Does the business carry liability insurance?
More and more venues are requiring wedding DJs and other wedding professionals to maintain a liability insurance policy. In a world where someone can win a lawsuit because of spilled hot coffee why take the risk of not being covered if someone were to get injured at your reception? You don’t want to hire a DJ who won’t be allowed to perform at your venue just because they don’t have the required insurance.
Will the company you are considering show respect to and work with the other professionals you have hired?
Let’s use the cake cutting as an example. All professionals at the reception are involved in this event. Before announcing the cake cutting to the guests, a great wedding DJ would make sure you and your husband are actually ready to do it, let the banquet staff know it’s coming up so they can be ready to cut and serve it, the photographer needs to know in case he/she wants to change lenses and the videographer needs to know in case he/she needs to swap batteries or tapes. If the DJ does not do this, then you and all of your guests could be by the cake waiting for the other professionals to get in position. This makes them look bad, but it is actually the DJ who made them look that way.
Will the DJ do the wedding the way you want it done?
We have some clients that want the wedding DJ to do nothing more than play music and make some announcements. If people dance, they dance. We have others that want us to do just about every interactive dance in the book and do as much as possible to get the guests out of their seats and onto the dance floor.
We have some guests that only give us a handful of music requests and we have some guests that want to program the entire reception’s music and the order in which to play it.
There are some wedding DJs out there who will say, “I’ve been doing this a long time. I know what I’m doing. I’m the professional, I, I, I,” and completely dismiss what you want. If you feel the DJ you are speaking with is going to let his/her ego come before your wants, continue your search until you find someone you feel confident will do your wedding the way you want to. Having said that, I offer this caveat; whether it is the wedding DJ or another wedding professional you are working with, use the benefit of their experience to guide you. You very well may have some fantastic ideas, but history may prove that they do not work out as well in reality. Work with your professionals to come up with a solution that will incorporate your vision, yet still lead to a successful reception.
Will I receive a written contract?
It is amazing the amount of calls we get from brides days before the wedding because their wedding DJ just backed out. Usually when I ask, “What did the DJ say when you told him you have a written contract for him to perform” I’m told there was no contract. At this point I now have to tell the bride that she never had a DJ booked (at least not a professional one). I know it sounds like common sense, but it happens enough that it bears mentioning; get everything in writing. This protects both you and the DJ (or any other wedding professional for that matter). Also, if a DJ does not require some type of retainer fee or down payment, chances are your date is not going to be held. In addition, you want to find out if any interim payments need to be made and when the final payment is due.
Now you know some better questions to ask before finding out the price. In order to give you an accurate price however, you will need to be asked some questions as well. Some questions you may get asked are:
Where will the reception take place?
Depending on how far the reception is from the wedding DJs place of business, there may be travel fees associated with the price. Also some venues are more difficult than others to load equipment in and out of which could factor into the price as well.
Will the ceremony take place at the same location as the reception? If yes, would you like the wedding DJ to provide the ceremony music? Is the ceremony in the same room as the reception or outside/in another room?
Most DJs are capable of providing ceremony music as well as reception music. Often times, when I ask that question, the bride never thought to ask the DJ about providing ceremony music. What I find interesting is the number of times I’m not the first DJ the bride has talked to and no one has even bothered to ask.
Today’s DJs may also offer more than just music. It is not uncommon for a wedding DJ to provide not just lighting for the dance floor but up lighting for the head table or cake table as well as your monogram or names projected on the wall or dance floor. An increasing number of weddings are doing video montages. If this is something you are planning on doing, ask your DJ if he/she offers projectors and screens for rent.
What are the times of the reception?
Your wedding DJ will need to be set up and ready before your guests arrive and finish at the end of the party. Receptions typically run 3-5 hours and there is usually a difference in price depending on how long a reception is. In any case, you want your DJ there from start to finish. This should be spelled out in the contract along with any fees associated with going overtime if necessary.
How many guests will be at the reception?
What might be a great sound system for a wedding of 50 may not be adequate for a wedding of 300. This could affect your price if a bigger sound system is needed.
Will the meal be buffet style, served or just heavy hors d’oeuvres
While this may seem like an odd question for a wedding DJ to ask, knowing the type of meal you are planning will help determine how much time you may need. For example, it will take more time to serve your guests a four course dinner than it is for them to go through a buffet or? hors d’oeuvres stations.
These are just some of the things to ask and expect to be asked when planning the wedding of your dreams. Hopefully you can shop for your wedding professionals with a little more insight as to what goes into providing you the service you want. We’ll see you on the dance floor!
Marc Burgess is the owner of Marc Burgess Productions, a Florida-based entertainment and wedding DJ company. He is a member of the National Association of Mobile Entertainers (NAME) and is the founder of the Florida Entertainment Alliance (FEA).
Click here to visit Part I of this wedding planning article, How to Get the Wedding Reception You Really Want.