Keep Your Reception Flowing Smoothly!

Don’t leave it to chance!

Hiring a strong team of vendors to work closely with you before your wedding, and behind the scenes for you the day-of are KEY to ensuring a smooth-flowing and stress-free wedding day!

Understanding the role of your DJ/MC!

Even if you’ve hired a professional wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you’ll be looking to the DJ/MC you select to help you design & execute a flow for the entertainment portion of your wedding day.  

Understanding the roll of dynamics and mood in transitioning from one part of your event to another is super-important!

Keep guests involved, informed & engaged

Your guests should never be left looking around, just staring at their phones, or each other, wondering what’s going on, or what will happen next. 

Getting the Ball Rolling

Once your reception is underway, knowing how to take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of each event, every special dance, and every wedding tradition is critical.  

Wedding Reception Transitions

Since wedding receptions are most often chock-full of different special events requiring changes in tempo and mood, and even breaks in music altogether, the understanding of how to make these transitions smoothly becomes crucial.  Your guests should feel like they are along for the ride at your celebration – not like they are being pulled along or forced to stop abruptly throughout the night.

The following is a sample time line using this approach, my “Dance Theory” if you will, and is an example of how to design an event flow that uses music thoughtfully to transition between certain parts of your reception.  There are no rules of course, and I will always work with you to construct the event flow that is right for you and your guests.  The below is only a general guideline meant to give an insight into the thoughtful, careful use of musical transitions throughout your event.

First Dance – For the sake of our example, we’ll start the timeline here.

Transition/Build – Build into upbeat, open dancing slowly or quickly. You decide what feels right for you and your guests.  I have different ideas about how to draw your guests to the dance floor to kick off dancing.  And no…  they don’t include cheesy “snowball” games or putting anyone on the spot.  :)   Ask me!

First Open Dance Segment – Keep to slightly older, more accessible, and familiar mid-tempo music to encourage dancing by older folks and those who might tend to leave earlier, and/or may not dance to newer or faster music.

Wind-Down – There are times, for example, when getting ready to stop music for cake cutting, etc. that you want to wind down your upbeat, open dancing.  This will provide a nice slow transition, and will eventually (by design) clear guests off the floor.  Use parent dances, anniversary dances, money/dollar dances, etc. for this effect.  For money/dollar-dances, stick to slower songs, so there is not an abrupt STOP when moving to cake cutting, and also because all your guests want to share this time with you, and not all folks (think older) will necessarily be comfortable with high-paced fast dance selections and may not come up to dance with you to faster songs.

Cake-Cutting

Tosses – Use tosses, traditionally high-energy and emotionally charged events, involving several people on the dance-floor, to segue back into open dancing.

Second Open Dance Segment – PARTY!  This second dance set is when you would start to pump it up with the newer songs, more dance/club/top-40 music for younger generations, current radio music and the hard-rock party fav’s.

At this point, all that “wedding stuff” is over and its time to let go and really just spend the night dancing and hanging out with your family and friends.

Wind-Down… or Climax… YOU Decide! – Use Last Dance and Last Song of the Night (if applicable/different) to slow back down in preparation for the end of the event.  As an alternative to the wind-down, you could choose to end your celebration on a high-note with real high-energy selections right up to the end to leave everyone wanting more. 

The time your guests are having when your reception ends or when they leave will likely play a large role in their lasting impressions of your celebration, so leaving them jumping and asking for more can be a good thing!

Most Importantly:

In the end, just remember: there ARE NO RULES! There is only what works best for you, your guests, and your event!  My expertise is geared towards helping you find, and achieve that perfect balance!

Keep Your Wedding Guests Longer!

Everyone on your guest list is very special.  Whether they’re close friends or family, you want to make the most of your time with them.  And you want to be sure they have the best time possible!

  • But how do we make the most of their time at the reception before the party even starts?
  • What can we do about guests who may be prone to leave earlier on in the reception?
  • WHO is most likely to leave before the party even gets started?
  • How can we make them stay longer or, even better, GIVE THEM REASONS to stay longer?

