Friday, May 14, 2010

Speaking of the DJ...

Have you seen my guest post on Broke Ass Bride today? On the horrors of plastic surgery at bridal shows. Go.

So, I twitter. You should follow me. And last Monday, as there is every Monday in twitter wedding vendor world, lots of reviews of last weekend's weddings, and the pics and dresses and catering. And Omer, of Lovely Day Wedding Djs tweeted, asking why no one ever talks about the DJ. And I thought, that's true, why doesn't anyone every talk about the DJ? So I emailed him, so we could, uh, talk about it. This is what we came up with:


Liz: So, how did you get started as a DJ?

Omer: I started DJing about 15 years ago. I was always passionate about music and sharing it with others. I was always making mixtapes as a kid and sharing them with friends. Different mixtapes for different friends and moods. DJing was a natural path for me - I'm infatuated with how music, and the way it is played, moves people. It's magical. My other greatest passions are family, friends, love, and having fun, so being able to DJ weddings as a profession is like a dream come true. I love it! And I love how significant and critical my role is in making that once-in-a-lifetime celebration, one that the Bride & Groom could only dream of. One that their guests will not be able to stop talking about, because it was so special for them as well. It's an honor that I take great pleasure in.

Liz Don't you totally miss mixtapes? There isn't really anything like that, now, is there? Do kids give each other playlists?

Omer: I think they do. I know that in my other (non-wedding) music world, DJs are making mixes all the time, or podcasts. Nevertheless, I DO miss mixtapes!

Liz: So, as a wedding planner, I found it really interesting that you said on twitter that the DJ is often overlooked when people talk about weddings? What did you mean?

Omer: I was mostly referring to the tweets I was seeing. I don't want to devalue any other aspect of weddings, as i think that any piece of that day is incredibly special. But I saw one tweet after another about venues, dresses, food, photos, etc. and not a single mention of how amazing the dj/band/entertainment was. Was it because they weren't compelling enough to mention?

Liz: I think it might be one of those things where you only mention the DJ when they’re BAD, but I see what you mean.

Omer: That's interesting. And probably true. I think it’s 10-1 customer complaints over compliments or whatever. I think you’re right in that, the experience probably has to be exceptional for someone to compliment. How about you? You coordinate weddings, so do you work with the entertainment side of things as well?

Liz: Well, yeah the DJ is a crucial choice for every couple I work with. It’s really important to them to have the right DJ that is going to play the right music, it's VERY personal, and everyone wants a great party with music that expresses who they are. My last two couples went straight to recommendations from friends.

Omer: Recommendations are the BEST. And I love that you said, “it’s personal”. So true, it's one of the most personal days of your life that you actually share with others.

Liz: I think that's right, too, that DJs are involved a little less in the process at the beginning. In other words, the DJ isn’t usually one of the first things that a couple thinks about hiring right away, there’s a lot of vendor choices that come before that. For instance, I usually only see one or two at any bridal show, which is pretty much a bride’s first right of passage. Ironically, and you can confirm this for me, if the couple doesn’t have a Day-Of Coordinator, the DJ often who ends up with that job by default.

Omer: By default, you're right. Other than photographers, I think DJs are the only ones involved through the whole wedding. And the photographers are really observers, rather than making anything happen. The DJ always have to have their finger on the pulse of everything that’s going on and control the flow. Without a coordinator, we become the captain of the ship.

Liz: And when I’m acting as the “captain” of the ship, so to speak, I spend the whole day constantly communicating with the DJ. The DJ makes all the announcements, controls the music, they’re the first person I go to if the day needs to be slowed down or sped up. Controlling the flow of the day is important, and an important part of that is making sure the DJ knows what’s going on on the “ground.”

Omer: Most of the weddings I’ve DJ’d haven’t had a coordinator, so the bride and groom tell me what’s supposed to happen, and I prepare accordingly. Then I like to get to know the photographers, venue staff, catering, etc, so I can communicate with them during the wedding so I know what’s going on. But working with a wedding coordinator more often would actually be amazing, and a good one at that! Ha Ha, feel like I just had an epiphany

Liz: Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that! But, going back to what we were talking about before, why do you think that DJs aren’t as involved in the process? Why am I not seeing them out there as much, like at shows and networking events?

