Professional Best Man (and the amazing things that have happened since I first proposed this job)

Five years ago I proposed a new job idea:

Professional best man.

It remains a role that I am waiting to fill. Let me explain.

Although I meet many outstanding best men in my role as a DJ, I also meet many who are too nervous to deliver the toast, too drunk to assist a groom in need, and too disinterested in the role to be of any use.

Besides, why burden your best friend with this role if all he wants to do is have a good time at the wedding as well?

Instead, hire me. Your professional best man.

What, you may ask, are my qualifications for such a job?

They are, admittedly, quite extensive:

  • I’ve attended more than 500 weddings as a DJ, guest, groom, member of the bridal party, and best man, so there is little that I have not seen. As a result, I will be ready and able to assist in almost every unexpected or unusual circumstance.

  • My experience and expertise will allow me to ensure that the DJ, photographer, caterer and other professional staff are doing their jobs to the best of their ability and serving the bride and groom to my exceedingly exacting standards.

  • I have extensive experience in dealing with in-laws, drunken guests, angry girlfriends, belligerent uncles, and any other potentially disruptive wedding attendee and am adept at deflecting these distractions away from the bride and groom.

  • I can deliver an outstanding toast. I am often instructing tragically unprepared best men on what to say just minutes before their toasts and making them sound quite good.

  • I am a skilled party planner and will give you the bachelor’s party of your dreams while also ensuring that you do nothing that you will regret the next day.

  • I possess a wide range of interests and am skilled at ingratiating myself to a wide range of people. I can do jock and nerd equally well and rarely meet someone who I cannot find common ground. We may not be best friends after your wedding, but for the duration of our nuptials, I will be surprisingly likable and chameleon-like in my ability to blend in with your group of friends. And who knows? One of my best friends is a former client. It could happen for you, too.

And what if you want to hire a professional best man but have a friend who also wants the job and would be upset to learn that you went with a professional?

No problem. Simply have two best men.

One who will get drunk during the cocktail hour, hit on one of the bridesmaids during photos, deliver a humorless speech, and forget to end it with an actual toast.

The other will not drink at your wedding except when capping off an amusing and heartfelt toast, will keep your best interests in mind at all times, and is skilled and experienced enough to ensure that everything goes smoothly on your wedding day.

Don’t you deserve another friend on your wedding day?

A friend absent of personal needs and petty grievances on your big day.

A friend who will guide you through and past every awkward, annoying, unfortunate, and potentially disastrous moment of your wedding.

Don’t you deserve the services of a professional on your wedding day?

A professional best man.

Since I proposed this idea back in 2011, a number of surprising things have happened:

  1. Three grooms have attempted to hire me. Two lived in California and one lived in the UK, and their wedding dates dd not align to my schedule, so I had to decline.

  2. One groom hired me, explaining that he was marrying a woman whose culture demanded that the best man be an unmarried, never-before-married friend, and he had no one in his life who met these qualifications. I explained that I did not meet the qualifications, either, but he didn't care. He planned to lie to his fiancee and tell her that I was a lifelong bachelor. My wife wasn't pleased, but I agreed. After hiring me and planning for six months, he backed out without explanation.

  3. A bride strongly considered hiring me for her husband, who is "a great guy" but lacks any real close friends. Ultimately she decided that it might hurt her fiancee's feelings to hire me and opted not to.

  4. At least three television producers - two reality show producers and one documentarian - have contacted me about appearing in their television shows. We explored the possibility in all three instances, but nothing came of it.

  5. When The Wedding Ringer, a film about a professional best man, came out in 2015, the actor and star of the film, Kevin Hart, contacted me, crediting me with coming up with the idea first.

I await the next step in this journey to make this job a reality. At least once.

Music is not the most important part of my job as a wedding DJ.

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. I bustled the bride's dress when she lost a button on the back during the reception.  
  4. I tied the ring bearer's tie after his mother gave up in frustration. 
  5. I fixed the jammed popcorn maker, thus endearing myself to the dozen or so children at the wedding.  
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.  

Wedding advice: No impromptu toasts.

Wedding season is upon us. On Saturday my partner and I will begin our 19th season as wedding DJs.

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When we started back in 1996, we still had a cassette deck in our rig and had no cell phone, laptop, or GPS.

I don’t know how we did it. 

Almost two decades later, I’ve learned a great deal about the mechanics and etiquette of a wedding. Throughout the 2015 wedding season, I’ll pass on some of my hard earned wisdom from time to time, and if you have a question related to weddings, please feel free to ask.

Today’s topic:

Impromptu toasts.


My advice:   

As charming as an impromptu toast may seem, it’s not. Don’t do it. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Wedding and receptions are often timed to the minute. An unexpected five minute interruption can cause problems that you cannot begin to imagine.
  2. The order in which people are chosen to speak is often decided upon for a very specific reason. The bride and groom, for example, may ask the Maid of Honor to deliver the final toast because she is funny and will alleviate some of the weight of the Best Man’s toast, which references the groom’s grandmother who died two weeks ago. Your unplanned toast may ruin the carefully constructed order entirely.
  3. Brides and grooms choose the people to deliver speeches carefully, and they often receive more requests for people to speak than they can accommodate. Oftentimes a request to speak is declined for the sake of time or a myriad of other reasons (If we let you speak, we’ll have to let Uncle Joey speak, and that would not go well). Assuming that your toast will be welcomed and appreciated is oftentimes not correct and can result in the need for awkward explanations later.  
  4. If the bride and groom had wanted you to speak, they would have asked you to speak.
  5. Delivering an impromptu toast or speech is an excellent way of appearing like an attention-seeking narcissist on a day when you are clearly not supposed to be the center of attention.

If you want to say something charming and lovely about the bride and groom, do so privately. Propose a smaller, less formal toast when they stop by your table. Offer a private toast when you find yourself alone with the married couple. Or just take the couple aside and say a few words.

If your goal is to say a few kind words to the bride and groom, you don’t need the microphone and the attention of every guest in order to do so.

If you feel like you need the microphone and the attention of everyone at the wedding in order to make your toast, ask yourself if your toast is less about the bride and groom and more about you.

It almost certainly is. 

Wedding reboot: Favorite wedding moments

My wife and I will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary later this month. Following our wedding, I wrote about some of the more memorable moments and posted them on a blog that no long exists.

As our anniversary approaches, I’ve decided to re-post some of those wedding memories here as a means of preserving them as well as sharing them with readers.

Here is the third of these posts:


Here’s one of many favorite wedding moments:

I made several toasts at our wedding, including one to Elysha’s grandmother, one to my mother and father-in-law, and one to all of my friends.

The only family member present for my nuptials was my sister, so I wanted to let my many friends know how important they are in my life. They really are like family to me.

In toasting my friends, I said, “To quote the famous philosopher… the famous Jewish philosopher, Kyle Broflovski…”

(At this, several of Elysha’s relatives nod in Jewish approval)

“…Family isn’t about whose blood you have. It’s about who you care about.”

The philosopher who I referenced is Jewish, but he is also animated.

My friends found this very amusing.