Every wedding day has a soundtrack of its own—from the walk down the aisle to the first dance, the bouquet toss to your final farewell, music helps set the tone for the entire day... which is why your DJ or band has such an important role. To help you better vet the candidates, we've compiled this master list of questions to ask wedding DJs and band before booking. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you'll be to make the right decision and find the one for your wedding.
First things first, you've got to figure out the basics... like, is the DJ or band even available on your desired date? The answers to the following questions will help you get a sense of how experienced the candidates are.
1. Is my wedding date available?
2. How long have you been doing this professionally? Why you need to know this: Obviously, there's a difference between volunteer gigs and legit, paid performances. Make sure your candidates are seasoned so there are no hiccups on the most important day of your life.
3. How many weddings have you played?
4. How long have you been performing together (if you're interviewing a band)?
5. How many weddings do you do on an average weekend? Why you need to know this: If the band or DJ is playing 'round the clock all weekend, their performance might suffer. If they're running on empty, you might want to rethink booking them.
6. Do you perform at more than one event in a day?
7. Will you be the DJ/bandleader personally playing at our wedding? Which band members should we expect? Why you need to know this: Bands usually have a roster of performers and might alternate who's playing based on their availability.
If you're choosing a band because you love one musician or singer in particular, make sure they're the performer who will actually be playing your wedding.
8. Have you done events at my wedding venue?
9. What sets you apart from your competition?
10. Can you describe your style?
11. Are there any other services that you provide, such as lighting design or a photo booth?
12. Can you provide me with recent couples that I can contact for references?
You probably already know a little about the wedding band or DJ since you were interested enough to interview them. Learn more about them and their style so there are no surprises on the big day.
13. Do you have a CD of your music or a video from a prior wedding where you performed?
14. Can you help me choose the music for my processional, recessional, father-daughter dance, etc.? Why you need to know this: If you're having trouble choosing music for a first dance song or father-daughter dance, etc., a DJ or wedding band tends to know a thing or two about choosing the right music. They can definitely be a helpful resource.
15. How extensive is your music library or song list? What genres can you cover?
16. Do you have a go-to list of wedding songs you play or perform for weddings? Why you need to know this: Ask them ahead of time if they have a list of songs they recommend playing throughout the wedding. If they leave that list up to you, be sure to provide them with the songs you want to get down to on the dance floor before your wedding swings around.
17. How do you keep your music collection up to date?
18. If the DJ or one of the band members scheduled for my event is unable to perform for some reason, do you have a backup replacement ready to go?
19. Do you take any breaks? How many and when?
20. What music will be provided during the breaks?
21. How many band members will perform that day?
22. Do you act as the emcee and make all of the announcements?
23. How would you define your emcee style?
24. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?
25. Do you take requests from our guests?
26. Can we submit a "Do Not Play" list? Why you need to know this: you never know what your guests are going to end up requesting. Having a "do not play" list ensures you're not going to hear anything you and your new hubby hate.
Pricing and Payment
The price tag is one of the biggest factors in choosing what wedding DJ or band to choose, but it's not as simple as just asking for a price. You need to find out exactly what that price includes. You definitely don't want to discover any surprise fees after you've signed a contract.
27. What's your rate? Why you need to know this: When talking about the rate, make sure to find out if the rate changes bases on the day (or even time of day) and exactly how many hours that rate buys you. If the rate is in the ballpark (even if it's over budget), great. If it turns out that DJ or wedding band is the one, you might be able to negotiate a discount or increase your budget to be able to use that DJ or band.
28. Does that rate include setup and breakdown between ceremony and reception locations? What, if anything, isn't included?
29. How much would you charge for overtime?
30. Are there any additional fees that could accrue that I am not taking into account, like travel expenses or charges for special musical requests?
31. When will I receive a written contract?
32. How much of a deposit do you require and when is it due? Do you offer a payment plan? Why you need to know this: See if you can pay them before (or after) the wedding. Trying to pay wedding vendors the day of your wedding is chaos—if you can pay them beforehand it's preferable.
33. What is your refund/cancellation policy?
34. How far in advance do I need to book you for my wedding?
35. What information do you need from me before the wedding day?
36. Are you insured? Why you need to know this: Ideally, your wedding DJ or band will carry liability insurance. It covers any damage that can occur to the performers themselves and the equipment. Many venues require DJs and bands to carry liability insurance, so it's important to know upfront if they have it.
Now for the less exciting but still critical details, like power supply and scheduling.
37. Can you provide wireless mics for the wedding ceremony?
38. Does any of your equipment require special electrical outlets that I need to inform my wedding site about?
39. Do you bring backup equipment?
40. What kind of space or stage do you require for the DJ or band? If my site doesn't provide what you need, will you make arrangements for the stage or am I responsible for renting it?
41. Do you set up a sign or banner with your equipment?
42. How much time will you need for setup, soundcheck, and breakdown on the day of the event?
43. What time will you arrive at the site and when will you depart? Why you need to know this: You want to get a confirmed arrival time from them before your wedding, and it should be early enough that the performers have plenty of time to get set up. Also, find out when they plan to leave. If you want to have them stick around for the after-party, negotiate this into your contract before the night comes.
44. Will we meet again before the wedding?
45. When is our deadline for submitting our music requests and event details?
46. What will you wear to our wedding?
47. Do you (and each band member, if you're booking a band) require a meal? Why you need to know this: It's something you need to add on to your budget. This can be a significant cost, especially if you're booking a ten-piece band.
48. What is your policy on alcohol or smoking during the wedding?
49. Is there anything we should know about your services that we haven't talked about? Why you need to know this: At this point, you've probably covered everything, but it never hurts to make sure. Cover all your bases and see if there's anything that's been left out from the wedding DJ or band's point of view.
50. Do you have any questions for us? Why you need to know this: Now that you know everything you wanted to know, find out if there's any extra info the wedding DJ or band needs.