Omer: I have no idea. I’m baffled by it, but truthfully, although I’ve been DJ’ing weddings now for 5 years or so, I’m just now really making it my profession and dipping my feet into the industry. As a professional, I’m looking to get involved as much as I can. My guess would be that most DJs aren’t “wedding DJs”, only do them when asked, so maybe there’s no personal passion there. Maybe it’s just another gig to them?

Liz: I don't think it's a lack of passion. Most of the wedding DJs I've worked with love what they do, and you can tell. I think that maybe it’s just a little harder to convey how good they are at what they do? It’s not something that can be easily reduced to a sound bite or a demonstration. For instance, when I meet with people, I say, well, you’re telling me that you want A, D, and E, there is this one time when I did it like this, so the first thing we’re going to do is X, and how I’ll do that is Y, and it will take B amount of time, and in the meantime, you don’t have to worry about a thing except living your life and then enjoying your wedding day. And the photographer shows everyone their pretty, pretty pictures, and ooh, and ahh, and we can do this shot and THIS shot. But the DJ maybe has a harder time with that? Because you know a good DJ when you walk in to the room and start bouncing your head. But how do you convey that feeling in a meeting, unless you’ve walked into a room where they’re working, or know someone who has?

Omer: I start by asking THEM what THEY want their wedding to be like. Only after I listen and understand do I say, well, I can play a little of this, with splashes of this, then to transition to some of this, and describe to them how I can carry out their vision…but THE VISION MUST BE THEIRS.

Liz: So, it's basically the same thing that I focus on with them, what do you want your wedding to look like? What's most important to YOU? But you specifically focus on the music and creating the party vibe that they want.

Omer: EXACTLY! First of all, I will say that as you explained your process, I was thinking that this is what EVERY wedding service provider should do (i.e. catering, floral, photo, etc.). It’s all about the bride and groom, not about you.

For me, it all starts with the ability to connect with the Bride and Groom... to understand who they are and what kind of wedding they want. There is no other right way to do it.

Nearlyweds should be ecstatic to work with their DJ. They entire process, from start to finish, should be exciting and inspiring.

During the wedding, it’s important that the DJ makes that same connection with the guests and be able to sense their energy in the room at all times and know what to play. Having a good musical catalog and the right equipment and are very important, of course, but it’s secondary to making that connection.

Liz: Do you have a favorite wedding story?

Omer: Oh, wow, it’s really tough to pick one. I’ve seen some of the craziest parties in the most happy, fun way... everybody getting down. But the first wedding I ever DJ’d, I was recommended by a friend. I did exactly what we been talking about, but even after all that, it’s still impossible to know ahead of time just what you’re going to play at any given moment. They had a band come to warm up the party, and I coordinated with them ahead of time how we were going to transition. Everyone was eating and mingling, but once it became a party, it NEVER stopped! My favorite part was when a big circle opened up all of a sudden and people were taking turns getting loose with it in the circle. I think I was on an old-school funk/hip hop kick and we had grandparents GETTING DOWN. It’s hard to describe, but it was awesome! Little kids bouncing up and down... That circle went on for over half an hour. The dancing didn’t stop until way after that, but that circle was epic…and it happened during my first gig.


Liz: I get that, when you realize how you can affect people that way, that you can help them have a great experience, you just wanna keep doing it. That’s where the passion comes from.

Omer: Right. That’s exactly why I picked that story. I've stayed in touch with that couple since, and DJ’d another party for them after they moved to Chicago. They’re great people and I consider them to be my friends. They wrote a nice testimonial for me when I asked for one. I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of couples now for that reason and it's been really cool. I like DJing all kinds of gigs, but nothing is a special as a wedding. Like I said, it’s an honor.

Liz: So, last question, what would you tell couples, as far as what is important when they’re picking their DJ? What should they look out for, both in the DJs presentation, and in their reaction to the DJ and his presentation?

Omer: First, do you research. Ask around for recommendations, and when you meet them, trust your instincts. Your gut will tell you if this is the right person for you. The way they carry themselves and their approach to finding out what you want is a sure tell. How they interact with you during that first meeting is very much how they will interact with your friends and family at the wedding. Watch out for egos. If the DJ thinks the wedding is at all about them, they're not the right person for the job.


See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events
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