Should I have a DJ at my wedding?
We meet with our resident DJ to see what he thinks..!
Having a DJ at your wedding is more than someone helping you choose great songs. A great DJ requires technical know-how, high-quality equipment and be someone who can read a crowd so as to sustain the party atmosphere.
Depending on the type of wedding you are having, a DJ can be a great option for your entertainment requirements. It can provide a cost effective solution compared to live entertainment. Not only is hiring a DJ considerably cheaper, they can normally cater to a wider variety of music styles, tastes and genres than a band or other musicians.
If you do choose to go with a DJ you will find that hiring a professional and reliable DJ for your wedding can prove to be a very difficult task. With quite a large number of companies to choose from and a majority of those agencies being online, it can be very tricky to discover which DJ entertainment companies are legitimate, professional and trustworthy.
Here at the New Continental Hotel we have our very own Resident DJ, Steve Calvert from A Plus Entertainments. Steve kindly met up with Katie, one of our wedding coordinators to discuss what it means to him to be the New Continental Hotels Resident DJ.
Here’s what he had to say:
How long have you been a DJ and how long have you been running A Plus Entertainments?
I’ve been a DJ for 32 years and running A Plus Entertainments since 2008 (I ran SC Leisure before that but re-branded myself)
What made you decide to become a DJ?
I’ve always had a fascination with music. I would go through my mother’s record collection as a young boy and was always making mix tapes. When I was 14, I started working with a friend that was a DJ at a campsite and began learning the ropes from there.
How Much Wedding experience do you have?
Well over 20 years working specifically at weddings in various locations- pubs, hotels and other venues up and down the country.
How long have you been Resident DJ at the New Continental Hotel?
I’ve been Resident DJ at the New Continental Hotel for about 5 years now. I had worked at the hotel doing odd functions here and there but was approached by Simon Hawke (Hotel Deputy Manager) as he was familiar with my work and felt I stood out from other DJ sets as being of a high standard and was clearly passionate as well as reliable. He’d received much praise from those that had hired me for their events and offered me the residency post.
What does it mean to be a resident DJ and how does it benefit the couple getting married?
Exclusively working with one person who knows the New Continental Hotel extremely well, including the staff and function rooms, so it’s an easy and quick set up and I offer exclusively cheaper rates to the New Continental Hotel’s clients.
Are you PAT certified and why is this important?
Yes, plus I have public liability insurance, which covers myself and guests for everyone’s piece of mind. All venues should have their own; but a DJ should also have it in their own right. PAT testing stands for Portable Appliance Testing and it means all electrical equipment has been checked in the last year and a DJ should have a certificate to prove that too. A DJ should be able to email you and your venue a copy on request, and I highly recommend that no matter who you use, you do ask.
Do you offer a written contract?
Yes, this is for peace of mind for all parties concerned so that if anything unexpected should happen, everyone knows where they stand and what they are agreeing to. If nothing else – it offers clients reassurance which is really important in my mind.
Can couples meet you to discuss their wedding?
Of course they can. Normally everything can be sorted via emails. This can be less hassle for some couples who have different shift patterns and schedules. I’m also always more than happy to meet up with couples to ease any anxiety they may have or talk though any wishes or concerns. It’s really important you like the DJ you are booking. They will be a big part of your day and everyone’s memories, and people can sometimes be very different when you meet them face to face.
What equipment do you carry and do you have back up?
I always have back up equipment, so if there was to be any technical hitches it doesn’t let you down. A good quality sound system is essential! To name but a few main pieces of equipment I tend to use-
LED lighting and effects, Modern/clean sounding speakers, Digital controllers, laptop And I have other lighting effects etc available to suite the function
You are really reasonably priced in comparison to many other DJ’s, should people be price-led when choosing a DJ?
