It’s a funny thing about planning a wedding; most couples haven’t planned one before. Actually it is quite an undertaking to fit a wedding into an already busy schedule.
“Where to start?” is a good question.
And, the quick answer is: “To ask and answer more questions.” C0nsult lots of people.
The more you understand about an activity you are planning the easier it is to ask better questions. Then, knowing something about the subject one is more comfortable interacting with prospective vendors.
Sure it’s fun to go on line and gather information and do one’s “homework” but sooner or later it becomes a more efficient use of one’s time to talk directly with prospective vendors. Asking questions of vendors is only part of it; you being asked questions by the vendor and answering those questions is another part of it. (Asking questions of your self is also an aspect which is more fundamental and should be explored. More about this in future posts.) Very simply, direct contact is vital and as a result creativity grows exponentially. When I have the opportunity to speak with someone about music we first create a sketch of their event.
See: Talking about Music
Also see: A Full Evening of Entertainment
More Questions and Answers
Recently I received a list of questions from two couples planning their weddings; separate weddings but the list seemed the same. As I was answering these I thought that others might benefit from these questions and answers. I ended up interviewing each of these couples; one was in person and the other by phone. But given the opportunity to talk about their needs and concerns in both cases the couples benefited more from direct contact. E-mail is much slower and doesn’t handle the confusion which accompanies any new activity. Direct contact yields greater understanding more creativity and is over all more efficient.
The following questions focused on a DJ service. I am thinking that a similar list could be developed for a Live Music service. But again, I encourage talking.
40 Questions and 40 Answers about Weddings and Parties:
Here is that list of questions and my answers:
Question: “1. How extensive is your music library or song list? What genres can you cover?”
Answer: I have been compiling a DJ library since 1990. Working with couples is always quite an adventure. Currently over 6 Thousand songs. 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, American Top 40, Hip Hop, Spanish, French, Bollywood, lots! Pretty much all of them requests. I am happy to purchase requested music that I don’t already have in my library.
Question: “2. If you are unable to perform for some reason, do you have a backup replacement ready to go?”
Answer: Yes. I have DJs and professional Musicians who can perform in my stead. My wife Flutist Sheila Zimmermann and I have been performing for weddings for over 25 years and we have met some very talented performers who we hire. By the way, performing in Southern California since 1990 I have never missed a gig. I love what I do.
Question: “3. How would you define your “style” when making announcements?”
Answer: In a word: “Natural.” I am friendly. I try to make guests feel welcome. I am interested in representing the groom and bride in the best way possible. (It’s not about me.) I always work from a script that is part of the itinerary that has been approved ahead of time by the groom and bride.
Please see: Your Master of Ceremonies; What Does He Do?
Also see: How to Tie a Bow Tie Video
Question: “4. What do you do to motivate the crowd if nobody is dancing?”
Answer: Several things; all of which are done a head of time in preparation of the wedding: In addition to getting music requests from the Groom and Bride I also get requests from the “party animals” (the dancers). There will usually be anywhere from 3 to 10 couples who really like to dance at any event. I like getting 2 or 3 requests from these known dancers ahead of time during the planning process. This way I already know the music they like and will dance to.
A well planned itinerary flows effortlessly from one activity to the next with natural transitions into dancing.
Here is an example: At a wedding guest are very happy for the newlyweds. It is very easy to get everyone’s attention while the couple is cutting the cake. Then I ask the couple to say “thank you” to their guests. Again, we have the audience’s attention. After the “thank you” the couple takes their place on the dance floor. An easy to dance to song is played as the couple starts to dance. After about 60 seconds I invite all married couples to join them. And they always do. Then all couples are invited to join the newlyweds on the dance floor, etc.
I have found that when the groom and bride are on the dance floor that guests will want to join them on the dance floor.
Read more @ Elegant Music DJ Summary of Service
Question: “5. Can we submit a “Do Not Play” list?”
