Nicole contacted me just after the end of last year. She and her fiancee live in Virginia but were planning their wedding reception at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. For whatever reason, a high percentage of my clients are from out of state. My only explanation is that, once they narrow their search for their DJ, they must be looking for someone who is experienced and responsive. The fact that both the bride and groom are PhD’s also suggests that they know how to make intelligent choices, so of COURSE they had to hire me! (insert “totally full of himself” emoticon here…)
It was my first time at this beautiful performing arts facility and I am hoping to be back again. I have worked weddings before with Season to Taste Catering and they did their usual spectacular job. A good working relationship with the caterer ALWAYS makes for a smooth wedding.
The reception was fun and there were two highlights for me. One was the Anniversary Dance, requested by Nicole. First off, the dance floor was completely packed when we requested that all married couples join the bride and groom. There was hardly enough room to dance. Even when we eliminated couples to the 20 year mark, well over half of them were still there. At 30 years, there were probably still a dozen or more — the excitement kept growing among those who were watching, wondering how long we were going to go until the longest married couple was left in the spotlight. At 40 years, there were still five couples. Finally when we asked anyone who had not yet reached their 45th Anniversary to please join the other guests at the side of the dance floor, it left Joe and Rita, the bride’s uncle and aunt, married for 62 (!) years to finish the dance. We also wished Joe an early Happy 80th Birthday, which was the following week. The applause from the crowd was exactly as you would imagine.
If that wasn’t memorable enough, consider the bride’s dance with her dad. The bride had played a lot of baseball growing up and her father was often her coach. So they planned this little moment that was a total surprise to everyone, including the groom. I called Nicole and her dad to the floor, but before we queued up their song, they made their way over to the DJ table where I had two baseball gloves and a ball waiting. We put on “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”" and Nicole and her father played a game of catch, right there on the dance floor. I pointed out that there was a room FULL of Red Sox and Mets fans who knew the words, so what were they waiting for? You guessed it. The entire crowd serenaded them for a full chorus of the song. It was so clever and warm and cute that I could hardly stand it.
My thanks to Nicole and Tim for a memorable night.
File this under Are You Serious?
There is a growing trend of wedding DJs not referring to themselves as wedding DJ. They prefer the term “Wedding Entertainment Director.” I guess people can call themselves anything they want — there is no such thing as a licensing board for this profession. It screams marketing GIMMICK to me. Make no mistake, this is exactly the same as when a trash hauler insists on calling himself a “Sanitation Engineer.” If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
There is nothing I can do about the fact that anyone can refer to themselves as a DJ, despite an absolute lack of skill, knowledge or experience (and in that spirit, I guess if I know how to remove a splinter, that means I can call myself a surgeon?) It irks me to no end, hearing some of the horror stories that people relate to me about past experiences with the person they hired, especially for their wedding. I am absolutely certain that the goal of this is to separate oneself from the term “DJ” because, rightly or wrongly, it can have a less than positive reaction in people’s minds.
So here’s a thought: how about, instead of some phoney baloney hype machine creating new terminology, you put that effort into changing people’s perception of what a DJ can be.
I am a Wedding DJ — and I’m really proud to be the best one I know how to be.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen here. I’ve seen ads all over the web from every Tom, Dick and Harry offering one so-called “special” after another. I suppose if you are operating a restaurant or retail store, and you are trying to get people to discover the products that you offer, an incentive with a gimmick attached is as good a way as any. It’s the reason that mass-buying outfits like Groupon exist. The idea is that, once you try us, you’ll be back for more.
I have consistently rejected this approach for a variety of reasons. For most people, hiring a DJ is a one time experience. From a marketing perspective, in my opinion, when you offer “discounts” for arbitrary reasons, you only lessen the value of your services by sending a subliminal message to the customer that your full (non-discounted) rates are inflated and out of line with what you have to offer. I do discount for reasons that are important to me. Military personnel and their immediate families always get the best rate I can justify. The same goes for charitable organizations that I have a personal relationship with. I don’t talk about it too much and I won’t go into those details here — the reasons are purely personal and there is no need discuss it in this type of forum.
Another reason to stay away from this type of come-on is that it’s gimmicky. I’m not about gimmicks (or any trick to get you to hire me.) I am as straightforward as I can be with clients and using any type of bait just doesn’t suit me well.
