The Bride's Guide: Tips for booking a DJ

For anyone who has ever attended a wedding reception, we all know that having great entertainment is crucial. Among all the busy planning all you Pure Luxe Brides are doing, don’t forget to do a little extra research when booking your DJ. Having a DJ at your wedding reception is a great way to provide wedding guests with a fun and memorable time. Since this is such an important aspect of your wedding reception, AJ from Ascend Entertainment has provided all you lucky brides with some great advice for booking and communicating with your DJ. Ascend Entertainment, a Luxe List vendor, is a great DJ service located here in the lowcontry, with services ranging from wedding events to birthday parties and more. AJ’s experience and knowledge working the wedding circuit makes him the perfect source for information and advice related to booking your wedding entertainment. So as you start planning and organizing the theme of your wedding reception, make sure to take into consideration all of the advice and suggestions provided by our Luxe List vendor. This information will allow for a stress free planning process, as well as a fun time at your reception!

 

The bride and groom are ready to book there DJ, where should they start?

I recommend start by searching the web.  Check all online resources, websites, and wedding planning sites. See what DJs are approved by some of your other vendors.  Ask your family and friends who they have used in the past.  We all have seen good and bad DJs at different events over the years.  Take all that into consideration.  Once you find a few DJ websites you like, start making calls and gathering information from them directly. Then, start narrowing down and pick the one that fits you best.

How far in advance to the wedding should the couple book their DJ?

It’s best to book as early as possible.  Once you have the wedding date and location secured, I suggest finding entertainment IMMEDIATELY.  Most couples book 9-12 months in advance.  Holiday weekends and peak wedding seasons sell out very quickly.  Don’t believe the wedding planning guides that say book your DJ 3 months before the wedding.  All the best DJs will be booked and you’ll be forced to scramble to find entertainment.

What are the benefits of couples booking their DJ early?

For couples that book 12+ months in advance, there is an “early booking discount”, plus the earlier you are ready to secure the date, the less chance you have of not getting exactly what you want.  Simply put “the early bird catches the worm”.  Can you imagine finding the perfect DJ and then being ready to book, only to have them tell you that they are already sold out?

Typically, what services will the couple be paying for?

At Ascend Entertainment, we include EVERYTHING!  Unlimited consultations, all song requests, travel, taxes, fees, gas, parking, and any other misc. expenses are all included with us.  I don’t believe in “fine print” or hidden charges.

Are deposits usually made to secure the DJ’s services?

Yes, we require a minimal deposit (usually $100 just to secure your spot on our roster).  The balance can be paid anytime right up to the day of the wedding.

Should brides be skeptical of DJ’s who do not offer contracts? 

Without a doubt...YES!  The contract protects both parties.  It protects the bride and groom more than the DJ.  It secures the services, price, and terms.  With such an important day, you NEED to have it in writing

What type of information is important for the couple to give to their DJ before the wedding?

The basic information: date, location, times, approximate # of guests, and musical taste (likes and dislikes). The more info they can give us, the better idea we have of what they are looking for. Once we are all on the same page, it is very easy to make all the wedding day wishes come true.  I cannot tell you how many emails I get a day from potential brides and all the email says is “are you available on _______ and whats your price?”  No two weddings are alike and we have several packages to cover a wide variety of needs and all types of budgets.  When we know what you are looking for, I can provide you with a more accurate quote.

Should the couple give the DJ a layout of their wedding venue, so that they know where to set up on the day of the wedding? 

That depends.  At Ascend Entertainment, we know 95% of all local reception locations and layouts.  If the couple wants something different (which happens a lot),  it is important to communicate with the DJ so that we know where and how the night will go, not just where to set up.  Most couples that work with a wedding planner will have that sent to the DJ once the room layout is finished so the DJ can begin preparing.  If we are not familiar with a location, I will stop by and personally inspect the reception site so there are no surprises on the day of the wedding.

Do you recommend couples having an in person interview with their DJ prior to their event?

