San Diego Wedding DJ
Were you surprised when you found out how much it would cost to have even a simple wedding? Why do wedding vendors, including disc jockeys, charge so much money for their services? What is the difference between an affordable $500 DJ and a more expensive one? How important is the role of entertainment at wedding receptions and how much should be spent on it? What do you do if you’re on a tight budget?
Before I started my own wedding entertainment company, I had worked part-time for other well-established San Diego wedding DJs as their assistant and sound technician. When I started to realize how much money they were charging their clients, I was literally shocked. Back then I did not understand how much time it took them to plan each wedding and I did not know anything about their business expenses. I thought they were the lucky guys who didn't do much, worked one day per week, had fun and made a decent amount of money.
As I continued working for different local DJ companies, I was becoming more and more interested in learning more about their business and how they made their success happen. I started to understand that they had to spend a lot of money in order to make profit and stay in business. I also realized that most of them had to work five, six or even seven days per week in order to stay on top of everything they did. In fact, most full-time wedding disc jockey companies normally invest 15 to 30 hours to every wedding while it may appear that you are only paying for "4 hours". In addition, they have to constantly spend thousands of dollars on their sound and lighting equipment, music, insurance, education, office space, advertising, marketing, etc.
People often ask me why many event vendors and professionals tend to charge more money for their services at weddings. Well, it’s because your expectations are higher and vendors need to spend more time and money to deliver the types of services you require. Most birthday cakes are not the same as wedding cakes, just like a birthday DJ service is different from a wedding DJ service. While a simple DJ setup is usually sufficient for a birthday party, when it comes to weddings, two or three sound systems, customized selection of songs, MC announcements and introductions, several personal meetings and lots of planning are required for a successful job completion. As a matter of fact, I know some event professionals who are happy to work at all kinds of events but weddings (not Golden Gate Sunrise Entertainment).
According to current studies, people spend only about eight percent of their wedding budget on entertainment, while the importance of their wedding’s success depends 70 percent on entertainment. In fact, the vast majority of your guests won’t remember anything (including your cake, décor, chair covers, photo booth, food, paper menus, transportation, your hair, you nails, your dress, etc.) but your wedding reception entertainment and how much fun they had. Almost all the brides regret not spending more time and money on their entertainment, while almost all the guests consider music to be the most memorable part of a wedding. Simply ask a few of your friends or do some online research on this and you will find similar statements almost everywhere. Your DJ sets the mood for the entire night and it’s very important not to underestimate this.
Shopping for DJs is somewhat similar to shopping for used cars. They are all different and, while it’s obvious that price is always one of the main factors we consider when we make our choices, the difference between an affordable $500 DJ and a more expensive one can be compared with the difference between a $500 used car with no engine and a more expensive and more reliable used car that costs more money. If you find a wedding DJ who wants to work for $500 or less, usually it means that he is an amateur and this is not what he does for a living. Unless someone else is paying your bills or you have another job, it’s not possible to afford all the equipment and provide personalized quality wedding entertainment services while charging $500, at least not in San Diego. Please keep in mind that there are some dedicated hard-working individuals who are starting out in the business and all I’m suggesting is to do your research and get to know your DJ before you make your final decision. You can also take a look at my “DJ Hiring Tips” article to learn more about this topic.
What do you do if you’re on a tight budget? As a matter of fact, most of us are on a tight budget and we can’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on our weddings simply because we don’t have that kind of money. I completely understand it and here’s a list of a few ideas that might help you plan your wedding and save money.
1) Write down a list of services you’d like to use for your wedding: venue, DJ, band, photography, videography, food, drinks, transportation, furniture, photo booth, cake, dress, rings, room décor, flowers, lighting, etc. Prioritize those services and decide which ones are the most important to you. Even if you have a $100 000 budget, you will still end up having to save on something.
2) Once you’ve chosen the most important ones (e.g. venue, DJ & videography), increase your budget for those services and save as much money as possible on everything else.
3) If you have to, consider cutting down the number of guests. It might be better to have a great unforgettable wedding with 100 people in attendance than a so-so wedding where 200 guests get bored and start leaving early.
4) Have your wedding on any day but Saturday. Many wedding vendors charge less money for their services on weekdays and/or Sundays because they are less likely to be booked for those days and it makes sense for them to attract more potential clients by reducing their rates.
