By Mark Hardin (Inspired by Lou Paris – Paris Collective)
So, after the unforgettable proposal, you both are now on the roller coaster ride to plan one of the most exciting days of your life. There are only a few days in our lives that truly take our breath away. Your wedding day is one of those days. While it is one of the BEST days in your life, it can also be a bit overwhelming at the same time. Often couples start to research and secure various wedding professionals 12-18 months in advance. But don’t forget that the wedding DJ is a critical part of the day to not only play great music but sets the tone for each part of the night, something that I go into great length on this article. But before you pick your DJ you should get some things together to ask. Here are some top questions to ask a wedding DJ to help narrow down the field.
Is my wedding date available?
This one is pretty obvious. Be mindful that many wedding DJs book 12 to 18 months out and sometimes even two-plus years in advance. So if you have a particular DJ in mind you may want to consider checking their availability before locking in dates.
How long have you been a wedding DJ?
It is good to know if someone is new in the business or has been around for a while. Someone new may still be a great wedding DJ, but it would be wise to vet their capabilities a bit more to see if they’re up to the task. Naturally, those with deep experience will likely give you the best results, so be mindful of your choices.
I have been in the wedding DJ business for over 30 years, and have hosted over 1200 weddings. Originally I started in the club scene in the 80s, and then moved to DJing private parties and corporate events since the late 90s.
Do you perform more than one event per day?
There are DJs who will book multiple events in a day, others do no more than one gig a week. I would recommend picking someone that is only worried about your big day so all the attention can be on your wedding.
As a single operation (Single-Op) we will never do more than one event per day. We prefer to get to venues 2-3 hours early (depending on the package) which will never leave adequate time for another event. You do not have to wonder if we have someone else’s event on our minds.
Are you a “Single-Op DJ Co.” or a “Multi-Op DJ Co.”?
Time for some industry terminology. Some businesses have decided on the strategy of having multiple DJs in their stable to be able to accommodate large influxes of bookings (multi-op). There are some businesses that go on their own and run it by themselves (single-op).
In some cases with a multi-op you may talk to someone about your booking, then someone different for your planning, and then having a separate DJ. In other cases with a multi-op, you may get someone that you work with from beginning to end. Being as I am a bit biased being a single-op, it’s hard for me not to mention that with a single-op you would always get the same person from the very first conversation to the last song of the night.
Currently, we are a single-op DJ company. We are looking at becoming a multi-op by 2022 or 2023. With that said all couples who hire me as a single-op will still get me when we expand to multi-op.
What happens if you become unavailable?
This is one of those critical questions to ask a wedding DJ, and they really should have a solid answer to this. If they become unavailable (sick, injured, etc.), how are you going to cover my event?
I have a lot of quality DJs I have great relationships within the area and I happen to take meticulous notes. In addition, I am a member of The Association of Wedding Professionals. So if the need ever arises the bases are covered. To date, I have never missed an event. When we move to a multi-op, we will always have enough DJs available to be able to cover an event in case their assigned DJ becomes unavailable.
Have you performed at my venue?
It’s nice to have a DJ that has experience with members of that venue and knows the lay of the land. That being said, a quality DJ will perform some kind of reconnaissance with the venue prior to your wedding. So don’t automatically discredit a DJ that has not been there before, just ensure they know what they are doing.
Personally, I have performed at 90% of the venues in the Sacramento and surrounding areas (unless the venue is new). For venues we have not performed, we do a detailed walkthrough and I make it a requirement to be at the rehearsal.
What are your references?
Any DJ should be able to point to past couples and to list their accolades.
I can definitely provide several references of my performances. However, we failed to aggressively ask for reviews until 2020. While we have some really good reviews, if I would have made asking a priority, we would literally have hundreds of reviews. It took a lot of coaching to convince me that A Big Ticket Sound Experience should be asking every couple for a review on any of several different platforms. My old school thinking used to suggest if someone wants to review us they will. That all changed after Covid.
What are your personal musical tastes?
First, a quality wedding DJ will have the ability to play any genre you like. And, some of the best DJ can play several types of genres blending them for a more cohesive experience. With that said, all couples should give their DJ at least some artist, genres, and periods of music that they like. There are times I have couples that want great music, but can’t remember any of the specific music they like. And while quality DJs will cover all the major genres, it’s still nice to know if that DJ has the same affinity for the music you personally like. I am always happy to discuss what I love to dance too.
I guess it will seem a little presumptuous to say I like all types of music. However, I really do. One day I can be listening to Country and the next House. I love 80s Alternative and can’t get enough of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
What is your personality?
Now we are getting into some questions to ask a wedding DJ that people never think about. Some people want a hype DJ to get everyone going, some want games, some want lots of interactive elements, and some a laid-back style. Be sure to pick one that matches what you are looking for.
