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Like so many other people, I always take this time of year to reflect on the past year and set goals for the coming year. If you are visiting my site for the first time, I wish to thank you. I also wish to express my gratitude to all of my past clients, repeat client, friends, and family who have supported and motivated me in my career as a professional entertainer. I am happy to announce that I have be awarded the Couple’s Choice Award (Formerly Bride’s Choice) again this year. It is always humbling to see the nice things people say about what I do.
Even though most people associate my work with playing recorded music, I beleive that a key component for most of my clients is the peace of mind that I bring them when they are relying on me to perform at their event. Whether it is making the proper announcements at the right time, providing a beautiful lighting scene for a wedding, or playing “just the right mix” of music for their guests. It is me that they trust to make their event happen the way that they have visualized.
I truly love being a part of so many special events. With all the emotionally-charged, excited and sometimes anxious people having so many once-in-a-lifetime moments, mine is a profession that you must love to stay on top. This year will marking my 28th year as a professional entertainer (with an estimated 1,200 weddings and thousands of other events over the course of the years) and I can tell you with all my heart that it is the future that I am most excited about!
If you read anything about me on this website, you hopefully will gather that I love being a part of people’s special moments. Generally, I am a happy person with very few pet peeves or negative things to say about other people or businesses. But this past month I have been witness to an unnerving trend that preys on innocent brides & grooms and their unknowing families. I call them Wedding Factories.
I am mainly referring to venues that host wedding ceremonies and/or receptions (sometimes in large numbers) and treat their clients as if they are in line picking up a fast-food order. “Wedding number 37 – your order is up!“
Usually by the time someone finds me, they have already booked a venue for their wedding activities. Of course, experiences can vary wildly depending on the staff, venue, etc., but what I am referring to is a wedding facility that exhibits the behavior of poor customer service by exploiting the inexperience of young brides and grooms.
Specific things to look out for are the following:
Is your sales person the same as your day-of coordinator?
Are they asking you lots of questions about your vision for the day?
Are they somewhat flexible on times?
Do they have lots of fees for extras (cake cutting, outside catering, etc.)?
Do they interrupt you while you are talking?
Do they host more than four weddings (Fri – Sun) in the same room?
Do you get the feeling that they actually care about your special day?
The key to getting what you want in the wedding industry is to ask a lot of questions and make sure you are satisfied with the answers. Sometimes this means that you need to get specifics in writing. There is a high degree of turn-over in the service industry, so sales people are not always going to be your day-of coordinator, but that can also lead to confusion on your big day.
When you are planning your event months in advance, there may be a need to tweak the event times as your day approaches. A major shift would be anything more than an hour on either end. So some flexibility can be a good thing.
Also, many facilities have substantial upcharges for using off-the-list caterers, bakers, and even disc jockeys. Make sure that you read and understand the fine print when you are planning your event at each facility. Some facilities require licenses and insurance for specific vendors too (this is not always a bad sign).
It is my feeling that a wedding is different than any other special event. Facilities should give you the feeling that they care about your event and want it to be the best that it can. Of course, we are all in business to make money but in the wedding business, customer service is king!
I recently saw a bumper sticker on the back of a construction vehicle that said “Excellence has to be planned in advance”. I like that. As a full-time, professional wedding DJ & MC, I often hear from people in other professions about how great it must be to have my weeks off and just work one or two days on the weekends. But that is not how things work if you want to be the best at what you do – especially for weddings.
The way I look at things regarding wedding clients is that it is my job to help my brides & grooms get what they want on their wedding day. To me, I see it as a one-time chance during a 4-6 hour window to help create an atmosphere, a mood, and to facilitate several once-in-a-lifetime moments - all according to the vision that my happy couples have in their minds. It would be foolish and presumptuous of me to think that I already know what a bride may want at her wedding. After all, she may have been dreaming about this day since she was a little girl!
Fancy lights for a fancy night!
The only way I can know what she may want is by getting to know her. And the best way I know to do that is through a series of phones calls, face-to-face meetings (usually at a Starbucks – yum!), listening to music together, picking out lighting colors, emailing, texting and finally putting things in writing in my reception and ceremony planning guides. My brides & grooms can rest assured that on their “day-of” I know what they want and will not forget it because they have seen the written documentation.
This planning may take two, three or four times as long as the actual event, but it is usually spread out over several months. I can meet my clients during the regular business day. But because of my clients’ schedules, I will usually meet people after they get off work at a place that is convenient for them. Since I work all over Dallas & Fort Worth, I may find myself driving for an hour or more one-way just to have a 40 minute meeting. But that is what it takes to make sure that my brides & grooms are taken care of. Brides and grooms are usually super-busy with planning their wedding and often times they are in the midst of wrapping up a college degree or moving (or both!) – should I make them come to me and meet me when it is convenient to me? Do I limit how much time I give to my brides? Happily I say – NO!
