What to expect from your DJ

There are a few people that I’ve met over the years that worry about the DJ they are hiring for their wedding because they have seen (or only heard about) a lousy DJ. But what is a bad experience to one (song selection or messing up names) may not be a bad experience to someone else. It sounds crazy, I know, but hear me out.

Through my years of speaking with hundreds of couples per year, I’ve heard some responses to questions that positively caught me off guard. Such as someone saying that if the DJ they paid to come to their wedding didn’t show up that their day wouldn’t be ruined. I was told once that a couple had been to 10 weddings for friends and family over the past year, saw 9 DJs, and didn’t see one they wouldn’t hire as in they just didn’t really notice anything distinctive.

Why did this catch me off guard? Why would someone not care about the things that I cared about seem so out of this world? I think it was because I was younger and I thought that of course there was a specific way of thinking about these situations. Time has taught me, though, that when we say people are unique, then we must accept our differences as individual truths and not faults.

I believe in Love of all types. I think in my value as a family member, friend, and DJ. I think, though, that not all people are better off with me as their DJ. It was a humbling thought for someone that regularly saw flaws in other people’s DJ skills.

This all led me to understand the underlying expectation each couple should have for their wedding or special event DJ. Your DJ should be tuned into what you want and capable of delivering your music in the way you like to experience it.

Simple, but often looked over.

We match ourselves to each other online, match ourselves to our careers after years of schooling, match ourselves to our friends through trial and error, so why not go through some matching process to find the right DJ?

ADVICE: Interview your DJ, ask for music or videos if it is important to you, and listen to people you trust for thoughtful referrals. You’ll be happy with the result.

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Music Examples

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Music Examples

Looking for some mix examples? I would to if I was looking for a DJ. So, here are some quick examples. There’s a lot more to me than these mixes, but I think you’ll get a great idea as to what I offer. Check it out…


pop sandwich example

Artists tend to have their own style, obviously, which means that playing their songs in the same set can have a comfortable feel especially if those songs are off the same album which means they have the same producer. You may hear some DJs including me play them back to back in a quick mix (only a chorus or two are played), but I also like sandwich or bracket the songs around another artist’s record. This one is a mix of two Maroon 5 songs (Girls Like You/What Lovers Do) around a Taylor Swift song (Delicate):


american & latin pop mix

New mixes are always favorites with younger crowds, but don’t tend to fly with the older guests (unless they are super hip which happens quite a bit more than most people think). Here is a Latin Pop mix that I recently put together.


hip hop mix

Looking for some Hip Hop? This is a remix I made of some 2000s Hip Hop with an explicit version of Biggie which I don’t play unless specifically requested by clients.


remix example

Personal remixed songs are a great way to put your signature on your event. Are you looking for a favorite song that is turned up a bit with a new beat? I can do that. I can also remix special dances like group dances, acapellas & instrumentals, and more.


edm versions of pop songs

EDM is a popular style for dancing when we get to the end of the night. Here is example of some electronic music mixed with Top 40. I can do this with most genres.


LET’S CONNECT

Like what you heard or want to explore something specific to your taste? Let’s get in touch…

Genres That Groove Me

Top 40 songs are the thread that links most people at weddings. Through the years, while some songs turn us off, most people will dance to songs from the favorite list because it’s easy to dance to what you know. This is why many dance sets at weddings will include pop music. So, yes. I know pop music with my focus from the 80s to today.

Regarding other genres, I feel very comfortable within the 80s – Today’s Alternative, Indie, Punk, Ska, 90s to 2000s Hip Hop/Rap, 2000s to 2010s EDM, 90s to Today’s R&B, mid-20th century Blues, American Standards (ie. Sinatra, Ella, Louis), as well as 2010s to Today Americana.

I’ve played Country and International Music (Arabic/Latin/Soca/Jewish/Indian), but these are in no way my forte. In fact, if you need more than a few of these songs, I suggest providing them for me. I’ll be happy to create mixes with songs from the genres listed above which I have done on many occasions. However, if these musical styles are essential to your event, then I’m not your guy.

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Clients I Love

The clients that draw me in are the ones that honestly love music. Yes, it’s a party, and I’ll get people dancing, but do you cherish music? Is it a part of your life? Do you mark your memories by songs or genres of music you grew through? Do you want that music imprinted on your wedding because that music is a reflection of who you are or were? Do you want to also respect your partner’s music and not make it all about you because you are joining into one? My clients say yes to these questions.

I also love to work with clients that are moved by music. They respect the musicians and the feeling that comes with the “Oh my God, I forgot this song” and “I love it” moments. My clients tend to be open to new suggestions that break away from the mold of traditional weddings and parties to create an event that is theirs. In fact, most of my clients are not looking for the typical wedding DJ.

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Pricing


PRICE

I charge $3,000 for 6 hours which consists of music and Master of Ceremonies duties. My time can be split among any combination of the following:

Wedding | Ceremony | Cocktail | Dinner | Dancing | After-Party

Private Event | AV Management | Cocktail | Dinner | Dancing


Is $3,000 too much to cover your entire wedding?

