John Mc

This is a collection of my thoughts. Some of the thoughts that I once had, I no longer do. Some thoughts I have now I have never had. Yet none shal be discounted. This blog is soley for the enjoyment of the author and the readers. On occasion the views expressed are overly exagerated in order to prove a point. Also there may be a dirty word or thought in some of the posts. Grow up and take this for what it's worth - a blog that barely anyone will ever see.


Weddings... Thus Far

Warning! This is a long post. You may need some time to read it all. I was going to break it up into smaller bits, but I figured - what the hell.

As some of you may know, I DJ weddings on the weekends. This year's crop of weddings have come with the expected mishaps and mistakes. Aggravation and stress are a great part of this under-paid job. Before I begin, let me remind all of my readers (both of you) that a Wedding DJ is a part of the service industry. Thus, you are to TIP the Wedding DJ. Just as you would a waiter, valet, carpet cleaner, mover, etc. A tip is a part of the job. Have one ready. Also, remember who is crucial to the enjoyment of your reception. Does the food matter? Yes. The flowers? Perhaps. The DJ - OF COURSE. If the DJ is awful, then the reception is also awful. So, tip accordingly, cheap-asses!
Onto the adventures in tuxes.
One of the many weddings I DJed was at a playhouse theater in Joliet. A beautiful location with AWFUL acoustics. At least in the lobby. I'm sure that within the theater, the acoustics are incredible. However, in the marble-lined lobby, they are atrocious. NEVER get married there if you expect to have a great sounding wedding.
The bride and groom told us that we had to be set up by 4:30 to have everything in order before their ceremony started. I'm assuming that the God aspect of their wedding wasn't important, because they got married in the same room that their reception was held. Whatever. It isn't my wedding. I don't care.
What they didn't tell me was that the ceremony didn't begin until 5pm. So, the false 30 minute cushion that they gave was not relayed to me. So, I'm driving through Labor Day traffic on a Saturday afternoon through an intense mall situation to get to their location on time. I get there with about 14 minutes to set everything up and be in my tux. Surely this is all the time I need. We throw everything together and have about 30 seconds to spare to find out that we did have a little more time available to us. TEN TIMES more time. To say that I was slightly aggravated right off the bat would be an understatement.
So, I decided that I needed something to drink and something to drink right away. Non-alcoholic, mind you, because I had been dripping sweat trying to get everything up and ready in such a short window of time. The only place that we could find was a chicken shop about a mile down the road. Considering that the wedding ceremony was going to be taking place, we decided that we had A LOT of time to kill before we needed to be back.
So, I had some chicken and a large soda and then I passed the time making phone calls that I had been putting off. Not intentionally, mind you, but calls that I hadn't had the opportunity to make because I had been so busy the past few days with work.
So, we hike back to the venue to see the guests milling around while the staff was moving the ceremony stuff out of the room to make way for the tables for dinner. At this point we didn't realize what had happened while we were gone. It seems that they had a wedding coordinator on the premises. This is always a BIG mistake. It may seem like a time-saver for the bride and groom to have someone there to make all the decisions for them so that they can sit back and enjoy everything, but instead a wedding coordinator is nothing but a pain in the ass. These are the people who try to tell me what to play, when to play it and how it should be done. They are wrong 99% of the time and only create stress and hassle on the most important day of your life. It is NEVER a good idea to have one of these control freaks take the reins of your wedding. I normally tell them to get lost. Before my aspect of the evening even began, the bride had apparently taken care of this task for me.
I soon asked one of the relatives how the ceremony had gone. Mainly just to make conversation and familiarize myself in the eyes of the people that I would be entertaining. They informed me that the ceremony had gone a little bit wrong. It seems that when the bride was supposed to be walked down the aisle, her father had to make a bathroom break. In haste, the wedding coordinator said "Go. Just go." The bride being stressed and freaked out, went.
