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How to Hire a DJ

A Wedding Planner's Guide to Finding and Interviewing a Professional Disc Jockey

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Wedding Reception Music and Dancing
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Part of a wedding planner's purpose is to help his or her clients determine which wedding vendors are the best in the business. Unfortunately, since anyone who purchases equipment can call themselves a wedding DJ, it's important to look for certain indicators that a DJ is professional, reliable and trustworthy.

Here are some tips for interviewing and assessing a wedding disc jockey.

Consider the DJ's reputation in the industry. Does he or she appear to have solid footing among other wedding vendors? Have others vouched for the DJ's skills and service via their blog or other public endorsements? Does the DJ have a sizable quantity of customer reviews online? Has he or she received the industry awards you know to be legitimate?

Review the DJ's contract thoroughly. Is the language professional? Does it clearly outline the services to be provided, as well as all of the pertinent details about the specific wedding? Do the contract's policies on payment and cancellation protect both the DJ and the client? (A contract that comes across as a selling tool, and that doesn't seem concerned with the DJ's own interests, is a sign of a desperate, and perhaps unreliable, DJ!)

Check to see if the DJ carries full liability insurance. Coverage of at least $1,000,000 is appropriate. You should be able to, upon request, review the DJ's certificate of insurance, and the DJ should be able and willing to add additional insured parties (such as the venue) if needed.

Verify that the DJ has a comprehensive emergency backup plan in case of illness or accident. The DJ should be able to explain, in detail, exactly what would happen if he or she were unable to perform. Specifically, you should know who would be called in to cover the event and how the DJ will ensure that that person is prepared. (Be sure, also, that the DJ can provide you with the backup person's qualifications -- you don't want your client to be stuck with a second-rate DJ who couldn't find their own booking for a busy weekend!)

Ask about the DJ's policies. How will the DJ dress for the event, and for the setup of equipment? What does he or she require in terms of food and beverage? Will the DJ take breaks to smoke during the event? What is the DJ's stance on drinking alcohol during an event? What about self-promotion, such as banners, signs, or plugging the DJ business on the microphone during announcements? Make sure you are comfortable with the DJ's policies on all of these topics; they should mesh with your expectations at the initial meeting so that you don't have to dictate the DJ's behavior during the event.

Consider the DJ's overall attitude and listening skills. A wedding DJ's number one priority should be understanding the clients' ideas for their wedding and then carrying out those ideas with the best possible result. A DJ whose primary concern is bragging about his or her personal tastes in music, or who considers the wedding to be his or her "show," is not likely to do a good job. A good DJ is extremely knowledgeable about wedding music and protocols, yet is flexible enough to work within the clients' expectations with a smile.

Finally, ensure that the DJ is comfortable with working alongside a professional wedding planner. Some DJs refuse to cooperate with any vendor they perceive as stepping on their toes, and if the DJ doesn't have a "team mentality" when it comes to executing the wedding, they're better off working with clients who have not hired a planner.

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