The Numbers don't lie...The cost of entertainment at your reception is only a small portion of your overall budget. In fact, according to ModernBride Magazine, only 5% of your overall budget will be spent on entertainment. However, almost 50% of your guests will remember the performance of your disc jockey more than anything else at your reception. The Wedding DJ Sets the Tone for Your Wedding Reception
There is one person you will contract for your wedding reception that will by the nature of the task, will be in total control of the day's ebb and flow. No it's not the caterer, photographer, limo driver, videographer, florist, or the venue manager. Those people are important, but will have far less influence on the evenings outcome. The person that I am referring to is your Disc Jockey/Master of Ceremonies. You'll trust this person to set the tempo and provide the atmosphere you desire. Your DJ entertainer is the person you will rely on to ensure the success of your reception from the moment the guests arrive for social hour till you say "goodbye" and dance the last song.
For satisfactory results, the person you select for this important task should be chosen carefully based on their credentials and not hired just because it was a friend of a person you know or because it's someone who offered to do it for little or nothing. A lower price is not an indication of a better value. One of life's sad truths is that the best things usually cost more and that principle certainly applies to the Disc Jockey profession. Every DJ will ask for what they think they are worth. Like selling a house, the market, not the seller usually determines the value and thus, the sale price.
To find the most qualified entertainer, first determine who offers the most experience, professionalism and talent.
Other Qualities to Look For
Finding someone who is anxious to do business with you is very important. If your call or email is returned promptly, that's a pretty good sign. You'll want to work with someone who is pleasant and personable too. The DJ should be able and willing to take time to offer some constructive ideas to help you plan the events of your evening. After all, this may be your first or second time around, while the DJ you hire should have attended hundreds of receptions and should have plenty of knowledge in this area. Flexibility to your wishes, incorporating your ideas into the event are also important. Look for a DJ who will work with you, not one who sets their own agenda and makes you conform to it. Find a DJ who not only possesses a wide selection of music and pro-grade sound equipment, but also is skilled at how to employ both for the best results. Think of it this way; owning a hammer is one thing, building a house with it is quite another.
The Personality Sets the Tone
One important aspect in the composition of a Great Mobile DJ/MC is the ability to provide your event with an entertaining personality, tempered to your taste and having the "right demeanor" as many guests have pointed out to me. Adding personality to an event does not mean telling longwinded jokes, teasing someone in the audience or talking between every song, rather it's knowing when one needs to speak, what to say and how to say it in order to embelish the event. A pleasant voice, polished-smooth delivery, good pronunciation skills and the ability to ad-lib without being too wordy is essential. Hiring a veteran DJ, one with a minimum of ten years on the wedding circuit, is your best guarantee of getting an individual who knows how to run all of the reception formalities properly, perhaps with a little pinache and creativity.
Some couples like a DJ who has the ability to motivate the audience and get them involved with the program. He (or she) may add a dab of humor to make the occasion a bit more eventful and if requested by the sponsors of the event, conduct some special activities or dances. Others, may prefer a very low profile DJ that mixes from one tune to the next and makes anouncements when needed. I find that most clients like the personality setting someplace in the middle, meaning that your DJ/MC should get the party moving, yet not become the center of attention. Most clients want to maintain a certain level of "Class". A seasoned entertainer should be able to accommodate you here.
The Music Selection Sets the Mood
If you hire a Professional DJ, you'll be able to trust his or her expertise at selecting the right music to fit your audience. A well-equipped DJ is able to offer you thousands of musical selections of any era or style. A good music library should have something for every stage of the event. As the guests arrive, perhaps you would like to hear some stylish jazz. When dinner is served a softer instrumental mix is nice and then for dancing everything from big band to what's on the chart now is fair game. Musical styles will vary from one DJ to the next. Some DJs stick mainly to the basics that you hear at virtually every wedding you attend while others get more creative with the mix and steer clear of those wedding standards in favor of what I refer to as "a fresher mix". A music library on compact disc or computer hard drive is most desirable, although some still employ records or cassettes, so if you're picky about sound quality, be sure to ask.
The Sound System Delivers the Goods
For the person with discriminating taste, a professional grade sound system is essential. The quality of sound systems can vary greatly from one DJ company to the next. Some cut corners here with department store home stereo components or inexpensive, low-end commercial gear. A properly outfitted DJ will invest in excess of $10,000 for a top-notch professional system, including compact disc music library. Someone equipped as such won't be the low bidder.
"Do you carry back-up equipment?" is a question I hear frequently. Back-up equipment isn't necessary if the DJ has invested in the good stuff to start with and it has been maintained properly. Even said, I carry other equipment and music library back-up.
Neatness and presentation count! First of all, the sound system should be fitted to the size of the room and audience. Not too big please! It should not overwhelm the hall and be an eyesore. Some DJs will try to impress you with more woofers, tweeters and flashing lights than is necessary, not a good idea at a nicely decorated wedding location. "Low profile " is the buzzword. The equipment should be rack mounted not stacked one component on top of the other with wires running every which way. Well maintained, late model equipment is desirable. Loud promotional banners and billboard-type signs are a no-no also.
How to Sort Them Out
By now, any DJ which is even remotely serious about the bizz has a website. This is a great place to start. Every website should cover the topics above and should show some photos of the DJ in action along with plenty of references.
If the website impresses you, then a phone conversation is the next logical step. If you are comfortable at this point you could book the date, if not, a personal consultation just might do the trick.
A Final Word
Your wedding reception is probably the most detailed and ambitious event you will ever plan. At what other time will you be the host or hostess to such a large group of people, with you at the center of their attention?
Hiring a competent entertainer will put your mind at ease, on this, the biggest day of your life. Upgrading from a low or average quality DJ to a high caliber wedding professional may cost less than the cheese & cracker appetizers and will be remembered longer.