The difference between “structured” and “organized” when it comes to your wedding reception

 

Recently I met with a bride and groom during a consultation for their wedding. The bride had read the information on our website, she had also read the information in our wedding information packet, but said she was concerned because we talk about “planning”, “directing”, and we gave a sample of a wedding reception from start to finish. Her concerns were she was afraid when we serve as the “planner” and “director” for her reception, we meant we were going to make it “structured” and not how she wants it or envisions it. After I explained to her the information she read on our website and in the wedding packet are simply “suggestions” based on a lot of positive feedback from brides and that we would customize her wedding reception based on her wants and desires, it put her mind at ease. So that’s what I wanted to talk about in today’s blog.

At SN DJ Entertainment, we believe in putting a bride and groom’s personality into their reception 100%. We do organize, plan, and direct your reception, but there is a big difference in creating a reception that’s “structured” and one that’s “organized”. Wedding receptions are parties, and they are meant to be fun, laid back, and they are designed to create the “perfect ending” to your “perfect” day. We can definitely make your reception everything you have always wanted while keeping it organized and not “structured”.  So what’s the difference?

A “structured” reception would be one that’s set up with times listed out by each event, and you are constantly looking at your watch worrying about staying “on time”.  You may have someone walking aorund with a clipboard “rushing” you along (like with your pictures because you only have a certain amount of “time” allowed for pictures. You have to be at the reception venue at exactly XX o’clock or the timeline will be thrown completely off.) If you are wanting a very fun, laid back, and relaxing event, a “structured” reception with times listed for each event at the reception is not what you want. (At SN DJ Entertainment, we don’t set up receptions that are ”structured” because we want our brides, grooms, their families, and their guests to be able to enjoy their reception and not have to be stressed out during it. It really doesn’t make sense to stress a bride out about having “fun”.)

So here’s what we do, we will create a very fun, relaxing, and “organized” wedding reception customized for YOU and based on YOUR preferences. We don’t make it “structured” with “times” listed out by each event because your reception is going to create it’s own “timeline” as the evening goes on, and we’re going to know when it’s time to move on based on that. Based on the information you give us in your wedding information form, we’ll prepare a detailed planner with a sequence of events for your reception. We’ll have each event for your reception listed in the order you want us to do them., and we’ll make sure you are satified with it.

Once we prepare this planner, you will have the chance to look it over, make adjustments to it, and make sure everything is how you like it. Once it is how you like it, we will send out copies to all your other vendors. Even though it is a detailed “sequence of events”, it can still be flexible. (For example I did a wedding a couple months ago where we were getting ready to do the bouquet throw and the bride realized she left her bouquet in a hotel room upstairs. So we postponed it for a few minutes and I played some socializing music until we located the bouquet. And because we didn’t have a “structured timeline”, we were allowed that flexability. We had fun and rolled with it.)

So remember, when you see us talking about “organizing”, “planning”, and creating a “written planner”, that does not mean a “structured reception” where your desires won’t be met. We will prepare an “organized” reception that is fun and customized to YOUR needs and tastes.

If I can ever help you out, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in the Pensacola, Florida area. For more information and to contact him personally, please visit his company website, www.sndjpensacola.com.

 

Brides and grooms on a tight budget….yes you CAN afford a professional DJ!

In my last blog, I talked about how important it is to make sure you have enough money in your budget to afford a professional DJ. As I mentioned before, your DJ will be the vendor your guests will remember the most about your reception. Sure, they will enjoy the prime rib, they will think the chair covers are nice, and they will love how your cake is decorated….but they will remember dancing and partying the most. I also mentioned in the last blog that a good, professional, DJ, will cost at least $600 in Pensacola and the Gulf Coast. (If you happened to come upon this blog and you live somewhere else, please keep in mind the cost for a professional DJ may be more or less in your area depending on your market.)

Okay, so now you might be thinking “I really want a professional DJ, but I am on a budget. How can I afford a professional DJ?” I have worked with brides and grooms on a budget, and those brides and grooms have been able to enjoy wonderful receptions with a professional DJ, even on a budget. What was their secret? They simply cut corners in other areas.

Now before we start talking about ways you can cut corners, let me say the most important thing to realize is when you choose vendors, the two vendors you do not want to cut corners on is your DJ and your photographer because those are the two vendors who will leave the most lasting memories. We already talked about how your DJ is the one vendor your guests will remember most because he is the one vendor who will make your reception fun. But, your photographer is just as important because he or she are the ones who take the photos and make the visual memories you will look back on.

