Occasionally, I will sub-contract my DJ services to other companies that are looking for someone to help out.
I had the unique, interesting yet horrifying experience of watching a bride completely ruin her own wedding for herself and her guests at a recent event I was sub-contracted for.
The company gave me the details of the couple, their key songs, the location as well as a couple of Spotify playlists the couple had created.
One for dinner time, one for dancing time. This is fine as we also encourage our clients to create a list of music so that we can get an idea of the style of music they might like to hear on the night.
When we ask them to create a playlist, it’s not for us to go from exclusively, but to give us an idea and we then add to it with songs that we know will work well with them to keep everyone happy. After all, if you are just going to create a list and expect us to stick to it, why bother hiring a DJ? You could just hire a speaker and plug in your phone.
In my introductory phone call with the bride to be, I introduced myself, confirmed the date and venue along with the key songs. I then mentioned I received the playlists and will definitely pepper a lot of their songs though the night. The bride told me that under no circumstance am I to deviate from the playlists, to stick exclusively to them. Even if a guest requests a song, if it’s not on the list, it isn’t to be played.
I explained very calmly that, whilst I can do this, I highly recommend allowing me to add a few extras that will work really well with what she has. She stuck to her guns and said definitely not to add anything, just to stick to the playlist.
Now, the playlist wasn’t bad. In fact there was a lot of songs that I would usually play there anyway. Sure there was 50% of it unusable for most weddings, but there was enough there for me to mull over and put into a logical order. Whilst I don’t pre-create playlists (I prefer to be pro-active and assess the dance floor on the night), I did group them into similar songs that would work well together.
Come dance time and following the first dance, I played a dance floor favourite guaranteed to get everyone up and dancing (which was from her list), Dancing Queen by ABBA. I then went into 3 more songs that fit well after Dancing Queen and every one of her guests was up and having a great time. Then she hit me with another bomb.
She came up to me and said “These songs are all fitting together”. I assumed she meant that as a compliment as it took me a good amount of time to contruct something that would work with my hands tied by having to stick to a specific list. It wasn’t a compliment. I said “Thank you, yes it’s going well”. To which she said “I don’t like it!”. I was confused and said “Sorry? I don’t understand?”. She explained that she didn’t like that the songs were flowing nicely together and in a logical order. She asked me to just press “shuffle” and walk away!
Now if I did this, we would be seeing a mish mash of mess. It could mean hearing a classic like “Take On Me” by A-Ha followed by an obscure track by Tiesto from the list (or anyone of the other dozens of obscure songs). I explained very carefully that if I was to do that, all the people currently up and dancing will sit down and will be very unlikely to get back up. I told her in no uncertain terms that I highly don’t recommend it and that it would completely destroy her dance floor.
I was told to just do what I am told and to press shuffle and walk away.
Which I did.
The next song DID destroy the dance floor.
I don’t know what it was, it was some obscure track that had everyone looking confused and glancing at me like it was my fault.
I felt really uncomfortable. I have spent many years honing and building my profile as a professional DJ, only to feel it crumble beneath me and out of my control.
I chose to do something I have never done in my career. To leave the booth and take her advice to walk away.
Song after song played (with no flow at all) to a room, not only with nobody dancing, but quickly emptying.
Guests were leaving in droves.
The bride was NOT happy and said to me that she is disappointed people are all leaving.
The booking was supposed to be until midnight, however by 10.20pm there was nobody left other than the bride and groom and about 6 of their friends.
Here is my advice to you if you are in the process of planning your wedding.
TRUST YOUR VENDORS.
If she had just trusted me, I feel certain that I could have created an amazing night and had her guests dancing right up until midnight.
(Sure, a number still would have left, but certainly not everyone by 10.20pm!)
Not trusting your chosen entertainer to do what they are professional at doing is similar to providing the recipies for the chef.
You just don’t do it. You give some guidance to your preference, then let the professionals do what they do.
P.S. – This issue wouldn’t have happened with any of our couples as we find out well before the day how they feel about us making a good amount of decision when it comes to the music. If they don’t like it, we politely decline the event as it’s our reputation on the line as well.