To answer these questions, we need to first understand who is most likely to leave a wedding reception “early,” and WHY.

Once we know these things, we can give them reasons to stay longer, while maximizing their enjoyment of your celebration!

Generally, the folks who tend to leave earlier in the reception are either older guests, or guests with small children.Sacramento Wedding DJ Group Shot Wedding Guests

There’s no telling when folks might decide or start to leave, but it’s fairly common, and pretty widely accepted as a matter of wedding etiquette, that one can leave after the cake cutting.  How can we use this in our favor?  Let me show you!

There’re also ways to ensure that guests with young children hang around for the fun as well.  I have tons of ideas!

The bottom line?

Guests who feel involved, and are being entertained and included, won’t want to leave when the DJ plays the last song of the night, let alone sooner!

I have lots of cool ideas to help make the most of various “down time” spots at a reception, and ideas on how to get your guests involved, engaged, and interacting with one-another.

If you’re interviewing DJs for your wedding, be sure to ask each of them what types of ideas they have in this area, and ask the for suggestions on how to maximize your guests’ stay and enjoyment at your wedding.  They should be able to rattle off several ideas & suggestions as easily as if they were telling you what they had for breakfast that day.  If you’re met with something like a “deer-in-headlights” look (“Umm, well…”), it might be good idea to keep looking. :)

Here are some fun out-of-the-box ideas from TLC on keeping your guests engaged at your reception as well.

If you are in need of DJ & Entertainment services for your upcoming wedding, I’d be honored if you’d consider my services.

Your Wedding Guests: How Do We Get Them To Dance?

Wow!

This is an important question, and one you should be asking all your DJ candidates. Hopefully, they have a really good answer!

It’s tricky

Getting a dance floor started at a wedding can be challenging for a variety of reasons.  Don’t let any other DJ tell you differently!  The demographics of your audience, the day of the week, the time of day, the location and type of wedding venue…  The list goes on and on.

One of those challenges, and perhaps the most difficult to overcome, is that no one wants to be the FIRST ONE to get out and dance!

Your DJ should be able to give you many different ideas on how to get your dance floor started on your wedding day.  Most importantly, he or she should be able to get folks on the dance floor without resorting to cheesy or embarrassing routines, or putting anyone on the spot.  It should be a natural-feeling progression for everyone involved, and all that is needed is to find creative ways to capitalize on your guests’ innate desire to help you celebrate.  After all, that IS why they’re there in the first place!

I’ll focus on one such idea here, and this is just one suggestion to get your dance floor started.

Let’s imagine YOUR wedding day…

All eyes are on you because you just shared your first dance together, and emotions in the room are high.  Your dance song fades, and I (yes ME, your DJ, RIGHT…?) remain silent and let nature take its course.  The whole room erupts into applause!

Then, as this applause fades out, I congratulate you both.  While you remain on the dance floor, I then invite ALL of the other couples present to JOIN YOU on the dance floor to share a slow dance with you on your wedding day!

VIOLA!  You get an INSTANT packed dance floor, and it feels completely natural to everyone involved because this dance is something you wanted to share with them, and is something they’ll want to share with YOU on your special day!  That IS why they’re there after all, right – to share such moments with you!

Even though you and I know it’s intentional and strategically planned, it doesn’t feel that way to your guests.

This idea is great for several reasons:

1)  You get an INSTANT packed dance floor!  After that slow song, I go right into an upbeat dance selection, and people keep moving.  We start dancing the night away!

2)  It gives older friends and family, and folks who might not consider themselves “dancers” a chance to get out on the floor and share a dance with their special someone.  We’ll have more slow songs and all types of genres throughout the night, but this dance is a nice way for people to feel comfortable on the floor without feeling that all eyes are on them.

3)  It makes a GREAT photo-op for your photographer!  They get to start the night off with a fantastic shot of a PACKED dance floor with you sharing an intimate time with all who are closest to you!

There are other variations of this technique that I’d love to share with you, but this one is by far the most popular and commonly picked by my couples because of it’s effectiveness, and subtlety.

