Thursday, February 25, 2010

Game. Set. Match: DJ!

We booked a DJ! What a long crazy ride it's been. How did this happen?!? How'd we get here? Sit back and I'll tell you about one of the best decisions we've made for our wedding.

[cue music: Song TBD by our DJ]

Chapter 1: Splurging all over dueling pianists!

When we first started planning our wedding we were pretty positive we were going to book a band. In one of my first blog posts, "Band, DJ, iPod?" you don't have to be in the FBI's behavioral analysis unit (god I love "Criminal Minds") to tell that I was very pro-band. I had high hopes that I would book some sort of dueling pianos set up. Although live musicians are very expensive we tagged "reception entertainment" as one of our "splurge items". We would definitely watch our spending everywhere else, so we could spend a few more bucks on musicians. It was a perfect setup. So I set out to find a dueling piano act, and I found one. It was, perhaps, a little more expensive than I figured it would be, but I was ready to pay for it.

That's when paranoia set in about the dueling piano act. Is it danceable? And I know they say they can rein in the kitsch factor of their shows, but could they REALLY? I was prepared to take my chances with the kitsch (certainly I could have put something in the contract), but I still wasn't very sure our guests could dance to a few pianos. It would be a good show, but not for dancing. So I looked into adding a drummer to the piano show which raised the already high price. Then I figured while I was adding a drummer, why not add a guitarist.... I realized that I was just building a rather large band - one with 2 baby grand pianos.... and completely out of our price range. I had to let the dueling pianists go. They were unobtainable. It would have been fun, but just too much money. I wasn't prepared to spend that much, and at the end of the day, it seemed like thinking outside of the box was just too expensive. There's a reason there's an inside of the box.

Chapter 2: Counting all my Benjamins (so far, 0)

So after my failed attempt to sign a dueling pianos band I decided to further disappoint myself and try to reach out to the real reason I wanted a piano band in the first place. I desperately wanted to book Ben Folds for our wedding. In my head it made perfect sense: he'd somehow find the blog, see how awesome Rebecca and I are, and it would make him remember why he got into the music industry in the first place. He'd want to play a free 3 hour show for sure. I don't think I need to make this chapter any longer than it should be - we all know the outcome - it was short lived, kind of a joke, and didn't pan out the way I expected it to.

Chapter 3: Finding a band OR How do I stop bands from repeatedly calling my cellphone?
I hit up GigMasters, and spent hours and hours searching for a band. We were wading through a pool of punny band names mixed with a glorious level of so-so talent (disclaimer: there are some really talented bands on GigMasters, I'm not saying they are all bad). I really want to tell you some of the names, but would that be too mean? Should I? Oh man... fine. Phat Chants, The Ringtones, Buster Groove, and about 50 bands w/ some variation of the word Sensation in the title. I read profiles for bands that made my day they were so ridiculous (like this one). It seemed like a high quality band that was capable of playing 3 hours worth of music that we liked was going to cost us at least 1/2 of our wedding budget. And for the most part, the bands that we liked were a little too "glitsy" for our laid back & casual wedding. For instance, ones that came with dancers, or ones that sent me riders about needing a green room w/ specific foods & specific stage requirements needed for their show... Seriously?! You're not playing Dodger Stadium, you're playing a Bed & Breakfast in an off-the-beaten-path beach town in central California. Your deli tray, m&ms, and skittles are the LEAST of my worries on my wedding day. (The rider w/ specific foods is not a joke - one band included this with their quote!)

There were a handful of talented, young, & fun bands that were close to our price range. So I requested quotes. All the bands got back to me and were willing to work with their rates, but at the end of the day they were just all a bit out of our price range, AND at the end of the day we just weren't excited enough about any of them to splurge!

Currently I have the awesome fortune of getting 3-5 voicemails a week from all of the bands asking me if I've reconsidered, or if I've booked anyone else, or if I just changed my mind. Today I got a phone call from a band and it stated (verbatim) "I left you a message on January 18th, February 4th, and February 15th, this will be my last call..." Um really?! Do you promise?! I've already spoken with you and let you know I've gone a different route, but you still call! Take a hint, we broke up... move on. (BTW, if you're the guy from a band that's been calling me and you're reading this, I know you're just doing your job, you seem like a really nice guy, and your band is one of the ones that I liked, but we just can't book you, I'm sorry.)

Chapter Four: Ripping the band-aid off quickly and painlessly!
So Rebecca and I kicked up a lot of dust in our multiple band quote request, and once the dust settled and we saw the bands we could afford, we asked ourselves, "Why do we want a band anyway?". The ones that we could afford generally sounded a tad cheesy/campy, and when we thought about our wide wide tastes of music we realized we would be asking way too much of a band to be able to adequately play everything we like. We started to look at bands' playlists and saw a lot we liked, but at the same time saw a lot we didn't like. Bands in our price range just couldn't play enough music we love. At the end of the day we realized that if we were able to find a DJ... the RIGHT DJ..... one that we could trust and felt comfortable with - that would be the best option for us. But with my trust issues that would prove not to be such an easy task.

