Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Many Responsibilities of a Professional DJ


It is important to first understand what responsibilities a professional DJ should have on your wedding day. The foremost responsibility, as you might imagine, is to play music at your reception that will keep the party going. However, there is more to this than you might expect. In fact, the most common mistake couples make when choosing a DJ is to overestimate the ease of playing music that keeps a crowd on the dance floor. For this reason, many couples will opt to have a friend or coworker DJ their wedding reception rather than hire a professional. In reality though, nowhere is the difference between a professional DJ and an amateur more apparent than on the dance floor. As we will see, just because someone has DJ equipment does not mean that they know what they are doing.

Many amateur DJs will tout at least some experience playing music in clubs or at house parties. However, playing music at a club is absolutely nothing like playing music at a wedding reception. At a club, most people are around the same age and have similar tastes in music. That's why they're there! This leads the inexperienced DJ to assume that everyone likes the same kind of music as they do. At a wedding, however, there may be people from ages 8 to 80 on the dance floor at any one time and the differences in their musical tastes will be vast.

Only experience will teach a wedding DJ the need for variety. Their job is to appeal to the masses by playing all styles of familiar party music. An experienced wedding DJ will understand that everyone is passionate about ‘"their style" of music and know how to tap into that passion and present it in a manner that everyone on the dance floor can get excited about together. They will know how to correctly weave in and out of many different styles of music and, ultimately, keep the party going all night long.

DJs with little or no wedding experience, on the other hand, may not even consider the diversity on the dance floor. When people don't respond to their music selections they may get frustrated and simply blame the "lame crowd" rather than digging in and working the music to find something that works for everyone.

Remember, a professional has a sense of pride to keep people on the dance floor, whereas amateurs believe people should be on the dance floor out of an obligation to them! This is why the experience of your DJ is paramount to the success of your wedding night.

It is also important to make sure that your DJ has a large selection of song titles, 12,000 is usually a good place to start. Without an adequate selection of music, it is difficult to satisfy a large variety of age groups and musical interests. In addition to just owning the music, a DJ should have extensive knowledge of the music as well; this includes everything from popular fox trots and waltzes to the latest club hits. Furthermore, be sure that your DJ will play the songs you want hear, not just the songs they want to hear. Many frustrated newlyweds have spent their wedding night listening to their DJs favorite tunes! And lastly, be wary of the DJ whose presentation is obnoxious or cheesy. You don't want a DJ who thinks that he or she is the star of the show.


Coordinating the Event

While playing music is the most obvious responsibility of a wedding DJ, it is certainly not the only one. Many couples don't realize that one of the biggest responsibilities of the wedding DJ is to coordinate the evening's events. This is the job that will make the single biggest difference between your guests remembering a wedding that was smooth and effortless or one that was awkward and clumsy.

As couples soon discover as they plan their wedding, there are many different people who must contribute to the success of their wedding day. These include the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the hall manager, the videographer, the photographer, the church personnel and more! In addition to the people, there are also events that need be coordinated, such as the cake cutting ceremony, toasts, grace, introductions, bouquet toss, the bridal dance and more. A professional DJ will be able to walk the bride and groom through the evening's events with ease and grace by working with all the parties involved to ensure things run smooth and as planned. Be wary of amateurs without experience! You will put a lot of work into planning your wedding. A DJ without experience can easily become overwhelmed at this enormous responsibility and may forget important events, causing stress, chaos, confusion and disappointment.

In short, a DJ needs to be organized, perceptive and efficient to properly orchestrate the evening's events.

Some things your DJ should be watching for to ensure the night runs smoothly include: Checking with the hall to make sure that dinner is actually ready to be served before asking people to sit down; letting the photographer know what's coming up next so they aren't outside smoking a cigarette or in the restroom while the cake is being cut or the bridal dance starts; making sure that the champagne is served before handing the microphone to best man for his toast; or checking for utensils on the cake table so when you go to cut the cake, you have something to cut it with! A good wedding DJ is detailed oriented and will keep an eye out for things that are missing or out of place. These little things certainly won't ruin your wedding night, but added up; they will surely cause anxiety for you, as well as your guests.

