Somebody Please Stop Playing That Crappy Music

Frustrated from boring dinner and cocktail music?Honestly as a wedding dj I am not one to pass judgement on music per se’… In fact I don’t call any music “crap”. I just think it’s often easy to play something richer and more provocative. I want music to do what music can do – make people feel. It happens that as a wedding dj with over 1000 Michigan Weddings to my credit, I’ve played “easy” and I’ve played thoughtful. Thoughtful is way cooler. It takes a little extra effort on my part to make the music experience better. To illustrate what I mean, I recall 23 years ago walking down the halls at a banquet facility and hearing wedding receptions with a 6pm start using the same cd and roughly on the same exact song track. I’m not kidding. It’s not that Kenny G was bad – it was simply that the dj’s were playing to the lowest common denominator. They did what was super easy. They threw on a cd that many people thought was pretty good and let it play. No real consideration for how to make it better. Things haven’t changed much either. People, no matter the occupation generally speaking play to a level of “good”. As I see it — good is the enemy of great. NOW… don’t get me wrong. When the dancing starts in all candor I play my share of wedding classics BECAUSE — I know they fill a floor better than the more obscure stuff. UNLESS… UNLESS a crowd is willing to go somewhere different with me. Some crowds will – most won’t. Both crowds are fine – are take either one as long as the floor is hopping.

So, with that being said — why should I play a bunch of music during cocktail and dinner that really isn’t relevant to anyone in the room short of maybe Grandma and Grandpa. I’m 47 years old and I know friends of mine of the same age that have daughters getting married. Sure, at 47-55 years old, we know some Sinatra and sure – maybe even some Kenny G but that wasn’t the music our memories were infused with. For me I remember the greatest summer of my life was 2 summers out of high school and Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” was the tune I was wakeboarding to. I remember the late 70’s with Pink Floyd, The Who, The Stones and the stuff my dad listened to like Elvis, Anne Murray, Barry Manilow and yes… even the Village People. Sure my parents influenced my musical likes and dislikes – didn’t yours? Van Halen, AC/DC, Joan Jett, REM, The Cranberries – all that 80’s stuff is well etched in the recesses of my mind. Truth is, your parents might be older than me but I’ll bet they’re more like “Rolling Stones older” than they are Billie Holiday, Dean Martin or Louis Armstrong older.

So, here is my point. When booking your wedding dj have the conversation about cocktail and dinner music. Share what I am sharing here. (or of course you could just book me) It makes me think… in June I’ve got an event at St. Andrews in Detroit. For me, I knew why they chose the venue — an independent dj with years of experience can connect dots like that because they meet you one on one. So, this client likes the whole Detroit thing. They want to show it off to friends and especially out of town family and what better way than renting St. Andrews. Some really amazing musicians came out of and played St. Andrew decades back. I took it upon myself while talking on the phone to first and foremost make sure that it was the Nostalgia that had them booking there. After booking them, I asked if they might want me to share a bit about the venue with the guests just before dinner gets served so the guests can truly feel the history at that venue. I then asked if they’d be cool with me playing some music from those artists during dinner. NOT loudly, not obnoxiously but using it to further set the stage for a great evening. So sure I could have just played some dinner or cocktail standards but then they wouldn’t have squeezed every single drop of their intention out of that venue. It would have been music in St. Andrews, not musicians that actually played at St. Andrews (and “The Shelter” below).

So, in closing know this. You’re not going to get this kind of service from someone that doesn’t get why it matters in the first place. You’ll get it from a pro that knows how important it is to pull people into an event, not just have them at the event. You’re not going to get this kind of service when the dj doesn’t really know you. Weddings are pricey, hire a great wedding dj, compromise elsewhere. And if you have to ask your guy to do these things then it’s highly unlikely he really gets why you want this to begin with. Not every facility has the history St. Andrews has and honestly sharing a venues history isn’t the norm but playing music that matters sure should be.

oh… just in case you wondered this is a cut from the email I sent my bride and groom shortly after booking them.

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Hi, ————

Would you want me to possibly share the significance of St. Andrews – MAYBE this blurb?

“The building we’re in, Saint Andrew‘s Hall is a Detroit music venue and concert hall. Formerly the meeting place for the Saint Andrew‘s Society of Detroit but never a church,[1] the building is now a host of live bands and “Notorious” DJs..