Answer: Certainly. I encourage a “play list” as well. Also, the opportunity to get requests from guests who are dancers. It is a lot of fun talking about music, one great song leads to another. We might end up with enough songs for another party!
Question: “6. What is included in the cost of my event?”
Answer: Music selections are included, great sound are included, announcing is included. And don’t for get, my bubbly personality!
Question: “7. Does this include setup and breakdown at the reception location?”
Answer: Yes. Except for gigs out of town you are not paying for Travel. There is no additional charge for Setup or Takedown.
Question: “8. Are there any additional fees that could accrue that I am not taking into account, like travel expenses or charges for special musical requests?”
Answer: In your case, no. Each event is unique and may have special needs which would usually become evident early in the planning process.
Question: “9. Do you accept cash payment? If so, would we get a signed receipt?”
Yes. And yes.
Answer: There are only 52 weekends in a year. A party or wedding date on a calendar comes up fast. Some dates are more popular than others. I work with couples anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in advance. Rarely I get a call for an event only a few weeks away. To help define the scope of service an itinerary sketch is included with every Elegant Music agreement. Our consultation and this document will help you plan the rest of your wedding. So, book Elegant Music early :-)
Answer: Music starts an event and continues throughout the celebration. I have found establishing an itinerary sketch early in the planning process helps define the scope of service and information I need. This itinerary is not to be written in stone, not yet, but it is an important planning tool. Pretty much all the info I need will be “blank spaces” on the itinerary.
A month before the wedding day:
A completed itinerary.
Names to be announced (and pronunciation)
Specific songs and where they will be performed (as well as requests)
Any worries or concerns or situations that have arisen.
One week before your wedding:
Balance paid in full. (This is so that you can enjoy your celebration without payment concerns.)
Question: “12. How would you describe your style?”
Answer: Please see: Your Master of Ceremonies; What Does He Do? Also see: #17 below.
Question: “13. Do you know our reception space and its acoustic, power and amplification requirements? If not, will you check it out beforehand?”
Answer: I am familiar with your venue. Beautiful, Graceful and Dangerous. Wedding @ Ayers Hotel Manhattan Beach. Great wedding location!
Question: “14. Do you plan to use lighting or any other special effects?”
Answer: Due to your budget restrictions not at this time. We can talk about lighting and design options.
“15. Who will do the setup?”
Answer: I do. By the way, I can easily provide uplighting. Sometimes when a more extensive lighting package is wanted I use a separate lighting company to set it up for me.
Answer: I have an additional service available that addresses this important point. It is very simple and very effective. Please see: DJ Dance Floor Surround Sound http://www.weddingmusiclaca.com/dj-dance-floor-surround-sound-video/
Question: “17. What do you typically wear?”
Answer: Tuxedo or suit; Hawaiian shirt, depends on the event. Usually a wedding is a formal event, but doesn’t have to be stuffy. I know how important design is. Indeed in addition to wearing the proper attire the atmosphere of the event and tone of the music as well announcements contribute greatly to the over all presentation and should be discussed.
Question: “18. How do you handle song requests?”
Answer: I would like them ahead of time. I believe your location has Wifi. I can easily download anything I don’t have from iTunes if I am asked. I will play the request immediately or when I feel it will contribute to the activity already on the dance floor.
Question: “19. How many weddings do you typically do in a year?”
Answer: I think last year I did over 100 events. At least 25 of them were weddings.
Question: “20. Do you have another wedding gig before or after ours?”
Answer: Not at this time. December 2, 2017 will be a popular date for Holiday Parties.
Question: “21. Do you have liability insurance?”
Question: “22. What’s your backup plan if there’s an equipment malfunction?”
Answer: I have an iPad as a back up to my Computer. I have additional amplification that can be employed as needed.
