Why do professional DJ’s charge more for a wedding than other events?

Recently, ABC News 20/20 did an undercover story on wedding professionals entitled “Wedding Confidential”. It was an “investigative” story on wedding professionals and their goal was to unleash the “secrets” of “why” wedding professionals “take advantage” of brides and grooms. I watched this story and honestly couldn’t believe how one sided and untruthful this “investigation” was. They interviewed 13 DJ’s. They had one of their female employees call up and request information for a wedding, then another called and asked about information for a 40th birthday party. Well, 10 of the 13 DJ’s said they charge more for a wedding than they would a 40th birthday party, which is true because weddings require a lot more detail and planning than a 40th birthday party. What 20/20 failed to show the viewer was “why” professional DJ’s charge more for weddings than other events. They said they wanted to “expose the secrets” vendors use to ”take advantage” of brides and grooms when planning a wedding, which was unfairly making DJ’s and other wedding professionals out to be “scam artists”, which obviously isn’t what the wedding industry is about.

During the program, they made it sound like DJ’s  (and other wedding vendors) “take advantage” of brides and grooms by raising our rates simply because it is a wedding. They also wanted the viewer to think we do the same thing at every event we perform, but we intentionally mark up our prices for weddings, which isn’t true. As a professional mobile DJ who cares about each and every one of his clients, I found this show to not only be misleading to brides and grooms, but they obviously didn’t “investigate” the story to get the truth. So in this blog, I wanted to talk about “why” we, professional mobile DJ’s,  charge more for weddings than other events.

The short answer is simply this…..with weddings, we normally spend an average of 25-30 hours on one wedding. That includes the first consultation, all the planning, the performance time (which is the 3 or 4 hours most people normally see), setting up / breaking down the equipment, and traveling. For other events, such as parties or school dances, there isn’t a lot of “planning” that goes into those events nor is there nearly as much emcee’ing and directing as there is for a wedding. We do a lot more “work” with weddings than we do with parties or school dances, so naturally, it will cost more for a wedding (which requires a lot of detail and planning) than it would a party or school dance. Of course we still give professional service to parties and school dances because we want those events to be the absolute best they can be as well, but they are totally different events than weddings and require a different level of planning. For example I wouldn’t do the same thing at a wedding reception that I would do for a sweet 16 party or a Halloween party in someone’s living room because they are totally different events, totally different atmospheres, and totally different clients with entirely different needs.

Here’s something to consider…would you want a DJ who does the same thing at every event? Would you want a DJ who would plan your wedding the same way he would plan and perform a child’s birthday party? Of course you wouldn’t. You would want a DJ / emcee who knows how to plan and perform wedding receptions. 20/20 gave the impression that professional mobile DJ’s come to every event, sets up, plays music for about 3 or 4 hours, then leaves….which, if that were true, would make it seem like the DJ is making a lot of money and not doing a lot of work. What they failed to show the viewer is most of the DJ’s work is done before he ever arrives at the venue. What most people see at the reception itself (the DJ’s performance) is the “finished product” after many, many, hours of preparation and planning have gone into making that reception what it is. It may look “easy” on the outside (and if we make it look “easy”, then we have done our job), but it really takes a lot of hard work, dedication, preparation, and talent to do what we do. We actually serve as the bride and groom’s advisor, planner, and the person they can depend on to make their reception a success. Being a professional mobile DJ is like any other profession on this one simple fact…the more work we do the more it’s going to cost, hence why weddings cost more than other events. It’s just like taking your car to the mechanic, your mechanic isn’t going to charge you the same to change your oil as he would if you need your engine rebuilt. He has to do a lot more work and put in a lot more time to rebuild your engine, so you would end up paying more for that than you would a simple oil change. It’s essentially the same with professional mobile DJ’s.

On prices, I can’t really speak on behalf of other DJ’s on what they should or should not charge, but I can tell you what I do. As a professional mobile DJ, I realize brides and grooms are on a budget. I use to charge “one price” for weddings, but then I decided to break my prices down into different packages. I have packages that can really fit any budget. I have 3 main wedding packages. I have a “basic package”, an “all inclusive reception package”, and an “All inclusive ceremony and reception” package. Each package has different options so the bride and groom can look at each one and decide what is best for them. But again, the “All Inclusive ceremony and reception” package would cost more than the “basic reception” package because it includes more options, more extras, and more planning. All 3 of my wedding packages would cost more than my party or school dance packages because they involve a lot more work and planning. (I still spend an average of 25-30 hours on the basic wedding package).

I hope I have been able to shed some light on this question. Remember, if you hire a professional mobile DJ for your wedding, you will find out it is well worth the price in the end. After all, wouldn’t you want to leave your reception saying “That was the BEST reception I have EVER been to”?  Your DJ will be there for you to make sure your day is the absolute best that it can be. Just remember that professional DJ’s charge more for weddings because we put in a lot more work, and you want a professional DJ who will give you that special attention to detail in making your wedding day everything you have always dreamed of.

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida market. Please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.

If I choose to not have certain wedding “events”, does that change the price?

Often times as mobile DJ’s, we will have potential clients ask us if they can get a “discount” because they don’t really want all of the “events” or certain things that go with a wedding reception. For example, maybe they don’t want the bouquet throw, a light show, or maybe they don’t want to do the full wedding introductions. For most professional mobile DJ companies, these “events” are included in their wedding package. Let me give you a good illustration to better explain this.

Last night I had dinner at one of my favorite fast food establishments, Subway. If you have ever eaten at Subway, normally you go in, you look at the menu board, and decide on your sandwich. The guy or girl behind the counter will ask you what kind of bread you want, what kind of cheese, and if you want it toasted. I ordered the Oven Roasted Chicken on Honey Oat. Next, you look down and you see all those veggies and extras you can have put on your sandwich, and your sandwich artist asks you what all you want on it. You can have anything you want, you can load it down or you can choose not to have any veggies at all and just have your sandwich plain, they’ll customize your sandwich the way you want it.. Now me, I’m particular about what I want on my sandwich , I only chose ranch and lettuce, very simple. Once I got to the cash register, the sandwich maker told me how much it was going to be. Could I have said “I know what your prices say, but since I only had ranch and lettuce can you take off a few bucks since I didn’t use all the other veggies and sauces?” They probably wouldn’t do that. You see, the price I paid was for them to “customize” my sandwich the way I wanted it.Those veggies and sauces are included and available if I wanted them on my sandwich. Some people like to have just about all those veggies on there, some (like me) like to keep it simple, but we all pay the same price even if our sandwiches look very different. Let’s say you just want your sandwich plain, or by the time you decide what you want, you are just left with bread and cheese. In that case, you may want to look at something else Subway has besides a sub sandwich. (Now that I’ve made you hungry, I’m getting somewhere with this so just stay with me.)

Okay, so what does this have to do with your wedding? Well, imagine your wedding is that Subway sandwich and your DJ is your sandwich maker. All the veggies and sauces represent everything included in your wedding package (such as the wedding party introductions, bouquet throw / garter toss, spotlight dances, cake cutting, light show,etc). You have the opportunity to choose all, some, or none of those events. Your DJ will “customize” your wedding to fit your preferences just like the sandwich artist at Subway will “customize” your sandwich the way you want it. Your DJ can make your wedding reception “simple”, or you may choose to have many “details” and you want it customized with everything he has to offer in that package.