Only if we are not a great fit, but consider this … Most weddings in the DC area have budgets around $35,000 total which includes venue, food, dress, invitations, honeymoon, etc. Entertainment should be around 10% of your total wedding budget (see The Knot’s budget guide) which puts the average wedding entertainment budget at $3,500. Take the average for what it’s worth, though, as we are not all the same. That is why I encourage my clients to make sure that we are a good fit first. Honestly, if I charged $500 and we were not a good fit, then that’s $500 wasted.

My services include all speaker systems, microphones, DJ gear, and other equipment that the vast majority of weddings in the area need. That means I can cover your sound for your ceremony, cocktail, dinner, and dancing even if they are all in separate rooms. You won’t have to think of any of the “what-ifs” when you book me. I just prefer to take that stress of your plate.

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Who I Am

Hi, my name is Derek Entrekin. I am a wedding and private event DJ with over 15 years experience now. It has been a wild ride. I love using my experience to help my clients with what is usually one of the most important days of their lives. I choose to collaborate with my clients to help take any stress away.

When I work with my clients, I take an approach a bit differently than most of the DJs that I’ve had the pleasure to work with. The difference? I really want to buy into the people I work with as a loving couple. That is, I don’t take an event just for the money.

I see my role as a DJ more rewarding when the people that hire me are looking for the skills I bring to the table. Beat-matching, less personality on the mic, well-thought-out mixes, ability to keep people enjoying themselves without an overbearing nature, and a general departure from the upfront DJs of years past tend to be favorites.

I must feel emotionally connected to my clients before I take an event. I hope you can appreciate that approach as it is huge for me. I find my role as a DJ more rewarding when everyone likes everyone. It sounds silly to me to say this as most everyone I’ve ever spoken with agrees, but you would be amazed at how many DJs care little to none about their clients. If you are looking for that type of DJ, then I am not your guy.

I believe that music is such a huge part of the party. It is a part that must compliment the whole of the event. To create a truly astonishing experience, you need a team of professionals that know how to elevate the decor, the food, the alcohol, the flowers, and whatever else your heart desires to a remarkable level. That is why I look for vendor partnerships that I love working with from a team perspective.

If you were referred here by a vendor, then feel confident that your wedding planner, photographer, venue, or other creative is one of those people or companies that I genuinely care to work with and I have worked with them or there before.

Avoid The Biggest Wedding Music Mistake

What is this mistake that skyrocketed to the top of my MISTAKE LIST?

How can you even make a mistake on your wedding? It’s your wedding and whatever you choose is going to be the correct selection, right? Yes and no.

The mistake is not so much in the music selections you make or the timing that you choose for your songs. The mistake lies not in playing an edited or original version of an explicit song. In fact, the song you play is not the biggest mistake despite me encouraging people to always be themselves including their personal song selections.

No, this mistake lies in the fact that music can sometimes take the center stage on your wedding day. Wait, what? Aren’t you a DJ so shouldn’t music be the pinnacle of the event per you? To that, I respond simply, no.

There are so many more important things happening on your wedding day including laughing, eating, crying, giving vows, drinking shots, taking pictures, kissing, hugging, thanking, and on and on. Music enhances all of those moments, but the music on its own cannot create those moments.

NO, this BIG mistake is very simple and often overlooked. Some people have a predisposition to avoiding this mistake, but not without effort as it is human nature for most of us to make this mistake. This basic mistake can devastate your wedding day and the memories you have of one of the most meaningful 24 hours in your life. I’m not f-ing around here, either.

What is it? WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT?!?!?

Okay, okay. Geesh.

The mistake is … Not being in the present on your wedding day.

No, I don’t mean you skipped town because of cold feet because I believe that you are probably doing the right thing albeit a bit late in the game if you are leaving. What I mean to say is that we as humans have a tendency to dwell on the past or look forward to the future while neglecting the present moment.

Stay focused on the here and now so that you can embrace the joy and love each moment brings. When the girls arrive for breakfast and go through the makeup process, appreciate it. When the guys crack open a beer with you while you are sliding into your suit, focus on the way it feels to have your boys together, some may have never met one another, in the same room at the same time. When you see each other for the first time, of course, love it and soak it up.

But don’t forget to love walking somewhere holding your wife’s hand even if it’s in a hallway that doesn’t look perfect. Don’t lose sight of the beauty of each moment whether it be the car ride from the church or the raindrops cleaning the air around you. The humidity that makes the dress you chose hang heavy or the botched toast were all meant to happen and it’s okay to laugh at them.

Above all, please remember that this is one day in a string of thousands of days in front of you that we are celebrating as a new beginning just like the birth of a child. Celebrate the emotion you feel and revel in the amazement of each and every moment. No doubt, this day we celebrate will soon pass, but if you truly stay present then your memories will last a lifetime.

Trust in Your Vision – Some Simple Advice

How we doubt ourselves from time to time. It is easy to fall into the trap of looking left or right when we should keep our eye on the prize and move straight towards that goal. This is a truth in most of what we do in life and planning your wedding adheres to this rule.

