Category Archives: booking wedding vendors

guests dancing to chicago wedding dj

6 BIG Mistakes Couples Make When Choosing a Chicago Wedding DJ

Choosing a wedding DJ in Chicago may seem like just another overwhelming task on your wedding planning checklist, but it’s definitely not one that you should try to shortcut. A wedding DJ can keep guests on the dance floor or send them heading for the exits.

So how do you choose the best Chicago wedding DJ? We’ve outlined the process for hiring the best wedding DJ in the past. Now we wanted to delve into common mistakes couples make when choosing the right wedding DJ, so you don’t make the same mistake.

Automatically choosing the cheapest Chicago wedding DJ

Managing a wedding budget can be incredibly tricky, especially when there are so many line items and when funds are tight. That’s why it’s important for couples to embrace one of the most important wedding planning lessons: prioritize and allocate funds for the vendors that make the biggest impact on your big day. While wedding favors may be really fun to shop for, your guests are going to care a lot more about a wedding venue with quality amenities, food, and fun.  

Once you’ve allocated most of your funds (approximately 40-50%) for these items, it’s time to choose the wedding vendors (including wedding DJs) that can deliver a quality service. While that quality service does come with a price, it’s typically worth it when you get everything you wanted plus a bit of peace of mind. Basically, a wedding DJ service may cost more than a one-person service, but professionals typically come with quality equipment, quality back-up equipment, an experienced wedding DJ, and an experienced back-up DJ. The result is well worth it, especially when your dance floor is packed and you and your guests are having an awesome time.

“My friend does this on the side…”

It can be incredibly tempting to hire a friend or family member (or a friend or family member of a friend) because it’s so terribly easy, but beware of amateur Chicago wedding DJs. Many amateur services have dated equipment that delivers a terrible sound or don’t let you customize your playlist.

In addition, a one-person wedding DJ service often doesn’t have the back-up equipment or staffing when equipment breaks down or there is a health or family emergency. Sometimes, it might be challenging to contact them because you aren’t their primary focus. You can quickly find out if a DJ is professional or amateur by asking them these wedding DJ questions before you hire them.

No research

When you are looking for a Chicago wedding DJ online, inevitably sites like The Knot or the Wedding Wire is in the top results. Don’t scroll past these results. It is incredibly important to research any wedding vendor before hiring them—including your wedding DJ.

Fortunately, there are more sites than ever before that can make the process incredibly easy. Even social media sites can be filled with a ton of reviews about how the wedding DJ acted, whether they kept guests on the dance floor, if they were prompt, and how interactions with the staff went. While this step in hiring a Chicago wedding DJ doesn’t take long, it’s incredibly worth it!

Waiting, waiting, waiting…gone!

While you should always do your due diligence when choosing a wedding DJ, don’t let the process get so lengthy that you miss out on the chance to hire the best Chicago wedding DJs. These best DJs in the Windy City are in demand, and their calendars fill up quickly.

While hiring a wedding DJ may not be the first item on your wedding planning checklist, it shouldn’t be the last either. Typically, you should start contacting wedding DJs any time between nine months and a year before your big day. When contacting DJs, you should have key details set, such as your wedding venue, date, and even an estimate wedding reception timeline.

Not meeting with your wedding DJ (in-person or virtually!)

While this may sound contradictory, reviews shouldn’t be the only interaction you have with your wedding DJ before your big day. When choosing a Chicago wedding DJ, always try to meet the professional who is going to be in charge of your wedding reception before signing on the dotted line.

Your meeting is your chance to determine if the wedding DJ fits your wedding style, and to see their equipment (be wary if they won’t show it to you). It’s also an opportunity to find out key deadlines that ensure that you get a customized wedding experience that fits who you are as a couple.

Not giving input

Your wedding day should be all about you, including the wedding play list. When choosing a wedding DJ, be wary about hiring a wedding DJ that doesn’t ask about your preferences for music (including what you want played and don’t want played). Unfortunately, many amateur wedding DJs offer a one-size-fits-all play list that usually keeps guests on the dance floor (but may include songs you hate!)

As an added bonus, making a list of must-play and don’t-play songs can be fun! It’s a great way for you and your fiancé to de-stress before your wedding day—while still getting another item checked off your wedding planning checklist.