Answer: I think that everyone has a special song that they like. I also think that even a shy person will dance if they have a reason to. Your guests on your wedding day will be very happy for you. The reason that they are attending your wedding is that they want to support you. Part of the job of a Master of Ceremonies is to make a connection with each person in the audience and help them to feel welcome; not put them on the spot. If there is concern that it will not be a “dancing crowd” that should be made known early in the planning process. Other activities and traditions can be observed in leu of dancing. Getting requests ahead of time and knowing what to play for that crowd would contribute to the success of the event. These requests can be organized in such a way that everyone enjoys the evening. There are many things that contribute to a successful event. I certainly don’t think that hounding a crowd is the answer to getting people up to dance. A well planed itinerary that creates opportunity for dancing is part of the answer.
Question: “24. Do you have a specialty?”
Answer: I am a commercial actor. I am a DJ. I am a Pianist and professional musician. I lead a number of ensembles performing a variety of styles of music. At the request of clients I write custom arrangements for my ensembles to perform. (It takes hours if not days to write a single arrangement.) I am an excellent Master of Ceremonies. No body in Los Angeles does what I do :-)
Question: “25. What sound equipment do you utilize? Do you have back-up equipment?”
Answer: Professional JBL EON Speakers, Mixers, Mics, etc. Yes, I have backup equipment.
Question: “26. Have you played at our chosen wedding venue before? If not, can you make a site visit beforehand?”
Answer: Yes I have. See: Beautiful, Graceful and Dangerous
Question: “27. Are weddings your main event?”
Answer: Weddings, Parties, Special Events: Shows…
Question: “28. How much time do you need to setup and take down?”
Answer: About 1 hour to setup. Sometimes more. It depends on the event. About 1 hour to take down.
Question: “29. What equipment do you use?”
Answer: Professional JBL EON Speakers. See: Elegant Music DJ Dance Floor Surround Sound
Question: “30. What type of equipment do you need the venue to provide?”
Answer: None. Wifi would be nice.
Question: “31. How extensive is your music collection?”
Answer: Music is a big subject. We can talk about music for a long time. See: Song Lists & Choosing Your Favorite Music http://www.weddingmusiclaca.com/song-lists-choosing-your-favorite-music/
Question: “32. What type of music genre do you have?”
Answer: Music is infinite. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about music you like.
Question: “33. Can I provide my own playlist and a “do not” playlist?”
Answer: Yes, please! But do leave it up to me when your requests are played. I like to keep a dance floor full and so would like the option to play what I need to to keep the party going.
“34. How would you get my guests dancing and excited?”
Answer: The first steps happen in the planning of the event. A well planned itinerary is one thing. Getting requests from the “Party Animals” who will be attending before the event is a good idea. Organizing music by beats per-minute and when these might be performed is important too. Also, there is an agreement between the DJ/MC and the audience that is fostered by a successful grand entrance. A successful grand entrance establishes the Master of Ceremonies in the eyes of the audience. “What the MC says, happens!” The audience will then give the MC their attention and follow his direction. The audience is there to celebrate and support you and your decision to get married. They are happy for you. If you are on the dance floor, they will be on the dance floor. You already have them excited. It is my job to help them celebrate. It is not about me.
Question: “35. Do you have a sample demo CD of songs from a previous wedding?”
See: Song Lists & Choosing Your Favorite Music http://www.weddingmusiclaca.com/song-lists-choosing-your-favorite-music/
Answer: No. But I should clarify that as a DJ there is no reason for me to take breaks. When I perform with other musicians as a bandleader I do have to schedule breaks. Usually pre-recorded music is played during breaks. However with a well planned itinerary there are scheduled announcements and toasts which allows for musicians to take breaks.
Question: “37. Can you also act as an emcee announcing the bouquet toss, garter toss and other announcements?”
Question: “38. What do you wear?”
Answer: Tux See #17 above.
Question: “39. Do you require us to provide a meal?
Answer: Yes. Please.
Question: “40. Can you provide song references?”
Answer: See: Song Lists & Choosing Your Favorite Music
The Elegant Music website has a lot of information but more importantly I look forward to speaking with you. Please know that you can get a hold of me just about anytime on my cell phone: 323-270-3650.
Sincerely, Eric Zimmermann
Elegant Music 626-797-1795