More than “just music.”

So you see, finding a great DJ is about more than finding someone to “play some music” and “make some announcements.”

It’s about finding someone who understands the psychology of your guests, and who knows how to guide the flow of your wedding from beginning to end to make sure that everyone is involved and has the best time possible at your wedding!

Sure, a DJ can get your dance floor filled without employing a creative strategy like the one above, but how long will it take them to get that first, second, and third person on the floor?  How many different songs and genres will they cycle through – each one making the whole thing more and more awkward for you, and your guests – before they find one that will actually get someone to come to the floor?  This is the type of situation you can easily avoid by making sure your DJ has a solid plan that MAKES SENSE when you ask them this important question.

Want more cool ideas like this?

I’ve got ’em, and I’d love to discuss them with you!  My planning materials cover all types of different scenarios and key questions to help you & your guests get the most out of your wedding day celebration!

If you are in need of DJ & Entertainment services for your upcoming wedding, I’d be honored if you would consider my services.

Thanks!

Studio 817 – Awesome Event Space In the Heart of Downtown Sacramento

This last Saturday, I had the pleasure of working a wedding at a super-chic, intimate venue in downtown Sacramento.Downtown Sacramento Wedding Venue Studio 817

Don’t let its size fool you.  Studio 817 is an incredible little event space for just about any type of event you might care to have.

From the outisde, it looks fairly plain, but once you enter into the space, you see it’s clearly divided into two discrete, usable spaces.

Right when you walk in, you enter into the main lobby area, which serves as the cocktail lounge for weddings, and which could serve any purpose, really, for any other type of event.  There is ample seating around the outer walls, some tall cocktail tables, and a bar area all ready to go.  For our event, they utilized their recommended vendor for bar-tending services – Randy Peters Catering, who always does a fantastic job all around.

Studio 817 Sacramento Cocktail Lounge

Here in the lounge, I placed a single wireless speaker, to provide music and announcements for this room during cocktail hour.

After the ceremony, the guests were invited into the cocktail lounge for beverages while the staff turned over the main banquet room, staging the tables where the ceremony took place immediately before.  This took no time at all, and looked great!

Once you turn right through a sliding barn door into the main banquet room, you initially see the ceremony area with chairs, an aisle, and an arbor.  Perfect for small-to-medium ceremonies.  The ceremony area in this setup is set off from the rest of the room, where the tables are sitting to be moved, by elegant white pipe and drape.

Studio 817 Sacramento Wedding Venue Ceremony

Once the ceremony was over, and the guests invited to the cocktail lounge, quick work was made of turning over the room.  Down came the pipe and drape, and over came the tables for dining.

This opened up the dancefloor area, where I was set up along the back wall.Studio 817 Sacramento Wedding Venue Banquet Hall

You will want to be sure that your DJ is familiar with the acoustics of the room, because the concrete and stucco walls, coupled with the high ceiling make for a real echo-chamber effect that could be problematic if your DJ doesn’t monitor their volume levels or have a firm grasp of proper microphone techniques and usage.  This becomes crucial for the ceremony as well.

Though you can’t really see it from the picture to the right, the dancefloor area is really large, and has plenty of room.  It is offset from the dining side of the room nicely, so that guests who want to hang out and relax can do so while others are dancing the night away!Studio 817 Sacramento Wedding DJ Dancing Dancefloor

A nice feature of this room are the two panel doors that slide up on the front wall, allowing the banquet room to open up into a nice, intimate closed patio just off the front of the building.  This was wonderful once the sun went down and things started to cool down.

In all, Studio 817 is a fantastic little gem, nestled into Downtown Sacramento.  The catering and sales manager Morgan is awesome to work with, and is attentive, and fun.

With plenty of versatility, and a nice public parking lot right off the back of the building, you really can’t go wrong with Studio 817.

Studio 817 Sacramento Wedding Venue

Cute little Donut table, located in the main banquet room.

 

 

Ceremony Microphones – To Hold or Not to Hold?

