Wedding events are a hot commodity. So don’t get burned by subcontracted labor.

This website is intended to be a resource for my couples (or potential couples) to learn more about me, my services, and the industries that I am priveledged to serve.  Sometimes it also serves as a place for me to post advice, suggestions, and in this case a warning about the potential downside of how the wedding industry works.

Regarding weddings, we are living in historic times.  In the Dallas – Fort Worth area there has been virtually no slow-down of wedding activity for the past 20 years.  In fact, our area has recently seen an explosive growth of modern wedding facilities that host both ceremonies and receptions in one location.  Just 10 years ago, it was rare to have both events at the same venue.  Now it is the rule instead of the exception.

Fireman-Fire-Fighter-Groom-and-Bride-Couple-Wedding-Cake-Topper-Custom-Hair-251361811797-2Along with the status quo of popular wedding events, there is now a huge pent-up demand for same-sex weddings.  Couples who have been together for years (and sometimes decades) are now flocking to wedding facilities.  DJs, bands, caterers, officiants, coordinators, florists and others also need to be scheduled for events that only a year ago were not allowed by law.  This is unpresidented in the wedding industry and all vendors must participate by law to serve the community at large.

As with any business, supply and demand reign supreme.  But unlike most businesses, it is possible to hire an unknown person/company, pay in full, and not realize something has gone wrong until months later.  Unfortunately, there has been a rash of such things in our area as of late.  Clients are getting burned by companies hiring subcontracted labor in an ever-shrinking pool of qualified and available individuals.  This is particularly bad in the DJ world.

The process starts (usually at a bridal show) when a high pressure DJ/Salesman has a pitch for services that includes a signing bonus such as uplights or a big discount when the event is paid in full up front.  Brides & Grooms may even meet with this person/company and solidify the deal knowing that they have months to work out the details.  The DJ/Company may have every intention of fulfilling the contract.  But as the date draws closer, the DJ Company finds that they have over-booked dates and need to find DJs willing to work at below market value in order to make a profit.  In a tight labor market, the choices have become increasingly slim.

The sad fact is that I am now getting calls almost weekly for “emergency” DJ services for events that are only days away.  Most weddings are planned 6 – 9 months in advance, so panic on the part of the wedding party is justified.  The ramifications of such problems are self-evident: substandard wedding events, undue stress, a black eye on our industry, and an unnecessary burden on those involved who should be served instead of taken advantage of.

It is difficult to discern all the “good ones” from the “bad ones”, but for better or worse, there are enough of both to go around.  With proper diligence you should be able to find the good ones.  In my opinion, the best way to discern who is who among those in the industry is with price comparisons and those offering to discount their rates with pressure sales tactics or wedding-show discounts. It is especially concerning when DJs offer discounts for paying in full months in advance.   If a company is offering services at 1/2 of what others are offering, this should be a red flag.  Online coupons and discounting have also reeked havoc in our industry, particularly regarding photo booths.  There simply are not enough quality vendors to fill the skilled labor being sold at a discount.

Make sure that you are speaking with the actual DJ that will be at your event.  Ask if the company subcontracts labor or has DJs that are “exclusive” or “on staff”.  Ask if they are actual employees that are paid with a W-2 or if they issue a 1099 to their DJs.  If they receive a 1099, they are subcontracted labor.  If you have already hired a DJ or Company, keep in regular communication with them or follow them on social media and wedding websites to make sure they are still receiving great reviews and posting regular event updates.

All of this may seem a bit extreme, but the behind the scenes panic that has been caused lately has prompted me to write this article out of genuine concern for my Brides & Grooms.  With some simple precautions and remembering that quality and price usually go together, you are sure to beat the heat.