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.

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!