It’s a fact that your wedding DJ is the lowest cost vendor, but one of the most visible and critical parts of your reception. That makes your DJ the biggest bang for the buck when factoring in all the things you need for a successful day. In this post, we take a look at how a professional wedding DJ is worth your investment.
The “Wedding Mark Up” Myth
First, we’d like to address the myth that there is a “mark up” for weddings as opposed to a birthday party or other type of event. You may have heard the suggestion by The Today Show, or another TV or magazine report. It’s their job to be “edgy”. It gets you to watch their report and helps the ratings when they suggest consumers are being cheated in some way. We can’t speak for catering companies, venues, and other vendors, but from the perspective of an entertainment company, it just isn’t so.
Does a professional DJ charge a different price for a 4 hour birthday party than a 5 or 6 hour wedding? The answer is – it depends! And it depends on what’s expected by the client. At Sound Sensation, we have done Sweet 16 parties that are more costly to do than a wedding. If the event is complicated with a lot of moving parts, a timeline to follow, involves multiple meetings with the client before the event, more staff to pull it off, and longer load in and and break down times, then yes, it’s going to cost more.
A typical wedding reception these days involves us also performing for the ceremony, turning a wedding into a 6 hour event. And what looks like 6 hours to a client, is actually 9 or 10 hours from the entertainment company’s point of view on the day of. Not to mention, all the planning, prep, and meetings that go into getting ready in the weeks and months before the big day. We typically arrive 2 hours before start time, have to set up multiple sound systems in different areas of the venue, conduct sound and microphone checks with key people like the officiant, and coordinate with the other wedding vendors like your photographer, cinematographer, and caterer.
In short, a wedding is usually a very different type of event than a 4 hour basic birthday party. And, most clients expect a higher level of service for a wedding.
What Do Remember?
We believe in customizing each wedding reception to reflect the unique personality of each couple. When we do our first sit down with our clients, we ask them some key questions. “Tell me about other weddings you’ve been to and what you remember most?” Ninety Five percent of the time, they remember if the wedding was fun..or not. They don’t really remember the food (unless it was exceptional), what the chair covers or the table setting looked like, but they do remember if the entertainment was good.
Another key question we ask is “What are the priority items for YOUR wedding?” Entertainment is usually in the top two. It’s Venue, and Entertainment most of the time. Clients who don’t prioritize entertainment usually reconsider that after the wedding is over. We found this quote from the American Disc Jockey Association.
“Rates for the DJ industry vary greatly, ranging from $350.00 to over $5,000.00 with an average of $1,200.00 for a 4 hour booking. The best price is not always the best deal, especially if you are planning a wedding. As a matter of fact, surveys conclude that nearly 100% of brides would have spent more money on their entertainment and made it their #1 priority in hindsight.
A full-service disc jockey company will normally invest 12 to 30 hours to your special event but it may appear that you are only paying for “5 hours”. Consultations, music purchasing & editing, preparation, set-up and tear-down, education and other business related endeavors add up to the overall success of your special occasion.”
“But My Friend Will Do It For Less”
You may be lucky enough to know an established, highly reviewed, full-time DJ who will do you a favor, and charge a little less. If you are confident in their abilities, there’s nothing wrong with that – go for it! But, most of the time, the “friend of a friend” is somebody who is just getting started, is a DJ “on the side”, or doesn’t really have an established business. We hear it all the time. “We had a DJ lined up, but he bailed on us”. Or, “we sent a deposit to a guy, but we haven’t heard from him and can’t get in touch”.
It’s a simple fact that in order to be in business, you have to invest in your business. And, most DJs don’t treat what they do like a business. They don’t charge enough to reinvest in their equipment, services, or continuing education. Wait! Continuing education…for a DJ? Well yeah! There are DJ expos, seminars, programs and classes that you can take to get better at being an entertainer. At Sound Sensation, we do take these opportunities, and we do train our staff in-house. There are also tons of networking groups on Facebook that you can join to learn from others. If you want to be a better, MC, music mixer, lighting designer, sales person, or anything else you want to be better at. The idea is to continue to invest in your business to be able to do better for your clients.
As the quote above mentioned, “the cheapest price is not always the best deal.” If you’re planning a wedding, you should look for a DJ service that invests in their success, continues to learn, charges an appropriate amount, and has a proven track record of success. Word of mouth is always best, but also check reviews on sites like Wedding Wire, and The Knot. The entertainment company is not able to control what reviews get posted on those sites, so they will show the good with the not so good reviews. At Sound Sensation, we’re very proud to have high marks in our online reviews.
The bottom line is, good or bad, you and your guests will remember your entertainment. Choose a DJ service carefully and consider what you’re really getting for your money.
One thing we always encourage our clients to do, is to make it their own. That’s what Kimm and Burton did for their wedding at Bally Spring in on August 22, 2015. The couple wanted a relaxed family setting – not too formal, but comfortable for everyone. Since the they were able to spend the night before at the Inn, they were able to spend the entire day filled with family fun before the actual ceremony. So, they planned for lawn games to be available for friends and family. We thought that was a unique touch, and not something you see often at wedding receptions. Before actually tying the knot, the couple’s children led the way down the isle in their very own, battery powered Ford Mustang. They also chose to go with a photo booth, which was available on the back deck for fun picture throughout the reception.
Sound Sensation was able to provide for the ceremony music, photo booth and DJ/MC for the evening. The DJ was high above the crowd in a loft area. I managed to snap this picture of the fun on the dance-floor. As you can see, they had an absolute blast. They did it their way. Congrats Kimm and Burton!