This morning I saw a Facebook post from one of my favorite local wedding officiants who was thankful that the wind isn’t as bad today as it was yesterday.

She had to hold a handheld mic during the ceremony, while trying to hold and control all her papers in the wind for the ceremony service.  To make matters worse, the wind was making a lot of noise when it was amplified through through DJ’s sound system.

I placed a lighthearted, joking comment, but it really got me thinking.

See, what she really needed yesterday wasn’t necessarily less wind, although that might have been awesome as well!

What would have really helped her experience was working with a DJ that provided better tools for the job, and who had the experience to use them.

As her post suggested, wedding officiants often do more with their hands than juggle papers.  Hand binding ceremonies, holding and handing out rings… These are just a couple.

Their hands shouldn’t have to do these things while juggling a microphone.

A stand isn’t a solution either, because that places a physical barrier and obstruction between her and the couple, who are standing in fairly close proximity.  A stand make interaction more difficult and cumbersome.  And a microphone on a stand between the two of you in all your wedding photos…?  Well, you get the idea!

A much better solution for wedding ceremonies would be wireless clip on mics, called lavaliere mics.  They are small, discrete, and hands free.  The kind you see on TV on the news, or reality shows.  They’re very discrete, and very easy to hide and obscure in clothing.

Also, the DJ should always use at least two of these mics during your ceremony.  One on the officiant, and one on the groom.

Two mics allows your guests to hear the couple as they read or repeat their vows.  Two mics also serves as built in backup if something were to happen to the officiant’s mic.  In addition, having multiple microphones just provides better sound, because it allows your DJ to adjust the levels and EQ on the different microphones at different times to get a more balanced sound, and to help reduce amplification of any ambient noise that might be present.

Now, in all fairness, some might even say that the DJ in question CHOSE to use the handheld instead of a lav mic because they are more resistant to ambient wind noise.

While this is true generally speaking, the difference isn’t anything that can’t be accounted for by using adequate windscreens, mic placement, and EQ on lavaliere mics.

High quality lavaliere mics can be more expensive to invest in, are more sensitive, and do have a steeper learning curve to use effectively.  But doesn’t your wedding ceremony deserve that extra investment, time, and effort?

To learn more about how I go above and beyond for my clients, and how I put my experience to use for you on your wedding day, please contact me today!

What Will Your DJ Review Be Like?

You definitely do have a lot of choices for your Sacramento wedding DJ!

When hiring your DJ (or any of your vendors really), ask yourself this question.

What would you want your review to say after your big day?

What’s your answer?

After you’ve thought about it, look for vendors whos reviews say just that – and more!

Check out Evan & Haley Barth’s review from their 6-11-2016 wedding at Evan’s parents’ beautiful home in Winters, CA.

Sacramento Wedding DJ. Photo by, and courtesy of, Marta April photography.  http://www.martaaprilphotography.com/

Photo by, and courtesy of, Marta April photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winters, CA Wedding DJ Review

Big Band Cocktail & Dinner Party

I take great pride in specializing in Big Band music, and in having one of, if not THE (yeah, who are we kidding – I’m not modest) absolute best collection of Big Band music and Popular Vocal Standards from the 20s through the 50s in the Sacramento area.

This last weekend, I had a wonderful time playing a Big Band themed birthday party at the Delta King on the river, and I’d like to share some of the playlist from that event.  This party, and the venue, both lent themselves well to exploring all of these great musical traditions from an era gone by.

Unfortunately, not all of the selections I played are even available on YouTube, which just speaks to the size and depth of my collection, but I’ve listed those that are below so you can research them yourself, and have fun learning more about these artists and their music.

Also keep in mind that not all of these will be the exact versions present in my library, and in most all cases, the material I have sounds a lot better from a  fidelity standpoint.  We do have to remember, though, that recording technology was in its infancy when these musics were flourishing, and the overall fidelity, as well as the imperfections are just a part of the charm of these selections, and really help to transport you back in time!