Since 1980, St. Andrews has been bringing trendsetting music to Detroit — St. Andrews has hosted famous acts during the ’80s and ’90s, such as Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Verve, Nirvana, R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Underneath US, is a venue called “The Shelter”. it hosts various live music acts and DJs. and is best known for being one of the first stages Eminem performed.”

I was just thinking this through — wouldn’t it be cool to share that just after the toasts/prayer and then play a tune or 2 from each of those acts mentioned above during dinner?? Just a thought.

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Michigan Wedding DJ
248-648-1669

 


2015 March Michigan Wedding DJ Post

After 24 years in this business I can say that the 20 year old that shows up with his laptop doesn’t get the following. It’s:
1) Not about the DJ – it’s about the family and friends having a great time with the bride and groom. Of course the dj is a part of the whole system but not the only part. It’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s a dance with the “whole”.
2) It’s about serving a client beyond the music. A good dj mixes great music. A great dj does the same but he or she also mixes the entire evening. It’s about good flow from the first guest arriving to the last dance of the night.
3) It’s about sensing where a group is at energetically and going there to serve them. You’ve gotta match their rhythms as a dj. You can lead them somewhere but you can’t force them to go. A good dj feels the crowd in the way a great chef brings all the ingredients together irregardless of what the recipe says – it is a state of flow. 

I’ll be posting again soon. Possibly in a week. I want to tackle more in depth the whole dinner music discussion. I’m on a mission to make that part of the evening part of the party too. Not loud but fun.


Wedding Ceremony Tips Video

I will make this into a video someday soon but until then I offer my list of tips here. Things I’ve learned from managing the music at 307 and counting wedding ceremonies here in Michigan over the last 22 years. It seems as the dj I am part of the ceremony for at least half the weddings I do now. So many brides and grooms are choosing to get married onsite. Truth is it makes too much sense. Why force your guests, many from out of town to go to 2 different places if you don’t have to.

