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Hungry Joe
Nov 27, 2006

DDFH


Hey A/T! I'd like to hear about your experiences booking and using a wedding DJ/band. I'm going to be leaving the desk-lyf soon and set up my own business. Ideally, when I take the plunge, I won't be returning so I want to make sure I get things right!

I have a bunch of questions that I'd love to hear responses to. Also, feel free to share anything you think is related! If anyone has experience as a wedding dj or musician I'd love to hear about that too

- How did you search for your DJ/band?

- How did you decide after you searched?

- What were you looking to pay?

- What did you end up paying?

- Did you pay hourly or per event?

- Did your DJ use lights? If so, did they charge extra for them?

- How often did you meet/work with them to make sure everything was right?

- How far in advance did you book?


Thanks!

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Radio Help
Mar 22, 2007

ChipChip? 


I worked as a sound man for a wedding band (specialized in classic rock covers and poo poo like that) about five years ago, and I remember a few things.

1.Gigmasters is the main way that people booked us, but we also had a pretty good network with various wedding planners in the Oregon area so we got a lot of business from that.

2. n/a

3. I get the feeling that most people wanted to spend around $1k for a live band and
4. they ended up paying around $1,500-$2,000 for us, depending on how far we needed to travel

5. For wedding gigs we had a flat fee per event, usually an hour of dinner music and an hour and a half of dance/rock music. Private events and parties were always hourly, but generally tended to be less expensive because they're less stressful (and, honestly, the budgets are tighter)

6. We had a lighting setup (two ambient lights for the back stage, little laser dance floor dealy, smoke machine, front lights) and I'm fairly sure it was included in our main fee.

7. We would get initial emails from clients about set lists, first dance songs, any special requests, and maybe a follow up call closer to the actual day, but outside of that we usually didn't hear much from our clients. We generally had to go out of our way to get in touch with clients or wedding planners after the initial emails, which was really counter-intuitive and frustrating. Typically what would happen is we would tell clients/planners "hey, we are a four piece band with live drums and a PA and that takes up a lot more space than you'd think, we need at least 20 square feet to be able to set up all of our gear" and then we would show up and the wedding planner would have like a ten foot plot for us right next to great grandma's table. Also I almost never had any place to set up my sound board and the only power outlet in the place was on the opposite end of the room. Most live bands/djs really want to be involved in the process but end up getting shoe horned in as an afterthought, which makes the setup during the wedding that much more of a hassle for the planner and stressful for the clients. Honestly, we get paid either way, but we also really want you guys to like how we sound and have a good time, so if you're going to go with a live band, talk with them A LOT. Take pictures of the layout of your space, don't let your wedding planner flip out at them if they say there's no way they can set up a full band in what is basically a compact parking space, and give their sound guy whiskey cuz he has to deal with all the inevitable bullshit that the band doesn't have to put up with. Also if you're going to have your wedding at a house or outdoors, have a good idea on how the breakers are set up, because most live bands have to split their power between two breakers when using residential electricity. That's really really not a fun one to have to figure out thirty minutes before the guests start arriving.

8. If you're going to have your wedding in the summer or September, book like six months out. If it isn't during the peak season, chances are good you'll be ok booking a month or so out. Never hurts to ask earlier, though.

hope that helps. PS: bands hate playing Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate" and most will despise you if you ask for it. We flat out refused to play it.

Radio Help fucked around with this message at 11:43 on Dec 30, 2014

Hungry Joe
Nov 27, 2006

DDFH


Wow, that's super helpful. Thanks, I really appreciate it!

Gunshow Poophole
Sep 14, 2008

OMBUDSMAN
Posters' Local 42069





Clapping Larry

I got married in June. I would also post your question in the Engagement and Wedding Megathread and you'll get some additional traffic from people.

- How did you search for your DJ/band?

The Goog. I was getting married in a different state, so I just did a search online, pulled out a bunch of candidates in the area.

- How did you decide after you searched?

I called each of them and got quotes, talked briefly with the people who gave me the quotes. I dunno, I found that speaking directly to the person who was going to be at the actual event was a lot more reassuring than talking to an admin assistant at the front desk of a booking agency.

- What were you looking to pay?

I had no idea, we were given a number but we'd never done this before. Obviously "as little as possible for quality" was what I was looking to pay. This was in New York (I live in South Carolina) so prices were astronomical compared to what I'm used to.

- What did you end up paying?

$3,500. It was a six piece ensemble for basically two 2-hour sets.

- Did you pay hourly or per event?

Only the one event.

- Did your DJ use lights? If so, did they charge extra for them?

Yes, no. Their setup came with everything included.

- How often did you meet/work with them to make sure everything was right?

Called the bandleader guy twice prior to the event to hammer out details. I explicitly told him "I've seen your demos and am confident in y'all, here's a general guideline for how the evening should go, go nuts". Basically he had to ask about technical details: where they would set up, what the space was like, whether there was sufficient electrical (there wasn't, the venue's handyman had to run a new line), etc.

- How far in advance did you book?

About 6 months. I recall (can't really remember now) being in touch in January because I paid tuition around the same time.

People usually balk pretty hard when I tell them how much of our budget we devoted to the band but holy shiiiit did they kick rear end. They closed their set for the night and after 50 people stood around whooping and hollering for 2 minutes, stopped unplugging lights and did an encore of Ke$ha's "Your Love Is My Drug". Brought the loving house down. We visited my in-laws for Christmas and the first thing almost anybody we hadn't seen since June talked about was our wedding band. They totally validated our approach to vendors which was generally hands-off and trusting. We had some broad ideas but just gave the real artists free rein.

