So, you're planning your wedding, and when you get to the part where you choose your wedding DJ & entertainment you think to yourself, "Hmmm, I was at a wedding where there was a photo booth, and I really liked that."
Photo booths have been a popular option for a number of years now. However, photo booths have a lot of limitations. For starters they don't work with all of the great technologies we use today. They are also a bit of a distraction from the party since only so many people can fit into them at once, people usually have to leave the dance floor to use them, and they often times don't match your decor which can make them a bit of an eyesore.
Photo booths don't capture the story of your night. There are no candid moments in a photo booth, and the candid pictures that show genuine expression are always the best pictures. So who or what does capture the story? Most hired photographers don't stay past the first couple spotlight dances of a reception. If you remember, people used to get disposable cameras and rely on their guests to just pick them up and start shooting with them. Usually what would happen is that people took a few shots then set them down and forgot about the disposable camera. If you were lucky a couple people actually used up the all of the film in the cameras, but the pictures typically didn't turn out very well.
We now live in the times where most people have smartphones, and most people are shooting pictures and videos with them constantly. Especially at parties! Think about it. As soon as something interesting starts happening at least 10 people have a smartphone out recording video or still pictures.
Your wedding day is a day where you want to soak up every moment, and be able to recall those moments for the rest of your life. Not only that, but people want to be able to share their moments on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
At SoundFire DJ we see the value in bringing the photo booth concept into the 21st century. That's why we've partnered with Eversnap to bring our clients the best solution for capturing the story of their night.
Eversnap makes it easy for your guests to automatically upload the pictures they take with their smartphone throughout the evening to a dedicated album for your event.
What's also great about it is that you can start using it as soon as you start the journey of planning your wedding. Dress fittings, cake tastings, venue scouting, engagement photos, and more can all be captured to preserve those memories, and capture the story. Also, for the night of your reception, we can run a live slideshow of your photos that not only include the pictures leading up to your wedding night, but also updates LIVE as people take pictures at the reception! Eversnap also moderates every slideshow to ensure that only appropriate pictures make it into the album as well. So just in case a certain former Packer quarterback shows up at your wedding and gets too happy with his camera phone . . . Eversnap makes sure that picture doesn't make it onto the big screen.
Eversnap is one of the great finishing touches we offer for your celebration.
There's so much more we could share with you about this awesome service, so give us a call, and experience the difference!
Contact us online
Pictured above is a generally accepted guideline to what percentage of your budget should be dedicated to each part of your wedding expenses. Of course, if you search around on the Internet you'll find different opinions on this. You may also place more or less importance on a honeymoon vs. accessories and pampering. It's not set in stone, but it's a great guideline. We love sharing helpful information with our customers, and our site visitors.
Of course, you are reading Wedding Pro Tips from a DJ website so we're going to focus for a minute on that 15% allocation and why it's important:
After the Vows*
*These statistics were published in St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazine in 2003. Sources for the survey include: Simmons, 2001; USA Today, 2002; National Bridal Service, 2001; The Knot, 2002; Brides Magazine, 2001.
Why does this survey sound like most Brides have a case of hind-sight being 20/20?
Most brides forget about entertainment until the last minute, and then typically have, on average, about 4% of their budget to allocate. If you're spending $10,000 on your wedding (which is just over a third of the national average) that only leaves you with $400 for your music and entertainment. So then these brides scramble to find a $400-$500 hobbyist DJ, for that price they only get 4 hours of mediocre entertainment, and answer surveys like the one above wishing they had allocated the $1500 for a professional to cover the whole day. Now in our neck of the woods the prices on DJs varies greatly which makes it confusing for brides who are trying to plan. Even if you don't go with us, we want to help you have an idea of what a good DJ charges, and have it allocated in your budget, so you don't end up like the majority of brides in this survey. If you follow this chart, you should only ever hire a $400-$500 DJ if your wedding budget equals roughly $2700-$3300. The average amount of money spent on a wedding in Brown County, WI is $24,930 (source: costofwedding.com). Therefore, the average bride in this area should budget roughly $3,740 for their entertainment. Now most of the DJ service providers in our area, ourselves included, have packages well within that amount. Plus, we even added a streamlined level of service to help accommodate brides who truly do have a tight budget. If we can give you one other solid piece of advice regarding your music/entertainment it would be this: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, PLAN ON DOING WHAT IS CALLED AN "IPOD WEDDING". It's actually more expensive than you think to do this, and it's incredibly tacky. In fact, we have an entire blog post explaining what it would take to do an iPod wedding, and why it will end up costing you more.
