Its not often that my wife and I get to see each other on wedding days. She stays busy with her on-location bridal hair and makeup service, Destination Beautiful, early in the day while I prepare for a later arrival to set up and DJ the wedding often enough overlap for us not to see each other. Happily this wedding was not the case. Anna and Shrea hit it off at her hair and makeup trial and Anna was asked to stay as a guest for the reception.
In preparation for the intimate reception of around 30 guests the ballroom of the River Landing Country Club was lined with purple up-lighting to compliment Shrea’s colorful Indian heritage. After friends and family had gathered coming from as far as India the newlyweds were welcomed to the reception and into their first dance as husband and wife to the classic Etta James – At Last. A delicious buffet of American cuisine was provided by River Landing to selections of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and David Grey. Following a few warm and humorous toasts Shrea danced with her father to Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World followed by Milton dancing with his mother to John Lennon – Imagine. Shrea and Milton left it up to me for a song during their cake cutting so I went with my favorite, James Taylor – How Sweet It Is. After some light dancing and lots of conversation between new friends and family it was time to throw the bouquet to Beyonce – Single Ladies. We finished the night out with a power dance session of Top 40 hits, 90s Jams and a few awesome Bollywood tunes. After a great time on the dance floor it was time to bid the newlyweds farewell to Chris Brown – Forever.
There certainly is no shortage of “DJs” on the market these days. Its appears anyone with a laptop and a couple of speakers can claim to be one now and it is becoming increasingly difficult for couples to discern between someone after an “easy buck” and an experienced professional capable of executing a flawless event. These are some points to consider while making your DJ choice which can help to ensure your big day is everything you dreamed.
1. Does the DJ offer a written contract?
If a DJ offers any services without a contract stay away! A written legal contract, at the least, indicates professionalism and a accountability. Your DJs contract should clearly outline the services provided and any additional items promised or included. The contract should establish all aspects of the performance from power requirements to backup plans. The details of a contract should answer a good amount if not all of the “what ifs” that come to mind. Any DJ who does not offer a contract for services should not be considered for such an important event as your wedding reception.
2. What about backup plans and equipment?
Despite anyone’s best efforts and planning, accidents still do happen. Due to injury or some other circumstance if your DJ is unable to perform as expected what is the backup plan? A reliable professional DJ will have a strategy in place if worse comes to worse and a situation were to arise. DJs should have a good network of other DJs to reach out to in an emergency to provide backup services. No matter the quality and without operator error, eventually, a piece of equipment will fail. Prepared DJs can mitigate the disturbance, if any, this failure would cause with backup equipment on-hand. DJ companies with multiple DJs, such as Absolute Best, are well suited to execute backup plans with both staff and equipment.
3. Who will be my DJ? Can we meet with our DJ before signing?
On such an important and special occasion you would want a DJ who fits your personality at the helm as emcee for your wedding. A meeting with the one you will be working with should not be a problem for a professional DJ service. When first reaching out to a service with multiple DJs you will typically be corresponding with the owner at first to go over initial pricing and procedure questions. Depending on availability you can request a specific DJ or meet with the performer assigned to your event. In our case we get a large amount of destination weddings who are unable to meet prior to their wedding and typically are not specific about any particular DJ. In this case as we gather more information on your musical tastes and wedding style we assign the DJ we feel best suited to your needs.
4. How many years have you been a DJ? How many weddings have you done?
On a day as important as yours you don’t want it to be your DJs first wedding gig! Even a veteran DJ can be unfamiliar with the pace and nuances of a wedding. A DJ with numerous weddings under their belt will have dealt with many situations both planned and unexpected giving them the experience to confidently host the event and let you simply enjoy yourself. Absolute Best DJs are scouted for their talent and skills in all event DJ scenarios and then trained to provide our service quality standards.
5. Are you insured?
Any professional DJ service worth considering should absolutely carry and be able to provide a statement of full liability insurance upon request. Many wedding venues require participating vendors and DJs to provide proof of insurance as well to work on their property. The last thing you would want to deal with is your DJ not being allowed to perform by the venue for lack of insurance. Liability insurance protect you and the wedding venue in the event, unlikely as it is, your DJ were to injure a guest or damage the venue.
6. What kind of equipment do you use?
A DJ who is heavily invested in the quality of their equipment will usually be as invested in providing the quality service to go with it. Without getting overly technical your DJ should be able to tell you what equipment they use in their performance, if they use wireless mics and what their lighting packages look like. Top brand names in DJ equipment are JBL, Pioneer, Denon, Rane, Technics, Mackie, QSC and Bose to name a few.
7. Is setup and breakdown time included?
A quality DJ should have setup time factored into their service price and be able to tell you how long setting up and breaking down would take. In some situations a setup charge could be added when there are circumstances effecting the typical setup time or effort but this should be conveyed during booking and included in the contract. The time you book should represent the amount of DJ performance time received.
8. Have you performed at our reception site?
Being familiar with your reception site is very important. Every site is unique in its challenges, power options, accessibility and other factors. This familiarity ensures a smooth setup and that your DJ will be ready for show time. With new venues popping up all the time its not always possible for your DJ to have visited every one. If this is the case your DJ should certainly be able to preview the site beforehand to be prepared when it comes time to setup on the big day with no surprises.
