Category Archives: hiring DJ for wedding

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.

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!
wedding dance floor with guests dancing to wedding theme songs

How to Choose the Best Chicago Wedding DJ

Chicago is a big city with a host of wedding DJs to choose from, but not just any DJ is right for your big day! This step-by-step guide helps you narrow down your list of wedding DJs and choose the “one” that’ll keep your guests on the dance floor and create a custom wedding playlist that feels incredibly you.

Ask friends and family for recommendations for an awesome wedding DJ.

One of the easiest ways to find and choose a wedding DJ is to ask friends and family for a recommendation. It’s a bonus if you were at the wedding where the DJ played, because then you have first-hand knowledge if the DJ was any good.

There is one note of caution that comes with the ask. Every couple should be very careful about choosing wedding DJs that are a “friend of a friend…” or “my cousin…” Though the person recommending that acquaintance may be well-meaning, never hire a friend or family member without some knowledge of what you’re getting (either through online reviews or from another customer). Unfortunately, this approach can lead to hiring an amateur DJ with a one-size-fits-all playlist and amateur equipment. Or worse, a DJ with no back-up equipment or DJ that can leave you without any reception music.

Do your research.

If you don’t have a friend who can provide a wedding DJ recommendation, let Google do the search for you. Once you have a short list of the best DJs in Chicago (either from an online search or from friends), research every one of those DJs online. You can check review sites for testimonials from other couples and social media sites for videos and reviews.

As you research DJs, make sure you look for common wedding vendor red flags. Couples should always be wary of DJs that don’t have a business address for a meeting, are unwilling to show you their equipment, or can’t give you a set price for the evening. Some DJs charge on set price for a certain amount of time and charge overtime fees for any reception that runs over.

Find a DJ that checks off many boxes.

Many wedding DJs in Chicago offer services that go beyond music; if you’re looking for those extras, such as lighting or off-dance floor entertainment, you should look for a wedding DJ that can offer those services as part of a package. In addition to saving you time during wedding planning, this approach can also save you funds when you get all those services in one package (as opposed to renting them individually).

You can find out if a wedding DJ offers any other services by asking them the question (either via message or phone) as part of your initial interview:

  • “Are you available on [insert wedding date]?”
  • “How long you have been a wedding DJ?”
  • “Do you provide other services, such as…?”
  • “How much do you charge? Does the charge cover the full reception or just a set amount of hours? Is there a travel fee?”
  • “Do you offer cocktail hour or dinner music as part of your fee?”
  • “Do you carry Insurance and can you provide proof of Insurance?”
  • “How often do you contact clients?”
  • “If there is a problem, do you offer back-up equipment and DJs?”
  • “What time will you be at the wedding venue? Have you ever worked at our wedding venue before?”
  • “Do I have a say in the playlist?”
  • “What do your wedding DJs usually wear?”
  • “When can we meet?”

How long do DJs play at weddings?

shot of people dancing at epic wedding receptionSetting a timeline for your wedding reception may not be the most glamorous part of wedding planning, but it’s necessary—and incredibly common. The internet is full of engaged couples grappling with the common question, “How long do I need to hire my wedding DJ?”

How long do wedding DJs play?

The primary reason behind the question pertains to budget. Many wedding DJs charge by the hour, leaving budget-conscious couples looking for ways to cut costs. That cut often means cutting the hours of the wedding DJ; usually, DJs play for 5-6 hours at a typical wedding reception.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to hiring a DJ for a set amount of time. Some DJs charge overtime fees if the reception runs long or if they have to stay longer than the contracted amount of time. This leaves couples asking, “What if my wedding reception runs long? How do I avoid a big bill or surprise charges?” Obviously, no one wants to kick their guests out and shut down an epic wedding dance.

There is another solution: find a wedding DJ who offers an all-inclusive package with no limit on time and no overtime fees.

Where can I find a wedding DJ?

Chicago is full of wedding DJs. The path to the right DJ is different for every couple. Here’s where to start:

  • Chicago Wedding Shows. Visit a wedding show near you in Chicagoland. Make sure you come equipped with a list of questions to ask your wedding DJ.
  • Social Media. Let the search engines find wedding DJs for you. Browse through the websites and social media sites for reviews and testimonials. E-mail and message every wedding DJ with a list of questions. This approach comes with a caveat: never hire a DJ without a face-to-face meeting.
  • Wedding Sites. Wedding websites like the Knot and Wedding Wire provide lists of Chicago-area DJs. These websites come with reviews from newlyweds and an easy contact button for contacting local DJs.
  • Recommendations. Finding a wedding DJ may be as easy as asking friends and family, but use some caution to this approach. Be careful about recommendations that come with “my friend has a DJ service,” “my brother is awesome,” or any endorsement that was given without any personal experience.
  • Review Sites. Similar to wedding websites, review sites are useful for couples looking for neutral reviews. These sites are helpful for finding and researching wedding DJs; the next step is to set up a meeting with the wedding DJs and decide which service is right for your big night.