No one wants an empty dance floor at their wedding reception. To get the party started, you're going to need the right musician, whether that's a DJ or a live band. But before you book, you'll want to thoroughly vet them. Be sure you understand the important questions to ask a wedding DJ (below) so that you're hiring the right musician who will pack the dance floor and keep it that way. (Pro tip: Download our full FREE printable DJ Wedding Checklist of questions and bring it with you!)
Photo: Collin Hughjes
The 10 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding DJ or Band
From the musical genres they cover to getting the scoop on how they create a couple's setlist, these are the most important questions to ask potential musicians and disc jockeys.
How many members are in the band? Are there different options as far as how many musicians/vocalists we can hire?
What you need to know: If you've decided to book a band for your wedding, you'll need to know how many musicians and vocalists will be performing in order to make sure your venue can accommodate everyone comfortably. Also ask if they're flexible about the number of musicians and vocalists you can hire. Booking a smaller group of band members might be a way to accommodate a tight music budget (read our detailed post on creating a wedding budget). If you're hiring a wedding DJ, ask if they will be performing solo or if they work in tandem with a partner.
What genres can you cover?
What you need to know: Before meeting with any potential DJ or bandleader, have a conversation with your fiance to figure out the overall musical vibe you're going for at the reception. Then, ask the DJ or bandleader what type of music and genres they usually play or specialize in to determine if they're the right fit. For example, if you're hoping to create a glam, Old Hollywood-inspired mood, then you wouldn't want to book an indie folk band. DJs usually have a wide and extensive library of songs, but it's still a good idea to ask about specific genres they tend to gravitate towards.
Photo: Erich McVey
How do you work with couples to come up with a playlist?
What you need to know: Do you and your partner prefer to be very involved in the creation of your wedding playlist? Or are you OK with providing some general guidelines and then letting your wedding professional handle the rest? Once you've decided how involved you'd like to be, make sure you ask any potential music pro this question to figure out if you guys will work well together. Pro tip: Ask them to name a few of their go-to dinner/background music tracks, pump-up jams, and slow songs to get a good feel for their style.
Can you learn specific songs for us (if you're interviewing a band)?
What you need to know: If you have your heart set on dancing to whatever "your song" may be for your first dance, then you'll want to ask if the band is willing to learn it for the wedding. Be sure to also ask if there's an additional fee for a song request like that. Is your song on our top 50 wedding songs list?
Photo: Samm Blake
What do you typically do to get guests on their feet if the dance floor is empty?
What you need to know: The last thing you want is a drop in energy as people trickle off the dance floor. Some DJs might take to the mic (or even jump into the crowd!) to encourage guests to keep dancing, while others might switch to a song that's a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Just be sure to book a wedding pro who uses a method that you like. For instance, if you want minimal chatting from the DJ or bandleader, then someone who gets on the mic to encourage the crowd to boogie will not be the right fit.
Can you also act as the emcee and make announcements?
What you need to know: You'll probably need someone to serve as the master of ceremonies and help guide guests through the different phases of the reception, from announcing the newlyweds as they enter the room and letting guests know when dinner is served, to introducing the wedding toast-givers and when it's time for the last dance. Some couples ask a close friend or family member to serve as the voice of the wedding, while others ask the DJ or bandleader to take on this role. If you'd prefer your wedding pro to serve as the master of ceremonies for the night, be sure to clarify if this is a responsibility they are willing to take on.
Photo: Brandon Kidd
What are your power and amplification requirements?
What you need to know: Your wedding band will likely bring their own equipment for sound (and sometimes lighting), so they will need easy access to power. Ask what they'll need and how much space they'd like in order to support their equipment. Same goes for a DJ! They will probably need power and a table to set up their DJ equipment, so you'll likely need to rent a table and table linen for them. Ask what table size they prefer before you add those items to your rental order.
What music will be provided during breaks?
What you need to know: All musicians, and especially musicians and vocalists, will need to take breaks at some points during the reception. One important question to ask your DJ for your wedding is what type of music they usually play during those breaks so that everyone is aligned and knows what to expect.
Photo: Rad + In Love
Do you provide other services such as video projection, lighting, photo booth, etc.?
What you need to know: In addition to providing the music, some vendors can also provide additional entertainment services, such as special lighting and effects, fog machines, dance-floor and wall projection (if you wanted to have your monogram projected on the dance floor or plan to show a special wedding video during dinner). Some companies also offer photo booth rentals that you can add to your package, so it's always a good idea to ask about any other entertainment extras they might offer.
What's your rate and what does that include?
If you're thinking about booking a live band for your wedding, expect to pay between $2,850 to $6,488, with the average wedding band cost being approximately $4,500, according to figures from WeddingWire. If you're on a tight music budget, then booking a DJ is a more affordable option. The rate for wedding DJs ranges from $780 to $1,495, with the average cost being right around $1,000. It's important to note, though, that the going rate for bands and DJs varies widely across the country and depends on numerous factors, including the number of musicians, geographic region, and the number of hours you'll be booking them for.
Photo: Jose Villa
Everything Else You Should Ask Your Wedding DJ or Band
In addition to the 10 must-ask questions to ask a wedding DJ listed above, round out your consultation meeting by asking the follow-up queries below. Pro tip: Review our full DJ Wedding Checklist list beforehand and circle the items that are most applicable to your wedding (because some might not apply to your celebration).
AVAILABILITY & EXPERIENCE
- Is my wedding date available?
- Do you have other weddings or events on the weekend of my wedding?
- How long have you been in business?
- How many weddings do you typically do in a year?
- How long have you been performing together (if you're interviewing a band)?
- How many members are in the band? Are there different options as far as how many musicians/vocalists we can hire?
- Will you be the DJ/bandleader at our wedding?
- Have you done events at my wedding venue?
- Can you provide me with recent couples that I can contact for references?
- How would you describe your style?
- Do you have a specialty?
- How extensive is your music collection?
- What genres can you cover?
- Do you have recordings from prior weddings that we can listen to?
- Can we come listen to you perform?
- How do you work with couples to come up with a playlist?
- Can you recommend songs for the processional, recessional, father-daughter dance, etc.?
- Can you learn specific songs for us (if you're interviewing a band)?
- What do you typically do to get guests on their feet if the dance floor is empty?
- Can you also act as the emcee and make announcements?
- How would you define your emcee style?
- How do you handle song requests from guests?
- Can we give you a "Do Not Play" list?
- What type of equipment do you use?
- What are your power and amplification requirements?
- How much space will you need?
- What does setup and breakdown entail?
- Which band members will be performing that day?
- Do you work with an assistant or second DJ?
- What happens if you or one of the band members is unable to perform?
- What's your backup plan if there's an equipment malfunction?
- What do you typically wear?
- How many breaks do you typically require and for how long?
- What music will be provided during the breaks?
- How many vendor meals will you need?
- Do you provide other services such as video projection, lighting, photo booth, etc.?
PRICING & PAYMENT
- What's your rate and what does that include?
- Does that rate include setup and breakdown between ceremony and reception locations?
- What's your rate for overtime, if we go longer than the specified end time?
- Are there any additional fees I should know about?
- Are you insured?
- How far in advance do we need to book?
- How much is the deposit? When is it due?
- When is the final payment due?
- What is your refund policy if we need to cancel?
- When should we expect to receive a contract?
Curious about additional wedding planning tasks? You may find some of our below wedding-planning resources extremely helpful: