How to Hire a DJ for Your Unique Hudson Valley Wedding

For most couples, hiring a wedding DJ is a new — and sometimes challenging — experience.

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Although some couples may have previously hired DJs for other personal or workplace events — and many couples have seen DJs perform at weddings for family and friends — most brides and grooms find themselves searching for a truly professional wedding DJ for the very first time.

What should you look for when searching for the best of the best in professional Hudson Valley wedding DJs? Where should you look for reviews of Hudson Valley DJs?  What questions, beyond the price or cost of DJ services, should you ask Hudson Valley DJs?

The number one question you should always ask up front of any Hudson Valley DJ is one that many couples often overlook:  “who is coming to my wedding?”

Hudson Valley Wedding at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

“If we hire your company, who will be working at our wedding?” and “Do you ever subcontract your work out to other wedding vendors?” are two excellent opening questions when interviewing a prospective DJ for your once-in-a-lifetime event.

There are many great companies in the Hudson Valley that offer multiple DJs for you to choose from for your wedding celebration. They offer the opportunity for you to see samples of their work and meet with your personal vendor before the big day. However, there are also a number of services in the tri-state area that offer “too good to be true” prices for “someone” to come work at your wedding.

I’ve said this many times in my career as a DJ, MC, and event host: the words “surprise” and “wedding” rarely go together well. You should know exactly who all your wedding vendors are — especially your DJ — and you should have the opportunity to be totally comfortable with them well in advance of the big day. Anything less than that feeling of complete confidence is not worth it.

Once you have confidence that you are talking to the actual person who will be there with you from the initial planning stages to the last dance of the night, it’s time to get to know your wedding DJ.  Don’t ever be afraid to ask your any of your wedding vendors — including your DJ — any of the following questions:

– Are you a full-time wedding professional?
– How many years of experience do you have in the wedding business?
– How many weddings do you work per year?
– How many weddings do you (or does your company) work in one day?
– Are you registered as a legitimate business? (DBA, Inc., or LLC)
– Are you a member of a professional association?
– Are you insured for liability?
– Do you use professional equipment?
– Do you provide backup equipment at my wedding?
– What’s *your* backup plan?
– What happens if I cancel the wedding or need to change the date of the wedding?
– When will you arrive on my wedding day?
– Will you be suitably dressed for our wedding?
– Will you be willing listen to me, and follow my plans for my wedding?
– What are your pricing packages, options, and services offered?
– What specifically is in included in your pricing, and what is “extra,” an “add-on,” or a “fee?”
– How much is your deposit, how do payments work, and what methods of payment do you accept?
– Do you provide a written contract?
– Can I have references and contact information from previous customers?
– Can I have references and contact information from other wedding professionals?
– Why did you decide to become a wedding vendor?
– What do you enjoy most about being a wedding professional?

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

The American Disc Jockey Association provides questions like these, as well as things to look for in your vendors’ potential answers, online. While the ADJA’s guidelines are mainly focused on hiring a DJ, these questions could easily be applied to most of the wedding vendors you are looking to hire for your big day.

In addition, as the owner of DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style, I would recommend these additional resources to use when you begin to look for Hudson Valley DJs to provide music, entertainment, Disc Jockey, and MC services for your upcoming wedding:

American DJ Association
10 Questions to Ask a DJ before You Hire Them

Bridal Guide
10 Questions to Ask Before Booking Your DJ

Huffpost Weddings
10 Questions To Ask A Potential Band Or DJ

The Knot
22 Questions to Ask Your Band or DJ

Brides.com
Every Single Question You Need to Ask Your Wedding DJ or Bandleader

Martha Stewart Weddings
Hiring a Disc Jockey

Here Comes the Guide
Questions to Ask a DJ or Live Entertainment

Wedding Vendor Reviews:  The Knot

Wedding Vendor Reviews:  WeddingWire

Here are a few articles from fellow industry pros as well:

“Do Your Research – Finding the Perfect Wedding DJ”

Alan Robb, owner of Accent Events in Wisconsin suggests you “Do Your Research” when “Finding the Perfect Wedding DJ.”

“Say YES to the DJ!”

Elite Wedding and Event Planning’s Angela Christoforo — located in the Hudson Valley of NY — offers a list of great advice on hiring the perfect DJ for your wedding day.

“How Much Should Your Wedding DJ Cost?”

Stacie Tamaki of I Found the Place interviews a number of the best professional wedding DJs across the country to demonstrate that “there is a big difference between how “professional” and “stereotypical” DJ’s view weddings” in her article “How Much Should Your Wedding DJ Cost?”

“How to Choose a DJ . . . a Decision Worth the Effort”

Judy Lewis at HudsonValleyWeddings.Com offers great advice on hiring Hudson Valley DJs in her article “How to Choose a DJ . . . a Decision Worth the Effort.”

