Category Archives: hire a wedding DJ

wedding dance floor with guests dancing to wedding theme songs

Your Guide to Hiring the Best Chicago Wedding DJ

For any couple drafting a wedding budget, the cost of a DJ may the top question, but it shouldn’t be the only question. Here’s a few more questions you should ask when finding the right wedding DJ—and the answers that connect you to the best Chicago wedding DJ for your special day.

What is included in a Chicago wedding DJ price?

Before you start finding and researching wedding DJs, it makes cents (pun intended) to understand what should be included in your wedding DJ’s price. Note the “should be.” All of these factors play an important part in providing quality wedding DJ services, but may not always be offered by an amateur DJ:

  • Experienced DJ (and a back-up experienced DJ, in case of emergency)
  • Equipment (and back-up reliable equipment, in case of breakdown)
  • Insurance
  • Play List
  • Time

When should I book my Chicago wedding DJ?

According to the Real Simple Wedding Planning Checklist, you should hire a wedding DJ at least a year before your wedding day—but there’s nothing wrong to being ahead of the crowd. The best Chicago wedding DJs’ calendars fill up quickly, so you should start researching wedding DJs and interviewing them once you’ve confirmed the major details (i.e. venue, caterer, etc.)

How do I research a wedding DJ?

Before you hire a wedding DJ, research local wedding DJs to ensure you are getting a high-quality, reliable professional for your big day. You can research wedding DJs on third-party sites, such as The Knot, Wedding Wire, and even social media. These are great places to read through reviews and get insight into the services of local wedding DJ.

Once you’ve done the research, it’s time to interview the top wedding DJs on your list. Ask every wedding DJ about their availability, how long they’ve been in business, their cost (and the length of time included in the cost), if they have back-up equipment and staffing, and a few other important wedding DJ questions.

How long should I book a wedding DJ?

A wedding reception typically lasts for 4-6 hours, and a wedding DJ is typically present for most of that time (especially when providing cocktail hour and dinner music). Some DJs do charge overtime fees for any extra time (ask the wedding DJ about this when contacting them), while other wedding DJs offer an unlimited package without any time constraints.

What other services do wedding DJs provide?

Some DJs offer “extras” that put a wedding reception over the top, such as photobooths and lighting. Many time these services can be included in the wedding DJ package, making these extras extra budget-friendly.

wedding dance floor with deejay

28 “Must Ask” Questions for Every Wedding DJ

A list of questions for a wedding DJ is more than just another to-do on your wedding planning checklist. It’s a way to ensure that you are hiring the best wedding DJ for your big night—and a reputable entertainer that’ll deliver exactly what you want: a personalized, incredible wedding reception.

When hiring a wedding DJ, it’s important to make sure both items are checked off on the list. Unfortunately, the news is full of couples who have been left high-and-dry by a sub-par wedding vendor. This checklist of questions for a wedding DJ ensures that you get a personalized wedding reception music play list, a high-quality (and high energy) DJ, and the reliable service that guarantees and unforgettable wedding reception.

  • “Are you available on my wedding date?”
  • “How many years of experience do you have? What year did you start your 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)
  • “How much is the cost?”
  • “What does the cost cover? Is there an overtime fee?”
  • “Do you offer dinner music as part of the total cost?”
  • “What is your final total cost?”
  • “How much of a deposit is required and when will the balance be due?”
  • “My wedding is at…. Do you charge a travel fee?”
  • “What is your cancellation policy?”
  • “Do you carry Insurance?”
  • “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 in case of emergency?”
  • “Typically, what time do you arrive at the wedding venue?”
  • “What kind of electrical needs does your equipment require?” (for an outdoor wedding)
  • “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?”
  • “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?”
  • “Is it possible to meet over the phone or internet instead of in person?”

