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I own Seattle Wedding DJ, and I really like to write (I’ll come back to that in a minute).  I started Seattle Wedding DJ a while back because I saw SO MANY weddings where friends and family shelled out big cash to ridiculously under-qualified, over-sold “entertainers” and… it goes without saying… got very disappointing returns on their investment (putting it mildly). AKA… They’re DJ/MC sucked.  Bad.  Of course, there are a few good DJ/MC pros around the Seattle Wedding marketplace.  But how do you tell?  Every website says the same thing (including mine!) …

We are the Best! The most professional, good equipment, help you plan, blah blah… Read our testimonials!  I mean c’mon!  The testimonials that are on MY website… that I EDIT… say it all. You should trust those!

If you go any search engine and search for any variation of “Seattle” “Wedding” “DJ” you get a LOT of results.  Once you wade through all the junk, and repeats, and big huge “Wedding Wire” type sites that always come up first but are national companies and have no idea the temperature in the air in Seattle… I would guess there are between 30-40 actual, local companies doing real business. I might be wrong, but hey… it’s a guess.  You could also pay money to attend a “Wedding Show” to see how many.  I’m going to write a whole different article on that hullabaloo…

If I were you… knowing what I know from the other side of the table… and I needed to hire the BEST local wedding DJ at the Best price (this is called “value”…) here is what I would do:  Talk to them on the phone.  Listen to the tone of their voice, how quick on their feet they can think, react, etc.  Do they sound like they know weddings and their role in a wedding? How well do they write?  How someone writes on their website or in an email will tell you VOLUMES about their personality, their IQ, and their attention to detail.

Then… MEET!  Ask questions… Trick questions.  Get off the beaten path of typical Seattle Wedding DJ questions and throw curveballs at them.  The whole time they are talking, ask yourself, “Is this THE PERSON that I want providing the entertainment for the biggest day of my life?  Do they sound like they are worth the money?  Are they JUST selling?  Do I like their voice?  What, if any, value do they include (NOT a la carte CHARGE for) in their service?  Lights are a no brainer… If a DJ “includes” lights as their one huge included add on and treats it like you just won the lottery and you should be honored to hire them… no.  We all do that. And it should be INCLUDED!  Not nickeled and dimed.

Do I trust that this person will be kind to my guests?  Will my guests and I “vibe” with this person’s personality and age?  Have they had the same equipment for 10+ years or do they have modern technology that actually sounds good?  Will they show up and just go through the motions because they have done this 100 times, or will they take the time to get to know me and add personal touches to MY wedding?  Will they work hard, go the extra mile, pay attention to detail but also see the big picture of how my event will turn out?

And don’t just listen to the answers… this is more than an interview… It’s an audition!  Listen to HOW they answer… You are looking for professionalism AND at the same time fun, good work ethic AND at the same time intelligent, will this person have a good time WITH us, or just set up equipment, push play and read a script FOR us for a fee?

I like to write.  Writing helps me see what I’m doing… What others are doing.  How I am faring in the marketplace.  It clears my head and organizes my thoughts.  I love my company and I LOVE the opportunities that I get to serve brides and grooms leading up to, and AT their wedding.  I feel extremely blessed.

This process will make ALL the difference in the world.  Period.

Hiring a DJ

February 25th, 2012 | Posted by DJ Antonius in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

When you start thinking about entertainment for your wedding, Make sure to remember that there is far more to consider than just hiring someone to play music.

First you need to get some referrals. Start with friends, family,  parents, photographers, caterers and hotels (friends and family who have had a wedding in the past year or two… ask them if they have a story about their wedding DJ).

You can also use major search engines such as Yahoo, Google, or others. There are also Bridal Magazines and the Yellow pages.  Be careful about this though, as many DJ websites are deceitful about price.  They pull a “bait and switch’ throwing out ridiculously low numbers and say “starting at” to get you interested.  Then they tack on $100-200 per “add-on”.  Hire a DJ that is honest about their prices up front (aka, a professional who knows what they are worth and stands by it!).

