You’d think that hiring a DJ and MC for your wedding reception would be a relatively simple matter but you’d be wrong. You see, having a bad DJ or MC at your wedding can literally ruin the night. Get it right though and your night will be rockin! The dance floor will be full from the first dance till the last and the speeches and formalities will run seamlessly throughout the reception.
I spoke to Nathan from Magoos Party and Equipment Hire, based on the Central Coast about what is involved in picking the right DJ’s and MC for your wedding. Nathan is not only one of the best wedding Dj’s on teh Central Coast, he has a small team that cater to wedding in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Central Coast every weekend.
If you’d rather listen to my chat with Nathan, you can do that here.
Wedding DJ’s and MC’s – better than an iPod?
Andrew: Okay it’s Andrew here from Impact Images again. I’m here with Nathan, from Magoos Party Hire. That’s what I know Nathan as, but I know that’s not actually the real name of your business. What is it Nath?
Nathan: It is actually DJ Magoos Party and Equipment Hire. So we’re basically a DJ company but we also have a range of party and equipment hire. So basically all the good stuff that I’d like to call, slushy machines, jukeboxes, photo booths, we do band PAs, probably got the biggest range of lighting on the coast, as well. We’re working with a lot of the event companies.
Andrew: So as far as weddings go, I guess this is for the brides and couples that look into organizing their wedding, when they look at booking a DJ, when do they first come to see you? Is it well out or is it getting pretty close to the day?
Nathan: We like to offer our clients a free consultation to start with, to basically see if we’re the right person for them, because I don’t believe that you should just pick someone over the phone or definitely by price. We like to offer our packages starting from around $400 going up to sort of $550 plus GST, depending on how much lighting is needed, whether there is MC-ing involved and also times, could be a 4 hour reception or a 5 hour reception, and sometimes even longer.
Andrew: Okay so I guess people might find you by word of mouth or the websites. So the first thing is a phone call?
Andrew: Is that.. so, they don’t lock in anything on that phone call or is it just a chat?
Nathan: No, we don’t have to lock anything in. First one’s just a consultation, show them our packages, see if they’re interested and also to talk about what music they’re after. So that we can match them up with the appropriate DJ.
Andrew: Okay, so that first phone call, that chat, then do you post out a music list?
Nathan: Yeah they get a bit of a rough pricing and guideline and not actually music, we don’t send any of that out straight away. We discuss that when we have a 1-on-1 with them.
Andrew: Okay, so you do that first consultation, then once they ready to go ahead and book you guys, they come and meet, is that at your office?
Nathan: Yep, they’re welcome to come here at the studio and go over everything then. See if its..
Andrew: So if everything works out, say, price wise, that suits them and I guess you work out which DJs going to be suitable for them .
Nathan: That’s correct. And then we organize a second meeting with their DJ.
Andrew: Okay. So when is the music actually start getting looked at?
Nathan: Most people book their weddings sort of 12 months before. So they start planning their music, and they get a bit of a rough idea of what they want at that stage. But also music changes 12 months later, when they do decide to confirm everything. So it’s a 12 month process, choosing music and working out dinner playlists, and also what they’re interested in for dancing and also what they don’t want played. I’m sure they’ve got an artist in mind that they absolutely can’t stand or they don’t want any of certain songs, so we cover that basis as well.
Andrew: So they’ve got the music they like or they don’t like in their heads, do they actually document that with your paperwork and stuff?
Nathan: Some of them turn up with some notes. They got a little bit of rough idea of what they want. We try and get them to send it to us in an email and then we basically compile a folder over that next 12 months, dealing with the client to work out what they want with music and also lighting and it just builds up over the 12 months. And then about a month out from the function, we invite them back again just to confirm everything, confirm their special songs, like their entering song, cake, first dance, father/daughter, if they choose to do that. And also bouquet and garter if they choose to do that.
Andrew: Okay, say, the couple they know the idea, that the feel of the wedding they want to have, but they don’t know exact songs, can you guys, do you guys help them with that?
Nathan: We do. We’ve actually got quite a helpful page in our website, which you go to the weddings page, and scroll down. We’ve actually got each category and a whole heap of songs, choices to match up with the appropriate part. So if they’re stuck on a first dance, for instance, they can go to that page and there’s a lot of examples there, which are the most popular.
Andrew: Okay, that’s pretty easy. Do they have to actually have a running shoot of the whole night, all the songs, or do they say, ‘Nath, we trust you, you do it.’