Now let’s say this might be your second wedding, or maybe you don’t want all the “traditional” events of a wedding recpeption. Let’s say your Subway sandwich represents a wedding reception, but all you really want is the bread with nothing in it. At Subway, it probably would be better to choose something else on the menu rather than a sandwich if you don’t want any meat or veggies. You might want some yogurt, potato chiips, or maybe a personal pizza instead of paying for a sandwich that won’t have much on it. If that’s the case, you can choose an “alternative”. It’s the same with your wedding. Maybe you won’t need most or all of everything included in the wedding package. In that case, you may want to consider having a “party” after the wedding instead of a “reception”. You might be asking “What’s the difference?” The difference is with a “party”, you won’t get all the “:traditional” wedding reception events (for example there won’t be any wedding party introductions, first dance, or anything like that). It would be basically dinner music and then dancing the rest of the evening, probably similar to what you would have at your company Christmas party or something of that nature. Plus, since your DJ wouldn’t have to do as much planning for a “party” than he would a “reception”, you would probably save some money as well. (Why buy a 6 foot Subway sandwich if you don’t want any meat, veggies, or sauces, choose something else that would better fit your preferences.) Be sure to ask your DJ if they would offer this option to you if you really don’t want all the “traditional” events, a “party” might better suit your preferences.

Now that I’ve made you hungry, go down to Subway and enjoy your sandwich! We’ll have a new blog soon!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida market. You can visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.

Some of my most memorable moments as a mobile DJ

Since this year marks 10 years since I started SN DJ Entertainment, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of my most memorable events in those 10 years. As you can imagine, I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot as a mobile DJ both with clients, vendors, and other DJ’s.

“Watch that Fog Machine, Mr. DJ!!”

To begin with, one of the funniest moments I had occured in Panama City Beach during the summer of 2004. I had arrived at the venue and set up my equipment in the ballroom. At that particular time, fog machines were very popular for mobile DJ’s (most mobile DJ’s don’t use them a lot now because a lot of venues will not allow them due to the smoke alarms.) To use my fog machine, I had to let the machine heat up and then push a button to release the fog. I kept the fog machine under the DJ table so the fog could come out through the skirting on the table. Well, as I was setting up I put the fog machine under the table like I always did, then I had to walk down the hall for a second. While I was gone, I didn’t realize something was sitting on the button which makes the fog come out, so once the fog machine heated up, it starting coming out from under the table. The waitstaff members saw this and thought my equipment was on fire (because it looked like smoke was coming from under the table, and it was making a short, hissing sound which would probably make someone think the equipment was on fire). So I went back in there and realized what happened. The waitstaff members were very relieved  when I told them it was only my fog machine, nothing to worry about. A couple years later I did a high school prom at that exact same venue, and the venue manager immediately remembered that event and said he still laughed about it even two years later. (Of course there is a lesson to be learned, from that moment on I learned never to have anything sitting on the button when the fog machine was heating up.)

“Better watch what your friends say when giving a toast!”

Another memorable moment occured in 2008 at a wedding reception in Pensacola. This wedding was memorable because of the toast the best man gave. We always recommend speaking from the heart and not get a “pre-written” generic, toast that are available online. The best man at this particular wedding took my advice on that, and when he got on the microphone the first thing he said was “Okay, I made a promise to Phillip (the groom) that I would keep this speech limited to the same amount of time it takes him to make love, which means I’ve already well extended my time, so I can’t say anything else since I have already gone over.  Goodbye everybody!”. Needless to say, the groom’s face was bright red, but that got a lot of laughs and it’s one toast I remember to this day.

“A Very Special Dance”

On a more somber note, in 2008, I did a wedding at Pensacola NAS. When I had met with the bride earlier in the year, she mentioned she would not be doing a “Father / Bride” Dance because her father had passed away. I could definitely tell she was upset that she would not be able to share a dance with her dad. At the reception, her brother came up to me during dinner and said he wanted to do a special dance with her since their father wasn’t there, and he wanted it to be a surprise. So we discussed it, and he chose Heartland’s “I Loved Her First” because he wanted a very popular Father-Bride dance song (which that song was extremely popular at the time). When the Mother-Groom Dance was finished, I didn’t even announce the brother’s dance. I just gave him a cue, he stood up, took his sister by the hand, led her to the dance floor, and I started the song. The bride was crying and most of her family were too. That was a very special moment shared by all. At the end of the reception, the bride came up, hugged me, and thanked me for doing that. That was definitely a wedding I will never forget. That particular night made me feel really good about what I do because I saw the happiness in that brides’ eyes.

“Better not use a GPS on a military base”

In 2011, I had finished a wedding at the Eglin Officer’s Club. It was probably 12:30am when I left, and I decided to follow my GPS to get me out of there. The problem was my GPS gave me directions and took me to an exit that wasn’t open, there were large cement baracades blocking the exit, so I had to turn around. I got lost on the base and followed a sign that said “exit”, but then a few feet up the road I saw another sign that said “Warning, restricted area. Vilolators will be arrested.” I thought “Oh great, here I am driving around a military base at 12:30 in the morning. They’re going to think I’m scouting the place out.” I wasn’t going to go into a restricted area, so I turned around and went back toward the Officer’s Club. I finally found my way out of there, but I learned not to trust the GPS on a miltary base. Also, driving around a military base in the middle of the night seeing signs that say “restricted” was not a good feeling either.

“Power out at a wedding reception”

Earlier that same year, I did a wedding reception at the Hurlburt Field Soundside Club. I got a big surprise when I got there to begin setting up because the power was out. I found out the power was not only out there, but all over the base and had been for 3 hours. The waitstaff said they had no idea if the power would come back on or not, and said I probably shouldn’t unload my equipment. Since it takes me about 2 hours to set up, I made a decision to go ahead, unload, and set up anyway because I didn’t want to wait 2 hours after the power came back (if it came back) to set up, delaying the wedding reception. Needless to say, that was an experience because the only light I had was the sunlight coming in through the lobby and into the ballroom. The ceremony was being held outside and she had hired a string quartet to play her cermeony, so that wasn’t going to be affected. So I had everything set up and just waited. About 10 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, the power came back on. At that point, since I had already set up, all I had to do was plug my equipment in and power everything up. I think the ceremony was delayed about 15 minutes, but we went on to have a very memorable and fun reception that night.

The ALMOST “No Show” DJ

Another memorable event came in the summer of 2008. It was a Friday afternoon, and I didn’t have any weddings that weekend. It was actually my first free weekend in a long time, so I decided I was going to relax and spend a nice weekend at home. Well about 5:30pm, I had a girl call me up and she was frantic….she asked me if I was available for her wedding the next night, Saturday. She explained to me that she hired a DJ she found online, but she hadn’t heard from him since she sent her retainer fee to book him. Her emails and calls had gone unanswered (that sounds like a great scenario the night before your wedding!) I asked her if she had met with him and signed a contract, she said no, he didn’t do consultations nor did she sign a contract, but he had quoted her a cheaper price and that’s why she hired him (BIG MISTAKE!). She said since she hadn’t talked to him she had no idea if he would be at her wedding or not, so she was going to go ahead and book someone else. I told her I was available, and she asked me to meet her immediately after her rehearsal and she would fill out the paperwork, sign the contract, and do everything then. She said it didn’t matter how much I charged, she would pay it because she needed a DJ for her ceremony and reception. I told her ok. As I was getting ready to walk out the door to meet her, she called me back and said “I just talked to his wife. She said he will be there tomorrow. I appreciate you willing to help me, but it looks like he will be there.”  That was yet another example of hiring a “budget” DJ and not a “professional”. The lesson to be learned there is any professional DJ would be contacting you WEEKS before your wedding to make sure he had all the information he needed to plan and prepare your wedding reception. This particular bride put herself through a lot of unnecessary stress because she didn’t hire a professional and chose to hire the cheapest DJ she could find. All the stress she was under could have been avoided if she had simply hired a professional. She called me back a few days later and told me he showed up, but she wasn’t happy with his performance. We talked a little bit and she said if she had it to do over again she would have definitely spent a little more and hired a professional. Imagine how much stress she was under the night before her wedding when she didn’t know if her DJ was going to show up or not. Obviously this DJ wasn’t organized, and at last check, he was no longer in business. This is one instance I remember really well.

“Hey guys, let’s make the CD skip!”