So here are some tips and suggestions from my own personal experiences when I have worked with brides and grooms on a budget:

1. Book your entertainment early!  As I said before, book your DJ as one of your first vendors and make sure you budget at least $600 for your DJ. (That’s for a basic reception with a performance time of 4 hours. If you want extras like up lighting, a photo booth, a second sound system for your ceremony, or anything like that it will cost more than $600, so make sure you budget for those things as well.) By knowing how much a professional DJ costs and by booking early, it will make budgeting a lot easier. Also, many DJ services will give you a discount if you book and pay your retainer fee at least 6 months before your wedding!

2. Consider having your friends and family bring food. I’ve done plenty of weddings where the bride and groom had their friends and family cook and bring dishes for the food, and people have enjoyed that just as much as they would if a local restaurant had catered it. I’ve been to wedding receptions where the family fixed barbecue, pastas, turkey, seafood, and even had submarine sandwiches. A lot of those brides said their reception meant more because they knew the food came from the heart because it was from their friends and family. I ate at several of those weddings too, and I can tell you the food was delicious. So remember, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on food to have a wonderful reception, ask your friends and family to pull together and bring a dish. It will work out nicely!

3. Consider having your reception in another location besides a banquet hall. Just like your food, you don’t have to rent a big, nice, expensive hall in order to have a nice reception. I’ve done wedding receptions at beach houses before where the house was on stilts. We had the reception underneath the house and it worked out great. I’ve also done weddings where the bride and groom rented a tent, set it up in their back yard, and added tables and lights. I also have done weddings on a pool deck and in a screened in porch. One of my most memorable wedding receptions was in the cafeteria of an elementary school. The bride’s mother was a teacher and was able to get permission to use the school cafeteria. Honestly, her reception was one of the best I had ever attended because her friends and family had that cafeteria decorated so nicely it looked just as nice (if not nicer) than any expensive hall I have been to.

4. Consider having your ceremony and reception in the same location. You can save a lot of money by having your ceremony and reception all at the same place. I know many brides have said they have dreamed about getting married in a church, but with the right decorating and the right planning, you can have your ceremony in another location and it can be just as special as if it was at a church. I’ve done weddings before where the ceremony and reception took place at a golf club. They had a patio area that was set up just like a church (with an aisle and everything). Then, guests came inside the main clubhouse area for the reception. I’ve also done other weddings where the bride and groom rented a beach house and had their ceremony on the beach and their reception under the house in a patio area.

5. Eliminate things you don’t really need.  I can’t tell you what you should eliminate because that is something only you can decide. But, make a list of things you want for your wedding and then go through and eliminate the things you don’t really need. You will find this can save you a considerable amount of money, then take the money you save and put it toward things that will really make your reception a success (such as updating services with your DJ, photographer, or even hiring a videographer if you haven’t already.) You really can have a great reception without some of the “extras” you want but don’t really need.

6. Be sure to choose a venue that has a ramp or elevator for your DJ to load in / load out. If you choose a venue and your reception will be on another floor, make sure the venue has a ramp or an elevator for your DJ. The reason this can save you money is because if you choose to have your reception at a venue where the only option is to load up and down a flight of stairs, chances are your DJ will have to hire extra help to carry the equipment, which means you will end up paying more for the labor (sometimes as much as double the original price). If there are stairs involved, the DJ service may even decline your wedding altogether due to insurance regulations. (A lot of times the liability insurance companies will not cover the DJ or the equipment if stairs are involved, they consider that a big risk and require an elevator or ramp be used at all times which makes it a lot easier.) If you are having your reception at a beach house, be sure to choose a house on stilts so you can turn the area underneath the house into the reception area. That way you won’t have to worry about the extra labor charges if you had the reception inside the house. (Unless, of course, the beach house has an elevator then you can have it inside and not have to worry about it.)

7. Consider having a regular “party” after your ceremony instead of a “reception”. So what does this mean, isn’t a “reception” a “party”?  Yes and no. In DJ termonology, a “wedding reception” is a “party” with a lot of formalities and planning added on, which means it’s going to be more expensive. (After all the more work your DJ does, the more it will cost just like any other vendor). But, regular “parties” just consist of music, dancing, a light show, and no formalities, meaning less work and less planning. Logically, the price would be lower for that type of event. If you really aren’t wanting all the formalities of a wedding reception, ask your DJ if you can have a “party” instead. Most DJ companies will be willing to honor that request for you.

