How to Choose a Wedding DJ?

How to Choose a Wedding DJ?

First Rule:  All DJs are NOT the same…

10% are absolutely amazing

25% are OK (nothing horrible, but nothing amazing either)

50% just barely get the job done and they make lots of mistakes

15% are scum who double and triple book, don’t show up, bait and switch and utilize false advertising to steal your money.

 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

With the internet, its easy to believe that we can get all the answers we want at 2:00am.  However, when it comes to your wedding, its a good idea to actually meet (gasp) in person, with all your potential wedding professionals.  If someone gets pushy and insists you sign before you leave, get up and walk away.  Those people are bullies and probably won’t deliver.  A true professional will not use such manipulative tactics!  You’re about to spend more money …on one day …than you ever will again. A true professional will expect you to be doing your research.

Every Decision Matters

You might think, “most DJs SUCK”, so I might as well pay as little as possible.  While it is true that a vast majority of DJs do SUCK, there are some good ones, and isn’t your wedding day worth doing a little research so you can get the best person available to you?

A BAD wedding entertainer can and will ruin everything.

Common Sense

Confirm your wedding professional has a local business office or home office. If you meet with them, you know where they live or at least where their office is.  (the snakes in the wedding industry hide their actual address like the Holy Grail)

Wedding Professionals Travel

Highly sought after professionals travel nationwide, so if they aren’t “local” to your market, make sure you know where their office or home is located.  Naturally, if their reputation precedes them in an amazing way, you probably don’t CARE where they live.  🙂

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. . .

There are many companies online that promise a DJ, a Photographer, a Videographer and a PhotoBooth for one low price.  They promise they have representatives in every city across the United States.  They promise ridiculously low prices. All you have to do is give them a $75.00 deposit, and all your wedding vendors are secured. Unfortunately, these big companies are only after your $75.00.  (Do the math…50 states x 25 deposits a day x 365 days a year =  a lot of money)  They are not concerned with what will actually happen on your wedding day.  They know you can’t and won’t sue because they are hidden behind multiple corporations and shields and the cost of going after them would be more than you “lost”.

I get emails ALL THE TIME asking me if I am available “this weekend” for a wedding.  They call it a “last minute booking” , but the reality is…they are checking to see if anyone has availability and will cover their butts.  Amazingly, this works most of the time, because those DJs who “barely get the job done” are more than willing to work for a few hundred bucks. However, this little game doesn’t work on prime weekends.  Guess who’s left with no DJ, no Photographer, No Videographer and No Photo Booth?

Be a Detective, Google Them…

It might seem elementary, but type the company’s name into Google and see what comes up.  Type the person’s name and see what comes up.  Search FACEBOOK and LINKED IN.  If there are nasty reviews, you can find them. If there are law suits, you can find them. If there are hundreds of disgruntled brides hunting for this company like a pack of rabid animals, you will EASILY see that.

Search YouTube

You don’t have to take my word that the majority of DJs suck.  Seach YouTube.  The proof is out there in spades!

Bands and Formalities

I love bands. I’m a musician myself and have a degree in Music…BUT…most bands are great at creating music but not so great when it comes to being Masters of Ceremonies.  Just like DJs, about 10% of them get it right. Therefore, besides watching video to see if they have any musical talent, make sure they also have talent as Masters of Ceremonies.

Bands and DJs

No matter what the wedding magazines tell you, it is NOT appropriate to crash someone else’s wedding to audition entertainment. You certainly wouldn’t appreciate that on your wedding day. Watch videos of their performances or go to a showcase.

How do you audition your Band or DJ?  What are you looking for?

If a wedding DJ or Band site only shows video of dancing crowds…how do you know they are the DJ or the Band in the shot?  How do you know they created that moment?

One of my local competitors still has video footage of one of my weddings with a full dance floor on their demo reel!  Seriously. Not kidding.  Granted, its about 10 seconds of footage, but they had nothing to do with that full dance floor

(I called them on it, and they promised to remove it…I am still waiting)

Look a little deeper.  Watch video footage of your potential Wedding DJ or Band presiding over the wedding formalities.  This is very important. You will learn a lot. If the video footage is super choppy, and doesn’t have any “extended shots”, they were probably editing out stuff that was BAD.

