How do you decide who to hire?  There are some answers to that question.  Here are some
questions to ask your DJ or Entertainment Agency.  Also, following that, some horror stories that
have been shared with me or that I have witnessed.  Please keep in mind that DJ's can cost from
$200 to $2000.  I don't suggest booking anyone at either of those extremes.  But remember that you
always get what you pay for.  In the end, your entertainment will probably cost between 5% and
10% of your party.  That is not too bad for something that can make or break the event.  Please take
note of the following questions to ask:

1. Will the DJ let you see him/her perform or restrict you to a well rehearsed and edited video tape?  Most of my colleagues
prefer not to allow this because it would be "crashing" a party.  Their fear might be that a client will show up and the
"guaranteed DJ" won't be there.  I can't allow party crashing either as most brides don't agree to it, however I am happy to meet
with you.  

2. Do I feel comfortable with the DJ Service/Agency and do you get direct access to your own DJ right away(so that you may
work directly with him/her and discuss important items prior to signing a contract)?

3. Is the DJ willing to work within the needs (flexible) of the customer to make the party the customer's dream party (see tale of
woe at the bottom of this page)?

4. Does the DJ understand the "Big Picture" (meaning all of the elements of your party)?

5. If #4 is "Yes" can the DJ make suggestions that can help you get the best out of your entire event?

6. Does the DJ respect you as a consumer and is he/she willing to hold your date while you shop and evaluate?

7. Does the DJ have the flexibility in his/her personality to give you the "fun" personality or the "classy" approach?

8. Will the DJ meet with you if requested?

9. Will the DJ provide you contact information and be responsive before and after the contract is signed?

10. Will the DJ treat your party as if it were a special event (rather than one among many)?

11. How does your DJ work with other professionals (caterers, photographers, wedding coordinators)?

12. Will your DJ be willing to turn over control of the party to others if the venue/catering establishment requires or if there is a
wedding coordinator in charge?

13. What kind of equipment does the DJ use AND who owns it (if it belongs to the "agency" does the DJ know how to operate
it?

14. If using a computer, does the DJ have the right computer equipment for multi media purposes (there are differences)?  

15. Does the DJ have a comfort level with the volume and the acoustics of the venue?

16.  What happens if your DJ is sick on your wedding day?

17. How does your DJ mix up (sequence) the music?

18.  Will the DJ/DJ company be professional enough to accept your credit card payment?




TALES OF WOE

"I am having a friend “DJ” my event”
Friends always mean well.  But to preserve that friendship, please make sure that your friend is a professional.  There is nothing more
humiliation to a party host than an unprofessional dj.  It could ruin your "event of a lifetime".  
I was being interviewed by a maid of honor to be (the bride lives out of town) and she was sharing her experience from her wedding
with me.  Her DJ was a friend of a friend.  He showed up in jeans, played the wrong music (his selection was limited because he doesn’t
carry over 10,000 titles onsite) and they needed to always tell him  when things needed to be done during the wedding.

Like with anything else, cheapest isn't always best.  Some folks will pay $20,000 for a wedding and then bargain hunt with the DJ.  That
is a dangerous approach.   A bad DJ can kill a party.  The food and the entertainment go hand in hand and if one fails, it probably ruins
the other.  Yes, some entertainers will try to tell you that the food does not matter as much as the entertainment, so just "order
chicken".  That is an opinion that I disagree with.  Your guests will remember the food and the music, particularly if they have a really
good time.  The reality is, both go hand in hand and the go together.  Please read on.

Example1: You (as the bride or groom), order filet mignon for everybody and the chef burns them all.  Party is ruined.  Even good music
may not save it.  You will have memories of a terrible dinner that cost you thousands of dollars.
Example 2: The DJ doesn’t show up and you play your music through a boom box (or they "forgot"  your 1st dance).  Dinner is great, but
everybody leaves afterwards due to the lack of entertainment (or you feel angry that your wedding song was ruined/forgotten).


