A packed dance floor is a key component to a fun and memorable wedding reception, so make sure you hire a pro who can get the party started! When on the hunt for a great wedding band or DJ, look out for someone whose energy, style, and music preferences are aligned with your own—and be sure to have a list of questions for the wedding DJ or band at the ready so you don't get tongue-tied. There’s a wide range of music and performance styles out there, and the goal is to find the best fit for your wedding. Here are a few important questions to ask your prospective wedding DJ or band.
1. Are you available on my wedding date?
Before you even meet with a wedding DJ or band, you'll want to make sure that they're actually available on your wedding date. If you're working with a DJ who works solo or a single band, if they're not available, it's a deal breaker. However, if you're talking to a larger entertainment company, they will likely have a variety of DJs and/or bands and can recommend those who have availability on your wedding day.
2. How would you describe your style?
Your wedding DJ or bandleader will not only be responsible for playing music during the reception, but will also serve as the emcee, or host, for the event. This means they'll work closely with your wedding planner, caterer, and venue staff, make announcements, introduce toasts, and generally ensure that your wedding reception runs smoothly. Talk to your wedding DJ or bandleader about their emcee style. Do they like to engage and interact with the crowd a lot? Are they high energy or more laid-back and relaxed? How will they dress on the big day? This will help you determine whether their tone is conducive to the atmosphere you’re trying to create.
3. Can you show us your music library or set list?
Among the questions to ask a wedding band or DJ, this is a biggie. A wedding DJ will likely have a music collection you can browse through, while a band will have a list of songs they can perform. Ask if you can take a look—you want to make sure there’s a wide selection! Tip: some bands will be willing to learn a special song or two just for you. If you have something specific in mind but don’t see it included on the playlist, don’t automatically consider it a deal breaker. Ask if they would be willing to learn it for you—you might be pleasantly surprised!
4. How do you work with couples to come up with a playlist?
Ask your wedding DJ or band how they can help you put together a great list of songs that will reflect your taste in music and get your guests out on that dance floor! Do they have a strategy for determining which songs will be best for your event? Will they allow you to choose some “must play” songs and some “do NOT play” songs? Will they take requests from you or your guests on the wedding day?
5. What are some of your favorite first dance songs?
The answer to this question can give you a great sense of whether their music preferences and overall style align with what you’re looking for. If you’re envisioning a night filled with old classics and your wedding DJ or band suggests a bunch of Top 10 hits, for example, that may be an indication that it’s not the best match. This may not be a deal breaker, though—just because a wedding DJ or band specializes in a particular type of music, they can likely be flexible and work with your tastes, too.
6. Have you worked at my wedding venue or with my other wedding vendors in the past?
While it’s certainly not a deal breaker if the answer is “no,” experience with your venue is always a plus! If your wedding DJ or band isn’t familiar with the space, we recommend scheduling a walkthrough together. Even a quick site visit will help them get acquainted with the layout, acoustics, and any idiosyncrasies they may want to be aware of ahead of time.
7. What type of equipment do you use and do you have a backup plan?
Ask about staging, lighting, and their sound system. What does their equipment look like, how much space does it take up, and will special electrical outlets be needed? Do they have backup equipment in case something breaks?
8. What do setup, sound check, and breakdown entail?
It’s important to have a basic understanding of this to properly plan in terms of timing and communicating any specific needs or concerns to your venue.
9. Do you have a demo or a recording of a wedding you’ve done in the past that I can see?
When in doubt, watch them in action! Nothing will give you a better sense of whether a band or DJ is right for you. Note their energy, pacing, crowd interaction, and level of professionalism. Don't be shy about asking this question of your wedding DJ or band—they should be happy to show you their work.
10. How many breaks do you require, and for how long?
Live bands will generally require at least one break during the night. It’s best to know when, and for how long, they plan to be off the floor so you can mix in some other entertainment (like a fun late night snack) to keep the party going.
11. Do you work with an assistant or second DJ?
Depending on the size of your wedding, having an extra set of hands can be well worth it. This will help everything from setup to song requests run a lot more smoothly.
12. What does your pricing include?
Before receiving a written contract, you'll want to talk to the wedding DJ or band about their pricing. Of course, it's important to know how much they'll charge (the average cost of a wedding DJ in the U.S. is $1,000 and for a band, it's $4,500), but it's even more essential to find out what that pricing includes. How many hours will they be working? Will the DJ or band also be providing music for your wedding ceremony and/or cocktail hour? Do they provide microphones and sound equipment for speeches and toasts? You'll want to know the details of your music pro's packages before signing on the dotted line.
13. Do you have liability insurance?
This may seem like an inside baseball question, but it's actually an important one. Liability insurance protects both your music pro and your venue in case of a mishap, such as damage to the property or an injury caused by your band or DJ's equipment. Many venues actually require vendors to have insurance in order to work within their space, so don't forget to ask this one!
14. What is your cancellation policy?
In the days pre-COVID, couples may have skipped this question. But since we now know that wedding plans can be altered in the blink of an eye, be sure to ask all of your vendors, not just your wedding DJ and band, about their cancellation and/or postponement policy. How many days before your wedding can you cancel or postpone and receive some of your deposit back? What if there is inclement weather or an emergency on the part of your DJ or band? It may be scary or stressful to think about these situations, but it's better to ask about it now rather than scramble if an emergency occurs.
15. Do you offer any other services?
Some performers offer packages with additional services like photo booths, video screens, and lighting. Depending on the experience you’re going for, having these options available from a single source could be beneficial.