"Does your DJ you hired really have Wedding Reception Experience?"

I remember my first wedding celebration as a DJ in 1985.    Fortunately it was a good experience.    I recall explaining to the bride that I'd never entertained for a wedding reception.    I believe my honesty upfront led to a good experience which eventually led to Phantom Shadow Entertainment dominating the wedding DJ market in our area in the 90's. 

Learning how to be a good wedding DJ isn't an easy task.   A new DJ needs great mentors and the person will need to dedicate a huge amount of time in learning the wedding reception industry.   As a bride and groom looking to find the best DJ for your event, I suggest you spend some time investigating the company or person you consider.

Here are just a few helpful things to consider when looking for the right DJ for your wedding:

(1)  You need to meet the actual DJ....not the owner of the company.     If the owner seems to be hesitant about you meeting the exact DJ, that should throw up a red flag from the start.   After you meet the actual DJ, meet the owner too.    After all, if the DJ is horrible you will want the name of the owner who is ultimately responsible for the DJ and his performance.   

(2)  Ask the DJ his/her background and experience as a Wedding DJ.   Remember a  wedding DJ is far different than a school or bar DJ.  They are completely different careers.   It's kind of like saying all doctors do the same thing....foot, dentist,family doctor, etc.....they are different and trained differently.   Ask the DJ who trained them to be a wedding DJ.

(3)  Ask the DJ his level of education.    The college degree received may indicate the DJ candidates ability to organize your reception and follow your hopes for the day.

(4)  Has the candidate ever been an actor in community theater?    Hiring a DJ that can act appropriately is rather important for the success of your event.   Actors usually don't have a fear of speaking on a microphone at a public event.   The DJ you hire shouldn't be afraid of using the microphone for appropriate formalities.     On the other end of the spectrum, a DJ that talks too much during your event can be destructive to the success of your wedding also.   And certainly a DJ who sings along to songs might be an event that you will never forget for all the wrong reasons.     Yes, we've heard stories of all different types of wedding DJs right here in Franklin County.

(5)  Does the DJ take care of himself physically?    The health of the specific DJ you hire is important.      If you spend hours interviewing different DJs and choose one that doesn't show up on your wedding day, I don't believe that will make you too happy.      Ask the DJ how many events they have sent a substitute DJ in their career.

(6)  Does the Company you have really have a backup plan if your DJ becomes ill?   You really need to be able to trust in the company that you choose to have systems in place in case of emergency situations.  Do they really have a skilled DJ ready as backup?  Are they large enough and have the people skills to run a company with extra skilled DJs available at a moments notice?

(7)  Ask the wedding venue about which DJ companies to interview.   Event venues will have opinions on which DJ to consider and which to run from.

(8)   Ask the company what associations they belong to.    In every industry, staying on top of the game is education.   If the company or DJ you are considering is not part of a wedding association or doesn't attend a training a few times a year, how can they be knowledgeable as time continues?

(9)  Years in Business.    Please keep in mind that a DJ that entertains 5 weddings a year for 5 years is not the same as a DJ that entertains 45 weddings a year for 5 years.  

(10)  Look at on-line reviews such as wedding wire.  If they are all 5.0 out of 5.0's, I would really question the company with how do you get all 5.0's out of 5.0's?     

(11) Ask the DJ if they are an employee, owner, or subcontractor for the company they are representing.     If you are booking a DJ company, ask to see the Workman's Compensation Policy and Liability Policy for the company.     If the company is using Subcontractors, you might need to ask the subcontracting DJ for his policies.    This question alone will make most non-legit DJ companies squirm and run for the hills.        Knowing the type of business you are hiring is rather important for the success of your event.     

(12)  Choose the actual DJ that you feel the most comfortable in dealing with for your event.  

(13)  Ask other newlyweds who they booked and why.

(14)  Look on the Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org     It might be best if you deal with an accredited business with an A+ ranking with the Better Business Bureau.   If the company you are considering has had complaints in the past, please ask the DJ company to explain the complaint in detail.   Trust me, it's worth your time and energy to weed out the fishy slimeball DJ companies in the area.  Your event is worth hiring the most reliable company with integrity and attention to your details. 

In my 29 years in the DJ industry in the tri-state area, I believe biggest mistake other DJ companies makes is promising services or a specific person and then not following through with what they promised.   As a bride and groom, you probably don't want a surprise on or a couple of days before your wedding day. 

Your journey as newlyweds should start on a positive note with a wedding reception experience that you enjoy thinking about.  Take the time to hire the right professional and remember your wedding day for all the right reasons.

-Donovan Yaukey, CO-CEO  Phantom Shadow Entertainment Services

"You're going to like the way your guests Feel"

Or maybe "You're going to like the way your guests look as they leave your event," might  be a good advertising tag line.    The line was of course inspired by the Joseph A. Banks commercials that say "You're going to like the way you look."

