Anyone can press play on an iPod and let shuffle take over, but it takes the skill of a professional DJ to choose songs that heighten the energy of a room and keep it going. A pro should be able to assess the crowd at any party and play songs that entertain everyone.

When it comes to spinning for your wedding, a professional DJ should know your guest list. What’s the general age of your guests? Will there will be more parents and older adults, more friends and family around your age or lots of kids? Will your guests range from 9 months to 90 years old? If you have a wider age range, ask your DJ to start with songs that appeal to the older crowd who might like to leave early, like classic oldies and slow-dance staples, then end the night with more fist-pumping, fast-paced dance songs for the younger crowd.

A professional DJ will want to know all about your favorite songs, favorite bands and favorite genres. He or she should know if you want to hear typical wedding songs, if you have any specific requests (like your first dance song) or if there are any songs to be avoided (like “Macarena”). It’s yourwedding, and you should enjoy your reception music, so don’t hesitate to give your DJ a detailed list of likes and dislikes.

Most people don’t hire a professional DJ to simply follow a set playlist. Part of a pro’s appeal is that he or she can pleasantly surprise you. A pro will have a keen ear for music, a sixth sense for party vibes and the ability to read the room, knowing when to pump things up and when to slow things down, adding songs that may turn out to be your new favorites and keeping your guests entertained with music that isn’t just from the typical Top 40 selection.

You may want to do a bit of extra research to find hot up-and-coming DJ’s in your area or take a few after-hours trips to local clubs and DJ performances. Even if you aren’t in a large metropolitan area, the important thing is that you allow yourself a broader search field. You want your wedding to be utterly unique, so give it the edge it deserves and let a professional handle your music.

Items to Consider discussing with your DJ

  • Ask how many years of experience your dj has, what events they typically specialize in, and how much experience they have with weddings.
  • Ask your dj if you can visit one of their performances, whether at a club, another wedding or consider hiring your dj for a smaller informal party, like your engagement party or a summer soiree.
  • Ask your dj what their usual crowd demographic is, ensuring they’re comfortable catering to different age groups. Let your dj know the general age range of your guests so that he or she can fit in songs that every age group will enjoy.
  • Ask your dj what types of bands and music genres they like to play, and make a list of your favorite bands and genres. Your dj should have a similar taste as you and your spouse-to-be, ensuring your dj plays the type of music you envision for you and your guests.
  • If there are certain songs you absolutely want to hear, or certain songs you absolutely don’t want to hear, make sure you convey that clearly.
  • Ask your dj if have an insurance policy through an association such as the  American Disc Jockey Association or even an individual policy that covers their equipment.
  • Ask your dj if he or she can supply their own sound gear in the case that your venue or ceremony site does not have it. Make sure you give your dj the space measurements of your venue and their set up area.  They’ll need to know what type of gear to bring so that the sound can fill the room.
  • Ask about replacement or back-up dj’s in case last minute injuries or illnesses render your dj unavailable.
  • Ask your dj if he or she can serve as your MC.