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Straight Talk: Vendor Meals

Posted on August 27, 2019 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (6)

Straight Talk: Vendor Meals
By DJ Stephanie Stardust / Royal Beats DJ Services

Not too long ago, I posted on Facebook about how frustrating it is when you are working a wedding as a vendor and you are fed last. I was met with many responses from other professionals from different industries who agreed and felt the same. One thing is clear. We are not being considered when it comes time to eat. Why is that? Let’s start the discussion!

It’s true for most weddings that almost every minute of a 6-hour celebration is accounted for with specific details and times. From Pre-Ceremony until the very last song, everything has been meticulously planned by brides and grooms, vendors, and event staff. We carefully think through the placement of everything and everybody. Except for when it comes to the vendor meals. DJs, Photographers and Videographers are just some of the people that start their days hours before the event begins for everyone else. We have to organize gear, pack cars, travel, unload, set up and be focused and on point for up to 10 hours of the day. Most of us know to eat a big meal and then snack if necessary until we can eat our contracted meal later that day.

We are sometimes thought of as rude or ungrateful for our meal if we ask for it prior to the last guest being served. But since we are carefully timing everything else – does it make sense to feed the hired staff last?

No. So let’s talk about why not.

1st and most important – no one should have to wait for us to finish eating to move forward with the timeline. The earlier we are able to eat, the faster we can get back to what we are there for. Not many professionals can provide their best work when they haven’t eaten for hours and have exerted so much energy making sure everything is just right. For some vendors, this might be their 2nd or 3rd gig/ long day in a row, and they are not being unreasonable by asking to eat.

2. Let’s also consider that the guests have now attended cocktail hour where they have had food and drinks prior to dinner, so they most likely are not starving, stressed or worried about getting back to work asap, like the vendors may be.

3. Where else will we get food if you don’t feed us? We are working for approximately 10 hours on a wedding day. We can’t order delivery or leave to get take out. We also can’t carry a hot meal with us. We are not asking for special meals or treatment, only letting you know what would make our job easier so we can also do our best.

It’s probably obvious that cooperation from everyone involved in the wedding production will lead to a successful event, which IS the end result we are all after. I’m happy to refer other professionals I work well with to my future clients. I am asked often for referrals so I am not only building my network at each event but also helping my clients to narrow down their selection of wedding professionals. Let’s just get on the same page with vendor meals and call it a day! Any questions? Want to add your input? Please do! 

Importance of Choosing the Proper Wedding Venue

Posted on June 11, 2018 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (12)

Connecticut definitely has no shortage of beautiful Beaches, Mansions, Castles, Hotels, Barns and other more traditional venues to host your wedding. You can see the potential for yourself at each venue, but what aren't they telling you? I've had the pleasure of working at many of these places over the past several years and I have some inside information for you! Don't expect to hear this info from your sales person as they take you on a magical journey through their venue. These are tips I've learned from a DJ's perspective that might help you narrow down the perfect location for your Wedding Day!

1.) Service: If a venue only hosts only one wedding at a time, consider it! You cannot beat the personalized  attention. Some venues are known in the industry as "wedding factories." They typically juggle up to four or more weddings a day with a very quick turnover in between, leaving very little time for banquet staff and vendors to set up the next event properly. There are people everywhere scurrying like mice to make sure everything happens on time. It's not how I envision attention being paid to details and everyone doing their best work. It's not an ideal situation either to be the DJ rushing to set up or rushing to get out of the way, that's how accidents happen. I cannot avoid things like a long load in process or having to move my car.  After rushing around to set up I need a few minutes to stop sweating, have some water and mentally prepare myself for the services I'm about to provide. On someone's wedding day I want to offer them my time and undivided attention. 

2.Sound: If yours is the only event going on at the time, you can be sure there will be little to no problems with sound. If your venue is like the wedding factory mentioned above, here are a few things you should be concerned with: timing of both events, the exact location of other dj, (other side of wall or otherside of the building?) outside noise during a typically quiet time like toasts, intros, first dances etc., and excessive bass booming through the walls during your lunch or dinner hour when music in your room is typically at a lower volume. There is nothing at all your DJ can to to resolve these problems, but you can avoid them by selecting your venue and timing carefully. 

3. Food: Most people expect an amazing meal based on the prices they are being charged. The fancier the venue the better the food, right? Wrong! The difference between the food in a venue hosting just your wedding vs. the factory serving 2000 people in one day, is not even questionable. It's almost comparable to the difference between a Ruth Chris's Steakhouse dinner vs Chuck's Steakhouse dinner. You know what I mean? Even the banquet staff are more attentive. When I receive my meal early, I know the staff knows what's up! Not only am I one of the first to arrive so I am starving, but I have to finish eating early so I can attend to the after dinner entertainment portion of the evening! If I get served last I have to rush through dinner like they rushed me to set up! It becomes a longer day when haven't eaten. Not an ideal situation for me to give you my best services. 

