A PERFECTLY TIMED CEREMONY IS AMAZING
A PERFECTLY TIMED CEREMONY IS AMAZING
Hello there, my name is Stephen Scott, and I am a Las Vegas Wedding DJ, the following post will share some of my insights on how you should involve the DJ when it comes to planning your ceremony.
For this blog, I’m going to show how having a DJ provide the ceremony music practically takes care of the entire planning process. Almost everything!!! I’ll list the 3 other things to think about, and then we’re done. And as always, the recurring theme throughout all of this will be to try and relax and enjoy your Wedding – the whole process. It’s supposed to be fun, remember.
The Ceremony is the EASIEST part of the Wedding day – enjoy it.
Here are how I handle the 3 most common mistakes I see at ceremonies and how I don’t make them:
Even if it’s easy, a DJ should always do their best -
Bring a real stereo
Don’t use an IPOD, or a stereo that is too small. This should be automatic, but I’ve heard so many people think an IPOD is good enough for background music, I guess we have to explain it in very basic terms. First, Ceremony music is NOT background music. Background music is soft music where no one cares what is playing. Ceremony music is mostly soft music with a specific purpose. But there are times, specifically at the end, when the music should be Grand, and fill the space with emotion.
I usually bring my “smaller” or 2nd system, but it’s not small in the traditional sense (A pair of 15s). I still have the first amp/speakers that I used when I began DJing professionally 15 years ago. Compared to my current set-up with a sub woofer, it doesn’t have the same volume. However, I did perform 60 Weddings with my older system, and it has the headroom you need to do it right. This is a public event, make sure to bring a professional level stereo and place the speakers where the Grand moments will seem Grand, and everyone can clearly hear the Officiant. The stereo should be capable of being loud when you need it, and then adjust the volume accordingly for the rest of the performance.
And speaking of microphones, those cheap lapel microphones you can rent for $50 a day are a waste of money. Trying to work with non-reliable microphones is simply a mistake. Using ONE good, dependable microphone so that everyone can hear the officiant is ALL you need. Trust me, this is the perfect example of “Less is More”. Adding extra layers of complexity with unreliable wireless microphones does not make things easier (or better).
Hollywood’s notion of timing does not belong in the Real World
JK Wedding Entrance Dance
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While the above video is absolutely fabulous, it is also absolutely fake. This was a NYU film student’s ticket to graduation, with professional or aspiring professional dancers and a choreographer. If you are planning something elaborate (and I think it’s AWESOME if you are), then working out the exact timing with the music is important. Otherwise, worrying about the timing of the music should just be left to the professional – your DJ.
I have spent so much time talking to worried brides and grooms that are having trouble picking out their music and wondering how fast they have to walk to make sure they get there on time.
Please. Just. Stop.
Take a breath, all you are doing is walking from one side of the room to the other, with a path already cleared for you right down the middle. If this is confusing, please just relax and take a breath. Stop over-thinking things. I am a professional DJ, I mix music for a living. I can make the song as long as we need if it’s running short (through a technique called beat-matching**) and fade the song out at any time if it’s going long. Even if you are coming from 300 feet away during an outside ceremony, I can mix the music to match you. Think about it, who’s the professional and who’s the client? Why should you try to match the music - THE MUSIC SHOULD MATCH YOU.
Walk at whatever speed you feel like. Enjoy the moment. It should be one of the best moments in your life. Why are you worried about walking at a time like this?
** beat matching is a technique where I match the beats and speed of one song with a second song and fade over to that song without stopping the beat, usually on the dance floor. Beat matching one song with itself, and it’s usually an instrumental, classical song with repeating movements anyway, is literally the easiest thing a DJ can mix. There’s no way ANY other second song can be more like the first song than the actual first song.
Now you understand how the “hard part” of the ceremony is really very easy if you let the professional do his job.
You can continue to relax and plan out the whole Ceremony from start to finish. This link will take you to my Online Ceremony Planner. It lists the traditional Ceremony activities, with room to add anything extra that you want. There are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone. Choose whatever activities you want, in any order that you want. This really is your day, do whatever you want, and have the time of your life - seriously you can do ANYTHING you want, just enjoy it when you do.