    I've always been fascinated to watch the audience after the music ends at events over the past 29 years.      If the party is awesome, you're guests will not want to leave.     An awesome party requires awesome Music.  Hiring the right Disc Jockey is one of the most important decisions you can make as a bride and groom.   

 I was playing around with advertising tag lines on our journey back from a two day getaway with my wife of twenty years.    Jennifer and I went to The Inn at Pocono Manor in Pennsylvania to share some much needed alone time.    This included time away from the Phantom Shadow business, our lovely children, and the zoo we have at our home. (4 dogs, 3 cats, and a gecko)    We were successful in having a great time together....but it did include some discussion of the business because it has become a major part of our lives over the past twenty years.  Mysteriously enough, the resort location also had a wedding reception with Disc Jockey Adam Skuba with Skuba Entertainment who I have recently become friends with.  Earlier in the week I had planned to go and "shadow" Adam at his event, but after I looked at the Inn at Pocono Manor's website I knew Jennifer would enjoy the venue as well.     Jennifer and I rarely are both available on a Saturday....One of us is usually booked to entertain for a wedding.

The resort was laid out in a way that Jennifer and I were able to be in the lobby at different times throughout the day (between the massages, lunch, formal dinner, bar, etc) and be able to hear the wedding celebration in the ballroom.     And we were able to hear the party in our 3rd floor room.    This worked out well.     This was almost like good therapy for me.    Alone time with my wife, time with my business partner, and being able to hear what a successful DJ in a different area does, but most important to me was being able to see how the guests looked after the 11pm ending of the reception.    Many of the guests including the bride and groom moved to the resort bar where there was a Guitar player/singer fellow.    The look on the brides face said it all....she had a day that she will remember for all the right reasons.   The guests proceeded to dance in the resort bar to play that funky music being strummed by the guitarist.   I could tell that the guests liked the way they felt and I give credit for that success to Adam Skuba.       A great disc jockey has the ability to make your special day one to remember for all the right reasons.

Wedding receptions are an escape for guests to as they say in Cabaret "Leave your troubles outside, in here life is beautiful....."   If the DJ is great, the guests will like they way they feel and the guests will leave their troubles outside and have a great time a the reception.  Isn't that what every bride hopes for?   A wedding day filled with joy and memories to last a lifetime.    

Maybe some background will be helpful....

Jennifer and I are the owners of Phantom Shadow Entertainment.    When she was crazy enough to marry me in 1994, I rather quickly decided to give her 51% ownership of Phantom Shadow Entertainment thinking we are now a female owned company.  I have no regrets in doing this.    Jennifer's efforts in the business are a major part of our growth between 1994 and today.    From 1985 until 1994 Phantom Shadow Entertainment was soley a Disc Jockey company.  We had grown from one system to in around 25 systems if we count my business, my brothers business, and my dad's business.     We were in the right place at the right time between 1985 through 1994.    We grew quickly and dominated the market share.       We were able to provide quantity and quality during those years.

Times changed quickly in 1994 with the DJ industry mainly due to the availability of the CD Recorder.    This made music collections easy to duplicate.     DJ equipment also came down in price.    Very quickly, the DJ market started to become saturated with disc jockeys.      We felt we needed to place our irons in different fires and grow the business.   We bought a limousine, started doing invitations, and even started a videography branch specializing in weddings.   It was the 90's....brides seemed to like the DJ, Video, Limousine, Videography package deal type of thing.  Afterall, that's what the businesses in Long Island where selling at the time, so we ventured on.     At the same time, I also bought an inflatable boxing ring which eventually led to our highest grossing event to date in our 29 year history.  (another blog will certainly be in the future about this branch.)

We offered the videography and invitations from 1994 until 1998.   We realized in 1998 that "Jack of all trades, Master of None" was relevant.   While we were profitable with the videography business, we just didn't have a passion for it and the word "edit" really should be left to professional video production talent.   The invitations were dropped quickly....It's best to leave invitations to the professionals who do invitations.  

Limousines?   We grew the limousine business for twenty years from 1994 until 2014, and because we wanted to direct our attention and passion to the DJ, Inflatables, and Casino Theme Party Business, we sold our limousine business  In September 2014.

The DJ business for Jennifer and I continues to be a passion for both of us, and I believe it is because we enjoy making people happy.    Our dedication to the growth of our Disc Jockey business has been re-energized and good things are happening with that division of the business.    We have excellent team members in place to enable the growth to be systemized and most importantly healthy for Phantom Shadow Entertainment.     

As a bride and groom, I urge you to take action and invest the time to meet with your DJ choices before you hire anyone.    Hear their story.  Ask them about their journey.   Great Disc Jockeys exist in your area...."I guarantee it!"    Afterall, at the end of your wedding day, I'm sure you will hope to say to yourself, "I like the way my guests looked."

-Donovan Yaukey, CO-CEO & Founder, Phantom Shadow Entertainment