5) If you still can’t afford hiring a good wedding DJ or it’s not important to you, you have the option of renting a sound system and playing your own music. I’ve seen many people who simply don’t like DJs. Instead, they rent speakers and play rock music or anything else they want to hear without having to spend extra time and money. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of DJs myself but, when it comes to weddings, it might be really helpful to have an experienced person in charge of all the music for your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, all the sound systems, all the lighting, all the announcements and introductions, the person who coordinates all the vendors and makes sure everything runs on time, makes sure all of your guests are having a good time, helps you plan your timeline, helps you prepare a good wedding music selection, etc.
6) Search the web for more ideas. You’ll be surprised how many people have been in the same situation you are now and are willing to share the ways they saved tens of thousands of dollars when planning their dream weddings.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.
If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Wedding Disc Jockey
What should you consider when working on your wedding music selection? How much freedom should you give your DJ when choosing songs for your wedding reception? What kinds of music or specific songs should you and your DJ avoid to make sure everyone is happy? What else is there to think about before you pick your favorite songs for your ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, first dance, bouquet toss, garter removal, cake cutting and all other key events?
First of all, it’s very important to understand that your personal music preferences will most likely be different from what would make the vast majority of your guests happy. If your goal is to make sure everyone has a good time, your DJ would have to find the right mixture of what you really like and what your guests would enjoy listening and dancing to, which would depend on their background, nationality, age, interests and many other factors.
I've heard many people say that “If the dance floor in not packed, the DJ in no good”. Well, this is not always the case because sometimes the DJ has to follow the playlist provided by the client and has no freedom to play the songs he thinks would work well. Also, not everyone likes to dance and many people might still enjoy the music while catching up with someone at the bar or doing something else. You might not even realize it before your wedding reception, but some of your guests might not like to dance at all. You will never get me on the dance floor and the number of people dancing or not dancing should not be used to judge the DJ. Instead, it might be a good idea to look around and see if people are having fun while socializing, drinking, taking pictures, etc.
If you hire a qualified wedding DJ, he will tell you that he would be happy to play whatever you want him to play and offer his music knowledge and experience to help you choose good songs for all of the events that would take place at your wedding reception. In my opinion, it might be a good idea to let the DJ do the dancing part and have him play the songs you like during the cocktail hour and dinner. This would allow you to definitely hear the music you like while allowing your guests to enjoy some of the music they like and would possibly dance to. It’s totally fine to have a “play” list and “do not play” list as this gives your DJ an idea of what your preferences are and helps him make you happy. However, it might be wise to keep the “do not play” list short as it limits the selection of good dancing songs and might make it more difficult for your DJ to please some of your guests.
Another important thing to consider is whether your wedding DJ should take requests from your guests. I’ve seen a number of situations where drunk and sober guests come up to DJs and start teaching them how to be a good wedding disc jockey, what to play and what not to play. Oftentimes, they ask for songs they personally like and think that everyone else will enjoy hearing it. However, those songs are often inappropriate and someone’s personal music preferences should not interfere with the playlist you’ve discussed with your DJ. Therefore, if you ask your disc jockey to play all music requests from all of your guests, it will definitely change the outcome of your wedding reception and the dance floor is likely to be less crowded, if not empty. In my opinion, you should choose the “DJ’s Discretion” option when planning your wedding entertainment as it will make it a lot easier and more fun for you, your guests and your wedding disc jockey.
Are there any specific songs or genres you and your DJ should avoid? Not really, unless you really hate something and don’t want to hear it under any circumstances. Make sure you let your DJ know if you want him to play clean versions of songs or the easy-to-get versions that contain profanity. Keep in mind that, as long as your disc jockey has enough freedom to choose most songs for the dancing part (where your guests will be actively involved), you can pick your very favorite songs for your ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, first dance, bouquet toss, garter removal, cake cutting and all other key events. If you have more questions or comments, feel free to post it below this article or contact me.
San Diego Wedding Band
What should you consider when choosing between a wedding disc jockey and a live band? How can you make sure you’re dealing with dedicated, experienced and professional entertainers? How much does it cost to hire a DJ vs. a band? Thinking of having both a DJ and a band for your wedding reception? Not sure how to make it work? Read on!
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of different comments from people in regards to their views and opinions on this topic and I would like to start by clarifying some of the most common disbelieves and confusions out there.
