Did you know that according to a USA Today survey, the day after their wedding 90% of couples wished they had spent more money on entertainment?
Also, did you know that your guests rank entertainment as #1 or #2 as the most memorable aspect of your wedding?
In the words of one of my favourite people in the wedding industry Diann Valentine:
“A great party doesn’t just happen.”
The role that entertainment will play at your wedding is enormous. If done well it will create the type of experience that your guests will rave about for years to come.
However, lousy entertainment can ruin the night and have your guests leaving early and whispering about how “awful” your wedding is behind your back.
I’ve got your back here! If you’re willing to put in a little time to educate yourself, this is everything I’ve learned from performing over 1500 events and countless weddings. A party doesn’t just happen, you’ve got to make it happen, and I’ll help you do that.
8 Critical Mistakes Most Couples Make When Choosing Their Live Band or DJ and How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off and Disappointed on Your Wedding Day
Plus 10 must-ask questions for potential bands or DJs to ensure you receive the VIP Experience you desreve for the wedding of your dreams..
I want to say thanks for taking your valuable time to read this. Congratulations! You’ve taken a step that many brides and grooms never take. You’re educating yourself about one of the most important and yet most neglected aspect of the wedding day: the entertainment!
How this information will help
By the end of this report you will know:
• Why venues want you to choose “their” band or DJ and why it’s not necessarily in your best interest
• What should be in your contract to protect you from a no-show ruining your wedding and stealing your deposit
• How to get quality and avoid “quantity”
• What questions to ask to ensure you’re not being ripped off
• How to avoid getting stuck with a last-minute replacement DJ or live band
• How to get the best of both worlds: a live band and a DJ
• Why focusing on price instead of value can cost you big time
• Why a written guarantee is so valuable to protect you and your beauty sleep
• How to get the best free advice from industry experts
I’ll also offer 4 recommendations depending on where you’re at in the entertainment decision process. Best of all you’ll learn the 10 best questions to ask to avoid regrettable amateurs and
ensure that you get the product and VIP service that you deserve on your wedding day
Hi, I’m David Fraser and I’ve been a full-time professional entertainer.
I have performed at over 1500 events (weddings, corporate parties, private concerts and public performances). I play guitar and sing and have made my living and earned my reputation by being the high energy “entertainer” and band-leader.
I’ve been able to observe hundreds of people managing events. The experience I’ve gained through this career is a challenge to impart to you in a small report, so I’ll try to give you only the things I think will help you the most right now.
I also offer a free 90-minute wedding entertainment consultation where you can share your vision and
benefit from my experience and insight on how to make that vision a reality.
I love meeting, helping, and working with couples just like you. Karrie is my wife, office coordinator and drummer and we have performed for hundreds of happy couples to celebrate their awesome wedding. Read our reviews.
Before we get into this guide, we should first start off by talking a little bit about what getting
ripped off really means. I’m not just talking about someone stealing your deposit and running
(although we do address this and how to avoid it in #2 and #3). I’m talking about not getting the
value for the amount of money spent.
“Price is what you pay, value is what you get” – Warren Buffet
There’s always two numbers, price and value, we’ll discuss both of these.
1. Thinking a DJ is “better” than a band or a band is “better” than a DJ.
“If music be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare
Here’s what DJs and live wedding bands alike don’t want you to hear: There are weaknesses with hiring either a band or a DJ!
DJs have some considerable strengths: They are usually cheaper than a professional band, they can setup into a smaller space and they can play a large range of music.
However they can’t interact with an audience the way a REAL LIVE band can. They can’t stop and start songs and address the crowd on the fly in the personalized way a great entertainer can.
They aren’t really creating the music, but rather re-playing what’s already been created. Their sound is good, but it’s not the great WOW factor that a top-notch professional band provides.
Live bands have some considerable strengths: The band on the other hand can really elevate the party to the next level with an energy and WOW factor that’s hard to capture unless you’re there in the moment. If the band is professional they will know how to emotionally connect with the audience and bring them into the show. The sound of a group of talented human individuals coming together just can’t be replicated by a computer and the experience of a live band is distinct from a DJ.
However, there are some significant challenges to the band, they take up more floor space, they
cost more (generally) and if they aren’t professional they can absolutely ruin your wedding. This is
why the truly professional bands in most areas (especially Toronto) are so busy and booked up.