9. What is your DJ style?
The style of your DJ is very important. You want a DJ that will match the energy and feel you are trying to create at your wedding. A laid back family affair would not want a hype club-style DJ and and a high energy group ready to jam on the dance floor would probably not be interested in the quiet type. Absolute Best DJs all have their strengths but are also all skilled enough to turn up or tone down their energy level to match the feel of your wedding.
10. Once we book your services, what then?
After booking there should be a plan for relaying your DJ specific wedding information to your DJ. This could come as a printed worksheet or online forms. Your DJ should be able to schedule to meet with you in order to go over your wedding vision and the role music plays in your life and how it fits into your wedding story. Throughout the planning your DJ should be staying in touch and responding in reasonable time to your questions. Closer to your wedding day a last meeting should be arranged to go over your final info such as wedding party pronunciations and order of events.
Classical music filled the room as guests arrived to the Beam Room, Front Street Brewery’s 3rd floor event space, to be seated for Courtney and Greg’s ceremony. Starting off the Greg and the wedding party entered to Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do the piano & cello version by Brooklyn Duo followed by Courtney’s entrance to Taylor Swift – Love Story cover by Vitamin String Quartet. Concluding the ceremony, officiated by Front Street’s very own brew-master, Greg & Courtney exited to Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved.
After the ceremony guests headed to the bar, located in the sizable multi-use room, to enjoy some of Front Streets fine craft beers while a mix of mellow country and pop played over the speakers.
Time to welcome the wedding party! The wedding party and couple come in to Beyonce – Crazy In Love and go into their first dance to Maroon 5 – Sugar. Courtney then dances with her father to Macklemore – Growing Up and Greg dances with his mother to Rascall Flatts – My Wish.
Dinner was kicked off with toasts by the best man and mother of the groom. Front Street Brewery provided plated dinners of steak, salmon and chicken. I had the salmon because I love salmon, I’ll always go for the salmon. The mellow country and pop mix continued through dinner until it was time to cut the cake. Greg and Courtney chose Pharrell – Happy to be played for their cake cutting song as it would transition nicely into opening the dance floor. From that point on it was lots of dancing, fun, laughter and craft beers until we finished the night with Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline.
“We couldn’t have been happier with our Dj choice. He was EXACT with all of our ceremony and reception music and their timing… So professional and a complete joy to work with. If you are getting married in Wilmington, you need Jason as your DJ!!!!”
I had a truly great time with Emily & Austin at their wedding held at The Atrium in downtown Wilmington. The weather was unusually warm and beautiful for November, perfect for the open air venue. As I arrived to set up the venue already looked fantastic even though Martha and her team at Martha My Dear Rentals were still bustling about perfecting all the finishing touches which turned out very impressive with flowers and greenery by Fiore Fine Flowers.
Image by Martha My Dear
As guest arrived for the ceremony Vitamin String Quartet played over the speakers. Ready and audio synced with the videographer, Brandon with Olde Road Pictures, it is time to begin! The grandparents and parents were seated to Turning Page instrumental by Sleeping at Last. Next in comes the wedding party, all 18 of them, to Ray Lamontagne – Hold You In My Arms. Finally time for the bride to make her appearance as she walks down the isle to Train – Marry Me. Our lapel mic on the officiant did a great job picking up the service and their vows to each other. After being pronounced husband and wife the newlyweds exited to Ray Lamontagne – You Are the Best Thing.
After the ceremony we transitioned into the cocktail hour and I played a mix of acoustic folk while Sara Logan Photography captured images of the bride & groom along with family and their wedding party. A great feature of the Atrium is the fact you can have both your ceremony and reception set up independently in the same area. The venue is very functional and nicely designed.
Time for introductions! With the assistance of a friend of the bride who was also helping to coordinate we lined up the parents and wedding party and brought them out to Beyonce – Love on Top. The timing worked out perfectly to use the entire song as I energized the guests and then welcomed out out two sets of parents, 18 bridesmaids and groomsmen with unique dances and finally our newlyweds.
Image by Martha My Dear
Now it is time for their first dance! Emily & Austin added a unique touch and had two first dance songs selected which they revealed to each other as I played them. Emily chose the Boyce Avenue cover of Heaven and Austin chose Michael Buble’s rendition of Crazy Love. The parent dances followed with Emily dancing with her father to Amos Lee – Sweet Pea and Austin dancing with his mother to Van Morrison – Days Like This.
Image by Martha My Dear
After a warm welcome from the father of the bride and blessing by one of the groomsmen we were treated to a tasty buffet of southern fare, with excellent BBQ, from Sawmill Catering to a mix of mellow acoustic folk tunes. As guests were finishing dinner I informed them it was time to ready and refresh their beverages in preparation for toasts. After heartfelt toasts from the Best Man, Matron and Maid of Honor it was time to cut the cake, a delicious carrot cake from One Belle Bakery, to the song Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake. With a cake song so good, right after the cake cutting, everyone hit the dance floor and stayed there the rest of the evening. It was an awesome night with lots of cheers and crazy moves! Emily tossed her bouquet to Taylor Swift – 22 and Austin tossed the garter to Ja Rule – Between Me & You. We finished the night withRay Lamontagne – You Are the Best Thingbefore sending guests with sparklers in hand for the big send-off to be whisked away byAzalea Limo.