What should you ask for a wedding DJ?

Dj playing music

Too often choosing the entertainment is left to the end of your overwhelming “Wedding To-Do List”—but it shouldn’t be! Not only does music set the appropriate mood, but a skilled Master or Mistress of Ceremonies will gracefully guide your guests from one spotlight moment to another. And practically speaking, the best performers are often booked well in advance—so shake your groove thing, or you may be stuck doing the chicken dance with Uncle Edgar.

A good wedding DJ/MC will cover their bases during pre-event planning and make sure they’re ready to rock your event! We utilise an Online Wedding Planner to gather the important info, and then a series of personal meetings to fill in the gaps. To help you ensure you’re getting the DJ service you expected here are some good examples of questions your DJ should be asking you if they’re an events professional.

We have compiled a list of Melbourne Wedding DJs to help you celebrate your special night.

How much should I pay for a DJ?

Very often “how much are you?” is the only question people ask. It is perhaps more about what level of customer service is being offered. A really good wedding DJ may very well cost upwards. Some may cost considerably more and others a bit less, however, do not make the mistake of booking on price alone.

Some of the factors that drive prices can be the quality of equipment and the level of experience the DJ has. Cheap DJs are usually cheap for a reason.

There is a lot more work for the DJ with a wedding such as preparation and liaising with other suppliers so don’t be surprised if you notice that the same DJ charges more for a wedding than a run-of-the-mill family party.

Dj playing music

Can we meet to discuss my wedding?

A good DJ will have no problem with this. People can be very different when you meet them face to face. It is really important that you like the DJ you are booking as they will be a big part of your day. I’ll bet when you meet and get chatting you have loads more questions than you realised!

What song should our first dance be?

Quite possibly, this should be special to both of you. A good DJ should be able to help but not dictate to you. Some popular choices include Endless Love by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis Presley and Marry You by Bruno Mars.

A lot of couples get nervous about this, but don’t worry. It’s wonderful if you’re graceful but if you do not try and practice a bit. Suppose all else fails, smile and try and avoid falling over. You are among people who love you for who you are and not your ability to shake it on the dancefloor.

Are you PAT tested and did you have PLI?

OK, it’s boring but believes us it’s very important. PAT testing stands for Portable Appliance Testing, and it means all electrical equipment has been checked in the last year and the DJ should have a certificate to prove it. PLI is Public Liability Insurance. The venue should have their own, but the DJ should also have it in their own right. Without these, a venue may turn your DJ away. Accept no excuses. The DJ should be able to email you and your venue a copy on request but make sure you see it before you pay a penny. DJs who are members of SEDA and the NADJ will have these.

Do you offer a written contract?

Boring again but important. A written contract is really important, so you both know what you agree to. If nothing else it should offer you some reassurance.

How long have you been DJing? How much wedding experience do you have?

Unfortunately, anyone can buy some second-hand tat off eBay and call themselves a DJ, and this is why it is important to meet people.

Note the” experience of weddings” question. A DJ who goes down a treat after a few beers down the pub may not be ideal for your wedding. You may wish to ask if the DJ is either a full-time professional DJ or a part-time DJ who does another job as well. That said the standard of some part-time DJs could be very good and quite possibly better than some full-time professionals. Only you will know what is right for your wedding.

Can we see you at booking?

Unfortunately, it would be seen as unprofessional for a DJ to invite potential clients to someone else’s wedding so they can watch them at work. Let’s be honest. How would you like it at your wedding? So expect the answer to be no. However, it is never a bad idea to ask for a couple of references. Perhaps the DJ has some video footage or photos they can show you of a previous performance.

You’re playing to a mixed crowd. What music do you have?

A good DJ will keep the dance floor busy, but perhaps not with all of the people all of the time. Some guests may not have seen each other for years and want to sit and chat. So if some people are sitting down but having fun, don’t worry.

A good DJ will be able to read a crowd and blend different musical styles. It is always a good idea to discuss what music you want to hear. Be aware that a DJ who plays only the latest “banging tunes” might be enjoyed by a younger crowd, but it may mean older people leave early. If you’re looking for a DJ who can mix well ask him or her for a demo CD of their mixes.

You might like to give the DJ some guidelines or a list of 10 or 15 tracks to fit into the evening that have gone down well at previous family weddings. Couples who try and playlist the whole night very often handicap the DJ who will be unable to fit in requests from guests or play a few of their own choices that they know will get the dance floor shaking.

What genres can you cover?

What you need to know: Before meeting with any potential DJ or bandleader, have a conversation with your fiance to figure out the overall musical vibe you’re going for at the reception. Then, ask the DJ or bandleader what type of music and genres they usually play or specialise in to determine if they’re the right fit. For example, if you’re hoping to create a glam, Old Hollywood-inspired mood, then you wouldn’t want to book an indie-folk band. DJs usually have a wide and extensive library of songs, but it’s still a good idea to ask about specific genres they tend to gravitate towards.

