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A Bride's Guide to Finding the Right DJ
by Richard Hill of Mobile Music Wisconsin

Finding the right DJ for your wedding reception is similar to finding the right vendor for your other wedding related needs.  Meeting in person with DJís and comparing services is highly recommended. Always ask for references and be sure to call those references.  I like to ask for the 3 most recent references for every DJ in the company. I suggest that as soon as you find someone you feel comfortable with and has answered your list of questions appropriately, donít wait.  Hire them.

Many brides and grooms wait to hire the entertainment.  The best DJís get hired first, sometimes as far out as 2 years in advance.  One great reason to book early is that you get a better price.  Why not secure this yearís lower pricing for your wedding rather than next year or 2 years from now?

Here is something you probably are not aware of.  Unlike your other vendors who have certifications or licenses, anyone can claim to be a professional DJ.  This could be a big problem if you donít arm yourself with the right questions.  I highly recommend printing the following questions along with the comments and then use them to screen potential candidates over the phone prior to setting up an appointment

        Do you meet with your clients for a free consultation?  

      Quality entertainment companies meet with their clients.  If they don't want to meet with you, what does that say about what you can expect from them on your special evening?  How will they know what you want?

       How many DJs do you have?  Which DJ is available on   _______ (date)?
 
You deserve the attention only a full-time single operator can provide.  A single system company means you get the owner of the company.  The ownerís attention is not divided between you and the other 3 shows going out that evening.  You are their only focus.  Even if a DJ company has only 4 DJs that means you are only receiving 25 % of their attention!  One of the things multi system companies donít tell you is that they hire DJs for about the minimum wage.  The multi system DJ is not full time, so this is just a part time minimum wage job to them. For your once in a lifetime event, donít you deserve better?

       When we meet, I would like to talk with the person who is doing the actual DJ work.

The person who will be at your event is the one you really want to talk with.   Make sure the DJ you want has their name on the contract as the performer at your event!  If the DJís name is not written into the contract, the company can send anyone they want.  You can take all the worry away by hiring a single system operation that you connect with.

      Let me see references for every DJ for the last 2 months.

Quality DJ companies can get positive referrals from every show for
all of their DJís. Therefore, you want to see evaluations for all of their DJ's.  Look to see if one or two of the DJís have good evaluations but youíre not seeing evaluations for the other DJís.  That should be a red flag!          

       Do you buy your music from stores?

It is illegal for a DJ to download music from the net because the DJ is making money from playing the song.  Through the act of hiring a DJ, you are making an ethical statement.  If they are cutting corners with the music, where else might they be cutting corners?

        Do you bring backup equipment? Amplifier, CD player, Speaker & Patch Cords, Microphone?

Imagine being at your event and the DJís equipment fails and doesnít have backup gear.  What happens?  This happens every year to someone.  Just make sure it doesn't happen to you.  When you meet with the DJ, ask to see the equipment.  Ask to see the amplifier that is used at the show and then ask to see the back up.  If there is no back up amplifier in the same area as the regular gear, they don't have one.  Look to see that EVERY system has backup equipment.  Some companies have just one back up system and it stays back at the office.

      Do you have liability insurance?

A policy of one million dollars is appropriate.  When you meet with your DJ, ask to see the certificate and check the date it lapses. Insurance is particularly important if you are having the reception at a private residence and not at a banquet facility.

      What is your full time job?

A full time DJ Company is always your best bet.  It means you, the customer, are not a hobby to them. They are serious about this business and there is a better chance you will get superior service.

      If you have an emergency situation arise, whom do you subcontract with?

Quality DJ companies donít subcontract.  If they canít perform, they refer the person to another quality company.  In an emergency, I would send my client to the WDJA, (the WDJA is a WI organization of DJ entertainers who all meet strict quality standards) so that I know my client will get someone who will perform at the same level of excellence they were expecting from me.  Check to see if your DJ Company belongs to an organization that has someone on call or if the company itself has a qualified DJ on standby.

      How many weddings have you personally performed?

The more experienced the DJ, the better.  I recommend having at least 100 weddings performed and be sure to call the 3 most recent weddings and ask if they were impressed with their DJ.

 

      Have you attended any DJ workshops or seminars?  How long ago?

Professionals keep current and fresh by attending conventions.  Make sure your DJ was actually there and not just the owner of the company. Ask what they learned by attending.

If the DJ Company you call cannot answer these basic quality issues satisfactorily, then I strongly urge you to find one that can.

What do you recall about the last wedding reception you were at?  Do you remember if you had the beef or chicken?  What were the wedding colors chosen? What kinds of flowers were there? What kind of wedding cake was it? 

If you canít remember those things donít worry, you are in the majority.  Now let me ask this, was it a fun reception?  Most people remember the amount of fun, whether it was great or not so great.  Your entertainer is primarily responsible for how much fun you and your guests will have.  You are not hiring just the entertainment for one evening; itís the memories you and your guests will have of your reception for the rest of your lives.  This is the best reason to hire someone who you are confident will provide the style and level of entertainment that you and your guests will love.

"If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.  And if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."
--John Ruskin

The importance of hiring quality entertainment cannot be overstated.  Even if you are looking to simply have music played and nothing else, the smart person hires the quality company and not the least expensive for the simple reason to be assured that you will get what you want.  Quality entertainment means the volume will be just right and will be soothing to your ears.  It means the DJ will have many years of experience and be familiar with many styles of music.  The DJ will be fun and friendly with you and your guests.  In summary, hiring the best DJ you can find is the smart decision to be assured you have the time of your life for a once in a lifetime event.

--This article was written by Richard Hill of Mobile Music Wisconsin.  Richard has over 20 years entertaining as an emcee, a dee-jay and more recently as a gameshow host for live events.  He has been asked to speak at national DJ conventions and last year was recognized as one of the countryís top wedding entertainers.  Richard was chosen to be the expert on a nationally syndicated radio program, The Satelite Sisters, where he talked about finding quality DJ entertainment for wedding receptions.

 

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