Before I even MEET her, she is now beyond upset with the wedding coordinator and her father. GREAT. I have overcome great odds with wedding couples in my ten years of DJing weddings, but this was a whole new ballgame. I searched for her to get a first-hand feeling for where she and her husband were at and what their emotional state was like. They were nowhere to be found. I walked the halls of that entire location and couldn't find them. Where were they? Outside taking pictures with the photographer.
This is to be expected. Right after most weddings, the photographer monopolizes the bride and grooms' time taking pictures while the sun is still up. I'm ok with this. Well, I'm ok with it up until the hall is breathing down my neck to get the announcements out of the way so they are able to serve dinner on time. When you are cooking for 200 people, there is a small window when everything can go out and go out perfectly. This window was closing on them.
So, I made the announcement for all the bridal party to meet upstairs so that we can announce them. My DJ boot was on the first floor just to the left of the head table. There were two large stair cases that started on either side of us that went upstairs to a balcony above us. The bridal party was going to meet us upstairs and then walk down once they were announced. The bride wanted the whole bridal party to come down and wrap around her cake so that they would be there when they walked down and went to cut their cake. What she DIDN'T think about was that this created a logistical nightmare for the photographer to get a good shot, at all angles, of them cutting their cake. Whatever. I don't care.
So, I make the announcement and begin heading upstairs so that I can get everyone lined up. I'm stopped by a skinny balding man. He asks me "What do you think you're doing?!" I am puzzled. I let him know that I'm about to get everyone lined up so that we can get things underway. He turns to square his shoulders with me and glares his beady little eyes at me and says "Well, I'm the photographer and I was taking a picture of the bride and groom with their God Parents and you just ruined the shot because they had to get 'LINED UP.' Now I'm going to have to get that shot later in the evening!" I re-assured him that I think they will all be present after dinner and he would have his opportunity later. He didn't care for that too much, but stormed off to get in position for the bridal party to come down the stairs.
This was the first time that I had the opportunity to talk to the bride. I asked her how things were and got a stoic response from her. Like a manikin in J.C. Penny she just smiled and said "Fine." I told her that I had 10 years experience and that I can roll with any and all punches. I'm going to make things great from here on out. Essentially, I tossed her every line that I had to calm her down. She relaxed a bit. I got a look from the groom of gratitude and lined everyone up.
I then notified those giving toasts to speak directly into the mic. To not face the speakers for fear of feedback and to enunciate what they had to say. I told this to the Best Man, the Maid of Honor and to the Father of the Bride who were all giving a toast. Did they listen? Well, one out of the three did.
I'm pretty sure that everyone there was waiting to hear that the Father of the Bride had to say. To see if he would make up for a mistake that wasn't entirely his own, but still shouldered blame from his daughter. What did he do instead of making up for it? Talked into the speakers. An incredible amount of feedback came over the system. So much so that I ran up to him in the middle of his toast and told him DON'T FACE THE SPEAKERS!!! He then put the mic down to his waist and asked "How do I not face the speakers?!" This question is one that need not be asked. It isn't that difficult. The way you don't face the speakers is by NOT FACING THE DAMN SPEAKERS!!! I never thought I would have to explain this to someone, but apparently Mr. Small Bladder needed a diagram drawn out for him.
After all of that, things got better, right? Wrong. We finished dinner, had the first dances and then I couldn't find the bride or groom. They were nowhere to be found. Guess where they went? If you said "with the photographer for pictures," you get 15 bonus points.
But, again, this is expected. After the first dances, there may be some family pictures that need to be taken or some last minute bridal party photos, things like this. About 15 minutes or even a half hour for really behind photographers may be necessary after the first dances. So, I gave him his 15 minutes. And soon his 20 and 25 minutes. Finally, I went back to his back-drop where the entire bridal party was assembled and asked him how much longer things would be. For, at that point, I had been playing a great deal of crap songs to keep people on the floor while I waited for the bride and groom to be back out there to do some of the activities that they had asked me to do.
He told me that he only needed them back there for another 10 minutes or so. I smiled and didn't say anything I shouldn't have. I just said "Ok. Thanks, man. We have a lot to get to tonight. Stuff that you are going to want photos of!" Trying my hardest to bite my tongue and just go with the flow.