Nathan: Some of them actually do trust us, and they say leave it with us. And we like that, because we do do it every weekend and we know what they’re going to want. We do encourage them to choose their special songs, cause obviously they mean something to them. But the general dinner playlist and dance playlist, they only have to give us a general idea, a bit of top 40, a bit of 80’s, and we don’t want any, say, heavy metal, for example.
Andrew: I know one of the biggest things for you guys is you want people on dance floor and you want that full.
Nathan: That is the biggest..
Andrew: And I know that when some couples pick their songs, they’re not really suitable for getting people up on the dance floor, they think they’re great songs. Which they are, but they may not get people on the dance floor.
Nathan: It has happened in the past but it is their wedding and that’s what we’re there to do, we’re there to do a job. So we have had some in the past where we’ve had to exactly stick to their playlist, word for word and we’ve done that, and they don’t always turn out the best. But as long as they’re happy in the end, that’s the main thing.
Andrew: So, say, they have given you a song list and there’s no one on the dance floor after the first song, it was created for that first song, you know, will you go and have a word to them….
Nathan: Definitely, do. That’s the first thing I do. If I feel that it’s sort of die off, and I know where it’s heading, I’d definitely go up to them and say ‘look, your playlist is a great playlist, but the age group and the genre of people on the floor aren’t really digging that, so is it okay if I put some more modern stuff on? ‘ and 9 times out of 10 they’ll say ‘yeah, go for it.’ And then we just pull them back. So it’s all about reading the crowd what age groups on the dance floor, Nans, Pops, Aunties and Uncles are generally up for the first part and then when they get a bit tired, they like to go have some tea and coffee and catch up with family. And when the younger ones are left there, we sort of cater for their needs. And keep going with what they want to hear.
Andrew: You can be pretty flexible, you can chop and change it on the night.
Nathan: Definitely and that’s what it’s about, reading who’s on the dance floor at what times, and playing the appropriate music.
Andrew: Okay. And I know I’ve been to some weddings, where you have the drunk Uncle or cousin…
Nathan: There’s one in every group.
Andrew: ’Can you play this mate?’ how do you guys tackle that or handle that?
Nathan: We do touch base on that in the meeting originally with the client. And we ask them, ‘Look, is there any one on your family that..’ first of all we say to them, ‘are you okay with a guest requesting songs?’ some people aren’t too happy with that, if they say ‘Look, yes we are but there’s Uncle Phil, for example, who might come up to you and he’s a big heavy metal fan so watch out for him.’ So most of the time we do have a bit of a heads up there’s someone going be there like that and we know how to deal with them. Generally we’ll answer them by saying ‘Look, it’s a great song, we’ll try and get it on towards the end. But right now, we got some special songs to get out of the way and they’re into their 80’s set, so we’ll stick with that for now. We’ll get some Acca Dacca on for you later.’
Andrew: Okay. That’s great, awesome. So people don’t have to stress, you can look after all that.
Nathan: No, generally by the end of the night, when everyone’s had a few drinks, you might play a few rock and roll songs like AC/DC towards the end, and go out with a bit of a bang and it always works.
Andrew: Okay. Great.
Nathan: You find the right time.
Andrew: Sure, okay. And if couples got particular songs they want to play, you might not have it in your list, do they provide the songs to you? Or you go and source them?
Nathan: Generally, we’ve got probably one of the biggest collections on the Central Coast and we haven’t had too many times where we haven’t had a track. But the good thing is we’re actually the first DJ on the coast to have an online program, so I’m on a database, and we can just buy tracks straight away.
Andrew: So you can do while you’re at the wedding?
Nathan: We can do that at the wedding. So if we get asked for something we don’t have, we just buy the tracks straight away.
Nathan: All my DJs are set up with that facility, so we’ve never had a problem yet.
Andrew: Unreal, Okay. And then I know that we’ve talked mainly about the reception part of the night so far, you guys, you can do ceremonies, too, can’t you….
Nathan: Yes, we do. We’ve got quite a few portable PA systems. Most people tend to choose a beach location or somewhere secluded, where there’s no power, so we’ve got a great range of battery operated PA systems with wireless microphones, CD player, iPod docks, and also Lapel systems for the celebrant if need be. So battery life on them is around the 3-5 hours so definitely enough to do a ceremony and maybe a bit of background music before and after. And we do 2 packages where they can dry hire it on their own and do it themselves. Or for a small fee, we can have one of our operators come out and assist them in running their ceremony for them. So that they don’t have to worry about it.