It not just about the music.

First, a twelve year old with an ipod knows to play “Uptown Funk” and people will dance.  Second, a drunken college drop-out with an ipod knows that if they play “Don’t Stop Believing”, the other drunk people will sing at the top of their lungs.  This is not rocket science.

The tough part of properly presiding over a wedding is not the MUSIC.  The tough part is how to create a smooth flow, how to effortlessly transition from one moment to the next, and how to present seemingly mundane formalities in an engaging manner. The tough part is to keep everyone informed without sounding like you’re advertising the latest “blue light” special.  The tough part is focusing attention when necessary in an authoritative yet friendly manner. The tough part is knowing when to talk, and when to shut up.

Watch video of Grand Entrances

Why watch Grand Entrances?  Because this moment is the most telling when judging the Master of Ceremonies skills of your wedding entertainer.  You will see how they introduce themselves.  You will see how they start the evening and how they command a room.  You will hear what they sound like on the microphone.  You will see how they were dressed at an actual reception.  You will hear if their sound system “sounds good”.  You will see if the crowd is ignoring them or if the crowd is involved.  The Grand Entrance is probably the longest amount of time a Master of Ceremonies will be continuously talking because of introducing the bridal party. Check their grammar.  Check their language. Check their overall presentation.

Announcer vs. Master of Ceremonies:  Are they just “announcing” or just “reading a piece of paper” or are they truly being a Master of Ceremonies?  Meaning, do they sound like the “Monster Truck Show Guy” or the guy at the Drive-Thru or do they sound like a human being who is connected to the bride and groom?  Do they use the words “bride” and “groom” to describe the guests of honor throughout the night or do they use their names?  Do they know their names?  I ask you, is there anything more boring than…“Ladies and Gentlemen, at this time, I’d like to direct your attention to the dance floor, because now its time for “THE BRIDE” and “THE GROOM” to share a specially selected song for their first dance as Mr. and Mrs.”  Really?  That’s all you got?  How impersonal.  How boring. How “cookie-cutter”.

Underscoring:  Listen to the music?  Are there long moments of silence?  Are there choppy musical transitions?  Is the music supporting what is happening or is is detracting?

Cake Cutting. Toasts. Garter and Bouquet:  Watch just as carefully. Watch how they present themselves.  Watch how they direct the activities. Watch the transitions. Listen to the music utilized.

 

Questions to ask your potential Wedding DJs, Wedding Bands and Wedding Entertainers

  1. How long have you been a DJ?
  2. What motivated you to become a DJ?
  3. What formal training do you have as a Master of Ceremonies?
  4. What formal training do you have Directing Weddings?
  5. How many weddings have you personally done?
  6. How should we choose the music for our wedding day?  Do we make a complete list?  Do you control the music?  Do you take guest requests?
  7. In your opinion, what music is best for a wedding reception?
  8. Can I see “uncut” video footage of you doing a GRAND ENTRANCE? Can I see footage of different STYLES of GRAND ENTRANCES?
  9.  Can I see “uncut” video footage of you doing other things at weddings?  (Crowd Interaction Activities, Games, Love Story, Garter Toss, Bouquet Toss, Longevity Dance, etc.)
    • If they have been in business 5 or 10 years, they should have a lot!
    • Pay close attention to how many times the Master of Ceremonies refers to the guests of honor as “bride and groom” rather than using their names.

10. Do you have a money back guarantee that you will be the performer the day of my wedding?

11. Do you have current liability insurance?  May I see the documentation?

12. Do you have a business license?  May I see the documentation?

13. What are your top five favorite songs for “starting” the dancing?

14.   What happens if you play a song and the dance floor CLEARS?

15.   Will you have backup equipment on site at my wedding, including extra cables, amps, speakers, CD players, computers and wireless microphones?