“It is more expensive to have a band than a DJ.” Most established DJ companies charge between $1000 and $3000 for a wedding reception while most established bands charge the same amount of money. While being a musician requires a lot more talent and years practice than being a DJ, many bands are charging less money and getting paid less just to be able to compete with those DJs and stay in business. These days, the demand for live music is fairly low but I believe that it’s just a matter of time before live bands and musicians become popular again. Then DJ companies will have to reduce their rates and the financial difference between hiring a band and a DJ will be more significant and make a little more sense :)
“Bands can play only specific genres, all the songs sound the same and it gets boring. DJs are more flexible.” This might be the case if you are dealing with very unprofessional bands or if you really hate live music. The main purpose of any professional wedding entertainer is to satisfy their client and make as many guests happy as possible. And since all people have different music preferences, many of the wedding bands constantly work on expending their repertory while experimenting with different genres, transitions and sounds. This allows them to play different kinds of songs from different eras and be just as flexible and accommodating as some of the top class wedding DJs. In my opinion, there is a lot more appeal, sophistication, energy and excitement when there is a band playing live instead of (or in addition to) a DJ pushing two buttons on his laptop.
“Are there any advantages of having a DJ?” Well, it can be many different things. Sometimes DJs might be better for playing electronic music. Also, many of the San Diego wedding DJs have become popular, to a large extent, because of their ability to MC all necessary announcements and introductions. DJs do not have to “learn” the songs they play and if you’re looking for a large number of non-mainstream songs, it would be easier for your DJ to download them than for the whole band to learn them just for your wedding. Also, if your space is limited, a DJ setup would not require as much space as most bands would.
Depending on your venue, your personal preferences and other details, there will be more advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing between having a disc jockey vs. a live band. However, there is another option of choosing to have both at the same time and there are many different ways to make it work. One of the most common ones is to have a DJ, a pianist or a guitarist for your ceremony and/or cocktail hour and then a live band for your dinner. Your DJ would take over the dancing part and this way you would get a nice mixture of both DJ and live entertainment, which is very likely to surprise and please the vast majority of your guests.
One of the most important parts of shopping around for DJs and bands is to make sure you’re hiring dedicated, experienced and professional entertainers. You need to find out if the person you’re dealing with is the actual DJ who would be playing at your wedding and not just the sales person who tells you exactly what you want to hear in order to get you to buy their package. There are many couples who try to save many on entertainment and end up with a lot of disappointment and frustration because of relying on subcontracted DJs who, oftentimes, aren't trained and experienced enough to be a part of one of the most important day of your life. Many of them are paid a very small portion of the fee you’re paying to the company and poor level of service, old-school equipment and inappropriate attire are just a few of the possible consequences of dealing with those kinds of companies. While pictures, videos, reviews and referrals are great ways to learn more about the company you’re interested in hiring, in my opinion, one of the most important things is to be able to trust your wedding entertainer by establishing a personal relationship.
There are several companies in the San Diego area that offer packages that include DJs and live music, and Golden Gate Sunrise Entertainment is one of them. Their all-inclusive “Red Diamond” package provides a DJ for your ceremony, a pianist for your cocktail hour, a live jazz trio for your dinner and a DJ for the rest of your reception along with MC services, up lighting, dance floor lighting, highly personalized planning and more. The cost of this package can be compared to the cost of hiring a wedding DJ (or a band) alone. If you’re interested in learning more, you can click here.
DJ Charlie Walkrich - The Best of Dubstep & Electro House 2013 Mix (on Fire!)
What exactly is up lighting and why is it so popular? Should you spend extra money on having up lights at your wedding reception? What is the difference between LED up lights and regular up lights? How do you choose your wedding up lighting provider and what is the average cost of this service?
Up light (“wall light”, sometimes “spot light”) is a lamp designed to position or cast its light upwards. In other words, up lights are beautiful and eye-pleasing effects that add elegance and sophistication to you wedding venue by lighting up the walls and ceilings.
The trend of using up lights at wedding receptions and other events is increasingly becoming more and more popular across the globe, including the United States and the City of San Diego. In fact, almost every well-established San Diego wedding DJ uses up lighting on a regular basis and, with some exceptions, up lighting is one of the most important investments a couple can make for their wedding day. (See the picture below this article).
