couple posting for photos before enjoying music for outdoor wedding

Music for Outdoor Wedding: 9 Wedding Planning Questions to Ask

Need music for your outdoor wedding? These tips can help you plan the music for your outdoor wedding, and put you on the path to the wedding of your dreams.

What kind of music would we like for our ceremony? Cocktail hour? Reception?

The first step in choosing music for your outdoor wedding is to think about what kind of music you want during each step of your wedding. There are several options: do-it-yourself, musicians, band, and DJ. Sometimes, the solution is one of the wedding music options, but it can also be a combination. For example, a couple might choose to have musicians for the ceremony and a DJ for cocktail hour and reception. (If you choose the latter, use this list of wedding DJ questions to find the best DJ for your special day.)

For couples who need music for the cocktail hour and reception, make sure you ask a band or DJ for the total cost; some music professionals may charge charges for additional hours. (You can also contact a wedding DJ that offers a package with the cocktail hour and reception services included without any overages.)

Are there adequate hook-ups for lighting and music?

If you want to host an outdoor wedding with lighting and/or DJs, you are going to have to determine if there are hook-ups for lighting and music. You can typically ask your venue staff at a wedding venue, but the matter may be more complicated for a backyard wedding. In these cases, ask your wedding DJ or band for information on required hook-ups for your wedding. (A rental company can also give you information on the electricity requirements needed for event lighting.)

Do we need a tent? A dance floor?

While you may want the weather to be perfect for your big day, it’s (sadly) not always the case. Decide whether you need a tent for your ceremony or reception. Fortunately, there are clear tents and tent styles that still allow you to bring the outdoors in.

If you want to host the ultimate dance part, consider whether you want a dance floor. A dance floor can be a beautiful focal point, and an easy way for your guests to dance without wrenching an ankle (and doing damage to the lawn!) If you are holding the wedding at a venue, always ask before renting a dance floor. Some venues have guidelines specifically about dance floors.

Is there a curfew? Do we need a permit?

Some municipalities require that couples secure a permit for their event. If you are planning a backyard wedding, contact your local municipality for information on permits and curfews. At a wedding venue, staff should be able to give you information during your initial meeting or venue tour. (Don’t forget to pass curfew information on your wedding DJ or band.) Either way, it’s important to do your research; you don’t want the cops to shut down your wedding celebrations and end the fun.

What other entertainment do we need?

As you plan your outdoor wedding, don’t be afraid to consider other forms of wedding entertainment—especially for those who don’t want to hit the dance floor. Fortunately, there are tons of other outdoor wedding entertainment ideas (in addition to music for your outdoor wedding) that guests’ll love. You can choose from any number of ideas, such as yard games, photo booths, table games (with personalized questions about the happy couple!), and tasting stations. (Some wedding DJs even offer photo booths as part of their wedding entertainment package.) You can also talk to your wedding DJ or band about adding dance floor games to your wedding reception line-up. Whatever you choose, be creative and have fun with it!

couples headed to wedding reception with wedding music

Answers to 6 Common Wedding Music Questions

It’s normal to ask a million questions about almost every aspect of wedding planning, including wedding music. We hear many of these questions as we assist couples planning their Chicago wedding! Here are our answers, and some tips, that can help couples as they plan their wedding reception in the Windy City.

Do I need a DJ during cocktail hour?

This is a wedding music question with two answers: yes and no. The answer depends on the couple’s preferences. Some couples prefer the music of a musician (or music group), while others like to keep the music seamless at their wedding reception with a wedding DJ for the whole reception. If the cost of additional hours is a concern, couples can look for a wedding DJ who offers an all-inclusive wedding package with no fees for “additional hours.” (Use this guide for finding and hiring a Chicago wedding DJ.)

While it may be tempting to make a do-it-yourself music playlist, it’s important to weigh the amount of time it takes to compile a wedding playlist and get the right equipment. With a long wedding planning checklist, many couples opt to use a musician or wedding DJ so they can enjoy every minute of their big day.