It’s not uncommon for my band to have bookings years in advance because the demand is
greater than the quality of supply. Another issue with bands is that they have a smaller repertoire
of music they play from, but the songs they do know are usually the best of the best and are
performed at a high level with more impact (See Mistake #5 about Quality Vs. Quantity of songs)
I hope this information helps you steer away from the “dark side”, that is budget DJs and amateur parttime bar bands. However, if your budget is tiny and there’s no way to expand it just realize that you are taking a bigger risk with a “budget” band.
Here’s why: A terrible Dj will just play terrible songs too loudly and kill the vibe. A terrible band
will play terrible songs and sing them off-key, at a volume that hurts your ears and scares the old
people out of the room.
With that said, a professional live band can be so much more impactful and memorable than
even a great Dj. They are making eye contact, involving people in the show, inciting a dance
party and it just sounds amazing. The live band is a WOW kind of experience.
The good news is this: Most professional bands offer a DJ service to incorporate into
their live music sets. This truly is the best of both worlds and highly recommended for when
bands take a break (all bands are going to need a few short breaks throughout the reception
I would ask any prospective bands if they also offer a Dj service between sets or if you’re able to
bring your own music playlist to play during breaks. Ask yourself: What scenario would be the
best possible experience for me and my guests?
A band? A Dj? Why not both?
2. Not getting a signed contract that protects you
“Thoroughly read all your contracts. I really mean thoroughly.” – Bret Michaels
Every band and DJ in the wedding industry is probably going to ask for you to sign a contract and
put down a deposit. That’s industry standard.
Here’s the thing: what does that contract do to protect YOU? You give some stranger hundreds
or thousands of dollars and they don’t have anything written into the contract to protect you as the client? That’s a really bad sign.
It’s heart-breaking to hear about brides who are left high and dry because they signed an ironclad contract that protected only the Dj or band. Do you really want to be spending your entire
honeymoon worrying about having to sue someone because they didn’t provide the service they
promised to provide?
Although contract law is way too complicated to go into, the basic gist of it
is this: the contract should protect both parties, the wedding professional and you the client.
What I mean is this: You fulfill your obligation: pay the band. They fulfill their obligation: provide
the service. If the contract doesn’t exist, is really vague or doesn’t contain clauses that protect
you. LOOK OUT!
There are horror stories about wedding vendors taking deposits and running which luckily doesn’t
happen too often. But what if your Dj is late? What if he brings inadequate speakers and you get
fuzzy, low quality sound? What if the band-leader “forgets” to play your special song for the first
It’s my strong opinion that if you receive less than you paid for you are being ripped off. You
Personally, my company offers multiple guarantees (See #3 below) so that our clients can sleep soundly and not have to worry about these “what if” scenarios.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
Ask your potential DJ or Band about possible “what if” scenarios. “What if you can’t personally
attend my wedding? Will I still pay full price if you send a substitute in your place?” “What if you
don’t show up? Will I get all my money back?”
And here’s the clincher: “Okay, will you put all that in writing?”
As previously stated I believe the client and the entertainment should be protected so everyone
gets a copy of my contract and guarantees (see #3 below) right up front so there’s no guesswork
and they know that there is a fair protection for both the couple and the entertainer / band
members. We go over the contract and guarantees with our couples before we even consider
taking them on as clients.
If you’re interested in checking out my company’s contract and guarantees go to
https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com and apply for a free 90-minute wedding entertainment
consultation with myself or someone from my office and you’ll get written copies of my
guarantees and contracts.
4. Just going with the venue’s in-house DJ or band
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
You’ve booked the venue and they encourage you to hire their in-house Dj or Band. Wow, one
more thing off your list and it will save you lots of time right? Maybe… Maybe not….
Here’s a dirty little secret the wedding industry doesn’t want you to know: When a venue is
“strongly recommending (aka forcing)” you to use their entertainment selection they are
probably charging you way more than they are paying the DJ. This means you’re paying $1000 or
$1500 or $3000++ and getting a $500 or $700 or $1500 band or DJ (and the venue is pocketing
Venues that do this are only concerned about 1 thing: making sure someone shows up.
They have a list of multiple Djs and bands so if someone bails on them at the last minute they can
send another part-time replacement. Good, right?
Maybe… Maybe not…
The type of bands and DJs that work with these venues are usually ones who wouldn’t otherwise
be in demand and are usually not able to make a professional wage, so they’re working day-jobs
and are not capable of providing the professional touch that you deserve and paid the venue for.