There are many factors that can dramatically vary the cost of a DJs can vary hugely. But it’s worth remember that its not always based on the quality of equipment or the level of experience a DJ has; take me as an example, I have good quality equipment and years and years of experience,l however I choose to keep my prices as low as possible. It’s a passion as much as a job for me – so I want to be accessible to everyone. Plus, as a DJ you are in a really privileged position, you are part of a wedding or celebration and have a unique view of the event, and you form parts of many peoples happy memories – sounds corny but to a good DJ, that really means something.
When do you arrive to set up?
In the morning (if that’s possible) which takes just over an hour or so to set up smoothly – this is another benefit to knowing the layout of all the function rooms at the New Continental Hotel, as I know where everything is and the layouts, cable length requirements and the acoustics in all the rooms, so, if for any reason I can’t get into the room in the morning, the process of setting up is very quick with minimal disruption.
Can you explain the process once a couple has booked with you for their wedding?
I send out a contract for the couple to check, sign and return. I then contact them closer to the event for final details, specific song choices or if any other entertainment such as bands have been booked. If other entertainment has been booked, I then make contact with them so that we can collaborate over timings, equipment and performance space required.
Where payment is concerned, I can take it on the day, just to make things easier – especially when so much else requires payment on booking with weddings!
You’re playing to a mixed crowd. What music do you have?
Everything! That way there is always something for everyone to keep all guests happy. I hold one of the largest mobile music collections in the South West!
To round things up, if you were to simply summarise what couples should look for when hiring a DJ for their wedding, what would it be?
Certification and experience! Very often, once they have checked availability with a DJ, the very next question is “how much are you?” I understand this is really important, but so too is the experience that the couple and their guests will have, think about asking for their certification and also look for recommendations. Most venues will have either a resident DJ or recommended providers, that’s always a good starting point.
Out of interest, what are the most frequently asked questions from wedding couples?
What kind of music do you play? This one gets asked a lot and I can play any music to suit the event and the atmosphere on the night. I never carry around only one genre of music for any one type of event.
Do you have speakers? This one always makes me chuckle, although there are also a lot of people claiming to be DJ’s who don’t have any of the correct equipment – just their laptop. I always think that if it really was that simple, to be a professional DJ, then everyone would want to and would be doing it! With great DJs its not just the equipment though, t’s about gauging your guests, the type of function and atmosphere on the day as well as having the necessary equipment of course! I always want to create the cleanest sounds and lighting to help create the perfect environment for that event.
If you could offer one piece of advice to a couple regarding music for their wedding day, what would it be?
It’s the couple’s big day so as long as they are happy and getting what they want I’ve then done my job correctly. I’m there to guide them, but it has to be what they want, it’s their day ultimately. A good DJ will be able to read the guests and blend different musical styles and genres together, so it is always a good idea to discuss what music you want to hear.
Many couples now send out song requests with their invites for each of their guests- how does this affect your job?
It gives me a great guideline of a playlist for the night, and gives me an idea of the type of music in general that people want to hear to tailor my set accordingly. I will always do my best to play requests as long as they are within the realms of what the couple is happy with. If they have specifically requested certain songs not to be played I am mindful of this– it is their day and they are the most important decision makers.
What do you enjoy most about your job and being part of the New Continental Hotel’s Weddings?
I love music, so selfishly, being able to turn my passion into a profession is unbelievable, but combine this with getting the opportunity to meet lots of different people on a regular basis and being part of such personal events is just amazing. After a good event I leave buzzing with a great feeling and sense of pride that “I did that” when I know people have had a great time and enjoyed what I do. I guess that why I’ve been doing it for such a long time!
Even working in the world of weddings as I do, I found that really interesting and I really hope you did too. I guess its not until you have been a guest at a wedding reception and heard the chorus of Bruno Mars’ ‘Marry Me’ on repeat for 20 minutes that you can really begin to appreciate the unique skill that a bona fide wedding DJs brings to a party!
If you want to talk further about anything ‘wedding’ – please do get in touch – we would love to hear from you.