Before you rush in and book the first band, DJ or musician you like the sound of, take a step back, compare your favourites and ask them these questions to decide who should play at your wedding…
1. How long have you been doing this professionally?
There’s quite a different between volunteer gigs and stellar performances. Make sure they know what they’re doing so there are no problems on the day.
2. How many weddings do you do at the weekends?
The answer to this will tell you a lot; if the DJ or musician is fully booked every weekend with back-to-back weddings, they may be running on empty and you may want to rethink booking them. If they barely have any weddings on, their performance may not be as good as others.
3. What’s your style of music?
You may already know this, but it’s good to ask to get their interpretation of their style of music.
4. Can I see videos or listen to CDs from previous weddings you have performed at?
This first of all certifies that they’re genuine wedding performers, but it also allows you to picture exactly what that band/DJ/musician will be like in your wedding setting. Playing a wedding is different to playing a festival.
5. Can we choose all the songs ourselves? Do you have a go-to wedding song list?
Usually, there will be a library of songs for you to pick from. If you’re really unsure as to what to play at the wedding – check out our article on the 200 best wedding songs of all time – it’s worth asking if they have a list of wedding songs they tend to play. You can then decide to leave it to the professional or put your own spin on things.
6. How many people will actually be there on the day and who will they be?
Most of the time, you will be hiring a musician, DJ or band from an agency. It seems crazy to ask who will be there on the day, but bands often perform on a rotation basis depending on who’s available. If you have your heart set on a particular singer and somebody else shows up, you’re not going to be happy. You also need to know how many people will be there; if 10 people are going to be there, do you have the space?
7. Do you take requests from guests and if so, can we give you a ‘Do Not Play’ list?
It’s really nice for your guests to be able to make requests and play songs so it’s good to check if that is at all possible (you can even add this to your invites), but if you have friends that you know will request songs like Barbie Girl or the Chicken Dance or songs you never want to listen to with grandparents like that one by Khia…have a Do Not Play list!
8. What is your rate and what does it include? Is there anything that isn’t included in your quote?
This is a really important question to ask. You don’t want to be stung by additional charges after the big day like overtime, setup or breakdown. If there are additional costs, don’t rule them out. Just make sure you keep this in mind when comparing prices between entertainment suppliers.
9. Can I pay you beforehand? Do I have to pay a deposit?
You may want to push off paying them, but trust us – pay before the wedding! You don’t want any continued payments after the big day and you certainly don’t want any on the big day; paying suppliers on your wedding day causes chaos! Try to pay them beforehand.
10. Are you insured?
Your band, musician or DJ should have liability insurance and your venue may stop them from playing if they don’t have it. It’s just to cover them if anything happens to the performer on the night.
11. What will you wear to our wedding?
Their music may be incredible but you probably won’t want them turning up in baggy jeans or vest tops.
12. How much time will it take to set up and take down all your equipment?
If the band gets there at 5pm and you expect them to play from then till midnight for instance, it will throw your schedule out if it takes one hour for them to set up.
13. Do you bring backup equipment?
If you’re nervous about something going wrong, this will give you peace of mind. If they don’t bring backup equipment, put something in place like speakers to play music if theirs stops!
14. Do you need any information from me?
They might ask a bunch of questions or need info in a really inconvenient wedding planning moment so just prepare, ask them and answer all their questions there and then.
15. Do you act as an MC?
An MC – or Master of Ceremonies – basically runs the show, telling guests when things are happening and the order of the day/night. Some entertainers will act as the MC for the evening, so it’s good to check if that’s something they can offer too.
16. How long have you been playing as a band?
Obviously, only a question for bands. You may have the best musicians in the world but if they’ve had long solo careers, they not perform so well as a group; you don’t want a remake of the Catalina Wine Mixer…
17. Have you played at my wedding venue before?
This might be the deciding factor between one supplier and the other. If they have played there before, they will know who to speak to, where to set up, where to plug in the equipment and they will just be much better prepared to perform. The setup may be quicker too. Always check with your venue if they have a list of recommended suppliers for this reason.
18. Do you offer other services?
Some entertainers may also have a photo booth or lighting. They may charge extra for these but it’s good to know. They may even offer discounts since you booked their main service.
19. If you are unable to perform for any reason, is there a backup or replacement?
Booking a service that relies on someone being fit and well isn’t ideal when that person is in charge of all the music all night. Ask if they have any backup options if they do fall ill on the day.
20. Can you provide me with recent couples’ details so I can contact them for a reference?
References and reviews are really important, but the only issue with this question is that you can only go by what the supplier says; they are not going to give you the contact details of a couple who hated their service. That’s why we advise you to go through and check review sites before booking too!
21. Is there anything we should know about your services that we haven’t already talked about?
This is a chance for them to tell you anything that they really ought to like hidden costs or past incidences. It just covers for all the answers you didn’t get in the other 20 questions!