I have high expectations and so should you. Be upfront with each venue about your concerns and don't let them fool you. I can warn you about these issues, but only you can prevent them from happening!

Thanks for listening. If you have any questions please contact me @[email protected]

This IS my Full-Time Job :)

Posted on June 9, 2018 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (2)

I often get asked if I have a regular job. "No, this is it, this IS my full-time job." :D It seems that most people are surprised by my response judging from their reaction. Truth is, I have been happily self-employed for almost 10 years and at times it has been a struggle but no question it's been a blessing!

I spent 7 of  the past 9 years working as a karaoke hostess which meant many late nights at the bar. While I had a great time and made many friends and memories, working 4-5 late nights a week was exhausting. At that time I was raising an infant and was a stay at home mom during the day. When too many late nights took a toll I transitioned into a full-time event DJ focusing mainly on weddings and sweet 16s. I spent a lot of time and money learning to use new equipment and a new way to DJ. It was a great trade off. I am no longer exhausted and have the time and energy to dedicate to weddings and other special events! 

Are All DJs full-time?

Nope, there are quite a few out there but you'll find your share of part-time Djs who are working toward quitting a job to pursue this full time. Royal Beats is my livliehood. It's my main focus and the main source of my family's income. When you hire me, you hire a mom, a small business. I don't have an office so that keeps me rent free and is an expense I don't have to pass on to you as my client. I do everything myself so I do not have any employees to pay. I used to subcontract work out to other Djs, book their gigs, rent them my equipment and take a cut of the money but I no longer do that. My main focus is booking events that I DJ myself. Any work that I cannot take I refer to other reputable DJs without taking a commision. 

I try to keep my pricing fair, affordable and competitive. For my customers, I go above and beyond offering as much as I can like carrying full liability insurance, making personalized playlists, providing uplighting, fog, karaoke, multiple setups for weddings, an extensive music library, an elegant set up, updated equipment, contract, and of course, my two time award winning skills and expertise. And as a female, I offer you an alternative to the many male Djs you can already select from. Next year will mark 10 years in business.Thank you!! I am so happy and grateful everyday that THIS IS my full-time job! 

The Art and Etiquette of Hiring a Wedding DJ

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 10:45 PM Comments comments (4)

Karen Thomas Etiquette says, " I had the honor to sit with CT’s Premiere DJ Stephanie Rivkin... We discussed the Art & Etiquette of hiring a DJ..."

How to Hire the Best Wedding DJ for You!

When hiring a DJ Service for your special day you may find it hard to narrow down the overwhelming selection of mostly male Djs. If you ask your friends and family, they will each have their own favorite - but who is right for you? You want to be 100% sure the DJ Service you hire has the capacity to deliver what you really, really want!

Here are a few Key Pieces of Advice to help you along!

1.) There are many types of DJs each with different skill levels! How do you begin your search? Your options consist of: Club DJ, Karaoke Host, Mobile DJ, some guy a friend knows who DJs sometimes, or a Wedding DJ. Any one of these entertainers could potentially be right for you but you've got to do your research. Some venues will require that your DJ be insured. Scope out their Testimonials. Stalk their websites and social media pages. Who are you impressed by? Set up interviews with those DJs so you can feel out their vibe in person. Don't rush into it, but book your DJ and other Vendors 1 year to 2 years in advance. The good ones always book early and you want to feel confident and excited about the entertainment you're hiring.

2.) If your DJ does not offer you a contract -Beware! He or she is not a professional and you should give them a deposit at your own risk. To guarantee that your DJ will show up (a year or 2 from the booking date) you should have to sign a contract and leave a deposit. I recommend taking your time before signing anything. You definitely don't want to feel pressured.

3.) Budgets are important - but you've got to make Entertainment a High Priority. Music can make or break the night! I promise that a bad playlist, poor sound quality, an empty dance floor, and a DJ who talks too much are just a few of the things that can ruin the night for everyone. Dancing the night away with your new spouse, best friends and family create the memories you'll look back on forever. You won't regret paying a little more for a Professional Experience. Your wedding night is priceless - and you want to remember it for the all the right reasons!


Important things to consider:

Presentation: Not just your first impression of the DJ but also their equipment set up, online presence, etc..

