Category Archives: choosing a wedding dj

shot of people dancing at epic wedding reception

Wedding Playlist: 5 Ways to Choose the Perfect Wedding Reception Songs

The perfect wedding playlist should more about quality instead of quantity. Instead of asking, “how many songs do DJs play at weddings?” (the answer is typically 15 per hour), think more about the wedding reception songs you want included in your playlist.

Make a list of “special” wedding songs.

The most logical place to start crafting a wedding playlist is by choosing the wedding reception songs that are played during those special moments. After all, these are the memorable moments that you can look back on for years:

  • Wedding party entrance
  • Father and daughter dance
  • Mother and son dance
  • First dance
  • Bouquet toss
  • Garter toss

As you select these songs and the right wedding DJ to play them, be careful about hiring a DJ that doesn’t give you the option to customize your wedding playlist. You don’t want to get stuck with a wedding DJ who uses the same list over and over and doesn’t give you the chance to hear your favorite tunes.

Start listening to songs.

Some couples have a million songs they want played. Others have no clue! It’s okay to fall into either category. If you fall into the latter, the best way to decide on first dance songs and choose a few favorites is to start listening to songs. (If you’re planning a throwback wedding, make sure your ‘must play’ songs are from the right time period.)

Make a short list of favorite and not-so-favorite songs.

The best wedding DJs customize the wedding reception playlist to your special night. (If they don’t, be worried!) You should always choose your wedding DJ carefully (with this list of wedding DJ questions); the best DJs are the source of many memories and are well worth the funds.

Mix it up.

As you make a list of favorites, don’t forget that the wrong song at the wrong moment can really kill the mood—and clear the dance floor! A good wedding DJ can help with selecting the right song at the right time, but you can help them by not overloading your playlist with slow songs.

Don’t nix all your guests’ favorites.

Everyone has a few songs that sound like nails on a chalkboard. However, you should make sure your list of “most hated” songs doesn’t coincide with your guests’ favorites.

Lean on your DJ’s experience and expertise.

Remember that you hired your DJ for a reason. An experienced wedding DJ comes with a whole list of perks. At the top of that list is expertise! A good wedding DJ knows what songs to play at the right time. It’s okay to leave the wedding reception playlist up to them and enjoy an awesome night of wedding songs.

wedding day planned after meeting with DJ

What is included in a wedding DJ cost?

Budgeting funds for a wedding DJ can feel like a guessing game full of questions. How much does a good wedding DJ cost? What services does a wedding DJ offer? How do I find a wedding DJ that keeps my guests on the dance floor without busting the budget?

Hiring the Right Wedding DJ

Every wedding DJ offers different services as part of the cost. At the very least, a wedding DJ should offer the basic services: equipment and a DJ. At the very most, a wedding DJ service should provide equipment, an experienced (this is important!) DJ, back-up equipment and DJ (in case of emergencies). Some DJ services also provide other entertainment as part of a package deal, such as lighting or a photo booth rental.

Choosing the right DJ and wedding DJ cost starts with setting a wedding budget. (This article from Wedding Wire can give you insight into the amount for the wedding DJ line on the budget.) The next step is to compile a list of wedding DJs to contact about services and wedding DJ cost. As you contact DJs, watch for red flags that signal they are not the right DJ for your special day. Be cautious about wedding DJs who don’t have a business address, don’t want to meet or show their equipment, or don’t return your calls.

Once you have compiled a prospective list of wedding DJs, interview each service to narrow down your options. Ask each wedding service:

  • “Are you available on our wedding DJ?”
  • “How long have you DJ’ed at weddings?”
  • “What is the cost of your services? What do those costs cover? Do you charge overtime fees?”
  • “Have you ever DJ’ed at my venue? Do you charge a travel fee for coming to my venue?”
  • “Do you have insurance? Can you provide proof of insurance?”
  • “What is your plan if your equipment breaks down or a DJ can’t make it?”
  • “Do you offer any other services or package deals?”
  • “Is dinner music provided as part of the cost? Does the DJ serve as an emcee?”
  • “Can we meet? What is the best way to contact you as we plan our wedding reception?”