When do we need to book our wedding music?

Typically, couples should confirm their wedding music 12 months before their wedding date. However, the best Chicago wedding bands’ and DJs’ calendars do fill up early, so it’s important for couples to start looking for wedding entertainment early. (This wedding planning checklist helps couples stay organized as they plan their special day.) When contacting potential wedding DJs, couples should use this list of wedding DJ questions and tips to decide which DJ is the “one.”

How many hours of wedding music is needed? What is the typical order of dances at a wedding reception?

Typically, wedding reception dances last 4-6 hours. This timeline typically includes the meal, toasts and dances.

For the latter, a wedding reception typically follows this order of dances:

  • Introduction of Newlyweds
  • Newlyweds’ First Dance
  • Father-Daughter & Mother-Son (Or Parent-Child)
  • Wedding Party Introduction & Dance
  • Guest Dances

While this is the traditional order, it’s okay if couples want to shake it up and set a custom plan for the night. They just need to make sure they hire a wedding DJ who sets a personalized play list for every reception and can change things up. (Here’s questions those wedding DJs typically ask, so couples can tell if they are hiring a high-quality professional.) Also, if couples are adding any surprises for the night, they need to tell their wedding DJ so they can seamlessly incorporate it into the order of events. A good wedding DJ can also coordinate announcements and special moments with the videographer and photographer to make sure they are captured in photos and video.

What other entertainment should we offer with wedding music?

Wedding music is a huge part of a wedding day, but not every guest wants to hit the dance floor at the reception. Fortunately, there are other entertainment ideas for guests who don’t want to dance, such as a photo booth, table trivia, sampling stations (i.e. ales, desserts, wines, etc.), and yard games. (Get a full list of “other” entertainment ideas here plus a list of wedding reception surprises to take the reception to the next level.) Couples should also let their wedding DJ know about the “other” entertainment so the DJ can make announcements and direct guests. Plus, the wedding DJ might be able to incorporate these ideas into the entertainment for the reception. (Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding DJ for ideas!)

newlyweds dancing at wedding with chicago wedding DJ playing music

How to Book a Chicago Wedding DJ (Fast)

Need to book a Chicago wedding DJ quickly? These step-by-step instructions and tips can get you an awesome wedding DJ and reception in a hurry.

How to Book a Chicago Wedding DJ

Find an experienced wedding DJ (or DJs).

The first step to booking a Chicago wedding DJ fast is to find a good fit for your big day. This doesn’t mean you should hire the first wedding DJ you find or book the cheapest. Instead, look for an experienced wedding DJ or wedding DJ service. The latter may be a good fit for couples who need a DJ quickly because a service is more likely to have a DJ available.

Research, research, research.

You can find a local wedding DJ by asking friends or family, contacting wedding venue staff for recommendations, or doing a search online. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to research your options before you book a Chicago wedding DJ. Look for wedding DJs with experience, “extras” (like lighting and photo booths-great for couples trying to check off a lot of boxes in a short time!), back-up equipment and DJs (in case of a breakdown or emergency). Don’t forget to check Chicago wedding DJ reviews because they give you insight into other couple’s experiences.

Ask key wedding DJ questions.

Now it’s time to narrow down the list of potential wedding DJs in Chicagoland. You can do this by contacting each wedding DJ on the list and asking them questions about availability, costs (including overtime and travel fees), and whether they have back-up DJs and equipment if needed. (Find a full list of wedding DJ questions here.) Be very careful about hiring DJs who don’t have back-ups, a business address, or solid Chicago wedding DJ reviews that prove they provide quality service.

Schedule a meeting.

Now down to the final steps of how to book a Chicago wedding DJ. It’s time to schedule a meeting with the potential wedding DJ, either in-person or virtually. This is your chance to get answers to your other wedding DJ questions and to (hopefully) get asked a few key questions that shows the wedding DJ creates a custom playlist.

Review the contract.