DJ Services: Are they DJing or sending someone else? What Exactly do they provide? Lighting Options?

Full Time Job or Hobby? - How invested is the DJ in her craft? How many years of experience in weddings?

Insurance: For particular venues up to $3million could be required.

Skills: Do they mix well? Can they emcee? Are they interactive? Do they know the proper flow of events?

Equipment: Is it in good working condidtion? Do they have a backup system? How extensive is their music library?

Social Media: Use it to judge us. DJ should have an updated website, instagram , and facebook business page at the minimum these days. Personal facebook pages are a great way to see what your DJ is really like :)


I hope this helps you on your search for the perfect wedding DJ. With so many great options out there, it really comes down to personal preference. If you'd like any additional information or have questions related to Wedding DJ Services please contact me @ [email protected]

Please Follow Karen Thomas on facebook & instagram" target="_blank"> and" target="_blank">

Karen is an Etiquette Educator, Speaker, Author, College Lecturer, and Segment Contributor for CT & MA morning tv shows

Above photo collage by Karen. 

KARAOKE is not FREE/Tipping your Bartender

Posted on April 29, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (5)

Hello Friends,

Here are Some Things I'd like you to know about KARAOKE NIGHTS.

1. ) Karaoke seems free when you walk into a bar and don't have to pay a cover charge but here's how it works.... The bar pays the DJ with the money they make when YOU come to karaoke to sing and have a good time/buy food & drinks. If you don't spend any money - the bar loses out when they have to pay me for entertaining you. If the bar loses too much money they no longer employ me to entertain you :( Spend money! 

2. ) Be considerate of your bartender. Tipping your bartender makes a difference in many ways. If you are a crappy tipper - you may get slower service because the bartender isn't going to rush over to get you something you're not even going to tip /him/her for. Someone who tips well will get faster service and maybe even better drinks. You want a strong drink? Well you'll have to pay for it! Tip well and you get the best service. It makes the bartender happy.

3.) Read my previous blog about How to Help a DJ.

4.) This DJ spends a lot of money on music and quality equipment. In order to keep everything in working order it takes $$$ which means this DJ needs to stay employed. The best thing you can do for a DJ is to refer them to keep them employed so that you can continue to go out and have a good time and they can afford to work!

5.) Be considerate of the other singers. Do not ask to sing ahead of other people.... this DJ has a fair rotation and likes to keep people happy but doesn't appreciate feeling bullied into getting your song in. Also, it's not your night in concert, it's just karaoke. If you really feel the need to sing, feel free to belt out all your favorite tunes in your car on your way home. 

6.) Be considerate of the DJ's stuff. Don't put anything near my laptop and wires. Accidents happen. Do you want to be the reason the night ends early? I didn't think so -  No drinks on my table! Please!!!!

7.) It's supposed to be FUN! Show off but don't belittle anyone. Courtesy and respect go a long way. Karaoke is a bonding social event where lifelong friendships can build. Make the most of your night out.

How to Help a DJ

Posted on April 29, 2015 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (5)

How to Help Your DJ Friend, by Stephanie Rivkin

We love it when friends offer to help us unload/load or even set up our equipment; but that doesn't mean that we actually want you to touch our stuff. There are a number of reasons I've discovered over the years that you can best help your DJ friend by doing only what they ask of you or nothing at all. Please take this in the politest way possible!!!

1. Accidentally damaging my personal/business belongings

Example #1. my car - it's endured dings, scratches and dents I would have preferred to either make myself  or not at all but "you" wanted to help, so at one time, I may have said yes, but now I politely decline.

Example #2. My equipment -  I can't tell you how many times I've had to replace things (knobs, power cords, wires etc.) that I would not have had to replace if I didn't let "you" help me. Yes, your desire to help is appreciated -  but can be somewhat expensive. It's just over all better if you don't touch anything unless the DJ asks you to.

2. Accidentally hurting yourself.

Not only is the equipment heavy, it's downright dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Turning the knob on my air powered speaker stands could hurt you in a HUGE way. I learned that by watching a friend almost hit herself in the face because she didn't ask me what to do. So keep in mind that I'm looking out for you by politely asking you not to touch, even if you are a DJ. Even if you know what you are doing. No one should ever show up at your office or job and touch your things without asking, so keep in mind that though we may be friends, I am running a business and it's best if no one gets hurt. 

If you REALLY want to help your DJ friend - REFER them as often as you can! Keep your DJ friends employed by showing up at gigs with your friends and spend a little money at the bar, if not A LOT of money :)  That's the best advice I have to offer on how to help. If you really are trying to be helpful, consider this!