One of the things I often hear from a couple shopping for a DJ is, “I’m not really sure what questions I should be asking you.”
Really, how often does the average person hire a DJ in their lifetime? It makes sense that most people have no clue where to start. There are plenty of websites that talk about how to hire a DJ, but most of them don’t offer any real practical advice. Even worse, some of them are written with a bias toward a specific DJ company or to justify unreasonable price ranges. The next few paragraphs are my attempt to make this process a little easier for a first-time DJ shopper.
There are three basic areas you should consider when shopping for a DJ:
1. Does the DJ have the experience and reliability I need?
Ask your potential DJ how long he or she has been working as a wedding DJ in Vermont. You want someone who has at least five years of experience with at least 50 weddings completed. More experience is always a plus, but the average DJ is very competent after completing 50 weddings. Bad DJs don’t usually last longer than five years, so this question will screen out most of the DJs you don’t want to consider. Also, remember that it is your DJ’s experience that matters here, not the company’s experience. Of course, any DJ can just lie and tell you they have decades of experience, so be sure to ask your DJ to give you examples of any crazy situations or challenges he/she has faced over the years. Experienced DJs always have stories about how they managed to overcome unexpected challenges during wedding receptions.
You also want to know that your DJ is reliable. The best DJ in the world is no good if he/she doesn’t actually show up for your wedding. This quality is hard to assess because no DJ is going to admit that they ruined someone’s wedding with a no-show. Again, if the person has been in business for at least five years, they are probably reliable. Word spreads fast about DJs who cancel on their clients.
Here are some specific questions you can ask to establish your DJ’s experience and reliability:
- What kind of equipment do you use? What do you keep on site for backup equipment in the rare case of a malfunction? Part of your DJ’s reliability depends on the reliability of his or her equipment.
- How long have you been in business?
- Does your DJ work focus mostly on weddings? How many weddings have you worked?
2. Do you like this person?
Once you have established that your potential DJ is experienced and reliable, you can relax a little and just get to know the person. Your DJ will be responsible for setting the tone of your reception and interacting with your guests. Does this person seem friendly, approachable and accommodating? First impressions are everything here. Go with your intuition on this one.
Here are some questions that might help you to learn more about your DJ’s personality and motivations:
- What is the best part about being a DJ?
- What kind of music do you like?
- How do you assess whether or not your work is outstanding?
- Do you encourage your customers to participate in music selections?
3. Do the fees/rates seem reasonable?
There are DJs who charge $2500 and there are DJs who charge $500. Not all of the expensive DJs are worth it and some of the less expensive DJs are better than the expensive guys. You should shop around a bit here. Don’t focus solely on the price. Be willing to have a meaningful and complete discussion about your event and explain any concerns you have about your budget. Some DJs might be willing to work with you a little. For example, I have been known to waive travel fees in some cases or provide a discount on a second DJ setup for a ceremony in a different location.
Let your DJ know that price isn’t the only thing you are considering, but it certainly is an important part of your choice. Some DJs can’t/won’t flex much for a Saturday wedding during the peak wedding season. Many of us have several couples looking at any given Saturday in the summer, which makes it difficult to offer large discounts. Still, it never hurts to ask.
These questions will help you to completely understand the cost of the services you are purchasing (the answers to many of these questions should be spelled out clearly in your service contract with your DJ):
- Are there any additional fees (travel, setup, breakdown, mileage, etc.) that will be applied to my final bill?
- What is your cancellation policy? Is there a required deposit? Is the deposit non-refundable? Will the deposit be applied to my final bill?
- When is my payment due? Are there any discounts for early payments?
- Are there any other discounts I can apply based on my reception location or time of week/year?
- If I elect to hire you for overtime hours, when do I need to let you know? When are overtime fees due?
The Final Word
Here is the best part about shopping for a DJ. The overwhelming majority of Vermont wedding DJs are really great. In fact, it’s harder to find a bad DJ than it is to find a good DJ. No matter who you pick, the chances are very good that you will have someone who will show up and meet all of your expectations.