The last step is to review the wedding DJ contract and make a deposit. When you return the contract, be sure to ask about deadlines for information and payments. You are going to need to provide the names of your wedding party, your “must play” and “do not play” list, and other key details. Don’t forget to bring your wedding DJ in on big surprises. In addition, you are also going to also need to give them the names of other wedding vendors they need to coordinate with (i.e. videographer, photographer, venue, etc.)

Tips for Hiring a Wedding DJ

  • Don’t automatically choose the cheapest DJ. The best Chicago wedding DJs often cost a bit more, but are worth it when they keep the dance floor packed—and your guests talking about your reception well after it’s over.
  • Get organized as you plan. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Create a wedding planning binder or use one of these wedding planning apps to stay on track.
  • Be wary of hiring friends or friends of friends. Many a couple has felt compelled to hire a friend’s friend or relative and has been disappointed by their service. Instead, do your research and hire an experienced professional.
  • Watch for red flags. Be cautious about hiring wedding DJs that don’t return your calls (or messages), can’t show you their equipment, and don’t have a business address. Unfortunately, many a couple has received sub-par service (or no service) from an amateur wedding DJ.

bride tossing bouquet after choosing best wedding DJ and asking wedding DJ questions

10 Questions You Should Hear from Your Wedding DJ

This list of wedding DJ questions tells you when you’ve found the “one.” Hiring a wedding DJ in Chicago is a bit like dating, with both parties asking key questions that make sure it’s a good fit. Plus, if your wedding DJ asks you these questions, you know they’re a high-quality DJ who actually customizes their playlist to you.

Questions Your DJ Should Ask

This list of wedding DJ questions is not all-inclusive! An experienced wedding DJ wants to know about you—everything!—so they can craft a playlist that fits your tastes and coordinates seamlessly with other wedding details. Be cautious if a wedding DJ doesn’t ask these questions; many sub-par DJs use the take a “one size fits all” approach to their weddings. (In addition to not asking these questions, always be alert for these other signs of a low-quality wedding DJ.)

  • What type of music do you like? Do you have any songs that are special to you as a couple? (Good wedding DJs love to know little details about you as a couple.)
  • What songs do you want played? Do you have any favorite songs do you want played during your dances (i.e. entrance, first dance, mother/son dance, father/daughter dance, etc.)?
  • What songs don’t you want played? (Get the perfect ‘do not play’ list with these wedding songs tips.)
  • What kind of cocktail music would you like played?
  • Where is the wedding? (This is more than a logistical detail. An experienced DJ has probably been there before, and has a relationship with the staff! This will be helpful for coordinating set-up and other details.)
  • Do you have a theme or style you are incorporating into your wedding?
  • Who is your videographer and photographer? (A good wedding DJ coordinates special moments with your videographer and photographer so you get the best shots.)
  • Do you have any special announcements I need to make? (Like a surprise!)

What to Ask Potential Wedding DJs

It’s just as important for you to get to know your wedding DJ, as for them to get to know you! Use these wedding DJ questions to weed out sub-par DJs and find the DJ that offers the best services, plus has other “musts” like a back-up DJ and equipment for emergencies.

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • Have you DJ’ed weddings before? Do you have proof of insurance?
  • Can you provide testimonials from couples you have DJ’ed for?
  • Do you have back-up equipment in case of a breakdown? Do you have another wedding DJ that can fill in in case of emergency?
  • What is the cost of your services? What does it include? Is dinner music part of the total cost? Do you charge overtime fees?
  • What is the amount of the deposit? When does it need to be paid? What is the payment arrangement?
  • Do you offer any other services (lighting, photo booth, etc.)?
  • How should we contact you? How will you contact us? When will we hear from you?
  • What information do you need from us? How should we get it to you? When is the deadline for information?
  • When do we need to sign a contract and return it to you?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Have you DJ’ed at my venue before? Is there a travel fee charged?
  • When do you typically arrive at the venue? Do you dress in formal attire?
  • What songs do you typically include in your wedding DJ playlist?