The Final Chapter, Chapter 5: I'm starting to sound like a Groomzilla
Ms. Temple of Groom and I set out to find a DJ. Friends recommended a few. Some seemed too cool for school w/ their house trance music mixes and some seemed really good, but overpriced. After all, we were trying to save money by hiring a DJ. We went on a wide rampage looking for DJs. Hell, I even went to a DJ's website that I found from being in traffic on the 101. He was the car in front of me, and had his DJ bumper sticker advertisement on his back window. Something told me that DJ Dandy wasn't going to be the right fit for us, but I still had to see his site. If you're bored, and want to see it, you can click here - spoiler alert: the front page has an english bulldog in a jester hat.

So needless to say, I became more and more hesitant about entrusting our wedding reception to a DJ. Sure they are a little less expensive than a band, but at what cost? I've been to weddings where the DJ seemed to have his own agenda no matter what the he and the bride & groom agreed to. I've seen some DJs literally do magic tricks for the party. I've heard horror stories where DJs made the night about themselves talking on the mic at any given chance, or played the chicken dance. It just seemed like such a risk. I started to think I didn't need a DJ, I needed a music babysitter. I don't think I could come up with fun playlists on my iPod for the entire day, and I don't think that a pre-made playlist can match up with the energy of any given moment. I would be stressed about it all evening. I think that reading energy + manipulating it is something so beneficial that a DJ brings to the party.

SO, I found some DJs close to the venue, and I started drafting my emails to them - bitchy bitchy bitchy groomzilla-esque emails. Ones where I would tell them I didn't want them to speak. Ones that asked them if they'd honor a "do not play" list and would use their judgment and not play songs similar to songs on our do-not-play list (IE if we said no "macarena" you shouldn't play "come on ride the train"). I was proofreading my email and I felt dirty. Like a mean person. I didn't like it, but I just don't want to be burned. Before I hit "send" I sent out a tweet that changed everything:

Oh man, I'm drafting an email to potential DJs and I can't help but come off very groomzilla-esque. I need to sound more positive!

Mere minutes later I received a tweet in response to mine from someone named @TeamBride. It said: @TempleofGroom I can help you out if you want...I wouldn't want you to sound like a groomzilla and I'm a DJ...

Wow. Someone was coming to my rescue to give me DJ advice. Not just SOMEONE, a wedding blogger... a bride-to-be that sends out tweets that I follow... and she was going to help me sound like a better person.

So we started instant messaging, and talking about our weddings, and talking about music in general and TeamBride (Samantha) is extremely knowledgeable and extremely willing to help with any questions I had. During our chat I started reading through her blog, found her top 10 songs at the moment - I love them all. Then it hit me... Samantha is a DJ, I love her taste in music, and she seems like she's completely on the same page as us in terms of what we want our wedding to be. I wanted TeamBride/Sam/DJ Evoke to be our DJ.

By far one of the smartest decisions I think I've made during my months of wedding planning is confiding in and entrusting a DJ that also happens to be planning her own wedding as well. She truly understands my fears and what I want my day to be. More times than not, I don't think the DJ really understands the importance of the day for the bride & groom. Not only because he's single and living in a basement of his parents' house (kidding kidding), but also because he's most likely a guy that doesn't worry about weddings or wedding planning. He may have just "shown up" on his day if he's married. Samantha truly GETS it. I couldn't feel more confident in our decision. Rebecca and I already had a disagreement on what music to play during the cocktail hour - so we got in a chatroom with Sam, and she diffused that bomb so effortlessly. She's truly the best. I'm so happy to welcome DJ Evoke to the Temple of Groom family.

The beauty of it all is that I didn't even have to send 1 bitchy email out to potential DJs. This was just meant to be. Very excited.


  1. Just found this blog and LOVE it. My only complaint is that I wish you were having a Disney wedding so I could feature you on my site! My husband is going to be soooo jealous of your blog header...

  2. Awwww....I'm so proud and honored to become a part of the Temple of Groom family! You guys are the coolest couple and I can't wait until your wedding!

  3. This post is very helpful, as I'm going through my own wedding-music-decision hell right now. I never really wanted a band, but our budget might not even afford a DJ so I've had to try and be flexible. I'm willing to consider an iPod-based music source, but I'd at least need someone dedicated to manning the playlists and transitioning from "booty-shaking hip hop" to "drunken sing-along classic rock" when the vibe calls for it. A close friend volunteered to handle DJ duties, which is very generous, but I'd rather have him out on the floor partying than back behind the decks. I have no idea what we'll end up doing, but I can relate to the agony you describe in this post. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. wow very thorough...
    i had a similar experience...
    i wanted a gospel choir and then an acappella group
    and then finally i realized we cant afford any of it...
    so we're doing an IPOD...

    oh! but my friend's brother is a great musician in the LA area..
    Ken Oak?
    I dont know if he does weddings... but maybe you can have a special song done by him. :)