are basic effects lighting included?
- Do you offer lighting and sound upgrades?
- How many people will cover the event?
- Is a deposit required? If so, how much?
- When is the deposit due?
- May I make partial payments?
- When is the final payment due?
- Is gratuity included in the price?
- If not, what is the percentage of the service charge?
- What percentage are the taxes?
- What is the overtime charge?
- Are there any additional charges not mentioned? (i.e. travel)
- Do you provide a written contract and guarantee?
- What are the refunds/cancellation terms?
By Sasha Souza www.the-whole-shebang.com.
>> How Much Should a Wedding DJ Cost?
(Solid advice for anyone considering a Wedding DJ)