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.



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.


Receptions: How long is too long?

Wedding receptions should go out with a BANG, not a fizzle!

Here’s a great article that talks about the potential pitfalls of an overly-long reception.

Aside from the reasons mentioned, there are other reasons a reception shouldn’t go too long.

Every couple wants their wedding to be memorable, but we have to be sure the celebration is memorable for all the right reasons.

A professional DJ/MC will work with you to plan a timeline and an event flow that has a very distinct beginning, middle, and END that is memorable and powerful for as many of your guests as possible.  A powerful, high-energy ending can’t be had if many or most of your guests have already decided to pack it in for the night.

Think about it… Do you want your guests to leave tired and sweaty on a high note, wanting more after a high energy ending, or do you want folks to trickle out over time, letting everything end with a fizzle?

When you think about it that way, partying “all through the night” at your reception might not sound as appealing as it once did.

Most local venues sell packages that go until 11pm or 12am.  Because we’re making such a huge investment in the venue itself, there’s a huge temptation to use it all and try to keep the party going until the very last minute “because we paid for it.”  But planning to end a bit earlier – an hour for example – can make all the difference in the world.

It’ll let your friends and family who have to help you clean up get done a bit sooner, and hey… It’ll give you a few minutes to change, breathe, and regroup before you have to head out to that AWESOME AFTER PARTY you’ve got scheduled!

How much is “long enough?”

Four hours is the optimal length for a wedding reception that includes a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing.  This also allows enough time for the traditional wedding elements like special dances, tosses, etc.

What can make it longer?

There are things that can make having a longer reception nice, ideal, or even necessary.

Certain ethnic and religious celebrations typically have longer wedding ceremonies and receptions that are structured differently, and that have different elements.

Other things that can make having 5 or even 6 hours necessary might include having a larger guest list – say 200 or more people – that will need to go through buffet service for dinner, and/or dinners that include more than one or two courses.  More time will be needed for these situations, and others as well.

What’s the usual?

My clients average 5.5 hours of wedding day coverage for their wedding ceremony and reception.

This includes half-an-hour for Prelude music before the ceremony, half-an-hour for the ceremony itself, and 4 to 4.5 hours for the reception. This is the perfect length for a nicely-paced, smooth-flowing wedding celebration full of awesome memories!

Sacramento Wedding DJ Review: Steven & Briana Wolfe Wedding at Pavilion at Haggin Oaks

Sounds To Go, Sacramento Wedding DJ.  Photo by, and courtesy of, Dee & Kris Photography.

Steven & Briana Wolfe at the Pavilion at Haggin Oaks, in Sacramento, CA. 

Justin was our DJ for our wedding in June 2014. From the minute we met Justin he was very professional and we could tell that he was very talented! He was in constant contact with us through emaiil, phone, and even text messages. He answered any question we had and was extremely helpful. We met a couple times before the event and he had all the paperwork and material ready to collect the information for our big day. He made it personable to our event, made great suggestions, and was open to any changes that we made throughout the whole process.

Justin met the whole family and wedding party on the night of the rehearsal. He took lead and we felt very comfortable with him helping and running through the order of details for the whole wedding.

On the day of our wedding, Justin showed up early to set up and get everything ready! He was great in the fact that he knew exactly what he was doing and exactly where to set everything up without asking us any further questions (last thing anyone wants on their wedding day is to be bugged with questions or anything else). He made relationships with the venue staff and all of our vendors to ensure a perfect day! He set up sound/music for our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception! We had wireless microphones for the ceremony that worked perfectly the entire time. The timing of the different music and songs for the procession, bride, and recession was perfect!

The reception music was PERFECT! Justin was great and a true professional DJ! He played exactly what we wanted and chose perfect songs to complement. Justin made sure EVERYONE was dancing and having a great time! He was great on the fly with request from the guest! At our wedding we had a surprise performance by one of our guest that sang the entire “Humpty Dance” song! Justin made the call to allow it and it was a great decision!!!! Possibly the highlight of the night!!!