In addition to an interview, research each DJ service. Check their social media sites and major wedding websites for reviews from past customers. Before signing on the dotted line, carefully review the contract fine print to ensure that the DJ is the “one” who fits your needs and your budget.

Wedding Budget Tips

  • Allocate the majority of budget funds for wedding details that make a big impact on guests, such as the venue, catering, and entertainment. While a particularly budget-busting favor may be incredibly cute, good food and an excellent wedding DJ have a bigger overall impact on guests’ experience.
  • Use a wedding budget checklist or wedding planning app to stay within budget and avoid overspending on minor details.
  • If the wedding budget is a concern, try to choose a wedding date during the off-peak season (when weddings aren’t popular) and on a day that isn’t in high demand (such as a Thursday, Friday, or Sunday).
  • Always review every vendor contractor for hidden fees, such as overtime charges by wedding DJs.
  • Ask wedding vendors if they offer additional services or package deals. Many wedding vendors offer discounts for packaged services (i.e. many wedding DJs offer discounts for music and lighting).
  • While sticking to a wedding budget is important, be cautious about always choosing the lowest cost option. The cheapest vendor is not always the best vendor for the job.
  • Carefully screen each wedding vendor. Look for red flags, such as a vendor with no business address or no communication before the big day.

Ways to Find (and Hire) a GOOD Wedding DJ

wedding dance floor with deejayA fantastic night of dancing at your wedding reception is about more than music. Planning an epic wedding reception is not difficult, but it does require hiring a few quality vendors. An excellent photographer, a great videographer, an awesome wedding venue for pictures, an over-the-top wedding bar—they all play a part in creating the perfect setting and capturing memories from an unforgettable night of dancing and fun.

The main factor in a really awesome wedding dance is undeniably the main entertainer: the band or wedding DJ (weigh options for wedding reception entertainment here). If the latter is the “one,” use these ways to find and hire a local wedding DJ that fits the occasion (and those high expectations!)

Chicago Wedding Shows

The easiest way to find a DJ is to head out to one of the many wedding shows held throughout Chicagoland; this is also a time-saving way to compile a list of potential wedding vendors because they are all together in one location. Bring your wedding checklist (or binder) so you can kickstart your wedding planning off on an organized foot.

Social Media

Social media can serve a dual purpose when finding and choosing a wedding DJ. Depending on the social media channel, the site can be a useful source of testimonials (are other clients satisfied with their service?) and examples of service. If the potential wedding DJ is a serious prospect, don’t hesitate to contact the DJ through social media (a good DJ promptly responds).

Wedding Sites

Wedding websites like the Knot or Wedding Wire can be a useful first step in wedding planning. These sites are full of potential local wedding vendors, along with information and reviews. As an added bonus, these sites can be a valuable asset when vetting wedding venues that require couples to choose from a list of wedding vendors.

Recommendations

Friends and family can be an excellent source of wedding DJ recommendations. Think, “I used this wedding DJ and he was awesome!” or “Don’t use the wedding DJ that was at my cousin’s wedding because…” Be extra careful about recommendations that are not based off of personal experience, such as “My brother…” or “My friend’s friend does it on the side.” These recommendations can lead to amateur DJs who don’t have quality equipment or a back-up in case of emergencies.

Review Sites

Online review sites can be an easy way to compile a list of potential wedding DJs. When sifting through comments, understand that some internet trolls leave false negative reviews. However, if the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, proceed on to the next step: interviewing potential wedding DJs.

Interview

Don’t hire a wedding DJ without a thorough interview. An interview can help cross wedding DJs off the list because their prices exceed the wedding budget, they aren’t available, or for a variety of other reasons. The interview can be done via phone, in-person (schedule an appointment), e-mail, or social media. Ask these questions:

