It's your wedding day and everything has to be perfect – the food, mouthwatering; the venue, a site to behold; the flowers, beauty everywhere you look; the entertainment, well, anyone who's been married will tell you it is one of the most important aspects of your special day. In fact, at least 80% of brides polled said that their entertainment was the most important part of their wedding day. What is even more eye-opening is that 60% of brides surveyed said that in retrospect, if they could have spent more money on just one entity as an "upgrade for their reception", it would have been their DJ. So why are brides settling for substandard entertainment? Chances are it is due to some kind of a "budgetary constraint". If you should find yourself under that same budget problem, do what you can to get the best DJ for your money. Settling on a DJ based on price can be lethal to your party! Here's why.
There's a saying that I have heard since I was a little kid – "buy cheap, buy twice". There is no doubt, if you want to get quality "anything" these days, it's going to cost you a little more. After all, you are not going to buy a new Mercedes-Benz for the cost of a new Kia. It just will not happen. This is not saying that Kia isn't quality, rather, we know that for the Mercedes, the upgrades and features are more prominent, the ride more luxurious, the warranty and maintenance super-standard and so on.
So let's apply "buy cheap, buy twice" to your wedding day. Your wedding day comes only once (or let's hope) and you have no way of buying twice. With that in mind, is it worth really rolling the dice to get cheaper entertainment? Why are some better DJs more expensive? Why won't some DJs "wheel and deal" when it comes to prices? Doesn’t a cheaper DJ do everything a more expensive DJ does?
A true professional will be "customer-focused", not "money-focused". They will put all their attention on you and your event. They will not be in the mindset "we've got the lowest price anywhere". That ethic can most certainly hurt you because they are focusing all of their attention on getting your money. whereas the real pro will be concerned about "your vision" of how you see your wedding reception, including your timelines, your itinerary, your choice of music and your other vendors. Customer service means everything these days, especially in the DJ arena. An authentic DJ entertainer will meet with you at least a few weeks before your big day to go over everything right down to the name pronunciations for the bridal party! After all, how embarrassing is it when someone mispronounces your name? A true professional cares about you and your entire reception. They will go miles to talk with you at any time, day or night, to give you peace of mind that your vision is something that's important to them as well!
A good majority of the professional, reputable DJs out there are just that – professional. This means that it is their "profession" to go out there and entertain the masses as a part of their "business". Being that they are good business practitioners, they are masters of their craft and utilize the best tools and the most impeccable business standards. This includes business insurance, which as I know from first-hand experience is very expensive. Insurance isn’t just to protect equipment from fire, theft and accidents. It's there to protect you. Even the most basic insurance policy covers your event for up to $2 million. This means if someone accidently trips on a cord, God forbid a wind storm knocks a speaker down and someone gets hurt or some other type of accident occurs, our insurance covers the medical treatment and damages completely. Like I said, this is not cheap. However, this is a must for the DJ professional, and it comes out of our pockets.
Then there are the miscellaneous expenses, such as business licenses, advertising, wear and tear on trucks, trailers and vans, formal wear, equipment upgrades (this happens a lot in our business) and constantly buying music to keep you, our faithful customer, happy! A good professional is constantly spending money to make your event the best. He or she does not want to charge more just because they are "really good". They charge more because it is a means for survival!
On the other hand, beware of the "fly by night" company that charges bargain basement prices and the "we'll beat anyone else's price guaranteed" motto. This is the person that can afford to beat anyone's price because they have not made the commitment to purchase what the "true professional" has. There's no insurance, which by the way, can cause the venue to prohibit this DJ from performing on the premises. Some venues require business insurance and if your DJ doesn't have it and doesn't show proof if asked, you may be without a DJ that day. The fly by night company may have an iPod or two and stereo equipment, noisy equipment and poor microphones. He or she may come in jeans and tennis shoes and will not invest the money in a tux or formal wear like the professional does. They will not travel with backup equipment and should their equipment malfunction, "bye bye wedding reception, party over".
Another thing to remember, there are many so called "pros" out there that claim to be professional just because they DJ in nightclubs. Remember this – a nightclub is not a wedding, and your wedding is not a nightclub. There are many, many differences between a nightclub, and your wedding reception. One difference that stands out is that a nightclub has a finite range of ages that attend, whereas a wedding reception has all ages and the musical tastes are much, much more diversified. The nightclub probably specializes in all R&B, top 40 and hip hop whereas if that is all your DJ has, you are in big, big trouble. You will find out how fast your older crowd retreats for their cars if the DJ is loaded with nothing but current music. And if they are not clean radio versions, your venue may stop the party and throw them out. Believe me, I have heard about it from fellow vendors! Not to mention, a wedding is not the place (at least 90 percent of the time) for beat-mixing, "scratching", and other nightclub "show-off" techniques. While those skills can be very impressive for the club and their crowds, is this what you really want at your wedding?
It's true; your DJ can make or break your entire reception. What you as a bride, groom, planner, parent, or adviser has to determine is this – “is it worth rolling the dice to save a few dollars on the DJ?" Only you can answer that question, and I am sure this could apply to just about any vendor out there, not just the DJ. But remember this too. Your wedding ends with the DJ, not the food, not the cake, not the flowers. This is the last vision of what people have in their minds before they leave the venue. They will rate your event based on how they feel when they leave the reception. This means for the most part how the DJ has entertained them. As for my personal meter to determine how I did on the whole at an event, if I see people walking out, limping, feet hurt, tired and worn out, I know that it's mission accomplished.
Choose your DJ wisely. Get references, check vendors, check with other brides, ask questions, and make sure the DJ fits your tastes to the letter. If you have to spend a few extra hundred dollars on a quality DJ, don't even think twice about doing it. Your wedding is the most important day of your entire life and you do not want to risk throwing it all away just to save a few bucks.
By Mike Vincent of Mike Vincent Productions