Selecting the right wedding DJ for your event can be hard. But after reading this, you'll know what to look for to ensure your wedding isn't ruined by an inferior DJ. Be sure to check out Part 2 of this series as well.
If you have already read our Questions to ask Wedding Vendors post, you will already have an idea of what to look for, however I would like to delve a little deeper and show you exactly what to look for and what to expect.
Where to Start?
It is often hard to know where to start even looking for a wedding DJ. Some popular choices would be your favourite internet search engine, the phone book (do they still exist?), bridal magazines, or maybe your favourite online wedding directory. All of these places you will find those DJ's who are advertising their business. But what other options are there? How about asking your wedding reception venue? They have no doubt seen many DJ's come and go over the years at various events and may be able to recommend someone who is good. But be careful, some unscrupulous DJ's and venues enter into agreements where the DJ will provide the venue salesperson a "kick-back" if you book with them. Don't be afraid to ask if this is the case. If a "kick-back" is involved, how can you be assured of the quality of the DJ.
G&M Solutions work with many venues who have elected to recommend our services to their clients. We do not enter into any "kick-back" arrangements with anyone. Anyone who recommends our services does so because they appreciate the quality and reliability of our DJ's.
You can also ask around your friends and family. Have you been to a wedding where the DJ was outstanding. Find out who it was. Have you been to a wedding where the DJ was awful. Find out who it was so you can avoid them!
Talk with other brides and research DJ companies to find out what other people think. Written testimonials on a DJ's website should not be taken too seriously, unless they are a scanned copy of a hand-written note. How can you know if it is genuine, or if it was written by the DJ themselves?
At G&M Solutions, we use a combination of written testimonials which were submitted by our past clients, plus our famous Video Testimonials. These video testimonials are taken at a wedding, just after the bride and groom have left and are as genuine as you can get.
We have a list of a few DJ's, what's next?
Now that you have a shortlist of DJ's, it is important you get to know each of them a little better. Be sure to visit their websites, ask your venue manager about them, phone and talk with them, and even meet with them if you have the option. Any DJ who doesn't want to meet with you before you book with them, should most likely be avoided. Take notes, such as if they answered their phone when you called, how did they answer the phone, did they answer with their own name, or their business name? Did they return your call promptly? Try to see some photo's of their equipment setup, will it blend in with the "look" you want to create at your event? Ask if they have other setup options. View videos of their events and see if you like what they do.
You should also consider if the DJ is within your budget. You may also need to consider if your wedding DJ budget is reasonable. More on this bit later.
Meeting with your prospective wedding DJ is also a good idea. Depending on timings and locations, this may not always be an option, however, consider phone meeting and even Skype. We often meet with couples via Skype so that we can video chat about their event. This is also a wonderful idea if you wedding is not near where you live.
Questions to ask Prospective Wedding DJ's
Whether you meet in person, over the phone or via Skype, these questions will help you get a better idea on what a DJ can do for you and if they are the right choice for your wedding:
1 - Is the DJ familiar with your wedding reception venue?
Although it is not essential that the DJ knows the venue, it can certainly help. They will know how to get there, where to normally setup, be familiar with the room layout, have some familiarity with the staff and be aware of any special requirements of a venue such as voice restrictions or Health and Safety concerns.
2 - Who will actually be at my event?
It is possible that the person you are speaking with may not actually be the one performing at your wedding. Some DJ's work solo and therefore the person you speak with is the person at your wedding. Other DJ's are what the industry calls "Multi-ops", as they have multiple DJ's who work for them. A quality multi-op company will help match one of their DJ's to your event who they feel is a good match based on many factors. Be sure to find out how they operate. You don't want any nasty surprises.
3 - What is the DJ's back-up plan?
Some DJ's will not have a back up plan in case something goes wrong at your wedding. These companies should be crossed off your list immediately! Your DJ MUST have a back up plan in case their is any type of equipment malfunction, or in case of injury or illness of the DJ performing. A "multi-op" DJ company can sometimes be more reliable in this sense as they will normally have a few back up DJ's whenever their DJ's are performing. Single-op DJ's may network with other DJ's to ensure they have a back up with each other, however be sure to ask what happens if the other DJ is also at another wedding. You do not want your wedding ruined due to your DJ's lack of planning.
G&M Solutions always have back up DJ's and equipment available. In fact, our most popular wedding packages always have 2 people at them, plus there is still other back ups. All back up DJ's carry not only back up equipment, but also full event details and music selections for each event.
4 - What will the DJ wear?
Once again, you need to make sure that the DJ is going to fit in with the theme of your wedding. Most professional wedding DJ's will wear a suit.
5 - What music will the DJ play?
The main reason the DJ is there is to play music. Find out if you are able to select the songs the DJ will play, or if the DJ chooses them all. Be sure to find a DJ who will let you have as much input as you would like. Also, keep in mind that a professional DJ will have a lot of experience and you should try to take advantage of this. Give them a guide as to the music you want, but allow them some freedom to play what they know will work well. After all, you wouldn't tell your cake maker exactly what ingredients to use and how to make a cake.
6 - Are you insured and do you belong to any professional organisations?
Unfortunately, being a DJ appeals to many people, and quite often these people are willing to cut corners just to make a few bucks playing music as a hobby. Hopefully, by the time you get to this stage of your DJ selection process, these unethical and possibly illegal DJ's have missed the cut, however it is still important to ensure you are dealing with a professional DJ. You should ask for proof of public liability insurance. This is called a certificate of currency and they should be happy to provide it for you. Their music should all be legally purchased. If it's not been paid for, it is not legal. They should also have a PPCA licence. Ask if all their electrical equipment and leads are tested and tagged.
Professional organisations for wedding DJ's in Australia are still developing. Currently, the DJAA (DJ Alliance Australia) is the best professional body that we have. They ensure all DJ's meet a strict criteria and adhere to a code of ethics. If you are hiring a DJAA member, you can be assured of the quality of your DJ.
G&M Solutions hold a public liability insurance policy, we have a PPCA licence, all our music is legit and all equipment is tested and tagged. We are also a proud member of the DJAA and were the first Brisbane based DJ approved.
But how much should I pay for a good DJ?
I mentioned earlier that finding a DJ within your budget is important. But it is also important that your budget is set appropriately. But shopping around you will find wedding DJ's quoting anywhere between $200 and $5000 depending on your area. Quite often, with DJ's it is a case of "you get what you paid for".
99% of the wedding DJ horror stories you hear about are caused because people just picked a figure (usually a low one) out of the air when deciding on their DJ budget and went with whoever was the cheapest. Even many wedding sources quote outdated figures when giving suggested budgets.
Consider how much money you have spent on your wedding reception. A bad DJ can ruin that and if you want to risk having everyone leave early, then maybe a cheap DJ is an option for you.
You will find many high quality DJ's in the $1000+ range who will do more than just play music. By doing your research and taking the time to meet with them, you will surely find a DJ who will do everything you want. Find out how they can help make your wedding reception one to remember for all the right reasons. Custom lighting and other personalisations at your wedding can often be arranged by your DJ, which may add to the total quote. It is not unusual for couples to pay $2000+ for a complete wedding entertainment, MC, custom lighting and themeing solution.
Sticking to your budget is important, but so is the success of your wedding reception.
Part 2 will help you know what to expect at your wedding reception and what to look out for.
G&M Solutions Mobile DJs