I did a high school Homecoming dance in 2005, and this was back when I was still playing music on CD (I now have all my music on a laptop). The school had me on a very flemsy portable stage. One of the kids decided to jump on the stage during the dance, and it caused my CD to skip. Well the other kids thought that was cool, so they all jumped up there and made a game out of it called “Let’s see how much we can make the CD skip”. The chaperones immdiately came over and stood in front of the stage to prevent them from doing it again, but that was an experience all in itself.

“Mr. DJ, let’s start playing music these kids don’t like so we can clear the gym”

I did another school dance in 2007. Everything went great, and I had been playing mostly Top 40 and some Hip Hop all evening. The dance was supposed to end at 11pm. About 10:30 the gym was still packed, so the principal came up to me and said “Okay, we need to start clearing this gym out. These kids don’t like country so play nothing but country for the remainder of the dance so they will get out of here.”……(Pardon me, you mean you “want” me to “bore” these kids by playing music they don’t like so they will leave? Isn’t the whole point of a school dance is for the kids to have fun? This dance is a success and you want me to end it on a bad note? How about instead of trying to “clear” the kids out by playing music they “don’t” like, let’s play music they “love” and finish strong?. Let’s let the kids have fun up until the very last second, that’s what I’m getting paid for isn’t it? ). Now that’s what I was thinking, not what I said. I actually honored the principal’s request since he was the one who signed my check, but I do think there could have been a better way to end the dance. He was right, I started playing country and most of the kids left, but there were a few who enjoyed the country music and stayed until the end. By 11:00 only a handful of students were left. As a DJ, I always want to make sure the students enjoy every minute of the dance. I suppose the principal wanted to start the clean up early so he and the other chaperones could go home. Also, from his standpoint, he probably didn’t want all the students hanging around in the gym  (as my high school principal used to say) ”lollygagging” past 11:00.

There are many more memories, but these are some of my most memorable moments. I’ll share more with you in a later post. Talk to you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida market. Please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.


The consultation with your DJ….why it is important

All professional mobile DJ’s should be willing to meet with you and offer you a free, no obligation, consultation, prior to you hiring them.  In this blog, we’re going to talk about why the consultation is important in selecting the right DJ, and what you can do if having a consultation with your perspective DJ isn’t possible because you live out of town.

It is very important that you meet with any vendor you are considering hiring, especially for your wedding. If you’re planning a school dance, prom, or other event, it’s still important you meet the DJ ahead of time. The reason it is so important is because the consultation is a chance to see if “we” (meaning “us”, the DJ service, and “you”, the potential client) are a good match. .It’s important to meet so that we can meet you, see what you are looking for, talk about your event, and see if we are the best DJ service for you. It also gives you the chance to meet us, ask us questions, find out more about our services, and talk about customizing your event. When you are hiring a DJ, especially for your wedding, you’re developing a relationship with that person. You are trusting that person with the biggest day of your life, so it’s really important that you meet them ahead of time so that you can see if you can have a business relationship with them, if they are going to meet your needs, and if you feel comfortable with them and their services.

When I schedule a consultation, I usually set up a date / time / location when it’s convenient for the client. Sometimes we will meet at Starbucks and have a cup of coffee while we talk about their event, other times we may meet a restaurant, or if it’s a school dance, I will go to the school and meet with the committee who is putting on the dance. I usually send them a copy of our contract ahead of time so they can have a chance to read it before the consultation so that I can answer any questions they may have. Typically, when we meet, the first thing I like to ask my potential clients is how they met. I love to hear the story of how they met, fell in love, and how they got to this point in their lives. Next, we go over our basic outline of wedding receptions (and their ceremony, if they are wanting us for their ceremony), and we talk about their preferences. I usually bring a couple copies of our contract for them, but I don’t “pressure” them into signing on the spot. I do have some clients who like to go ahead and sign the contract, pay the retainer fee, and seal the deal at that point. Other times I have brides and grooms who want to take some time, review everything we talked about, and then get back with me in a few days, which is okay to do as well. It’s really all about you feeling comfortable with who you hire, and if you want to take some time, talk it over with your fiance (or maybe your parents), please feel free to do that.

Let’s say we have a consultation and it’s going to be a few weeks, a month, or more before you’ll be able to make a decision (which does happen, especially if your wedding is 6 or more months away.) A common question I get is “Can you still hold the date without a signed contract or retainer fee?” I’m not sure of other DJ services’ policy regarding this, but at SN DJ Entertainment, we can place your date as a “pending reservation” and we will hold it without a contract or retainer fee up until we get another inquiry for that date. For example, let’s say you contacted us, we had our consultation, but you aren’t ready to “commit” just yet (for whatever reason). We would simply put you down as a “pending” reservation. Let’s say a few weeks later we get a call from a potential client about that same date. At that point, before we would ever schedule a consultation with the other potential client, we would come back to you and give you a chance to confirm the date by signing the contract and paying your retainer since you inquired first. If you decide to go ahead and book, we would tell the other client the date is no longer available. But with “pending” reservations, we wouldn’t let the date slip by you without giving you a chance to confirm first.

Now, let’s talk about “destination” weddings. Let’s say you live away from the Gulf Coast, but are getting married here. Since you live far away, most (if not all) of your planning will have to be done from your home. Maybe you won’t be in this area until the week of your wedding. The good news is, this is 2013 and planning a wedding from another state isn’t what it used to be. We have email, we have Skype, and most people have free long distance on their phones, so technology is really in your favor if that’s the case. You can still schedule a phone consultation or Skype consultation with your DJ. It may not be the same as an in-person consultation, but you can still talk to them and see if they are the right DJ service for you. (But, if all possible, I would recommend you making a trip here several months before your wedding so you can have a consultation with the DJ and other vendors.)

The one thing to remember is when you meet with a DJ, make sure you are comfortable with them. Make sure the person you meet with is the person who will perform at your wedding or event. Remember, if it doesn’t feel right, usually it isn’t.

If you have any questions at all for me, please feel free to email me anytime at sndjentinc@aol.com.

See you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a profesional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida market. Please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.



Some common “myths” and “truths” to hiring a mobile DJ

This might be your first time hiring a professional  DJ, and the average person doesn’t really have too many dealings with professional mobile DJ’s. Maybe what they think about when they think “DJ” is what they hear on the radio, see on TV, or the person who played music the last time they were at a night club. We’re going to talk about some common “myths” and reveal the “truth” when it comes to professional mobile DJ’s.

1. Myth: Professional wedding DJ’s just “handle music”.

Truth: Professional mobile DJ’s do a lot more than just “handle music”. If you hire us for your wedding reception, we serve as your entertainment planner, prepare the sequence of events (based on your preferences), and serve as your emcee, DJ, and coordinator for the reception. In reality, we are so much more than just a “DJ service”, we are “entertainment event planners” as well. A lot of times potential clients will think of a DJ as someone they saw spinning records on TV or the person they saw at their local skating rink, but a professional wedding DJ is so much more than just someone who “handles music”.

2. Myth: Professional wedding DJ’s charge a lot of money yet only work one or two days a week.

Truth: In reality, saying professional mobile DJ’s only work one day a week is like saying a professional football player only works one day a week, or a pastor at a church works only on Sunday and Wednesday. Of course professional football players do more than just play football every Sunday, and your local pastor does a lot more than just preach a sermon on Sunday or Wednesday. Professional wedding DJ’s may only perform one or two days a week, but being a professional DJ is a 7 day a week career. We spend countless hours in our office planning wedding receptions, school dances, parties, and other events all year long. We also spend a great amount of time meeting with clients and potential clients as well as going to conventions and seminars. What you see at a wedding reception or school dance is actually the “finished product” after many hours of planning have gone into the event.

3. Myth: At my wedding, the DJ will talk on the microphone a lot and will make the event all about “him”.

 Truth: While it is true that we serve as your emcee at your event, we aren’t “stand up comics” and we only use the microphone to make important announcements (such as wedding party introductions, spotlight dances, moderate open toasts, etc). As professional DJ’s, we use our “emcee skills” to put you in the spotlight and to make the entire event about you. We’re there to make sure you have a wonderful event and we use our skills to accomplish that goal.

