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Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Choosing Music For Your Wedding

One of the most agonizing (in a good way) parts of a wedding for me is waiting for all the reception formalities to take place, like the first dance and speeches, so that I can get on the dance floor. Don’t get me wrong, the first dance and speeches are romantic and beautiful, but I get itchy after a while to get up and move!
 

Knowing that people go to a wedding to have a good time, many couples often struggle with choosing the right music to play to make sure everyone has a good time. The unfortunate truth is that couples stress way too much over this.
 

There are mistakes many couples make, without even realizing they are making these mistakes, that cause a lot of added stress and anxiety when it comes to choosing wedding music. Sometimes, they feel like they need to give their DJ a list of all the songs they want to be played and then all the DJ does is play them. We learned already that a DJ does so much more than hit PLAY. Sometimes they think only about the reception and forget about the rest of the day.
 

So, we asked Hudson Valley DJs to share their best advice to help you choose music for your wedding without making the common mistakes that add stress.
 

RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THEIR DJ

 

Mistake #1 – Not trusting your DJ

 

There are many reasons why couples feel like they have to choose their entire playlist, but one of the things they need to do is trust their DJ. Some responsibility does fall on the couple in terms of letting the DJ know what songs they love or hate, what their style is, what specific songs they want to be played during special dances, but ultimately the DJ is in charge. Why?
 

Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie, says the same DJ can play the same music in the same order and the reaction will be different because of the crowd. “They (the couple) need to trust the DJ. That’s the most important thing.” Trocino says. “You are not hiring a DJ so you can tell them what music to play…As wedding DJs we do what we do for a reason and a lot of our execution is done on the fly. It’s always good to prepare the DJ with what’s important to you…but the rest of it, the DJ probably knows a little bit more about what’s going to make the day go right from an entertainment standpoint.”
 

DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls, says what couples don’t realize is the amount of songs time allows for, after cocktail hour and formal dances are over, is a lot less than they probably think. He says a typical wedding goes through around 80 songs for the entire day including dinner and cocktail hour. “We’ve got maybe about 50 dancing songs, that’s all we have time for…If you dictate each one of them to the DJ – he or she – does not have the chance to take a left turn.” Meaning, reading the crowd and keeping the party going
 

Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction, says, “We don’t need couples to give us lists of music and we actually advocate against it, because 9 out of 10 couples aren’t paying attention to the guests in the room, that’s the most important part. The most important part about the music is just that the music is recognizable and that people know it and it expands all generations, and you’re not just playing four hours of rap music or hip hop.” Instead, DJs take your guidance and choose a wide array of music based on the crowd in front of them.
 

RELATED: WEDDING RECEPTION TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

 

Mistake #2 – Forgetting about your ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner music

 

“More and more couples are using DJs outside of the reception,” says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. “They (DJs) set up at a location at the venue different than the reception space and focus on three songs: processional, recessional and bridal march.” He also says that the Bridal March is not as common of a processional song as it once was, with many couples using acoustic versions of songs or playing string instrumentals during the time guests are being seated. He says you need to ask your DJ if they provide ceremony music and what comes with it, such as wireless mics for you and the officiant so that your guests can hear you.
 

Lewis says, “There’s a couple other aspects of music that we always tell couples to pay attention to, and it’s dinner and cocktail hour. Those are crucial times.” He says that cocktail hour is the time that subliminally transitions your guests from ceremony mode to party mode, so you want to start off with some classic songs and end with more upbeat party songs. “For us, we always say that dinner should be upbeat and fun. We’ll keep them low key and less danceable songs, but more about what the couple likes. If they’re into country, play some country music. Or if you’re into really obscure songs play them during dinner.”
 

Mistake #3 – Not paying enough attention to lyrics and not using clean edits

 

Today, it seems like every song out there has a hidden meaning to it. There are so many songs that I love just because of the beat and the music, but when I actually take a step back and listen to the lyrics, I’m shocked sometimes to learn the song is all about sex or drugs.
 

I still love the songs and listen to them, but I certainly thought twice about playing them at our wedding. Now, are most people going to pick up on those hidden meanings? Probably not. But what everyone will pick up on are curse words. If curse words don’t bother you, great, but remember your guests.
 

Swatek says clean edits are a “…personal preference, but I see no reason to have anything but clean edits…I don’t see any reason to have language at a wedding that might offend anyone. If one guest is offended, it’s one guest too many.” He goes on to say that “even with clean edits, there are certain songs that are not appropriate for a wedding.” That’s ties back to what I said about listening to the lyrics and what they are really talking about.
 

You’ll find many DJs will only play clean edits, because, let’s face it, a wedding is a classy event, even if it’s an informal wedding, not a club. Lewis says, “We only play clean music. We always let them (couples) know to pay attention to the people in the room…” Basically, if you think your parents or grandparents are going to cringe at lyrics, you might want to reconsider.

