Two years ago, a sound rental company in Pittsburgh posted a blog article titled “Top 10 Reasons To DJ Your Own Wedding.” It went viral just this week and the DJ community blew up discussing this post. I felt it was an important post to address as many brides and grooms contact me and are uncertain about whether or not they’ll hire a DJ for their wedding.
So let’s take a look at their reasons and I’ll go over each one.
1. Control – Most people spend more than a year planning every last detail of their wedding. When it comes to the entertainment, they just turn it over to some DJ who they will never see again. This used to be the only option for a bride and groom. Today’s technology (iPods, laptops, etc) make the DJ an unnecessary expense.
I meet with my clients as many times as they’d like between the initial meeting and the big day. We discuss what music is in their lives and what will get their guests dancing. You’re turning “control” to me because I know music and events. It’s my job. Just hiring any DJ won’t make you want to see them again either, but hiring a GREAT DJ will make you recommend them to friends so they have as good an experience as you did.
And sure, you could use an iPod, but who’s going to press the play button on the iPod when it’s time for the first dance to start? Who’s going to introduce the couple for that first dance? And who is going to set up the speaker system you’ll have to rent and position it in the correct location? Tape down the cables? Professional DJs don’t just show up with an iPod and the magic happens.
2. Cost – Our customers tell us that our sound system rental packages generally save them between $750 and $1000. That’s a big chunk of money that could be used in other places!
Yes, or it could even cost more. Why do professional athletes make what they do? Because they’re good at their craft. Take two players on the same team who could have annual salaries millions of dollars apart. They do the same job, but one of them does it better and is worth significantly more.
Couples often overlook the fact that the entertainment is a HUGE part of their day and don’t adequately budget for it. It’s easy to spend $1500 for centrepieces which, while look great, contribute very little to the success of the evening, and could be budgeted down to allocate more into the entertainment category.
3. Incorporate Your Unique Personality – Here’s a trade secret – most disc jockeys play the same basic set of songs at each and every wedding they do. They will occasionally add in the “latest top 40 hits”, but other than that, it is on autoplay. If you think that your DJ is going to spend time custom crafting the perfect playlist for your wedding, you are dreaming!
Please dream – because planning a custom music list to match your dream is what I do. I take your musical tastes and blend them into the soundtrack for the evening. From cocktails to dinner to dancing, I’m incorporating your favourite songs and bands with my experience to set the mood or create a memory.
The scene in Star Wars where Darth Vader is walking in with the Imperial March playing in the background wouldn’t be half as dramatic if there was no massive John Williams soundtrack behind it. Soundtracks are essential and I want to make sure your personality IS incorporated into your event.
And when I’m behind the decks, I’m working. There’s nothing on automatic about what I do with the music.
4. Songs like the Macarena Exist – You might say that you don’t want any of the cheesy “classic” wedding songs played, but when your 13 year old cousin starts to beg the DJ, they are going to give in and play the Chicken Dance or some other ridiculous song.
Yes, they do, and when was the last time you heard the chicken dance? Not on the radio, it was likely at a wedding. And while I’m not going to pull out the Chicken Dance (which is actually called “The Bird Dance”) unless it’s requested and I feel it will improve the atmosphere, it’s a wedding song for a reason — it gets people dancing. But really, I won’t play the Macarena. I don’t like it either. As a professional DJ I will be the one helping decide if the requests being made are worth playing, not just that 13 year old cousin finding a song he likes on the iPod and playing it. Over and over and over.
5. Language and Profanity Concerns – Perhaps you aren’t a big fan of the profanity in many of the popular songs today. In a cross generational setting like most weddings, the musical selections of a DJ can cause significant uncomfortable moments. When you set the playlist, you don’t need to worry about what is coming up next.
Unless you explicitly tell me to play a coarse-language version of a song, everything I play is family-friendly. I’ll even custom-edit a song to remove unwanted content. The last thing I want is your grandmother beating me with her cane because she heard an F-bomb. Weddings are not the place for profanity, so I keep it out of my music selections. But hey, if you want to hear the Dan Band cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart and you tell me it’s okay for all of your guests to hear it, I’ll play it.
