Our Chicago DJs' Most Frequently Asked Questions
"I've seen too many cheap DJ's ruin weddings. Heck, almost every wedding I've ever been to has been hurt by the DJ. Thankfully, not our wedding! Jay is a pro. He even handled 2 separate soundtracks that I created for him - on separate floors - at the same time! This is a company that does great business, gives solid advice and is 100% professional during the wedding. I could rave forever about his skills with the guests and choices of dance music (from our selections). I'll leave it at this - if you want a superior MC, solid music choices, great lighting, a skilled manager of resources, high end sound and a guy who works with you every step to ensure your happiness, hire Jay. Fourth Estate Audio is worth every penny." - Erik K. (Wedding Wire)
As much as we'd like to believe that a couple's first question of a wedding DJ is, "How good are you, and can you prove it?", the reality is that somewhere between 99 and 100 percent of couples ask the same question before any other:
"How much does a Chicago wedding DJ cost?"
Fourth Estate Audio's 6-hour packages start as low as $900, and increase as you add optional lighting, photo booth, photography and other services. While we're at it,
"How good are you, and can you prove it?"Many of our clients have been kind enough to share their stories of working with Fourth Estate Audio by reviewing us on sites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Google and the Better Business Bureau. Here's what they say.
- What makes you different from other Chicago DJs?
We're more than just your music experts. Our wedding planning resources are unmatched -- from more than 200 helpful advice articles and inspiring wedding galleries on our blog, to cool new wedding ideas posted every day on our Facebook page, to our interactive music-selection list, to simplified online worksheets that let you direct us on exactly how you'd like your event to proceed, to hundreds of online reviews from our clients. We also have a network of other trusted 5-star wedding vendors that we can recommend, to help fill out your vendor list. And unlike many DJs, we respond to all questions promptly, so you won't have to wait a week to get an answer from us. We'll be right by your side every step of the way. You'll never feel abandoned. We want you to be relaxed and confident, from that first contact with us, all the way through the final note of music on your wedding night.
- How do your Chicago DJs dress?
Black tuxedo, unless you'd prefer something else.
- What kinds of music do you play?
Whatever you like. We have large collections of rock, R & B, swing, pop, hip hop, Latin, country, Big Band jazz and ethnic favorites.
- Do you play dinner and cocktail music, too?
Of course. We have everything from classical to cocktail piano to jazz instrumentals and vocals. Or we'll be happy to play something else if you'd like.
- Can you provide music for a wedding ceremony?
Yes. We do that often. We provide a microphone, too.
- If we have some of our own music on CD or MP3, can you play it?
Yes. In fact, we give each client our exclusive Fourth Estate Audio FlashCard -- a credit card-size flash drive that holds up to 200 songs. Just copy your songs from your computer to your card, and hand the card to your DJ. It's better, safer and more reliable than a CD or an iPod.
- Do you take breaks, like bands?
No. We play non-stop, unless our clients want to stop for special presentations.
- We're going to have a live dance band, in addition to a Chicago DJ. Can you do that?
We'd prefer not to. This one pops up a lot at class reunions. A popular garage band from high school decides to reassemble and give the old classmates a thrill. They practice one or two songs. But when they get a taste of applause, their egos take over, and they press on by butchering 5 or 6 other songs they didn't practice. While your Fourth Estate Audio DJ is interested only in serving the client, bands tend to be more interested in their own personal glory. They'll keep playing as long as a handful of people clap, even if the dance floor stays empty all night. Then, the DJ gets blamed for not playing enough music. Our 5-star customer satisfaction rating has made us the envy of Chicago area DJ's. You shouldn't hire a DJ if all you really want is a jukebox between a band's dance sets. Just burn some of your favorite music on a disc or an MP3 player, and let the band play it through their sound system.
- What if the band just plays during cocktails and dinner?
That's fine. We do a lot of parties where a jazz band or string quartet or harpist plays during the early part of the evening. And we're happy to provide music if they need to take a break.
- We're nervous about speaking on a microphone. Can your DJ handle our announcements and introductions?
Certainly. It's a basic part of our service.
- Other DJ companies send two people - a DJ and an MC. Why do you send only one?
Because most ordinary DJs are fine for spinning tunes, but awful at being professional MCs. They have high, shrill voices; they speak too fast; they constantly pump the crowd for applause and keep the entire party focused on themselves because they lack the confidence or discipline to turn the mic off and trust their ability to read the crowd and get people dancing. So the giant companies that hire dozens of DJs are hiring from a weak talent pool, and they need to hire separate talent that can handle MC duties. Fourth Estate Audio's elite DC/MCs have at least 20 years of experience each - no trainees, and no need to send a second person (at much higher cost) to perform what amounts to just a few minutes work.
- Do you perform at same-sex weddings?
Of course. Here's one. Here's another. And we've done many more.
- Do you have a page with all your Chicago DJs' pictures, so we can pick our DJ?