Now, I would say I am more laid back as I want the music to hype the crowd and elevate the energy of the room. With that said, I will sometimes hype the crowd, and if the couple want, manage any wedding games.
What services do you provide other than music?
Music is very important. However, some DJs also include things like up-lighting, dancefloor lighting, photo booths, and other services you may be looking for.
Most importantly, we offer elegance in our furniture style DJ Booths, dancefloor lighting, up-lighting, ambient lighting, wash lighting, The Amazing Tower Photo Booth, secondary ceremony sound systems, monograms, highlight love story video, photo montage, custom song edits, additional mics, and additional speakers.
Do you MC and DJ the event?
There are some DJs that put the mic work on a separate MC. Be sure if they do that, get the information of the actual DJ and have a conversation with them, so you get to know both MC and DJ.
As a single-op DJ company, we currently do both MCing and DJing your event. We do bring another DJ who will manage the lighting if your package includes these add-ons.
Do I get a contract?
If you don’t, RUN! Seriously, DO NOT BOOK WITH ANY DJ WHO DOESN’T GIVE YOU A CONTRACT. This is one of the most important days of your life. Don’t chance it.
We always provide a quote that holds your date for 7 days and pricing for 30 days, and a detailed contract that spells out everything as the contract protects both the client and the DJ. We have also made booking easy with your client portal. Here you can access your event details, make changes, sign/review your contract (and all documents), and link your Spotify for your personalized playlist.
Are You Insured?
Most “Wedding” venues make it a requirement for their vendors to have insurance. Ensure that your DJ is insured and can add you and the venue on the policy for your event date.
We are fully insured and add you and the venue to our policy on your wedding date and times regardless if the venue requires it.
What happens if your equipment fails?
Technology is never absolute. It’s has brought great advances in the DJing world, along with more potential points of failure. Ensure that the DJs you talk to have their fail-safes to guarantee that the music keeps on playing all night.
I’ve built in tri-level redundancies in my system design. I also bring a backup computer and controller to assure your night will be exceptional.
Do you handle ceremony services?
Ah, one of those questions to ask a wedding DJ that people forget until they start to think more about their day. If you are having a ceremony for really more than say 75 people, or even more so if you are outdoors, it’s the best bet to have at least the officiant mic’d up and amplified. Remember the wedding DJ is more than just playing music! If you have a videographer you need to ensure that both the DJ and the videographer are in sync to capture your special moment. Ceremonies can get quite complicated and it’s best to have someone with the proper experience managing it all.
When couples invest in our Ceremony Package, it also reserves us for the rehearsal to insure a smooth transition through the ceremony process. We can also assist with the rehearsal if preferred. On your wedding day, we provide a headset or handheld mic for the officiant and a lapel mic for the groom. Our secondary sound system has multiple plugins for your videographer, musician, or any other vendor/entertainer as required.
How do you help me plan the wedding?
Some wedding DJs do not have the planning skills or tools to assist in the planning of your wedding. If they lack this kind of planning capability then the responsibility really needs to be covered by a wedding planner or even yourself (you do not want to be the Planner for your wedding on your wedding day). Now, not every wedding DJ does this, but it’s certainly one of those questions to ask a wedding DJ to at least know if some kind of planning is offered.
I have a pretty thorough set of forms to cover all the major pieces of your special day listed in great detail. Will meet with you in person, Zoom, or phone to ensure everything regarding entertainment is hashed out. I go over all of these forms and make them available to you 24/7 in the client portal to complete at your leisure. While the forms are lengthy, they are necessary to ensure all concerns are addressed.
What makes you unique?
It is one of the most important things, but sometimes you will want to save this to the end as you qualify the DJ; what makes you different than the next DJ?
What makes me unique is my passion, attention to detail, and the ability to recognize and understand what brides and grooms are looking for on their wedding day. Staying cutting edge, the only furniture style booths in the area, and the only company to have the amazing Tower Booth from Fotomaster has A Big Ticket Sound Experience setting the bar in entertainment.
What does this all cost?
Notice I put pricing on the bottom. Honestly, when it comes down to this, the price should be almost secondary. Sure everyone has budgets, but if you find the right DJ aren’t they worth the peace of mind that they will provide you on your special day? The reality is that if the DJ has explained themselves well, they will present to you the value that they will add to your special day. Their professionalism, their expertise, their ability to earn your trust that your wedding will be in great hands. Ensure that you have a proper budget in mind and you’ll be on your way to finding an awesome wedding DJ.
When you decide you want to work with our Team, often the price really isn’t that big of a deal. With that said, we do have published pricing, and are transparent about what services cost. We are not the cheapest DJ, nor are we the most expensive DJ Company in the Sacramento areas. Once you compare our experience, and how we help make best days, you will agree we are priced equitably.