"We found a friend of the family who is a DJ (aka: my DJ didn't show / backed out)"
In the past year or so, there must have been 12 or more occasions where I was contacted by clients who needed a DJ because their DJ
fell through.  More often than not, the DJ turned out to be a "friend of the family".  The common mistake when hiring a friend of the
family to perform at a wedding is that no contract is in place because who would want to force a "friend" into such an awkward
situation when they are doing the bride/groom this favor of providing DJ services for free or discount.  This "friend of the family then
figures out that it would be more fun to go away for the weekend or do something else and informs the bride/groom (who obviously is
not being treated as a client) that they can't make it.  Of course, this information happens 1-2 months prior to the wedding (if the bride
is lucky) so the bride is left scrambling for DJ's that are still available (this is a disaster for May, June, September, October or
December weddings).

Think about this.  If they are truly friends, they should be on the guest list so they can celebrate and enjoy the event with you.  If they
aren't good enough friends to be invited, how important to you think the wedding really is to them?  


" I will try winging it"
A few years ago I was playing a wedding reception at one of the nicer Catering establishments in Glen Burnie.  One of the things I
always try to do is meet other DJ's if there are multiple parties going on at one time.  I just like to talk shop sometimes.  So I go visit the
DJ in the next ballroom and while we chat she asks me if I have an extra copy of "Can't help falling in Love" by Elvis for the 1st dance.  
Astounded at the question, (because she was only like 10 minutes away from having to do the first dance and last time I checked, that
was a little late in the game to go shopping) I asked her if she forgot it.  No, she did have it.  But it was a 7 inch single, also known as a
45rpm (I told you it was a few years ago!) with a cigarette burn in the middle of it...and she was going to play it!!! Imagine the poor bride
and groom looking into each other's eyes during that memorable moment while Elvis sings...then crashes and burns (literally).  I went
next door and got the CD for her and lent it to her.  That one I will never forget.  She was going to just play it and say "oops!"  
Incredible.  

"They called in sick"
I once arrived to set up for a Bar Mitzvah at one of the nicer venues in Baltimore about 2 years ago.  The banquet manager recognized
me and said "it's so nice to see you". I replied "it's nice to see you too".  She said "you don't understand, last night was a disaster".  
She went on to tell me that the DJ was ill and could not make it and the DJ company had no one else available so they had to get a
boom box (see "I am having a friend..." above).  

Okay, forgive me for being critical, but what IF your contracted DJ is not feeling well.  What will he/she do?  More importantly, what will
you do if the worst happens?  How do you know you will get your DJ?  It is hard to guarantee.  Some companies claim that they have
"on call" DJ's.  So your best case scenario would be to spend months planning your event and just have the "on call" DJ show up.  I
hope he/she has your music selection.  

When you interview your prospective DJ, ask them what would happen if he/she had one of those days.  Look for legitimate
experiences that they can share.  If they just tell you "don't worry I'll be there", work them a little harder for answers.   Each one of us,
after doing this for a while, has had "one of those days".  Cal Ripken Jr. played through injuries and illnesses for 15 years.  I have had
several of those days too.   I also injured my back once.  I still made it to the events.   I had my good friend Dave help load my car, then
when I got to the hall I asked a busboy to help me unload.  Then I made it through the party with a smile.   End result: A happy
customer!  

Look at it this way...Have you ever worked in a large office or restaurant or store?  There is a certain group of employees that call in
sick for the slightest issue or miss work because of 1 snow flake.  There is a certain group that does an okay job but needs the boss to
be on them.  Then there is a certain group that are just always getting recognition and do exemplary work.  The entertainment industry
(which we are part of) is the same.  Which of those 3 types do you want as your DJ/Emcee?

"Kill the Dance Floor please"
Have you ever been to a party and were just having a great time on the dance floor.  The floor is packed, there is energy in the music
and then the DJ "switches" tempo to a completely different style and rhythm, everyone walks off and says "Awwwww!!" and then the
dance floor is empty?  Why do you think that happened?  Do you want that practice to take place at your party?
Tips and Tales

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