I also got a quick look at the bride. She had gone back into stoic mode. While there was a big plastic smile on her face, she might as well had been catatonic. Let me stress again, with so many variables that go into your wedding day, SOMETHING is going to go wrong. Now, she did have a BIG error occur to her, but you must still realize that even though something went wrong, it isn't the end of your wedding day. As a matter of fact, your wedding day is STILL GOING ON. Enjoy as much of it as possible. You may need to table an issue or slide it under the rug to do so, but DO IT! Don't dwell on an error that lasted a few minutes that could ruin the last few hours of your celebration.
She didn't get that. I had done all that I could at that point to get her back to life. I would attempt to help her out a few more times in the evening, but with no avail. So, I returned to the booth and switched up the music to some of the guest requests. I figured, they are the only ones left in the room, might as well play for them, right?
After about an hour of dancing without the bride or groom anywhere to be found, they finally made an appearance on the dance floor. To dance to about half a song before the photographer asked them to step outside. Now my aspect of things is piling up. I have so much stuff that I need to cram into the last half of the evening that it is going to look and feel awful. I told my assistant to go out and find them to bring them back in here for the bouquet and garter toss. He found them outside BESIDE the theater, in the alley, taking pictures next to the dumpsters.
I can't imagine many brides or grooms asking for this unless one of them is a garbage man or something, but that's were they were. We were given our standard response of only 10 or 15 more minutes.
At this point, I had just about given up caring. The crowd there was not the greatest. It was taking me forever to get them going on the dance floor. The booze that they were downing was helping. (It always does. NEVER have a dry wedding. They USUALLY suck. 95% of the time it is a snore fest.) Finally I'm able to get everyone out on the dance floor and it is packed. Everyone having a great time dancing to "Footloose." My assistant is amazed that "Footloose" worked as well as it did. I reminded him that "Kenny Loggins is a GENIUS." I then turn back to the dance floor to see half of the people gone immediately. It was as if they were beamed up somewhere. Which is partially true. They were beamed halfway up the stairs of one of the stair cases for a picture with the bride and groom.
This continued for the next half hour. Random groups of people were hustled up the stairs for photos. God forbid they have a good time.
I finally went up to the bride and said "If we don't do the bouquet and garter toss soon, we won't be able to do it at all." It was 11:30 before I could get a break in the pictures to get that out of the way. That was the ONLY thing that I can recall doing with the bride and groom. Right after that their limo, that was going to take them to their hotel later, pulled up and they went outside to take pictures in front of it. The rest of the bridal party followed.
So, that is ONE of the weddings that I had to endure this season. I think my assistant said it best while we were packing up: "Worst wedding EVER!" It wasn't, but at that moment, it felt like it.
That was the first time that I had ever heard of the bride not walking down with her father. The next wedding I had never experienced THIS before:
I was at some sort of horse club out in the sticks. The bride and groom let me know that they were going to have their cake cutting right after salad. No problem. That is a standard place for people to put their cake cutting. What they did, however, was put all the "help," the DJs, photographer and videographer in a separate room for dinner. This is rather insulting to get a partially frozen sandwich that was made the day before while the rest of the room eats fillet mignon. But, whatever. It happens. While I'm chowing down on my gourmet meal, I'm watching the staff serve soup. Then comes the main course. I'm now thinking, I have missed the salads and the bride and groom are going to be rather upset with me that I didn't go out there to get their cake cutting under way. I start walking into the other room as the groom was walking my way. I'm expecting him to give it to me. Instead he stops at the group of waiters assembled in our paths. I hear him ask them "What happened to the salads." However, he didn't put it as nicely as that. They looked confused and embarrassed, so I pulled a 180 and went back to my table to avoid any collateral damage that might head my way. Because some of the guests had been served their main course already, there was no turning back now.