It is true that some couples take more time than others, but people want to know that I can be there for them to answer questions and bounce ideas off of. This is what separates the true professionals from the part-time hobby DJs. The irony is that the difference in price is not much more than if you found a “wedding factory” anonymous DJ through a big nationwide company. Plus the value I bring to the table far outweighs that difference. Since I have been a part of hundreds of wedding receptions over a long period of time, I am able to help brides, grooms, and their parents figure out how to get what they envision. Sometimes that means that I provide things that will save them hundreds of dollars elsewhere and eliminate overcharges by other vendors for unessesary expenses. You just will never get that level of service and personal touch from a part-timer or a big company.
We had fun at Winstar across the Red River.
I am not writing this to simply toot-my-own-horn, but because I think it is important to help distinguish what constitutes excellence in a crazy profession such as mine. Anybody can buy a sound system and play pre-recorded music, but in my world as a Professional Wedding DJ and Master Of Ceremony, the actual execution of the ceremony and wedding reception starts from the first phone call months in advance and does not end until the the truck is packed at the end of your wedding night. :^)
I did not set out in life to become a “wedding DJ” and I did not become a seasoned wedding professional (haha) overnight. But I did get my start a long time ago as a teenager and thought I would share a beautiful story that came about recently because of that First Wedding Event.
When I was still in high school, my friends and I all worked at a local movie theatre. As things would have it, teenaged boys and girls that worked together would occasionally pair-off and shenanigans would ensue. One such couple, found themselves in the position of fast becoming teenage parents… and this is where our wedding-related story begins.
Under the circumstances of the time for this couple, they decided to get married and bring their child into the world with both parents under the same roof. The wedding was planned on a very limited budget, mainly with family & friends at a private residence. Since my friends at the movie theatre were also my high school pals, many of them had seen me DJ at a school dance or two. As a result, the happy couple asked me to play some music after the wedding… thus was born my career as a wedding DJ.
Flash forward to the Facebook era and I was happy to be reacquainted with some of my movie-theatre friends more than 20 years after we had all worked together. To my delight, the couple that had married under less-than-ideal circumstances back in the late 1980s had stayed together all these years and had had a beautiful, happy life. Not only that, but the daughter born just months after their wedding (now in her early twenties) was herself about to be a bride.
First, we re-connected through Facebook. Then we spoke on the phone for a bit. But when we got together at a local Starbucks, I was genuinely touched by meeting the bride & groom-to-be, and her parents (my old friends). We met and made the entertainment and lighting arrangements for their special day.
I do my best to make sure that every bride and groom have the special day of their dreams that they will never forget. And after all these years of working as a wedding professional, I wish I could say that I remember every one of the 500+ weddings I have been a part of. Specifics sometimes are forgotten along the way… but I will always remember being a part of my first bride’s daughter’s wedding.
Most people know me as a professional DJ & MC. But with my specialty being wedding ceremonies and receptions, I am sometimes open on Friday nights. So what is a full-time musician/disc jockey to do to keep busy? Well… start a fantastic-all-Journey-music “tribute” band, of course!
I have been playing keyboards and singing even longer than I have been a disc jockey, so when my friends brought a rare musical opportunity to my attention, I could not say no.
This kind of band does not play very often, so have no fear about scheduling conflicts with upcoming events. With my solo work as a DJ & MC, Voice Over Professional, and Musician, I have had to keep a tight & varied schedule for years.
What does money management have to do with hiring a DJ for my wedding? Who is this guy that is writing this article anyway? What does he know? Well…
Lately I have had some interesting conversations with brides & grooms about their wedding expenses. I am pleased to say that one of the trends that I have recently observed is that brides & grooms are seeking to have wedding ceremonies and receptions that do not cause them to go into debt. Call it “the new economy”, being frugal, or just being practical – brides & grooms these days want the most value for each dollar spent.
Among so many other things (like playing music for example), a good wedding DJ & MC should also bring you a wealth of knowledge about how to speak with other vendors, tips and tricks to save money, cautionary tales of ways to avoid getting ripped-off, how to receive value-added packages etc.
As an experienced wedding disc jockey, I have seen lots of vendors in action, so it is in my best interest to make sure that my bride & groom will be happy on their special day. If I can help them save money along the way with different ideas or recommendations, then I see that as an unwritten obligation.
