Why Hire a Professional For Your Wedding Ceremony?

At a gala wedding I attended at one America’s National Monuments, The Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia – where no expense was spared (the groom’s dad was extremely successful and generous), friends of the couple offered to help and wound-up officiating, photographing and DJ-ing the wedding.

On a scale of one to ten, the catered food and drinks, the décor, the cake, the flowers, the Planetarium and the Grand Hall, the amenities, the dresses and tuxedos, the rings, the parents, the attendees, all were elevens. Over the top, world class. In fact, a Ben Franklin impersonator even gossiped and schmoozed through out the night with most of the three hundred guests. There were dozens of staff serving and coordinating everything beautifully: decorating, welcoming and seating guests, serving appetizers and dinner, coat checking, and a valet parking cars.

As to the friends who worked the wedding (officiant, DJ and photographer), well, they were in way over their inexperienced heads. For starters the “DJ” friend provided the officiant-friend with a microphone, black iron mic-stand, and hundred foot cord. The black rig was center stage amidst the white-lit white stage adorned with hundreds of white roses. The black cord snakes its way across the stage in every photo taken and now a permanent scar of the ceremony forever present. The two inexperienced friends with cameras never thought to mention the distraction of the cord (if they even noticed) or mic stand.

When the ceremony started, the officiant-friend never did ask the guests to stand for the bride as she came down the aisle. Seated towards the back, I stood on my own initiative for her. Only then, did the three hundred guests finally stand to welcome the bride down the aisle. Unfortunately, the friend officiating the ceremony forgot to tell guests when to sit down; thereby leaving guests to stand the entire forty minute ceremony! Yes, even the elderly aunts and uncles (some in their nineties) and the mothers with babes in their arms.

The officiant was competent enough to monotonously read the ceremony she and the couple had written, but as to the logistics for conducting an actual wedding ceremony, both were absolutely clueless. Neither her voice nor the staging was engaging, inspirational or conducive for good photographs. The bride and groom stood in the same spot for the entire ceremony, their backs to the guests, divided by the black microphone chord as if they were intentionally being “divided.”

During the ceremony, guests never glimpsed the blissful faces of the bride and groom, except for a moment in profile when they kissed in the middle of the ceremony without any dramatic build up. The touching love letters that the bride and groom wrote for each other were read without the benefit of the microphone that their celebrant cradled in her arms. Aside from the procession and recession, the attendants stood stiffly in place like backups of a chorus line with no part in the actual ceremony.

My suggestion: at your wedding, have friends be guests, not workers. Inexperienced and friendly is no replacement for experienced and professional. Every bride deserves a wedding ritual, fit for a queen, not a hodgepodge of elements cobbled together by friends.

How to DJ Your Own Wedding in 15 Easy Steps – Part 2

DIY Wedding DJAs the economy has been a bit tight lately, many brides are looking for ways to stretch their wedding budget. So, if it’s just music you want, then you could try to take a couple of iPods, ask Uncle Bob to run them, and take your chances. (For steps one through nine, please see previous article.)

Step ten: Find somebody to professionally introduce and properly emcee all the key wedding events using proper mic handling techniques, enthusiasm, articulation, intonation, breathing and inflection, along with the public speaking skills to effectively communicate in order to capture, maintain, then tastefully energize a seamless sequence of events and keep the flow moving – again, without any dead air.

Step eleven: Find somebody to coordinate with all the other wedding professionals involved in the festivities to seamlessly coordinate the hundreds of small things behind the scenes that have to be continually done so you don’t have to worry about it. (Like making sure the photographer is in the room and ready to go, Uncle Bob has the bouquet on hand, and that you are ready for the bouquet toss prior to Uncle Bob’s announcement that it’s time for the bouquet toss so there is no dead air, awkward moments, or lost dancing time looking for the bouquet, you or other wedding professionals, etc.)

Step twelve: Find somebody that has the creativity and experience to take your wedding ideas, wants and desires and bring it all together to fit your vision and make it classy, tasteful, unique and customized to reflect the two of you.

Step thirteen: Bring all these people together. Coordinate. Practice together. Deliver worry free. Ensure it goes smoothly.

Step fourteen: Tear down gear, load out, return gear to rental company.

Step fifteen: Somewhere between each step, find about twenty hours for Uncle Bob to practice (with the rented gear and legal music library before wedding), focusing on music and dance theory. Practice. Rehearse. Practice over and over. Repeat with person designated as “Master of Ceremonies” for smooth flow.

Sounds simple…and could save you a little money.

However, according to national publications and wedding industry magazines:

AFTER THE VOWS: “almost 100% of Brides say they would have spent more of their budget on the entertainment.”


WITHIN ONE WEEK AFTER THE RECEPTION: “78% of all Brides say they would have made the entertainment their highest priority!” Most importantly, “when asked, 81% of guests say the one thing they remember most about a wedding is the entertainment above anything else.

It makes sense when you think about it. Look back on a wedding you’ve been to in the last couple of years. You probably don’t remember much about the food, the color of the flowers, the style of the dress, the flavor of the cake or the veggie platter, but… you DO probably remember whether you had a good time – right? Dancing and music is only a small fraction of why a bride needs a proven, professional and experienced wedding MC/DJ.

How to DJ Your Own Wedding in 15 Easy Steps – Part 1

As the economy has been a bit tight lately, many brides are looking for ways to stretch their wedding budget. So, if it’s just music you want, then you could try to take a couple of iPods, ask Uncle Bob to man them, and take your chances. Here’s what to do…

Step one: Find and rent an amateur-grade sound system (hoping it works), then figure out how to run it.

Step two: Find and acquire appropriate liability insurance (as more and more venues require proof of insurance prior to set up). It will cost you $300 to $500 for the annual policy since it’s not available for a single day’s use.

Step three: Figure out where to legally purchase the appropriate music across multiple genres (big band, top 30, rap, alternative, country, etc.) for a wide variety of tastes based on the range in ages of your guests.

Step four: Find somebody to program the music in a logical dance flow.

Step five: Find somebody to transport all the gear. Once there, determine the appropriate electrical power load and where to set up based on sound configuration, dance theory and event flow. Set up the gear.

Step six: Find somebody with the experience to “read” a wedding crowd (based on the 11 critical crowd reading reception criteria) to play the right song at the right time for the right reasons. They need to know how to read and then lead your audience in the right sequence, at the right time through the application of proper wedding knowledge and extensive wedding experience by using multiple music genres, tempo, styles, and trends to create or change the energy in a room.

Step seven: Find somebody to take, maintain, and then play song requests, hoping you have all the requested music with you.

Step eight: Find somebody to smoothly transition the music from song to song without any dead air, while seamlessly enhancing key wedding events with music, exactly on cue.

Step nine: Find somebody to tastefully interact with guests, maintain audience participation and crowd interconnection.

For steps ten through fifteen, and interesting statistics from national publications, be sure to read part two.