Check them out before you book- Many DJs and bands do public gigs. Bars, clubs, restaurants and the like often need live music or a DJ. Ask the vendor that is being considered if they have a public gig that can be attended by possible clients. A cover charge may apply.
Make sure they see the space- A DJ or band cannot give accurate pricing until they know what equipment will be needed for the event. Different venues may need extra speakers or setup time, or require that the band or DJ come early to get their equipment where it is needed.
Get everything in writing- A contract should be obtained from all wedding vendors but DJs and bands are often booked simply through emails so contracts are often overlooked. Something needs to be put in writing and physically signed. Be sure the contract includes fees for any extra time if the party runs late. Do not sign a contract until the band or DJ has been familiarized with the venue so they can be certain of any extra equipment or setup and breakdown fees.
Are the extras costing extra?- Many DJs will offer a light show, fog machines, slide shows and other extra goodies. They may cost extra or for higher end DJs they may be included in a set price. If they are costing extra, be sure that the couple really wants the extras. Some of the effects can be nice touches but not all of them are worth the extra money to all couples. For bands, if you are paying per musician do you really need 3 guitarists? Some groups will offer packages with fewer musicians for a smaller fee.
Don’t count out the amateurs- Local colleges often have more than a few good DJs to boast. Many of the professional DJs today began learning their craft back in college or even high school. Ask around about any local amateurs or check online ads. You will want to make sure they are reliable and have all of their own equipment. Someone majoring in related fields would be the best bet as they are most likely to see it as more than a hobby. Local bars will also feature some amateur DJs with good personalities. These amateurs will also often work very cheaply as they are trying to build a name for themselves and start a buzz about their services.
Plan on variety- Choosing a band that only does covers of one band may not cut it no matter how good they are. Make sure a band can do lots of covers or has a large repertoire of their own music to last for the entirety of the event. Make sure a DJ has all of the newest songs that may be requested and lot of oldies and classic songs as well. The bride and groom may love one kind of music or one band or artist, but to get all of the guests dancing lots of classics, popular songs and variety will be necessary. If a band really only has one specialty but the couple loves them, consider booking a DJ for between the band’s sets.
Make it a date, hit the local music scene- A great way to check out bands and DJs is for the couple to go on date nights. Hit the town and go to the public gigs of vendors being considered or just check out places with live music or a great DJ for inspiration. This can also help a couple know what questions to ask other groups or DJs.
Use social networking- Social network sites will often have pages dedicated to the music groups in the area where local bands, DJs and groups put out their show information and post their websites. These can be great sources for information on a lot of local acts available.
Choosing a band or DJ for the wedding should be lots of fun, just don’t forget to take care of the business side of things. Just like any other vendor, let them do their job. Don’t micromanage a DJs song choices or the bands song order. They do this for a living and probably know best how to keep the party going.