Andrew: Yeah, right. Okay. Awesome. So that would be a different set-up and system to what’s back at the reception centre?
Nathan: That’s correct. Back at the reception is where we bring out the big guns, we’ve got 3 different size of speakers, ranging from our smaller-end for smaller venues, right up into our 1100-watt speaker systems which..
Andrew: I don’t know what that means, but it sounds loud.
Nathan: Definitely – 3 ranges. We call them the small, medium and large, depending on how many people in the room. Definitely.
Andrew: So, do you reckon, it’s got to be a good piece of advice that not to put the older people and your family close to the speakers. Cause that seems to happens a lot.
Nathan: That’s correct, it does. And we touch base on this back in our meeting as well, we try and point that out. Because when people set up their bridal table, generally their parents, his parents are on one side, her parents are on the opposite side. The DJs are generally in one of those corners, so we always try and advice them to let them know, beforehand, that they will be near the DJ. And if anyone’s got any problems, they may need to be moved.
Andrew: Generally your speakers have to be close to your desk.
Nathan: That’s correct.
Andrew: So if someone sitting there, it’s going be loud out.
Nathan: They do have the option to have them around the room if need be. But obviously there may be a fee involved if we have to run cabling around the room prior to the event, so it’s there as an option.
Andrew: And with your set-ups, I’ve seen sometimes for the speeches, you’ll hand over a microphone for speeches, so that’s not always the venue’s PA system.
Nathan: Not always, no. Some venues don’t have a wireless system, we go out with all our DJs, they get a wireless microphone. Sometimes 2 if we’re MC-ing. We may have one for the bridal table, and one for the MC as well, so depending on which package they book.
Andrew: Okay so that can be used for the speeches and everything else?
Nathan: That’s correct.
Andrew: Okay, great. You just started talking MC-ing there, so you guys offer a DJ service and an MC service?
Nathan: That’s correct. We do offer a free MC service in our top package, if need be. Some people have a relative in mind or maybe an Uncle or a friend that’s appropriate to do the MC-ing. Some people choose to say ‘Look, I want them to enjoy themselves, we’d rather have someone do it.’ And we offer that as part of the service as well.
Andrew: Okay. So they have got Uncle Barry doing the MC-ing, if he’s not entirely sure, he can come and chat to you guys.
Nathan: Definitely. We’re always there to back him up with, give him a guide, let him know that the next thing’s coming up is the cake-cutting. We also let the photographers know and the venue that we’re about to do it. Give the guests a 5 minute warning so they can run to the toilet, make sure they got a full glass for the speech. And then we just sort of guide him along if he gets stuck.
Andrew: And if he finds towards the end of the night, they’re starting to form the circle, he’s had a few too many beers..
Nathan: It’s happened once or twice
Andrew: You guys can take over?
Nathan: We’re always ready to step in if need be, yes.
Andrew: It’s going to run great no matter what.
Andrew: Okay. Awesome. We’ve sort of talked about cost. I know you said there’s a bit of a range of costs. So how does that change say from a $400 or $450 package up to the higher ones. Is it because of the DJ you have or the lighting setups?
Nathan: Definitely, we’ve got some DJs starting with, you know 5-10 years experience, and some of our guys have got sort of 20-25 years experience. So depending on age of the people that are getting married, age of the group that’s going to be there, our aim is match them up with the appropriate DJ. Some of the older guys do charge a little bit more. And you also have depending on how much lighting they have, size of speakers, if there’s MC-ing involved, or if the reception goes for 4 or 5 hours, as everyone is different. So it may vary within the $100 depending on which package they book.
Andrew: Okay, so not a huge difference.
Nathan: No, not a huge difference, any overtime we do as well, we do half-price because we’re already there.
Andrew: Fantastic, awesome. So you guys come in the morning of the wedding and set-up?
Nathan: That’s correct. We like to get in there nice and early, make sure everything works and that way, that we know that it’s set-up.
Andrew: Awesome, okay. And if there’s someone listening to this say in WA or Adelaide, and they can’t have DJ Magoo, and they’re looking to find a DJ or an MC for their wedding, what would you suggest to someone when they’re picking a DJ or an MC. What should they look for?
Nathan: First thing I would be looking for is experience. Definitely ask your venue who they see in there regularly, definitely look into who you’re going to get. Make sure they do have good recommendations and also look into quality of equipment as you don’t want someone turning on with just a laptop or some speakers that have been around for 20 years and are a bit banged up.