Yes, I am a wedding professional. But I am also a happily married parent of three kids and I know the hardships and stress that money problems can bring a family. As I see young people moving toward their wedding day, I am always aware that the number one cause of marital strife is non-other than debt & money problems. This surprises some. But as our society seems to be getting better educated in the ways that money works, I am pleased to see the trend of moving away from frivolous expenses and putting money where it will mean the most on your special day.
The American Disc Jockey Association conducted a survey of brides just after their wedding day and determined that the one item above all others (except for the venue) that they would have paid more attention to was the wedding reception entertainment (like a DJ or Live Band). In the minds of most guests, the wedding DJ & MC (more accurately the music played and the announcements made) were the most critical factor to the success of the event. This means that the success of the DJ & MC contributed to the overall success/failure of the event regardless of the quality of the food, flowers, videographer, photographs, dresses, formal wear, decorations, party favors, etc. This is what adds value!
When making the selection of key components for your reception try to “remember what people remember” and that getting the cheapest price isn’t always the best value. Also remember that getting into debt to pay for a one-day event can put a touch of grey in what should be a beautiful day. Brides & grooms receive a lot of gifts on their wedding day, and one of the best gifts to give yourself is a wedding day that is debt-free.
Note: even if you are not one of my happy couples, I am pleased to share tips & tricks with you to save money on your wedding day. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most people do not understand how to properly set goals, define them, and reach them. Our class tonight will address these topics and help move you along. If you are a voice over professional (or hope to be) or just want to learn more to get your passions moving ahead, this class is for you!
This MeetUp group charges admission ($20.00) at the door and you must sign-up through www.voicesvoices.com. The group meets at La Madeline on Mockingbird and 75 near SMU. Come early to eat; class starts at 6:30pm and lasts 2 hours.
If you have read about me and know a bit of my history as a DJ & MC, you know that I have been part of thousands of events; hundreds of weddings over the years, lots of birthdays, school dances, etc. But nothing gets me emotional like a Daddy Daughter Dance.
I always have a few on the books this time of year and since I have girls of my own, they always have a special meaning for me. This past week, I was so excited to be a part of Life Time Fitness – Plano and their annual Daddy Daughter event.
Many DJ’s advertise that they never play certain songs or that if you are a DJ who does play them then you must be a real dud. I disagree. With the exception of songs that contain swear words or are offensive in some way, I believe that a quality DJ must be able to keep as many tricks up his sleeve as possible in order to play to the audience that is being entertained. In the case of this weekend’s dance, it was mainly girls from 6 – 10 years old.
This requires an extra degree of care, patience and understanding of how children react to certain songs. Do they know the song? Are the music & lyrics appropriate to the age group? Can a simple dance be instructed or modified for younger kids? Does the music also have special meaning to the fathers at the event? Are little girls in dresses, heels, and tiaras able to have fun and still act like little princesses?
It may be a lot to think about, but when you have hundreds of people asking you as the disc jockey to help create an atmosphere that will be a life-long memory, I want all of my options available. This is why you will hear all-time classics at this type of dance that you would rarely hear at a wedding or party for people in their teens and older. Some DJ’s are terrified of being perceived as “cheesy” – I say they should be more concerned with whether or not their guests had a fantastic time filled with once-in-a-lifetime moments. Never confuse “cheese” with a DJ & MC who aims to please. ;^)
I have been playing piano/organ/keyboards since I was a young boy, but it really wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how blessed I am by God to have such a talent. Music has always been a part of my life and now as an adult, music has given me so much; a livelihood, commonality with others, relevance with my kids, and the ability to serve others in the best way I know how.
I am so blessed to be a part of a new band/worship community at First United Methodist Church Richardson (FUMCR) called “Access”. Access is a worship community that meets every Sunday at 5:00pm in the main worship center at FUMCR. Click the links for more information.
My small addition to this service is as the keyboard/synthesizer player on the worship team. We rehearse every week and then play our songs every Sunday. Below are some recent pics from a rehearsal in October.
The service is a casual, family-friendly, come-as-you-are atmosphere. So come check us out this Christmas season.
Coming up this Saturday is The Mat’s (my favorite yoga studio) one year anniversary celebration! I am an avid fan of yoga and this place does it the right way in a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere.
They also know how to have fun! This will be a family-friendly event and feature a live DJ (me, of course!), bounce house, balloon man, magician, dancers, yoga instructors, photo booth, food, and fun. All in an outdoor party atmosphere. The weather should be perfect too. ALL FOR FREE!
Come see me between 7:00pm and 10:00pm at:
The Mat Yoga Studio
670 N. Coit Road, Suite 2381
Richardson, TX 75080
Look up and to the East from Coit Rd. between Beltline and Arapaho to see this sign.