While asking about the cost is an important item on your list of wedding DJ questions, remember that it shouldn’t be the only question. The cheapest DJ isn’t always the right wedding DJ; in some cases, the cheapest DJ is the cheapest because they offer the same playlist with no customization. Unfortunately, these DJs often come with dated equipment and no back-ups in case of emergency.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting with your wedding DJ, either in-person or virtual. A meeting is your chance to see your DJ’s equipment and find out if they are the “one” that can make your wedding reception unforgettable.

couple on dance floor doing order of dances at wedding reception

Order of Dances at Wedding Reception (and How to Spice Them Up!)

Many couples ask about the order of dances at a wedding reception, but the real question is how to take a wedding reception to the next level. You can find the answer to both questions in this post about wedding reception dances.

Wedding Reception Dance Order

The traditional order of dances at a wedding reception is typically:

  • Introduction of Newlyweds
  • Newlyweds’ First Dance
  • Father-Daughter & Mother-Son (Or Parent-Child)
  • Wedding Party Introduction & Dance
  • Guest Dances

As important as traditional dances are, remember to allow for plenty of guest time on the dance floor. (A good Chicago wedding DJ knows exactly how to do this! Learn more about hiring a wedding DJ and wedding DJ costs in these posts.)

Tips for Making the Wedding Reception Better (More Fun!)

If you want to make your wedding dances—and reception—more fun, use these tips for making the event even more memorable.

Get an awesome Chicago wedding DJ.

A quality wedding DJ does more than just play wedding reception music. An excellent DJ entertains guests, keeps them on the dance floor, and customizes their play list to fit the couple’s tastes. It’s not always easy to find the best, but couples can use this step-by-step guide for finding and hiring a wedding DJ, wedding review sites, and a list of wedding DJ questions to find the “one” that’ll make the reception an awesome experience for everyone.

Plan a surprise—and keep it a secret!

A wedding surprise is a great way to make the reception memorable. There are a number of ways to surprise guests (i.e. arrival of a celebrity or mascot, choreographed first dance, confetti drop, fireworks, etc.), but the key is to keep it a secret! While you shouldn’t tell anyone else, make sure you tell the wedding DJ (and photographer or videographer) so they can make the surprise part of events and play it up.

Consider adding games to the order of events.

Wedding dance floor games are a hoot, especially when they are personalized to the couple. Wedding reception games like the shoe game are a huge hoot. Quieter games, like a table trivia, can be just as entertaining—especially when you include the wedding DJ in the fun.

Make your first dance memorable.

Your first dance can be a flashy dance, a hilarious routine, or a big ensemble with a flash mob. Whatever you want, this is your chance to make your first dance especially you! For a traditional, elegant dance, schedule wonderful dance lessons where you can bond and learn together. If you want to add a touch of comedy, choose a fun first wedding dance and add your own flair to the routine. You can also ask your wedding DJ for suggestions. An experienced wedding DJ can give you ideas that you can customize for your special day.

Think about making your parent-child even better.

If your parent is up to it, a memorable father-daughter or mother-son dance is a great way to surprise guests and make the reception even better. The “big” dance can be a choreographed routine, a dance with personalized touches, or even a special song that means a lot to both you and your parent. (Find more parent-child dance ideas here.)

Add other entertainment to the reception.

While a rocking wedding reception can be tons of fun, it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. Consider adding a photo booth for extra photos, table trivia games, yard games, and other fun touches to make the evening enjoyable for everyone.

newlyweds dancing at reception after sorting through chicago wedding dj prices

Sifting through Chicago Wedding DJ Prices? 4 BIG Factors to Consider

Navigating through Chicago wedding DJ prices can be tricky, especially with hidden costs and “extras.” Here’s 6 factors you should consider as you choose the “one” for your big day.

Service Time Included

A wedding reception typically lasts 7 hours. Approximately 5-6 hours of the reception is the wedding dance. The way wedding DJs charge for their time varies by company. Some Chicago wedding DJ prices include the full length of the reception, regardless of how long it goes (great for couples who want to dance the night away!) Other wedding DJs in Chicago charge per hour. Overtime fees are added to the bill if the wedding reception goes over the set time.