I’ve had many brides and grooms tell me “I am on a budget so my family is going to have to cook the food” or “we are going to have the reception in my uncle’s backyard and can’t afford to have our reception at a nice venue.” My response to them is simply this….don’t worry about about being on a tight budget or what you have for food or where you will have your reception. If I am your DJ, I will make sure you have a nice wedding reception! I’ve done plenty of weddings where brides on a budget have had just as nice (and in some cases, nicer) weddings than those who spent tens of thousands of dollars going all out.

These are just some suggestions to help you out. Remember, you don’t have to rent a huge hall, hire an expensive restaurant, or rent two seperate places for your ceremony and reception in order to have a great wedding. Make sure you hire a professional DJ and a professional photographer.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me anytime at stacey@sndjpensacola.com

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in Pensacola, Florida. You may visit his website by visiting www.sndjpensacola.com

 

How much does a professional DJ cost and how can I fit one in my budget?

When brides and grooms start planning a wedding, they have so many decisions to make…what date to get married, where to get married, catering, photographers, invitations, the cake…the list is endless. And then of course, there is your reception. You’ve spent a lot of time planning your big day, and you want your reception to be the perfect ending to your perfect day. So the question you might be asking is “How do I  fit a professional DJ in my budget so he can make my reception the best ending to my perfect day?” Here are some suggestions.

The first thing you to need to do is realize just how important your DJ is to your reception. A professional DJ does a lot more than just “handle music” and is the one vendor who will make or break your reception, and your whole day, because if your reception isn’t a success it then puts a damper on your entire wedding experience. Did you know your family and friends will rate the success of your reception by the entertainment you choose?,  It’s true, six months after your wedding your guests will not be talking about the prime rib they had, that delicious punch, or even the flowers and decorations….they will be talking about dancing and how much fun they had on the dance floor. Your DJ will be the vendor they remember most about your wedding reception. That’s why it’s very important to choose quality entertainment and choose a professional DJ. In order to choose the right DJ, it’s important to choose your DJ early on…he should be one of your first vendors you choose.

Booking early and your budget.

Yes, budget is a very important issue. Consider booking your DJ as one of the first vendors (if not the first vendor)  when planning your wedding. Booking your DJ early on has it’s advantages. First, a lot of DJ companies (like SN DJ Entertainment) may give you a discount if you book 6 months or more in advance. Second, booking early gives you the chance to work out payment arrangements with your DJ so you can afford a professional.  Most professional DJ services will work out a payment arrangement with you if that is easier. Too many times brides and grooms will book all their other vendors, spend thousands on the other things like the cake, the invitations, chair covers, and so much more. Then, they wait until the very last minute to book the one vendor that will make or break their reception…..their DJ. By that time, there may not be enough money in the budget to afford a professional DJ, so the bride and groom will choose a “cheap”, or “unprofessional” DJ. Make sure you make the DJ a priority by booking him very early on so that you can make sure you have money in your budget to hire a professional DJ. (To see some tips on getting the best deal, please check out this blog post http://sndjpensacola.com/blog/2013/01/05/getting-the-best-deal-on-a-dj-for-your-wedding/)

Here’s what you don’t want to do when shopping around for a professional DJ

Before we talk about how much you should expect to pay for a professional DJ, let me tell you what not to do. You don’t (I repeat do not) want to call a bunch of DJ’s then hire the one that quotes you the cheapest price or automatically dismiss a DJ because you think his prices are out of your range (and we are going to talk about how much your DJ budget should be and how much you can expect to pay for a professional DJ in a minute). You will probably find some DJ’s that will be really cheap, but they probably aren’t going to meet your needs because they aren’t professional. At best, you may get the same service you would receive if you got an Ipod, hooked it up to two speakers, and let it run yourself. Cheaper is definitely not better.

Here’s what you want to do.