“How to Select a DJ”

Shandria Strickland, Chief Entertainment Officer of A Woman’s Touch Entertainment in Atlanta offers advice on “How to Select a DJ” that could be applied in any area of the country, including the Hudson Valley.  Hear her unique perspective on the value of hiring a professional to DJ your once-in-a-lifetime event.

“6 Things Brides Really Look For In A Wedding DJ”

At Digital DJ Tips, Barney Grossman offers a list of qualities that every good wedding DJ should strive for in terms of performance and professionalism.  It’s also a great list of questions to ask your potential wedding DJ.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Locust Grove Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Finally, while these articles are mainly focused on brides and grooms hiring Hudson Valley DJs, many of these questions could easily be applied to almost all of the Hudson Valley wedding vendors you are looking to hire for your big day.

Congratulations,

Bri

__________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email:   briswatek@gmail.com
Phone:   845.235.0080
Online:   www.djbriswatek.com

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Wedding DJ Prices

“How much?”

When planning your upcoming wedding, “How much?” seems like a simple question.  You need a DJ for your wedding, to play your most important songs and MC your most important events.  You want the best DJ for your wedding, to keep your dance floor packed all night long, with your friends and family celebrating to all your favorite songs.

Why, then, do you get so many different answers, and which one is the right one?  “How much does a wedding DJ cost?”

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at Highlands Country Club Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Kimberly Coccagnia

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at Highlands Country Club Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Kimberly Coccagnia

For most couples, hiring a wedding DJ is a new, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  After recommendations from family, friends and other wedding vendors, online searches, posts in forums, visits to bridal shows, and reading reviews, most couples are left asking, “who are all of these DJs, who’s the right one for us, and why are all of their prices so different?”

The American Disc Jockey Association (which I, DJ Bri Swatek, am proud to be a member of) provides a few things to think about when hiring a DJ for your upcoming wedding.  The Association notes that “Disc Jockey rates vary” across the country, “based on talent, experience, emcee ability, service, coordination, equipment needed, music knowledge, mixing ability and personality” and that “the best price is not always the best deal, especially if you are planning a wedding. As a matter of fact, surveys conclude that nearly 100% of brides would have spent more money on their entertainment and made it their #1 priority in hindsight.”

Wedding planning sites such as WeddingWire, The Knot, or The Wedding Report’s “Cost of a Wedding” note that “How much?” really depends on what you are looking for in your wedding DJ.  According to the wedding industry-respected Costofwedding.com, “You should expect to pay, on average, 50% to 100%+ more when choosing well-experienced professionals, designer labels, popular event locations, unique or custom products and services.”

Simply put, full-time, professional wedding DJs set prices that are a reflection of the time, effort, quality, and service that they will provide for your once-in-a-lifetime wedding celebration.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Highlands Country Club Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Kimberly Coccagnia

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Highlands Country Club Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Kimberly Coccagnia

Once you’ve established the overall budget for your wedding, the next step to determining “How much?” is to find and then meet with and interview DJs in your area that provide the best possible answers to a few simple, to-the-point questions:

– Are you a full-time wedding professional?
– If we hire your company, who will the DJ at our wedding?  Will it be you, or someone else?
– How many years of experience do you have DJing and MCing weddings?
– How many weddings do you DJ per year?
– How many weddings do you (or does your company) DJ in one day?
– Do you ever “subcontract” your work out to other wedding DJs?
– Are you registered as a legitimate business? (DBA, Inc., or LLC)
– Are you a member of a professional association?
– Are you insured for liability?
– Do you use professional equipment and would you provide backup equipment at my wedding?
– What’s *your* backup plan?
– What happens if I cancel the wedding or need to change the date of the wedding?
– When will you arrive on my wedding day?
– Will you be suitably dressed for our wedding?
– Will you be willing listen to me, and follow my plans for my wedding?

Once you’re satisfied with the DJ’s answers, you might also want to consider getting to know your potential wedding DJ / MC a bit better.  After all, this is the person who will introduce you, your family, and closest friends at your wedding, play your first dance, and keep your party going all night long!

– Why did you decide to become a wedding vendor?
– What do you enjoy most about being a wedding DJ?
– Have you ever DJed a wedding like ours?
– What suggestions do you have for our wedding?

When it finally comes to talking numbers, with your overall wedding budget in mind, never be afraid to ask any of the following questions of a truly professional wedding DJ:

– What are your pricing packages, options, and services offered?
– What specifically is in included in your pricing, and what is “extra,” an “add-on,” or a “fee?”
– How much is your deposit, how do payments work, and what methods of payment do you accept?
– Do you provide a written contract?
– Can I have references and contact information from previous customers?
– Can I have references and contact information from other wedding professionals?

With the amount of time and money you’re putting into your once-in-a-lifetime celebration on your wedding day, you deserve to know exactly who your wedding DJ is and what their answers are to any and all of these questions.  Anything less than a feeling of complete confidence in your wedding DJ is not worth the price, no matter “How much.”

(For a complete price quote of my DJ services for your upcoming Hudson Valley wedding, please contact me at http://www.DJBriSwatek.com.)

