Vendor Series: A Planner’s Perspective (DJ)

So you’ve been chugging right along with all of your planning: you’ve scoured Etsy for the perfect program layout, you plan on having a girls night to work on painted mason jars for your guests, and you’ve spoken more on the phone with your bartender solidifying the perfect specialty cocktail than you’d like to admit. You are doing all you can to create little details for your guests to enjoy on your wedding day. The enjoyment of your guests is a top priority for you, so what’s a girl to do when they need to be entertained beyond what you’ve already done for them? This assignment will lie solely in the hands of whichever DJ you choose, so we know you’ll want to put as much effort into selecting one as you did creating your wedding board on Pinterest.

Once you select your venue and date, we recommend putting the hiring of your DJ on the top of your list (next to photographer and caterer). The reason being, great DJs get booked months (or even a year) in advance, and you want to be sure you secure someone phenomenal to invest in your guests as much as you.

The first thing we suggest doing is reading reviews (Wedding Wire is a great tool!). Unlike caterers where you can taste their product, or photographers where you can see their galleries, it’s difficult to gauge the work of a DJ unless you’ve been to an event where they were working. Be sure to read as many reviews as you can and make a list of a few DJs you’d like to meet based on their stellar reviews.

Now you’ll want to get in touch with a few DJs to check their availability. Set up a consultation with any available DJs in order to get more information as well as evaluate their personalities. Some companies have multiple DJs, so be sure to meet with the actual DJ who would work at your wedding. We feel you should connect with your DJ because he will be your emcee and the breath that breathes life into the party; surely you want to mesh! Also, nothing can kill the mood like an obnoxious DJ.

Here are a few questions to go over with your potential DJ:
- What are your package prices?
- How many hours are included in each package?
- Are any lights included?
- Is providing ceremony music and/or amplification an extra fee?
- What do you wear to an event?
- How soon in advance will you arrive to begin set up?
- Do you provide your own table and linen?
- Do you book two events in one day? (If they say yes, walk away)
- Have you played at our venue before?
- Do you take song requests from guests?

Hopefully after meeting with a few DJs, you are able to make your decision and lock someone in for your special day. There are a few more things to discuss with your DJ along the planning process. Most professional DJs have a questionnaire or form to fill out with the following items, but here are some of the key components:
- If ceremony music is needed, discuss prelude, processional, recessional and any extra ceremony songs
- Go over your introduction line up and song selection(s)
- Decide on the songs for first dances (bride & groom, mother & son, father & daughter)
- Songs that will be played during cocktail hour and dinner
- Do you want a song for cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss?
- If you have certain songs you absolutely do not want played, create a “DO NOT PLAY” list and make sure your DJ will stick to this
- What is the last song you want all of your guests to enjoy before your final exit?
- Be clear on how many slow songs you want incorporated, if any (this can seriously put a damper on the party if not played at right time)
- Are you wanting any speciality dances? (anniversary dance, dollar dance, the hora)
- Do you want any games played? (shoe game)
- Be sure any of the specialty songs you want played are the EXACT song you have in mind. There can be many variations of the same song. Send a YouTube link if you have to!
- If you have any songs that you really want to have incorporated, give your DJ a “must play” list

We know this is a lot of information to absorb, but we feel the DJ is one of the most important elements of your wedding. Your guests will remember if they had a good time (or didn’t!) on the dance floor and off. If you feel your DJ knocked it out of the park, you can show them some love with a tip or a great review!

We wanted to put in a brief segment about bands. A lot of the elements that go into hiring a DJ can be applied to hiring a band. There are a few differences and things to consider:
- The pricing structure can vary depending on number of band members
- Also, bands need to take breaks, so they will have to hook up to an iPod while they refresh periodically (you can create playlists for them, or they may have their own)
- Be sure to consider all members of the band in meal count (whereas a DJ is one person, you likely will have multiple band members)
- How much space does the band need?
- Look closely at the band rider for any special requests they require (changing room, meals, ect) and be sure it fits into what you’re willing to accommodate
- Tipping is usually a little higher, due to paying per band member
- The atmosphere of live music is very different from what a DJ offers. If you like the idea of live energy and vibes, a band can definitely create a feeling of sophisication and ambiance.

We hope this is some helpful information to consider before hiring your DJ (or band!)

With love,

Lynn & Jess

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