12 months ago this week, I accomplished a task I’d been actively working on for the entire year prior and truly, since 2 more years before that. After many, many hours of training and working diligently at my application, I earned the credential known as “Wedding Entertainment Director®” (WED®). Since the WED Guild’s recent acquisition by the American Disc Jockey Association (EDIT: The ADJA no longer manages the WED Guild), there has been a lot of activity around new, motivational leadership and there has been an incredible interest among DJs who are now starting work on their own applications. In the last three months, three DJs have already earned their new WED® credential and there are many, many more whose applications are very close to completion.
The reasons for putting forth the time, energy and effort that a fully completed WED® application requires are many and they often vary with each individual. Some are looking to step away from the term “DJ” as it has been watered down too heavily by “non-professionals” in their markets. Others want to become part of the uniquely talented family that the current WED® membership represents so that they might more easily share ideas and inspiration with those individuals. And still others want to become something “more” then they currently are by fine tuning their current performance and polishing how it is they do business.
For those who are unsure what a WED® is all about or if it is truly for them (and it honestly isn’t for everyone), consider my story: When I first attended the Mobile Beat DJ Show in Las Vegas back in February 2011, I found myself sitting in an “open house” for the WED Guild®. Not having any idea what it was about, I arrived with an open mind and listened to this guy named Peter Merry talk about…I honestly can’t remember what. What I do remember though, was looking at this “application” that was required if you wanted to earn the title Wedding Entertainment Director®. I felt like a complete rookie. I didn’t manage my business or events with anywhere near the detail or talent level they required. I knew this was going to be a challenge. Even though I’d had many years of experience as a mobile DJ, what took place over the next few years was a personal quest to elevate myself to a level of professionalism, personalization, creativity, proficiency and most importantly, performance that I’d never reached for before.
By the time I finally acquired the right to refer to myself as a “Wedding Entertainment Director®”, one of the greatest benefits of becoming a WED® had already landed upon me. As I slowly advanced towards applying to become a WED®, I became a far greater, more polished and better version of…ME. This directly translated into increased demand for my services, increased income levels, and increased respect among my local area of wedding professionals.
As I began the process of requesting the professional reference letters from wedding vendors that the application requires, it soon became evident how much better respected our industry would be if there were a greater number of Wedding Entertainment Directors® to choose from. One such vendor that I spoke with about the concept of a WED® responded by asking, “You mean I could just refer all of our clients to hiring a certified Wedding Entertainment Director® and then we wouldn’t have to worry about what type of DJ is coming in the door?” After I confirmed that for her, she said, “That’s awesome and it makes so much sense!”
Now you might find yourself saying that your clients aren’t asking for a Wedding Entertainment Director®, so why would you pursue it? My response would be that you’re right… they aren’t asking… YET. But if you have the talent level or, better yet, are willing to work towards elevating yourself to a greater, more polished, better version of you, then why not become the leader in your market? Pursue it before someone else in your market does so that YOU get to become the market leader in your area. People in your region may not have known about uplighting or photo booths, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t purchase those services when the idea was presented to them.
Those who put themselves through a WED® application WILL come out better business people, better DJs, better MCs and better overall performers. I’ve had the pleasure of watching this become reality time and time again through the application committees I’ve worked on and of those who I am currently mentoring towards their own fully completed application. I have yet to see an individual who did not come out of this process a better entertainer. Every DJ whose “road to WED” I have been a part of, has had many things (sometimes little, sometimes big) that they were required to work on, which in the end made them a stronger DJ/MC.
A DJ’s skill set is reviewed, revised, critiqued and accredited by a respected group of industry peers who have also submitted themselves to the same challenging process. Every successful WED® applicant has been held up to a standard that exists no where else in the DJ industry. Hiring a Wedding Entertainment Director® provides peace of mind to a bride & groom that they are hiring a DJ/MC whose overall skill set has been “approved”.
This peace of mind that a Wedding Entertainment Director® carries with them into conversations with prospective weddings clients nearly always translates to better earning potential for the DJ. In most cases, Wedding Entertainment Directors® are some of the highest paid DJ/MCs in their market, and in some cases, their country. While attaining your own WED® credential doesn’t guarantee better earnings, it will certainly put you on that path and if you apply yourself correctly in all of the areas that are required to earn a better living as a mobile DJ/MC, you will receive it!
Years of experience often hold very little value for this process because what it comes down to is a DJ’s level of professionalism, personalization, creativity, proficiency and performance (which can truly be acquired in only a few years for some individuals). There is no such thing as being “grandfathered” in because of years of experience. Until every detail that the application is designed to measure has been approved, only then is an individual given the designation of Wedding Entertainment Director®. It is that fact alone, that ensures piece of mind in the publics’s eye that this is not a membership organization that someone with 10, 20, or 30 years of experience and $200 for a membership fee can simply purchase. This is something that is earned.
Whether you put yourself through the full process or not, A LOT can be gained by simply reviewing the application and applying the elements listed within it to your business practices and event performances. Think of this as another tool, at no direct financial cost to you, that you as a DJ can apply to what you do. You will benefit, but most importantly, your wedding clients and their guests will receive the gift of enjoying a better experience then you currently offer. Yes, believe it or not, you — all of us — can be better and can offer better.
If you simply want to network with a tight-knit uniquely qualified group of DJ/MCs, or if you are looking for a unique selling proposition (selling yourself as a Wedding Entertainment Director®), or you simply want some advice and suggestions on places where you can do things better, then starting work on your own WED® application might be something worth pursuing. But don’t let those things rise above what is the greatest benefit to the entire process…and that is, the better version of you that comes out in the end for the direct benefit of your clients and their wedding guests.
The experience my clients and their guests now receive as a direct (and indirect) result of my successful road to acquiring the WED® designation is far more then it ever was before.
“It was truly a wonderful experience. We have received nothing but very positive comments about the wedding day. Your attention to detail was unbelievable, you did not miss a thing. Your positive thinking, hard work and endless energy set the tone for a night we will never forget. I could not have wished for a happier day for my daughter. Thank you Dave. You are a magic moments maker.
Being from a small town, a wedding entertainment director is not something that I was used to, and I questioned the need for one. After having worked with you Dave, I do not know how anyone would want to try to do a wedding without one!”
With enough of us, the conversation between a soon-to-be-bride and her best friend might one day go something like this: “Are you just going to hire a DJ or are you going to hire a Wedding Entertainment Director®?”
Is that a dream? Yes.
Is it a long ways off? Maybe.
Is it possible? Absolutely, no question about it.
Interested? Need more info? View the WED® website and application here.
And for another outstanding piece of writing on what becoming a WED® is all about, please see this blog post by Ohio’s first Wedding Entertainment Director®, Anna-Jeannine Kemper Herman of Something New Entertainment.
~ Dave T.
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