4. Myth: Being a professional wedding DJ is an easy job that anyone can do.

 Truth: It takes a certain type of person with a certain type of personality to be a professional wedding DJ just like any other profession. For example, it takes a certain type of person to become a funeral director, a police officer, or a doctor. As professional DJ’s, we make our job “look easy” but in reality there are hours and hours of work that go into an event before we ever turn on a microphone, and in order to be a professional mobile DJ, we have to go through hours of training to know how to plan an event, work with clients, and have the necessary emcee skills to talk on a microphone.

5. Myth: I ran across this DJ online and he talked about his professional equipment and how many watts his speakers have. Since he has all this nice equipment that must mean he is a good, professional, DJ.

 Truth: Just like in Myth #4, it takes a certain person to be a professional wedding DJ. In reality, to say someone is qualified to be a professional DJ because they have professional DJ equipment is like saying someone is qualified to be a doctor because they went to a store and bought a stethoscope or a scrub suit. Unless this person has worked professionally with a mobile DJ or has had the necessary training, he isn’t qualified to be considered a “professional DJ” regardless of what kind of equipment he has. If you want a “professional performance” at your wedding reception then you should hire a professional DJ who is qualified to handle the planning, preparation, and the overall flow of your reception.

6. Myth: I need to save money so I’m going to look online and price shop to see what DJ is the cheapest and hire him. Either that or my friend said he would DJ my wedding. After all, all DJ’s do the same thing don’t they?

 Truth: All DJ’s don’t do the same thing. The cheaper, less expensive DJ’s, usually lack the experience and professionalism as professional DJ’s. Most of the time they have not had the adequate training (and you do need a lot of training to be a professional DJ), and they also lack the skills to run a successful business. A lot of times they may be young people just starting out and are pricing themselves cheap just to get work, but most of the time these “budget DJ’s” will leave the bride and groom very disappointed. Also, unless your “friend” is a professional mobile DJ, this is a route you will want to avoid as well because you may get the same results as if you had hired a “budget” DJ. Hiring a DJ based on “price” rather than “quality” will almost certainly leave you with regrets. In our area, a professional wedding DJ with all the traditional wedding reception events, professional setup, and professional planning will cost at least (bare minimum) $600, but if you hire a professional DJ you will see it was well worth the price in the end. If you decide to go with a “budget DJ”, you will probably get (at best) the same type of service as if you just hooked an IPOD up to speakers and programmed it yourself. (Please see my blog on “how to hire a DJ.)

Thanks for reading :-)   See you in the next blog!

Question: “When is the BEST time of year to get married?”

This past Sunday I was a vendor at the “Beautiful Beginnings Bridal Expo” in Pensacola. Soon-to-be brides came from all over to meet with vendors, watch a fashion show, and get informaiton about planning their wedding. During the 5 hour event, I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of brides. A common question I got at the expo (and a common question I get when brides email me or call me) was “When is the best time of year to get married?” My answer is always “The best time of year to get married is based on your preferences.” Let me explain. (My explanation is based on my experiences in Northwest Florida. If you have found this blog through a web search and you live somwhere else, the “best time” may differ in your area.)

When I say “the best time of year to get married is based on your preferences”, there are some things to consider. For example, if you are planning a beach wedding, then you would probably want to plan your wedding between the months of April and October. The months of November, December, January, and February probably wouldn’t be good months to get married if you were planning a beach wedding simply because it would be freezing cold with the wind blowing on the beach.

However, let’s say you want to plan your wedding at a time when it’s slow for your vendors, easier to book a venue, or you want it to be a time when you can easily find vendors who aren’t booked up. If that is your preference, then probably January or February would be really good months for you. Let’s also say you don’t want to run the risk of a hurricane coming through and postponing or canceling your wedding, then anytime between December and May would be the best time for you to get married. If you want to have an outdoor wedding, but you don’t want it really hot, then you may want to consider the months of March, April, late September, or October.

If you want a Christmas theme wedding, then obviously December would be a very good month to get married. If you wanted to pick a time when most of your family members wouldn’t have to take off a lot of time off from work to attend your wedding, then you may want to consider having it over a holiday weekend such as Memoral Day, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving.

As you can see, there really isn’t a single, best, time of year to get married…all times of the year have their “pros” and “cons”. It all depends on what you want to do and what your preferences are. Once you weigh your preferences, it should be real easy to figure out the best time of year (for you) to get married.

Once again thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave a comment below or you can contact me personally at sndjentinc@aol.com. See you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in Pensacola Florida. For more information on his DJ business, please visit SN DJ Entertainment’s website, www.sndjpensacola.com.


Getting the best “deal” on a DJ for your wedding

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A lot of times, people will only hire a DJ once in their lifetime….and that is usually for the single, most, important day of their life (other than when their children are born), their wedding. The truth is, most people don’t hire DJ’s on a regular basis so often they really don’t know how to tell if a DJ is “professional” or not and they really don’t know if they are getting a “good deal” with the DJ they are hiring. In this blog, I’m going to help you determine if a DJ is professional or not, and help you determine if you really are getting the “best deal”.

Before we even start talking about getting the “best deal”, here is something to keep in mind. Your DJ will be the one vendor your guests will remember the most, and it’s your DJ who can “make” or “break” your reception (and basically the whole day because if your reception is ruined, that puts a damper on everything that happened before the reception began). That’s why it is so important to make sure you hire a “professional” DJ when it comes to your wedding, someone who will leave you with long lasting, POSITIVE, memories. So, how do you get the “best deal” when it comes to hiring a DJ for your wedding?

When you do hire a DJ for your wedding, getting the “best deal” is probably your number one concern. However, a lot of people tend to think getting the “best deal” means hiring the DJ who quotes you the “cheapest” price. The one thing you do NOT want to do is talk to a bunch of DJ’s, then hire the one who quoted you the cheapest price. Let’s do a comparison. (The prices I am about to quote are just “generic” for this example and do not necessarily reflect SN DJ Entertainment’s prices.)

Let’s say you are getting married and you start contacting DJ’s. The first DJ you contact, DJ Tom, quotes you a price of $200 to DJ your 4 hour wedding reception. You ask him how long he has been in business, he says about a year. You ask him what all he has to offer, and all he says is “DJ services for your wedding”, but he doesn’t offer any photos, videos, or references of his past work. You ask him if he is a DJ full time, and he says no he only does this “on the side” for some extra money while he works through college. Basically he’s telling you that he is going to come, set up, play music for a few hours, break down, then leave. He doesn’t mention anything about planning a wedding reception, how he will serve as your MC, or what all goes into making a wedding reception successful.

But it’s for $200.

Later you look up DJ Tom on Google, and you find a couple pictures of his setup that a  couple guests took from some weddings he recently did, and you also read where a couple of past clients said he didn’t even show up at their wedding. When you looked at the picture, there is no skirting or anything on the table…you see wires hanging all over the place. His setup looks a lot like these:

(Remember, DJ Tom is only $200!)

Now, let’s say you talk to DJ Bob of XYZ Entertainment. He quotes you a price of $850 which includes a performance time of 4 hours. DJ Bob is very friendly, you spend time talking to him, and you decide to schedule a consultation. When you meet with DJ Bob, he shows you videos of his work, you see beautiful pictures of his up lighting packages he has to offer, and he goes over step-by-step how he performs a wedding reception. He detailed each part of a wedding reception, talked about the order and flow of everything, and really answered a lot of your questions. He tells you he will provide you with a planning guide, he will serve as your reception planner, he will prepare everything on a nice, written, planner complete with a sequence of events for your other vendors, and he will also make all necessary announcements for your guests. He also mentions his rate includes some basic up lighting. You find out DJ Bob has been a professional wedding DJ for close to 15 years and he has a good reputation in your community, so he doesn’t just DJ “on the side” as a way to make extra money….he has experience in running a successful business.. He shows you pictures of his DJ setup, and they look a lot like these:

His setup pictures are very clean, you don’t see wires hanging all over the place, you can tell DJ Bob really takes pride in his work, and he is very organized. You look at his pictures and you think “Wow, look at that! That is beautiful!” So now you have a decision to make.