One thing you will notice right from the start is the great disparity of pricing from one DJ service to the next (see above). However, we suggest that you leave the price topic for last. First you need to find out what makes the DJ worth their asking price. Remember, your entertainment can make or break a reception. While it may be attractive to shop for a DJ by price, just as with every other wedding service vendor, price alone should not be the primary factor in your decision. All DJ services are not equal. Ask these questions in order…(bolded questions are more important)…

  • Are you available for my date?
  • Do you provide a written contract? (If not, run.)
  • How many playing hours are included?
  • Will it BE YOU that performs or do you have other DJ’s? (This is critical! Insist on meeting the actual person who will perform. Don’t trust, insist!) 
  • How early do you need arrive to set up?
  • Do you charge by the hour or do you have a package?
  • Is there an extra charge for additional hours?
  • Can you explain how you conduct the evening?
  • Do you plan and prepare the night ahead of time? How so?
  • What do you wear?
  • Do you do the announcements? Are you the Emcee?
  • Are you open to requests? From us? From the guests?
  • How large is your music collection and is it varied.
  • How do we pick our music for the event?
  • Is a wireless mic for speeches included?
  • Is basic dance lighting included in the price?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have references I can contact? (If not, run.)
  • What type of equipment do you have? (Discuss with them if it’s professional equipment)
  • Do you bring back up equipment?
  • How much is your deposit/retainer?
  • What is the total price for the package?
  • Are there any additional charges?
  •   How is payment arranged?

 

Remember, there is a lot of prep work that should be done prior to the wedding by the DJ. He/she should absolutely be able to explain what they will do for you in advance to ensure the success of the event. This includes providing a planner, sample format of how the evening will go, a tentative timeline, making sure they have the music you want and more. Advance preparation is what a professional DJ does as part of their service.

A true professional will spend a minimum of 5-10 hours preparing for your reception. This includes going over your plans (consultations), creating custom music playlists and editing, setting up and tearing down equipment, working with other vendors, etc. In other words, what you are paying for is more than just a body pushing play!

Music however, is a very important element at your wedding reception. You have thought about the music you would like and probably imagined the evening as you would like it to be. If the DJ does not have a sufficient music library, you may find your guests won’t be on the dance floor as much as you would like.  A budget DJ simply has not invested the amount of money necessary to provide you with a first class selection of music. At a minimum, 5,000 songs is a necessity today for a professional, and 10,000 or more songs makes for a very good music library.  Therefore, it is important for you to select a DJ who has invested in an extensive music library. However, along with having the song titles, your DJ should also have a variety of music genres AND the know how to blend them into a pleasing mix. Also, find out if the DJ encourages requests from the guests or does he/she have a set music program. Decide in advance which you prefer. At Seattle Wedding DJ, we have a music library of 10,000 plus songs from ALL genres.  We encourage requests (Wedding guests LOVE hearing the request that they just made!  We also have hotspot technology to “get” any song that we don’t have… on the spot!

As the guests begin to arrive and enjoy cocktails and their meals, it is nice to have quiet background music playing. At some point after the arrival of the Bridal Party, it is customary for a toast(s) to be made to the new couple. For this, a wireless microphone is a necessity. A wireless microphone allows each speaker to be more relaxed and comfortable and make their speech where they are and a wireless microphone reaches places a standard microphone cannot. A professional DJ should never charge extra to bring or use a wireless mic. Today, it should be a standard part of their equipment setup.