When shopping for a professional DJ, what you do want to do is shop around, schedule consultations, and hire the DJ that will best meet your needs and leave the most positive impact on your wedding. Many brides and grooms have gone to DJ websites, found the prices (if they are listed), decide they are too expensive, and then didn’t look at what all the DJ service has to offer.  Look at what the DJ offers first, even if you think his prices are expensive. You may find he is the right DJ for you, and if you dismiss him because his prices may seem too high, you will probably be missing out on a great DJ and one who will leave you long, lasting, memories. In the end, you want to make sure you hire the DJ service that is the most professional and will leave you with most positive memories, which brings me to my next point.

How much should I expect to pay for a professional DJ?

That actually differs depending on where you live, but since I’m in Pensacola, Florida I am going to talk about what brides can expect to pay in this area. (If you are reading this and you live in another area, please keep in mind professional DJ’s may cost more or less in your area depending on your market.) In Northwest Florida and South Alabama, you can expect to pay at least $600 for a professional DJ, and that’s for a  very basic package (4 hours of performance time) without any extras such as up lighting or your initials monogrammed on the dance floor. So knowing that, you should budget at least (bare minimum) $600 for your DJ, but also keep in mind if you want any extras, the price will be more and could cost up to $1,500 depending on what your preferences are. But, what you need to consider is if you hire a professional, that price will include planning, preparation, labor, a basic light show, plus what you actually see the DJ do at the reception. (For me personally, I spend an average of 25-30 hours on one wedding counting everything from the first consultation until I arrive home after the wedding.) I have different wedding packages brides and grooms can choose from which range from a basic reception to having “everything” including a second sound system for their wedding ceremony.

I know some of you reading this might be thinking $600 seems like a lot of money, but is it really a lot of money when you are talking about a lifetime of memories? Would you rather spend at least $600 for a professional DJ who will leave you and your guests smiling at the end of the night saying “Wow, that was the best reception I have ever been to!”, or would you rather save money, pay $200 for an “unprofessional” DJ who (at best) would give you the same service as if you hooked an Ipod up to two speakers and put it on auto? Is $600 really too expensive when you consider your DJ serves as your planner and director? This is your wedding, and you want to look back 20 years from now and regret nothing. Is $600 really too much to have that assurance that you will be able to look back at your reception and remember the fun memories?

Renting a sound system and hooking up an Ipod, good idea or not?

Some couples have considered renting a sound system and doing it themselves. A couple of things to think about if you are considering taking this route. Most sound shops, resorts, and dealers who “rent out” sound equipment usually charge an average of $500 to rent the equipment, and that’s just basic sound equipment. For $100 more, you could have a professional wedding DJ (with equipment, including a light show). Second, if you take this route, somebody will have to “watch the music” and attend to it, meaning either you, one of your friends, or a family member will have to “change the music”, meaning they won’t be able to enjoy your reception. Again, for $100 more you can have a professional DJ and won’t have to worry about this.

“I can’t pay $600 for a DJ for my reception even though I really want a nice event.”

Now let’s say $600 is completely out of the question, you aren’t going to be able to spend that for a professional DJ. Or let’s say you don’t really want all the “traditional” wedding reception events. Before you hire a cheap, inexperienced DJ (which you will probably later regret), you still have a couple of options to consider:

1. Consider having just a regular “party” after your wedding instead of a “reception”. Yes, you can do this and this is a service I offer to my clients. Let’s say this is your second marriage, or maybe you really can’t afford a “full” wedding reception but you still want a memorable event with a professional DJ, then see about having a “party” instead. Party packages are cheaper than wedding packages because there isn’t as much “planning” than goes into a “party” like there is a “reception”. With a party, you’ll still get a professional DJ with a professional light show. The only real difference is you wouldn’t get all the “traditional” wedding reception events (for example there wouldn’t be a first dance, father-bride dance, wedding party introductions, etc). It would be similar to what you would get at a corporate Christmas party or banquet. In Northwest Florida and South Alabama you can expect to pay anywhere from $400-$600 for one of these events. (But again, this is a “party” and not a “reception” so you would pay less because there are less services and planning involved.) Be sure to ask them if they offer this service (most DJ services would substitute a “party” for a “reception” if you asked them. But, because wedding receptions are more expensive DJ services may not tell you they will substitute a party for a reception, which saves you money so make sure you ask about it.)