Let’s compare the two DJ’s and see who really has the best deal. Is it DJ Tom for $200 or DJ Bob for $850? Let’s see what each one has to offer and then compare the two.

First, let’s look at DJ Tom. He is “cheaper”, but what are you actually getting for $200? You’re going to get a DJ who doesn’t have much experience in emceeing or planning a wedding reception, he only does this “on the side” for extra money so that tells you he probably wouldn’t take your wedding day seriously, he has a reputation of not showing up to at least 2 weddings (that we know of), and his setup looks very unprofessional (and all those dangling wires that look like an engineer’s workshop will be in the background of all your pictures. Imagine seeing that type of setup in the background when you look back at your pictures of your first dance or Father-Bride Dance). When we factor in those details,  (assuming DJ Tom shows up for your wedding), you will get about the same service you would get if you just hooked an Ipod up to two speakers and put it on auto…that’s the BEST service you can receive from DJ Tom.

He’s definitely not going to leave you with that “wow” factor and he definitely isn’t going to be someone who is going to impress your guests. Remember, your guests will rate the success of your reception based on your DJ, how he looked, how his setup looked, and how good of a job he did as serving as your MC and director of the reception. The ONLY positive aspect of DJ Tom is he will be saving you some money, but is he really a “good deal” just because he is saving you money? Would you really want to compromise wonderful memories you would have if you hired a true professional to save a few bucks?  After evaluating DJ Tom, the question you have to ask yourself is “Do I really want this type of DJ for the biggest day in my life?” Remember, think about everything we learned about DJ Tom when answering that question.

Now let’s do our final evaluation on DJ Bob. Well, he is more expensive at $850, but let’s  consider what you will be getting for that $850. You’re getting a professional mobile DJ / MC who will spend countless hours planning your reception, his setups are breathtaking (you won’t have to worry about all the dangling wires because his setup is beautiful and will provide the perfect backdrop for your pictures), he offers incredible up lighting, and he has experience in knowing what brides want because he has been in the industry for 15 years. He took the time to give you a detailed consultation, he showed you examples of his past work, he is very organized, and he gave you a really good feeling when you met with him. You can also tell he really cares about his clients and  will go above and beyond to make sure they are happy.

With DJ Bob, you will have the assurance of knowing you hired a professional and he will relieve you of a lot of stress.  He will help guide you and serve as your advisor when planning your reception. Also, you will not have to worry about him being a “no show” for your wedding because that’s not DJ Bob’s style. Now, just like with DJ Tom, the question you need to ask yourself is “Do I really want this type of DJ / MC for the most important day of my life?”

So which is the better deal? DJ Tom for $200, or DJ Bob for $850? Which DJ will have the biggest positive impact on your wedding day? Here’s something else to consider…the DJ you hire will also be a reflection on you, whether positive or negative. If you choose someone who isn’t professional, it will also make you look bad. On the other hand, if you hire a DJ who leaves a very positive impact, that will make you look good and will show you have good taste.

The ONLY positive aspect we can conclude with DJ Tom is he will save you money, that’s it. He will definitely save you money, but will probably leave you with a lifetime of bad memories. DJ Bob has a lot more positive aspects, but he is still more expensive.

Based on those two comparisons, our final conclusion is you will get a better “deal” with DJ Bob even though he is more expensive. After considering everything, he offers the best service, has the best value for the price, and will leave the best positive impact, which is what you want when hiring a DJ for your wedding. He will also leave you with the best memories.

So now that we have decided DJ Bob is the better “deal”, the question now becomes “How do I afford him? I didn’t really plan to spend that much on a DJ?”

Well, two things to keep in mind….is $850 really that expensive when you think about what you are getting for $850? Is $850 really too much to spend for a lifetime of wonderful memories and you walking away from your reception thinking “That was the BEST reception I have ever been to?” Second, if you can’t pay $850 right now, you can probably talk to DJ Bob and he will work out payment arrangements with you so that you can afford it. (Which is another great reason to make sure you book your entertainment early so you can have time to make monthly arrangements. Most professional DJ’s will work with you on the payment arrangements because most of them really want to see you happy.)

If you have to cut corners somehwere else, then by all means, do it. There are two vendors you absolutely don’t want to “cut corners” on….your photographer and your DJ. Your guests will remember your DJ the most because he will be the one providing the entertainment. Your photographer will be the one taking all your photos, so it’s definitely worth hiring a professional photographer as well. So as long as you aren’t cutting corners on your DJ or your photographer, you can still have a wonderful wedding with lifetime memories.

The moral of this story is “cheaper is not better.” The cheaper, inexperienced, DJ’s, will not give you professional service and will most certainly leave you disappointed in the end. When you look at hiring a DJ, remember to choose the DJ who will best meet your needs, who is more professional, and not go with the one who quotes you a cheaper price. By doing that, you will be so much happier in the end!

As a professional DJ, I want better for my clients which is why I put out extra effort to make sure their every need is met. With my clients, we develop lasting friendships and we work well together to make sure their wedding is the best day of their lives. I want them walking away at the end of the night on cloud 9 and I want to give them a reception with service and setup they can be proud of.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me anytime at my email address, sndjentinc@aol.com.

(Photos courtesy of “No Thanks DJ” and “SN DJ Entertainment.)

Stacey Noles is a professional wedding DJ in Pensacola, Florida. For more information, please visit his company’s website at www.sndjpensacola.com.

A “typical” day in the life of a professional mobile DJ

I get asked a lot about my job description and what a “typical” day in the life of a professional mobile is like. Really, there is no “typical” day because every day is different. I can tell you that a common misconception is people sometimes tend to think we (professional mobile DJ’s) work only 4 or 5 hours on Saturday, then we relax, party, and have fun the other 6 days of the week. Actually, quite the opposite. In order to be a professional mobile DJ, it’s a 7 day a week career. A lot of people think we only “work” for about 4 hours a week because all they see is the performance we do at that wedding reception, party, school dance, or other event. What you see on Saturday night is actually the finished product after many, many, hours have gone into planning that wedding reception and making it what you see. Here’s a basic description of what my day to day schedule is like.

Normally, when I first get up I usually fix me some coffee and go to my office (which I refer to as the “Oval Office”). The first thing I normally do (like a lot of you) is check my email, then send out information packets to any perspective clients who have emailed me. If I have an up coming wedding, I might also spend time working on the reception planner, getting the music the bride wants, or making phone calls to follow up with them. If I don’t have a wedding coming up (maybe it’s the down months of January and February), I may spend some time updating the website, maybe make a Youtube video, or I may have consultations scheduled with perspective clients. There may also be times when I am out of town attending mobile DJ conventions or workshops (for example, I attend a mobile DJ convention in Last Vegas every year where I attend many seminars, worrkshops, and I network and share ideas with other DJ’s from around the world.) Outside of all of those things, I may also be at one of the 5 radio stations I work at. My weekday schedule really varies depending on what is going on, and there are never two days that are exactly the same. Usually during the “peak” wedding season, I spend a lot of time in the “Oval Office” preparing wedding planners and making sure everything is ready to go for the upcoming weddings.

On the weekends when I have a wedding, I may attend the bride-groom’s rehearsal on Friday if I am doing their ceremony on Saturday. Usually Friday evening is the night I load the DJ equipment in the van. I have a checklist to make sure I have everything. Saturday, (wedding day), my day usually starts out early that morning. I usually get my coffee and head into the “Oval Office” early so I can do my last minute checks for that evening’s wedding. Normally, I review the wedding planner and sequence of events. I double check to make sure I have all the music the bride wants in both my main computer and my back-up computer. I usually double check and triple check the music. After that, I usually take a shower and get ready to leave. Before I leave, I always double check the equipment to make sure I have everything I need. Then, I may eat lunch at home, or I may stop somewhere on my way to the venue and get something from a drive-through. How early I leave my house really depends on how far I have to drive, so even Saturday is not a “typical” day.

