When you are shopping for a DJ you want to get your money's worth. You also want to make sure that all your questions are answered and that you have been properly informed. Below is a list of questions that have either been asked of me, or that you should ask your potential DJ before you hire them. Even if you decide not to use my services, I do want you to have a successful and memorable wedding day!
"Will you be our DJ or will someone else"?
This is one of the most important questions to ask, and exactly the reason I downsized in 2014 to just one mobile unit. Anyone can play music, but having the knowledge of the music and how things should go at a wedding are far more important than being able to push play. Getting involved with the guests and keeping you on track are also important. I heard for years that the guys working for me were "Okay, but they just weren't you" so I just decided to do all shows myself. I know of another big name company from Ames where the owner is a great DJ, but "if you don't get him, it's just not the same" With Sound Extremes, you always get the owner, and I take pride in my reputation as a great DJ.
"Can we come to an event to hear/see the DJ perform"?
I get asked this a lot and to put it in short, DJ's are employees at private events, and I don't have the right to invite outside guests. Imagine if it were your full tuxedo wedding and some guy in ripped shorts came in to hang out with the DJ for a while. That certainly wouldn't make you or me look very good. On top of that, all weddings are different, from crowd interaction to equipment used to volume levels, etc. You can never be guaranteed the DJ will perform exactly the same at every event and any DJ who treats every event the exact same is not a good DJ. Reading a crowd is something only experience can teach.
"I found a DJ with a bigger sound system and he costs less, why"?
First off, no one has a better sound system than Sound Extremes and anyone claiming to have such a system should be avoided. A DJ should have at least two main speakers and one subwoofer (I use two subwoofers and two main speakers minimum)...If the DJ doesn't have a subwoofer, then his/her sound quality will suffer. A DJ who doesn't have a subwoofer doesn't understand the fundamentals of sound, and a look at their equalizer usually shows this lack of understanding.
DJ's who are cheap usually go one of two ways...they either don't have proper or quality equipment or they have big stacks of equipment pieced together in order to look big an impressive, not only does the big stack look tacky, but generally it is mismatched equipment (or cheaply made equipment) and that can affect the quality of the sound greatly. They show their inexperience by trying to impress clients with quantity and not quality and offer other marketing strategies because their work doesn't stand out.
Bigger doesn't always mean better, but better can do loud without issue (I generally don't have to use more than 30% of my available power to fill a room completely with quality sound.
"How many weddings have you done"?
Well, I've been in business since 1997, and I can't say for sure, but it is easily over 700 weddings. I have also done many ceremonies, school dances, corporate events and fundraisers.
"How do we go about booking you, how does the process work"?
This is a very good question, I know exactly what goes into a wedding, and how much stress it can be for you (having been married twice myself), that is why I make the DJ the part you won't have to worry about. First you need to check your date, using the date-checker on my availability page or elsewhere on my website (or call or email me). From there you enter some basic contact information, and I will get back to you. If you think you would like to use my services, I will send you a contract, which includes everything under the sun all the way down to your final song of the night. You fill out contact details and event details and send it back to me with deposit and you’re booked. It really is that easy. From there, you have until about a week before your wedding to figure out any music, introductions, dances or anything else and send it to me.
"Why is your equipment better"?
I use concert quality equipment, designed for large audiences. Most quality local DJ's also use pretty good equipment, although the amount of equipment they use may not allow for great sound quality for an audience the size of most wedding receptions and they would be better suited for a small to medium garage, not a reception hall as I am set up for. Most other DJ's also don't use subwoofers at all, or charge extra to bring them, and a dedicated subwoofer is necessary to bring the sound to your audience the way it is meant to be heard. I also carry two or more of most everything in the case that something may not be working at 100%. Check out my "Compare Equipment" page for further details.
"Can you tell us about other DJ services"?
I've been in the industry for a long time, and I've heard good things and of course bad things about other services. From a professional standpoint, I won't post things I've heard online, but there is only one service outside of Sound Extremes that I would highly recommend as professional. There are also some DJ services whom I have never heard a single good thing about, so I hope that you will do your research and ask a lot of questions.
"How much is your deposit"?
My deposit is $100 and is non refundable. It is subtracted off the total contracted price which is due by the end of the reception itself (or beforehand if you would like)
Some people have trouble understanding how it works, so let's say you book an $800 wedding, and the deposit is $100, the $100 is due with the contract and you would owe $700 by the end of the event.
"Will you play requests"?
Yes. You and your guests are welcome to make requests and you may also bring your own CD's also if you like. You may also provide me with a playlist ahead of time and I will get any music that you want to hear free of charge, I do not limit the number of requests like a lot of other DJ companies. I carry roughly 14,000 songs with me and also have four smartphones with access to 25,000,000+ songs I can download on the fly.