After you book a DJ, you will need to reach them. Knowing they are available full-time without additional costs to you is comforting.  Finally, listen to the DJ as they speak. Does he/she have a pleasing voice and personality?  Do they act and sound professional? Will they be able to handle “glitches” on that day quickly and with grace?  Remember, what you hear on the phone will be twice as good or bad when amplified on a sound system.  Make sure the person you are talking to is the one that will do the wedding reception. If they try to pawn you off on one of their employees, ask to speak to the DJ who will be doing the reception. Never, ever accept someone you have never talked to. Remember, having confidence in WHO you hire is of prime importance in all of your planning.  As with all things in life, quality and professionalism are priceless.

 

How to hire a DJ

February 21st, 2012 | Posted by DJ Antonius in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The bottom line in deciding on your DJ, and the two most important determining factors should be experience and personality. You should always opt for the DJ with the most experience and the best personality – specifically wedding reception experience – that you can find.  The experience and the personality MUST come in the form of mic prowess.  Simply pushing play does not require you have experience to combat your stage fright.  Experience on the mic, in front of live crowds, over and over… DOES require experience and personality to be great.

There is a flow to wedding receptions and a professional, experienced wedding DJ that has done many of them is familiar with how receptions proceed. They know the traditions and how to MC to keep your reception moving along with quality transitions and keep your guests happy and dancing. There is also nobody that can save your reception faster when something goes wrong (food gets delayed along with countless other things that can and do go wrong…)  than a really experienced wedding reception DJ. Most of the time your guests will never know of a problem as the DJ has kept them entertained while the problem was fixed.

One of the best ways to find a top-notch wedding DJ is to ask the venue where your reception is being held if they have one that has done numerous weddings there that they can recommend. A DJ that knows the venue and the support staff and has worked it many times before is a real advantage, obviously has the experience and can really help things run super smoothly.

If you are using a DJ company, it is typically a good idea to hire the owner of the company. The owner will likely cost a buit more to hire but they will also likely have more experience and they are well worth the extra money. You can specify this in your contract with no substitutions allowed so they can’t switch at the last minute.  At the very least, whomever you choose to hire, MAKE SURE… actually DEMAND that you at least get to meet the DJ that will be performing at your wedding so that you can make an educated decision on the person… not just the terms and the company.  Also, always have your own backup plan, even if you’re using the best DJ company on the planet, and always check in quickly and confirm a month, and then the week before your wedding to make sure everything is still on track. In reality, if you hire a PROFESSIONAL DJ company, they should be doing this for you, but unfortunately not all DJ companies are as committed to customer satisfaction as Seattle Wedding DJ.

Wedding DJ prices

December 17th, 2011 | Posted by DJ Antonius in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

There is a lot to think about when planning a wedding. Your dream wedding. That is the understatement of the year! There is the venue, officiant, bridal party, day, time, guests, invitations, dresses, flowers, decorations, reception, photographer… (overwhelmed yet?)… cake, music, itinerary, speeches, etc. We all know I could keep going as there are 100 more things to plan for and consider.

Every piece of the puzzle has its own price range. What you are willing to pay has a direct corellation with the level of quality you should expect to get. If you hire a super discount photographer with little to no experience or reputation, you should expect some sub-standard photos. Likewise with flowers, catering, and every other service provider you are hiring to play a part in your special day.

Your DJ is no different. When you are deciding on a DJ service to hire, there are so many things to consider. Keep in mind that you are hiring this person to control what music your guests hear and at what volume, with what epuipment, at what interval, in what order, at what speed and with what lyrics. I cannot stress enough the importance that all of these things play in the quality of your reception, and that’s just the music!

Consider also how important your Master of Ceremony (MC) is. The DJ service you hire typically provides this service in addition to just playing music. The DJ will control the microphone. They will keep the flow moving along, introduce people, organize speeches and transitions, and more. You could potentially hear this person’s voice a lot through out the night. Can they talk well? Do you like their voice? Are they nice, cordial, funny (without being a hack), confident and all the other traits that you would expect in a Master of Ceremonies.