I try to arrive at the venue at least 2 hours to 90 minutes ahead of time. It doesn’t take me that long to set up, I just like to allow extra time. When I first arrive at the venue, the first thing I do is walk inside to see where I am going to be set up. I will meet the venue manager, the staff, and I check to make sure I have a table set up with a power supply. Once I’ve established where I will be setting up, I then begin to move the DJ equipment inside. Usually it takes about 3 cart loads for a typical wedding reception. Once I have everything inside, I then take time to set it up. On average, it takes me about an hour to set everything up, sometimes more if the bride and groom have chosen a package with up lighting or other options. The first thing I always set up is the sound system because I like to have music playing while I am setting up the rest of the equipment. I usually put on some 80′s music to set up to. I always like to be set up, have sound checks performed, and have background music playing at least 30 to 40 minutes before the first guest walks in. Once I have everything set up, I double check everything and make sure there aren’t any visible wires hanging out and that my setup looks neat and clean, much like this picture:

A lot of people will look at that picture and say “Wow, how do you make it look like that?” My answer is “practice” and taking time to care about your product. I’ve set up mobile DJ equipment so much I could probably do it in my sleep. Once the set up looks good, I normally cut off the 80′s music and start the background music (unless the bride chose 80′s music as the background music, I have had a few who did that!), then I go and change into my suit (or whatever outfit I am wearing for the evening). Once I’ve changed, I usually like to sit back, get something to drink, relax, and do a last minute review of the reception order of events and planner. Usually at this time the guests begin to come in and socialize. I usually introduce myself to the guests, then when the bride and groom arrive with the wedding party, I announce them and we begin the reception.

During the reception, I am usually checking with the bride and groom to make sure they are ready to move on to the next event on the planner. I also announce the events to keep their guests up to date and informed of what we are going to do. At the end of the reception, we usually do the bride and groom’s final dance, I’ll wish them well, thank all guests for coming, then everyone moves outside for the bride and groom’s send off. Once most of the guests have left, I then leave to go change back into my “breakdown” clothes. When I break down, I always break down the lights first because I like to have music playing. To me, there is nothing more boring than breaking down to complete silence, so I leave the music on while I’m breaking down and packing up the lights. Once again, I typically turn some 80′s music on to break down to. A lot of times there will be waitstaff members there breaking tables down. I tell them this is “their” time and if they would like for me to play something while they are breaking down, please let me know. One night I had a waistaff member request the “Cha Cha Slide”, and she and her coworkers got out on the dance floor and danced to it while I was breaking down the lights. Another instance is I have a venue that I work at often, and usually the same waitstaff members are there. One member loves the 80′s song “I Ran” by A Flock Of Seagulls, so anytime I work there and he’s working, I always play that song as we are breaking down (and it’s pretty fun to watch him singing and having a good time while he is breaking down tables and folding up chairs). We can still have fun even breaking down.

Typically, I can have everything broken down and packed up within an hour. Once everything is packed up, I load it all up and take it to my van. Once again, usually 3 cart loads will get everything. Once I have loaded everything in the van, I usually go back in the venue and look around to make sure I didn’t leave anything, then I find the venue manager and shake his / her hand and tell them it was nice working with them. From there, I drive home. I would say easily a wedding day is a 12 hour day, maybe more depending on the distance.

So, as you can see, there is a lot more to being a professional mobile DJ than just what you see at the reception. On average, I spend anywhere from 25-30 hours on a wedding, maybe more depending on the package. That’s 25-30 hours from the first consultation, all the planning, set up, breakdown, performance, and traveling. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a fun profession and I love it. When I have a bride hug me at the end of the night and thank me for making her day special, it’s all worth it. For me, there is no greater satisfaction in knowing I made a bride’s day, and she will remember that for the rest of her life.

Once again if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at sndjentinc@aol.com. Talk to you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ / emcee in Pensacola, Florida. For more information on his services, please visit the SN DJ Entertainment website at www.sndjpensacola.com.


Setting up a “timeline” for your reception


Since this is the start of the “engagement” season, I know a lot of brides and grooms are beginning to think about their weddings, how to plan, what they want, how they want things to flow….there’s a lot to consider when planning a wedding. In today’s blog, I’m going to talk about “timelines” for your reception.

As a professional mobile DJ and entertainment planner, my first priority is making the bride and groom happy. I want them to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy their wedding reception with their friends and family. Their reception should be stress-free and fun, but unfortanately, that isn’t always the case with a lot of wedding receptions. Sometimes brides and grooms are convinced into thinking setting up a “timeline” with time schedules for each event is a good idea. Timelines are great when you are looking at your wedding day as a whole. For example it’s important to know what time your bridesmaids’ breakfast will be, or your appointment time to get your hair or nails done, plus it’s important everyone knows what time they need to be at the ceremony site and when the ceremony begins. Those are real good events to “schedule” a timeline so everyone knows where they need to be, but when it comes to your reception, setting up a “timeline” for each event can add nothing but unnecessary stress for you and everyone involved. It could turn your reception from a fun -filled event to a more “structured” , stressful, and even mundane event, which is not what we want to do. We want to make your reception a fun, relaxing, and a “stress-relieving” event after your wedding.

Now I want to stress that while I say you don’t want to set up a “timeline” for your reception, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to set up a “sequence of events” or a “reception planner”, which is what I do for my clients (but we don’t set up “times” for each event to take place even though we have events listed in order.)

For your reception, the only “times” you will need to plan is the start time for your reception, the time the caterers will have dinner ready, and an end time, that’s it. I know that sounds simple, but it really is that simple. I’ve seen wedding receptions where the entire reception has been planned down to the minute (for example saying the wedding party introductions will be at exactly 7:00, dinner will be from 7:05 to 8:05, etc), which really is not a great idea in my opinion.  In my 10 years as a professional wedding DJ, I have learned one thing….your wedding reception will create it’s own “timeline” as the night goes on, so it isn’t necessary to create certain “times” for each event.  I’ll explain what I normally do at wedding receptions.

When a bride and groom decides to hire me, I send them a complete reception planning guide and a wedding information form. The form is very detailed, they can pick out all their events (wedding party introductions, first dance, father-bride dance, cake cutting, etc.)When they return the form to me, I type everything up on a planner (sequence of events) and send it back to the bride so she can make any changes or approve it. Once she approves it, I send the planner out to each one of her vendors so they know the order of events and they have a copy of it for themselves. The only time the vendors will see on the planner is the start time for the reception, and the end time. But every event is listed in order and it has a nice “flow” to it.

In the last 10 years, I have learned to tell when it’s time to move on. For example during dinner when people start talking louder and begin to get up, move around, and visit other tables, that’s  our cue it’s time to move on to the toasts. At that point I will go to the bride / groom and ask them if they are ready to move on to the toasts. If they are, I’ll go speak to the photographer and other vendors to let them know we will be doing the toasts and cake cutting in about 5 minutes so they can get ready.) I do that with each event, and we never move on unless the bride and groom are ready. This creates a nice, smooth, relaxing, and fun reception where you aren’t having to worry about staying on time and you let things happen “naturally”.