Moral of the story: budget properly ahead of time. Try to find items and services that fit in the percentages listed in the chart above. If you need to save money or control costs the most effective way to do this is to control your guest list. Controlling your guest list can take the biggest piece of the pie chart, put it on a diet, and let it make room for things like spending money on your honeymoon or a little extra pampering. The average cost per guest at a wedding is between $120-$160. Try to focus on family first, and then invite friends you know will stay and have the most fun with you. Another area that's easy to save money in is decor. You'd be amazed at the lovely and meaningful centerpieces we've seen couples come up with using items they were able to find at their local crafts store. If you'd like to hear some great suggestions give us a call. 920-403-0827
Do you disagree with this figure? Don't just take our word for it - and when reading this article know that we value you and your day. Providing you with outstanding entertainment isn't a hobby for us. This is what we do.
The photo above is from an actual wedding reception that had 120 people there for dinner. Then the iPod playlist started, and now only a few remained. As you can see there is still a lot of daylight outside, so this had to have been taken before 8pm. No matter what these other bloggers try to tell you the iPod wedding just doesn't cut it.
We have noticed several websites including blogs, and even Good Morning America talk about using an iPod for your reception dance music. Our first reaction to these articles, and the people who think this actually works, can be summed up by a grumpy cat, "No!"
Do DJs use iPods? Rarely. Usually they are there just as a backup in case of a malfunction and we need to get a song going quickly. Sometimes we use iPhones and iPads as remote controls when we do sound checks or have to leave the booth to emcee in another area of the room. By no means were these devices ever designed to take the place of a DJ or proper DJ equipment. They are a tool, not the craftsman. Plus iPods are severely limited in their capability to mix songs together with no way to beat match songs, or add effects or transitions with the only exception being a 5 second crossfade. Bottom line, an iPod is a last resort tool in case of an emergency.
If you are considering doing an iPod wedding because you think it will save you money please call us about our "Streamlined" packages first. Our streamlined service offers everything you need to have a great party on a tight budget. Plus, you still get a professional DJ and emcee to create that perfect atmosphere.
For the sake of argument though, let's look at what it would take to do an iPod wedding. We'll look at cost, time invested, and the complete lack of convenience.
First you need an iPod. The least expensive one that can store enough music for your night and make changing tunes simple is the iPod Nano. So there's $150. If you're thinking of using your iPhone or iPad this is a bad idea because chances are a phone call, or a notification will interrupt playback at some point. You may already have an iPod, but at some point you or someone else paid for that iPod, and it still counts as a cost.
Running total: $150 plus tax, and a trip to Best Buy or the Apple Store to buy your iPod if you don't have one already.
Next you need speakers. No, your home stereo speakers won't cut it here, and neither will your computer speakers. If these were good enough tools for the job then DJs would use them too. They're not. So, the most cost effective route is to rent proper live PA speakers. Now, places that rent this sort of thing are typically going to rent you a used unit or floor model from last year, and just like a rental car, whoever rented these before you have probably put them through a little beating just to see how loud they would go. Rental units are typically the lowest end speakers for the brand that the rental house deals with. Also, having backup equipment is even more important since failure rates on rented equipment tend to be much higher. Now, let's say your rental per speaker is $50-$100. In fact, let's just say it costs roughly $250-$300 to rent three mains (2 for performance, 1 for backup), and a sub.