Takeaway: Decide whether you want to a wedding DJ who charges by the hour or reception. Remember, if you choose by hour, you may have to pay extra for dinner music and if your reception goes late. Always ask your wedding DJ up front how they charge (plus these other wedding DJ questions), what is included in the cost, and if there are any travel fees so you can compare Chicago wedding DJ prices. Plus, you’ll know the full cost up front and won’t feel tricked if you are charged overtime fees.

Experience

The best Chicago wedding DJs keep the dance floor packed and have a ton of experience. But how do you know if your wedding DJ checks off both boxes? The best way is via a little research and a short interview.

You can find out if your wedding DJ is good at what they do by talking to other couples who’ve hired the DJ. It’s easy to do online on wedding review sites like The Knot and the Wedding Wire. These sites are full of reviews—good and bad—from couples who’ve hired the wedding DJ or wedding DJ service. You’d be surprised at how helpful these reviews can be—and the insight they can give you about working with the DJ.

Takeaway: Once you’re convinced a DJ is worth your time, schedule a meeting or give them a call. Ask them some key questions about their availability and past experience.

Individual vs. Service

Typically, Chicago wedding DJs work alone or as part of a service. There are advantages to both, but it’s important to know up front whether you’re dealing with an individual or service. While an individual DJ may have their own company, they are usually the only DJ available. Unfortunately, that means that you may have to deal with a DJ who doesn’t respond promptly and doesn’t have a back-up available in case of an emergency. (Don’t forget to ask the wedding DJ if they have back-ups when you ask your initial interview questions.) On the other hand, individual Chicago wedding DJ prices are typically lower than services.

A wedding DJ service comes with own set of pros and cons. Hiring a Chicago wedding DJ is incredibly convenient because their staff is typically very responsive during the planning process and have experienced back-up DJs ready in case of an emergency. Wedding DJ services also typically update their equipment and play lists more often, and have back-up equipment in case of a breakdown. Plus, their DJs usually deejay weddings regularly, so they have a ton of experience.

Takeaway: Don’t choose a wedding DJ for your Chicago wedding based on cost alone. In many cases, it’s worth the funds to have an experienced DJ that keeps the dance floor crowded, plus the convenience of a responsive staff and back-ups if needed.

“Extras”

As you’re thinking about wedding entertainment, don’t forget to think about other ways to entertain your guests. Couples can use table games, lighting, photo booths, yard games, and a million other wedding entertainment ideas to make sure their guests enjoy their wedding reception.

Takeaway: When researching wedding entertainment ideas, ask your wedding DJ for ideas or other rentals they available. Often, you can get these items as part of a package, saving you time and money.

chicago wedding reception with couple and guests taking selfies

10 Tips for Planning an AMAZING Chicago Wedding Reception

An amazing Chicago wedding reception is the highlight of the day. The dancing, unforgettable photos, and memories all add up to a day your friends’ll be talking about for years!

That’s the good news, but it does come with a disclaimer. Wedding planning can take any numbers of twists and turns—but it’s sure to be a lot less stressful if you use these tips for planning an amazing Chicago wedding reception!

Where to start planning your Chicago wedding reception

ALWAYS start planning with some important questions.

Before you start going wedding dress shopping or setting a dinner menu, sit down with your fiancé and ask some key questions. The answers to these questions can help you as you make decisions on big details, plus your fiancé’s answers might surprise you!

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/10/08/6-big-questions-that-kick-start-your-chicago-wedding-planning/

Don’t wait to set a wedding budget.

Planning a wedding is a marathon, not a sprint. A set wedding budget ensures that you set funds aside for aspects that make the biggest impact. Plus, it keeps you on track as you check off items on your wedding planning checklist.

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/10/23/wedding-planning-in-chicago-how-to-manage-your-wedding-budget/

It’s worth it to hire a strong team of wedding vendors.

