Industry Insider Q&A: District Remix

What field are you in in the wedding industry (caterer, florist, etc.)
I am in the entertainment field, DJ specifically.

What are some unrealistic expectations or perceptions brides/ grooms/ families have when they first contact you?  
The biggest perception is what DJs cost. I have seen many couples that reach out and say they have a budget of ___ for a DJ as that is what they have been recommended from friends or family. But, what that number doesn't show is the experience of the performer or the result of the event. 

What are some unrealistic expectations or perceptions brides/ grooms/ families have In general about your market category? 
They assume that most DJs are cheesy and loud. From my experience, more and more DJs like to focus on the music and not be talking on the microphone throughout the evening. Occasionally, we also get the "well, you are just a human iPod". The DJ will manage the timeline as represented to your guests, letting everyone know when toasts are happening, when the dance floor opens, etc. We can also manage any hiccups in the timeline (if you need more time for pictures or visiting tables) and adjust on the fly, making sure that everything comes across seamless and elegant to your guests.

What are some unrealistic expectations or perceptions brides/ grooms/ families have specific to you/ your company? 
Some people perceive that we are too expensive for their event or that they have all the time in the world to book a great DJ. 

How do you try to properly re-frame those expectations?
We reframe it by showing it not only in terms of the time we invest prepping for their event (which can be 12+ hours for a 4-6 hour event), but also presenting them with what to expect out of our performance during our first meeting. We feel they should know the bulk of the music planning has been taken care of so that they won't stress as much. We want to make our meetings fun! 

We typically book anywhere from 9-18 months out, depending on the date. It is best to book farther out as you will get to work with who you really want to, in all vendor categories. Demand for certain personalities does come into play as couples want to make sure their day is a personable and fun with their guests as well as their vendors. We've even had clients that have moved wedding dates just for our DJs! 

Would you rather try to make yourself a fit for every client or would you prefer to refer them to someone who is a better fit?
I prefer be the right fit for a client, whether it is with myself as the DJ or one of my team members. But if we aren't clicking with a client, I will refer other wonderful DJs that might be better for their style. Make sure that you enjoy the company of those you will be hiring for your event.

What do you want brides to know about your field when comparing vendors?
Many DJs can now do club-style mixing (beat matching), which brings that level of the dancing up from a 'stop-start' feel, to a flowing energy on the dance floor. Make sure the DJ will show off your music style throughout the event. Every portion of the event should be thought about carefully. If you aren't into jazz for the cocktail hour, make sure that the DJ can distill your personality from the music to your guests. If the DJ was going to play elevator music and you aren't into that, why would you hire them? 

What things do brides forget to include in their decision making process when selecting vendors in your field?
Some clients might get recommendations from friends on Facebook, but it really helps to ask your other vendors who they would recommend. Vendors have worked with such a variety over the years, they will be able to steer you in the right direction, as they not only see the finished product, but also the planning process of working with them. 

What do you feel is a typical price point for services in your field in your market?
The typical price point ranges anywhere from $1500 - $5000, depending on the DJ selected, amount of performance time and other elements (uplighting, dance lighting, etc).
The biggest mistake most people make when it comes to your field…
Not seeing the performer play for them beforehand. Would you book a photographer without seeing their work? We like to show clients the level of performance we will deliver for their event so they know what to expect. Many times, we will have the wedding party telling us, "We heard you are amazing" - even before the party starts! Our couples definitely like to let their friends know they are in for a good time. 

What are some things you wish every B&G knew about any category or anything in the wedding?
Make sure to enjoy the day! Let your wedding vendor team sweat over the timeline and small details. Do you want your memories to be of making sure all the candles are lit before guests walk into the reception or singing your face off while on the dance floor with your friends?

Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “Platinum Weddings.” Her firm has been recognized as one of the best by Weddingwire.com and Capital Gazette. Recently, Raquel was named one of Annapolis’ Finest 40 under 40 by Cystic Fibrosis as well as “People to Watch” by The Capital in 2009.