2. ***VERY VERY LAST RESORT! Consider using a home stereo system and hooking up an Ipod. This should be your absolute last resort. If you can’t afford a professional DJ or a party alternative, then hooking up an Ipod and playing music yourself would be a much better option than hiring an unprofessional DJ. Again, this is something I do not recommend, but it’s better than hiring an inexperienced, unprofessional DJ, who would give you (at best) this same service.

Remember, if you consider your DJ very early on you can fit a professional DJ into your budget. Most of the time when brides and grooms realize they can’t afford a professional DJ, it is because they didn’t consider what one would cost in the beginning. The most important question you need to ask yourself is “Does this DJ have the experience and professionalism that I would like at my wedding?” The question you don’t want to ask yourself is “Does this DJ fit my budget?” because we already discussed that a professional DJ will cost at least $600, so budget shouldn’t be an issue. (Tip: Professional DJ’s are not cheap, so if you see a DJ advertising below $600, say in the $150-$400 range for a wedding reception, chances are he is not professional. Remember cheap entertainment is not good and good entertainment is not cheap.)

So now that we’ve talked about budget, let’s say you have already set your budget prior to reading this blog and you weren’t aware that $600 was the minimum you should expect to pay for a professional wedding DJ. That’s okay, all you need to do is go back over your budget and look at things you really don’t need, and make some cutbacks. I can’t tell you where to scale back, but I can tell you the two vendors you want to make sure you don’t cut corners on are your photographer and your DJ, because those are the two vendors you and your guests will remember the most and the ones who will leave the most memories.

I’ve seen many brides and grooms on a budget go on to have wonderful weddings and were still able to afford a professional DJ, and we will talk about some of those in another blog.

Remember, when you start out doing your wedding budget, be sure to set aside at least $600 for your DJ budget so you can have a wonderful reception!

If I can help you out in any way, please feel free to email me at stacey@sndjpensacola.com.

See you in the next blog!

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

School dances, what all goes into them?

In most of my other blog posts I talk about weddings (since weddings make up at least 75% of my events), but in this particualr blog I wanted to talk about school dances. I’ll be honest, there are some mobile DJ’s  out there who don’t take school dances seriously like they do weddings because there isn’t as much work  and planningthat goes into school dances like there is with weddings. Some DJ’s even think because school dances are for teenagers, their needs really aren’t “important” and they look at a school dance as a way to make a little extra money on a Friday or Saturday when they don’t have a wedding. However, I disagree with that and realize school dances are a very important part of a student’s academic career. I believe in putting everything I have into making sure EVERY event I do is the best that it can be, and that includes school dances. I was once a student myself and remember going to our school dances, and I believe this time is a very important time in a student’s life because 20 or 30 years from now when you look back at your middle / high school years, the dances you attended will be something you will remember. (I still remember the very first song played at my very first dance in 7th grade!)

Why did I start doing school dances?

When I was a middle / high school student, I remember going to the dances our school had. In high school, we used to have “After Football” Dances. Basically, it was a dance held after each home football game in the gym. I can remember seeing the DJ set up in the gym, but I don’t ever remember him talking on a microphone, he didn’t have much of a light show, and he never really interacted with us. It seemed like our “After Football” dances were more of a time for everyone to stand around, talk, and hang out while an “anoymous” DJ played music we really weren’t familiar with.Sure, hanging out with our friends was fun, but isn’t the purpose of a “dance” to actually “dance”?  When I was 15 and a freshman in high school, I can remember thinking “If I ever become a DJ, I will be a DJ who interacts with the students, motivates them, gets them on the dance floor, and makes sure they have fun.” That’s really what inspired me to offer school dances when I became a mobile DJ,.

Since starting SN DJ Entertainment almost 10 years ago, I have done many school dances, and every one of them has been a rewarding experience. My goal with school dances is to make sure the students have fun. Just like I want a bride and groom to walk away from their reception saying “That was the BEST reception I have ever been to!”, I want students to walk away from their school dances saying the same thing. When you are 16 or 17, there is nothing more important to you than your prom, and at that age, your prom should be the highlight of your junior or senior year. Your high school years are a very important time in your life that you will remember forever.

School dance planning

Typically, the first step is for the school to contact us. Usually they find us on the web, or they may recevive our School Dance Information Packet which we send out to all the schools at the beginning of the school year and just after Christmas. We will usually schedule a consultation, and I will go to the school and personally meet with the students. I’ll answer their questions, we’ll talk about whait kind of dance they are having….my goal is to listen to their ideas and make their ideas a reality.