  • “Are you available on my wedding date (or these dates)?”
  • “How long have you been in business?”
  • “Do you have any references?”
  • “Do you offer any other services (lighting, photo booth, etc.)?”
  • “Can you do….[insert a special request]?
  • “What is the final total cost of your services?”
  • “How long is covered by the quoted cost? Are there overtime fees?”
  • “How much of a deposit is required and when will the balance be due?”
  • “Is there a travel fee to come to my venue?”
  • “What is the cancellation policy?”
  • “Can you provide proof of insurance?”
  • “When can we schedule a meeting? How often would we meet to discuss details?”
  • “Does your company have back-up DJ and equipment?”
  • “How soon would you arrive before the wedding?”
  • “What kind of electrical needs does your equipment require?” (for an outdoor wedding)
  • “What services are included in your wedding package?”
  • “Can your DJ offer dinner music? Can I tell you what songs I want and don’t want?”
  • “Will the wedding DJ be in formal attire?”
  • “How many years wedding experience does my DJ have?”
  • “What is the best way to contact you?”
  • For busy couples: “can we meet via the internet or over the phone instead of in person?”

Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Your Wedding DJ

wedding DJ equipment at wedding receptionYou’ve decided to hire a DJ for your wedding reception. Good choice! The next step is to sift through your options and choose the right DJ for your big day. As you sift through your options, make sure you avoid the pitfalls of hiring a sub-par DJ that doesn’t fit with your budget or your expectations.

Being fooled an amateur

There are a lot of self-professed DJs out there with old-fashioned equipment and a play list. Don’t be fooled by their cheap price tag; it comes laden with risks. These amateur DJs don’t have back-up equipment in case their less-than-stellar equipment gives out. They usually don’t have another professional DJ in case they can’t attend (and a close buddy who doesn’t have a lot of experience doesn’t count). Typically, they don’t have a huge playlist of songs or the experience to adapt their song list to the crowd.

How to avoid this mistake: Look for the red flags of an amateur, such as a reluctance to meet at a place of business or unwillingness to show you their equipment. When talking to prospective DJs, ask them if they have back-ups available in case of an emergency (along with these other questions). Be wary of any DJs that don’t answer your phone calls or contact you several times before your big day.

Waiting too long

As much as you want to enjoy your engagement, the best wedding venues and vendors (including DJs) get booked quickly. Many a couple has experienced disappointment because their favorite DJ is already booked on their wedding date.

How to avoid this mistake: Contact an experienced wedding DJ as soon in the planning process as possible. Make sure you’re clear about deadlines, such as when they need the contract and down payment, so you can make sure you have an excellent DJ booked and confirmed for your wedding day.

Not asking the right questions

The only surprise you want on your wedding day is how much fun it is, not hidden fees or an absentee DJ. Not asking the right questions or reading through the fine print can leave you with an unpleasant surprise after your wedding reception.

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure you ask your DJ a full list of questions when you interview them so there aren’t any surprises later. Use this list of questions so you can find out all the important details, such as a full list of fees (and how long the costs cover) and what the back-up plan is in case of emergency (i.e. broken equipment, sick DJ, etc.)

Not getting asked the right questions

Don’t get so caught up in making sure you ask the right questions that you overlook what you’re not getting back from your DJ. It’s easy to be so charmed by your DJ that you don’t notice that they have a one-size-fits-all play list they use at all their weddings.

How to avoid this mistake: Be vigilant about what your DJ tells and asks you. Your DJ should ask you for key information, such as what songs you want played and never want played at your wedding (here’s how to draft the right ‘do not play’ list).

5 Ways to Avoid Wedding Disaster on Your Big Day

happy young beautiful bride after wedding ceremony having funA torn dress, drunken toast, unexpected downpour…there are a lot of things that can go wrong on your wedding day.  While you can’t avoid all of the emergencies that come up on your special day, you can take these steps to prepare for any “just in case” situations that could come up on your wedding day.

Have an emergency kit on hand for just in case.

Even if you planned every little detail and obsessed over the schedule a million times, there can still be emergencies (small and large) that interrupt your special day.  Pack an emergency kit with sewing supplies, first aid kit, tissues, umbrella, stain remover, blister meds, medications, wet wipes, mints, snacks, and a paper with all of your wedding vendor cell phone numbers on it (often the office is not open on at night or on a weekend).

Try to get as much done before your wedding day as possible.