Most San Diego event lighting and/or disc jockey companies charge anywhere from $20 to $70 for each up light used, but the quality of their lighting fixtures and the way the lights work is quite different. Some companies use traditional par cans with colored gels while others use state-of-the-art LED lights. Depending on your desired color, it might be better to go with LED lights or regular par cans. The advantage of LED lighting is that the color and other effects can be changed immediately; the lights don’t get hot and use very little power. However, many of the LED lights have red, green and blue bulbs only, which makes it difficult to set the lights to amber or white colors. That's why, if you’d like to use these colors, I suggest either going with regular par cans with colored gels or using new RGBAW LED lights, which are very expensive and not so popular at the moment.
If you’re working with a qualified lighting professional, the person will take care of all of this for you, but if you’d like to make sure you know what you’re paying for, it might be a good idea for you to ask your lighting provider to show you the actual lights they would use at your reception venue and take a look at different colors, color combinations and effects to see what you like best.
Another question people ask me frequently is how many lights should be used at their wedding reception venue and where to put them. The answer is that it can be anywhere between 8 and 24 lights and it really depends on the type of venue, as well its size and design. The total cost of having up lighting at your wedding would range from $200 to over $1000 (a lot less if you go with our company) and using up lights it is a great way to impress your guests and add more elegance and excitement to your reception venue.
San Diego Wedding MC
Who is an MC and what does he do? Should you spend extra money and hire one for your wedding reception? Can your DJ do the job of an MC? What are the average rates for San Diego MC services?
An MC (emcee or master of ceremonies) is the official host of an event who usually speaks to the audience, makes announcements and introductions, presents performers and generally keeps the event moving.
Most San Diego wedding DJs sell themselves as both DJs and MCs while only some wedding disc jockey companies provide two separate persons for these two completely different jobs. That’s why it might be very important for you to check your DJ’s ability to make announcements and introductions beforehand, especially if you’re planning a big wedding with many events, traditions and toasts that would need to be presented.
How do you do that? One of the best ways is to simply ask your DJ to try to announce something at your meeting with him so you can hear the tone of his voice, his punctuation, his gestures and see if you like it. You may also ask your DJ to send you a few links or show you some video footage from his past weddings where he did some announcing so you can see his interaction with the audience.
I personally know many San Diego wedding DJs who are excellent at MCing as this is what they have to do all the time. However, every DJ is different and you need to make sure that you’re comfortable with his style of announcing.
As a full-time San Diego wedding DJ, I know that sometimes it’s difficult to mix music and make announcements at the same time, especially during the grand entrance when the music has to be changed as each couple enters the room while everyone has to be introduced to the audience with their names pronounced correctly.
That’s why most of our packages include at least two entertainers and each one does what they do best – a wedding DJ takes care of all the music while a wedding MC takes care of all the announcements. This allows the bride and groom along with their guests to have a much better experience during and after their wedding reception as entertainment is usually considered to be the most memorable part of most weddings.
If you really like your wedding disc jockey but you realize that he is not much of an MC, you can still have an experienced and professional wedding master of ceremonies do all the announcing. Average San Diego Wedding MC rates range anywhere between $75 and $250 per hour and, in my opinion, this is a very important investment that proves itself. I've seen many couples who preferred spending more money on their chair covers than entertainment and were disappointed afterwards. Therefore, make sure you get San Diego wedding entertainers you deserve and have a great wedding!
San Diego Wedding DJ
A subwoofer (or “sub”) is a speaker that reproduces low audio frequencies known as bass and in the following short article we’re going to talk about some of the possible advantages and disadvantages of using a subwoofer at your wedding reception or having your wedding disc jockey use one.
First of all, in my opinion, having a subwoofer at your wedding is not absolutely necessary and I would consider it as something optional. Some wedding DJ companies may charge you an extra fee for adding a subwoofer to their main sound system while others may have it included in their packages. If you’re not sure what to choose or if you’re going to DJ your own wedding, there are a few things to consider before making your choice.
One of the good things to start with would be to see how many guests you are having and what their age is. Sometimes with the elderly, it can be annoying to hear too much bass. Most guests do not realize if the wedding disc jockey is using any subs at all, but the older folks might come up and tell you that the music is “too loud” or “all the songs are the same” just because they hear lots of low frequency response. However, if the vast majority of your guests are young and middle age people and they like listening to dance, rock or hip hop music, it might be a great idea to have at least one sub adding more bass, energy and excitement to your dancing area, regardless of the size of your venue or the number of guests. Moreover, if having very high quality sound is one of your main priorities, large weddings would require 2, 3 and sometime 4 subwoofers, as well as additional wired or wireless speakers in every corner of your room.