Please enjoy these selections, and if you or someone you know are ever looking for a Big Band-themed wedding, or other event, please give me a call.  While you’re at it, call around and let the other folks know you’d love some classic Big Band at your event, and ask them for some examples of what they’d play.  You may (or may not) be surprised to hear them all mention Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and if you’re lucky maybe Benny Goodman or Duke Ellington for good measure.  But Big band is so much more, and has so much more to offer than just the Rat Pack & Michael Buble!

So when you’re ready, let me know!  I’d love to help you Jump, Jive & Wail your way through an awesome event and dance party!

Without further ado, let’s get started with our list!

Nat King Cole – Straighten Up And Fly Right

Duke Ellington And His Orchestra – Take The ”A” Train

Kay Starr – If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)

Patti Page – Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Count Basie – Swingin’ the Blues

Frank Foster – Lust For Life

Andrews Sisters – Rum And Coca Cola

Johnny Mercer – Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive

Clyde McCoy – Sugar Blues

Ethel Merman – I Got Rhythm

Louis Prima – Jump, Jive, An’ Wail

The Six & Seven-Eighths String Band Of New Orleans – Clarinet Marmalade

Rosemary Clooney – Mambo Italiano

Bobby Darin – Beyond The Sea

Les Paul & Mary Ford – How High the Moon

Fats Waller – Alligator Crawl

Art Kassel & His Kassels In The Air Orch. – Bell-Bottom Trousers

Louis Armstrong and the Duke Ellington Orchestra – It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it Ain’t Got That Swing)

Betty Hutton – Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra – Hotter Than ‘Ell

Les Brown & His Band of Renown – Leap Frog

Billie & De De Pierce Ft. Emile Barnes – Lonesome Road

Benny Goodman – Somebody Stole My Gal

Benny Carter – Black Bottom

Edmond Hall – It Had To Be You

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – A Fine Romance

Johnny Hodges – Something To Pay Your Foot To

Charlie Barnet – Cherokee

Dizzy Gillespie – Autumn Leaves

Benny Goodman – Let’s Dance

Blue Barron – Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider (The Three Blue Notes voc.)

Frank Sinatra – The Best Is Yet To Come

Ella Fitzgerald – Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)

Errol Garner – Red Sails In The Sunset

Count Basie – Tickle Toe

Benny Goodman – Down South Camp Meeting

Charly Barnet – Skyliner

Billie Holiday – Lover Come Back to Me

Glenn Miller – Begin the Beguine

Barney Bigard – Sugar

Emile Barnes & Lawrence Tocca W Billie Pierce – Shake It & Break It

Count Basie – April In Paris

Benny Goodman – Body & Soul

Benny Carter – I’m In The Mood For Swing

Buck Clayton – Way Down Yonder In New Orleans

Nat King Cole – L.O.V.E.

 

Your Cookie Cutter Wedding?

Okay, I admit it.  I like cookies.

No… I LOVE cookies!

But… I’m not so crazy about cookie cutter weddings, and I don’t think you should have to sit through one, let alone be forced to have one!13000094_10154159753916600_9107219443902123839_n

With many DJ services though, the planning process, and indeed the wedding day itself, kinda looks and feels just like this picture.

How do we break the cycle? How do we make sure your wedding is not only customized, but PERSONALIZED?

What IS the difference? (Hint: Ask the other DJs. If they don’t know the difference, you certainly won’t SEE the difference on your wedding day!)

Call me, let’s chat! 916.223.4508

Get Hip With Sacramento Mobile Photo Booths!

Photo booths have been a staple of Northern California weddings for several years now.

They can be a great way to get wedding guests involved and interacting throughout your celebration. With many photo booth vendors also offering highly-customized photo templates, and photo-album options in conjunction with their services, they offer an added layer of sentimentality & value by providing both you and your guests with incredible keepsakes.

And let’s face it – when else are you going to get a photo of your grandma and your best man together, wrapped in a pink feather boa, wearing mustaches?