16.   May I see a picture of your DJ Booth Set up?  If they don’t have a picture….why not?

17.   Where do you get your music?  If their answer is from a download service, then their music library is most likely illegal.  All music should be purchased through legal channels such as iTunes, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, etc.

18.   What makes you different from other Wedding DJs?

19.   How much time will we spend working together prior to my wedding?

20.   Tell me how you can personalize my day?  Ask to see video examples.

21.   What is the WORST thing that has ever happened at one of your weddings?  What did you do?

22. What kind of things can go wrong at a wedding ceremony reception and what can I do to avoid problems?

23. What is your approach to “filling the dance floor”?

    • Pay close attention to this answer.  If they say they can GUARANTEE a full dance floor.  Be afraid.  This means they will use aggressive tactics to intimidate guests into participating.

24. Are you a full-time DJ entertainer available to your clients 40 hours a week, or do you have a full-time job that you report to 40 hours a week?

25.   Do you have recent references?  May I contact them?

26. Role Play/Audition:  If our wedding introduction was happening right now, please demonstrate “live” exactly how you would do the honors. (This challenge will most likely throw the inexperienced Master of Ceremonies completely)  The advantage for you:

  • You will see how they perform under pressure
  • You will see exactly what they “normally” do every time, even if they tell you something different.

Finally….after all these questions….ask “how much?”  

Because now you know what they have to offer you and you can decide if what they offer is worth the price they quoted.

 

How much Should a Wedding DJ Cost????

 

Top 20 Complaints about DJs

Ford’s Colony Wedding Reception

Ford’s Colony Wedding Reception

First Dance at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg VA

Setting the Stage:  Wedding Reception at Ford’s Colony

Kris and Shelley celebrate their marriage at Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg, VA after winning The Inspired Bride’s, Be Inspired Bridal Show’s $25,000 Dream Wedding giveaway from Williamsburg Wedding Pros back in February 2015!

To begin with, I’d like to acknowledge all the wedding professionals who donated their time and talent to make the Dream Wedding a reality.  First, it couldn’t have been possible without the generous contribution of a wedding ceremony and reception site that included catering provided by Ford’s Colony and managed by Director of Catering, Brittany Rice. The club was gorgeous as always and the staff couldn’t have been nicer!

Wedding Reception in the Garden Pavilion

Pavilion at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg VA

Wedding Ceremony in Ford’s Colony Dining Room

Ford's Colony - inside wedding ceremony

Event Planning

Full Service Event Planning was provided by Kelly Coronel and her associate Ashton Hathaway of Inspired Events by Kelly, who worked tirelessly to insure even the most minute details were considered and taken care of, including encouraging moving the ceremony inside just days before the wedding when it was obvious the temperatures were going to be well of 100 degrees! Kelly even chose to include many of her decor items free of charge, just to make sure the reception had that special “zing”!  Everything looked absolutely amazing and flowed seamlessly!

 

Wedding Ceremony at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg VA

Wedding Cake

The wedding cake was not only gloriously designed by Alice Cooke at Cakealicious, but it was absolutely scrumptious!  And, just for those detail oriented people…the cute Flower Girl’s ruffled white dresses perfectly matched the confection! (Scroll back up to the first picture to see…)

Wedding Cake by Cakealicious at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg VA

 

Flowers

The centerpieces, corsages, bouquets and boutonnieres were donated by Arlene Aitken-Williams of Morrison’s Flowers , and the colors just popped in the white background of the Garden Pavilion at Ford’s Colony.

Wedding Flowers by Morrison's in Williamsburg VA

 

Uplighting & Photo Booth

Jeff Bristow of Colonial DJs donated Uplighting and his Photo Booth, which was a huge hit throughout the night, as Shelley and Kris collected fantastic blackmail material on their adult-beverage loving guests!

Kris & Shelley in Booth at Ford's Colony

 

Live Music

My favorite local chanteuse, Jocelyn Oldham, who has the most amazing voice…EVER, shared her talent during the cocktail hour! If you’ve not heard her sing, check out her schedule online…it’ll be worth the trip!