All of our guest could not stop raving about how great the wedding was because of our DJ Justin! He did a great job! I would recommend Justin to everyone!

Please do yourself a favor and book this AMAZING DJ for your wedding or event! You will be extremely happy with him!

Thank you so much Justin! Look forward to working with you in the future!

Steven & Briana Wolfe

See this, and other reviews for Sounds To Go on Yelp!

I also have a lot of great reviews on Wedding Wire!

Photo by, and courtesy of, Dee & Kris Photography.

“Off-Peak” Wedding DJ Prices for Budget Conscious Couples!

In today’s economic climate, it’s more and more common for couples to plan weddings onSacramento DJ Wedding Prices “off-peak” days of the week, such a Sundays or even weekdays.  Doing this can often help keep their overall budget smaller since the demand for these days is lower.  Because of this decreased demand, venues and vendors alike often appreciate the opportunity to fill the “extra” dates on their calendars.

While it’s common for vendors to offer discounts for off-peak days, many times you don’t have any idea what those discounts may be, or even what their “regular” rates are until you’ve contacted them directly.  Some will offer a reduced rate right off the bat when they find out what day your wedding is on, while others will quote their regular rate, and leave you in the position of having to ask for a discount outright.  This can be awkward for both you and your vendor, and I don’t think there’s really any need to go through this dance just to get a reasonable quote for your wedding services.

This is why I offer seasonal pricing specifically for couples in the greater Sacramento area who are having their wedding either Sunday through Thursday, or during certain “off-peak” months or times of the year, which is between November & March.

Best of all, NOTHING CHANGES!  Even though you enjoy a discount, you don’t have to give up or do without any part of my normal wedding packages, and you don’t have to “settle” for less.  You get the same great service, and enjoy built-in savings without having to negotiate or haggle!

Shouldn’t everything about planning your wedding be this easy?  I think so!


Thanks to Lindsey & Philip for Choosing Sounds To Go!

Thanks to Lindsey & Philip for deciding to work with me for their 6/8/13 wedding at the Elks

Tower in Downtown Sacramento!  This will be my first time working at this venue!

My thanks as well to Lindsey’s planner, April Mosher from April’s Events, who recommended me to Lindsey.  April & I have worked together before, and I look forward to working with her again!

Here’s to a GREAT wedding reception!

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.

Chico Wedding Venue Review | Centerville Estates

Chico Wedding Venue Centerville Estates

I had the pleasure of DJ’ing a friend’s wedding at this venue last night, and I have to say that this is one incredible venue!

The last 10 miles or so of road leading to the venue are a narrow, treacherous and dirty downhill affair, but the results are more than worth it.  My friends had an excellent solution to the “open bar/driving bad road” problem in hiring a shuttle service for the night.  They contracted two departures from the venue, one for 8:30, and one for 10:00, when the events and all amplified sound must end.  This made a great solution that allowed people to get a safe ride back to their cars or accommodations in a comfortable fashion without any peril.  Of course, this led to folks being more able to let loose and have some fun!

The layout is incredible, and spans multiple distinct, yet connected outdoor areas on different levels that allow for an almost endless number of possibilities when it comes to planning your wedding.

The scenery is breathtaking, looking immediately onto the river and into the mountains, with immaculate and well-groomed landscaping framed and accented by wonderful hardscaping, rockwork, walkways, fountains, a giant waterfall, multiple running ponds and falls, and more.  No set of pictures can do this spread justice – you have to be standing there in it.

The main entertaining area is a wonderful patio area with a stone dance-floor butting up to an attractive bar area that is covered and enclosed.

Staffing:  The owner was on-site, and lives on the property, and was quick to greet me once I arrived to set up.  His staff was excellent all throughout, and very helpful all night, never unwilling to help out.  They worked very well with all the vendors and made for a very smooth-flowing event.