Bride and groom sharing a special moment at the wedding leaning with their heads close together before their wedding dance

10 BIG Tips for Hiring (Great) Wedding Vendors

Hiring wedding vendors for your wedding reception is a multi-step process that can turn into a maze—but it doesn’t have to! These tips get you the best wedding vendors that make you feel lucky to have the “one(s).”

Wedding Vendors to Hire for the Reception

Once you’ve talked with your fiancé about the style, budget, and guest list, it’s time to start checking items off your wedding planning checklist. The wedding venue is the logical first step, especially because it is the foundation of every wedding detail. Your wedding venue sets the backdrop for your big day, while the wedding vendors provide the “frontline” services that guests notice: the food, wedding reception entertainment, and décor. As such, you should look at hiring:

  • Wedding caterer
  • Wedding music (band or DJ) and entertainment (i.e. lighting, photo booths, etc.)
  • Photographer and/or videographer
  • Florist

When to hire…

Wedding Vendor Months Before Wedding
Caterer 14-18 months
Wedding DJ 14-18 months
Videographer 9-12 months
Photographer 9-12 months
Florist 6-9 months

Tips for Hiring Wedding Reception Vendors

When hiring wedding vendors…

  • Watch for red flags that signal the vendor is an amateur or unscrupulous, such as if they ask for payment in full up front or won’t return your calls or messages.
  • Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors that don’t have a location to meet with you.
  • Research wedding vendors on review sites and social media to ensure that they are trust-worthy and have satisfied other couples.
  • Have a list of questions for every wedding vendor, such as about their availability, if they carry insurance, and any additional fees (i.e. overtime costs, travel fees, etc.)
  • Don’t forget to ask about every wedding vendor’s cancellation policy!
  • Ask wedding vendors if they have a contingency plan in case of emergencies (such as the wedding DJ in case a DJ gets sick or equipment breaks down).
  • Make sure you have a full list of fees and costs before signing a contract.
  • Always read through all the fine print in the contract before signing on the dotted line.
  • Be wary of DJs that don’t ask about songs you want played and not played (tips for crafting an awesome wedding playlist are here).
  • To save time, look for wedding reception vendors that offer more than one service, such as a caterer that offers equipment rentals or a wedding DJ that offers lighting.

Wedding Planning Procrastinators: 5 Vendors You Shouldn’t Wait to Book

young couple buying wedding ring at jewelry store ready to start wedding planningCongratulations on your engagement! We know you want to soak in the glow of your new couple status, but now is not the time to procrastinate in your wedding planning. Put succinctly: you snooze, you lose. That’s right, you lose out on your favorite wedding venue, the best DJ that your guests love, the caterer that makes the most scrumptious finger foods. So get out your wedding planning checklist and start marking off all those satisfying boxes that mean you’ve booked those vital wedding vendors for your special day.

Wedding Venue

You wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during wedding planning. Don’t let the importance of this decision push you into procrastination; the best wedding venues’ calendars fill up early. Decide on your budget and style, and hit the ground with venue tours so you can narrow your choices down to one.

Wedding Planner

If you and your fiancé want to bring a wedding planner on board to stay ahead of the process, don’t wait. Hire a wedding planner early in the process so your wedding planner can be involved in the most important decisions and tie them all together into your dream wedding.

Caterer

No one wants to plan a beautiful wedding with horrible food. For that reason, contact your favorite caterer early or ask your friends or family for recommendations. Don’t wait to schedule tastings that can help you decide on the right caterer that you and your guests’ll crave.

Entertainment

If you want to make your wedding memorable, don’t stop at your dinner vendor. Decide on your entertainment for the evening (band or DJ?), and allocate dollars accordingly. Your event entertainment makes a big impact on your guests’ enjoyment, so don’t skimp when it comes to hiring the best (set up an initial meeting to find out who you’re hiring).

Anyone you really want

The best photographers, caterers, and videographers get booked early. If you have a favorite wedding vendor, don’t wait. Set up an initial meeting with your DJ and get a contract. Contact your favorite baker. If you don’t have time, contact a wedding planner. Resist the urge to procrastinate and enjoy a wonderful wedding later.