How do you work with couples to come up with a playlist?

What you need to know: Do you and your partner prefer to be very involved in the creation of your wedding playlist? Or are you OK with providing some general guidelines and then letting your wedding professional handle the rest? Once you’ve decided how involved you’d like to be, make sure you ask any potential music pro this question to figure out if you guys will work well together. Pro tip: Ask them to name a few of their go-to dinner/background music tracks, pump-up jams, and slow songs to get a good feel for their style.

Can you learn specific songs for us?

What you need to know: If you have your heart set on dancing to whatever “your song” maybe for your first dance, then you’ll want to ask if the band is willing to learn it for the wedding. Be sure to also ask if there’s an additional fee for a song request like that. Is your song on our top 50 wedding songs list?

What do you typically do to get guests on their feet?

What you need to know: The last thing you want is a drop in energy as people trickle off the dance floor. Some DJs might take to the mic (or even jump into the crowd!) to encourage guests to keep dancing, while others might switch to a song that’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Just be sure to book a wedding pro who uses a method that you like. For instance, if you want minimal chatting from the DJ or bandleader, then someone who gets on the mic to encourage the crowd to boogie will not be the right fit.

Can you also act as the emcee and make announcements?

What you need to know: You’ll probably need someone to serve as the master of ceremonies and help guide guests through the different phases of the reception, from announcing the newlyweds as they enter the room and letting guests know when dinner is served, to introducing the wedding toast-givers and when it’s time for the last dance. Some couples ask a close friend or family member to serve as the voice of the wedding, while others ask the DJ or bandleader to take on this role. If you’d prefer your wedding pro to serve as the master of ceremonies for the night, be sure to clarify if this is a responsibility they are willing to take on.

What are your power and amplification requirements?

What you need to know: Your wedding band will likely bring their equipment for sound (and sometimes lighting), so they will need easy access to power. Ask what they’ll need and how much space they’d like to support their equipment. Same goes for a DJ! They will probably need power and a table to set up their DJ equipment, so you’ll likely need to rent a table and table linen for them. Ask what table size they prefer before you add those items to your rental order.

What music will be provided during breaks?

What you need to know: All musicians, and especially musicians and vocalists, will need to take breaks at some points during the reception. One important question to ask your DJ for your wedding is what type of music they usually play during those breaks so that everyone is aligned and knows what to expect.

Do you provide other services such as video projection, lighting, photo booth, ect.? 

What you need to know: In addition to providing the music, some vendors can also provide additional entertainment services, such as special lighting and effects, fog machines, dancefloor and wall projection (if you wanted to have your monogram projected on the dance floor or plan to show a special wedding video during dinner). Some companies also offer photo booth rentals that you can add to your package, so it’s always a good idea to ask about any other entertainment extras they might offer.

Check out our ultimate list of Melbourne Wedding DJs.

What’s your rate and what does that include?

If you’re thinking about booking a live band for your wedding, expect to pay between $2,850 to $6,488, with the average wedding band cost being approximately $4,500, according to figures from WeddingWire. If you’re on a tight music budget, then booking a DJ is a more affordable option. The rate for wedding DJs ranges from $780 to $1,495, with the average cost being right around $1,000. It’s important to note, though, that the going rate for bands and DJs varies widely across the country and depends on numerous factors, including the number of musicians, geographic region, and the number of hours you’ll be booking them for.

Questions Your Wedding DJ Should Be Asking You

What kind of music do you like?

Your DJ is in charge of setting the tone for your whole event, and choosing the right music is a big part of that. No two people have the same taste in music, and a good DJ will know how to choose music that fits with what YOU want. You should have the option to add as many of your favourite songs to the event playlist at no extra charge, and the DJ should ask for good examples of your favourite artists and genres as well. If you’re not a music expert and want the DJ to take the lead that’s fine too, but they should always have a good understanding of what you’re looking for.

What kind of music do you not like?

Just as important as the music you love is the music you’d rather not hear. Make sure your DJ knows the songs or general areas of music that are not for you so they can avoid making any major pitfalls. Any good DJ knows that one person’s favourite song can be another person’s most hated, so it makes sense to ask.

Your DJ should also ask about what type of music, your friends, family, and guests will and will not like. 

What is the tone of your event?

Each event is unique, and a good DJ/MC will want to match the mood you are going for with his announcements and music. Are you having a classy and formal wedding, a laid back barbecue wedding, or something in between? Knowing the style of the event will help the DJ ask you the right questions about what structured events you’d like during the party (i.e. grand introductions, meal blessings/toasts, special dances), and gauge his level of involvement to your needs. Regardless of tone, your MC should know how to keep the guests informed and involved so they can share your special moments with you, and have a great time doing it!

