8 Indispensable Tips for Hiring a Professional DJ (short Version)
8 Indispensible Tips for Hiring your Professional Wedding DJ (or any Vendor)
So, you have finally said “I will”, and now you are a bride-to-be who is left with the daunting burden of finding Wedding Reception Entertainment. You reveal the task to your new fiancé who (being a “husband-in-training”) half-heartedly grunts as he tips his head to the right to peer around you at the ballgame! Realize now two things; a) this is married life, and b) you’re going to have to find the DJ! Within a few short minutes of browsing Google... you feel a terror grip you and the words, “I have no idea!” echo through your collapsing brain like swirling church bells – prices, timelines, personalities, coupons, music; which are more important? You wish there was a guide to help you choose the best disc jockey/master of ceremony for what may be the biggest single party of your life! Here is your guideline, a checklist you can use to avoid embarrassment on the most memorable day of your existence on earth. I have personally entertained brides for over 20 years, and my only mission is to care as much about this as you do. With a little grit you can chew through this list, and in the end you will be rewarded with a Professional who will give you a great party and a grand memory… 1) Find a professional that will personally plan your Reception with you... Remember, it is your reception. Find an Entertainment Director (professionals hate the moniker “DJ”, which creates an image of some Gollum-like creature hunched behind booth, playing the same sub-standard cliché tunes at every wedding) who cares. A good DJ/MC will meet with you about 2 weeks before the event and guide you through the Planning Worksheet he sent you. Regardless of how busy he is, you are paying him to afford particular attention to all the details of your reception, and you deserve it. Any Director worth his fee will highly recommend that you sit together and discuss the reception. By sitting in the same room you can assess his personality, deal with any issues that cannot be put on an emailed planner and tell him what you want. He can also put you at ease. Remember, he coordinates the reception; an experienced pro knows what is about to happen, and can share this with you. You can make sure he will play the music that you and your guests crave, not the same Hip-Hop he might play in a club. Find a DJ who will work personally with you to make your Big Day your Big Day! *Aside - "MC" means Master of Ceremonies. Make sure he's announcing & up to running the show! 2) Choose a vendor that will help COORDINATE your reception... Remember, once the announcements start he is in charge of the entire evening. He does not simply spin the music. Working closely with the venue, your MC will coordinate all the evening's events. Here are some issues he should resolve for you: *Is the "house" ready to begin the Reception with the Announcements? *Does the venue know how long the Opening will take (is there one First Dance, or will the introductory events include first dance, father dance, mother dance, bridal party dance, toast and blessing?). It makes an enormous difference to those keeping the food warm! *Does the Photographer know the schedule of events? Your entertainment vendor controls the Grand Announcements and dances, the toasts, dancing between courses, cake cutting, bouquet toss, special dances and other announcements. If the photographer is out of the room, he'll miss it. If the venue is running behind you'll have a lull in the night (which could kill the party). Also, the DJ gets plenty of odd requests for dances and music, and he must use his best judgment (if he has shared your views beforehand he will know your preference). Finally, the MC/DJ has to keep tabs on you all night, as all of the mentioned events during the reception involve you! This works smoothly if he is already friendly. 3) Spend the money (around $1200) for a Professional – Find a Professional that has lots of references you can contact, and lots of testimonials. For all of the above reasons and more, pay the money! It's worth it! Think of how much you spend on the dress, photographer, per-plate dinner, napkin rings, decorations, gifts for the Bridal Party, booze, tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses. The difference between a Professional DJ with good equipment (and tons of experience) and a kid working weekends for a large company is about $400 total. * Also, make sure the man hire is the man playing your wedding. You don’t want a Bait and Switch situation! The man your hire must be the one who plays your wedding. No Exceptions! 4) References, Reviews, Testimonials… Did I mention this? Any vendor should have plenty of current references / Great reviews from many happy brides – pages of them, and he should offer them to you first meeting. Call or email some of the brides on the sheets. You should be able to check each reference. Make sure the reviews are for the DJ (or vendor) actually PLAYING your wedding! Big Companies Bury Bad Reviews for Bad Employees. 5) Examine Any Package Deals from your venue - Research package deals from your venue closely. Some venues will show you a Preferred Vendor list. These vendors pay to be on the list. It says nothing about them. If there’s a “House DJ” for a certain venue I recommend that you do not pay a penny until you sit with him. You always have the right to get your own separate vendors, even if you choose that venue. Just have them deduct their DJ Fee from the “Package Deal” if you find an alternate. 6) Personality Counts -Sit with him. Do you like him? Is he willing to help you make the reception unique, and will he take charge at the reception to ensure that you leave with a beautiful memory? Is he fun to be with, does he make you laugh? Do you think he will throw a great party for you and yours? Does he share his energy and joy with you? If yes to all, consider hiring him. 7) Experience counts - In the 28 years I have directed weddings I have had to learn to smoothly handle any situation on the spot. Personally, I have had equipment blow (it happens!), had many dinners delayed, have had families fight on the dance floor. Grooms got sick, mothers fainted, and brides went berserk on the venue staff. An experienced vendor will be able to handle any unexpected situation with calm and dignity. He always brings back-up gear, he will get to know you (and your family) before the announcements, and he will work with the House Coordinator to plan the dinner and events. He will be your answer, and invaluable to you. 8) Equipment -It goes without say that a professional DJ must have the best Professional Equipment, and know how to use it. Beware, though, of the Technocrat who shows up with $20,000 sound system and buries himself behind it! A Professional will have great equipment, but that does not make a great party. What is the sense of having stellar sound if the man pushing the buttons has no idea what music to play for your particular crowd? He is playing Top 40, and it sounds like a concert, but your grandmother detests Pitbull. She wants Sinatra or Elvis! Make sure you know that his equipment is great (let him play for you when you meet), but also make sure he’s a professional music man! *Also, it's VERY important that your vendor has a complete back-up system in the van, in case his main equipment blows. Make sure he brings it with him to the event. If his board blows you don't want to hear "Someone will be here in an hour to help!" Ask him / her if there's BACKUP onsite! 8.5) Bonus Tip – Find a professional that truly wants to know you and give you a unique, personalized wedding. Don't just fill in a form and fax it in! You would not do this with your car. Would you do it for your wedding!