As you ask these questions, look for red flags that may indicate you are hiring an unreliable or amateur wedding DJ:

  • No business address
  • Does not return phone calls or communications
  • Is unwilling to show equipment (and back up equipment)
  • Does not have back up equipment (and staffing-in case of illness or breakdown)
  • Few reviews or negative reviews on social media and wedding websites

Instead, look for signs of a quality, reliable wedding DJ:

  • Business location
  • Prompt communications
  • Easy answers to questions
  • Back-up staffing and equipment
  • Positive reviews and industry awards on social media and wedding websites
  • Willingness to customize their play list to your specific wants and needs
  • Lots of experience!
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.
bride and guests at wedding reception dancing to reception entertainer

5 Quick Tips about Wedding DJ Costs

Hiring a wedding DJ inevitably involves the question, “how much does a wedding DJ cost?” The answer may seem straightforward, but there are a few tips for hiring a wedding DJ that keeps your dance floor packed and your wedding budget on track.

Tip #1: Be mindful of quality during the hiring process.

When hiring a wedding DJ, it’s easy to be tempted to sign a contract with the wedding DJ that gives you the cheapest quote. However, a quote doesn’t always tell the whole story. A quality DJ keeps guests on the dance floor and creates a custom playlist specifically for the wedding. (Some DJs use the same playlist for every wedding.)

If you don’t want to get sub-par service that matches the price tag, research every DJ before signing on the dotted line. Wedding review sites are a great place to start; sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire have sections with reviews about Chicago wedding DJs. If you want to really see what you’re getting (and who), schedule a meeting with the DJ and ask to see their equipment and meet the DJ.

Tip #2: Always ask about other wedding DJ costs.

Some wedding DJs and DJ services quote a cost that doesn’t include the “other” costs. Overtime fees, travel charges, and other fees can add up quickly.

To avoid those annoying charges, couples should always ask wedding DJs how many hours are included in the quoted cost and if there is a travel fee (plus these other wedding DJ questions). Some wedding DJs offer inclusive wedding DJ packages that have a set fee regardless of the length of the wedding reception.

Tip #3: Never hire a DJ without a contingency plan.

Unfortunately, emergencies come up that can keep a wedding DJ (and equipment) from performing flawlessly on your wedding day. That’s why hiring a wedding DJ with back-up DJs and equipment is so incredibly important.

When hiring a DJ, always ask about their “just in case” plan in case they get sick or hurt or their equipment breaks down. Be cautious about hiring one-man operations with no back-ups or old and antiquated equipment; instead, look for DJ services that offer a DJ and state-of-the-art equipment PLUS the back-ups that can fill in when emergencies do occur.

Tip #4: Consider a wedding DJ package that saves you time and money.

If you want more than just music at your wedding reception, look for wedding DJs that offer packages with other entertainment services. It can be really helpful to have one service that provides lighting, photobooths, and the cocktail music—especially when juggling communications with multiple wedding vendors and an extra long wedding planning checklist.

Couples who want other services should look for wedding DJs with packages that offer those “extras.” If you have any questions about additional services, look through reviews on social media for more info or contact the service directly for other wedding DJ costs.

Tip #5: Ask about dinner hour music.

One of the biggest benefits of a wedding DJ is that most DJs provide dinner hour music as part of their service. To make sure the wedding DJ you’re hiring is like most DJs, always ask if dinner hour music is included in the wedding DJ cost. In addition, always ask these wedding DJ questions:

  • “Are you available on my wedding date?”
  • “How long have you been a DJ? Do you have a lot of experience with weddings?”
  • “Do you offer any other services (lighting, photo booth, etc.)?”
  • “Can you do….” (Ask this question if you have a really special request)
  • “What is the final total cost? Do you charge any overtime or travel fees?”
  • “How much of a deposit is needed? When is the deadline for a deposit?”
  • “What is the cancellation policy?”
  • “Does your service carry insurance?”
  • “If there is an emergency, do you have a back-up DJ and equipment?”
  • “What time will you be at the wedding? Is dinner music included in the total cost?”
  • “Do you offer any other services? What is included in your wedding package?”
  • “Do you have a wedding DJ checklist that I can write my favorite songs and songs I do not want played at my reception?”
  • “Will the DJ be in formal attire? Can the DJ be the emcee?”
  • “Is there a time we can meet?”