Here’s a real life example from my own business: This past summer I was contracted by a couple
to perform their wedding at a venue that shall remain nameless. They saw us perform at another
wedding and I was one of the first vendors they booked (smart cookies because our band gets
booked up quite far in advance).
THEN, things got weird…
They started getting harassment from the venue that they had to use the resident Dj. This was
of course after the deposit was taken. There was no mention of this “policy” beforehand.
This type of bullying I feel is unethical and unprofessional. When I received a call from my very
distraught bride, we ended up having a short conversation reminding the bride and groom that
they were the VIPs and what they decide is what’s going to happen.
After a well-worded e-mail, “magically” the venue changed their policy and “allowed” the couple
to have a band and it was a smash success.
“Thank-you again for a spectacular night. Everyone raved about you guys! We were beyond pleased” was the couple’s reaction. Tragedy averted, WHEW!
The wedding venues mean well, but a lot of times their recommendations and “policies” are
meant to make their lives easier and more profitable, not necessarily create the wedding you
want. If a wedding venue ever tries to tell you who you have to hire, RUN!
If they say “The DJ is included in the wedding packages” you say “I’m the client and I will take my
business elsewhere if you don’t respect my decisions on my wedding day, please remove the Dj /
band from the package and refund me the full difference”
The question to ask is: “Do you take any money off of the top of the entertainment’s price?”
A more ethical and professional approach is for the wedding venue to provide you with a list of
“preferred vendors” where they will list multiple bands and Djs they like to work with and you can
choose from that list or hire your own.
That’s helpful, ethical and good business!
5. Thinking MORE band members or DJs is better – Quantity vs. Quality
“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think He must prefer quality to quantity.” – George MacDonald
You should start thinking about the kind of RESULTS you want from your wedding entertainment.
A packed dance floor with high-energy songs and everyone getting involved together, dancing
and singing along?
Or maybe you’d prefer a more low-key atmosphere where people are sitting or slow-dancing to
smoother music (not our specialty, but I can appreciate that there are people who dig that).
Does it matter if you have 3 Djs or 1 Dj causing the party to happen? Does it matter to you if you
have a 15 piece band performing the songs or a more compact group? If your guests are busy
dancing their shoes off and having a blast will they really care how many musicians are
Isn’t the whole point to bring everyone together to celebrate and FEEL amazing?
How many musicians you hire is really a matter of floorspace and WOW factor you want. It’s not
my recommendation to hire a 12 piece band for a 30-person reception, that would be overkill.
But a huge 500 person reception might benefit from that much bigness and WOW factor.
It’s more a matter of your vision of how you want your wedding to go and communicating that
with your band-leader.
Our company has several different “band sizes” to offer couples and most professional bands will
have the same options for you. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, it’s what best fits your needs. Feel
free to apply for a free 90-minute wedding entertainment consultation and we can go into detail about what you’re hoping to achieve and I can make suggestions to help you achieve it.
Similarly a lot of big DJ companies will boast they’ve got 100 Different DJs, but realistically only 1
is going to show up at your wedding. Do you know which one?
Or will that huge DJ company book some really big events and send their best Djs elsewhere
while you get stuck with the leftovers? It happens too often to couples without them even
realizing it until it’s too late.
Also frequently the DJ companies will advertise they’ve got 100,000 songs in their song-list. Wow.
That sure is a lot!
If you were to listen to music for 12 hours a day it would take about a year and a half to listen to
all of those 100,000 songs. However, chances are the Dj or band is only going to have time to
play a small handful of those songs at your wedding.
Do they know how to pick the right song at the right moment to create the experience you want?
That’s really what being a band leader or Dj is: creating life-time memories using music as a tool
in the moment. It’s subtle, part science and part art but this skill is what separates the “just okay”
wedding experience from the “WOW” wedding experience.
The questions you want to ask are “Are you going to be the one performing or Dj-ing my
wedding?” and “do you have a plan if you or a band member or Dj is sick or hurt on my wedding
day?” Professionals will have a backup plan in place and will let you know in advance if
something comes up. Low-priced Djs and bands will have “last-minute” things pop up on them
because they’ve found someone willing to pay a bit more, avoid this by reading #6.
6. Trying to cut corners by hiring amateurs (Focusing ONLY on PRICE)
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the service you
If all DJs and bands were absolutely identical then price would be the best way to judge between
them. However, the range of quality, service and professionalism between different bands and
especially Djs is staggering. One Dj shows up looking like a hobo and another Dj arrives in a
beautiful tuxedo. One band-leader takes your money and you never hear from him again until
the wedding day, another band-leader takes the time to Skype with you and your family and
make helpful suggestions.