Fortunately for brides and grooms looking to spice up their wedding celebrations with something fun, hip, and different, several Northern California companies are taking the novelty of photo booths to a whole new level with the idea of the motorized, mobile photo booth.  Utilizing vintage vehicles & trailers, these options are the perfect compliment to a rustic, vintage, or kitschy wedding!

Check out these great new options, and be sure to tell them Justin from Sounds To Go sent you!

The Photo Bug

From Temple Photography and Photo Booth, we have a 1967 VW Beetle. Small enough and maneuverable enough to work it’s way into a prime spot at just about any outdoor (and some indoor!) events, this fun booth is super-groovy for sure. The front seats come out after arrival, making way for a fun, fully-immersive photo booth experience.

ThePhotoboothBug.com

The Photo Booth Bug, by Temple Photography & Photo Booth

The Photo Booth Bug, by Temple Photography & Photo Booth

The Booth Bus

Meet Georgia.  She’s a 1970 VW travel bus/camper who has racked up many awesome memories she call’s her own.  Now, after many years of “roughing it,” she’s ready to help you make your own memories at your special event!

TheBoothBus.com

The Booth Bus. Plenty of charm, ready to roll!

The Booth Bus. Plenty of charm, ready to roll!

Lucy

From OurDIYLove, we have Lucy, a 10′ 1961 Field & Stream trailer.

Totally hip, retro-vibe with awesome backdrops, and plenty of room for some rustic/vintage merriment and camaraderie.

Get the group shot!

OurDIYLove.com

Lucy brings vintage photo fun to you!

Lucy brings vintage photo fun to you!

The Bar at Your Wedding: One Last Call?

As a wedding DJ, I’ll occasionally be asked to give a Last Call for the bar.  Usually the request comes from a well-meaning staff member at a venue.  They ask me to do it because, well, it’s something they’re just “used to doing.”

While it may be convenient for the venue and bar staff, doing a Last Call over the mic can have unintended effects on your celebration.  Unless one is well-versed or experienced in designing, nurturing, and maintaining the flow and continuity of the entertainment portion of special events like weddings, we might not necessarily anticipate what those adverse effects might be.

That’s why it’s so important you work with an experienced team of vendors to help you stage the best reception possible, and to help you get the most out of it right until the very end!

If you’d like to let your guests know when the bar will be closing, consider a nice, simple sign like the one below as an alternative to having your DJ announce the last call over the microphone.

Photo by & courtesy of, Brian Harris Entertainment in Dayton, OH http://www.brianharrisentertainment.com/

This has approach has several benefits.

  1. Heads-Up.  It’s let your guests know ahead of time, and early on when the bar will be closing so they can plan accordingly.
  2. Keep your dancefloor FULL! If we think about it, 30 minutes or so prior to closing is when last call usually occurs. But, that’s also when your party is (should be!) at it’s absolute PEAK on the dancefloor. Asking a DJ to make that announcement is really asking them to kill the dancefloor!  Not literally what you’re asking of course, but that is most often an unintended consequence.  Remember as well that those who are the most active on the floor until the very end are usually the ones who are already drinking the most!
  3. Maintains momentum.  Making an announcement for a Last Call will send a large number of folks to the bar at once, causing a line. As a result, it’ll take longer to get everyone refocused, and re-engaged for the last few precious (and memorable, if you’re doing it right) moments of the party.
  4. Safety.  Above all, encouraging or enabling “one last binge” right before closing means that those who probably should have stopped drinking earlier on will be going back for more.  This could result in them, and perhaps others, being put at risk if they get behind the wheel.

From my experience, the best way to close the bar is either with a subtle sign like the one above, or with what’s called a “soft close” where no announcement is made at all, and the bartender just shuts things down naturally and quietly while everyone is working it out on the floor – getting ready to give YOU the ULTIMATE send off!

Isn’t that what the last few moments of the night should be about, after all?

___________________

Inspired by the musings of one of my favorite merry-making cohorts, and your best choice for Wedding DJ & MC Entertainment in Dayton, OH and beyond, Brian Harris Entertainment – Thanks, Brian!