Get to Know: Matt Leon with Soundwave Entertainment
Blog post number 75!! Wow, this is so exciting! And I am excited for your to meet the vendor who is featured on the blog today!
Picking out the vendor who is going to DJ your wedding day can be such a stressful process. Yes, of course you want your cake and food to taste delicious, you want your flowers to be stunning, and you want your makeup to be flawless, but your DJ & MC plays such an important role on your wedding day. This is the person who is going to help (along with your coordinator) carry the flow of your event, make sure that things are running (relatively) on time, ensure that your guests know what they are supposed to be doing and when, and of course make sure that the party is hopping! One of the biggest things I hear from couples more recently is that they want their weddings to be a full experience. They want their guests to have a great time and remember how much fun they had for years to come! One of the biggest ways to have a successful and memorable experience to is hire a great, professional DJ. Someone who can read the room and change up the music if the dance floor is lagging. Someone who understands when to release the next table to go up to the buffet so there isn’t this giant line of people waiting. Someone who has a great speaking voice and truly knows how to pump up a crowd, but also doesn’t overpower the microphone. These are things your guests will remember and want to accomplish at their wedding someday!
Well, let me introduce you to one of the DJ companies in our Inland Northwest area who I think not only successfully checks all of those boxes, but goes way above and beyond to exceed your expectations! And when I say I am picky about the DJs I recommend, I mean it because I am not kidding when I tell you a good DJ can totally make your wedding a memorable one, but so can a bad DJ in a way you don’t want to remember. I asked Matt Leon, owner of Soundwave Entertainment, to answer some questions about his company and things to remember when you are looking for your wedding DJ. Seriously, this guy is the best! I cannot shout it from the rooftops enough. But don’t just take my word for it, ask any vendor who has had the pleasure of working with Matt, they will tell you the same thing. Read more below to get to know him and how he sets himself apart in this wonderfully crazy industry…
1. Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and how it has grown since you started.
My name is Matt, I’ve lived all around Spokane my whole life. My wife Kristy and I have 2 boys, Max and Mason who are 9 and 6. When I first started into the industry, I was about 14 and it was really just moving equipment and learning how to hook everything up. By the time I was 15 a friend and I had ventured into small parties and backyard weddings, which led to working with Soundwave. I was involved with a casino themed event as a blackjack dealer, and I mentioned to then owner, DJ Randy Lee, that I DJ’d as well. He had me transition a few songs and decided he wanted to take me under his wing and train me on junior high dances where if something goes wrong, that’s the best place to go wrong. That built up to high schools, corporate Christmas parties, and weddings. Weddings started with leading the show through ceremony, first dances, and then turning the party over to me. After I got my driver’s license it turned into running two a day. I would help set his system up, go set up and DJ mine own events, then help tear down both. I didn’t know the plan at the time, but Randy Lee was training me to buy and take over Soundwave in Spokane while he expanded and started new in California. I’ve been the sole owner now for 22 years. Our recent changes include dropping school dances to focus on the wedding industry, I really feel that’s where I can do my best work. We will still take on some winter corporate parties to fill the slow season though.
2. What sets your business apart? What are a couple things you take pride in and why do you love DJ’ing?
The number one thing that sets us above the competition is being able to step outside the world of music and be willing to help with absolutely anything. I had a groom with no belt and his pants wouldn’t stay up, I gave him mine. All eyes were on him that day, along with getting his picture taken a thousand times. I had another groom mention at the rehearsal that he didn’t own a tie. I brought him a selection to pick a color he liked and helped him tie it. I’m not above taking away dirty dishes to ensure the sweetheart table doesn’t have trash on it for toast photos. Cleaning a table or locating a missing cake knife before it causes a problem are behind the scenes and nobody will ever really know, but that’s the point. I will absolutely step out from behind the DJ booth to prevent these problems before anyone notices it’s a thing. Taking care of the groom or bride on their most important day with the belt off my waist or a tie they just couldn’t track down, that’s something that I hope sticks with them.
My number one love of DJing comes from looking up at the dance floor when I’m doing my job, and the crowd is screaming. The floor feels like it’s going to collapse from everyone jumping in time to the music, that’s how I know I’ve done well. Aside from party time, I still love seeing a great, heartfelt, loving toast to the bride and groom. I love first dances that are just tear jerkers. After 24 years these moments still don’t get old, and I hope they never do.
3. What are some important questions for couples to remember to ask during the consultation process when selecting a DJ/MC?
I’m big on the technical stuff. Do you have equipment to cover the ceremony at location 1, cocktail hour at location 2, and reception at location 3? Do you have a hands-free, wireless microphone for our officiant? One question that is a rare need but is never brought up until the last minute is, do you have a boom mic stand and microphone for my dad/brother/uncle to play guitar? For Soundwave Entertainment the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, but the bride and groom’s favorite part of my answer is always, “and it’s no extra cost, just tell me”. One question not to ask your DJ, “Do you bring a dance floor?”. We do not. I can certainly show you where to get one though!
4. When a couple comes to you and says “we want a PAR-TAY”, what is your favorite song (or songs) to really kick off the dance party with and why?
I really like to look at the crowd, always. It is absolutely critical with my job that I look at how people carry themselves and generalize about the music that will be a hit with that specific crowd. People in cowboy hats, boots, and spurs don’t listen to the same music as people with bright colored hair, and tattoos coming out the sleeves of their suits. That being said, keeping in mind that every crowd is different and the upbeat party song to start with changes year after year, I have a personal affinity to Kesha & Pitbull’s song Timber. The best dance floor I ever had where 100% of the people absolutely from the start of first song to end of last song where we could not FIT everyone that wanted to be out there and people were spilling off the sides and dancing anywhere they could… that wedding belongs to Blake & Taylor Reed. Simply an absolute blast.
5. How much do you recommend couples set aside in their budget for DJ/MC services?
I think you need to be in the ballpark of $1,500 for budgeting. Keep in mind uplighting and accent lighting around the room will typically increase that cost, whether it’s shown in the higher upfront cost or added in later.
6. Any additional tips or advice for engaged couples navigating this industry for the first time?
Talk to your friends. What was good, what was bad. Word-of-mouth is one of the best forms of referrals. Make sure to use your best judgement when looking through and reviewing recommendations from Google, the Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. If they sound like they are paid for reviews, they probably are. Not to say you shouldn’t trust every review you read, but in my experience, those companies are all calling me asking for money to be on their preferred lists every year. If you find a vendor or two who you truly connect with, but don’t know what to do for the other vendors (DJ, floral, food, bar, etc.) ask the vendors you’re locked in with for help. They will point you in the direction of people who not only do a good job, but also someone they get along with. When your vendors get along and help each other out, everybody wins.
I say this over and over and over again, but it's because it is so true. Every wedding is different and unique to each couple. So make sure you are finding and truly connecting with vendors who understand that concept and understand what vibe you are looking for! DJs are not just there to play the same playlist at every event/wedding they are hired for. Music is so subjective and what may get guests on the dance floor for one wedding may totally empty the dance floor at another - and who is that fun for? Nobody!! Matt is a master at finding the middle ground that gets everyone on their feet and partying until the last possible second. Don't be afraid to tell him exactly what you are looking for in music types, in an MC, in a DJ. Every vendor is here to help, and communication is key!!
If you want more vendor recommendations and to understand how else a wedding planner can be so valuable throughout your wedding planning process, head over to my services page and fill out that contact form so we can start a conversation!
And if you want to learn about some other incredible vendors in our industry, check out some of these other blog posts:
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