Once a school decides to hire us, I will then send them our School Dance Information Form, which contains informaiton about music, announcements (for example if they want me to announce the Homecoming Court, Prom Court, etc). Then I make sure I have all the music they want. The students can also email me with any questions or suggestions they may have.

The day of the dance

On the day of the dance, I’m usually up early double-checking both my computers (my main computer and the backup) to make sure I have all the music the students requested. I usually try to arrive at the venue (whether it’s at the school or a venue they have rented) at least 2 hours to set up. Once set up, I test out the sound system, light show, and make sure everything is ready to go. I then start playing some “pre-dance” entertainment music, which varies depending on the type of dance. For example, if it’s a Christmas Dance we will play Christmas music as our “pre-dance” entertainment. If it’s a dance held in October, we will play some Halloween music. For all other dances we may play “TV Themes”, which is a mix of popular TV theme songs, or “Children’s Classics”, which is a mix of children’s music (like “Farmer In The Dell”, The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round”, etc). This is just music the students (who arrive early) will hear as they begin to walk in before the dance, it’s not actually a part of the dance. (You can imagine what students’ think when they walk in and hear the TV themes or some of the children’s songs. They often ask me if that’s what I will be playing all night, and then when the dance actually “begins” and we start playing the “cool” music,  they get really happy.)

Once it’s time to actually start the dance, we will cut off the “pre-dance” music, I will introduce myself to the students, we’ll then crank up the lights / sound, and we begin the dance by playing the “dance” music the students requested. Throughout the dance, a clipboard will be provded so the students can write down their requests.

Games and contests

Games and contests will vary depending on the age group and type of school. Here are some of our most popular contests:

Fast / Slow Dance Contest – This contest is very popular for all ages. We take a line dance song (such as the “Cupid Shuffle” or “Cha Cha Slide”) and we “speed it up” or “slow it down”. The object of the contest is to keep up with song as it’s playing fast or slow.

Trivia – This is another game that is good for all ages. We pick a student at random and we ask them a multiple choice trivia question. The questions can be about history, TV shows, music, and more. The other students can help the student answer the question, and we let the student guess until they get the right answer so nobody ever loses with “Trivia”.

Snowball Dances – This type of dance is mainly used for middle school dances. We play a popular song and the students start out dancing with a partner. When they hear the DJ say “Snowball”, they switch partners. We may say “Snowball” about 5 or 6 times throughout the song. The only rule we have is if somone asks you to dance with them, you dance with them. That way all students can participate and nobody feels left out. It’s also a good “ice-breaker” to get students motivated to dance.

Winding Down

When it gets close to the end of the dance, I usually thank the students, wish them well, and then we finish strong by playing the most requested song of the evening as our final song. Once the dance officially ends, we will go back to playing some “post-dance” music (which will be the same as “pre-dance” music). The students will know the dance is over because we will play the “post dance” music at a reduced level and usually the overhead lights will be cut on to begin clean up. After about 10 minutes of “post-dance” music, we will begin our breakdown procedures.

In conclusion,  I spend roughly 10-15 hours on a school dance from the first consultation, the planning, setting up/ breaking down, the performance time, and traveling time. School dances can be very rewarding and there are schools I return to year after year and I love working with them.

See you in the next blog!

Stacey Noles is a professional mobile DJ in Pensacola, Florida. For more information about his services, please visit his company website at www.sndjpensacola.com.

 

Planning a wedding reception, the whole process

You have probably noticed in this series of blogs, I talk a lot about “planning” a wedding reception, how we normally spend 25-30 hours in the “planning” process, etc. You might be asking yourself “That all sounds wonderful, but what all goes into “planning” a wedding reception? What happens in those 25-30 hours?” So that’s what I wanted to talk about in today’s blog…the entire process. Everything I talk about in this blog is what I personally do in the planning process, other DJ’s have different ways they may do things, but this process is what has worked well for me over the years and it’s also made so many brides and grooms happy.

The Initial Contact

Usually, the first step in the planning process is for the prospective bride and groom to learn about SN DJ Entertainment. Normally they hear about us through an internet search, a friend, family member, a bridal directory, or often a wedding show (such as the Beautiful Beginnings Bridal Expo). They’ll usually visit the website, read the information there, then contact us. Once they contact us, we usually send them a wedding informaiton packet which contains some information about our services. It describes each one of our wedding packages, it gives a walkthrough of the typical wedding reception from start to finish, and it includes some sample planners from past clients’. Usually they will contact us after they have had a chance to look at our packet, and I’m the one who returns their email / phone call..