Tip 1 Ceremony DJ Items / Ceremony Music Considerations

  • Consider Power Requirements for your musicians and/or dj. I personally have a battery powered amplifier I can use but it isn’t near as powerful as the speakers I plug in when power is available.
  • Understand that choosing a microphone is possible. Sometimes, most of the time, I use a microphone on a stand for the officiant. I do this for several reasons. One is honestly it’s easy and everyone knows how to use one. Second, I use a wired unit outside to almost eliminate outside signal interference. It’s not 100% guaranteed but in my 22 years never has a wired microphone picked up other signal interference. Can you imagine the pastor in the middle of the ceremony with a wireless microphone when all of a sudden it starts cancelling out or picking up a local radio station, 2 way, or trucker cb? If you could manage to laugh then it would make for a great story but while you were in the middle of it – not so fun. And so you’ll know I’ve had wireless microphones (expensive ones) get their signal stepped on. Once, during a wedding ceremony. Granted that was 10 years ago but it still leaves me weary today.
  • Music – Pick 3.  Make it easy. I’ve had numerous brides often under the influence of AHPM (a high pressure mom) ask for 5 or 6 songs for their wedding. Truly it’s not a bid deal at my end as the dj but I do this nearly every weekend. The problem with choosing too many songs is that the weakest link – could be an inexperienced venue manager or wedding planner but usually it’s the bridal party, get off cue. At the weddings I do – I make sure to do a last minute button up and get everyone on the same page. So, I think it’s easiest to do this:
    1. Pick an “officiant, parent/grandparent seating & bridal party walk up song” for everyone. Yes their are more “official” names for these but that too is a semantics mess with too many people claiming to know what’s a prelude vs. a pre-prelude, vs. a seating song and so forth. If you don’t think the one song will be enough either “loop it” (dj should understand this) or look a little harder for an extended version. Pachebel in Canon D is the most traditional for this one.
    2. Pick a processional song (for the bride to walk down the aisle). I’ve used many different songs for this. There really isn’t one that stands out other than rarely do I use “Here Comes The Bride”. My clients have simply opted for something unique to them.
    3. Pick a recessional song  – after the officiant has turned you to the audience, usually after the kiss, and introduced you to the guests.
    4. Maybe you’ll want a “ceremony” song (think rope ceremony, sand ceremony, wine ceremony, candle ceremony)  – but that should be it…  “Ceremonies” (Tip 4) info below this tip.
    5. Picking more songs only creates unnecessary stress and increases the odds someone will mess up.  Just Keep it Simple. Again, for me as a dj – I don’t care how many you pick I just can’t fix it once someone starts walking to the wrong tune. So, it’s not me I get concerned with – it’s your wedding party.
    6. WEDDING GUEST CEREMONY ARRIVAL MUSIC — Brides often have no idea what music to play when the guests are arriving. I think like everything it depends on the client. For me personally I’d go with stuff my wife and I liked to hear and then choose from that the stuff our guests would be more likely to recognize. It’s a 2 step process as I see it. What we like then what they’d know out of that. I’d also choose upbeat and fun as well (but of course that’s me) versus sappy or worse sleepy. Many clients have “strings or instrumental” in mind. Beyond all that — choose what you want – not what others think you should have or what people might be “expecting”. DO YOU !!!
    7. Last on the ceremony music part — don’t start the music any sooner than 20 minutes beforehand. Music is a social cue especially at wedding ceremonies. When it starts people feel like they “have to” sit. So especially when it’s too cold or too hot you don’t want to make them sit sooner than they have to.
  • More Michigan Wedding DJ Notes – Songs for the Wedding Ceremony – In my opinion of 22 years as a professional dj here in Michigan, let the ceremony be a great time to share your style and flair with the friends and family. Choose songs for these 3 above that are you. To date I’ve seen some pretty cool walk ups for the wedding party. Some of my favorites include a bride walking down to “Going to the Chapel“, and another “Home by Chental Kreviazuk” AND my favorite of all because at the last minute the bride just asked me to pick it – the bridal party came down to Zac Brown – FREE. NOTE – they loved Zac Brown ( I do too) but that is why I chose the tune. Yes, there have been others that were great and I’ve forgotten a few I am sure. For the Recessional (after they kiss and are introduced to the guests) – the sky is the limit. One I like that is used fairly often is You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates . I’ve also used 99 Red Love Balloons, Love is in the Air, Hey Ya by Outkast, Current or old – really – there are so many possibilities. I probably shouldn’t share this but once I had a bride request to come down the aisle to Nelly’s “Hot in Here”. It did raise the roof in laughter and I never forgot it.

Tip 2 Ceremony Weather Considerations

  • SUNSHINE — If you’re planning a wedding ceremony in an outdoor location in a state like ours – Michigan, then you should consider shade in the summer. I have done more weddings than I can count where guests arrive in their formal attire and it’s 100 degrees outside in the blazing sun. As a bride and groom you might be 20 something and have no issue with it but you need to consider the older folks. They can literally die from being in the sun too long. I’ve seen people litlerally pass out trying to be “troopers” and tough it out for the guests of honor. If you’re going to do it outside in the summer consider umbrellas, ask F&F to bring any they might have to borrow just in case. Now, the sun or even the rain would be ok. Consider a tent nearby for those that need it to get some shade – maybe even a water cooler.
  • COLD – I just managed a wedding ceremony for a bride and groom in May and like most brides they get their minds set to it and short of a rainstorm they’re gonna have that outdoor reception. Well, just like the sunshine in the ceremony tip above, don’t make those people get that uncomfortable. It dropped into the 40’s and people weren’t dressed for it. Tell people to bring a blanket, have some hot tea do something extra to make sure your dream ceremony doesn’t become a hellish experience for your wedding guests. I felt bad for the bride too – she was freezing. At least the groom was in his tux. Vendor NOTE: The event was at Addison Oaks and they always have a back up plan for their brides,  grooms and guests indoors – as does the Dearborn Inn.
  • Sort of a side note: waiting until the last minute to make your event inside or out – might be somewhat easy for you as a bride or groom ( especially in this Michigan Weather ) but what you may or may not realize is your dj is forced to scramble like crazy to make it happen. Most dj’s may have a second system or “ceremony system” like I do but I don’t have a complete plan b second system. Truth is I’m pretty crafty but last minute decisions always leave me feeling a little worried especially because brides ALWAYS lean toward “taking a chance” and going outdoors. That means my laptop, my speakers and cords might get caught in the rain and that’s not a good thing. Thus far I’ve been lucky and smart enough to prepare for that too but it’s still a bit unsettling.