Don’t procrastinate on your last contact with your vendors before your wedding; you have enough to worry about in the days before your wedding.  Instead, touch base with your vendors about a week before the wedding to confirm that all the I’s are dotted and t’s crossed.

Have a plan B before the day starts.

There are a lot of things that can come up on your big day: the weather turns nasty, you get a flat tire, your attendant gets overserved.  While you can’t control all of those situations, you can have a plan B in case it storms, the temperatures drop, or the mercury in your thermometer swells (too hot!).  Make sure your vendors do the same; ask your DJ what their plan B is in case the DJ gets sick or equipment breaks.  Do the same with your other vendors as well: videographer, photographer, caterer, etc.

Hire quality vendors.

If you hire an amateur, expect amateur results.  Make sure you hire professionals that come through when you need them; you can usually weed out these vendors based on their past testimonials (the couples they’ve come through for in the past!).  There are two ways to find these reviews: social media and local review sites both give you a window into the work they can do for you and have done in the past.

Make your wedding day a team effort.

Recruit friends and family to help you on your wedding day with any issues that might come up so you can concentrate on what’s important.  This is a great job for friends or family that you didn’t choose as bridesmaids or groomsmen but you would love to play a role in your special day.  Ask these friends or family to get people out on the dance floor, help get people ready for photographs, and to help with anything (or anyone) that demands attention so your day goes off without a hitch.

Where do I find a good wedding DJ?

bride and guests having fun on dance floor with wedding guestsOnce you’ve started planning your wedding, the fun (and challenging part) begins: choosing the right…well everything.  From the venue to the reception entertainment, hiring the right wedding vendors can make the difference between a memorable wedding and a wedding you spend years explaining to your friends and family.

One of the most important decisions is wedding entertainment.  We’ve written about the pros and cons of your wedding entertainment options before; when you decide to hire a DJ (and for good reason), the initial challenge is finding a really good DJ.

Tips for choosing a good DJ

There is a difference between a high-quality DJ and an amateur DJ who uses the same play list for every wedding.  A high-quality DJ is like a high-end product (without the price tag) versus the bargain that doesn’t last; they offer all the features that make it worthwhile to buy their product.  In the case of a DJ, those features make your wedding reception a memorable night for you and your guests. To get a high-quality DJ with all the features, use these tips for choosing the best DJ for your wedding night.

The cheapest is not always the best.

When you’re trying to keep your wedding budget tight, it can be tempting to shop around for the lowest-priced DJ.  This is one of those times, though, where the lowest priced is not always the best option and you get what you pay for.

As appealing as it is to save money, an amateur DJ often can’t meet your expectations (and the expectations of your guests).  Though it may cost you a bit more, look for a high-quality DJ that customizes the play list specifically for your wedding. Ask about a back-up plan just in case their equipment goes down or your favorite DJ gets sick—as well as these questions you should ask every potential wedding DJ.

Don’t wait.

If you want to get a good DJ, don’t procrastinate.  Once you have your venue booked, start shopping for a good local DJ that is available on your wedding date.  If you wait too long, you’ll find that list of quality DJs very small—or you’ll have to settle for an amateur DJ.

They offer more.

If you’re looking for more than just a DJ to entertain your guests, look for high-quality DJs that offer package deals.  It saves you time and effort so you don’t have to track down other entertainment vendors, and gives you other options such as lighting or a photo booth that puts your wedding reception over the top.

Ask to see their equipment.

Too many couples hire a DJ without seeing them in action or even knowing that they have the equipment they claim to have.  A high-quality DJ should have no problem showing you their equipment or providing references of clients that have used their services in the past.  To the contrary, if your potential DJ can’t provide references, listen to the warning bells in your head and walk away.

How to find a DJ

Use the internet

Obviously, if you’re reading this post, you’ve let your fingers do the searching.  A list of DJs on Google is the first step; take the next step and contact local wedding DJs can keep your guests on the dance floor with excellent equipment and a back-up plan (both for equipment and staff)—along with these important questions you should ask every DJ.

