How to Book the Right DJ for your Wedding
Finding the right DJ is a mix of how sensitive the DJ in judging the crowd's taste and you communicating your wishes for your wedding beforehand.
Some questions you can ask the wedding DJ to find the right match:
How do you fill the dance floor?
Once the first dance is over, the dance floor should be filled and remain filled as long as possible. You as a couple can pull in the first guests right after the dance which will break the ice. Nevertheless, the music will need to be sufficiently compelling to the guests that they want to hit the dance floor on their own. This means you should communicate the possible music tastes of the guests to the DJ, from where he should be able to judge how to vary the music to keep interest alive. Good DJ's have a sublime knowledge of the most effective dance floor music, know how to change the pace from fast, driving, popular rhythms to super-romantic slows and can do this for various dance styles, from modern (house, pop) to traditional dance (cha-cha, waltz, swing, rock-n-roll). Bad DJ's will ignore the crowd and play the music they like best and/or they will keep the music in the same style and tempo for long stretches of time.
How many WEDDING bookings did you have last season?
Good DJ's are in high demand due to continued referrals and will be priced higher. Nobody wants a bad DJ. If he's had just a handful of wedding bookings, he's probably not that hot. The bookings must be for weddings, not for other gigs.
Can I drop in at your next wedding?
There's nothing better than to watch the DJ playing live at an event. Ask at what time the first dance is planned and appear an hour later for a short 10-minute look-around. You needn't even enter the dance-hall to be able to judge whether the music is compelling and whether the guests are dancing. Are the transitions between songs smooth? Are there noticable tempo-changes between songs? Do the songs flow well into each other? Is the crowd excited or tepid?
Can you give references?
Ask for at least two references and call. People tend to be gentle when giving reference information (except if the DJ was really bad, and no DJ will give you an unsatisfied customer as a reference), so listen carefully. The referral should be absolutely glowing or beware. Any reservations will be understated, e.g. "played good music most of the time" should read "had a terrible playlist", so listen between the lines.
How do you handle equipment failure?
A professional DJ should have backups of everything. If his laptop of mixing deck or amplifier fails, he should carry a backup, at least in his car. If he doesn't, bolt.
What is the total price?
Check if everything in included in the price: Taxes, travel expenses, music royalties. Also ask what extra time costs per hour. Also ask the DJ to consult with you beforehand should he start running into extra time. Check what the cancellation terms are.
What happens if you cannot come?
The DJ should provide you with the conditions under which he cannot appear (accident, sickness, family crisis). What happens if he cannot appear? Will he provide an alternate DJ? How good is this person? Will he return your money?
How is the schedule during the day?
Discuss a detailed schedule during the day with the DJ beforehand, so he knows when anything special will happen, which announcements to make, and which music to play at certain times, e.g. at your first dance.
What does your playlist look like?
Here you should get a detailled rundown of the styles and tempi of the music catalogue. If the DJ can give you a live demo or a demo on CD, all the better to be able to judge the quality. If you have a versatile music lover in your faily or as a friend, let them listen in or accompany you to judge quality.