Gary Hoffmann, who runs a DJ company, can’t remember having an engaged couple with more than 20 DJs on his list once.
“I’ve never done that before,” says Mr. Hoffmann, the founder of 74 events from Brooklyn, who has also been a DJ himself since 2001. “I’ve never – in my 17 and a half years in business – had to tell everyone that we have no one.”
That changed this year when the tsunami of postponed weddings in 2020 collapsed on Mr Hoffmann’s calendar. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, he had to cope with many postponements. “I stopped counting around 400,” he said. “The reality was that when the pandemic started, many couples were conservative or delusional about how bad it was going to be for how long. I’ve had several couples who postponed their dates two, three times – and in some unique cases – four times. “
Right now, he has a handful of dates that are particularly popular. And it puts him in a difficult and unfamiliar situation. “I’ll take a specific example: September 18,” said Hoffmann. “I have four or five different emails in one folder telling the couple, ‘Hey, I’m so sorry, I’m fully booked. But I’ll save this email and if anything changes I’ll let you know. ‘”
Jason Alexander Rubio and Diana Anzaldua, the couple behind Austin’s Best DJs based in Austin, Texas, have also struggled to cope with the influx of postponed weddings that are now all at once. “We’ve seen a 300 percent increase in customer calls, emails, and bookings over the past month,” said Rubio. “We’re doing our best to meet demand: we’re hiring more staff and hosting events that we can’t offer to other DJs who may not be as busy as we are.”
The process becomes even more complicated when a DJ is found to complement a couple’s vision. “Finding the right fit based on style, experience, and professionalism can be tricky these days as they may all be fully booked,” said Vel Mensah, founder of TablePop, an event experience planning platform and resident event concierge in Burlington, NJ. A multicultural couple I know needed help finding a DJ who would be great for their cross-cultural wedding that included afrobeats and indi-pop. “
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Book a DJ
As with any major wedding decision, research is essential. Go on a budget for the DJ and entertainment. Mr. Rubio recommends dedicating 8 to 10 percent of your total wedding budget. Then check out wedding websites and make a list of your top five DJs
“Do some stalking online and check out their social media and other reviews,” said Mr Rubio. “Find out which DJ is best able to fulfill your general vision of the wedding day and understand your mood. See what other options the DJ has – you can potentially book more services and not have to worry about paying too many providers. “
When your DJ cancels
If you have a signed contract, check it carefully to see if there is a section that covers cancellations and how you are covered.
“Good, reputable DJ firms will have a policy that doesn’t allow this,” Rubio said. “If a DJ is unable to make it, the company should have a replacement DJ who can easily cover. This is an advantage of booking a DJ company over a solo DJ. “
When you can’t find a DJ
Hit one dead end after another? Think of other places that you may not have searched before. According to Mr. Rubio, some DJs do not advertise on the major wedding websites due to cost reasons. And many others may not have websites and rely solely on social media to attract potential customers. Search Facebook and Instagram by typing in “Wedding DJ” and the name of your travel destination.
“There are some decent DJs on Instagram and Twitch,” said Schquita Goodwin, a Washington DJ. “But your most trustworthy source would probably be to look around: alumni networks, colleagues, kickball teams. Most of my business consists of referrals from previous customers. “
What about recorded sets?
While couples may come across this option, Mr Hoffmann warns against it. Without a live DJ improvising and firing the guests and their energy, a recorded set could run the risk of not matching the atmosphere of the event, which unfolds in real time.
“This is not really an ideal situation and I would not recommend it,” said Hoffmann. “Save your money on your honeymoon or your mortgage. Just set up your own playlists for great background music and don’t worry about the dance part. “
Alternative music sources
Consider live musicians. Quartets, guitarists, and other artists can be signed up through freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
“I would even consider exploring local places with live music, like a church or a bookstore,” said Ms. Goodwin. “However, the absolutely cheapest method would be to rent a speaker from a local audiovisual equipment rental service. Then involve your family and friends. “
Familiarize yourself with your venue’s sound system and ask about the audio connection so you can plug in your own devices and appliances if needed. Once these features are confirmed, start curating on your favorite streaming service. Earlier this month, Tidal, a streaming music service, launched a Wedding Hub, a central source for the audio recording of all wedding-themed events such as the procession and the first dance.
Spotify is usually the most popular. Don’t forget to sign up for a premium account to avoid uncomfortable interruptions from advertisements during cocktail hour and dinner.
Hire a friend
Asking friends to show off their amateur spinning skills can be a suitable alternative, especially if the dance party is a definite must. You should have “a basic instinct” to choose music that everyone enjoys, Hoffmann said. But even if they manage to get the party going, they may struggle to contain over-excited – and intoxicated – guests.
“This is a serious game of chance,” said Ms. Goodwin. “If you trust your friend, yes. If you don’t trust your friend, listen to their samples. If you can’t curate six hours of music, then no. “
A big disadvantage: turning friends into sellers. Even if they insist, it may not be worth the effort.
“If your friend is already a DJ, sure enough,” said Rubio-san. “If not, that’s not the best idea. You also want your friend to be there to celebrate and enjoy the special day with you, not to work. “