Just in case you didn't believe me, here's an example of a 300 ft walk-in at an outside ceremony. (with the music sounding GRAND, filling the space, above the wind noise)
Communication is the KEY
When it’s time for the show to start, it’s usually just the entertainer and the officiant working together during the ceremony. I use a highly effective method called “talking” whenever I work with an officiant. It only takes 30 seconds to go over the schedule and make sure I know what the cues are going to be for me to start playing music again. (Hint, 99% of the time I just wait for “and let me be the first to present…”) Since I stop playing the music whenever the Bride & Groom get back to their spots, I just have to wait for the cue to start the next song.
I apologize for seeming sarcastic in this blog, but I can’t believe the mistakes I have seen at Ceremonies. The highly effective method of “talking for 30 seconds” must actually be a highly advanced method as well, because I have seen people skip that step with my own eyes. I've seen officiants tell people the ceremony is starting without checking to make sure that the bride is ready. I've seen random people who have never talked to me come up in the middle of the ceremony and try to change the program (they get waved off).
3 Other things to consider.
Where is the Ceremony going to be?
As a DJ, I have no particular influence on this decision – it’s completely up to you. You can stay traditional in a church, go natural in an outside location, or just get married on the Dance Floor right before your Reception starts. As long as there’s electricity and a chance for me to scout the location, any place that is right for you is right for me.
It may not affect the DJ directly, but the choice of location will be an important factor, and literally the first thing you have to decide after you decide to say “I Do”. You can’t really have a Date, without a Place, so start working on the location early, because just about everything else depends on this decision.
What are you going to wear?
This is another factor that I just can’t help you with. While I acknowledge that the Wedding Dress is a big decision, I just won’t be able to offer any help with this. (At This Time). This Blog’s focus is on how to plan the Ceremony activities, and honestly, my fashion sense is pretty limited. Being a guy and wearing a Basic Black Tux as my “uniform” makes my choice of attire pretty easy. This will be something that I will offer some help with in the form of a future Guest Blog.
The things that won’t just take care of themselves – Kids & Decorations.
I mean no disrespect by lumping Kids and Decorations into the same category, but from my perspective that focuses on the activities that you’ll be doing, and the order, they DO have a lot in common. Whatever role the children have, or whatever kind of decorations / flowers you’ll be having at the Ceremony there is a generalization I can make about them that is ALWAYS true.
The main thing to consider from a planning perspective is that they both will NOT take care of themselves. If you are going to have some children as flower girls or ring bearers (or other) it’s best to assign a handler for them. Someone has to be responsible for bringing them there, taking them home, and keeping track of them during the ceremony. I promise you someone will be doing all of that, and the stress level to you is directly inversely proportional to the amount of planning you do. Assigning someone (usually their parents) to look after them – AND KEEPING THAT PERSON IN THE LOOP as to What the child will be asked to do / Where they will be / and When they will be doing their function is important. This is one of those things that nobody notices when things run smoothly, but is obvious to everyone that you’re just winging it when the kids run around with no apparent direction.
The same principle applies with all of your decorations. It’s a little known law of physics, but Venues do not actually decorate themselves. This is something I see fairly often since I set up early and see a lot of behind the scenes activities. In the absence of a well-defined plan of action, the decorations will usually be an unnecessary source of stress since different people will have different ideas about what looks best. And left alone without direction, they’ll do the best job they can at the last minute.
When you do your planning, and thinking about decorations, if it doesn’t come with the venue, assign a specific person to bring, set-up, and take away each type of decoration. And then TALK with that person to make sure they know how you want the place to be decorated. It’s ok to delegate some of these tasks – you’ll be busy getting married. But just assuming it will just get done isn’t the way to do it, unless you like worrying about small details at the last minute.
Oh, and while we’re talking about the delegated responsibilities and who will take care of them, please remember to do something special for all of your helpers on this day. The people who are taking care of the decorations at the Ceremony or Reception usually have to sacrifice being part of your day so they can handle the preparations for your day. Nobody can be in two places at the same time. Don’t make them feel like Cinderella the step-sister, take a little time to thank them for helping your day run smoothly. Karma counts, especially in Wedding Planning.
There you go, you have everything you need to plan everything you’re going to do at your Ceremony, along with all of the things you’ll need to bring along with you to make your day flow like clockwork. Just choose a place to have your Ceremony, and what you’ll wear, and THAT IS IT. Don’t get stressed out about the Ceremony, it really is easy. Which is the point; this is supposed to be fun. It only takes a little bit of effort, with a good plan, to turn an ordinary event into the time of your lives.
And always remember: this is your big day – it’s supposed to be fun.
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The Real DJ Steve is both a Las Vegas Wedding DJ and the owner of United DJs Las Vegas.
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