Jocelyn Oldham, vocal & guitar - Williamsburg VA

 

Wedding Photography

Wedding photographs are one of the most important aspects of the wedding day, capturing specific moments in time as families combine and expand.  These photos are shared with generation after generation, so how lucky it was that the entire day was chronicled by local photographer extraordinaire, Kelly Mihalcoe, who was with Kris and Shelley all day long, making sure their memories were lovingly captured. Be sure to keep an eye out on her blog to see all the professional shots!

Wedding DJ Entertainment

And finally, DJ Entertainment and Master of Ceremonies services for the ceremony and reception were provided by Liz Daley Events.  The ceremony went flawlessly, as they chose contemporary music to begin with as Kris, the bridesmaids and groomsmen entered to “Giving It All To You” by Haley & Michaels, but chose the traditional “Canon in D” as performed by The Boccherini Guitar Quartet for Shelley’s entrance with her father.

The reception began with personalized introductions of the bridal party that lovingly roasted them as they entered the room to a song chosen especially for them by Kris and Shelley!  This started the evening out with lots of fun and energy!

First Dance:  “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
Father/Daughter Dance:  “Unforgettable”  – Duet Version by Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
Mother/Song Dance: “A Mother’s Song” by T. Carter Music

Last Dance:  “The Story” by Brandi Carlisle

Time to Celebrate & Party!

The guests were ready to party and everyone had a fantastic time and even though most had to work on Monday morning, when the last song played, they were not ready for the night to end!  Shelley & Kris departed their celebration through a tunnel of sparklers while “Disco Inferno” played in the background!

 

Local Williamsburg Wedding Professionals

Here’s a sneak peak at all the wedding professionals”behind the scenes”.  Enjoy!

Congratulations again to Kris and Shelley on winning the $25,000 Dream Wedding Giveaway!!!

Happy Honeymoon!

Liz Daley with Kris & Shelley - Dream Wedding Winners

 

Viky’s 80th Birthday Bash

Birthday Girl!

When you’ve lived life to the fullest and want to celebrate your 80th Birthday in style, you gather all your closest friends and family to your Great Gatsby Themed Celebration and let the fun begin!

Happy Birthday Viky!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ali & Evan celebrated their marriage at Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg VA

Ali & Evan celebrated their marriage at Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg VA

Expert Williamsburg Wedding Planner

If having an extraordinary day that family and friends will be talking about for years to come is important to you, make sure to hire an experienced Wedding Planner to put all the pieces of the puzzle together so that everything goes according to plan. And this doesn’t happen by accident.  Liz Daley is a local favorite in Williamsburg.  Everyone walks away saying, ” That was the best wedding ever!!!!”  Sure, you don’t want your wedding to feel “over-planned” and “stuffy”. But you also don’t want it to be a fiasco. That’s where the experience comes in…everything will be planned, but for you and your guests on the wedding day, it will feel completely organic and natural.

First Dance:

Ali & Evan First Dance at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg VA

 

Surprise Father/Daughter Dance beginning with “Isn’t She Lovely” covered by Lor Chang

Freestylin' Surprise Father and Daughter Dance

Watch Video

Great Party with Great DJ Entertainment

Ali & Evan Enjoy their Wedding Celebration in Williamsburg VA

 

Wedding Planning in Williamsburg Virginia

 

Father of the Bride Toast

The Hora


Jewish Wedding in Williamsburg VA

Wedding Planner for Jewish Wedding In Williamsburg VA

Jewish Weddings in Virginia

 

 

Williamsburg Wedding DJ

 

Liz Daley – Wedding Planner and DJ Entertainer in Virginia

Ford's Colony Wedding DJ, Liz Daley with Ali & Evan

Congratulations – – – Evan and Ali!!!!!!!