Hiring a Wedding DJ? What to Look for in the Contract

busy woman reading through wedding paperworkIn your rush to cross off boxes on your wedding checklist, it can be tempting to buzz through the paperwork without a second thought. Who wants to sift through all the fine print on the paperwork? Who has the time?

A better question to ask might be: who doesn’t have the time when your wedding budget is at stake? Put another way, ignoring the fine print on all those wedding vendor contracts can leave you with an unpleasant surprise after your special day—a bill full of surprise charges. Unfortunately, wedding entertainment vendors aren’t immune from those kind of surprises—surprises you can avoid if you read the fine print in your wedding DJ contract.

Length of time covered

One of your first questions to a wedding DJ is “what is the cost?” The answer is usually a number; what is not always mentioned is that the number covers only a certain amount of time. If your wedding reception lasts longer than that amount of time, the DJ company charges a set overtime fee or an hourly charge.

To avoid a huge wedding DJ bill, follow up your cost question with another: how long does that cost cover? If you want to completely avoid the additional costs, cross DJs off the list that charge by the hour. Contact DJs who charge a set fee no matter how long your wedding dance lasts.

Contingency language

Noone wants to be left out in the cold—especially on their wedding day! Ask your wedding DJ about their policy in case the DJ assigned to your special day can’t attend (i.e. from a family emergency, sickness, personal issue) or if any of the equipment fails.

Don’t just take their word for it. When you are ready to book the wedding DJ, make sure all those promises are guaranteed in writing. Review the wedding DJ contract for specific language that promises a contingency plan for instances where the DJ is not available or the equipment breaks down (and be prepared to walk away if there is no contingency plan included).

Payment terms & Cancellation policy

You are responsible for meeting timely payment deadlines, so review the payment terms in the contract closely. Look over the details closely; if any of the fine print makes you nervous, contact the wedding DJ about any points of concern.

A cancellation policy is in place for both you and your wedding DJ; be concerned if the DJ’s cancellation policy covers them and not you. If your DJ has to cancel (a pretty rare occurrence), make sure you won’t be left without the payments you made (it is common practice for the deposit to be non-refundable).

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).

Red Flags to Watch Out For When Booking Your DJ

bride and guests at wedding reception dancing to reception entertainerIt seems like almost every month there’s another headline about a couple who received substandard services from a wedding vendor: a photographer, videographer, or DJ. That’s why it pays to do your due diligence when hiring your wedding DJ. As a reputable wedding DJ who’s provided quality service to hundreds of clients, we’ve put together a list of red flags that should deter you from hiring a disreputable DJ.

No business address

As tempting as it may be to hire an amateur, that decision can make your wedding another headline. If the DJ you are screening does not have a business address, proceed with caution. Not every amateur DJ has back-up equipment or another DJ to fill in if there is a breakdown or emergency. Additionally, an amateur DJ may not be able to keep their business going for long—possibly not long enough for your big day.

Reluctance to showcase equipment

If your DJ is reluctant to show you the equipment they are using at your big day, that DJ may not be the right DJ for your night. A reputable DJ should be able to show you the high-quality equipment they are using and give you a back-up plan for what happens if that equipment breaks down.

No calls

A good DJ should contact you several times before your big day. Your DJ should want to know what songs you want played and don’t want played at your wedding (more tips on how to craft a ‘do not play’ list here). If they don’t ask, the DJ may bring a ‘one size fits all’ play list to your wedding that doesn’t fit you or your guests’ taste.

Additional fees

When you’re overwhelmed by wedding planning paperwork, it can be easy to sign on the dotted line without reading the fine print. Make sure you read the fine print of the contract—all of it. If you don’t, you could be subject to additional fees or a cancellation policy that holds you responsible for finding another DJ if they cancel.