Say that out loud once… Master of Ceremony. The term “MC” has taken on a Hip-hop connotation and has lost some impact. But Master of Ceremony has power. It is important. You are giving someone the trust and freedom to run the show from beginning to end and trusting them to consider all the variations and potential hiccups WHILE still having a great time in the process. That is a tough combination to find.

These considerations are two very important aspects of your reception that you DO NOT want to go “cut rate” on. Something else to consider is the bait and switch that many DJ’s will do when talking about prices. Watch out for the term “Starting at” because it is usually followed by some unreasonably ridiculous low fee that they will upsell. “Packages starting at $399 for 3 hours with $100 for each additional hour.” In my experience there is only one underlying reason to do this to potential clients. They don’t have confidence and belief in the service they are providing. They are afraid to discuss or publish the true fee because they are afraid to stand behind their service as quality. So these DJ’s will start you at a low fee, then when you actually “order” what you need… 5 hours of Music, full MC service throughout, lighting, and more… you end up paying so much more than that.

Ultimately… the bottom line is that paying a fee for wedding services rendered will always end up in a “get what you pay for” result. DJ and MC services are paramount to the success or lack of success of your wedding reception. Hire the best person you can for the job because those memories last a lifetime. You will regret trying to save yourself $100-200 by hiring a subpar DJ. In the grand scheme of a wedding and the lasting effect it will have, it is not worth it. You give up way too much quality to save a buck and I promise… you will wish you hadn’t. Ask any married woman in your life about their wedding DJ. They will all say the same thing. Either they loved who they had and wouldn’t change a thing, or they regretting trying to save a quick buck.

Seattle wedding DJs

December 17th, 2011 | Posted by DJ Antonius in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In today’s fast paced world full of industries that are saturated with garbage for you to choose from, there is a trend rising up in the e-commerce world that all “soon-to-be bridal parties” should be aware of.   The internet has become a marketplace where anyone and everyone can create a global storefront for their make shift business.  The problem is this… There are SO MANY to choose from, how do you possibly begin to navigate through it all and intelligently differentiate the great from the good and the mediocre from the… well… less than mediocre.  Allow me to give you some tips to try and help…

Interview.  It is more than reasonable for you to have the opportunity to meet with, and talk to, THE person who will be your DJ.  The actually DJ who will be running your reception… right there in front of you in flesh and blood.  Are they professional? Can they talk? Can you easily picture them speaking through a microphone to your friends and family and sounding like an intelligent and entertaining person? If not, don’t hire them.  Picture how well they will handle the announcement of your grand entrance as the bride and groom… How well will they interact with your guests? You are paying this person. Do they listen to what you want and all the while make you feel special on your wedding day?

If you search on search engines, beware.  The top results will be PAID, sponsored sites.  They pay for adword space on a per click basis.  For example, if you search for something on Google, the Sponsored results are businesses who pay Google to be there.  If you click on the link and go through to their website, Google charges them fifteen cents (or whatever the keyword term is worth).  Hence the term, Pay-per-click.  Many of these business results are national companies who get themselves ranked on Google, but aren’t actually local businesses.  They get you on their site, they get your information, they get you to hire them and then they will find a local DJ.  They contract with local DJ’s to send them the referral and take a fee.  Many of the natural, organic listings (non-paid results) these companies as well.  Scrutinize their information.  Don’t assume because they are number one when you search for “Seattle Wedding DJ” that they are local businesses.  Many of these people have never seen the Space Needle in person!

How would you feel? Would you have the utmost confidence in a DJ and their abilities if you were just the next referral name on their list that they paid for?  You want to hire a talented, local person.  You DON”T want to be handed off to a local person who pays for your name.  It is a very good sign if your DJ has referral partners locally.  A great indicator of locale and trust is whether your DJ has local connections and vendor relationships.

Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable about trusting the person you hire to play the right music and be great on the microphone for 4 hours or more.  If you don’t have a peace about hiring someone, keep looking. Continue interviewing potential DJ’s until you feel completely comfortable about someone.