I love it when I can sit face to face with a happy couple but, that all depends on them.  Many brides and grooms plan destination weddings, so a face to face meeting isn’t always possible.  But we will schedule a meeting with them when they come to town for a tasting or final review prior to the week of the wedding.  The majority of communication is email and that is great.  It’s in writing and we can always review it to see if anything is missed.  The more we know, the better the wedding will be.  There is less chance of something being forgotten.  You never get that chance to do it again.  A little extra planning and preparation goes a long way in the success of a wedding.

Are there certain services or equipment that couples should make sure that DJ’s offer?

I offer full 24/7 service.  Phone, email, in person, Skype, whatever.  Some couples just trust us but others want to make sure that it's the right decision. I feel that the more of a personal connection you have with the happy couple, the more we are personally invested in the success of the wedding.  Most of our couples start out as clients but so many of them end up becoming friends! There’s no way I want to let a client down. And I certainly don’t want to not be able to deliver an incredible performance for a friend.  It makes it for a more memorable day when we feel as if we are a part of something.

How important is it to hire a DJ with backup equipment, in case of an emergency?

VERY.  Always expect the unexpected.  Things happen, equipment breaks, computers can freeze up or crash.  That’s why we have back up equipment built directly into each DJ system I own.  This way, a flip of a switch and we are back up and your guests are dancing again.  Even 30 seconds without music at a wedding is too long.  Imagine your wedding without music while your DJ runs to his/her car for back up gear.  Or even worse... doesn’t have any.

How far in advance should the couple give their DJ the list of songs for first dances of the reception?

Since we have a music library of over 250,000 songs (and get new songs daily) there's a slim chance we don’t already have the music you want.  We do ask that all couples submit song requests 2 weeks prior to the date of the wedding so we can guarantee it will be there.  It has happened where I have gotten a request as late as the morning of the wedding and still was able to make it happen. I don’t mind last-minute changes but, the earlier the better.  This way any last-minute changes are only minor ones.

Do most DJ’s serve as an MC, introducing the couple during the reception, etc.? What can the couple do to make sure that this process goes smoothly for the DJ?

It’s the DJs responsibility to make sure it goes smoothly for the bride and groom, not the other way around.  Most of the time, your DJ will also act as MC (master of ceremonies). They will handle all introductions, announcements and such.  They will also coordinate with the wedding planner, caterer, photographer, keep the entire production moving and keep the bride and groom informed as to whats going to happen next. They will also handle any song requests from guests and answer any questions as that arise.  All this while still playing music.  It’s not an easy job.

What are the advantages of booking a DJ as opposed to a band?

In my opinion, a DJ is better than a band for several reasons:

1- less expensive - cheaper in price

2- DJs don’t take breaks, or require meals provided for them

3- the songs are as the couple and guests know them, the way it was recorded and heard on the radio

4- DJs are more versatile, songs can be played in any order and do not need to be rehearsed.

I enjoy bands and have worked with some of the best in the business.  I have nothing but the highest respect for musicians. I just feel that a Dj is a better over all fit for a wedding but that’s a matter of personal taste.  We have a new concept called ASCEND LIVE where we will bring musicians to play along with the DJ.  It’s the best of both worlds.

What should couples keep in mind when booking a DJ?

Price is the #1 concern on everyone’s mind.  But realize that the saying “you get what you pay for” also rings true. Anyone can play  a song but, playing the right song...at the right time...is talent.

I think service should be the biggest concern.  Does you DJ always answer the phone when you call? Do they return emails quickly?  If not...can you really trust one of the biggest days in your life to the person that doesn’t take it as seriously as YOU do?

What additional advice to you have to offer couples who are booking a DJ?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let us know what you want and expect. Put it all out there and don’t be afraid of change.  Keep your personal tastes in mind so you enjoy your wedding but, also think of your guests too.  The advice I give most is plan for everything.  This way when the day gets here, you don’t forget to take a moment to step back and take it all in.  So many times brides and grooms get caught up in the planning.  Then, when the wedding comes they are to busy with the events at hand, it seems to just fly by.  So, enjoy the moment.  Look at your guests having fun and dancing.  Soak up every minute of it.  Because when it’s over, you are only left with the memories.  Make the memories count.

 

Pure Luxe Bride would like to send a special thank you to AJ with Ascend Entertainment. All of the helpful information in this post was provided by AJ and his experience providing DJ entertainment throughout lowcountry weddings and other events in the area.