Remember, there are lots of different styles of weddings. Some are more traditional, and some are more laid back. Some couples want their wedding super modern and different, while others prefer to keep it traditional. Your DJ will ask questions to gauge where you sit as a couple, to help plan out their involvement and strategy for your particular wedding.

What is your event venue?

Knowing the event venue means a lot more than just being able to get directions. Each venue has specific sound and setup requirements that a DJ should be aware of well in advance. Your DJ should ask about your ceremony and reception locations, have a plan for exactly how many speakers/microphones etc. they’ll need an idea of how they’ll wire the setup as well. Improper planning can result in un-audible microphones, portions of the evening with no music, and a DJ who is running around trying to play catch up instead of running your event.

We get it, some of these questions are technical and no fun. Just trust that your DJ is asking questions about your venue and set up for a reason.

Don’t know? Are you drawing a blank on most of the venue related questions? Maybe you can put your DJ in touch with your wedding planner or venue contact. This way they can hash it out, without you getting stressed. You have enough to worry about.

What are the names of your family and bridal party?

The first thing your DJ did was get to know you. It is just as important for your DJ to know the names AND proper pronunciations of your family and bridal party. These brief introductions are important tools for a smooth event. Let your DJ know if the best man has a special nick-name, or the Mother of the Bride hates it when people mispronounce her name. This information will allow the DJ to prepare guests if they are giving a toast or being announced, make for easier coordinating of grande introductions and events like the money dance and anniversary dance, and generally allow the DJ to create a nice rapport with you, guests. People are more responsive with a familiar DJ, and by the end of the night, you’ll notice the difference.

What style of dinner service will you be having?

In many cases, the wedding timeline will be centred around the food. Especially for larger crowds, the DJ can play a vital role in facilitating the dinner process. A good DJ will ask for table numbers or names, talk about the order you’d like to release guests and come the day ready to control the flow of guests through the buffet, so there isn’t a long line. For a plated dinner, the DJ will need to coordinate toasts around the service, and should know the best time that will avoid any conflicts. Your DJ should be talking with the catering staff to coordinate efforts. Your catering staff and our wedding planner should be communicating the plan with your DJ, so they know what announcements to make and when.

At many weddings, there will be someone else handling the crowd for food. Many of the Peaks ProEvent Services packages come with a DJ Team. This means your DJ will have an assistant there as well. In most cases, the DJ will utilise their assistant to help with the guests during dinner. This may mean releasing tables or communicating with your guests when dinner will be served.

Your DJ will ask questions about dinner service. Now you can understand the importance of these questions.

Are there any special announcements that need to be made throughout the evening?

If you have a guest book or photo booth, special gift bags for guests or even a sparkler send-off, ask your DJ to inform your guests throughout the evening. This will help increase involvement and decrease any transition/organisation time and makes this feel polished and easy when added in with the other structured event announcements.

What are your special songs?

Whether or not you ultimately decide to pick songs for you first dance, Father/Daughter, Mother/Son, Bouquet/Garter toss etc., you should have the opportunity to personalise your event and show your personality through your music choices. Your DJ should ask you for any songs you might want, and also give you suggestions and examples upon request. In the event you decide to leave it up to their judgement, at least ask them what kind of song they usually pick to make sure it will be appropriate to what you envision.

Who is your photographer, and will you have a videographer?

Your DJ should be familiar with your event staff in general, but knowing the photographer is especially important. A good DJ will communicate with the photographer/videographer throughout the event so they can be ready to capture any special moments, lack of preparation can result in missed shots and unnecessary stress.

Check out our post on What should I expect from a wedding DJ?

Useful Tips:

  • Discuss with your site manager any restrictions that might affect your event, like noise limits, a music curfew and availability/load of electrical circuits. Also, check with your facility and caterer about where and what to feed the performers.
  • All professional entertainers have access to formalwear (if they don’t, that’s your first clue they’re not professionals!) However, it is YOUR responsibility to be specific about how you expect your performers to be dressed. Any extraordinary requests (period costumes, all-white tuxes, etc.) are normally paid for by the client.
  • Make notes of your general music preferences before you meet with your DJ, bandleader, etc. For example: “Classical for the ceremony, Rat Pack-era for the cocktail hour and a set of Motown during the reception.” Not only will this help you determine which entertainment professionals are a good match for you, but it will also guide them in preparing your setlist

How they utilise, the planning portion is really what makes the difference between a skilled Wedding & Events DJ, and just a DJ. As you can see from just some of the important questions we mentioned in this article, knowing the right questions to ask is key. Your DJ wants your wedding to be all about you. By asking the right questions, they will get to know your personality as a couple, what you envision for your wedding, and what suggestions they can make to help.

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