At another wedding, the bride and groom had a song for EVERYTHING! They had a song for their cake cutting, a song for their parents to dance to, a song to end the evening a song for when the clock read 10:34. A song for EVERYTHING. They might as well of made a CD and hit play at the beginning of the evening instead of hiring a professional that would play the best song for the crowd ad the best possible time. I also had to do their ceremony music. It is RARE that I have to do this, so it is a HUGE stress on me to make things go perfectly for the most important aspect of the evening. I focused heavily on that to make sure things went flawlessly. Perhaps it is because my focus was taken away by making sure things went well in that venue that I made a mistake and didn't play their song for their cake cutting. I played a different one. They got hot under the collar and I told them that I would play it later in the evening. They told me not to bother because it had been ruined. The ONLY time that their song would have fit, according to them, is during the cake cutting. The groom came up to me halfway through the evening and let me know that perhaps the end of the evening would work out just as well for their cake cutting song. It is some song done by a Hawaiian guy on a ukulele that combined "Wonderful World" by Louie Armstrong with "Over The Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. It worked like a charm. Everyone got in a big circle and sang along with the song as the bride and groom danced in the middle. The bride, with tears running down her face, let me know once it was over that it worked out better than she imagined. I let her know that I do what I can to make things perfect for her. She cried even more. Until she wrote a letter to my boss saying that had I talked to her in the week prior to her wedding that maybe I wouldn't have missed their cake cutting song. What she left out was the part where when I introduced myself I said "Hello, I'm John. I left you the voice mail on Wednesday letting you know that I'd be your DJ." I also let her know in that voice mail that she could call me with any special instructions, changes or concerns she may have had. Bitch.
We have the opportunity to play a song important to the bride and groom while they have pictures of them growing up and then pictures of them together during their courtship play on TV screens. This is not a unique aspect of our company, and I'm sure that you've seen it done before. What you may not have ever seen is the behind-the-scenes panic that the DJ will sometimes have to go through to get this accomplished.
I was DJing at a museum. (Yes, I know, I get all the weird-ass weddings. It almost seems rare that I DJ at a hotel or banquet hall.) The cocktail hour and the dancing was in one room and the dinner was in another. This posed an issue. To have the bridal party introduced, I would need two systems or to wheel my main system into the dinner room to have the music and the mic in order to do this. Luckily the museum had a microphone in the other room attached to a rudimentary sound system. This system also had a CD player, which is nice, but all of my music is on computer. Plus, when I set up the TV's and the DVD player for their video presentation, the DVD player that I was given didn't have a remote. There was no way for me to select the chapter necessary for me to play their presentation. So, I called our tech guy. I let him know the situation and let him know that he had through the remainder of the cocktail hour and dinner to fix this problem. Also, I let him know what the two songs were that I needed for the introductions.
He told me that there was a chance that he wouldn't have time to get to the location to give me the CD of intro songs, but that he would be there with a fix for the DVD player. I let the bride and groom know that because there were two rooms that I may not be able to get the intro songs going, but that I had our Sr. Tech guy running to the office to burn a CD and rushing out to the venue, but he may not make it in time. They shrugged and said essentially "Do what you can do." I like these kinds of couples. They realize that not everything will be perfect.
Luckily the tech got there with the CD in time for me to do the announcements. However, in his haste, he brought a VCR instead of a DVD player out to the location. He fiddled with the DVD player a little to see if it was user error that prevented their presentation from playing and then decided to get a new DVD player. The original one was so old and generic, I think it just said "DVD Player" on the front of it.
The intros went well and the bride and groom never found out that we had to swap out their DVD player while they dined on stuffed chicken in order to get their presentation up and running flawlessly.
Every other wedding that I have done this season has gone well, Thank God! The errors were few to none and everyone had a good time. Including me, sometimes. The mantra that I developed long ago has helped me through many of the ones that I have had to deal with. It is "It isn't my wedding." You may have assembled all of your family, closest relatives, and people you hold dear in your life, for a day that you may have dreamed about since you were a child. You may have put together a day that you'll remember for the rest of your life. But, to me, it's Saturday. And if this one doesn't go well, I will have another one next week.


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