An organized wedding reception starts with a DJ who cares, and who takes pride in being prepared. A good DJ should begin preparation for your wedding reception many days in advance. It is extremely important for a bride and groom to be given the chance to convey to the DJ what they want their wedding reception to be like. Couples will hear many different opinions about what their reception should be like, and a good wedding DJ will go over every aspect of the wedding reception with the bride and groom to fully understand what they expect.

Watch out for unscrupulous DJ companies who will send out DJs who have never even talked to the bride and groom. And be equally cautious of amateurs who will only do things their way - the only way they know how. In addition, be sure your DJ will arrive at the wedding hall at least an hour and a half before the wedding. A good DJ will have everything set up - music playing, tuxedo on, excess gear put away, cords neatly taped down, etc. - before guests begin arriving. You don't want your DJ setting up gear while your guests are arriving for cocktails.


Master of Ceremonies

Finally, a professional wedding DJ should be a well-trained Master of Ceremonies. This means being confident on the microphone and able to make important announcements and introductions in a classy, charismatic manner. Professionals will spend time preparing their announcements and have pride in their ability to pronounce everyone's name correctly. Nowhere will lack of experience be more obvious than in a Master of Ceremonies. Unprofessional announcements, mispronounced names and titles, and inappropriate remarks are just a few of the ways an MC might show their inexperience. Nothing makes a crowd more uncomfortable than to sit in front of someone who is nervous and stuttering on the microphone. Often times, a DJ may try to hide this nervousness by turning into a cheesy "party motivator", annoying guests and embarrassing the bride and groom. A professional clearly understands their boundaries and will never try to upstage the bride and groom by putting undue attention on themselves.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Choosing the Right Limo Company

One of the many things you will have to consider for your wedding day is how you plan on getting from point A to point B throughout that day. Many couples use a limo as oppose to the family car to get them to the ceremony location and reception. But do you really need a limo? Take into account how many people you are going to have in the vehicle. If you'll be traveling with a small group, you may want to hire a town car instead. On the other hand many brides like to travel with their maids. In which case, you may want to hire a stretch limousine. In any event, consider the amount of space you need before you get the biggest limo on the lot.

Also, there are some things you should to consider before making that decision – if you don't hire a reliable company, you might not get to your event at all. To reduce the risk of a no-show, or getting poor service, or not getting what you expected, check out the limousine service before hiring them!. First and foremost you must decide what type of limo you are looking to rent (traditional stretch limo or specialty limo), the length of time you need it for, and how much you are willing to spend.

Here are some things to consider and look for when shopping for a limo:

While some shoppers tend to always search online to find the best deals, don't choose your Limo based on price alone. Because most Limo Companies are small businesses, the price you pay may reflect on what you get.

A reputable company will happily agree to provide you with a written contract. Also, keep a copy of the contract you sign. The contract should include the following:
  • Year, make, model and color of the limo you selected
  • Pickup time, drop off time and itinerary for that day
  • Rates, including the percentage of gratuity and any other miscellaneous charges etc.
  • Deposit and cancellation fees
  • Company's liability in the event of breakdowns, no show, etc.
  • Overtime fees (if there are any)
Most reputable companies will have no problem including any of this information in the contract. The contract should also contain the written rules and regulations such as no smoking, drinking, etc. Any violations of their rules will most likely lead to immediate termination of their services. Also, beware that as the signing party, you are liable for any damage to the Limo.

Insist on seeing the actual car that will be transporting you. If you don't have time to go and visit the Limousine Company's showroom personally, ask the company to email you photo(s) of their limo(s) or other vehicles. To make sure you get a top quality car, consider writing down the license plate of the car you've been shown, be sure to check the year, make, model as well as the amenities inside the limousine and include that in your written contract. This will ensure that you will not end up getting some old rundown limousine.

Limousine companies are required to carry both state and federal operating authorities. Ask your prospective company if they are licensed to operate in your state.