So, how can you be swayed away from your vision, you might ask. Easily, unfortunately. The culprits are usually the ones you love the most as they share their visions for what your day “should” be and what you “should” include. But, this day, if there was ever one in your life, is your day. A day that you can compose from beginning to end is a day that you should trust in what you want above all.

You do not have to create the whole day as you do not have to design your home decor, But, give in to your wishes and your desires. Visuals are what many people consider, but allow me to help you with the audible atmosphere.

Music, to me, touches the soul and can help create different moods throughout your day. We can collaborate on your ceremony and your dinner. We can build a dance set comprising of your favorite tunes or those focused on your guests. But, we can do so much more.

Consider waking up to a playlist that makes you smile and anticipate the day. Songs meant to relax while getting ready with your friends and family. We can explore an after-party that allows your closest friends to enjoy a modern, youthful time together. You can even create a personal space that becomes a moment you will remember the rest of your life with you and your partner once you arrive together alone.

Your music can become a soundtrack to your entire day; beginning to end. I can help you create such a day. Consider working with me on such a venture and I will do my best to create these memories.

Stop listening to everyone else and create the perfect playlist for your wedding …

I was preparing to get married about 5 years ago and it was an amazing feeling. I dreamt of my wedding day constantly. No lie. Dreams. They really ramped up the closer we got to our big day as the plans Jeannie and I had been making for some time were now falling into place.

The music portion of our wedding experience was obviously an extremely important part of the day to me. I found myself putting together playlists for our families to enjoy when the flew into Kauai. I took those playlists and whittled the hundred plus songs I felt represented us well and made CDs (12 songs total) for our guests because almost most of them were not on Spotify or Apple Music to download the songs. What a pain that was and yet it was a labor of love.

I soon realized that almost no one seemed to care about the CDs enough to listen to them once, if at all. I’ve checked in with them over the years and most of that music has been lost to their closets or junk drawers. That was a bit of a let down to put so much of who I was into my own wedding for the benefit of others and to know they did not seem to care.

Of course, I took it the wrong way back then. Jeannie and I loved music that WE liked and that played some important part of OUR lives. Each guest, though, had their own taste in music. 

I soon came upon two revelations that I want to share with you now:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. 
  • Know your audience and yourself.

The latter lesson can help you choose the best possible music for your wedding. 


When looking to create your wedding playlist, keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Are you creating the music to represent who you are or to accommodate your guests?
    1. If it is for you, then build your music based on what both you and your fiancé have been into over the course of each of your lives. It may be hard to narrow it down to specific songs (I work with my clients on this during our planning meetings), nonetheless, you need to find the songs that take you to a special place in your mind.
    2. If you are accommodating your guests, think of the songs that connect you to the people that are coming to the wedding. This way you’ll be able to look at them when that special song comes on for a sly wink and nod. Avoid the songs that you listened to all by yourself as people will more than likely not connect with that music.
    3. If you are creating the list based on a mixture of both, then understand that people dance to songs they know. Cocktail is the time to appease them with songs you may not love as you will more than likely be taking pictures somewhere else (if you are going to your cocktail, then treat cocktail like dinner). Dinner is where you can play songs that you truly love which most people are not familiar with as the songs will be in the background of their conversations. Pepper in familiar songs to keep their feet tapping.
  2. Build a simple playlist of songs you like and work towards your special songs.
    1. Add songs to a playlist (such as on Spotify) based on a thumbs up or down method. Do you like it or not. Love is not in the equation just yet.
    2. Once you have those songs you like, move the ones you love into a separate playlist.
    3. Take the songs you love to pick you key songs such as cake cutting, introductions, and first dance.

I hope this simple music selection helps you. If you are looking to make something different, then reach out to me for some personal touches that will make your wedding music amazing!

How soon should I book my DJ?

This is a question that many people ask about all their vendors and it can be stressful. It shouldn’t be, though. The answer to this question is so simple that many people are underwhelmed when I give it to them and then immediately put at ease.

Answer: You should book your DJ when you find the DJ you connect with on all your key wants.

So, really the deciding factor is then what are your key wants. These are the top three biggest items that you want your DJ to do. They can be detailed as in you want the DJ to mix early 2000’s Hip Hop, he or she uses line array speakers, or you want someone that speaks Spanish. Your key wants can also be general as in you don’t want the DJ to speak outside of key announcements, experience at your venue is preferred, or the DJ is priced below your 10% budget.

The most important thing to remember when booking a DJ is to listen before speaking specifics. DJs, especially wedding DJs, are trained to let you tell them what you want them to say. If you are speaking first, then many times you will let them know the key things you want. It’s not a big deal, but understand that many DJs will act how you want them to act just so they can book your wedding. Essentially, it’s like telling someone you want to date all the things you are looking for in a relationship before they even say yes to the date.

Sit down for 60 seconds and come up with a simple list of things you like in a DJ. Narrow your list to your top three most important qualities and then interview DJs. Let them tell you about themselves and, if they fit the criteria, feel free to book them. Simple.