The results they can achieve are dramatically different too: one band knows just the right song to
play at just the right moment and keeps the dance-floor packed all night. Another Dj plays only
Top40 songs (and screamingly loud too) and you can literally watch your 40+ aged guests pack
up and try to politely leave your wedding.
Good entertainment is never cheap. And cheap entertainment is seldom good. If price was the only thing that mattered, we would all drive the cheapest cars, wear jewelry and watches from Wal-Mart and only eat out at McDonald’s.
What does the entertainment quality at your wedding say about you? Are you generous to your
guests? Or are you willing to pinch pennies on the one element that 80% of your guests will
remember the most.
The wedding reception entertainment will take up 35%-55% of the total time of your wedding
day. Shouldn’t it get at least a fair portion of your wedding budget? A lot of Djs and bands will say they provide premium service at a budget price. Do you really believe them?
My experience tells me if they aren’t charging a fair and professional wage they are forced to:
1) Work another job
2) Double and triple book themselves and send “subs” in their place
3) Sacrifice on maintaining their equipment and education
4) Live off their rich relatives
In my own business I don’t have any rich uncles so I charge a fair professional price. It’s as simple
as that. This frees me up to focus 100% on my client’s needs and ultimately they get the benefit.
The Dj or band-leader with a day-job won’t be available when you have a question at the last
minute and they are more likely to have to cancel on you because “the boss said I have to work
The “budget” entertainment won’t have the necessary funds to maintain their equipment
properly and will have speakers and microphones that work “most of the time”.
Since they accept any gig that comes their way they end up “sending” last minute replacements
because they’re double booked.
How worried would you be if someone you’ve never met showed up with a 1000W sound system
at your wedding? “Hi, John couldn’t make it, I’m his replacement”. Do you want to spend your entire wedding reception angry at your Dj, holding your breath and praying he’s not terrible?
7. Not setting up their entertainment in the right location and joining in as party hosts
“After all, what is your host’s purpose in having a party? Surely not just for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they’d have simply sent champagne and dancers over to your place by taxi.” – P.J. O’Rourke
When we first sit down together one of the first questions I ask couples is, “Where is the band
going to be set-up?” and then “Where is the party going to happen?” Couples usually think of
the “party” happening at the venue.
Then I say “be more specific.”
“The dance floor?”
“Hopefully, but the reality is the party happens wherever the party hosts are”
It’s been my experience at countless weddings that you as the bride and groom very much set
the tone for how your guests will react. If you get out there and lead the charge onto the dancefloor then your guests will follow suit.
On the other hand, if you immediately head outside after the first dance your guests will meander
there too. I’m not saying you can’t take a break to freshen up now and then, but in that critical
first hour it’s imperative that you think of yourself as the host and invite your guests to join you in
whatever activity you’ve been envisioning.
Where to locate the band and DJ is a huge consideration and topic.
Shoving the band in the far corner away from the bar is generally a bad idea. Having the Dj in a
separate room from the bar never works.
The complexities of this location topic are great, but in general we want the band and Dj to be
close to the dance floor and equidistant from all seating areas and as close to the bar as possible. You want everyone to experience the celebration together right? That means some planning and
fore-thought to setup the environment to make sure this happens.
I cover this floor-plan concept in greater detail during wedding entertainment consultations which
I offer at no charge to prospective couples. If you are interested in receiving more details and
want to apply for a 90-minute consultation visit https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com
8. Getting Caught with a “Last-Minute Surprise” Add-On or “Gratuity”
“Mandatory gratuity? Isn’t that kind of like an optional requirement?”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Scenario #1: You’ve booked the Dj, you’ve even managed to pick the centrepieces and finish the
seating-plan! Now the Dj is calling you asking if you’d like to “add-on” a microphone for
speeches… “Ummm I thought that was included” “No, that’s an extra $400”. Your budget has
already spiralled out of control and you’re getting pushed even farther.
It’s completely unprofessional and unethical but this scenario happens too often in the wedding industry. Here’s how to avoid it: at the time of booking ask, “Is this everything I could ever
possibly need for speeches, announcements and movies? Will you put it in writing that I will not
pay more than the amount we agreed upon?”
Scenario #2: Your wedding reception is almost over, you’re trying to get going and your part-time
band-leader comes up and says,
“Hi, thanks for having me at your wedding, you know most couples decide to tip 10-20% to their
band if they’ve done a good job, we’ve done a good job for you, right?”