Andrew: So with the quality of equipment, how can couples check that? Is that just, do they have to turn up and see them or go and ask to look?
Nathan: You could ask if need be, but probably just ask them branding. Your Pioneer, your JBL and things like that are an industry standard for DJs. I wouldn’t be getting anything that’s a no name brand.
Andrew: So if they haven’t heard of the brand, it’s fair chance that’s from the department store..
Nathan: and you could always ask the music store or a friend, someone who’s got a bit of music background that would able to tell you if it’s any good.
Andrew: And what’s the difference then between having say, a mate do your MC-ing or DJ-ing, as opposed to a professional.
Nathan: I see that a lot of the times where someone says ‘Look, we’re not going to go ahead with you because we have a friend who’s DJ’d and they’ve offered to do it for us for half-price.’ Generally, that friends’ a garage DJ or someone that’s had experience in clubs, and not weddings. So if you’re happy with having a full-club atmosphere, great. But when you’ve got relatives, Nans, Pops, Aunties etc. there, it’s got to sort of run with a bit of structure and have some relaxed dinner music, and keep it low-key so everyone can obviously talk and they have minimal experience in that. So I have heard of some go pearshaped when they do that. So, definitely make sure that they’re right person for the job.
Andrew: Look, I’ve even been to a couple of weddings where they have just an iPod plugged into a dock and they’re just forever running up there and try to pick playlists and change things cause it’s not adapting to the mood of the night.
Nathan: That’s correct. I’ve heard plenty of them stories as well. It’s the type of thing that you do once, and then you never do it again. Cause you realized it was just a disaster.
Andrew: And it’s too late for a wedding.
Nathan: We quite often get asked just to hire PA systems on their own where people are doing their own, it is a little bit cheaper. Maybe a couple hundred dollars cheaper just to hire a PA, so it’s there as an option if that’s what they really want. Everyone’s budget is different. Some people, it’s the right package for them, and we do offer that as well.
Andrew: And do you have to check for things like insurance, or awards, or things like.. or do you have to be registered.
Nathan: Yeah, definitely. I would be looking into that for choosing a DJ. There’s a lot of what I call ‘weekend warriors’ out there, that are just out to make a quick buck on the weekend. All our DJs are experienced. We are all licensed, fully insured, our leads are tagged, everything gets checked before it goes out, as we are a hire company. All these can spell disaster if someone trips over a lead or has a dodgy light, gets electrocuted and they’re not covered. So I have heard of stories where it’s happened before, so you have to be careful of that as well.
Andrew: Okay because they would be liable?
Nathan: Definitely, they are liable, that’s correct.
Andrew: Okay. Well, that’s awesome. Is there anything else, the brides or grooms, or couples should know before booking a DJ that we sort of haven’t covered off?
Nathan: No just to sort of cap what we said, definitely meet them, look into them, make sure they’re experienced. And also check quality of equipment.
Andrew: Okay and if they want things like fancy lighting or smoke machines or things like that for their first dance.
Nathan: Yeah that quite often happens as well. Mainly the first dance, they like to have some effects and some smoke. We’ve got a low-line fogger. Which is where brides get confused of a smoke machine and low-line fog. They watch those nice, romantic wedding videos where they’ve got this beautiful fog across the ground when they come out for their first dance. And then they’ve got a backyard DJ doing it, and they get ‘Yeah yeah I’ll give you a smoke machine’ and it fills the room with smoke and then they don’t get seen and everybody’s coughing. So you definitely need to make sure you’ve got the right effects for what they’re actually after.
Andrew: Yeah, right okay. Fantastic. And also I know with you guys, occasionally we’ll do a slideshow as photographers for the wedding and we’ll co-ordinate with you and you’ll sort of fade in the music and transition to the next song. And the backyard guys..
Nathan: It’s all about making it smooth..
Andrew: Yeah, that makes such a difference to the night. It’s not like having a backyarder there, it’s like a professional presentation.
Nathan: That’s correct.
Andrew: Which is great. Awesome. Look, how can people find you?
Nathan: Well they can start by looking us up on the website which is www.magoospartyhire.com or they can come visit us at the Facebook at Magoos Party Hire and we’ve got some great photos and some fantastic shots of what we actually do. So before they even need to give us a call, they can check out if we’re what they’re after.
Andrew: Awesome. Great. Thanks Nath!
Nathan: Not a problem at all! Thanks Andrew! Appreciate your time.