"Can you provide music or amplification for a wedding ceremony"?
Yes. For a small fee under Add-ons, although generally I will not be able to make rehearsal, so it would be a good idea to either meet to discuss the ceremony or at least have a good phone discussion ahead of time. I have done over 150 ceremonies, so usually they are pretty straightforward.
"We are going to have a live band in addition to the DJ, Will you be able to work with that arrangement?"
Yes. However, I would like to speak with the band before the event to work out any details.
"We are nervous about speaking on a microphone. Can your DJ handle our announcements and introductions"?
Yes. I am a professional emcees and I do all necessary announcements and introductions and can also guide you on what to say if you need advice.
"Do you have a light show"?
Yes, I have two different options available, a free light show and an expanded one. I use LED lighting effects for all my lighting and the expanded show is double the amount of lights as the free show.
"Do you offer special rate packages"?
Yes. I offer 4 different sound packages, and 3 different lighting options, with discounts available for November through April weddings, and further discounts of up to $350 for events not taking place on Saturday (Seasonal and daily discounts cannot be applied for the same day) I also offer an additional $100 discount for summer events paid in full in cash or $50 for cash payment on non summer events.
"What are your rates, what do other DJ's charge?"
This is a great question, and before choosing a DJ based on price only, keep in mind the old catch phrase "You get what you pay for". I urge you to check out other DJ pricing and what they will give you for your money. Most DJ's use very small professional (and sometimes unprofessional) sound systems, or don't give you many or any lighting options. Most other DJ's also base their rates on a 4 or 5 hour reception, and by the time you pay their overtime fees, it can often times double your original quote. I have heard DJ pricing in the Des Moines area from $400-$2500.
Beware of DJ's who offer one low price for the whole evening, they typically haven't been in the business very long and could be low on experience, equipment, reliability or know how. I am not one the cheapest DJ's around, but I am far from the most expensive, and I can guarantee I will show up, in person, for your event, with the right equipment and know how to make your event a success.
And unlike other DJ's who make you call them and fill out a form for a quote, and later add things like travel, lodging, setup, teardown, and overtime fees, etc., I post all my prices and fees up front on my website as well as on my contract. Base prices are listed under the "Packages" page and any available options under "Add-ons". This way you know exactly what everything will cost ahead of time and there are no big surprises on your big day. Nothing is more depressing than leaving your wedding hundreds of dollars poorer than you expected.
I also offer discounts for spring/winter/non Saturday events as well as cash payments.
I have no time limits on any of my packages, so the cost on the paperwork is the cost you can expect, even if you party until 3am.
"What kind of professional experience do you have?"
This is a great question to ask! With over half my life dedicated to music and over 18 years as a DJ and having DJ'd at over 700 wedding receptions and over 150 ceremonies, my experience is vast. Any number of situations could arise, and the ability to take on the situation professionally is a must to keep the event running smoothly. As the owner of Sound Extremes, I have seen every situation under the sun arise, and never once in all my years has the music stopped playing. I constantly find myself helping other vendors and sometimes doing things like running to the store for something someone has forgotten for the reception or helping to serve cake or clean up after an event. I will do whatever it takes to make your event a success.
"Do you use contracts?"
Yes, to protect both parties involved. With a signed contract, everything is legally and plainly put in front of everyone on paper before any payments are made. This way, you know your total costs and what you will receive ahead of time, and I know you plan on following through with your part of the deal. It protects you against fraud and me against financial liability. Unlike a lot of other DJ's, you WILL know exactly what the event will cost before the big day.
"Do you do this full-time or part-time?"
Currently I am a full-time DJ, although sometimes I do work a part time job to pass time or help with bills. Even when I am working, I am still available 24 hours a day for phone calls or text messages and 7 nights a week to perform.
"Do you meet with us before the event?"
About 1/5 of the couples I DJ for like to meet with me prior to the event. It is not required, but more than welcomed if you would like. My contract is VERY inclusive and leaves little to wonder about. Some couples have kept in touch since their weddings through facebook. I don't charge to meet with you, even if we need to meet several times.
“Do you charge a travel fee? Why"?
All of my pricing is very straight-forward. After 60 miles one-way I charge a travel fee because it costs me a different amount of gas for each different place I perform at. My free service area of almost 3,000 square miles of central Iowa is one of the largest and by the time I charge for travel, I have have already put the first $40 in gas towards your event already. Other DJ’s might not tell you about it, but all DJ’s charge for travel in some form or another. With me, it is very simple, you pay for one way mileage after 60 miles and I cover all return trip expenses. (example) If you are having a reception in Waterloo, the travel is 210 miles round trip, the total travel cost is $55...Ames for example is 120 miles round trip, and it is no charge.