Tip 3 Wedding Ceremony Location Considerations

  • I’ve done a few events outdoors where the brides had no idea what the weekend of their event might be like. Ask your venue if there are any events planned outdoors the same week as your wedding. I recall one event where Chene Park had a rap concert going on just down the river… The guests had no idea what the wedding officiant was saying but they sure knew what the musicians down the way had to say. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for the client. Luckily they just rolled with it. NOTE: Just because there isn’t an event on the books near that “perfect outdoor wedding ceremony location” doesn’t mean their won’t be one booked last minute on your special day. It’s not that this is a deal killer but it is worth having a back up plan for it.  I’ve managed ceremonies while the Blue Angels flew over during an air show. Neat – but not the event the bride wanted them to watch. What about parades, marches, unexpected hotel guests/senior proms and more – all things to be aware of when you book your ceremony location.
  • I did an event in Ann Arbor at the Gandy Dancer and right in the middle of the ceremony the train both stopped, blew it’s whistle and left. It made a lot of noise. Cool on one hand but maybe they could have adjusted their schedule if they considered the trains schedule. Again – ask your venue contact so all this stuff is spelled out.

Tip 4 Sand Ceremony, Candle Ceremony, Rope Ceremony and so forth.

  • I will keep this really simple. If it’s windy outside, candle and sand ceremonies can prove difficult. If you plan on doing them be ok with “they may or may not work perfectly” and if they don’t we’ll fake it!!
  • Rope Ceremony Video

Tip 5 – Choosing Someone to be the Officiant

  • I have seen everything from Priests and Rabbis to Friends and Family officiate at ceremonies. I will say the ones that are best are those that have done it before. Though I have seen some good ones delivered by friends and family those are the exceptions. On the other hand 3/4 of the pros that do ceremonies are boring and dry. Some people just have a way at getting to the hue-man in us all – at the depth of our souls and really hitting home with good stuff. Those are the ones I’d look for. People that aren’t confident or sure of themselves on the microphone and/or in front of crowds are usually the ones that deliver with a lack of conviction and the ones I’d avoid. Short of that far be it from me to tell you who to use on your special day. Just make sure they are ordained in your state. I did one wedding in my years as a dj because they wanted a musical style ceremony and no one else would do it. I got ordained here – http://www.ulc.net/

Thanks so much for visiting Michigan Wedding DJ for some great wedding ceremony tips. I hope to add more in the months to come as I think of them!

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WedIt – A Home Brewed Entrepreneurial Success – Michigan’s Videographer Alternative

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Great Alternative for the Bride that wants things Different!

While most of us were building our resume in our early 20’s, Brett deMarrais was building something different. He knew that he wanted to do something different and saw a need in the wedding industry for affordable video services. After a short time at Detroit’s iconic entrepreneurial university BizdomU, Brett was up and running. The concept – provide affordable video with a twist. Instead of just 1 or 2 guys running a video camera on your big day, he ships out 5 portable high def flip video cameras and gives the “power to the people” (those in and at your wedding). Imagine that, 5 people all with different perspectives on what’s a good clip. The end result is an edited video (they edit it for you) with personality and flair — all because you dared to do it different.

I’ve met Brett and know he’s got a heart to serve a great experience and help his brides make Wedit the great choice it can be! Click the picture to the left to see his site and what they can do for you in capturing precious moments.


Originating your wedding vows… Make Your Michigan Wedding Ceremony Special

As a dj here in Michigan I play music for both wedding receptions AND ceremonies. Over the years I’ve definitely become accustomed to being witness to the exchange of vows, as they’re one of the most heartfelt statements one can be apart of, especially if you’re writing them yourself. I really like how Harmonie Krieger sets the stage for your most romantic exchange by giving a few tips on writing original, personalized wedding vows. This is a great video for anyone that is taking the time, thought, and consideration to draft up their own set of promises for that special day, and I’m in full agreement with Harmonie – That writing and exchanging of your own vows can and will be one of the most significant and profound experiences of your lives. So let’s raise a glass and toast to another great Michigan Wedding Ceremony.