So, in short, there is no coupon code of “SheSaidYes!” or “today only” sales going on. The only thing I’ll do, to those of you that celebrate it, and especially to those who are getting engaged today, is to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Oh, and if you need a wedding disc jockey, I know a guy: http://djjerryb.com
A return to Smith Barn at Brooksby Farm in Peabody for Shannon and Matt’s celebration was my final wedding in 2011. I couldn’t have been more pleased to end my wedding season with these two.
Shannon was the ultimate planner, having originally contacted me fourteen months prior to the wedding. It was a great plan, since they were to have a destination wedding in Key West, Florida, followed by a party for all of their family and friends back home. All of that changed when Matt was accepted by the Boston Police Academy, thereby canceling the plan for a wedding in Key West in October (it’s hard to have a wedding when one-half of the couple can’t be there…) They had already secured tickets to see Jimmy Buffett at the Comcast Center in Mansfield and, being self-described major Parrotheads, they decided to get married there in the parking lot, surrounded by 20,000 of their closest friends. Imagine that: after nine years together (they met in college at Hofstra University) and all the early planning, they ended up putting together the actual wedding in only two weeks. A fantastic slideshow of that day in June was shown to the guests immediately preceding their vow renewal and it set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Shannon and Matt have had their share of challenges on the road to marriage, but they come from good stock. Each of them have parents that have been married for more than 30 years, which was celebrated through the dedication of Alan Jackson’s “Remember When.” I have no doubt that they will be celebrating their own 30th anniversary. And if Jimmy Buffett is still around and singing, I have no doubt HOW they will celebrate — nibbling on sponge cake…
Planning for Julianne and Ben’s wedding was way ahead of schedule. We had met for our final “in person” meeting three weeks before their ceremony and had reviewed or finalized almost all of the details of the day. As it turned out, my tendency to over-prepare (and to prepare EARLY) ended up paying big dividends since I was without power, telephone and internet for three of the last six days before the wedding. Even cell phone service was interrupted. Nature’s sense of humor by playing a big honkin’ “trick” on almost all of New England on the eve of Halloween didn’t amuse me at all. And although I had managed to stay in touch with the bride by searching out every internet cafe in the area so that she knew that all contingencies were in place, it was a solid reminder that even a veteran like me needs to stay on my toes every single time with such a big celebration. And, when all was said and done, everything went off without a hitch.
The crew at Stow Acres Country Club had been dealing with similar issues but were well prepared by the time the big day rolled around. Vows were exchanged inside the Victorian Clubhouse, which was nicely sectioned off to create an intimate setting. The ceremony itself was simple but sweet and, has been the case many times this wedding season, I had provided the music and sound. I loved that the bride chose “Then He Kissed Me” — the classic song from The Crystals — as their recessional. It was so appropriate and perfectly fit the charming mood of the day.
At most weddings, there is a moment that I know is going to stick with me. At this one, I knew it was happening even as it developed. There were no fewer than four generations in attendance, including the bride’s grandmother, who is restricted to a wheel chair. Nonetheless, this lovely lady was tapping her hands along with every dance song that I played, from Michael Jackson (more on MJ later…) to Nicki Minaj to Earth, Wind and Fire to Pitbull. Then that moment happened: we dedicated Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” to Grammy Kate, at which time she was wheeled out onto the floor to ‘dance’ with the bride and a few other family members. It was touching beyond words and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Julianne is a huge Michael Jackson fan. She also attended dance lessons for 13 years (thanks to the bride’s mom for filling me in on that one…) The result was, without question, some of the most entertaining dance moves I’ve ever seen. One of the guests had requested that I play “Smooth Criminal” and Julianne, along with a few of her friends, put out the kind of stuff you see in music videos — and they were clearly having the time of their lives. Another guest request (“Ice Ice Baby”) showed why, on at least one occasion, she had won a dance contest.
Big thanks to Julianne, Ben and all of your family and friends. It was as fun as it gets.
Opulent. No other word describes the Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston, Massachusetts, which is where Kristin and Nick held both their ceremony and reception. It was so lavish that I almost (ALMOST) felt like I was in over my head.
As has been the case many times this year, the bride and groom hired me to do the sound for their ceremony as well as reception. And, true to course this year, the skies were threatening rain. As an aside, a word of advice to couples considering having their ceremony outdoors: if it’s your dream, go for it (and have a solid plan “B” in place in case the weather refuses to cooperate.) If, however, you’re on the fence about it, I strongly suggest having your ceremony indoors. I have done around a dozen ceremonies this year and every single one of them have given the couple an extra element to consider in the days leading up to their wedding. With so much else on your mind, why add one more thing to think about?