The consultation

After they have looked at our wedding packet and contacted us, we will usually set up a consultation, normally at Starbucks. Since it’s harder for people to meet during the day, I schedule a lot of consultations in the evenings and on weekends (depnding on our schedule). The consultation serves 2 purposes…it gives the bride and groom the chance to get to know me better, but it also gives me a chance to get to know them as well. It’s a two way relationship. During the consultation, I like to find out how they met, how they got engaged, and what they are looking for in a DJ / emcee. We spend time going over information and then I answer any questions they may have. We usually talk about the contract, and they don’t have to sign the contract immediately (although some do, and they also pay their retainer fee at that time.) If they want to take a few days to talk about what we discussed, read over the contract, and absorb everything, they are certainly welcome to do that. Usually we will schedule another consultation to sign the contract, or they may mail the contract (with their retainer fee).

The real planning process begins….

So now that I have received their signed contract and retainer fee, I then send them our wedding informaiton form and our reception planning guide. Our wedding information form is the form we will use to put their planner (sequence of events) together. The reception planning guide is a step-by-step guide on planning a wedding reception. It contains a lot of helpful tips, suggestions, and it walks the bride and groom through the wedding information form. I’ve had so many brides tell me this guide made their planning so much easier…it really is a stress reliever. During this time, the bride and groom may also contact me for suggestions and I’m always there to help them.

As the big day gets closer, we may schedule another consultation at the venue to discuss where to set up, the floor plan, and other important details.

Putting the planner and sequence of events together

About 30 days before their wedding day, the bride and groom will send their wedding information form back to me. At that point, I will then spend many hours in the “Oval Office” working on their planner, making sure I have the music the bride and groom requested, and programming the computer specifically for their reception. Once I get everything typed up on their planner, I then send it back to the bride and groom. This gives them a chance to look it over, make sure the names of the wedding party are correct, and everything is exactly how they want it. If we need to make any corrections, we will do that at this time. Once the bride and groom have given me the approval their planner is how they want it, I will then send copies out to each and every one of their vendors (wedding coordinator, photographer, videographer, caterer, etc). That way, all the other vendors will know what we will do and when we will do them. During the last couple of weeks before the wedding, I am usually spending time making sure my backup computer has all the music the bride and groom want at their reception, and I program the backup computer to match the main computer.

(My young niece asked me a few years ago “Uncle Stacey, why do you have two “puters?” Well I have “two ‘puters” in case one “puter” decides to freeze up or something during an event. If that happens, and I need to reboot the main computer, I can immediately go to the backup computer and play music off it until the main computer boots back up. We’ve all had our computer reboot at exactly the wrong time before, so we make sure we are ready for the “unexpected”.)

The day before the wedding

If I am performing the wedding ceremony (in addition to the reception), I will usually attend the rehearsal. I think it’s important for the DJ to attend the rehearsal because it gives the bride, groom, and everyone in the wedding party a chance to hear the music they will be walking out to. As a DJ, and someone who has done MANY wedding ceremonies, I can tell when it’s time to change the music when it’s time for the bride to come out. But my attendence at a wedding rehearsal is mainly to give the bride a “peace of mind” and to make sure everyone is familiar with the songs they will come out to. If I’m not involved in the ceremony, usually I spend the night before the wedding doing some last minute checks from the Oval Office. I’ll double check the planner, I’ll double check the music, and I usually double check my main computer and backup computer to make sure they are ready to go. It’s usually at this point I load the DJ equipment in the van, making sure to go over my checklist to ensure everything is there.

Wedding Day

Now the big day has arrived. On the morning of the wedding, I’m usually up early. I usually fix some coffee and head straight into the “Oval Office”. Once again, I double check the wedding planner, double check the computers, and I make sure everything is lined up the way it us supposed to be. At that point, I’ll go ahead and get ready for the day, shower, get dressed, etc. I will once again double check the equipment and make sure I have everything I need. I then make sure I have plenty of time to get to the venue to set up. (If I’m going out of town like to Ft. Walton Beach, Panama City, Destin, Mobile, or somewhere like that, I have to account for my travel time too.).

