If you and your wedding guests are the party-into-the-wee-hours type, then you likely will hire a DJ for a portion of the reception or after-party – even if you have a wedding band for the earlier portion of the evening. A DJ is a great way to incorporate songs from all genres and keep loved ones on the dance floor all night long as they're skilled at knowing what to play and when.
Whether you have already settled on hiring a wedding DJ for your event or you are still thinking about your decision of choosing a wedding band or DJ, there are a few things that must be considered. Just like other aspects of wedding planning, this is also something that should be contemplated before finalizing, leaving deposits, or signing contracts.
Here are a few questions to keep in mind – to ask yourself, and your prospective DJ:
Do your research – both online and with word of mouth. Ask your wedding planner or other wedding professionals you have hired for your big day if they have recommendations. Once you have whittled down the list of potential wedding DJs, take the time to meet them in person (or via Zoom) and make sure you feel comfortable. If you feel you mesh well and he or she can provide the type of experience that you are looking for, ask them play some of their mixes or sample tracks, so you can get a better taste for their work before making a decision.
If you want extra effects during the dance party, you will want to ask if outside equipment and lighting will be provided – and whether or not it's an extra cost. Keep in mind, these are likely additional services and will increase their fee amount. So, for example, if you want your New Year’s Eve wedding to have a sparkling disco ball and wild lighting at midnight – can he or she provide this service? Some couples also like to add an additional musician to the mix for added effect. Can they contract other musicians, such as a drum player to play to the beat of songs for added energy? Ask for examples and videos of past events where they provided these types of services.
Some DJs charge hourly, whereas others may charge just for a complete booking. In case he/she charges hourly, make sure they are able and willing to deejay for as long as you need. You do not want the music to be cut short and have nothing to dance to towards the end of the night. Communication is key! You will also want to factor in any live band entertainment or dinner music that you would like into that allotted time, so take a close look at what timeframe you will actually need him or her to play, and make sure the desired timing is communicated before booking.
When guests are dancing the night away, some will want a certain song to be played or replayed. If this is something you are concerned about, make sure to ask if he or she takes requests, given that some DJs have premade mixes that cannot be interrupted. Some couples do not want the DJ to take any requests at all and stick to their playlist, so also make sure your DJ feels comfortable politely telling guests that he cannot comply with all requests if this is the category you fall into.
Maybe you have a burning passion to hear a specific track, or an entire album. Ask your DJ if you can give him or her a playlist that you must hear on your special day. Many DJs will ask ahead of time if you want a certain song or songs played throughout the night, but be sure to ask in case it is not mentioned. Also, be very sure that your DJ understands the types of genres you want played, in what part of the day/evening, and how he/she normally transitions from cocktail hour to dinner to dancing.
Opening photo by Jay Lawrence Goldman Photography; From Real Wedding: Elegant White + Lavender Ballroom Wedding with Cherry Blossom Trees