OK, I went and I did – tonight I’m the wedding DJ. I’ve been in this role a few times, but not that much. It’s not something I’m looking for, actually. But tonight it should be fine – at least I can’t wait to be there – because I’m also a guest, meaning I would have been to the wedding anyway, I just happen to just take a few cases of records.
I’ve played a lot of weddings – in bands. Dozens of weddings, maybe a hundred in fact; At one point, I considered writing a book about the marriage espionage experiences of people you don’t know. As a member of the group you would bond with the kitchen staff, waiters, waitresses, photographer and his assistant, room management, anyone who is an integral part of the day but not directly related to Bridezilla and Groomdrinka and the different versions of the happy couple. .
It’s quite strange being a crucial part of someone’s biggest day in life – someone you don’t know and will never see again.
Being in the band was not often fun – you were playing a set, and it was good, people were happy, dancing. Then the demands would start pouring in. People find you on your ten-minute break. The conversation always starts with something like, “Hey, some great music and all, corn do you think you could play that too … “and all that followed was a) actually their idea of good music, not what we played and b) fundamentally ridiculous given the type of group they booked. You would be an Irish band at a Scottish wedding, and that was good – we could fake that, a lot of songs crossed over, and we also had separate Scottish material, and often a member of the Scottish band, so that helped. . But the first request of the evening would be to “play a few ABBA” or even “Bruce springsteen… “
Worse than that, the way – after several drinks – anyone was instantly sure of their prowess as a backing vocalist; the way they approach and grab the mics, knock over the guitars and mandolins on the stands, decide they have the right to be part of the band …
The wedding DJ is struggling, I think – they must be crowd pleasing, or trying, and spanning decades in general. They must also appeal to the happy couple, or a member of the wedding party anyway, be it the bridesmaid or best man or mother or father of the bride or groom. And sometimes there can be very different ideas of what works. Then there are the demands that start pouring in and the more open the bar, the more closed the mind is to what should be playing. And the reasonable amount of time that can elapse between a request that is sewn into your face and the setting up of this plateau.
A few years ago I agreed to play at a wedding and took my devotee copy of the soundtrack of The Big Chill and the first volume of Tour of Duty and all kinds of other things, disco music, 60s music, 80s music, makes it something every decade. I had had very little guidance on what to bring. But I had enough to cover the basics. I inspected the room and made what I thought was the obvious observation that the “elders” (if you will allow me the term) would probably be ready to dance from the start, then move on. It’s something we all know from attending weddings, and in my case from being alone – and playing in bands at many weddings.
So it’s in the 50’s and 60’s for rock and roll, soul and pop and it’s going well – really good. As good as can be at least. I have other more modern music to evolve into – but it works.
But then, no. The bride is not happy. She comes and in the best passive-aggressive way suggests a different approach. So I go with this. The ground is emptying. The bride is alone, trying to have a good time. But no one else is involved. Some of the people who had danced something near a storm come over and ask what happened. I tell them the bride asked for the noise now. But that won’t cut it. Then the bride yells at me about emptying the dance floor. So it’s a return to those old faithful soul and disco compositions, the music of the Vietnam War era too. And it’s back to an almost full dance floor. Then the bride gets that face slapped and has another chance to make the choices. So the floor empties again as she tries to relive her last day of high school or whatever. And that’s rinse and repeat.
Ungrateful task, eh.
In fact, just the other day I wrote about what was surely the worst experience – bizarre, confusing, infuriating – that I have had as a wedding DJ.. A different story from the summary above.
And then, as I was writing this, I realized that I had gotten back in place tonight – agreeing to play the records and that role again.
But I look forward to tonight. And I have my ABBA and my Springsteen. And no Irish music at all.
So what could possibly go wrong? Law? Law?
Anyway, it’s your turn – here is my worst experience with wedding music – so what’s yours? Maybe you were in the band or the DJ or maybe, on another footing, had your marriage ruined by the band, the DJ or the string quartet? All the stories of musicians getting too drunk and spoiling it, the string quartet falling in the garden maybe, or the DJ alone playing Springsteen and ABBA … what’s your idea / example of a musical wedding horror story?
And have any of you ever experienced one of those overly choreographed wedding dances?served as a tip? You know those, all over YouTube at first it seems like the bride and groom can’t dance, are nervous, or maybe it’s the bride and daddy. Then the DJ hits the fader and it’s something from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and they twist again, like they did last summer …
Are these dance tricks actually taking place or are they just filmed for YouTube? Has anyone seen one play? Has anyone seen – or experienced – first dance disasters? We had to play once 500 miles as a first dance. (The aforementioned Irish group at a Scottish wedding). It was depressing …
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