DJ Check List:
As a VOWS Awards Winning DJ who prides himself on customer service I feel I can offer a few tips on the things you could ask to see if a DJ is serious about the business and the music.
Do you take Play-Lists and requests from Guests? It is your Big Night and a good DJ should be able to prioritise a dozen of your favourite songs. They should also ask you what songs you don't want to hear no matter who asks for them. As an extra they ought to be giving your guests cards and pens for requests.
Do you have a ProDub Licence? A legal requirement for anyone using a laptop to play copies of their CDs.
Can you call Ceilidh Dances? As a wedding has all ages present a few may want some ceilidh dances (especially if they are in kilts!). A professional DJ ought to be able to call upto 30mins of the dances for you should they be required.
Do you play MP3s or WAV (LPCM Audio) files? MP3s are reduced quality (compressed files) and are really not suitable for DJs... especially as most DJs ought to be using a dedicated studio quality digital-to-analogue soundcard and not the headphone socket on their laptops! The difference will be seriously noticeable with ultra-modern sound equipment. You will hear the full range of frequencies with no loss to the top or bottom.
Can you download a song at the last minute if urgently needed? There are specialist DJ websites where WAV files can be purchased (such as Broadchart database). If the DJ is serious then they should have a 3G internet connection to be able to do this for you on the night!
Will my guests still be able to talk when you are playing? If they adhere to 2005 H&SE Noise at Work Directive you should be able to talk as-well as dance. A good DJ will use a graphic equalizer or sound optimiser to also remove troublesome audio frequencies caused by anomalies in the shape of the room. As an extra, they should ideally be carrying protective headgear to offer for any babies present.
Can you cater for Multicultural and Interracial Marriages or for the requests of my foreign guests? The world is becoming culturally smaller. A good DJ should know what types of music to play for all corners of the globe or be willing to learn what to play.
Is your equipment electrically tested? Some venues won't let the DJ in the building without a PAT certificate. Check they have this.
Do you have Public Liability Insurance? In the unlikely event that an accident occurs you want to be assured that the DJ can be sued for damages. Most should be taping down cables and securing lights with safety ties.
Do you have back-up equipment? If they are prepared then they should have a duplicate of almost everything in case of any emergency. (i.e laptop, soundcard, speakers, mixing desk). If they are really serious then they also should have a Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS Battery) so that they won't have to restart everything if there is the slightest of surges, spikes or power failures.
How much space do you take up and how long will it take you to be ready? A good DJ should have already visited or at least been in touch with your venue to ensure that there is sufficient access and set-up space. Most DJs should be at your Wedding at least 30mins before the required time to ensure that they have all their equipment in an anteroom ready to set-up when the room is ready. Doing this will keep their set-up time to less than an
Do you have Digitally Controlled Lighting (aka Digital Multiplex or DMX)? A professional DJ will have complete control of the lights so that they can set them to match the mood of the music.
Will you play background music during the buffet? I have added this because years ago when I got married the DJ played through the buffet and hardly any of it was eaten! You want the DJ to lower the volume and allow 20-30mins for people to enjoy the food before getting the party going again.
What is your style of DJing? Ideally a good DJ will be grouping together similar styles of music and mixing in harmony as well as beat-matching. There should be no gaps in the delivery of the music. Do they also know how to read a crowd and react to changes in mood of the audience and know what style of music will match the dynamic.
Do you have any images or videos of your set-up in action? You'd be surprised how many don't want you to see it and will send you photos of the crowd instead. This is usually because they use cheap equipment or have messy set-ups with untidy cables hanging everywhere (which won't really be the look you'll want on your Big Day).
What extras do you have? You can save a lot of money by seeing if your DJ can provide such items as evening mood-lighting, microphones and a power amplifier (PA) system for your speeches, a projector and screen, or even an audio transmission system for placing a wireless speaker system in the bar area if it is far from the dancefloor (so that guests don't miss their music requests).
On top of all that you should get 100% focus from your DJ. ie. Quick replies to your quote request and any other communications. Follow-up emails a month before the event to check your First Dances and confirm timings etc... And on the day they should be professional, polite and dedicated to ensuring that you and your guests have an absolute scream!