Problem!
Jan 1, 2007

I am the queen of France.


1) I collected business cards from a wedding expo, then looked them up online for reviews (this is how I picked the majority of my vendors actually). I picked the best-reviewed DJ in my area on The Knot and Wedding Wire and such who wasn't absurdly expensive and was also on my venue's recommended DJs list which was important because my venue had some really strict sound rules due to a zoning slapfight with a neighboring property.

2) Our music budget was $1500.

3) We spent $1800 for the reception DJ (after A LOT of hemming and hawing, we were sure if anyone would actually dance at the reception so why bother spending gobs of money on music) and $300 for a string quartet for the ceremony from a local college. One thing I learned during this whole wedding planning thing was that prices vary wildly from one area to the next, so look up your competitors' pricing and put yours in line with theirs.

4) His price was for the whole event.

5) He included basic dancefloor lighting but venue upwash lighting and such was extra. I don't know how much extra since we didn't need it.

6) We had one in-person meeting about a month out then everything else was via email. However, I planned my wedding long distance so in-person meetings weren't really a thing we could do except for the few trips I made to do stuff that needed to be done in person like catering tastings and venue contract signing and whatnot. He sent us a lengthy questionnaire about what kind of music we'd like played and when and what our guests would like/not like that I filled out and sent back to him and that was pretty much it.

7) About a year in advance, but I got married in a really populous area so getting vendors way in advance was the only way to get good vendors.

The DJ ended up being awesome, and I had quite a few people contact me afterwards to get his contact info to hire him for future events. We had people on the dance floor all night which is definitely not what I had anticipated. What I liked the most about him is that he kept things flowing but wasn't intrusive and annoying like a lot of wedding DJs.

Hungry Joe
Nov 27, 2006

DDFH


Thanks everybody, I really appreciate the info! This is really helping me get some insight.

Problem!
Jan 1, 2007

I am the queen of France.


Oh and I also got a lot of vendor info from my other vendors, so once you start playing wedding gigs schmooze with the other vendors (especially the venue coordinator) and they'll give your name out to their other clients.

Edit: For instance my caterer had a whole table full of business cards from other vendors at their shop, and photographers are the best for wedding vendor gossip since they see the good, the bad, and the ugly of every wedding.

afterhours
Jul 1, 2007


You might want to ask the DJ/Band what their idea of professional behavior is at a wedding party.

I know it sounds like an odd question, but I was in a wedding this summer and the DJ made things awkward. First, they got THE NINJA who works for the largest radio station in our small town, so I guess he's considered a celebrity. He kept leaving his station to dance and guzzle up booze with the guests. He said something raunchy to the bride's grandma and hit on a bunch of the girls. The best man and I had to confront him and he got really obstinate about how this was how he does a wedding and to not "invite" him if they didn't want to party with THE NINJA. Then he tried to get back at us by playing weird music for a few tracks. We confronted him again, he threatened to leave, then sullenly played the music he agreed to for the rest of the party.

Oh, and we had to confront him about taking requests. He made the a 7 year old cry when he told her that "THE NINJA does not play the Chicken Dance."

Don't get a "celebrity DJ."

And make sure you ask how they handle song requests. And what sort of music they have in their collection. And what music you definitely don't want to hear at your wedding.

Hungry Joe
Nov 27, 2006

DDFH


I've catered a few weddings and it always looked bad when the dj left the table.

You bring up a good point, I was wondering about drinking while spinning. I'd keep it in check but maybe I should just all around abstain.

I've been talking with a wedding staffing company about offering my services as part of one of their packages. Hopefully, I'll have my first gig in a few months

Liam Emsa
Aug 21, 2014

Oh, god. I think I'm falling.


-It was myself
-Nothing
-$150 for equipment rental
-N/A
-N/A
-N/A
-N/A

I had music queued up in a crafted playlist. I used a program that auto beatmatched/crossfaded. Ended up renting two PA speakers and a microphone. Just brought my laptop and hit play.

Xibanya
Sep 16, 2012






Clever Betty

When I was in high school I was in a wedding quartet. Despite the fact that we were high school seniors, we were quite excellent (award-winning, in fact!) The grandma of the first violinist was basically our agent - she was a social butterfly and very active at her church so she was always landing us gigs. Typically we would perform during the reception/dinner. We charged $25/hr per person ($100 per hour) which was a total steal for the client. We would just play pleasant, inoffensive things. I don't think anyone ever told us to play anything in particular!

If you badly want a string quartet, hit up the local university, the local high school, and contact churches in your area. You can potentially get a very competent quartet that is so young and fresh-faced they don't know the real value of their labor. Classical music on the cheap. Just make sure to vet them first by getting a recording or listening to them play in person, because they could also be a total dud.

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Problem!
Jan 1, 2007

I am the queen of France.


Xibanya posted:

If you badly want a string quartet, hit up the local university, the local high school, and contact churches in your area. You can potentially get a very competent quartet that is so young and fresh-faced they don't know the real value of their labor. Classical music on the cheap. Just make sure to vet them first by getting a recording or listening to them play in person, because they could also be a total dud.

This is what I did. A professional string quartet wanted $1200 for 45 minutes of music so I called up the local university and got kids from their orchestra for $300. We tipped them each $20 to go get beers afterwards.

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