6. Remote locations – If you aren’t holding your rehearsal at a traditional venue, you will probably have trouble finding a DJ that can work in your location. Our battery powered PA systems coupled with an iPod can bring the music wherever you want to be.
This point confuses me because a DJ would likely be better equipped to deal with this situation than anyone else. I’ll refer back to point #1 about who is actually going to get / setup / run the equipment.
7. Most DJ’s are terrible at what they do – To be fair, there are some good ones too, but becoming a DJ is what is known as a “low barrier to entry profession”. There aren’t classes that you need to attend to be a DJ. You just buy a few big speakers and some music and start calling yourself a professional disc jockey. Most DJs have little to no experience, and they will be training with your wedding and charging you a premium for the opportunity.
“Most?” To be fair, there are good chefs and bad ones. Good mechanics and bad ones. Good cashiers and bad ones. That is a ridiculous statement and I’m not even sure why it’s made.
It’s partially fair to say that you can judge the quality of a DJ by what they charge. Good DJs know their value and will charge more than DJs who moonlight as entertainers on weekends and don’t invest themselves, their time or money into their business or their clients. I take pride in my job and work hard to be the best at what I do.
You don’t have to spend four years going to school to learn what it takes to be a DJ, there is no license or test or other qualifications. While DJing has become more accessible to the masses thanks to the low cost of music and hardware, you can’t just get an iPod and DJ a wedding. It takes years of experience not only doing the DJing part of the work (selecting and mixing the music), but everything else involved, not just the technical aspects but business as well. Just because I own a DSLR camera doesn’t mean I consider myself a professional photographer (keep this in mind when thinking of just having friends take photos instead of hiring a professional photographer!)
8. It’s Easier Than You Think – With our thorough and easy to understand instructions, you will be able to setup, operate and entertain your family and friends. You can even start calling yourself a “professional DJ” after you finish your event.
No it’s not. Even if someone “instructed” you on how to set up the speakers you just rented, did they “instruct” you on how to eliminate the feedback from the microphone? How about how to troubleshoot the fact one of the speakers doesn’t work when you arrive at the venue? Did they also “instruct” you on how to coordinate with the catering and photographer as to when the speeches and first dance take place? There’s a lot that I, as a professional DJ who does this regularly, have to be concerned with getting just right in order for your event to be perfect.
If you really think it’s that easy and you want to become a professional DJ, I’d be happy to teach you. Not only am I a working DJ, but I also instruct a DJ class at the Harbourside Institute of Technology. When you’re done with my class and you think you’re ready to head out and make money at it – just remember, I’m out there too and have a lot more experience than you do, grasshopper.
9. No One Ever Remembers a Wedding For A Good DJ – We’ve never met anyone who said, “boy that DJ was great, what a perfect wedding” – It just doesn’t happen. The reverse is true, unfortunately. I have several friends that had awful DJs at their wedding and that is all I remember about the night.
Funny, most clients I’ve worked with have told me how their guests raved about how much fun they had dancing. I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone claim how the table decorations, take-home gifts or mixed veggie platters “made the wedding.” A bad DJ CAN RUIN your wedding, which is why you don’t want a cheap DJ. Cheap DJs aren’t good and good DJs aren’t cheap.
10. You Get The Support of Pittsburgh Sound Rental – We do more weddings than anyone else in the Pittsburgh region. You have full access to our staff and can call us at anytime for support. We provide you with our personal cell phone numbers so that any problem can be fixed immediately.
Oh good, that rental company will take your phone call at 11:30pm when your drunk cousin knocks over the rented speaker on the stand that your brother didn’t quite set up as instructed, so now you have an injured guest and equipment that isn’t working. My support is me, onsite, with backup gear, and the knowledge and experience to make sure nothing like that happens in the first place. And should the liquor get the better part of a guest, I also have $2mil in liability insurance.
Bottom line is this… there are lots of ways to save money on a wedding (or any event for that matter). Figure out what is important to you and your guests, and start making your budget cuts based on those needs. I am always happy to provide advice, even those who don’t hire me as their DJ. If you’re interested in how I can help make your event a success, email me or call me at 604-218-2020.