That ceremony was quite sweet and I witnessed, for the first time, a wine box ceremony. The couple selected a favorite bottle of wine and placed it into a wooden box. They each brought along a sealed envelope containing a letter that they had written to the other, describing what it was about the person that made them fall in love and decide to share a life together. Neither knows what the other has written and, after placing the letters and wine inside, the box is locked (the Justice of the Peace joked that he felt Kristin should keep the key…) The box is to stay locked until their 10th anniversary at which time the couple will open the box, enjoy the wine and read the letters that were written. At that time, a new bottle of wine will be selected and new letters will be written. The box is sealed again for another 5 or 10 years at which time the process is repeated. It was quite touching.
Nick was possibly the most animated, engaging groom I’ve ever worked with. He was clearly having the time of his life. When the time came for the cake cutting, he appeared to be on his best behavior and, after slicing a piece of cake, raised it to Kristin’s lips…and promptly leaned in and ate it himself. Apparently he really likes cake because it took two or three more attempts to get it right. When Kristin’s turn came, she was clearly NOT going to repeat his antics and fed him quite sweetly — before delivering the best follow-through I’ve seen since Ted Williams and pushing it up into his face — a totally spontaneous move I am absolutely certain. I’m not generally a fan of this “tradition” but in this case it WAS pretty comical. If that wasn’t funny enough, the little victory dance she performed was (every pun intended) the icing on the cake. Nick, true to form, never even broke character, instead turning to the photographer and asking, “Do I have something on my face?”
The plan for Becca and Chris’s wedding was a great one. Hold an outdoor ceremony at a beautiful location during a perfect New England autumn afternoon. After all, the weather during early October is about as nice as it gets — still warm and pleasant and very little rain. And we all know, it’s NEVER unpredictable.
At least that was the theory. Things turned from promising to pretty dreary in a matter of a few days. Instead of the perfect fall conditions, rain and drizzle moved in and it looked like the planned outdoor ceremony would have to be changed. All in all this wasn’t a bad thing, since plan “B” was well established — the main room at Sterling National can accommodate an indoor ceremony. The staff had things well under control in transitioning from a dinner setup when, just 25 minutes before the formalities were to begin, there was a very small break in the weather and just a glimmer of hope that getting married outside was still a possibility. One small challenge was that NOTHING was set up in the original location because of the wet conditions. No chairs, no flowers, no sound (did I mention that I had the responsibility for sound at the ceremony?) But the thing that overrode all of that was the “can do” attitude of everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, involved in the process. If I hadn’t been so busy scrambling to set up my small sound system in record time, it would have been wonderful to just sit back and watch an entire crew quickly and confidently make things happen. I can’t think of a time when I was so impressed watching a group work so well as a team. Of special note, and worthy of special comment, was the event manager, Ally Wood. Ally’s cool under pressure was extraordinary and her willingness to, quite literally, get her hands dirty along with everyone else won my respect.
The resulting ceremony went off without a hitch. Becca was gorgeous in her gown and she and Chris seemed truly happy and pleased that they were able to have things the way they had originally envisioned it. The guests were just fabulous, seemingly unconcerned with the slightly damp conditions and sharing in the celebration. As is usually the case when there is a shared challenge, it seemed to crank the party atmosphere into a slightly higher gear when that time of the evening rolled around. The energy level could not have been higher and I think that just about everyone took a turn on the dance floor.
Becca and Chris were as fun a couple as I could have hoped for and I wish them the best. They have a new marriage and a new home. What’s the big deal about a bit of rain to make things a little interesting?
I do. Without question…
I like to talk about the concept of finding the right “fit” when interviewing wedding vendors. It really goes both ways because, from my perspective, not every person who makes initial contact with me is my ideal customer. If the last few years are any indication, identifying that fit has become very effective and I couldn’t be happier with, or more proud of, the relationships that have been built. It’s a labor of love to help create a wedding celebration that is both tasteful and FUN. And my customers give back to me.
For the last couple of years, I have increased my visibility on WeddingWire, which is a wedding planning website. Not only does it offer planning tools, it also provides an opportunity for customers to post reviews of their experience with their wedding vendors. I am continually humbled by the rave reviews that my customers post in their own words. And not just the fact that they were happy with the job that I did for them, but that they take so much time to express the level of their satisfaction. Want to see what I mean about how great they are? Take a look for yourself here.