All Limousine companies must carry a minimum amount of commercial liability insurance, depending on their operating state. Ask your prospective company to fax you a copy of their Certificate of Coverage.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau about past complaints about the prospective Limo Company. You can locate your local BBB office at

A ask others you know if they can recommend a service they have used, or ask the company for their most recent references of past performances. Hearing from recently satisfied customers will lend truth to the prospective limo company.

Inquire about the prospective limousine company's associations with organizations such as the National Limousine Association and their local state livery association. A company that is a member of a recognized association must abide by certain code of ethics, thus reducing their chance of providing inadequate service.

Inquire about the company's policy of hiring chauffeurs and the screening process. Make sure the company's chauffeurs are familiar with the service area so that you don't end up wasting unnecessary time while their chauffeur gets lost.

A ask about the Limo company's hourly minimums and how they calculate their time.

Again, do not choose a company because they are less expensive. You will most likely hear horror stories from couples, parents and students that have all made this mistake. Inquire about all the rates involved, including gratuity and any other miscellaneous fees. Rates vary based on area of service.

Provide the Limo Company with a written itinerary, of all the pickup and drop off locations. Most companies will require this information in advance and ask for advance notice of any changes.

Some couples like to arrive in one-of-a-kind style. There are other specialty limo's available for your wedding day needs such as sports cars, vintage automobiles, double-decker bus even a horse-drawn carriage, etc.

  • Remember to book as early as possible to get what you want. If you are booking a limo for a wedding, you should start your limo search 3-6 months in advance. This will ensure that you get that dates and service that you want.
  • Find a service that specializes in weddings or larger events as opposed to simply transportation if that's why you're hiring the limo.
  • When deciding what type of limo to rent, make sure that the company you are interested in actually owns that type of limo, and is not using a second company.
  • Use a company that has a good reputation for being on time.
  • Keep you special event special by checking out the limo service before hiring it.

Choosing the Right DJ for Your Event

I'm sure you've heard it before…” A bad DJ can ruin a great wedding” and at a wedding reception, where the entertainment is considered to be such a major component, next to the food, service, and decorations, hiring the right DJ, should be given some serious consideration. But, where do you start? With thousands of wedding disc jockeys on the market, and all claiming hall of fame status, making the right decision gets really confusing.

There are actually several things you should consider before selecting an entertainer:

Spending more money will not guarantee you the best entertainment for you particular affair. You will have to select the DJ that's right for you, and your guests.

Is the entertainer experienced in providing these services for your event? How much experience does he or she have? Get references from people you trust.

Is your entertainer insured? Every legitimate business has insurance.

The type of equipment the DJ will be using at your event? There are many DJ's that get by, using beat-up cheap equipment because they can't afford quality. This will impact the quality of sound you will get when your music is being played.

Lighting is another option to consider. Some DJ's charge extra for it, some offer none at all, and some might have very elaborate packages to choose from.

Should something go wrong, is back-up equipment immediately available? Should a problem arise, and you are relying on the entertainment, don't you want to know what the entertainer's backup plan is for your very important event?

What happens if your DJ cannot make it? You should have a contract that answers this question.

Who will be the entertainer at your event? Many DJ companies have employees under them that you have never met before? Some of these might even be beginners! Your contract should make this clear as well.

The all important references! Ask for them and actually check them! Satisfied customers say "quality" best!

What other services are included other than just playing music? Do you get an emcee, a coordinator, how about someone to interact with your crowd, to inspire them and encourage them to participate?

Will your DJ take requests, or tailor the event to your specifications. Will your DJ spend time with you, to find out what you want and help you plan your event?

Will your DJ speak professionally in front of your guests?

Are there any hidden or extra charges for expected services, travel expenses, or requirements from the entertainer that seem unusual? Do they take smoke breaks, drink alcohol or wear a baseball cap on the job? If they don't cover these topics, perhaps you should.

In the end, you must choose who you feel is right for your event. Keep in mind the DJ you select, will dramatically impact your event, your memories and your reputation. Invest some time on your decision, and you will get favorable results.