Usually I’ll stop off and get something to eat en route to the venue. Set up time is usually about 2 hours, performance time is around 4 hours, then we need at least an hour to break down. During the reception, I personally stay in contact with the bride and groom to make sure everything is going the way they want it. I also stay in contact with their vendors so they know when we are going to do things and can be ready. I’m also in charge of letting the guests know when events are going to happen. (For example, we want to make sure we have everyone’s full attention when it comes time for the bride and groom to cut the cake or when it’s time for their first dance.  I make sure all the guests, the vendors, and everyone at the reception know when these important events are coming up.) The wedding day alone is easily a 12 hour day when we factor in the last minute checks, traveling to and from the venue, the setup / breakdown time, and of course, the “performance” time.

As you can see, that’s how we can spend 25-30 hours on your wedding starting with the first consultation until we arrive back at home at the end of your reception. As we have said before, most people only “see” the 4 hours of “performing’ time at your wedding reception, and sometimes they believe that’s all we do. (Yes you have probably heard it before, “The DJ just sets up some equipment, plays music for about 4 hours, packs up, then leaves, so he only “works” 4 hours every weekend.”) But as you can see, we do a lot more than just “perform” those 4 hours you see at the reception…there’s a lot of work and planning that goes into making sure everything is ready on your wedding day.

So, when you are shopping around for a professional mobile DJ for your wedding, please keep this in mind……if the DJ’s prices seem high, consider all the planning and work he will do into making your wedding day special. When you consider he will spend at least 25-30 hours on your wedding, the price really isn’t that expensive because you are receiving a lifetime full of positive memories, not to mention you will be saving yourself a lot of stress when you hire a professional.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me anytime. I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. See you in the next blog!

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

Where to place your DJ at your wedding, party, school dance, or other event

In today’s blog I want to talk about something that is very important, but often overlooked or not considered when planning a wedding, party, or other event, and that is where to put your DJ. A lot of times, especially for wedding receptions, the bride and her wedding coordinator will plan the layout of the room very early on. They make sure the head table is in place, the cake, the buffet line, the tables, and every other aspect. Later on, when it comes time to figure out where to put the DJ, they may set the DJ up in a corner in the back of the room away from the dance floor. Or, maybe they will set the DJ up in the back of the room and there may be tables between the DJ table and the dance floor. There have also been instances where the guest tables back right up to the DJ table, which makes this kind of set up very detrimental if not dangerous for your event. So, why would someone set the DJ table up like this? Well, maybe the bride had not hired her DJ when they initially planned out the layout of the room, so putting the DJ in the back corner was the only place they could put him. For example, their room may look like this:

As you can see there is a big cross where the DJ is set up. There are two reasons why you wouldn’t want your DJ set up in a location like this. First, he would have his speakers set up on either side of the table and they won’t be able to cover the entire room, so sound quality will not be as good. Second, when it comes time for the open dancing, the DJ’s light show will be shining on the tables in front of the DJ table and will not be hitting the dance floor, which means you would not be getting the full use and enjoyment of the light show. .Also, when you have a set up like this, the DJ table is very close to those other tables which could pose a tripping hazzard if someone was to accidently trip over a speaker stand or snag a wire. Liability should be a concern as well. If I had been the DJ for this particular wedding, I would have suggested the DJ table be set up at the bottom of that diagram, or at the top where the buffet table is set. I think a great idea would be to simply switch the DJ table location with the buffet table location. Now let’s look at a great location for your DJ:

This is actually a photograph from a wedding I did recently at the Nix Center in Fairhope, Alabama. This was a perfect setup because you will notice the DJ table is at the edge of the dance floor, there weren’t any tables shoved up against the DJ table, and our speakers were centered where they could cover the whole room.It worked out great because there were no obstructions for the lights, there wasn’t a chance of anyone tripping, and everyone got the full enjoyment of our sound system.

So the moral of this story is when you start figuring out the room layout, please make sure your DJ’s set up location is a priority. Make sure you have him set up as close to the dance floor as you can, and if you have any questions about where your DJ should set up, please ask him. It would probably be a good idea to schedule a meeting at the venue with your DJ so you can have this all worked out ahead of time.

Once again if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me personally. Remember, we as DJ’s want to make your event the best that it can be.

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

 

 

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.

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!