As for times, all amplified sound must end promptly at 10:00pm, and sound levels need to be kept modest as sound travels easily, and even echoes through the canyon towards other nearby private residences.  That being said, these modest, conservative levels never impacted the quality of my performance or the experience of the guests, and the floor was full all night.  You can still have volume and low-end, you just need be mindful of the challenges and peculiarities of the location and you’ll be fine.

My least favorite aspect of this venue is the access, as mentioned, but once you know what you’re in for, it’s not that bad, and if you account for it like my friends did, the impact of this element on your guests can literally be nil.

My only regret is that this venue is farther away from me, and lies outside of my default service range since I am based in Roseville, about 20 minutes outside of Sacramento.  I do hope to be able to visit this venue again!

Highly recommended.

Do a Video Walkthrough of Your Venue!

We all know that different venues present different possibilities for special events like weddings.  Not only does each wedding venue have its own unique charm and character, but many have a myriad of different individual areas available for different parts of your celebration.  Part of the challenge, and fun of choosing your venue and planning your event is deciding which parts of your event will take place at the different parts of the venue itself and thinking about which setup combinations are right for your event.

A myriad of unique layout alternatives, however, are not the only things that are introduced by these various options at a venue.  With more discrete areas spread over the expanse of your venue can come different challenges for various types of services and vendors you may be hiring.  The extent to which the nature or design of your venue can present these types of challenges really depends on the nature and types of services that are being provided.

From a creative standpoint, and to make sure that your event setup is as conducive to a successful celebration for you and your guests as it can be, it is very important that your vendors are able and willing to do on-site meetings and consultations with you to go over your event and venue layout, and to discuss event design and flow as well.  This will help them work with you to make the best possible use of the location, it’s layout options and amenities, etc. The goal, of course, is to help give you the best result possible, and if your vendor already has experience at your venue, then their input based on experience can take a lot of guesswork out of the equation for you, and they can speak to their previous events and experiences, and can talk about the strengths and weaknesses that are presented by different venue layout options, etc.

Something you can consider in addition to your walk-throughs with your key vendors, is doing a short video tour.  This “Virtual Tour” of your venue can be given not only to your vendors to help jump-start them when it comes to the logisitcs and planning, but it can also be given to family and friends who will be participating in your wedding to help them get a better idea of what your event site and layout will be like, and more!

We LOVE this idea, and it is simple, and FREE to do!  Most of us have phones or digital cameras capable of capturing at least a limited amount of video, and uploading this video to the internet is fairly easy as well.

Here is a great video provided by one of our upcoming brides, who simply walked her venue, highlighting the focal points, the location of the ceremony, reception, dinner tables, cake and guest book, and more.  She even filmed the path that she would walk to come to the alter for the ceremony!

Some things you might want to consider covering in yours:

  • Access and parking
  • Loading areas (for setup and tear-down)
  • Panoramic view and/or walk through of your ceremony area, as well as a shot or view of where your ceremony location is in relation to your reception area.
  • Highlighting major entrance and exit areas
  • Highlight location of bar, buffet tables, etc.
  • Location of cake and gift tables, etc.
  • DJ location, including relation to dancing area
  • Anything else you like!

These are just suggestions of course.  You should highlight the things and areas that are important for you, and that you want your vendors and others to be aware of.

The cool part is, it doesn’t even have to be video!  Just a series of snapshots highlighting certain focal points and key areas of your venue layout would serve the exact same purpose.

Consider doing this for your wedding venue.  It’s not a substitute for an onsite visit or meeting with key vendors, like your DJ, but it’s just a great way to help jump-start the creative process, and to make sure everyone is on the same page for your big day!

Sounds To Go always offers on-site venue consultations for all of our local venues, and our experience at many of the areas finest and most popular venues, as well as our familiarity with their layouts, staff, etc. makes us a GREAT choice for your wedding needs!

Be sure to contact us and let us know where your wedding will be, and we can work with you make sure that no stone remains unturned in your planning process!