far·ci·cal (ˈfärsək(ə)l/); adjective
- of or resembling a farce, especially because of absurd or ridiculous aspects.
- 2. “a farcical tangle of events”
If you’re planning your wedding there’s a good chance that you’ve read a blog or magazine article or perhaps even seen a television special warning you not to fall for “the wedding tax”. These pieces place fear in the hearts of couples planning their wedding and educate that wedding vendors are money hungry thieves salivating at the thought of robbing you.
Often times these “wedding tax” stories compare the pricing on services such as a simple party vs. a wedding. In one instance they even called a DJ and asked them to explain why weddings cost more than a simple party, unfortunately the DJ they called couldn’t explain, leaving a black eye on our industry.
Often times we get asked, “We only need some music for four or five hours, why is it so expensive?”
The truth is that a professional wedding entertainer invests a lot of time, money and effort into putting together that four or five hour performance that you see. A professional DJ or entertainment company has a lot of expenses such as payroll, top of the line DJ and audio-visual equipment, insurance, advertising, vehicles & fuel, office lease, taxes and music libraries that have been built over the years (I’ve spent over $25,000 in music)
But more than just the monetary costs of running a business, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that we put into the success of your wedding – and it goes way beyond “just playing some music.”
Before we book a wedding client we like to get to know them. We want to find out what they liked, what they dislike. We ask questions to find out if they’ve been to weddings recently or have seen things that they’ve loved and hated. We really want to qualify the couple to make sure we’re a good match. We’ll also discuss the couple’s venue and any decor enhancements they might be looking to add.
Time: 1 – 2 hours
Follow Up & Contract Prep. After our initial consultation we take the time to follow up, put together detailed proposals and media samples with photo & video specific to that couple’s wedding. This is still part of the “selling” process, but it is detailed time that we put in to your event. And in some cases we won’t book the couple – either because we aren’t a perfect match or because of budgeting.
Time: 30 minutes – 3 hours
Planning Check In’s & Follow Up. Once we book a client we check in several times leading up to the wedding to see how they’re doing and to see if they have any questions about the free online wedding planning tools we provide. While there’s no replacement for an amazing full-time wedding planner, we often work with couples that don’t have dedicated planner and we do our best to bridge that gap.
Time: 2 – 3 hours
Final Planning Meeting. About three weeks before the couple’s wedding day we meet with our clients and review ALL of the details of the wedding reception. If the couple has a timeline we work on that, along with musical themes and details. In a lot of cases couple’s have a rough idea at this point but this meeting serves as a final brainstorming session. While my company does not go into a wedding with a pre-set playlist we do customize every single wedding to reflect the couple’s unique tastes and musical preferences.
Time: 1 – 2 hours
Music Editing & Prep. The week of the wedding we organize, obtain and edit the key music for the big day. We make sure we’ve got all our “must play” songs ready to go and our “do not play” songs and genres clearly marked so they don’t get played.
Time: 2+ hours
Scheduling Systems & Loading Gear. My company is a multi-DJ team, so we’ve got systems in place to make sure the right equipment gets loaded into the correct vehicles and sent to the correct venues. We have a team of staff assistants to help your lead DJ & event host with coordination and logistics. This is the brutal, grueling part of the event that no one sees as professional speakers, lighting and production gear is very heavy and delicate at the same time. We also make sure to have backup plans and equipment prepared and in place
Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Getting to our homes and offices to your venue. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes, other times it’s 3 hours or more. And if we’re traveling three hours there we’ll be driving three hours back after the event.
Our company can take on some pretty complex wedding design projects. Even the most simple of wedding setups will take at least an hour. Weddings with extensive lighting design, video slideshows, separate music locations – these can take three hours or longer. We have a team of equipment managers and assistants to ensure timely setup which is another added cost to us.
Time: 1 – 4 hours
This is what the clients and guests see. The flawless show. The packed dance floors. The fun. The magic. This is what steps 1 – 8 have helped us create.
Time: 4 – 8 hours
Tear down, travel home, re-loading and unloading equipment, putting gear back in storage. After we’ve spent the time to setup and performance, we’ve got to tear it down, pack it up and put the gear back in place to do it all over again next week (or in some cases the next day).
Time: 1 – 4 hours
So for a wedding DJ to be a successful professional you’re looking at anywhere from 12 – 32 hours of expertise, passion, customization and yes, playing music at your wedding. And that’s just the time investment, not including all of the actual monetary costs that our business incurs.
A professional wedding entertainment and DJ company cares passionately about the success of a couple’s wedding and invests this time because it’s the only way for them to continue to thrive as a business. We wouldn’t be able to survive as an industry if we put in half the work, or just showed up and “played some music”. About that wedding tax, it’s a farse.
About the author:
Alex Nepa is from State College, PA and is the founder of Mint DJ Events (http://www.mintdjevents.com) you can follow him on social media @DJAlexNepa