"When is payment due"?
The deposit is due with contract in order to hold your wedding date, and it is subtracted from the total contract price. The balance of the contract is due by the end of the event itself.
"What is a 'Lodging Fee'?
Lodging Fee's are something a lot of other DJ's might charge you, but not Sound Extremes. A lot of DJ's even require you to make sure it's at least a 3 star hotel. If you want to get me a room, it's completely up to you, but I will NOT require one or EVER ask for one. If a DJ wants a hotel room, it should be at the DJ's expense. Weddings are expensive, and I try my best not to add to the bill.
"Do you have any references I can contact regarding your services?"
Definitely, check my references link, and if you would like, I will provide email addresses, although I have no control over whether people might respond. Word of mouth is my best advertising. However, out of respect for previous customers privacy and peace and quiet, I no longer give personal phone numbers. Some of my previous clients were getting several calls a day and I don't want to do that to them. Beware of a DJ that won’t give out or doesn’t have any references.
"How long does it take to set-up and tear down?”
There are a lot of factors that go into set up time for DJ’ing an event. The distance to haul equipment, the amount of equipment desired, the staging area. My shortest set up times are around 25 minutes and longest are about 90 minutes, I post my expected setup times on my contract on a package by package basis. Teardown generally takes a little less than half that of setup. I will have everything done setting up by the time your guests arrive given that I have ample access to your event location. It would be embarrassing for both you and me to be setting up in front of your guests. I generally show up 2 hours before guests are scheduled to arrive, although if I have played a location before and know where set up is and how long it will take, that time could be anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours ahead of time.
"What kind of lighting do you use"?
I have replaced all my lighting with LED lighting, which gives a huge amount of light without any of the heat or power requirements of “old school” halogen lighting. I recommend generally to use just my free light show, as it covers a large area and it is free, although if you have a huge dance floor, the expanded light show could be a nice option to choose.
"Will there be enough sound in the room so everyone can hear the music"?
I use concert quality speakers for all shows with a straightforward range of 300 feet or better. The reason I recommend different packages for different crowd sizes is because generally some of the guests in larger rooms sit more to the sides than directly in front of the speakers. By doing this, the guests in those areas will hear the same volume and quality of music and announcements as those directly in front of the staging area. If the venue is a long rectangle, my smallest package will nearly always work given that I am set up on one of the short sides of the room.
"What happens if your equipment has a problem and isn't working?"
First off, although I use computers to run the sound system, I have CD players and CD's on backup, with ALL your special requested songs on disk as well. In the case of a power outage or flicker, I can start music playing again within 30 seconds by switching to my CD system. I back up all our equipment with mirrored equipment. On the other hand, since 1997, I have never had to use backup equipment. I also carry 2 smartphones with music and download capability for guest requests and backup. Ask other DJ’s if they can handle a power outage so efficiently.
"My friend has a great home stereo, he could DJ couldn’t he?”
Well I guess he could, but honestly would you want him to? Home stereo equipment is designed to play small rooms and the speakers focus the sound on a particular area, when asked to do more than they were designed for, home systems will distort, heat up, and more than likely fail in less than an hour. Pro audio equipment is designed to "throw" the sound very long distances without losing intelligibility. Also, would your friend have the music that your parents or grandparents would want to hear as well, or just the new hits of today or his own favorite music. Also, would your friend have microphones and know what to say or when to say it? It takes more than a loud stereo to have a great event. Believe it or not, there are actually DJ's out there who use this type of equipment to this day. I have also found that a lot of couples who hire a friend to DJ a wedding at a discount find that the friend will back out on them for a higher paying gig. I generally have to fill in for 2-3 shows a year where this happens last minute.
"What is background music? Do I need it"?
Background or dinner music is that icebreaker for your guests as they wait for you to arrive at the reception hall, and prevents any awkward moments of silence in the pre-dance stage of your reception. My customers generally prefer the sounds of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Mindi Abair, Jack Johnson, Michael Buble, classical piano and/or Big Band, as well as instrumental love songs. I receive a lot of compliments on my dinner music of choice. Overall, adding dinner music is a great finishing touch to your event and unlike some other DJ's, we don't charge extra for it as our packages all have unlimited time. I met a girl at a wedding once who told me her wedding DJ started her package time when he arrived to set up, and the DJ came up to her towards the end of dinner to let her know that overtime charges would be starting already. That was unbelievable to hear, but it happens, so be sure to always ask when your time starts (unless you go with Sound Extremes)
"Do we have to tip the DJ, and if so, how much"?
