Posts

Live Entertainment

Hello Brides! Are you looking to spice up your wedding? Live entertainment is what we’re seeing more of and that could be anything from musicians to acrobats to fire spitters! What could be more fun than having people serenade your reception or giving flare to your wedding in a unique way.

You can try Gig Masters to search for bands to play at your wedding. They have you type in what city you’re in and viola you have some live entertainment! Sometimes it’s hard for a DJ to create the party atmosphere you desire. With live entertainment like a band, they have the advantage of being personal and getting your guests up out of their seats to dance.

How do you pick the right band? Well, you can attend a concert or show of your favorites, get a recommendation from friends and family or do a search like Gig Masters – even google can suffice! Nowadays, everyone reviews everything so you can see videos and clips to decide if you like their style.

For any live entertainer, you need to ask the right questions as well like when do you want dancing? Before, after or during dinner? This can determine what kind of band you want. You wouldn’t want guests shouting over the rock while dining. Some couples are happy with just an hour or two after dinner. Price is always important as well. Live bands can range from $2000 to $35000 so be sure to be clear when you interview any band what your expectations are.

Or perhaps for live entertainment you just want a simple string quartet to play you down the aisle and add flare to the ceremony. You can always opt for a DJ at the reception. But don’t forget when planning for live entertainment you need be aware of the space they’ll need. They will need a place for a keyboard and their sound equipment. If you have specific song requests a good band will be able to learn the music if they’re unfamiliar with it. Have fun interviewing and picking live entertainment! Your guests will love the added visual appeal and live performers will keep them dancing all night long!

Vote for Music By Design – Wedding Elite Magazine

Vote for Music By Design – Wedding Elite Magazine Music By Design has made the list of the Top 20 Wedding DJs in Illinois in our search for the best-of-the-best disc jockeys in the United States!  The Top 5 DJ companies in each state will be published in our upcoming issue of The Wedding Elite magazine.  The #1 DJ in each state will be profiled as one of the Top 50 DJs in the United States, providing those 50 elite DJs with international exposure and publicity.

 

What matters most? DJ Service or DJ Equipment?

While working at a Bridal Expo recently, I was surprised to have a bride ask me a series of questions about the equipment we used.  “What type of speakers do you use?” She inquired.  “We use top of the line, JBL powered speakers,” I said.  “What type of software do you use?” She continued.  “We use PCDJ v5.3, it is extremely stable and we have been fully digital since 1999,” I answered.  At this point, I began to think she was either very familiar with audio equipment, or she had been influenced in some way.  The latter came to be true.

What had happened was one of the other DJ companies she had encountered that day had told her that equipment was the most important factor when selecting a DJ.  Ok, let’s assume that is true.  Consider this.  You go golfing with Tiger Woods.  At the beginning of the day, you are both issued the same exact brand of golf clubs and the same exact brand and style of golf balls.  You play 18 holes.  I’m sure you can predict what the outcome will be.  The fact of the matter is that the equipment had no influence on the outcome even though both golfers were using the same equipment.

In the DJ world, any professional DJ working in the Chicagoland must own good equipment or they would not be working.  The difference between DJs is not the equipment, it’s the service the DJ company provides.  Any DJ company trying to sell you on equipment is doing so because they do not have another leg to stand on.  A reputable DJ company should sell you service, not equipment.

A professional DJ company should allow you to meet your actual DJ at your initial consultation and should give you the flexibility to plan your reception and call the shots.  A professional will not spend hours trying to sell you lighting and extras. A professional DJ should be concerned with giving you the experience you imagined by allowing you to be the center of attention instead of the other way around.  Finally, a professional DJ should act as your unofficial event coordinator and allow you to rest easy and know that you are in good hands.

Summary

DJ equipment is only a tool used in providing outstanding customer service. High quality equipment is mandatory for any high-end DJ company. If a company is selling equipment and the “cool factor”, they are lacking in customer service.

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

TIPS.  The acronym has been said to stand for “to insure prompt service,” though many of us know the term to simply mean what we leave at the end of a meal.  Tips have become an ordinary part of our society, whether you’re paying at a restaurant, the salon, or the coffee shop.  Most people have a solid understanding of tip etiquette when it comes to dining, but in the wedding world, the rules of tipping aren’t so simple.  Here are some guidelines to help take the guesswork out of tipping your wedding vendors.

Officiants: Many pastors, priests, rabbis, ministers and other religious leaders will not accept tips in the form of cash.  Instead, consider making a donation to their house of worship or a nonprofit organization that their congregation already partners with.  $75 to $100 is typical.  Civil employees who perform wedding ceremonies are often not allowed to accept any type of monetary gifts.  In that case, a thank you note is appropriate.

Musicians and DJs: Tipping for this category varies, particularly based on how the vendor handles booking.  For independent bands that book their own gigs, tipping is not necessary, as they will pocket all of the money earned.  A similar approach holds true for independent DJs.  However, when a DJ or musical act is booked through an agency or larger company, tips are expected, as the vendor will not be receiving the full charge for the service.  Tips for DJs range from 5% to 15%, with tips for musicians averaging approximately $25 per musician.  So if you have a six person band, a separate tip would go to each of the six band members.

