Playlists, requests, and backup plans: What to ask your wedding DJ

DJ Kitty sleeps on the job. Photo by Jaap Joris used by CC 2.0

We've worked with lots of great DJs in our time, and finding the right one for you can be a really specific task. They've got to get you, your style, and be experienced enough to work on the fly when things aren't going well. It's not an easy job, but a great DJ can make your party with excellent tunes, good MCing, and not getting in the way of the festivities.

Here are some questions we think you might want to ask your potential wedding DJ to see if they mesh with you.

Is this your full-time business? Have you worked lots of weddings in the past?

Make sure they're a professional who's learned from past mistakes and other weddings, and who knows how to handle various venue types and sound setups.

Via Lovesick Inc.

Do you have set playlists to choose from? Do you customize the playlists for our style?

Find a DJ who will work with you to create a soundtrack to match your theme and personalities. Often they'll work with you to combine your music selections with similar set playlists that match the tone. That way you're not having to do the lion's share of building the list and making it really restrictive for your DJ.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Stylus DJ Entertainment rocks the crowd

What do you do if the music just isn't working for the crowd?

Watching videos of DJs in action can help alleviate this concern. Listen to their demos and wedding performances to see how they'll handle a tougher crowd, especially if you're looking for lots of dancing.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Revolution Weddings MCs this outdoor reception

Will you MC the schedule of events?

Are they willing to usher in the next phase of the party, call out special dances, and introduce the wedding party? Lay out your needs to see if they'll be able to handle it.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Green Line Talent's causes dance floor shenanigans

How many DJs do you have in your organization, and can we choose who we get?

Some DJ companies have multiple DJs working for them, so make sure you know which DJ will be assigned to you or if you get a choice.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Spindle Sound System looking on

How do you handle song requests?

Some DJs will honor your request to stick to the playlist or allow for requests, pre-screened by a wedding party member or otherwise. Ask if they'll allow for a do-not-play list as well, if you're wanting to avoid anything in particular.

Do you have transition/mixing samples?

A seamless transition experience is something you won't really even notice if it's done well. Ask what they'll do for very long songs and how they'll avoid awkward gaps of silence.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Behind the scenes with Music Masters

What is your sound equipment setup? Do you have a backup?

Make sure your DJ is prepared with high-quality equipment and a backup plan in case something fails.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
DJ West finishing out a first dance

Have you played at our venue before? Can you make a site visit before the wedding day?

Make sure they're willing to test acoustics, equipment, noise restrictions, dance floor setup, etc. at your venue to optimize the experience. You don't want to run into any unexpected equipment snafus that render their setup useless.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
Dave Mancini keeping the dance floor hopping

What other services do you offer?

Some DJs offer lighting services, video screens, dance floor props, etc. See what other services you could include with your music package.

What to ask your potential wedding DJ from @offbeatbride
DJ Ali Gruber keeping an eye on the dance floor

Need more offbeat music help?

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Will you be getting a DJ for your ceremony and/or reception, or will you be going the DIY route? Let us know about it in the comments!

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  1. Great post! Thanks for posting pics of OBB vendors too. Another question I suggest brides ask potential wedding DJs is: "How will you prepare for my wedding?" It's more general so it allows the vendor to tell you whether they'll ask for Do Not Plays, visit the venue, meet you in person, practice pronouncing your wedding party members' names, etc. If they tell you, "I'll download your music that I don't already have and ask you to send me a playlist"…RUN!!!! Any wedding DJ worth their beans will take 2 days or so to prep for your wedding by writing up detailed outlines, floorplans, MCing scripts, creating personalized announcements that weave in your love story, even sometimes things like re-record your First Dance song to make it customized for you, etc.

    1 agrees
  2. One often overlooked but extremely important consideration: What does your potential DJs system sound and look like? You can tell a lot about the DJ by checking out his "rig". Is it well maintained or shabby and beat up? Does it sound good like a high end theater system or is the sound harsh and tinny like an AM radio? Is the DJ using quality speakers like JBL, Cerwin Vega, Mackie, Yamaha, QSC or is he/she using off brand, cheapo components?

    If they are sacrificing the quality of their sound to save a few bucks, you might wonder what else they're cutting corners on. Feel free to ask the DJ why they chose the speakers they have. Hopefully it is because they LOVE the sound and NOT because they were on sale at Radio Shack!

    If the DJ is concerned about how his or her system looks and sounds, that's a good sign. It shows they take their craft seriously and will put in the effort to help their clients and guests have an amazing time.

  3. One from working at a venue for years: are you working any other parties on the same day? The DJ company we used (chosen from on high, despite complaints) would often book a children's party and a wedding in on the same day, so if the children's party overran the DJ would be hauling his equipment between the dining wedding guests to set up. They also only had a couple of vans for multiple sets of equipment, which meant during Christmas party season yours truly would have to wait up to two hours after the end of the party before someone came to pick up the equipment.

  4. It is good to know that one should about transition and mixing samples before hiring a wedding DJ. I like what was said about asking how the DJ will avoid awkward gaps of silence. I have also heard that it is best to hire someone with backup equipment in case something goes wrong.

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