I have attended many Wedding Fayres over the years and it’s always a pleasure to meet with prospective brides & grooms and their families to discuss the music for their wedding entertainment.
When I ask if they are looking to book a DJ for their wedding or party, many times I get a response of something like, ‘The DJ is all in with the wedding package at the hotel’. When I then ask if they know who the DJ is, or if they have met him, or if they have his contact details, the response is, 100% every time, ‘no’. Now, I find this incredible and quite alarming as brides are usually and rightly so, meticulous about their wedding plans and want everything perfect so nothing can go wrong and again, rightly so. Yet, they are seemingly quite happy to leave this absolutely fundamentally important aspect completely to chance.
I have written before in previous blogs how booking the wrong or inexperienced and unprofessional DJ can totally wreck what is one of the biggest days in the life of a couple, yet they are completely happy to leave it with the venue to organise as part of a ‘deal’ or ‘package’. Now, whilst I totally understand and respect these ‘wedding packages’ and to be fair, they can work for many venues and brides and grooms too, I feel that if the venue are to book wedding service providers like a DJ, flowers, chair covers, cake etc. as a part of the package, surely they must and should provide the details of said wedding service providers who they have booked on their behalf as part of the in-house package, to the bride & groom? I have nothing against packages and indeed I have worked for venues and been the DJ who they use for their wedding package, so all good there. However, on the odd occasion, I have chatted with a bride and groom who, during the conversation have informed me that I am doing their wedding. My reply was, ‘am I? Let me check the date’. On checking, I have found that I am already booked on that date somewhere else, but the hotel that they have booked the package with have been told that they use me as the DJ for their wedding packages, but they have neglected to inform me or check if I am available before making that verbal statement to the bride and groom. Slight embarrassment all round and a seed of doubt too for the efficiency of the venue too from the bridal party. My point again being that some venues will promise anything to secure a deposit without first checking that all they have promised is available. Whilst this is not a direct criticism of the venue, it is a point worth noting, as the wedding planner dealing with your wedding may indeed also be inexperienced. Check and confirm everything and look into all that is offered. Better still. Do it yourself. It’s not difficult to plan a wedding and engage the right wedding service providers and because you can negotiate your own deals, it can work out as good or better.
On a slightly different note, always the best negotiating starting point is the day of your wedding. Whilst Saturdays are popular and therefore premium, if you consider a wedding day of a Friday, you will nearly always secure the same quality and services from everyone, but at a better price than on a Saturday and a Sunday to Thursday will invariably be even cheaper because your wedding service providers will have an extra booking, they can still work on a popular Saturday, but because they probably wouldn’t otherwise be engaged they are happy to offer their services at a greatly reduced price with, again, no compromise on the quality.
The issue I have is this, I know that when some venues offer a DJ as a part of their wedding package, they will invariably have included a price for the DJ within that figure that will probably include all the above services, plus, obviously, the food for the wedding breakfast for a set number of guests and likewise the evening buffet, with extras available, but that’s another story!
Most venue packages can be good value and can financially work for brides & grooms but not all packages are what they seem and as a couple getting married, you can lose the control of your wedding planning as you have to fit in with what the venue is providing as a part of their package and you may not get exactly what you want, unless you pay the magic ‘extra’ for it. Let’s face it, if a venue is putting together a package to come within a certain budget for a certain amount of things, then there clearly has to be a compromise on some of the items within the package to enable the venue to maximise their profit. Now, I don’t have a problem with this and it is a good way to do business as the deal is a two way agreement between the venue and the bride & groom and if everyone is happy, then no problem.
However, it’s too late to be unhappy with things on the day. By then, it’s done and dusted. A reputable venue will agree a fair price with a wedding service provider such as a professional and experienced DJ or florist and then tailor a package based on their prices and not engage the services of the cheapest and tackiest DJ in town just to enhance their profit margins and this can be a pitfall of wedding packages that include the entertainment. So, If a bride and groom do go down the package route, they need to make sure they ask all the right questions and obtain the contact details of all the ‘outside wedding service providers’ like a DJ, who the venue are engaging on their behalf. If the DJ is regarded as being in-house then the advice is still the same, check him out, check out his website, his testimonials and importantly, ask the staff of the venue and ask around the locality if they know this DJ and ask questions about the quality and standard of his work.
Now, say a hotel engages the cheapest DJ possible to maximise their profit margins and agrees a fee of, let’s say, £150 with that DJ, when, in reality, a good professional Mobile Disc Jockey will cost upwards of £350, they will then budget in to the price £350 for the DJ, which the bride & groom are paying, though they don’t see the breakdown. But they are only getting a DJ who values his services at £150 and therefore the levels of entertainment and professionalism and experience cannot possibly be there and the night will undoubtedly be mediocre to OK compared to bouncing and memorable, which is what any couple should rightfully expect.
By far the best way is for a hotel or venue to put together a package based on what they do best, i.e. wedding breakfast, service, and hospitality etc. and as a service to the bride and groom, recommend a good reputable DJ or florist or chair cover provider etc. This way, the bride and groom are free to do their research and make sure they know who they are getting or booking and they know exactly the quality of the work of that DJ instead of turning up for their wedding having had no contact at all with the DJ as he’s a part of the ‘hotel package’ and finding that inexperienced ‘DJ Muppet’ is providing the entertainment and he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing, what the first dance is or who the bride and groom are as he’s only had a phone call today to ‘do a wedding tonight’ as the DJ that the venue initially engaged has gone off on another booking where he can earn more money. So, the bride and groom end up with a DJ who’s probably only doing the odd gig here and there, has no current music and is only there to help out a mate and stand there and ‘press play’, at the expense of your wedding party! In all fairness, if they have had a brilliant day and the venue has been first class, again as is usually the case, then any grievance as to the quality of the DJ is lessened and therefore although things may be said, a complaint may not necessarily be made because the bride and groom are still on a high. Then, the next day they are away for 2 weeks on honeymoon and it gets forgotten. However, the guests will still notice and comments will be made. A wedding has to be perfect from start to finish.
On a personal level, I am happy to work either on a personal engagement basis from a bride and groom or as a part of a hotel package, but my price will be the same to the venue or the bride and groom and both parties will get the same quality and level of professionalism. Now, if the venue choose to add on a small fee on top of my price and include it as a part of the package budgeting, then that is their business and that is something that I will not be aware of. But, the key thing is that the quality of the service that I provide will be in keeping with the expectations and crucially they will all get value for money.
Christmas party functions can be slightly different as many venues and hotels nowadays sell party packages to local businesses, schools, supermarket staff etc. for Christmas parties to include a 3 course meal and DJ entertainment. Now, in this case, the hotel cannot afford to compromise on the quality of the package as they rely on the same repeat custom year in and year out, as well as positive and essential ‘word of mouth’ feedback and indeed wedding and family party ‘spin-offs’. They may have some 200 people in attendance from maybe as many as 10-15 different local businesses, so they need to ensure that the quality of the food and the entertainment is good enough to ensure everyone has a brilliant time and therefore recommend the event and hopefully return next year. They have to make sure that the whole party experience is memorable as it’s only for a few hours, whereas, a wedding is over a whole day and for the venue, if everything is perfect during the day, then they can maybe get away with a compromise on the evening party DJ. That is not to say that it will go unnoticed! I know this may sound a bit cynical, but I write this from experience and first-hand knowledge. In a nutshell, as always, do your homework and check out and research everything that is on offer.