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

Bri

__________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email: briswatek@gmail.com
Phone: 845.235.0080
Online: www.djbriswatek.com

The Truth about iPod Weddings and DIY or Family Friend Wedding DJs

Considering asking a friend or family member to provide music at your wedding?  Has a friend or family member offered to DJ your wedding for little or no cost as their gift to you?  Or, are you considering the prospect of DJing your own wedding?

Are you concerned that no DJ can provide the music you truly want at your wedding?  Are you thinking of renting equipment, using your computer, iPad, or iPod, and becoming your own DIY DJ on your wedding day?

iPod Wedding

If your friend or family member truly is a professional wedding DJ, you will most likely have a fantastic wedding with them.  Asking a few simple questions (found on numerous “How to Hire a DJ” websites) will help you to determine whether or not this is the case.

However, if he or she is simply someone who “has a lot of music” on their computer with little or no experience as a professional wedding vendor, you could be headed for a real problem on your wedding day.  Trying to direct the people and events and attempting to coordinate the music on your wedding day can be a very challenging task for someone who is not a trained, professional DJ.  Wedding ceremony and reception timelines move very quickly and your other vendors will expect to be working with a trained professional who can keep pace with them on your big day.

DJing your own wedding is next to impossible.  With the multiple demands placed on your time during your wedding day–visiting with your guests, taking photos, simply *being* a bride or a groom–there’s little time to add in being your own DJ as well.  As the owner of DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style I always tell my couples that their main jobs on their wedding day should be to eat, drink, dance, and celebrate.  Hire experienced vendors, create a plan with them in advance that reflects your unique style as a couple, and you can leave the worry and the work to the professionals.

Here are three big reasons why you should hire a professional wedding DJ to play music and MC your once-in-a-lifetime event:

1. Organization

While many couples are looking for less “talk” or crowd motivation from their DJ, these are concerns that can be easily addressed with a professional wedding DJ.  An experienced DJ will listen to your ideas and tailor their MC work to fit the overall style of your event.

However, there are times when you do need a professional DJ to act as your MC at your wedding.  Who will make introductions?  Who will announce events?  How will your guests know that you are transitioning from dinner to dancing?  Who will coordinate with your other vendors?

With the amount of time and money you’re investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that your carefully planned event comes together with perfection.  A highly trained wedding DJ will serve as your MC, coordinating with your team of vendors, organizing your wedding party, and directing you and your guests from one event to the next–all while playing the right songs at the right time!  From your first dance to your toasts and from dinner to your last dance, a professional wedding DJ will use your timeline, input from your vendor team, and his or her own training as a public speaker to create a natural flow of events for you and your guests.

2.  Reading the Crowd

Certainly, wanting to avoid typical wedding music and looking to have a “non-cheesy wedding DJ” experience is very important.  However, it doesn’t mean that you have to try to Do It Yourself or ask a family friend to be your DJ or MC.  In fact, you could end up having an even worse experience on your wedding day by trying to take on too much yourself.

Having a solid Must Play List and Do Not Play List the reflect your personal style is a great first step to a successful party on the day of your wedding.  However, an experienced DJ will also be able to “read the crowd,” paying attention to what is going on both on and off of the dance floor.  Sometimes your guests need one extra song–or one less.  Sometimes the mood on the dance floor changes and a planned song request needs to be moved up, moved back, or switched out for a different one.  Years of training and experience lead a DJ to knowing when to play the perfect song that fits that moment on your big day.

3.  The Back-Up Plan

Most couples either have or have access to a computer, iPad, or iPod full of music. Renting a speaker system and a microphone (or using equipment provided by a venue) is relatively easy as well. However, when it comes to DJ gear, having the equipment is only half the battle. Knowing how to use it and what to do when something goes wrong is where hiring an experienced DJ makes all the difference.

Each venue space is unique and requires a professional sound check and constant adjustments throughout your wedding to make sure the that music isn’t too loud and that the microphone is crystal clear.

In addition, having back-up gear and a back-up plan is a must on your wedding day. DJ equipment can fail for a number of reasons and there is little to no time during a wedding to try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. A professional wedding DJ will bring a complete back-up system to your weddding and have multiple “what-if” back-up plans (built on years of experience) to keep the music going at your once-in-a-lifetime event.

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek in the Mix Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios

Asking a friend or family member to help you with a Do It Yourself / iPod Wedding could end up costing you much more than the little bit of money you might be saving–there’s no reason to ruin your big day over concerns about the playlist or customizing the music to fit your style as a couple.  In fact, any truly professional wedding DJ will agree that your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists should reflect your personal style and the type of wedding you want your guests to enjoy.  A truly professional DJ will make these lists of songs an essential part of your unique wedding day, using professional MCing to keep a careful balance between food, photos, dancing, special moments, and everything in between!

Congratulations,

Bri

__________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email:   briswatek@gmail.com
Phone:   845.235.0080
Online:   www.djbriswatek.com