Ask your friends

If you have friends who got married recently or stood up in weddings recently, ask them about great DJs at weddings.  Who would they recommend?  Why?  Compile a list of the names they give you, and start contacting DJs (and setting up meetings) to see who is the right wedding entertainment for your big day. 

Browse social media

If you want to see what other people say about your list of DJs, browse their social media profiles for reviews and interactions.  Look for awards and special mentions to help you in your decision, and send a message to the DJs to set up meetings and ask questions. 

25 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding DJ

guests dancing to wedding djAs with every part of wedding planning, it pays to be thorough when hiring your wedding DJ.  After all, your wedding DJ can make or break your wedding reception so it’s important to hire an experienced, professional DJ (learn how to tell if your DJ fit that bill)—and one that you can afford.  To find out if your DJ fits all those criteria, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask your wedding DJ so you can ensure that you’re hiring the best that fits your budget.

Introduction

  • “Is my wedding date available?”
  • “How long have you been in business?”
  • “Do you have any references?”
  • “Do you offer any other services (lighting, photo booth, etc.)?”
  • “Can you do….” (Ask this question if you have a really special request)

Cost

  • “What is your final total cost?”
  • “How much of a deposit is required and when will the balance be due?”
  • “Do you charge overtime fees?”
  • “Do you charge a travel fee?”
  • “What is your cancellation policy?”

Logistical Concerns

  • “Do you carry Insurance and can you provide proof of Insurance?”
  • “When do we meet with you to discuss details of the wedding?”
  • “Do you have back up DJs and equipment available?”
  • “What time do you arrive?”
  • “What kind of electrical needs does your equipment require?” (for an outdoor wedding)

Services

  • “What do you offer as part of your wedding package?”
  • “Is dinner music included in our package?”
  • “What songs are included in your wedding DJ playlist?”
  • “When do you need information from me?”
  • “Do you have a wedding DJ checklist that I can write my favorite songs and songs I do not want played at my reception?”

Questions about the Wedding DJ (who will actually be at your wedding)

  • “Will the DJ be in formal attire?”
  • “Will the DJ act as Master of Ceremonies (MC)?”
  • “How many years wedding experience does my DJ have?”
  • “How do we contact you?”

If you have a busy schedule, add another question to your wedding DJ checklist for your initial meeting with your wedding DJ: “can we meet via the internet or over the phone instead of in person?”

In addition to a list of questions, do your research about your prospective wedding DJ.  Check their social media sites for reviews, and contact any references they give you.  Make sure you have a DJ with a back-up plan for emergencies, and experience that can make your wedding reception the memorable night you’ve always dreamed of.

5 Signs of a BAD Wedding DJ

disco balls from a wedding receptionLet’s just say it: your DJ can make or break your wedding reception.  That’s why it’s SO important to take steps to carefully choose your wedding DJ long before your big night.  Start by contacting potential wedding DJs with a list of questions, and don’t just hire a DJ based on price.  This is one of the most special days of your life, and you don’t want a reception gone sour because of a cheap DJ.

To start “weeding out” bad wedding DJs , narrow your pool of prospects by requesting a meeting.  Eliminate the DJs from your list that don’t have a set business address (they probably don’t have back up equipment or DJs just in case of emergency either—just one sign of an amateur DJ).  Once you’ve set up a meeting with your potential DJs, look for “red flags”—signs of a BAD wedding DJ—when you meet:

  • No customized play list. Everyone’s version of “good” songs is different, but it’s up to the DJ to ask about the songs you want—and don’t want—at your wedding reception (more information on how to craft your wedding playlist here). Avoid DJs who don’t ask about your preferences.  There’s a good chance they use the same play list for every wedding (definitely a sign of a bad DJ!).
  • No “extras.” What separates a good wedding reception from a great wedding reception is the atmosphere. Select a DJ that can set the atmosphere with stellar equipment (and back up equipment) and extras that send your night over the top, such as lighting, sound, and fun entertainment options (like a photo booth).
  • No questions. The right DJ for your wedding reception asks questions and plans accordingly, such as questions that can help coordinate with other vendors and influence your reception schedule. If your prospective DJ is not asking questions, that DJ is not the right wedding DJ for your special day.
  • No reviews or references. Don’t hire a wedding DJ that doesn’t have experience, or has a bad history at wedding receptions.  If your wedding DJ can’t provide references from couples happy with their services, or their online reviews don’t wow you, cross their name off the list.  You don’t want to experiment with a rookie, mediocre DJ on your big night.
  • No dancing. If the DJ can’t get the guests dancing at another wedding, what makes you think your reception is going to be different? Ask friends and family for recommendations for a DJ that did an excellent job of entertaining and keeping the guests dancing. Ask them about what they’ve witnessed at weddings where the DJ was at. Then, book early. Don’t wait to get on the calendar of a good, experienced DJ. The best DJ’s calendars fill up quickly, and you don’t want to be stuck with a DJ that shows all the signs of a bad wedding DJ.

