Local DJs fill you in on what you should learn about potential vendors.

Music helps establish the atmosphere of a reception, and the person controlling the tunes wields tremendous power to make or break the evening. So how do you decide who to trust with this all-important role? Andy Hughes, owner of Columbus Pro DJs, and Chris Holloway, owner of Megabeat Entertainment, share the top questions you should ask when vetting your party's emcee.

How long have you been DJing at weddings, and how many have you done?

“Experience is a huge factor when it comes to weddings,” says Hughes. “There are good club DJs, good radio DJs, but that doesn't make them a good wedding DJ.” The best wedding DJs in Central Ohio—those who don't dabble in other styles of emceeing—book at least 30 weddings annually, he adds.

Have you done a wedding at my venue before?

This question tells you if the DJ will be familiar with setup and teardown procedures, as well as with the room's acoustics. “I heard so many times from people that they've been to weddings where it was so loud that they ended up leaving, yet the back of the room couldn't hear,” Holloway says.

What other services do you offer?

Many DJs offer additional services, such as lighting equipment, fog machines and photo booths. “Other services that DJs offer can be thrown in at a cheaper rate, since the DJ company will already be there,” says Holloway.

What is and isn't included in your fee?

“A lot of DJ companies have the hidden fees, such as setup and teardown costs. Some even have fees to obtain certain special songs requested,” Holloway cautions. “Always know what the final cost is at the first meeting.”

Will you be the DJ at my wedding, or will it be someone else from your company?

“You don't want to assume they're going to be the DJ. And not every DJ is the same,” says Hughes, who assesses his clients' needs and preferences before arranging a phone or in-person interview with one of his DJs. “I'm the matchmaker. You tell me what you're looking for and I'll find the guy for you.”

How extensive is your song list, and will you obtain music if I request it and you don't have it?

“A professional will always be able to get a song that is requested; if not, then they are not a true wedding DJ company,” Holloway says. “Most will have the capability to retrieve songs on the spot [via Wi-Fi or hotspots] if they don't have it.”

How often do you update your music collection, and how do you keep it updated?

Holloway says good DJs should update their song lists on a weekly basis, to ensure that guests won't end up disappointed when they request the latest top-40 hit at the reception.

What's your announcement style?

“Announcement styles vary from DJ to DJ. You have the monotone ones that only make announcements when necessary, then you have the experienced ones that know how to raise and lower their voices for the moment,” Holloway says.

What will you wear at my wedding?

“The DJ should blend in, yet be one step up from, the guests,” says Holloway. So if the DJ says he will wear a polo uniform shirt to your black-tie wedding, you should continue your search … though that attire would work perfectly well for a casual backyard setup.

Do you require a provided meal for you and your staff, if any?

“If you're hungry, it's hard to work. The DJ is with your event about eight hours. That could definitely affect their performance,” says Hughes. “We always ask if we should have the DJ bring food. We like to know what the expectation is, so we can act appropriately.” œ

Fact Box:

Bonus Questions

While the 10 questions listed here are important, they're not the only information you should try to gather. Here are two more examples of questions to ask.

Is there a backup DJ on call in case of an emergency?

The answer should always be, “yes.” If it's not, you're putting yourself at risk. “I stopped booking myself on Saturdays to keep myself on reserve as a backup, just in case,” says Hughes. “I don't ever want the client to worry.”

Are you a locally based company?

“There are a lot of companies that subcontract,” says Hughes. Having a local office means the DJs are more likely to be familiar with your other wedding vendors, which makes for a smoother event overall.