 

 

Video Montage courtesy of Rosko Designs

 

Musical  Choices:

Bride & Groom’s Entrance Song:  “Everlasting Love” by Natalie Cole

First Dance:  “I Have and Always Will” by Dave Barnes

Mother/Son Dance: “Close Your Eyes” by James Taylor & Carly Simon

Father/Daughter Dance:  “Isn’t She Lovely” by Lor Chang (into a surprise mix medley)

Cake Cutting:  “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor

Single Men to the Dance Floor:  “Macho Man” by The Village People

Garter Removal Song:  “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye

Garter Toss:  “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Single Ladies to the Dance Floor:  “Single Ladies” by Beyonce

Bouquet Toss:  “Wannabe” by The Spice Girls

Last Dance:  “Everlasting Love” by Natalie Cole

Wedding Details:

Venue & Catering:  Ford’s Colony

Wedding Entertainment Director® & Disc Jockey Services:  Liz Daley Events

Photography:  Lauren Simmons

Videography: Rosko Designs

Flowers:  Morrison’s Florist, with a family connection with Amy’s Garden, Matthew Whaley’s Garden & Genrose Lashinger (Master Gardener)

Dress:  All the Rage 

Cake:

Hair:

Bare Minerals Make Up:

Charlottesville Wedding: Romantic & Fun

Charlottesville Wedding: Romantic & Fun

Charlottesville Wedding

It was a beautiful day in Charlottesville in early April 2014.  It was a great day, because it was the day that two best friends became husband and wife at Trump Winery!  They couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day!  The weather was absolutely perfect!

Charlottesville Wedding at Trump Winery

 

Bliss!

Meg and Steve think of the wonderful life they have in front of them.

Winery Wedding in Charlottesville

Mother of the Groom dances into the ballroom to “Hello Dolly”!!!
(as Meg and Steve peak in the window)

Mother of the Groom making a Grand Entrance for Charlottesville Wedding Celebration

More Dancing to start the party!

Dancing into the Party with Charlottesville Wedding DJ

Gentle Roasting Never Hurt Anyone!

Roasting the Bridal Party in for a Charlottesville Wedding

Get the Party Started!

Charlottesville Wedding DJ

That’s right….I”m bad!!!!!

Fun Grand Entrance for Charlottesville Wedding

King of the World!

Charlottesville Wedding Reception at Trump Winery

Super Cool Best Man!

Super Cool Best Man for Charlottesville Wedding

Anticipating Meg & Steve’s Entrance!

Charlottesville VA Weddings Disc Jockey

Wedding ToastsBest Man Wedding Toast in Charlottesville VA

First Dance

Beautiful Couple get married at Trump Winery

Fun with Photo BoothFun with Photo Booth

Mother-In-Law Dance, complete with “devil” costumes!Mother-In-Law Dance

Dancing and Fun!Wedding DJ in Charlottesville VA

Wedding Wire Review

 

Meg & Steve Review Charlottesville Wedding

Wedding Planner & DJ, Liz Daley with Meg and Steve

Wedding Entertainment Director in Virginia

Wedding Details:

Venue:  Trump Winery – Charlottesville
Catering:  Harvest Moon
Photographer:  Jack Looney
Videographer:  Ian’s Creations
CakeAlbemarle Baking Company
Transportation:  Albemarle Limousine
Tuxedo’s:  Men’s Wearhouse
Officiate:  John Dunham
Wedding DJ:  Liz Daley Events
Wedding Planning:  Liz Daley Events
Photo Booth:  Liz Daley Events

The Gift of Paying Attention

The difference between a “cheap” DJ and an “expensive” DJ

Written for ProMobile DJ – March 24, 2014
By Elisabeth Scott Daley, WED®, ABC™Liz Daley Events

Fun Wedding in Williamsburg Virginia

 How Much?

One thought will very quickly enter the mind of every bride beginning to plan a wedding.  How Much? Usually followed by an expletive of some sort, when she begins calculating the numbers in her head.  Today’s article is about the subtle differences that make ALL the difference in the world, when choosing where to allocate your precious hard earned money.

Often, when I get that initial phone call, or when having a casual conversation with a bride-to-be, I am told, “I don’t want anything fancy, I just need music”. Which is code for “I don’t want to spend a lot of money”. Then there is the underlying perception beneath the code that “ALL DJs SUCK, so why should I pay more than I have to”? “Better yet, why don’t I just plug in my iPod?” While it is true that an iPod is a cheap alternative, and it won’t make cheesy announcements…it is also true that an iPod can’t think for itself or make split-second decisions. This is where those subtle differences come into play.