It is said to be a rule of thumb that you are supposed to tip the DJ 10-15% of the bill, just like a restaurant. However, since I am the owner and not an employee, I don't ever expect to receive a tip, although of course if you would like to do so, I always appreciate it. A big thank you or a hug goes a long way as well!
"Do you wear a tux for formal occasions?"
I could, but generally I dress in dress pants with a button up shirt and tie or business casual. Business casual dress is a polo (depending on the season) or button down and tie with khakis or dress pants, with nice shoes. In the very hot summer months for outdoor receptions, I prefer a polo and khaki shorts and nice sandals. I do not want to upstage or be confused with the wedding party by looking just like them at your reception. Ie want your guests to feel comfortable around me and some guests (younger kids) seem intimidated by someone they don't know in a suit or tux. I will not play at your event in jeans and a T-shirt (unless you want me to), however I generally set up beforehand "dressed down" and change before guests arrive. Setting up can be a dirty, tough task, with some of my systems using close to 1000 pounds of equipment that * have to lug around. If I dressed up ahead of time, I would look terribly dirty and sweaty by the start of the show. I like to warn about the "dressed down" attire ahead of time because occasionally the wedding party is there taking pictures when I arrive to set up, and I can see it in their faces the look of "I hope he's not wearing that"
"Can you recommend anyone else to help us with other things we will need for the wedding"?
Yes. I will be posting some referrals for photographers and other vendors on the "links" page from time to time as I find other quality professional services. Since I meet so many vendors and only update the website occasionally, feel free to call me and ask questions. I have performed at over 400 weddings so I am full of information, especially on food quality.
"What kind of music selection do you have?"
My music library contains 14,000 songs ranging from the 40's to all of today's hits. I also have 2 smartphones I carry to download music requests that I might not have on the fly. I have access to 25,000,000+ songs this way. In 18+ years, I have had just 3 songs that I couldn't get ahold of and 2 of them were local bands.
"Why do I have to pay a deposit? Why is it Non-Refundable?"
A deposit reserves your date and allows me the freedom to say to other potential customers, "No, sorry, we're booked." By paying a deposit you are agreeing to follow through with your end of the contract and actually hold your event. Were I to not ask for a deposit, you could simply cancel at any time with no consequence. In the time between booking your event and the actual event itself, I will likely have turned away several customers. At this point, if you cancel, I have lost not only your business but other income as well. There have been times when someone told me they were going to use my services only to find out later they went with another company, so this is the way you tell me in good faith you really do want my services. The deposit is subtracted from the total contracted price as well.
"Why does the number of guests matter in which package I choose"?
I offer different packages based on audience size because I strive to have the best sounding audio system possible. Usually when there are more guests, I recommend to have more speakers because it can cover a given room or audience size with the same sound quality as a smaller room or audience. Depending on the room, sometimes even the smallest sound sytem is more than enough, but if the room is 10,000 square feet, the people in the rear or sides of the room won't hear the same quality of sound as the people directly in front.
My recommendations are just that, recommendations. If you think the smaller system would be plenty, it probably will be, and once the dance starts, the only people who like the music loud and clear are the ones out there dancing, and the others who are talking would rather it be quieter anyway.
Lighting is the same way, the goal is to cover the dance floor with enough lights, not too many. Most DJ's offer a much smaller sound system than even our small package, and that is when complaints of sound quality or trouble hearing what is going on start. I even know of a local DJ who uses car stereo speakers, which aren't designed for any kind of long distance sound travel.
"Do you offer a video projector or uplighting"?
I do not offer a video projector for several reasons. First off, most reception venues will have one of these and they charge $150-200 to rent it. DJ's who do offer them charge the same thing, but the venue will have the area set up ahead of time in the correct location with proper hookups. I have been to weddings where the hookups were incompatible and the slideshow didn't happen. I recommend having someone bring a decent sized LCD TV and put it on or near the gift table so guests can watch the slideshow if and when they want to. This way you can play it all night long and not take any time away from your event (and it's free) If music isn't required a simple USB drive full of pictures is all you need.
I do offer uplighting as an add-on. You are able to pick whatever color(s) you want and I currently have up to 16 uplights available.
"Do you use smoke machines"?
I no longer use them regularly, as most venues have smoke detectors too sensitive to handl the smoke and guests sometimes complain about not being able to breathe, but smoke is available.
"Can I make a playlist of music for my event"?
Yes, I actually recommmend it, and I will get everything on your list for your event at no charge, no matter how long the list is. I do recommend letting your guests make requests though, as ultimately, they are the ones who are supposed to be dancing. I also allow an unlimited "Do not play" list.