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists: If you visit the salon on the day of your wedding, a standard tip of 15% to 20% is expected.  However, if the stylist or artists owns their own business or is freelancing, a tip is not expected.  However, if you feel they went above and beyond, feel free to leave a tip at your discretion.

Catering Services: There is a great deal of variety when it comes to tipping catering vendors.  First, check to see if gratuity is included in your package. If so, an additional tip is unnecessary.  However, if gratuity is not included in the contract, consider a 15% to 20% tip, as expected in a standard dining situation.  You can also choose to leave a flat rate for members of the catering staff, particularly if your catering company is higher in price.  $100 to $200 for catering managers, $50 for each chef, baker, and bartender, and $20 to $30 for each member of the wait and kitchen staff.

Wedding Coordinators, Photographers, Videographers, and Florists: Much like DJs and musicians, if the vendor owns their business, a tip is not expected.  They have already set their price and expect the amount specified.  Because they own their business, they will not have to pay someone else a portion of their fee.  However, if coordinators, photographer, videographers, or florists do not own their business, a tip of $30-$100 is anticipated, with coordinators typically receiving $50 to $100.

The easiest way to present vendors with tips is to have individual envelopes for each vendor (and each person in the case of catering staff and musicians.)  These envelopes should be organized before the day of the wedding, so you do not have to break away from the celebration to deal with money.

Attending a Wedding Reception as a Guest: A DJ’s Perspective

Attending a Wedding Reception as a Guest: A DJ’s Perspective

As a professional DJ with Music By Design, Ltd., my calendar is booked between now and the end of the year with wedding receptions.  Every weekend is different, fun and exciting.  I have the opportunity to play music customized to each couple’s taste, observe family traditions, and orchestrate the evening and deliver a memorable and enjoyable event for everyone involved.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a wedding as a member of the bridal party.  The couple was using a DJ who was working as an independent contractor for a large DJ company based in Naperville.  Clearly, the couple did not know the DJ was an independent contractor – most DJ ‘booking agents’ lie about that part.  Because of Music By Design’s attention to detail and commitment to stellar customer service, I was eager to see how this DJ would perform.  Needless to say, I was observing with a critical eye and ear.

The first thing that struck me was that the DJ was not prepared with the proper equipment to run the audio for the couples’ video montage, even though the couple had made arrangements for with DJ company in advance.  Fortunately, Music By Design’s office was not very far away and I drove to get the proper equipment.  Since the DJ was not accountable for the quality of service (he is an independent contractor), there was obviously a communication breakdown between the couple, the company (booking agent), and the actual DJ.

The next thing that I found unsettling was that he had the wrong bridal party introduction music cued up.  Luckily, I clarified with him moments before he was going to begin and had him change the song to the bride and groom’s selection.  In some cases, perhaps the introduction music is not a big deal, but in this instance the groom was a big Chicago White Sox fan and wanted the party to come out to ACDC’s “Thunderstruck.”  Any other song would have fallen short of his expectations for this big moment.

Next, there was an issue with the dinner music.  When a Music By Design DJ plays dinner music, we hand select songs based on the musical taste of the couple and their guests.  We remain at the DJ booth and actively select music to accommodate the bride and groom.  This DJ put on Michael Buble and let it play through – even allowing the songs to loop (play the same song over and over).  I am not knocking Michael Buble, I think he’s great, but I would have mixed it up with various artists.  To put music on “loop” is cheating the guests and the couple and leads people to wonder, “Why not just plug in an iPod?”.  When a couple is spending over $1,000 for a DJ, they deserve a DJ that is going to “actively DJ” the entire night.

Next, there was an issue with the first dances.  The bride and groom’s dance went smoothly as did the father-daughter dance, but when the DJ played the mother-son song, he began to replay the bride and groom’s song.  Not only was it embarrassing to have to stop the dance and have the groom walk to the DJ booth, but then the DJ did not have the custom song that the groom had requested.  As far as I am concerned, that is completely unacceptable.  How is it possible to not have the mother-son dance? That is what happens when independent contractors are invovled.

At this point, I wanted to try to let go, have a few cocktails and enjoy myself.  After all, it’s not often that I get to party and dance at a wedding.  So, the dance floor opened up around 9:15 p.m. and I put on my dancing shoes.  I was determined to have a good time no matter what and I did, but, I know for a fact that the bride and groom submitted a detailed list of must play songs and I was not hearing any of those songs.  What I was hearing was a very cookie cutter, run of the mill, been-there-done-that, stale list of traditional wedding reception songs.  Oh, we heard, “We are Family”, “Celebration”, “YMCA”, “Shout”… you probably know them just as well as I do.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with these songs.  I am not trying to sound like a pretentious music snob.  I am simply noting that this bride and groom requested specific songs and not many of them were played until the groom spoke with the DJ. All they got was the same cookie cutter wedding music as another couple got the weekend before that, and the weekend before that, and so on.   There was nothing unique about the music selections…even though the bride and groom were told they can choose their music.    Did people dance and have fun?  Yes, they did.  Did I hear people comment that the DJ wasn’t very good?  Yes, I did.

Bottom line: Always know what you are getting if you book a company using independent contractors. Also, learn how to identify a company that uses independent contractors (most of these DJ companies ‘booking agents’ try to hide it).  Chances are, they are accustomed to playing the same music week in and week out and will not go above and beyond in terms of customer service.