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.
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.
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
- How long have you been a DJ?
- What motivated you to become a DJ?
- What formal training do you have as a Master of Ceremonies?
- What formal training do you have Directing Weddings?
- How many weddings have you personally done?
- 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?
- In your opinion, what music is best for a wedding reception?
- Can I see “uncut” video footage of you doing a GRAND ENTRANCE? Can I see footage of different STYLES of GRAND ENTRANCES?
- 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.