Choosing a Reading for Your Michigan Wedding Ceremony

Here are a number of really great tips to help you choose a reading that’s right for you, your fiance, and your family. I really like how she mentions the importance of opinions of your family, as well as the advice to reference any religious texts that may be sacred and relevant to your families religious values. Another great tip is to consult your Officiant, as mentioned, to ensure that there is a comfort level in your chosen reading. Above and beyond all, make sure your reading is personalized and meaningful for YOU, as many times parents and others can influence your selection and subtract from the meaningful and relevant choice you’ve made. Michigan is a beautiful place to have a wedding ceremony especially when it’s got your signature on it.


Michigan Wedding Ceremony Decor

This episode brings ceremony decorations to light and the various details associated with many of the decisions you’ll be facing at your Michigan Wedding Ceremony. Silk or real flower? Which colors should I use? Should lighting replace fabric? And most importantly, which of our options allow us to remain within our budget? These are all serious questions and each should be addressed with a creative mindset aimed at making your ceremony both memorable and personalized. As mentioned, many of the details of decor can be substituted for other, less expensive, though completely creative items such as – Substituting feathers for flowers, hiring a linen company instead of buying linen, choosing center pieces that denote special guests at their tables, as well as color-coordinating lighting and fabric.


Michigan Wedding DJ Suggests Bride’s Re-think Timing

Ok, this could get some brides thinking I am a militant hyper opinionated dj and business owner. Well, the truth is it’s really more about helping my clients have a great wedding. Here is the tip and a little background.

1) Michigan has the longest wedding receptions in the country already with 6 hours as the norm. Even New York is at 4 hours.
2) People with kids and those married over the age of 25 generally speaking, not always have some sort of internal ding that says “get to bed my midnight”. I didn’t create this ding – it just is.

So, if you do have the usual 6 hour Michigan Wedding Reception, consider that 6 hours is 2 times longer than you ever, even in your college party days, spent dancing. “Oh but Dan, my friends and I used to get to the club around 10 and dance until it closed”… OK OK – but the club didn’t have to play music for people of all ages. They often just played to that core target market and that is a whole lot easier than keeping 150 people going at a wedding where people have diverse tastes and stamina. I am not suggesting you cut back to less time but I sure hope you can see that 7 hours is for 99% of the crowds too long. The best weddings are the ones where the floor is still packed at closing time and that is way harder to do when the dance window goes from 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours. Not impossible (I’ve done it) but the law of diminishing returns comes to play.

Remember I mentioned the midnight and people’s internal ding? Here is a tricky way to use that to your advantage. Start your Michigan Wedding Reception at 5pm and go to 11pm. Now, everyone is home on time for their sitter and are surprised when the last dance comes an hour earlier than expected. Now, you have a full house at closing time. This is a good way to end. As a Michigan professional wedding dj, I am only suggesting that you’ll get more out of your night by having more people there for the entire evening than if they start rolling out to get home by midnight. For more great wedding reception tips check out the video below.


Silent Disco – Euroasian Dance Invasion – Silent Weddings

This is too cool and certainly something for brides and grooms that want to do something a little different in the USA. Especially Michigan brides hiring THE Michigan Wedding DJ. Watch the video about the silent disco craze. I can supply these for couples that want to book venues with sound ordinance issues, neighborhood noise laws, or just because they think it’s fun and odd. It’s a bit pricey but watching people dance to different rhythms and sing out loud acapella is a belly laugh of an evening. More info upon request.

Again, call Michigan Wedding DJ if you’d like to have a quiet wedding yet still have everyone dancing. 248-541-0250 They are also available for rent across the USA. I’ll drop ship them to you and your dj can simply plug in the transmitter and run 2 different genres all night giving everyone something to dance to. Headphone weddings… what is next?


A new favorite site for brides that want something a bit different!

If you live in Michigan or elsewhere you’ll find this site to be something really cool. If you get a little tired of the boiler plate wedding receptions check out Off Beat Bride. I give it 3 thumbs up! Maybe I’m a bit partial to it because I’ve booked two weddings as a result of brides sharing my name in it but really – it’s something different. Brides – do something different. I’ve got ideas to make your reception and your ceremony more fun. Of course music is a big piece of my ideas because I’m a dj but nonetheless go for it! If you’re into it, it’s a lot easier for me to “sell it” to your guests.
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