So, why wouldn’t you want to set up a “timeline” with times scheduled for your reception? There are a couple of reasons actually. First, you won’t stay on time, and one little “glitch” can throw all the other times off, then you are stressing out trying to get back “on time”. Your reception is meant to be fun and relaxing, but if you’re constantly looking at your watch and trying to stay “on time”, you’re not going to be able to have “fun” and relax because you’re going to be too worried about trying to keep a time schedule than concentrating on having fun. I tell each and every bride and groom I work with that I want them to enjoy their reception, that’s what I want them to concentrate on. Another reason you don’t want to set up a “timeline” is because you don’t know how long your pictures are going to take, how long it will take your guests to finish dinner, or how long toasts / speeches will last. If you set up a “timeline” for each of these events (or if someone else sets up a “timeline” for you), it will make your reception feel very “rushed”, “tense”, and you won’t be able to concentrate on having fun and relaxing. I have never heard of a bride and groom happy with setting up a “timeline”, but all the brides and grooms I have worked with like having a written planner that’s organized, which is what I do.  I have also talked to many other DJ’s across the country and around the world, every one of them also said when they tried setting up a “timeline” for the reception, the bride and groom were not happy in the end.

A few years ago I had a girl come up to me after the reception, and she was the bride’s sister. She said “I just want to thank you for making my sister’s wedding so wonderful. I really liked how you had everything set up for my sister’s wedding.” She then told me she had gotten married about a year earlier (in Michigan, or somewhere up north), and her reception was a disaster. I asked her why it was a disaster, she said the venue manager planned her reception & set up a time schedule. She said when she consulted with her DJ, he advised her that she wouldn’t be happy setting her reception up that way, but she went ahead and let the venue manager plan the reception. She couldn’t enjoy her reception at all because it was very “rushed”, very “tense”, and she felt like she had to stay on schedule when the reception is a party and should be fun. Plus she mentioned the venue manager was walking around with a clipboard, was acting very pushy, and was very concerned about staying on time. So we exchanged email addresses and I asked her to send me a copy of her timeline. She said she would under one condition, she wanted me to share her timeline with other brides and grooms and tell them they do NOT work and brides and grooms will NOT be happy setting their reception up with time schedules. So, here is a copy of her “timeline” (the names have been changed to ficticious names, but everything else is just how she sent it to me.)


“5:30 pm – Reception begins. Vegetable tray and cash bar waiting for guests as they arrive.

6:00 pm– Caprice and George join the reception. “The Newlyweds, Caprice and George”.

6:05 pm – Introductions of Wedding Party

6:10 pm – First Dance – Caprice and George

6:15 pm –Father/Bride Dance

6:20 pm – Mother/Groom Dance

6:25 pm – Dinner (plated)

7:20 pm – More pictures with Caprice and George (as guests are eating).  Sunset is at 7:45 pm.

7:30 pm – Open Dancing.

8:30 pm – Bouquet and Garter Toss – Caprice will toss bouquet and garter from the dance floor.

Note: Immediately following bouquet/garter toss, Caprice and George will then dance another number, approx. 5 minutes long.

8:45 pm – Open Dancing.

9:00 pm – Toasts and Cake cutting (cut top layer last) – Toasts given by John Doe  and Jane Doe

9:10 pm – Open Dancing.

9:45 pm – Money Dance with Caprice and George

10:00 pm – Last Dance

10:10 pm – Guests line up for farewell of couple.  (Bubbles and sparklers.)

10:20 pm – End of reception and dancing.”


Woah, I got tired just reading that! A few things to note about this timeline.

1. I don’t see how anyone could have had fun with a schedule set up like that. It’s way too “structured” and you will notice it doesn’t “flow” from one event to the other. Also, if you notice how this timeline has events scheduled during the open dancing (for example, at 8:45 they have “open dancing”, 9:00, the toasts and cake cutting, then back to open dancing at 9:10.) One thing you want to make sure you do is have all your “major” events done before you open the dance floor. The reason for that is because you are going to have guests there who are elderly, some with kids, and others who aren’t into dancing and they are going to leave once you open the dance floor. According to this bride, she said when they did the toasts and cake cutting at 9:00 that night (after they started the open dancing), many of her guests had already left and she had a lot of cake left over. I asked her what was the reasoning behind scheduling the toasts and cake cutting so long after dinner. She said the person who set her timeline up told her people like to see the toasts and cake cutting, and by doing it that late (and after the open dancing had begun), it would ensure her guests would stay. (It is true most guests want to see the toasts and cake cutting, but many aren’t going to stay around after the “open dancing” begins.Once we open the dance floor, that sends out a message that it’s “party time” and those guests who really aren’t “dancers” and “party goers” will usually leave at this point.)

2. It is real important that you make sure you do the toasts and cake cutting immediately after dinner so your cake can be served as part of the dessert, and you want to make sure you do that while all your guests are still there. A second reason why it’s bad to add in events after the open dancing is because we don’t want to stop the music once the dancing begins. By doing that, it brings the reception to a screeching hault when you open the dance floor, ask people to sit down to do toasts, then try to get them back on the dance floor. Usually when you do that, you will lose the momentum of your reception and it will be very difficult to build that back up.

 3. This particular timeline just didn’t “flow” and I can see why this bride and her guests wouldn’t have had fun. (If I had been her DJ I would have highly discouraged her from setting things up like this.) The person who set this timeline up may have had good intensions, but they definitely didn’t consider the point of a reception is to be “relaxed” and to “have fun”. It seems like their agenda was more about ”staying on time” and “being structured” which would tend to benefit the people working at the reception and not the bride and groom. Maybe the venue manager figured if they did certain events by a certain time, he/she could let employees go home early. For whatever reasons they set the reception up that way, it definitely was NOT set up with the intention for the bride, groom, or their guests to have fun, which should be the first priority.

I’ll sum up this blog by simply saying this…..if you hire a professional DJ for your reception, you are not going to have to worry about setting up a “timeline” because your DJ is trained to know when to move on, he is trained to set up your reception where it can be a fun, relaxed, and memorable atmosphere.  Also, your DJ is the one vendor who will be there from start to finish, so he wants to make sure you have the best reception you possibly can. Remember, it’s not necessary to set up a “timeline”, but you do want to set up a “sequence of events” and you want your reception to “flow”. Your reception will create it’s own timeline throughout the evening, so if someone else is telling you to set up a timeline, consult with your DJ and listen to what he has to say since leading parties is his expertise..

Once again if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me personally at sndjentinc@aol.com. We’ll have a new blog soon!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ / emcee in Pensacola, Florida. For more information on his services, please visit the SN DJ Entertainment website at www.sndjpensacola.com.


How to hire a DJ for your wedding….some important tips to consider


Most people don’t hire professional mobile DJ’s on a regular basis, and many think all DJ’s do the same thing. The reality is, just like any other profession, you will have DJ’s that are very professional, some that are average, and then others (usually the lower priced DJ’s) who aren’t professional at all. In order to have the reception you have always dreamed of, it’s important that you hire a “professional” DJ to start with. Throughout these blogs you will see me talk about “professional mobile DJ’s”, and you might be wondering “What is a “professional” mobile DJ?” I think that question can be best answered by telling you what a professional DJ isn’t. A professional mobile DJ is not a DJ that just comes to your reception, sets up, plays music for about 3 or 4 hours, breaks down, and leaves. A professional mobile DJ is a planner, coordinator, advisor,and someone you can depend on throughout the reception to make sure everything runs smoothly in addition to playing music, emcee’ing, and entertaining your guests. When hiring a DJ for your wedding, the one thing you don’t want to do is look at a bunch of DJ’s, then choose the one who is cheapest. That is a good way to ensure you will be disappointed on your wedding day because the cheaper DJ’s usually don’t have the experience, knowledge, or capabilities to meet your needs or provide quality entertainment for such an important occasion. In reality, (at best), you will get the same service from a cheap DJ that you would get if you just hooked up an Ipod to two speakers and put it on auto. When it comes time to make that all important decision, you should look at all the DJ’s you have met with, evaluate them, and then choose the one who will leave the most positive impact, meet your needs, and the one who is the most professional. The most professional DJ isn’t going to be cheap, but this is your wedding and you only have one chance to make it right, so you want to make sure you hire a professional. In the end, you will find out that hiring a professional mobile DJ is well worth the price when you leave your reception saying to yourself “That was the BEST reception I have ever been to!”

