When planning an event, you tour a lot of different venues to look around and see if it is a perfect fit for you and your guests.  You do this with all the vendors as well.  You ask questions, look at web sites, watch videos and more.

It’s also important for your vendors to do the same when it comes to visiting the venue before your event.  The last thing you want to have happen on the day of your event is for minds to clash or to have to completely rearrange the room.

When we visit a venue, we want to see it in person.  Pictures are great, and give you a good idea of the layout of the room, a map also gives you an idea of where everything is going to go, however a visit to the site will allow the DJ to locate the necessary items needed.  Below is a list of things we look for when we do a site visit, and why.

Where are the electrical outlets in the room?

Electricity is important for plugging in and getting power, but you don’t want wires all over the floor.  There have been instances where we’re placed a little further from the wall and need to tape down wires.  If we’re doing uplighting or a gobo, will power be available near where the light fixtures will be going or will we need extension cords and tape those down as well.  We also need electricity for the dance lights.  What the plugs look like is also very important.  A lot of our extension cords are meant to be flush against the wall, but some outlets don’t allow for it.

Linganore Winery

Linganore Wincellars in Mount Airy, Maryland provides an amazing, farm feel to their weddings. Having the chance to see this set-up ahead of time allowed us to get an idea for speaker placement, and how best to transition the guests from inside to outside when necessary.

How tall or low are the ceilings?

When setting up the light tree and speakers, knowing how high we can go alters the set-up and what kind of equipment we bring.  For example, if we’re going to have a set-up with ceilings lower than 10 feet, we won’t bring a laser which should be at least nine feet off the floor.  The height of the ceiling also helps to give us an idea of the music that should be played.

What do the acoustics sound like?

In one venue in Alexandria, setting the speakers on the stage makes more sense than setting them in front of the stage, which we do in most situations.  Speakers in front of the stage allow the sound to stay at ear level and also provide for a better area for speeches.  This one venue in Alexandria has great acoustics on the stage and it helps with lower levels.  Acoustics in the room also allow us to check for echo, and see if we need to alter the sound.  It’s a lot of minor details to take care of in advance that make setting a checklist the day-of a lot easier.

What are the rules of the venue?

When we arrive, where can we go, what can we do, where do we park?  There have been many times where a venue has simply told us we don’t need to to do a visit and it winds up being a hard load-in.  They know their venue, we don’t.  That’s why we always try to set-up a visit ahead of time to figure out where to go to make things as smooth as possible.

The layout of the facility, a quaint setting.

Having the chance to see Sunset Crest Manor in Chantilly, Virginia, allowed us to get a great idea of where the guests would sit, where the dance floor was located, and how best to load-in.  

Where will the DJ be placed in relation to the dance floor?

This is very important.  There are still venues that place the DJ in the corner and the dance floor in the middle of the room, or the DJ at one end with several tables between the DJ and the dance floor.  This is a bad set-up and gives us time to make recommendations based on the above information.

Who will provide the table and what will it look like?

While it makes it simpler for the venue to provide the table, there are some set-ups where our DJ booth makes more sense.  One venue that we’ve worked has had small round tables set for the DJ.  There, we’ll bring our own table and booth.  Some venues provide a table for the DJ, but it could be 4-8 feet in length.  Or have legs underneath that don’t allow for easy storage.  It also allows us to secure a linen for the table if needed.

Where can we store equipment?

There’s nothing like showing up to a venue and needing to store a few items.  We speak to the venue manager, but sometimes this is overlooked and we find out there isn’t any room.  While we will put equipment back in the car we won’t use, that could mean a 5-10 minute walk and take up more time at the end of the night to pack-up and load-out, not to mention the extra set-up time before the event.  We’ve had some venues where we store items in plain sight.  We once had a venue ask if they could use our stacked light boxes as the gift table.  It worked perfectly and the venue was happy.

Weddel/Brower Wedding

This setup at Trummers on Main in Clifton, Virginia was unique in that we were on an elevated platform next to where guests entered and exited. Extra items were stored in a room on an upper floor as there was a mirror directly behind us in this picture.

Where should the DJ go to unload the equipment and then park?

Very important.  Some venues prefer not to have vendors loading in from the front where guests could see everything loading in, diminishing some of the magic for early arrivals.  We understand that.  We had a beautiful vineyard in Virginia that didn’t have an easy access area to load in and everything had to be tracked through grass over separated paving stones.  We had to park in front and wound up blocking the stairway access into the venue.  Other DJs mentioned this process to them and eventually they designed a loading dock in the back to help with load-ins.

Our equipment is in a car or van, we can’t easily use a loading dock.

Nothing quite like showing up to a venue and they feel that everything should go in through the loading dock.  Even smaller venues have loading docks, but the dock itself is so high up, we still have to go up stairs with equipment.  In cases like this, we ask the venue for an alternate loading plan.  Most are accommodating with our requests and makes loading into the venue a lot easier.

Will uplighting or a gobo work well in this venue? 

While you may not be using uplights or a gobo, it is still great information to know going in for those who are.  We know where everything will go and can help to create a vision for the couple or client during our meetings.

Are there stairs?

Oh boy, the biggest nightmare of DJs is having to carry items up or down stairs.  Knowing ahead of time will allow us to make sure a couple of extra helpers are there to get the equipment in and out.

There are other reasons we like to so a visit, including:

  • Familiarity with directions and the route to get there
  • Knowing local landmarks in case of an emergency
  • A familiar view instead of going into an unknown situation

While some of the couples and clients who hire us to do events check some of this information, but there is nothing like getting the feel for the room, the load-in and how everything is going to set-up before going in.  It makes working with the venue and caterer so much easier for loading in because it allows us to ask for a specific area to load our equipment that wont interfere with their work.

Site visits are included in the price for all of our clients because it is a very important part of the event.  Before choosing your DJ, ask if they include site visits with their quote.

Wedding DJ, Sports DJ, P. A. Announcing, Mitzvah DJ, Emcee, Host, Corporate DJ. I get to help people have a great time!