Running total: $400, plus the time it takes to research your equipment and rental choice. If you're having more than 100 people at your wedding you will probably have to upgrade the quality of your speaker rental too.
Now you need a way to connect the speakers to your iPod. Chances are the place that rented the speakers may have cables for you to rent too. They would probably charge about $20 for this.
Running total: $420
Next you need music. Here's where I may lose you, but it's important for you to read this. Most of your music, while it may be great to listen to in the car, doesn't work to keep people dancing at your reception. AC/DC or Guns N Roses may be great for blasting out your windows on a summer day, but no one knows how to dance to it unless you plan on having an air guitar or head-banging contest. Also, the songs that get people out on the dance floor at a wedding most people don't keep on their iPods. You should also keep in mind that your guests aren't going to have the same taste in music as you, and they will want to feel included or they leave early because they feel left out. Chances are you don't have a big enough library to take many requests from your guests. That iPod Nano can't download songs from the internet either. Do you have all of the clean versions of the music in your library? For example, if you start playing the wrong version of a popular Cee-Lo Green song you're bound to get some complaints; especially if there are children present. If you're trying to cheap-out on an iPod reception chances are you don't want to have to re-purchase music you already have just to get the clean versions. Also, who's going to manage the music to make sure people hear what they want to keep dancing? Even professional DJs sometimes play a song that clears a dance floor, but they recover immediately by seamlessly mixing in a new song. Watch someone who doesn't know how to do this try it, and it usually doesn't turn out well. Most of the articles we've read about doing an iPod wedding suggest you get someone to watch the sound system to A) make sure it keeps playing, and B) make sure the wrong people don't mess with it. It's really bad taste to ask a guest to work at your wedding reception. So, maybe you pay a friend that you didn't originally plan on inviting $50 to watch the iPod for you that night.
Music: $400 plus tax
(This price reflects that to be properly prepared you should have at least 400 songs on hand to cover your must-play songs, and handle some popular requests you may get from your guests. We show up with a library of roughly 16,000 songs, and have the capability to add more on the spot through our specialized DJ music service provided there is either WI-fi or cellular access.)
Friend at the table: $50
Running total: $870 plus you can easily spend up to a month trying to figure out your playlist. How much is your time worth?
Now, what about lighting? Let's say you rent some very basic lights from the same place that rented you the speakers. Depending on what you rent can make the cost vary. Let's say you spend $50-$100.
Running total: $970
Last, the most important thing left in this puzzle is insurance. If your guests get hurt by equipment that falls on them are you covered? No, you're not. That is unless you buy a DJ, or wedding insurance policy that covers liability and rental equipment. Think that guest won't sue if they get hurt? It's not always up to your guests. Sometimes their insurance companies require they file a lawsuit to cover claims. Also, if you bring back damaged rental equipment the rental company will bill you for the replacement cost. Bottom line, don't skip insurance. Cost is $100-$400, and possibly any deductibles in the event of an incident.
Running total: $1370 plus the time it takes for you to research coverage and options
So grand total, with your time not considered, is roughly $1400!!
We'll leave it up to you to determine how much your time is worth and add it on to this total. This cost is a bare minimum too! We haven't factored in if you use an iPod touch or an iPad instead of the iPod Nano, we haven't factored in if you have to buy any equipment because it isn't available for rent, and we haven't factored transportation costs or deductibles on insurance.
There's a lot more we could talk about in the planning phase, but now we'll cut right to the day of, or the night before, your wedding.
So, now you have to pick up all of this equipment that you're renting. Is your vehicle big enough to haul all of the equipment? Next, do you know how to hook up all of the equipment? If you get into an accident while transporting the equipment will your auto insurance cover that equipment? What if a cable shorts out during setup or the reception? Do you know how to change an audio cable out without damaging the speakers? What if you hurt yourself carrying something or setting up?
