Oak Leigh Wedding Gardens Ceremony Disaster!

Wedding Warning!  Fair warning to anyone who hears of someone getting married at this venue, or to anyone who is interested in reserving this venue for their wedding ceremony in addition to their reception. I’d like to start by saying this: If you have read any other articles here on my blog, posts on my Facebook page, etc., then you know that I do not dwell on negativity or bash vendors & venues. The goal of my posts here and elsewhere is to always provide helpful info to prospective clients, or to anyone reading who might be planning a wedding or other event. So it is in this vein that I am sharing this experience I had working at this venue on Saturday.

Oak Leigh Wedding Gardens in Fair Oaks: If you know someone getting married there, please INSIST that they hire their DJ to provide full sound support for their Ceremony as well as the reception!

When my client hired me for last night’s wedding, he said the venue had a small, but cheap setup for ceremony support that would handle music and a mic for the officiant. He described the system, and I trusted his evaluation because he’s a musician, and actually worked repairing high-end audio and PA equipment like the products DJ’s use. Based on this, and questions he asked me on my setup, I assumed his decision to not hire me for ceremony support was well-founded. Unfortunately though, he hadn’t actually HEARD the system they have in place, and it bit him and his new wife BIG TIME!

It was actually really weird doing this wedding for me because whenever there has been a ceremony on the same grounds as the reception I’m working, I’ve always been providing the music and sound support for it. so it was kind of ethereal to be just standing around as ceremony time approached.

In the moments leading up to the ceremony, prelude music in the form of very faint classical music was playing through small, wall/ceiling-mounted speakers. The kind you see in the walls and ceilings of doctor’s offices or retail stores for muzak and voice announcements. In and of itself, and all things being equal, there is nothing wrong with this type of install for the purpose of ceremony or background music. That’s what these types of systems are made for.

When it came time for their ceremony on the side of the venue opposite the reception area, we found out all-too-late that the sound was ATROCIOUS! The sound was crackled, and the music for both the processional and recessional was HIGHLY distorted – The speaker may even have been blown.

For the mic on the officiant, their solution was a small, portable, no-name single-speaker PA that BARELY made it back to the rear isles of their 200 guests, and the mic was not omnidirectional, so it did not even pick up the B&G’s vows to each other.

As if the sound support wasn’t bad enough, the venue coordinator added insult to injury by playing the WRONG SONGS for both the processionals & recessional! She was using someone else’s CD! The bride didn’t even get to walk down to her special song! She started off the recessional too early, when they were going to light their unity candle, and when she started it at the end, she started it too early, before the officiant was even done with the pronouncement.

I stood there cringing the whole time! The couple is so awesome, the groom stated later that in hindsight, he should have hired me to do the ceremony as well, but they both took it well and he said “if that’s the worst that could happen tonight, then I’m golden.” Well guess what – That WAS the only hitch in the entire evening, and we had a blast!

If you know anyone getting married there, do NOT let them succumb to the pitch of the venue when it comes to ceremony sound support. The coordinator is VERY adamant, and very assertive, but they do NOT have an adequate setup.

I personally, will not play this venue again unless I am hired for ceremony support as well. I can’t watch another awesome couple experience what we experienced last night at this venue!

If you or someone you know is considering this venue, or are just legitimately concerned about wedding ceremony sound support, please contact me and I’ll be happy to let you know what type of solution I would have for this venue, and how I would design a sound solution to avoid these scenarios and pitfalls at any other venue as well.

Oh yeah… and it goes without saying that I would play the RIGHT SONG as you’re going down the isle too!

When it comes to wedding ceremonies, you only have one shot to do it, and to do it RIGHT. As this awesome young couple found all-too-late, saving a couple-hundred dollars just isn’t worth the risk.

The Importance of Your DJ Coordinating With Your Wedding Photographer

As a wedding DJ, part of my service includes working with clients to plan a wedding reception that flows smoothly from one event to the next, and is built upon dynamics.  The dynamics come from the energy level and nature of each individual component of the celebration itself, and it’s important that the traditional wedding events such as the various dances, cake cutting, tosses, etc. are spread out over the course of the reception to create a roadmap.  This roadmap is then punctuated by open-dancing segments which are dynamic in and of themselves, and have a life of their own.

Further, the goal of these dance segments is to create a bridge between the traditional, more formal aspects of the celebration by weaving in and out of the traditional events by feeding off of, and into, the energy levels of each one.

The whole thing is drafted in such a way that it will completely fill your allotted reception time-frame from beginning to end.

Crafting a celebration in this way – one that transitions seamlessly between elements and doesn’t have any abrupt starts, stops, or awkward silences – is just part of what I do!

Needless to say, it’s very important that your photographer captures all of the traditional events that you want included in your wedding.

This can be problematic, however, if your photographer will be leaving before the end of the reception because their “time is up.”  If the package the photographer was hired for runs out before the end of your reception, this can create challenges for all involved.

What happens in this case is one of two things;

  • Your photographer misses important shots of traditional events and fun/emotional moments that happened after they left.  This leaves you either without pictures, or hoping that friends & family can fill in some blanks by snapping shots on their phones.
  • Your coordinator, venue staff, and DJ all have to scramble to “front-load” all of your events so that everything happens before the photographer is set to leave.  This not only causes undue stress for all involved, but throws the thoughtful timeline and all the careful planning that went into it out the window.  What you’re left with is what feels like (IS) a rushed timeline, leaving everyone dizzied, and your guests dragged along in a whirlwind.

Obviously neither of these is a scenario you want for your wedding day, and the best way to avoid either of these outcomes is to make sure that your photographer is reserved for the duration of your celebration, or as close to it as possible.

Another thing that should be coordinated between your DJ and your photographer ahead of time is whether or not the photographer is going to want to do any special shots (think Sunset Shots) that can potentially take you away from your celebration for an extended period of time, leaving an awkward gap in your reception flow and causing other events to be delayed, guests to get anxious, etc.

Doing these shots, and going away from your celebration to do them doesn’t have to be a negative thing if your DJ and event coordinator know they are going to happen.  If everyone is on the same page, then the event flow can be designed to include and account for this time-frame, and the types of negative outcomes noted above can be avoided.

When your DJ or coordinator has drafted an itinerary for your wedding day, be sure that all of your vendors get a copy so they can coordinate with each other prior-to and during your celebration.

It’s all about communication, and making sure everyone is present and on the same page to help make your wedding day as perfect as it can be!