Cheap Ain’t Good, and Good Ain’t Cheap

There is an old saying, “cheap ain’t good, and good ain’t cheap” and it is especially true in the age of “Ipod Weddings” and “Mom-ographers” and the inevitable, “I just planned my own wedding, and now I’m a wedding planner newbie.  Buyer Beware!  Just because you get a great price, doesn’t mean you will get a great deal. For example, in spite of my higher than average “cost”, time and again, my clients tell me that the value they received for their investment in me was far more than the actual dollars spent.  And I’m not alone; there are many, many DJs out there who care and who go the extra mile.  Of course, these are the ones who cost more.  Why?  Because being a DJ is their passion. Why does this matter to future brides? It matters in the subtle differences that are really hard to quantify until you feel it, or see it in action.  I’ll give you an example.

The Simple Wedding

This past Saturday night I was the Master of Ceremonies and DJ for one of those “simple” weddings. The ceremony was all of 5 minutes, and the “Grand Entrance” included only the bride and groom’s names as they began their first dance. They did not do any parent dances. There was one toast and they cut the cake.  Nothing else was planned.  They wanted simple and stress-free. They also wanted it guaranteed. They decided to hire me. Which is something to take note of…many DJs will do the exact same thing at every wedding for the exact same price, regardless of the wishes of the guests of honor.  Imagine the horror if my couple had been forced into a garter and bouquet toss against their wishes.  My price was worth it to them for what I wouldn’t do, as much as for what I would do.  Think about it.

A Loving and Sweet Surprise…

It was a fun crowd of less than 100 guests and yes there was an open bar, which always makes my music choices even better. (wink, wink)  However, an unexpected moment occurred that I humbly believe I helped make a little more special by a split-second choice I made.  Here’s the story.  The groom’s father passed away a few years ago. The groom was very close to his father.  During the course of the evening, a friend of the groom reached into his jacket pocket and surprised himself that he found the program for the groom’s father’s funeral inside the jacket pocket. (The friend doesn’t have occasion to wear a jacket very often) But when this friend shared his “find” with the groom, he said: “Your dad is here with us tonight, and here is why”.

Remembering Dad at Wedding

Groom Honors his father

Immediately following that conversation, the groom came up to me and asked for the microphone.  I didn’t think much of it, as he had been speaking directly to his friends and family “on mic” multiple times throughout the night. He asked me to stop the music.  I did.  He shared the story, and then elaborated about how he felt his father’s love and how he wished his father could have met the beautiful woman he waited 38 years to meet and marry.  As he continued sharing from the heart about how he missed his father, my mind was racing trying to determine what song could I play to follow this amazing moment that was happening?  A few things jumped into my head, and were quickly dismissed for being too cheesy. Then the perfect song jumped into my head, and I began smiling knowing that pure gold was about to happen. As the groom finished telling his story, and after the natural applause that followed, I said, “Eric, why don’t you go share a dance with your mother in honor of your father?”  And then I played “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross.  It was an amazing moment!  I know that I will always remember it, and I’ll bet everyone that was there will too.

Dance to Honor Dad in Williamsburg Virginia

 

Choose your wedding team as diligently as you choose your spouse.

Memories are created one moment at a time and they are all connected.  A wedding celebration is many, many moments.  It may not always be obvious, but every decision matters. And, isn’t it worth the investment to have someone on your side who will really be listening and really paying attention?  Isn’t it worth it to have someone on your team who is really invested in you, and consequently will make decisions based on your best interests? It’s the little things that make all the difference in the world.  Make sure you surround yourself with a wedding team that cares about making your day amazing.  I promise, it will be worth it!

Amazing Weddings in Williamsburg Virginia

Congratulations Eric and Kim!!!!!

Wedding at Legacy Hall in Williamsburg Virginia

 

Photos:  ©2014-Liz Daley Events