There's another big thing to consider too. No matter how well you may do with completing the tasks we stated above you can't get around the fact that an iPod reception just looks cheap. Guests at a wedding expect certain things: a beautiful bride, a meal, and great entertainment (entertainment being the #1 thing your guests will remember after your special day - don't just take our word for it). Guests expect a DJ or a band, or both. Not an iPod. Your friend who you barely paid, or "voluntold", to supervise the iPod probably isn't going to emcee (notice we didn't list a microphone in the equipment above). Also, when that playlist you picked doesn't work as well as you had hoped people are going to excuse themselves early.
Then after you're done with this equipment you have to return it on time or else there are extra fees. Any bride & groom will tell you that after their wedding day they just want to relax and enjoy a few days as newlyweds. The last thing you want to do is have to tear down this stuff and haul it back.
When you consider adding the cost up, and the extra amount of work you would have to put in to do this; suddenly a DJ looks a lot better. Also, we hope this provides you with a better understanding of why DJs cost what they do. Especially the DJs that care enough to invest in proper training and quality equipment. This should also make you think twice about what you're not getting if you go with that cheap DJ. We'll give you a hint: usually they don't carry insurance or backup equipment, and the equipment they do use is on par with old rental equipment that wasn't good enough to rent anymore. We've heard of even worse too. Just don't do it.
This is your wedding day. It's a once in a lifetime occasion, and one of the biggest days in your life. Even if it's not your first marriage, it's just as important as if it were the first. Do you want to even risk ruining it with poor entertainment? After reading this we hope you see the value in hiring proper entertainment for your wedding. Thanks for taking time to read this Wedding Pro Tip brought to you by SoundFire DJ.
Let us help you make your night what it deserves to be so you can enjoy yourself. Call us today - 920-403-0827
So, you've got a ring, a date, and a place. Now is the time when most couples planning their wedding start filling in the necessary details. Of course when it comes to entertainment this is the classic dilemma some couples face: Do I hire a DJ or a band?
Now, at SoundFire DJ we are all professional musicians as well as DJs. I make a point of telling you this to assure you we do not have a bias toward one or the other. Our goal is to help you make the best decision for your entertainment options. After all, we are more concerned with providing you with expertise instead of selling you on one service or another.
So, let's look at some simple pros and cons of each. We'll start with a band.
So, looking critically at this list of pros and cons we see that a DJ has a little more flexibility than a band. Now, if there is a smaller wedding where the guests have a more focused taste in music a band can be a huge success! Bands are typically a little more exciting to watch than DJs, but if you want people dancing all night a DJ is better equipped to provide that.
So you really, really want a live band at your wedding, but you want to make sure your guests are all pleased. You also want the music to run all night, and keep the excitement going. Here's what you do: Hire a DJ to compliment your live band. Here's why:
In the end it comes down to what you decide is best for your wedding reception. We certainly know from experience that a DJ, or a DJ with a live band is the best way to go for your wedding entertainment. Also, given the fact that the entertainment is the most important part of your reception, we invite you to do your research. We have made ourselves available to the public as free consultants for your wedding entertainment. If you need wedding entertainment, and we have your date available we can also talk about what we can provide for you. Thanks for reading this "Wedding Pro Tip"! Contact SoundFire DJ today and experience the difference.
We have received many calls over the years from people who have been in a very stressful situation. It's less than 2 months before their wedding, and their DJ backed out on them.
More often than not there are two factors that contribute to this scenario: 1) There was no contract between the client and the DJ. 2) The DJ got offered better pay to go play somewhere else.
Often times these are DJs that are hobbyists, and usually people find them on Craigslist. We strongly advise anyone who reads this that if your wedding DJ currently advertises on Craigslist you should probably look elsewhere. Sometimes these wanna-be DJs get a little more clever and sign up on pay per lead websites where other professionals also post their services. They may do fine at a birthday party, or a tailgate party, but a wedding is too important. That's why you should always check their references and testimonials, and meet with them in person before buying any services.
