Last night I wrapped up my 19th year as a wedding DJ.
When we first launched the business back in 1997, I thought that music was going to be the most important part of my job. Learning to mix songs together with great precision and playing just the right song at just the right moment seemed paramount to me.
And yes, it's true. The primary reason I am hired as a wedding DJ is to play music, but every DJ can play the music. Some are better at mixing music and matching beats, but every experienced, professional DJ can play the music with an acceptable level of skill.
I have learned that the secret behind our success hasn't been the music but all of the other things that we routinely do during a wedding.
Last night, for example:
- I met with the justice of the peace, who was officiating a wedding ceremony for the first time. She was nervous and unsure about certain parts of the ceremony. I've married more than two dozen people over the past ten years (and have watched hundred of other wedding ceremonies), so I was able to iron out some of the wrinkles in her plan and put her more at ease.
- I met with the best men, who was delivering a toast later that night, and revised his plan a bit, thus ensuring that his toast would be well received and the bride would not feel insulted.
- I bustled the bride's dress when she lost a button on the back during the reception.
- I tied the ring bearer's tie after his mother gave up in frustration.
- I fixed the jammed popcorn maker, thus endearing myself to the dozen or so children at the wedding.
- During the cake cut, I extricated a small but exceptionally persistent boy from the scene - and therefore from the photographs - by handing him a microphone and encouraging him to turn it on and play with it. By the time he realized that the microphone was never going to work, the cake cut was complete and the problem had been averted.
- I brought a drink to a father who had been sitting in the same chair for more than two hours with his sleeping toddler flower girl draped over his shoulders. The look of gratitude on that man's face was priceless.
- I brought the father of the bride his jacket and suggested that he wear it just prior to his dance with his daughter. He thanked me profusely later in the night.
- I extricated the bride and groom from a lengthy conversation with a "friend of the family" - which often means a friend of the mother and father - by recognizing their desire to escape and providing them with an excuse to do so. The looks of gratitude on their faces were even better.
And yes, I played the music, too. It went well. I actually closed out the evening with a series of six well chosen songs that packed the dance floor, including Sweet Caroline, Jessie's Girl, and Don't Stop Believin'.
I would've normally played popular songs from the previous year at the end of the wedding, but I recognized early on that this was a sing-along crowd, meaning they were the kind of people who liked to sing on the dance floor as much as they liked to dance. As a result, I ditched the latest Katy Perry and Meghan Trainor songs in favor of more lyrically ubiquitous tunes. It worked perfectly.
Music matters. It's just the easy part.
Despite our best efforts to retire, we have already booked two weddings for 2016 and more are likely on the way. We no longer advertise or even maintain a real website, but we're the preferred vendor at two of our favorite wedding venues, so we continue to book weddings via these vendor lists. Otherwise, brides and grooms need to know us and be referred to us by a former client or friend in order to book us.
It's not the 40-60 weddings a year that we once did. Instead, it's half a dozen Friday or Saturday nights spent with my best friend doing something that we have become quite good at over the course of two decades.
And mostly because of the little things that we do to make the wedding day a little better for everyone involved.