Wedding planning can be incredibly stressful, but a strong team of wedding vendors make it easier. An experienced caterer, wedding planner, DJ, and photographer can help you solve problems and coordinate wedding details into a smooth and incredible wedding reception.

This list can help you find and hire the best wedding vendors so you have the best on your team. (Don’t wait. The best wedding vendors’ calendars fill up fast!)

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/11/06/first-chicago-wedding-vendors/

Never hire a wedding vendor without asking a few questions and doing some online research.

It’s one of the biggest—and most common—wedding planning mistakes couples make: hiring a vendor without vetting them. It may be tempting to hire a wedding vendor because it’s your friend’s relative or a family member recommends them. You should never hire a vendor without doing your due diligence. Start the process with a few questions that tell you if they are experienced and the right “one” for your big day. Then, head online and look for reviews so you know what other couples have thought of them.

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/03/05/28-must-ask-questions-for-every-wedding-dj/

Wedding Reception Tips

Choose the best wedding reception entertainment right away.

Your wedding reception entertainment is the focus of your reception, which is why it’s important of find and hire the best for your big day. This decision should be one of the first steps of planning a wedding reception in Chicago, and starts with answering the question: DJ or band?

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/01/17/10-questions-that-get-you-the-best-wedding-entertainment/

Know the typical order of wedding reception events (and feel free to make it your own).

Planning an awesome wedding reception is a step-by-step process, but it starts with taking the typical wedding reception and making it your own. (Ask your wedding DJ for more ideas that put your wedding reception over-the-top.)

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/02/14/what-is-the-wedding-reception-order-of-events/

Decide what “other” entertainment you want to add.

Don’t feel confined to one form of entertainment. Sometimes guests need a break from dancing, or just want to hang out and enjoy one of these fun wedding games. (Don’t hesitate to ask your wedding DJ for other ideas too!)

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/07/10/chicago-outdoor-wedding-entertainment/

Stay organized.

The best wedding planning tip is: stay organized! It’s important, especially when dealing with different wedding vendor deadlines and trying to pull all the details together. Luckily, there are quite a few wedding planning apps and a wedding planning checklist that can help, plus these tips that help stay organized (and less stressed!)

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/06/10/7-solid-tips-for-organizing-your-wedding-planning/

Try to stay one step ahead.

It’s important to stay one step ahead of your deadlines and your vendors as you plan a wedding reception in Chicago, primarily because your vendors need those confirmed details.

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/12/04/chicago-wedding-dj-info/

Find ways to take your wedding reception to the next level.

Want to make your wedding reception unforgettable? Start brainstorming with these ideas, and then turn them into an idea that feels completely you!

https://bloganenchante.wpengine.com/2020/05/13/6-ways-to-make-your-chicago-wedding-reception-unforgettable/
wedding dance floor with guests dancing to wedding theme songs

10 Items to Have Ready for Your Chicago Wedding DJ

Hiring a Chicago wedding DJ comes with a long list of interview questions, but did you know that there are items your wedding DJ needs from you? Here’s a list of items your Chicago wedding DJ needs to know from you—and when they need to know it.

What Your Wedding DJ Needs to Know When Hiring

Don’t worry you don’t need to have every detail set in stone yet, but there are a few details you should have confirmed when hiring your wedding DJ.

Wedding Date

The best Chicago wedding DJ calendars fill up quickly, which is why you should have a set wedding date when you contact them. (Or, if you really want your favorite DJ, you can call them first and ask them for available dates!) You can choose a wedding date based on special dates in your relationship, other special family dates, your favorite season, or your professional commitments.

Location

Right after when, your wedding DJ is going to want to know where. Is your wedding confirmed at a popular Chicago wedding venue? Or in your backyard? If your choice is the latter, ask your DJ if there are any specific electrical requirements you need to have ready for them on your special day.

Dinner Music

If you need dinner music, let your wedding DJ. Some Chicago wedding DJs may charge extra for the time, while other DJs offer packages so you don’t have to worry about “extras.” (It’s all included!)