He’s going to put you in a high-pressure cash-grab situation at midnight on your wedding day?
I know lots of people will disagree with me, but I find this “bait-and-switch” tactic that low-priced
amateurs use all the time disgraceful.
I have never once asked for a tip from any of my clients ever. If the bride and groom decide to tip
from their own heart that’s amazing, but to ask or pressure for it leaves an awful taste in
everyone’s mouth. If the band or Dj was charging a reasonable and fair fee in the first place they wouldn’t have to hit their couples up for tips at the last minute.
How to avoid this: Ask your entertainment vendor straight up if he will expect or ask for a tip on
the night of. At least you will know in advance the character of the person you are dealing with.
My company has a written guarantee in place that what is agreed upon is what my clients pay,
not a cent more.
How can you budget when you don’t fully understand how much your vendors are charging you?
We also bundle our services into inclusive packages and go over the couple’s needs during a free
90-minute wedding entertainment consultation. Visit http://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com to apply.
I make sure that all my prospective clients learn what “they don’t know yet ” so they can made
an educated decision and nothing gets left out.
Here’s some action you can take right now:
1: Commit Your Time
This entertainment decision is important: make a commitment to yourself to spend some time on
Maybe you didn’t fully understand how big of a decision the wedding entertainment is. If you’ve
read this far you’re probably starting to realize that great entertainment will make a significant
impact on the success of your wedding.
An expert band-leader or professional Dj will have a wealth of experience to give you and the best of them usually offer free consultations or assessments. I would encourage you to take full
advantage of these.
My company offers a free 90-minute wedding entertainment consultation and will also
recommend other vendors for you to consider. The best of the best are going to have more than
enough business and will happily encourage you to take some time with your decision.
That’s my advice to you as well.
For information about how to apply for a free wedding 90-minute entertainment consultation
with my company visit https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com
2: Commit Your Budget
If entertainment is a big deal to you and your wedding vision, it’s my recommendation that you
take a serious look at your entertainment budget. If it’s not healthy enough to support a full-time professional Band or DJ, consider some changes.
There are too many nightmare stories to risk going with the cheap part-timers. I’ve got some easy
ways to free up some space in your budget that I’ll happily share with you during your free 90-
minute wedding entertainment consultation. Check out https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com
3: Ask Questions
The professionals in this business welcome your feedback and love a tough question because it
makes us better. We want to find new and exciting ways to make your unique wedding vision a
reality. Ask us!
The shoddy part-time “biznesses” will only be interested in money type questions (I.E. how much
of a deposit do you pay). They won’t directly answer your questions and they won’t directly make
commitments in writing to you.
4: Get Everything In Writing
Even when dealing with a great wedding vendor, make sure all the fine details are in writing in an
easy to read way. Make sure you and the vendor both agree on the details. This prevents
miscommunication and potential misunderstandings.
Great vendors usually stand behind their products and services with written guarantees. Shady
people will promise you the world until they get your deposit and signature… So choose carefully.
Read what you’re signing and don’t ever get pressured into signing something you’re not
The wedding industry is constantly evolving and it’s my desire to see the level of service and value continue to grow, because a wedding is a special and important day for everyone involved. I would hate to see you get ripped off or receive less than you could or should have received because you didn’t have the time to research all your options.
It’s your first time putting together a wedding? I’d love to help in any way I can.
I do offer complimentary 90-minute wedding entertainment consultations as a service to couples
in love that want to educate themselves on creating the wedding entertainment experience they
envision in their mind. To apply for a session visit https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com
Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions
for how to improve this information.
If you’re interested in becoming a wedding client, the first step is to apply for a free wedding
entertainment consultation visit http://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com
If you know of anyone who might benefit from this information, you have my full permission to share it,
just give credit where it’s due. Thanks for your valuable time and best of luck with your upcoming wedding!
David Fraser of DCF Wedding Music
David Cavan Fraser is the founder and bandleader of DCF Wedding Music based out of Erin, Ontario. He specializes in live music that’s exciting, entertaining and engaging and has been involved in the wedding industry professionally since 2007.
DCF Wedding Music & DJ Service performs at venues in Toronto, GTA and Southern Ontario. To meet David and learn more about his services book a free consultation at https://meet.dcfweddingmusic.com. Or contact him at 1-866-710-7658 – david@dcfweddingmusic.