Another important issue is to find out what the sound restrictions are at the wedding venue you’re about to choose as I’ve seen neighbors or nearby businesses call the police and complain. There are many restaurants, hotels and reception halls where you wouldn't want to use any subwoofers as they would cause disturbance to others, which may lead to conflicts or other unwanted situations during your wedding reception. Meanwhile, there are still many different kinds of venues that do not have as many sound restrictions and if you want to have it loud, you should be careful when choosing your wedding venue.
Those were the main factors I would consider when putting together your wedding sound system. If you decide not to have any subwoofers, you or your wedding DJ can always add more bass on the regular speakers and in most situations it’s going to be more than sufficient for most guests to have fun. In my opinion, it’s more about what songs your DJ plays than how many subwoofers are being used.
How much should you spend when hiring a wedding DJ? How can you make sure he is the right one? Hiring salesmen vs. hiring DJs. How to avoid paying thousands of dollars yet getting the value of a Craigslist DJ? What are the average San Diego wedding DJ rates?
Are you looking for a professional salesman or a professional DJ? First of all, it’s very important to understand the difference between the two. Most wedding disc jockey companies get a lot of business because they are strong in sales. The people who run these companies tell their clients, very professionally, exactly what they want to hear, and the clients often choose and book their wedding DJ even before meeting him. These big DJ companies usually charge their clients thousands of dollars and pay their DJs about 10 percent of what they make, which is between $100 and $300 per event. The client often ends up paying too much for a low-budget DJ, poor equipment, and bad customer service.
The equipment some of these wedding dj companies use is often very old and unreliable. Oftentimes, companies will show off their gigantic speakers and amplifiers in order to impress their client. However, modern technology no longer requires large surface area. Two modern speakers can now do the job of four outdated ones. In the meantime, they would take up far less space and look a lot nicer. Therefore, while some people believe that the bigger the speakers and amplifiers are, the better the sound would be, they often end up with a cheap and plastic sound that cuts the ears.
Furthermore, many of those so called wedding DJs don’t even know how to beat match music, or simply adjust the sound and microphone levels and frequencies, not to mention other possible surprises, such as unsuitable attire, wrongs playlist, songs with profanity, poor announcements, etc. You would often be impressed with their nice office and professional booking approach, but in the end you might end up paying a lot of money and getting the equivalent of a Craigslist DJ. Even if you still decide to go with a big disc jockey company, make sure you review the contact and, before you sign it, meet the person who will be playing at your wedding, not just the owner of the company or the sales person.
If the business is smaller, it doesn't mean it’s worse, and my advice would be to focus on those wedding DJs who come from a musical background – live musicians, singers, artists, DJs, music producers, sound engineers, music journalists, etc. They are the ones who are in the business because of music and they are more likely to deliver an excellent service. According to current studies, people spend only about eight percent of their wedding budget on entertainment, while the importance of their wedding’s success depends 70 percent on entertainment. Almost all the brides regret not spending more time and money on their wedding reception entertainment, while almost all the guests consider entertainment to be the most memorable part of a wedding.
All of this means that going for big name DJ companies or simply trying to find the cheapest wedding DJ is not a great idea and can often lead to disappointment and frustration. In the meantime, I would not recommend to judge by the price. Sometimes you can find more value for $800 than for $1500, and you should remember that the one who talks best is not necessarily the one who works best. When it comes to hiring a wedding disc jockey, I would suggest that you do it in advance (as early as possible, preferably a few months before your event) and start looking in the middle price category, which is between $700 and $1000 for four hours of service. Look for professionalism, dedication, honesty, trust, talent, respect, and punctuality. Try to check their music mixes, pictures, videos, testimonials, and make sure they are honest, listen to you carefully and answer all of your questions. It’s a common practice for most San Diego wedding DJs to charge approximately 50% of the total price when the contract is signed. This reserves the date of your wedding and makes them turn down other offers.
More questions? Arrange a free, no-obligation, in-person consultation with
San Diego Wedding DJ Charlie