Obviously, your budget is a factor, but there are ways to make that easier. A lot of times, brides and grooms will book all their other vendors very early on, but wait until the last minute to book their DJ. By this time, most professional mobile DJ’s are already booked up, or there isn’t enough money left in the bride and groom’s budget to hire a professional DJ. In these instances, the bride and groom end up hiring a cheap, budget, DJ, and most of the time they usually end up regretting this decision.

So, you might be asking “How much does a professional mobile DJ cost?” Well, it differs by regions and markets, but I can tell you what you can expect to pay in the Pensacola, Florida area as well as along the Gulf Coast. For a professional mobile DJ for your wedding reception, it will cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for a 4 to 5 hour wedding reception and depending on the services you want. It could cost more if you want to add things like your ceremony, a second sound system, or some decorative up lighting. But, for a basic reception in our area, you should probably budget at least $600 for your DJ. $600 might sound like a lot, but if you hire a professional DJ, your rate will include planning, preparation, a sequence of events, your DJ as your emcee, plus setup / breakdown time, a light show, and more importantly, the piece of mind of knowing you have hired a professional. So $600 (minimum) really isn’t that expensive when you look at what you are getting and realize your DJ is going to make wonderful, lasting, memories for years to come. Personally, I spend at least 25 to 30 hours (on average) for one wedding reception. That includes the time we meet at the first consultation, the entire planning process, set up time, performing time, and breakdown time. Most of my work is done before I ever arrive at the reception venue, then the performance, up lighting, and everything you see at the reception is just the “finished product” after many hours have gone into making that reception.

You will find a lot of budget DJ’s who are in the $100 to $400 range, and when you first look at the price, it may sound like a good deal. But which is the better deal? The $300 DJ who will give you the same service as an Ipod, or the $600 or $700 DJ who will plan, prepare, advise, provide a beautiful light show, emcee your event, and make sure your every need is met? I think it’s pretty obvious…just because the budget DJ is cheaper doesn’t mean you’re getting a good deal, quite the opposite. Here’s a good analogy for you. Let’s say you are shopping for a new car, and all cars aren’t the same. When you look for a car, would you base your decision on which is the cheapest car, or would you base your decision on which car is the most dependable and won’t leave you stranded on the road somewhere? The same is true for choosing a DJ for your reception…you want to choose the DJ who is the most qualified, professional, and will best meet your needs.

So, now that we know you need to budget at least $600 for your DJ, it’s time to find a professional DJ. So how can you tell if a DJ is professional or not? Here are some tips to help you weed out the professional DJ’s from the unprofessional ones:

 1. Book your entertainment early. A lot of times, brides and grooms book their caterers, florist, the venue, photographer, and other services very early on….but wait until the last minute to book the one vendor their guests will remember the most….their entertainment. 6 months after your wedding, your guests will base the success of your reception based on your DJ. They will remember the dancing, the partying, the fun more than the prime rib. Most professional wedding DJ services book up quickly, especially during the “peak” wedding season (which is normally late spring through early fall). We have some brides who book us up to a year in advance. Always book as early as you can.

2. Always make sure you sign a contract.  A written contract protects you and the DJ, and it also makes sure everyone knows their responsibilities. Remember, if you don’t have it in writing, you don’t have anything, and you could set yourself up for either a DJ who won’t show up or will attach added fees on top of what you were quoted. A professional DJ service will always have a contract and they will always make sure you understand the contents of that contract before you sign it. (This also applies with all your vendors…make sure you have a valid contract!)

3. Always ask questions about the DJ’s experience, find out how long he has been in business, and ask for references.  This is really important because it gives you assurance that the DJ is legitimate and that he is a professional. The DJ should be able to show you examples of his past work. At SN DJ Entertainment, we always send prospective brides copies of some of our past clients’ wedding planners so that they can see how we normally do things and what other brides have done, plus they can also see videos on our Youtube channel..

 4. Always make sure you are getting what you pay for, and make sure there aren’t any “hidden” costs that the DJ isn’t telling you about. This goes back to the contract. Before you sign anything, make sure the rate you were quoted is all you have to pay. There is no room for being in the “grey” area on this issue. At SN DJ Entertainment, we always make sure our clients know exactly what their rate is, and the price we quote them is what they pay, and not a penny more. If there are traveling fees associated with their reception, we will make sure they know that and it will be included in the price quote on the contract. All professional DJ services will make sure you know the entire cost up front. Also, make sure he tells you everything that is included in the price, such as lights, set up fees, etc.

5. Always ask how your DJ will be dressed. Don’t just assume he will be dressed professionally. A professional DJ will always make sure he is dressed to fit your preferences. Unless you state otherwise, a professional DJ should be dressed in either a black tuxedo with all the trimmings or a professional suit and tie. Remember, aside from the music your DJ plays, your guests will also remember how he looked.

6. Always ask to see his music library.  A professional DJ should always be able to supply you a list of music in his library. A DJ who doesn’t have one or who carries around a thousand CD’s from Wal-Mart is not a DJ who is professional and can do the job right. Make sure he has the songs you want, and if not, make sure he can get them for you. A professional DJ should always be able to pull up a song in a matter of seconds at the reception. With SN DJ Entertainment, our clients can see the music we have and if we don’t have a particular song, we will do our best to add it prior to their reception.

7. Always ask them to provide you with written information (or an information packet) which explains their services. All professional DJ services should be able to provide you with information about their services, whether they e-mail it to you or snail mail it to you. They should always have information to provide you which details their services.

8. Make sure the DJ is in the business for the right reasons. Make sure that his first priority is making sure your needs are met. That means make sure he is willing to work with you and make sure he is organized.

9. Remember to trust your instincts.  If it doesn’t feel right, or if something feels suspicious, it usually is. Always make sure you are comfortable with the DJ you hire. After all, this is your wedding reception which you (and your guests) will remember for the rest of your life.

10. Remember, your guests will remember your DJ the most. I know they will enjoy the food, the decorations, flowers, and everything else, but remember it is your DJ who provides the entertainment. Many guests will rate the success of your reception based on how the DJ performed, and six months after your reception, it is going to be the DJ and the music they remember the most. Above all, it is paramount that you find a DJ who will leave a positive impact and you will ensure your reception is a success.

11. Remember cheaper is not better!  This is something I can’t stress enough. Once again, in our area you can expect to pay at least $600 for a good, professional, DJ. SN DJ Entertainment is not the most expensive nor are we the cheapest, but one thing is guaranteed….our clients will receive professional service! I can’t tell you how many times I have hosted a wedding and have had guests come up to me and say “I wish I had hired your DJ service for my wedding reception” or had brides who inquired with us (but chose a budget DJ because of the price) call me up or email me and say “I wish I had spent a little more money and hired a professional like you.”

12. Does the DJ company charge for setting up / breakdown time? This is something a lot of DJ services won’t clarify on. You might sign a contract for four hours, but the DJ takes an hour to set up and an hour to tear down, meaning he only gives you 2 hours of playing time. At this time, SN DJ Entertainment does not charge extra for set up or breakdown time (unless we have to set up an additional sound system like for your ceremony and reception). The price we quote you is for playing time and playing time alone. You book us for 6 hours, you will get 6 hours of non-stop music.

13. Do you have to pay extra for certain things, such as lights or fog?  Some DJ companies charge extra for their light show and other amenities such as using a wireless microphone. Make sure you get calrification on what all is included in your package.

Remember, no matter who you hire, keep in mind your reception is something you will remember and cherish the rest of your life. Make sure you choose a DJ who will meet your every need and will make sure he pays attention to detail and professionalism!

I hope these tips have been helpful for you. If you have any questions about hiring a professional mobile DJ, please feel free to contact me anytime at (850) 501-1590 or email me at sndjentinc@aol.com.

We’ll have another blog posted soon! See you then.

 Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ / emcee in Pensacola, Florida. For more information on his services, please visit the SN DJ Entertainment website at www.sndjpensacola.com.