We also find that customers get themselves into these situations trying to save a buck on their entertainment. Like the old adage says, "You get what you pay for." What's even worse for these customers is that they usually lose out on whatever money they gave these wanna-be DJs since there are no written terms to dictate refund policies. To be blunt, it sucks for the customer in two ways. On one hand now the customer has to find a DJ last minute, and on the other is the fact that their DJ budget is now inflated because that cheap DJ just ran off with their money. All of this can be avoided by hiring a professional provider in the first place.
Save some money on food and decorations (it's been proven that your guests forget these things very quickly), and put that toward your DJ and photographer. Those are two most important professionals you hire on your wedding day. Your photos you will keep forever. Your DJ will make sure people look happy and are having a good time when their picture is taken at your reception.
At SoundFire DJ we will always work on contract with you so your date is guaranteed. We don't base our service on price. We base our service on value. We offer a high level of customer service and reliability. Our integrity and dedication to our customers comes first.
Call us today to book your event, and experience the difference!
We're going to give one of our first pro tips about DJ's today. It's not only something that frustrates nearly every DJ, but it is also one of the biggest mistakes people make when picking out a DJ or any other service provider. The first question a DJ usually gets asked is, "How much do you charge?" Hiring any professional for your wedding is like doing a job interview. Think about any job interview you've been in. The money is almost always one of the very last things to come up, and for good reason too.
Here are some much better questions to ask, and further proof why price is always the last question you should ask.
1. Please tell me about you and your services?
Not all DJs are the same. Different personalities, levels of experience, background, and more is why some DJs work for some weddings & parties and others don't. You want to be able to have a good relationship with your DJ so personality is key, and you don't want to leave your important day in the hands of someone inexperienced.
2. May I see you perform at another wedding?
Here's a trick question that instantly tells you if you have an amateur or a pro. If they are willing to let you crash another person's wedding, who will they let show up to yours? If they say "Yes" to this politely decline and move on.
3. Do you like to dance?
If you have a DJ that doesn't like to dance chances are that DJ will stay in the booth all night. At the same time you hope they're not over the top too. Most wedding parties want an entertainer that is going to interact with the crowd and keep the party going. Make sure your DJ matches your style.
4. Are you insured?
A lot of wedding reception halls are starting to clamp down on DJs not being insured. This is one of those things that brides don't find out about until about a week before their wedding. Then the DJ can't play, and the bride are groom are scrambling to find someone else who is insured that is free on short notice. Icing on the cake: you're probably going to lose your deposit from the DJ too.
Lastly, use your instinct. If you have a good feeling with the DJ set up a meeting with them to sit down face to face. Chances are you'll meet at a coffee shop and get free coffee during your meeting (you will with us).
After reviewing what you talked about on the phone, then it is the best time to start talking about price for three reasons.
First, you can read the DJ a little better to make your decision. If they seem confident and well-spoken, that's a good sign. If they're nervous and fumbling their words, you may want to reconsider.
Second, if the price sounds good based on the value and talent they bring most DJs will have the ability to get your date secured on the spot.
Third, the DJ will want to book your wedding as well, and this is a good time to negotiate services. Don't expect them to throw things in for free, but they should be able to flex or tweak their packages to work with you (i.e. If the DJ includes certain lighting you don't need, can you get a discount if it isn't used?)
We hope this pro tip helps you be more successful when picking out a DJ. Our goal is that we want you to have the best wedding, and the best customer service. If you have a date coming up just send us a message to check our availability!
P.S. This is what can happen when you make selecting your DJ all about price:
SoundFire DJ is taking a new direction, and we couldn't be more excited! Besides just offering one of the best DJ entertainment services in Northeast Wisconsin, we also want to offer our customers, and the general public, some great tips on wedding planning, latest trends in mobile DJ entertainment, and much more.
What's even better is we're going to offer this information right here for free. Our goal is to provide you with easy to read, and easy to follow tips from us and other wedding professionals. Be sure to subscribe and share our blog posts to help you and your friends benefit from the great information we will be sharing right here. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
SoundFire DJ is a leading professional in DJ entertainment here in Northeast Wisconsin.