11 Tips To Avoid the “Choosing the Wrong Wedding DJ” Regret

guest, bride and groom dancing at wedding reception to dj musicEvery couple has their wedding day regret: they wish they would’ve hired a videographer, spent less time worrying…the list could go on and on. One of the most common wedding day “we wish we would have…” we hear is about the DJ. A lot of couples we talk with wish they would have spent more on wedding entertainment—and good wedding entertainment. It’s easy to understand why; years later, most of your wedding guests remember the fun they had at the reception. So how can you and your fiancé avoid this common after-wedding regret?

Don’t hire a ‘friend of a friend’ DJ

As tempting as it might be to hire a friend or a friend of a friend who’s “really awesome,” resist the urge. If your friend is an amateur or hobbyist, chances are they don’t have back up equipment or another DJ to fill in if they have an emergency. Most hobbyist DJ’s don’t have modern equipment or the experience to coordinate with your venue and other vendors (like when you want that perfect shot during your first dance).

Don’t underestimate the importance of backups.

We know of one couple whose photographer passed away days before their wedding. Other couples can tell similar stories of emergencies that arose on their big day. While some of those last-minutes problems can interrupt your wedding day despite your best efforts, you can avoid the hassle of having to find another DJ last minute if your first choice can’t come. Hire a company that schedules a backup experienced DJ for every event—and back up equipment. You won’t regret making the decision; it’ll give you one less worry on your wedding day.

Don’t use price as the only factor.

guests at wedding reception dancing to djYour wedding budget may be one of the most important factors in every wedding planning decision, but try to remember that you get what you pay for. Keep your wedding budget in perspective; though a hundred or few hundred dollars seems monumental, if that amount can get you a quality DJ for a small percentage of your overall wedding budget, consider the impact of your dollar. You and your guests are going to have a lot more fun, have less worries with a back up DJ and equipment, and talk about your memorable night for years to come.

Don’t forget to consider experience when making your choice.

Don’t gamble on your wedding reception entertainment. A rookie DJ isn’t going to have the experience to coordinate your special moments with your other vendors. We were recently talking to a couple who had this exact concern. It stemmed from an experience at a friend’s wedding. The DJ at the wedding cued the first dance for their friend without consulting the wedding photographer who was away from the reception. As a result, their friend did not have one picture of their very special first dance.

We’ve given you a million ‘don’ts’ of choosing a wedding DJ. Here are a few of the ‘do’s’ of finding the right DJ for your wedding day:

  • Do research testimonials and online reviews to determine what other couples thought of the wedding DJ (if they’ve won awards, consider that a bonus!). Look at the amount of testimonials and what other couples had to say about the potential DJ.
  • Do ask how many years of experience with weddings they’ve had.
  • If you want “one stop” shopping, do consider a wedding DJ that offers extras (i.e. photo booth, lighting, etc.) so you can get all the wedding entertainment you need at one place.
  • Do be wary of DJ’s who want to meet you at a restaurant because they don’t have a location where you can see their equipment (this is a sign of an amateur DJ).
  • Do hurry up and contact potential DJ’s because the best DJ calendars fill up quickly.
  • Do ask questions. Call your DJ, email them or ask your DJ questions on social media. If you want to see what they can do in person, set up a meeting with them.
  • Do enjoy the fruit of your efforts: an awesome, memorable, fun wedding reception!