Things to look for when hiring a dj

Tommy Keller - May 4, 2020

Things to look for when hiring a dj

I find most couples have a similar mindset when searching for their perfect wedding day entertainment.  When I ask potential clients, “What is your vision for your wedding day?”  95% of the time the answer comes back the same, “All we want is for our guests to have fun!”  And this makes perfect sense.  When throwing any party, even when you are just entertaining a few friends over your house for a game night, the underlying thought in the back of your mind is you want the people you have invited to be entertained.  You want them to leave feeling like they made the right decision by RSVPing yes to your invite.  Essentially, you want your party to be the party people are talking about.  It gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing they are talking about a party that you hosted!  Choosing the right entertainment, not for your game night (though that would be an interesting event to DJ….  I can imagine announcing a play by play of Scategories, while picking the perfect song to go with one friend arguing that an “octopus” is a good answer to “Things You Don’t Want In Your House.” Maybe TNT by ACDC.  Sorry, my brain likes to run away from me while I write.) can actually be pretty easy if you follow these couple of guidelines.

First, find someone who your personality clicks with right away.  Yes, you are hiring someone to perform a service and you might not think that this matters all that much.  But I find the weddings I entertain where guests have the most fun are the ones where by the time the wedding rolls around we are way past a business/client relationship.  When you find the perfect entertainment company for you, they should feel more like friends on the big day.  Now, why or how does this correlate to your guests having a better time?  I honestly have no idea.  Perhaps it makes the emcee more comfortable, thus sounding more personable on the microphone.  Maybe it makes for a closer DJ/client relationship to truly understand your vision of your wedding day. I have no real idea what the underlying psychological reason is, but I do know from experience it is very true.So, advice piece number one, shop for a personality AND a budget. 

How will you know when “your personalities click right away?”  There are times at bridal or wedding expos I begin talking to a client.  The conversation starts the way it typically does, “Are you looking for a DJ for your wedding day?”  But before I know it, 20 minutes have gone by and we haven’t brought up music one single time.  For a DJ trying to sell himself to a couple for their wedding day, you would think this is a terrible misstep.  The truth is, this is usually a sign that you have found someone who your personality meshes with and will more than likely be able to truly understand your wedding day expectations by finding out who you are as a person, not filling out a questionnaire.  This is just one example of knowing, but I promise that when you know… you will know, you know?

A second good guideline to follow is to hire entertainment that will be able and willing to work with your schedule during the planning process.  With everyone constantly being busy with work, family, and other obligations, it is nice to know from the jump that who you hire will be able to communicate with you in a way that works for you.  One of the very first things I let my clients know is I am also a teacher.  I like to be upfront that I will not be available during the week before about 4:00.  Now luckily, this meshes quite well with the majority of my clients who work some form of a 9 to 5 job, and aren’t available to chat until later in the evening anyway. Be sure to communicate your availability to who you are considering hiring before actually booking.  This can help prevent communication issues before they begin.

To alleviate the stress of setting up appointments too frequently to go over wedding day information, you may want to find a company that also has some form of an online planner.  After initial contact with a client, whether in person or over the phone, they have access to an online portal where they can plan every aspect of their wedding.  Times of the event, songs to be played during the ceremony, who is walking in with who into the reception during the grand entrance, and much more can be communicated to me all through this online planner.  The contract is viewable here at all times, along with a “make a payment” button to allow clients to make payments whenever they wish.  This allows you to plan your wedding on your own time, and not at the mercy of your DJ being available to talk. Also, I find that having the structure of an online planner will put you more at ease with the whole process.  Planning a wedding can certainly be overwhelming.  There is something calming about having everything related to your wedding being in one, organized place.

The online planner is the perfect segway to my next point, find a DJ who is willing and open minded enough to take your song requests while also bringing their own expertise of music to the table.  The online planner that I use has an entire section dedicated solely to choosing music that you would like played throughout your day.  Whether you want to choose every song from the prelude music played before the ceremony to the very last song at the end of the night, or just want to pick a couple of your favorite dancing tunes and then allow the DJ to fill in the rest, you want a DJ that will listen to you.  DJs get a bad reputation for only wanting to play what they want to play.  You want to work with a DJ who will listen to your suggestions humbly, if you believe you know what will get your guests to the dance floor.  Remember, your end goal and my end goal are the same: create the BEST time for your guests.  Find a DJ that will trust you, while also giving you helpful suggestions to ultimately create an atmosphere that your guests will talk about for years to come.

So what can you do to be SURE you are hiring someone who can do what is listed above?  Anyone can make these types of promises but what precautions can you take to ensure they will be fulfilled?  There are two answers to this question that I think you should rely on more than anything else.  

One:  First hand experience.  Can you think back to a wedding you were in or attended that you recall the DJ being particularly good?  You remember being on the dance floor having a great time? My advice would be to reach out to the couple from that day.  First of all, let them know you had an amazing time (remember, that was more than likely one of their goals in their wedding planning process as well).  Then, ask what the company was like working up to the wedding day.  Were they easy to communicate with?  Did they listen to their needs? Are they someone you would recommend to a friend?  If these answers are all yes, then it sounds like you are well on your way to finding someone who is right for you.

In a perfect world, this one method should be enough!  But, you have not all recently attended weddings.  Or, the ones you did attend, you were not blown away by the performance.  So here is my second suggestion for how to be sure you are choosing the right DJ.

Two:  Reviews.  Think for a moment the last time you wrote a review online. Let me guess.  It was because you really ENJOYED a product or service, or you really DIDN’T.  This is so true for DJ companies as well.  The clients who leave these reviews are real people, just like you.  They may not be people you know personally, but if they took the time to write a review for absolutely no compensation in return, I would say you can take them at their word.  This will significantly help you with your search for the perfect fit DJ.  Start on the company’s website.  Now, be careful with these, since obviously they are only going to put what they want potential clients to see on their website.  From there, run a google search.  Try reviews on the Knot, or Wedding Wire (btw, don’t discount a company for not being on EVERY wedding website.  Most that I know only collect their reviews on one to make it more convenient for their clients).  It may take some time to sift through them all, but this is where you will gather the foundational information for finding the perfect fit.  

My last guideline is to find someone who addresses all your concerns from the beginning.  This can be tied into my last point about reviews because a company may be able to do this before ever actually speaking to you in person. Have some concerns in mind and try to find answers to those concerns while you are read through a company’s reviews.  If, after reading enough reviews, you still have concerns, bring it up with the DJ at the very first meeting.  This is also helpful to the DJ to hear ahead of time what your vision for the day is and they can walk you through step by step how those concerns will be addressed.  Remember, you want a DJ who has the same goal in mind for your wedding day:  your guests having a blast.  Find someone who does, so all you will have to worry about is memorizing your lines, “I do!”

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