DISCLAIMER: Let me start out by saying this is a blog post, written by me (DJ Paul Michaels). Even though this is not written by an objective third party, I will write this as objectively as possible, as if I was giving advice to a friend who couldn’t possibly hire me for their wedding.
With your big day coming up, odds are that you have never planned a wedding before (unless you happened to be the maid of honor at your friend’s wedding). You’re probably looking for a Chicago Wedding DJ who can not only play great music and be a professional emcee/host, but also someone who can partner with you to help coordinate and plan your event so you can actually enjoy your event on the day-of instead of sweating all the small details. Below are questions that you should be asking every DJ you meet with or interview.
Before you hire a DJ…
Items to think about or ask before you hire a DJ for your Chicago Wedding
- Responsiveness to emails and phone calls
- Expect a response within 24 hours on a weekday. Keep in mind – on weekends (especially during busy season) the response may take longer if they are out performing for events.
- Willingness to meet with you
- Picking a DJ for your wedding is one of the most important wedding choices you will make. I recommend meeting your DJ in person if you’re able to do so. If you’re living out of town up until your wedding, that’s a different story, but check to see if the DJ is willing to video chat with you (the next best thing)
- Price too good to be true
- Some people seem to find and book the DJ after all their other vendors. I usually recommend (especially when your wedding is during the middle of busy wedding season) booking the venue first, and then immediately start searching for your DJ. You do not want a cut rate DJ or entertainer at your wedding, as this is the one vendor that could potentially ruin your special day if you aren’t hiring a true professional. Hiring the cheapest DJ out there will generally backfire, however if you use this post as a guide, you more than likely wouldn’t end up with one anyway!
- Do you like the DJ?
- Sure, part of the purpose of meeting the DJ either in person or through video chat is to chat about what services this DJ can offer you, and see if the pricing works for you, but the other half is to see if you like the DJ! You need to have a connection with this person and have the confidence in them that they will make your wedding into a memory you and your friends and family will talk about for years!
- Do they use professional grade equipment?
- Just like services, you get what you pay for with gear. Sure, some of your friends may say “I have a PA system and a microphone, and I can play music off my laptop, so why does this DJ charge so much money?”. The biggest difference (speaking strictly about gear, and not experience) is that a professional DJ uses professional gear which is made to last and be used in live performance settings as opposed to gear made for hobbyists.
- Do they have a contract?
- Some of the cheaper DJs don’t actually have a contract and just send an invoice in place of a contract. The invoice will not hold up in court, and does not guarantee that your DJ will show up for your wedding. The contract is in place to protect both you as the client, as well as the DJ, and ideally should be co-signed (meaning signed by you as the purchaser, as well as the DJ).
- Will they meet with you AFTER signing the contract?
- Your DJ should be more than willing to meet with you again for at least one (assuming you’re within a reasonable distance of them) planning session after you sign your contract with them. The majority of the wedding planning can be accomplished in one meeting, and then perhaps 1-3 video chats or phone calls between the date of the meeting and your actual wedding.
- Who will be the actual DJ for your wedding?
- The difference between “Multi-Ops” (such as Paul Michaels Events) and “Single-Ops” is that with a single op, you’re meeting with the DJ for your initial consultation all the way through to your wedding date. This could be a good thing and a bad thing. At a “multi-op”, you may meet with the sales person and build a great connection with them, but they won’t actually be the one at your wedding, nor will they be the one planning your wedding with you! At Paul Michaels Events, you meet with Paul (the owner) and plan your wedding with Paul, but your DJ is involved the entire time, and you know who your DJ will be at the time of contract signing.
Other important questions to ask your Wedding DJ
Keep in mind – for some of these there are no right or wrong answers, they are just good questions to ask, and understand the answer
Are you available for my date?
Do you have any other weddings the same weekend?
How much do you charge?
Do you charge for travel, set-up, or tear down?
How early will you arrive for set-up, and how long will it take you for tear-down?
Do you have any special offers or promotions running right now?
Do you let my guests make requests?
Can we provide you a list of our requests ahead of time?
What will you do if I have a special request and you don’t already have the song or the correct version of the song?
What lighting is included in the price?
What is the process to reserve our wedding date with you?
Do you have any other DJs on standby in case something were to happen to you right before our wedding?
Do you come alone to the wedding, or do you have other staff/assistant(s) with you?
Are there any additional costs or hidden fees?
Have you played at my venue before? If not, will you be able to do a site-walk ahead of time?