Receptions are so very special! I can't emphasize enough the importance of hiring the best entertainer you can find. A reception isn't just a dinner after your wedding; it is a bringing together of your family and friends to celebrate your union and make memories to last a lifetime.
What type of entertainment should you hire? There are lots of other options out there such as bands and soloists. In certain instances these may be appropriate choices, but, even though I am a little prejudiced, a disc jockey is your best overall value. In a month, your guests may not remember how long the train on your dress was or what meat you chose for the buffet, but they will remember your entertainment. The entertainment, in most cases, will make or break the event. A band may add big name excitement or be considered special because they are live, but a DJ is much more versatile and can offer so much more for your money.
About five years ago, I developed a reception planner. When you hire me, I will mail this to you to be completed and returned. Not only will this help you to organize how you want the day's festivities to run, it gives me - Sean Hearn, your host, an ironclad outline to use. With the planner, I have all the names of the people who I will be addressing over the speakers such as family members or the best man for the toast. It also helps you to organize and convey to me exactly what you want, what you don't want, and what order you prefer. It also works out great because you are able to sit down, months in advance, and think it through without all the stress that will develop as the big day gets closer. Once you have completed the planner and returned it, I will go over it and call to insure we are on the same page. Then you can simply forget about my portion. Of course, you can call as often as you wish, should a change develop or if I can add any insights. Otherwise, I will call you on the week of the reception to confirm that everything is taken care of. You just enjoy the ceremony and show up with your friends and family. I will take care of the rest. The planner helps to alleviate a lot of the stress that you would otherwise be faced with.
As your DJ, I will provide lights and special effects to enhance the special moments and keep the dance floor hopping. You are not just hiring a juke box! The music is important: I will take requests all night and play a variety that can range from a big band waltz for your grandparents, to line dances, to disco, to the latest dance hits. Every show is different. I tailor the music at your reception to meet the tastes and needs of your guests in attendance. I also interact with your guests to help keep things flowing and create wonderful party pics for your photographer. I may get out and teach the kids and a handful of the adults (who act worse than the kids) how to do the chicken dance. I might get the whole group doing the YMCA or the train or even the twist. My point is that this is party and as your DJ I will be doing much more than just pressing the PLAY button!
I would also suggest that you plan your budget before you start writing checks. I know at times it will seem overwhelming, but it is important to try and keep the big picture in mind. While a budget could range from $500 to $20,000 and on up, the range for this area seems to fall somewhere between $4,000 and $7,000. (This number includes everything like the invitations, rehearsal dinner, attire, venue fees, ceremony fees, pictures, flowers, food, entertainment, etc.) The average reception runs four hours. As your DJ, I will be working from the time your guests get there and you finish up the pictures, to the time I play the final song. The finalizing of your ceremony pictures, opening announcements, your eats and the cake cutting will consume the first hour or so. After that, I, as your entertainer, take on the remaining three hours (or 75%). Typically, your attendance for the last three hours will be strong if your entertainment is fun, but, if not, many of your guests will begin to leave after the food.
Good entertainment is a protection on your investment. Using round numbers - if your budget is $6000 and you spend $600 on a DJ, you are only spending 10% of your budget on someone with whom you are entrusting 75% of your whole reception. Also, consider what your other expenditures are in relation to what you are getting. How much are your vegetables or finger foods? How much is your dress (which will be worn only a few times)? How much are your pictures and/or videography? The entertainment you choose is key to the success of your reception because it makes up such a large portion. Be sure to make it a priority and allocate enough of your budget to be able to hire someone you will be happy with.
Overall, the old saying, "You get what you pay for," seems to ring true. I am not your cheapest option, but overall, many people (especially from past shows) would tell you that I am your best value. I can't stress enough that you are getting so much more than music: years experience and insight, a planner, an entertainer and host, a public speaker, a dancer (when necessary), the best sound system money can buy, a wireless microphone, lights, special effects, over 2200 compact discs worth of music, professionalism and dependability.
I would encourage you to meet with your entertainer (not just the company representative). Ask who your specific enertainer will be make sure that is who you talk and plan with. As the owner and only DJ of Music in Motion, I, Sean Hearn, personally play every show for which Music in Motion is hired. Some Mobile DJ companies will have multiple shows sent out on the same night and boast many years experience. While their owner or main DJ may have the experience promised, the other employees may have far less. If they send out 4 shows in a night, your chances of actually getting the amount of experience that they insinuate is 25% or less. It is important that you get to know your DJ for several reasons. It is important that the show will be run the way you see fit, and your chances are far greater if you are planning and discussing things with the DJ who will actually be there on your night. Also, chemistry is important. Age and personality will play a large role in how the entertainer performs. Meeting your host will give you an opportunity to see if you and he/she are compatible. Afterall, you are trying to find YOUR ENTERTAINER not pay a company and let them choose them.
Lastly, I only perform 50 to 60 shows per year which is about one show (on average ) per weekend. Actually, I probably turn away more than I accept. Strictly from a business and profitability standpoint this would not be a wise decision, but money is NOT my main motivation! There is an art to what I do, and I love to perform. Limiting my shows is deliberate! In some cases, the desired presentation is just not for me. You will find when you call me to ask questions and interview me, that I am doing the same to you. I provide a specialized service - some may not be able to afford the type of quality show that I perform and in some cases our personalities and/or perspectives may clash. Not only is the performance a reflection on you and your family or company; it is also a reflection on me and the reputation, I have spend 20+ years building. Ultimately, I want the new couple to leave the reception glad they hired me and having had a wonderful time. Limiting the number of performances really shows when the curtain goes up! I think too often performers become so engrossed in making money that they lose the edge that made them so good to begin with.