Beyond that I get e-mails and handwritten ‘thank you’ cards, sometimes MONTHS later. And not too long ago I had one former bride that sent along a note immediately upon returning home from her first anniversary dinner with her husband. She had been reflecting on how much fun she had on her wedding day and just wanted to say thank you again. I firmly believe that not everyone is lucky enough to meet these types of people.
Then, just this past week, a package comes in the mail. Upon opening it, I discover a small card that reads, “Thank you Jerry, Everyone enjoyed the music! – Liz and Chris 9/4″. Also, there is this:
You are looking at a box of Cakettes, which, I learned upon research on their website, are a hybrid of chocolate truffles and cupcakes. Allegedly they can keep for two weeks without refrigeration. For me, about one pot of coffee should just about do it…
Connecting with Matthew and Chrissy was the result of a fortunate turn of events. Another couple had wanted to hire me for the same date but, due to changes in their planning, I was available when the bride e-mailed me. After working with them, I could not have been more pleased. This is as genuine a couple as you could ever hope to meet.
Chrissy is originally from Arizona and Matthew hails from Indiana. If you have ever met anyone from the west or midwest, you know that you are dealing with a different mindset. It’s definitely different from native New Englanders and it showed at every phase working with them. Matthew is a disarmingly over-the-top nice guy — almost to the point that I found myself forgetting that it was a business transaction we were participating in. And their reception could only be described a “simple elegance”. Everything from table settings and centerpieces to the cake was beautiful but simple and tasteful.
Spinelli’s in East Boston is a great facility but it’s not the easiest location to navigate. The Ted Williams tunnel may get you INTO Eastie, but those neighborhood streets can be a challenge. Since the vast majority of their guests were from out -of-state, the bride and groom had arranged for buses to shuttle guests to the reception from the ceremony. This was a great plan since, not only is parking somewhat limited, it’s pretty easy to get lost — which is exactly what happened when we heard that one of the buses carrying guests was indeed “missing”. All turned out well in the end and the festivities that were planned were only delayed by a few minutes.
Once everyone had arrived, we jumped right into the introduction and first dance. This is something that I truly enjoy every time, since it sets the stage for the entire reception. This one was unique from any I had ever done, since Matthew had asked his good friend Scott (a Berklee graduate and master guitar player to play.) Scott and I got along great and it was pure pleasure listening to him “vamp” as we got ready to introduce the couple. They entered and he transitioned seamlessly into a really sweet rendition Israel Kamakamiwo’ole’s cover of “What A Wonderful World” — the hairs were standing on my arms that evening and they are again as I write about it.
Later, after the cake cutting, I learned more about the connection to family and tradition that this couple cling to. It has to do with when and how they became engaged. The details are pretty involved, but in summary, Matthew proposed to Chrissy at the same location where his parents became engaged, the ring he gave her was his grandmother’s and they got married on his parent’s anniversary.
Matthew and Chrissy you were a joy to work with (I also SINCERELY appreciate the fabulous review.) Thanks for letting me be part of your celebration.
Liz and Chris celebrated their wedding at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts. This is a world class facility that simply does everything “right”. Their ceremony was held on site, which provides a beautiful panoramic view of the golf course and the rolling hills that lay behind them. The setting is, quite literally, picture perfect.
This couple had a fun, diverse vision for their day. For cocktails and dinner, there was a heavy influence of jazz and American standards. The “Rat Pack” was specifically requested by the young couple — Frank, Dean and Sammy, as well as many of their contemporaries, were heavily featured, which led to the sweetest moment of the night for the DJ. A somewhat elderly gentleman approached me fairly early on during dinner, obviously wanting to tell me something. In all honesty, since his table was positioned somewhat close to the speakers, my initial thought was that he might be coming up to see if I could turn the volume down a bit (this is often a challenge when guest tables are positioned very close to where I have been assigned to set up.) In point of fact, this very sweet gentleman took my arm and thanked me for the music, telling me that so many times he and his friends go to weddings, only to be blasted by the music, but that what we had put together was “just wonderful!” He was so cute I had to resist the urge to pat him on the head.
The evening took on a higher energy level during dancing and I was happy to see that nearly every guest took a turn on the floor. It was not only a very fun crowd, but also one of the nicest groups that I have worked for in quite a while. My thanks again to Liz and Chris. You were a great couple to work for and your guests completely made the night.