What Your Wedding DJ Needs to Know Right Before the Wedding Day

Wedding planning is a continual process—you don’t have to get every detail confirmed right away! This wedding planning checklist can help you break it down, and help you have these details ready for your Chicago wedding DJ before your big day. (Ask your wedding DJ for their specific deadline.)

Wedding Day Schedule

You and your wedding DJ need to synch schedules before your big day. Hopefully, you should have this finalized weeks before your big day. Your wedding DJ needs to know the order of events, and when cocktail hour, dinner, and the reception is planned for.

What to Play

If you have any favorite “must play” songs, this is your chance to speak up! Tell your DJ what you absolutely must hear, and any songs that have a special meaning to you, your fiancé, and your friends. (DJs love to share neat back stories!)

What Not to Play

Have any songs that sound like nails on a chalkboard? Tell your wedding DJ! You can use this DJ song list or just make a list of never-ever-play songs.

Wedding Party List (and Pronunciations)

Let your wedding DJ know who is standing up in your wedding, plus any friends or family you want announced. If anyone on the list has a hard-to-pronounce name, give them some pronunciation aids so the announcements go smoothly.

Special Dance Songs

If you’re having a traditional wedding dance, let your wedding DJ know what songs you would like played for your first dance (here’s how to pick the perfect first dance song), parent-child dance, and any other special moments.

Surprises

Have a special surprise planned? Let your DJ in on the secret so they can have fun with it and set the stage for your BIG surprise. (If you need an idea for a fun wedding day surprise, use this list of surprises for inspiration.)

Volume Limitations/Curfews

Some wedding venues and municipalities have curfews or volume limitations. Let your DJ know now, so your wedding reception doesn’t get shut down.

wedding dance with chicago wedding dj and couple dancing

When should I hire a Chicago wedding DJ for my wedding?

Hiring a Chicago wedding DJ is not a task you should put off! In general, you should hire a Chicago wedding DJ 14-18 months before your wedding day. However, the best wedding DJs’ calendars fill up fast so the sooner the better.

How long to hire a Wedding DJ

Typically, wedding receptions last 7 plus hours. The wedding dance is a solid 5-6 hours. So how long should you hire a wedding DJ for? The answer depends on what you are hiring the wedding DJ for.

Some couples opt to have a wedding DJ for the cocktail hour, dinner, and dance. Others choose to hire a wedding DJ for the dance only. If you choose the latter, you should plan on hiring a Chicago wedding DJ for 6 hours. You can also choose a wedding DJ that offers an unlimited, inclusive service that is not based on an hourly rate. This option ensures that the Chicago wedding DJ is available for the entire wedding reception. It also eliminates any worry that you’ll have to pay overtime fees.

How to Hire a Wedding DJ

Hiring a Chicago wedding DJ isn’t complicated, but it is important to find and hire the “one” that makes your night memorable.

Make a list of Chicago wedding DJs.

The first step of hiring a Chicago wedding DJ is to make a list. You can find DJs by asking friends and family for recommendations, or check out wedding review sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire. If you get recommendations from friends, be careful about hiring DJs that they haven’t personally experienced or amateurs. Amateur wedding DJs often don’t have updated equipment or any back-ups if the equipment breaks down or the DJ can’t attend because of an emergency.

Research your options.

Online review sites can be incredibly helpful for not only making a list, but also researching possible wedding DJs. When researching DJs, look for positive reviews that give you insight into other couple’s experience with the DJ.

Interview possible Chicago wedding DJs.

The next step of hiring a Chicago wedding DJ is to interview possible wedding DJs. When contacting wedding DJs, ask them about their past experience, if they can customize their playlist, wedding DJ costs (and if they charge overtime fees), what their plan is in case of an equipment break-down or family emergency, and if your wedding date is available. Reputable Chicago wedding DJs should carry insurance and should have a clear cancellation policy. (Find a full list of wedding DJ questions in this post.) If you schedule an in-person meeting, some wedding DJs can also show you their equipment.

