Winner of The Knot's 2010 Best of Weddings award for the Central Coast, wedding DJ Paul Thompson of Escape Entertainment shares his top five tips for choosing a DJ/MC.
According to Thompson, DJing represents about 15 percent of what he does at an event. "Its my duties as Master of Ceremonies (MC) and event coordinator that take up most of my time. How is this possible? Most of my work as a DJ is done before the event; meeting with the bride and groom, putting together the play list, determining the events that will happen at the ceremony and reception, as well as any special requests. This allows me to focus more on my duties as an MC and event coordinator at the event.
Given this, how should a bride pick a DJ for her event? Heres what Thompson suggests:
Find out what each DJ will be responsible for at your event. Some DJs want to stay behind their equipment and just play music. Others will gladly serve as MC, coordinating all the events of your reception, such as the garter/bouquet toss, dinner, first dance, etc. This includes communicating with all of your other vendors at the reception, such as the videographer and photographer, to ensure that they are in the right place at the right time to capture these special events.
This will help you compare your DJs and their rates. One may be less expensive, but do much less than another. Whoever you sign with, get the details in a written, signed contract with a set price.
Meet all the DJs youre interviewing in person. A DJ/MC is one of the most important vendors at your event. Personality matters and first impressions are crucial. A DJ/MC helps to create the tone and atmosphere at your reception, so its important that you check him or her out in person. Did they dress nicely for this first meeting? Were they on time? Did they seem professional, personable and friendly? You can even ask them to make an announcement. Do you like their voice? Do they have energy? Do they present themselves well?
Check recent referrals. Any professional DJ/MC should be able to provide you with a list of recent referrals; not just one or two, but seven to ten. Call those referrals. You should get similar feedback from each of them. Ask if the DJ/MC went above the call of duty in any way and how they helped make your event a success. For example, at one of Thompsons events, the event coordinator at the facility became ill right before the reception started. Thompson quietly filled in and took over, unbeknownst to the bride and groom, who had no idea what had happened until after the event was over.
Ask for ideas. A great DJ/MC has done hundreds of events and has seen many different types of weddings. Share your wedding ideas with them and see what kind of input they have for you. The DJ/MC can help you turn your ideas into a reality and add details that you never thought of. Use their experience to make your event better.
For example, Thompson uses his knowledge of technology and lighting to help couples create visual presentations and effects that can turn first dances and even the garter removal into unforgettable events.
Make sure they are accessible. Your DJ/MC should be willing to meet or speak with you several times before your event. You may want to discuss your music choices, timeline of events, make changes or ask for input. They should be eager and willing to give their time to you for this once-in-a-lifetime, special event.
Paul Thompson is the owner of Escape Entertainment. He has served as DJ, MC and event coordinator at over 800 events for 17 years. He lives in Los Osos. For more information, please go to: http://www.escapedj.com.