No. You didn't pick your doctor based on his looks. And a professional DJ is no different. The "cutest" DJ may have musical tastes entirely different than yours. So he/she may not be a good fit for your party. I promise, you won't get some high school student, or an aging hippie with a pony tail and a Hawaiian shirt (I hear you chuckling. You've seen him, haven't you?). We'll ask you the right questions to determine which of our entertainment directors is just right for you, your guests, and your event. Then, if you'd like to meet your Chicago DJ, we'll be happy to arrange it.
- Do you subcontract your parties out to other DJ companies?
- Do you have a light show?
We offer several lighting options, starting with a focused dance floor light show to raise the energy of your room. We also offer elegant room uplighting that surrounds you on all four sides. And it can animate during dancing, with chases, multi-color medleys and strobe effects -- a virtual explosion of color that will electrify the whole room. We also offer personalized monogram lighting, so we can put your names in lights.
- If we book you for 6 hours, is the set-up time part of that 6 hours?
No. Travel and set-up are free.
- We've heard that some couples simply play their wedding reception music on an iPod. Is that a desirable alternative?
It depends. Click "Your Dream Wedding" on the right, then "iPod Instead of a DJ?" on the left, to see whether an iPod is right for you.
- We're just starting to shop for a DJ. Can we meet with you?
Yes. But I'd like you to spend more time on our web site first. View our video clip. Call our references. Read our reviews on Wedding Wire and Yelp. Read our blog for helpful planning advice. If you're getting married, make sure your fiancee sees our site, too. Then, when you're ready to make your buying decision, call us for a face-to-face professional entertainment evaluation.
- What do you charge for 4 hours?
We don't. If you want a low-price one-size-fits-all DJ for a few hours of dancing, our friends at Craigslist have hundreds of them. By contrast, Fourth Estate Audio's clients want a night of special memories, and an entertainment professional who can guide them through the maze of planning the perfect event with no stress. That's why we book a 6-hour minimum, to ensure a smooth evening from start to finish. Remember, if your DJ is bad, he's the only thing your guests will remember about your party, and the rest of your careful planning will all be wasted.
- What do you charge for travel and setup?
Nothing, with two exceptions. If you require your Chicago DJ's equipment to be completely set up, and ready to play the first note of music, more than 60 minutes before his scheduled starting time, we charge an extra $100. Also, if we're required to carry all of our heavy equipment up and down a flight of stairs, we charge an extra $100. All of our basic service fees assume either ground level or elevator access.
- How do you decide which DJ you assign to our party?
Each of our clients submits either a Wedding Reception Fact Sheet or a Party Fact Sheet (we'll provide the forms online). Your answers give us some general guidance about your musical tastes, among other things. Typically we assign a DJ with the same tastes, so he'll know a lot of songs that fit well with what you've already requested, and he can ensure the appropriate pacing for the evening. Plus, he gets to listen to music he likes! And that means a more enthusiastic performance for you.
- We'd like to pick all of our dance music, and not accept requests from our guests. Is that okay?
Unfortunately, we have to draw the line there. You may select most of your music, but if you select every single song, and your guests don't like your selections, somehow all of the blame ends up going to the DJ. It's frustrating for a DJ to play undanceable music to an empty dance floor, and be forbidden from playing music the guests would prefer. If you're just looking for someone to play a pre-set selection of songs, any of the kids on Craigslist will do just fine.
- Are you insured?
Of course. We carry a $2 million liability and personal injury policy, even though we've never had to file a claim (we're exceptionally careful about the placement of our speakers, cords and cables). Beware of any DJ who doesn't carry liability coverage. Many a bride has gotten that awful phone call, three days before her wedding, from a cheap DJ with no insurance who's just been told by the venue that he can't perform there. Don't be that bride. Another very important form of insurance: We keep a full set of backup equipment on site in case of equipment failure.
- What is your policy on tipping?
It's an excellent way to reward a DJ who goes above and beyond, to make your party special (anything from $50 to $200 is appropriate). We don't put out a "tip jar," because it's tasteless. And we don't accept tips from your guests to play specific songs, because those songs may not be appropriate for your party. Tipping your DJ is up to you. It's just more professional that way.
- Where did you get the name "Fourth Estate Audio?"
The "Fourth Estate" is a nickname for the news media (coined by the 15th century British parliamentarian Edmund Burke). And our founder and president, Jay Congdon, has been a newsman for most of his adult life. He's worked as a radio news anchor and reporter at Chicago stations WBBM, WMAQ, WKQX and WJMK, to name a few. He's also been a television news producer and writer. Now you know.
- What do I do if you're all booked up?
You'll never go wrong if you choose a Chicago DJ who is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. There are 7 of us, according to the most recent BBB Consumer Resource Guide. Here are the others: C-7 Sound Service; Crestline Entertainment; JPW Productions; Music by Design; Sounds Abound Entertainment; and Toast & Jam, Inc. Good luck!
Would you like your Chicago DJ from Fourth Estate Audio to contact you? Start by checking our availability on your date. Just follow this link.