Review the contract.

A reputable wedding DJ should provide a contract for your review. As you look over the contract, verify that you are familiar with the wedding DJ cost and cancellation policy. This is also an ideal time to ask about deadlines so you are familiar with payment deadlines and when you need to give them information about your big day. The last step is to book your wedding DJ and get ready for your special day.

beautiful wedding reception with items from chicago wedding vendors

The First Chicago Wedding Vendors You Need to Book

Hiring the right Chicago wedding vendors for your big day is incredibly important! Having the right team in your corner makes planning easier, and gets you one step closer to the day of your dreams.

But who do you hire first? How do you find the right Chicago wedding vendors for your big day? Where do you start? This list of wedding vendors and tips can get you started planning your special Chicago day.

First Chicago Wedding Vendors to Book

Wedding Venue

The site of your wedding day is one of the most important details. Fortunately, there is a long list of Chicago wedding venues to choose from, including your own backyard!

When considering the best location for your wedding, have an open conversation with your fiancé and ask these questions:

  • What is our wedding date? (Use these tips for choosing the perfect wedding date if you haven’t narrowed down your options yet.)
  • What is our style (i.e. modern, historic, rustic, etc.)?
  • How big is our guest list? (You don’t need an exact count, but an estimate is helpful.)
  • What is our budget?

If there is anything you really wanted in a venue, now is the time to speak up! Do you want a big wedding venue with a big dance floor? Or a Chicago wedding venue with plenty of room for family seating?

Caterer

The Windy City is full of wonderful wedding caterers. Finding the right caterer comes down to a number of factors, such as your budget, what kind of dinner service (i.e. sit-down, family style, buffet, etc.) you prefer, and your menu. When contacting wedding caterers, ask each caterer if they are available on your wedding date, carry insurance, can prepare your menu preferences, and, if appropriate, when you can schedule a wedding tasting. (Always ask if there is a cost for the tasting. Every caterer has a different tasting policy.)

Wedding Entertainment

Your wedding entertainment boils down to the question: band, DJ, or DIY? Typically, wedding DJs are less expensive than bands, and don’t require you to purchase the equipment or man the music equipment station. Both wedding bands and DJs come with professionals that keep guests on the dance floor. Wedding bands often have limited playlists, while top-quality wedding DJs come with extensive play lists with all your “must play” songs. Talk through your options with your fiancé, plus whether you want live entertainment, need an emcee, and what your budget is for wedding entertainment. (Beyond a band or DJ, consider adding a little extra for wedding entertainment “extras” like lighting, trivia games, and photo booths.) If you choose a DJ, contact Chicago wedding DJs with this list of DJ questions.

Wedding Planner

If you need full- or part-time help planning your big day, seek out a Chicago wedding planning service or ask your wedding venue if they offer planning services. Ask every wedding planner if they have experience, for examples of their past work, and a few other important questions.

How to Find a Quality Wedding Vendor

Ask friends and family for recommendations.

Your friends and family members can be an invaluable source for wedding vendor recommendations. Be careful when their suggestions are for other friends or family members that offer the service “on the side.” Unfortunately, amateur services often come with unreliable communications and dated equipment that can lead to less-than-satisfactory performance.

Do online research.

There are many wedding review sites that give couples not only a list of Chicago wedding vendors, but also reviews. When researching wedding vendors, you should look for information about their service, testimonials, and a high review rating (from a large amount of reviews).

Meet with the vendor.

Never hire a wedding vendor without meeting with them. Never book a wedding venue without touring it. Never choose a wedding caterer without tasting their food. Even if your meeting is virtual, make sure you meet with the vendor so you can interview them and see if they are the “one.”

Review the contract carefully.

When hiring a wedding vendor, always review the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Once you’ve returned the contract, don’t forget to add deadlines to your wedding planning calendar or in your wedding planning app. (These other tips for organizing your wedding planning ensures that your experience is smooth—and yields an awesome wedding day.)