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12 Wedding Traditions You Can Skip…And 5 You Should Keep (part 2)

This is the second part of a 2-part series

 

If you’ve been to many weddings, you’ll know there’s a certain ebb and flow to them and certain main elements you can rely on, mainly being that weddings have some type of ceremony with some type of celebration after. What those end up looking like is totally up to you and your personal style and taste.

I mentioned I am a traditionalist, to an extent. I love the formality of weddings, but I also love it when couples change up tradition to match their personal preference, taste and personality. What’s great about weddings being full of traditions, is that, by definition, means that they aren’t rules. You can basically do whatever you want. While there are some traditions that can totally be skipped or changed up, there are 5 that, in my opinion need to stay:

RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP…AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP

Wedding Tradition: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

What’s great about this tradition is that it’s vague enough that a bride can make it as obvious or as subtle as she wants. That’s why it’s a tradition I think should always be kept…more so than keeping a white dress. Why? Because fashion changes, times change, styles change. A dress is something that will be memorialized in photos and is one of the outwardly obvious indications of the bride’s personality so she should choose what she likes and what makes her comfortable and radiant.

This is such a time-honored tradition that I think any bride, no matter how traditional or off-beat will agree, is something she won’t be walking down the aisle without doing. The something new is almost always a wedding dress, so that can be ticked off a bride’s list right away. The something blue can be something subtle like blue shoes or blue stickers on the bottom of her shoes spelling out “I do” to something more obvious…maybe a blue dress or blue flowers or even blue hair!

Something borrowed can be absolutely anything and sometimes, can be combined with something old. For me, my old and borrowed item was a brooch my grandmother always wore which I had attached to my bouquet.

Wedding Tradition: Keeping the ceremony a ceremony

 

Back in the day, almost all wedding ceremonies took place in a house of worship. Now, more and more ceremonies are taking place outside or in non-secular locations. Either way, they are beautiful in their own right. However, every once in a while you hear about the couple that gets married under water, gets married while sky diving, or gets married doing some sort of non-traditional activity. While I do agree it’s your wedding and you can do what you want with it, it’s VERY, VERY important to not make light of the situation. A wedding is a sacred, special, meaningful day, and the ceremony itself is so life-changing that it needs the proper attention, formality, and dignity it (and your relationship) deserves. There are other times during the day you can express your love of diving, running or any other activity you enjoy, but the ceremony needs to be a ceremony…dignified and formal (however you define it).

Wedding Tradition: Mailing out paper invitations

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I know couples are strapped for cash and sometimes, invitations can get expensive, so especially now, in this tech-based society, many couples are opting for paperless invitations. While I understand the financial aspect of it, and understand most people just throw them out afterward, it kind of goes back to my last point about keeping your ceremony formal and dignified. Now, does that mean you need to spend $10 a piece on invites? Heck no! You can print them yourself. What that does mean is seeing your wedding in the bigger picture. Are all your guests going to be able to navigate an e-vite? Are you going to want pictures of your invite? Are you going to want to keep some for framing?

Now, there are things you can do so save paper and money. Maybe send electronic Save the Dates, or have guests RSVP electronically to save money on postage, but sending a paper RSVP to grandma instead. You could even try sending post card invites and then include all pertinent information on your wedding website. Whatever you decide, sending an invitation sends a message to your guests that it is a special event.

RELATED: WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO BE A DIY BRIDE?

Wedding Tradition: Hiring professional vendors

 

In this day in age, it’s very easy to say “I’m going to have a friend take our photos” or “I’m just going to play my iTunes playlist” or “I’m going to cook all my food,” and while that’s all well and good, you have to think about the end result, and what that all really means.

While it’s not really tradition, it is something you shouldn’t skimp out on. Is your Itunes play list going to give you the type of entertainment you want? Who’s going to announce you, or announce the speeches or announce the cake cutting or last dance? Are your friends’ photos going to capture every moment you want? Do you want your friend to work or have a good time? How long will it take to the photos back? Will they be edited? How are you going to get an album? Same with the food…are you going to cook or get married? You can’t really do both without having to work on your wedding day. Who’s going to set up?

So, that’s why the professionals are there, to help you enjoy your day and make it everything you dreamed of.

Wedding Tradition: Honoring those who have passed

 

At most weddings, there is either something said about those who couldn’t be there physically with you, something written about them, a candle symbolizing your loved ones or even a table with photos of your loved ones. However you want to recognize your loved ones is up to you, but it’s a tradition that needs to be kept. Remember, your wedding is about two families coming together, sharing love, and honoring your loved ones reminds everyone of their love for you and how their loved shaped you into who you are today.

What wedding traditions would you keep? Would you trade one of these for another tradition? What traditions are you keeping in your wedding? We’d love to know.

Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

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Wedding Reception Trends You Need to Know About

I may be really dating myself here, but I remember attending weddings back in the day when the Electric Slide, Conga lines, and the Chicken Dance were the hits of the night. Everyone looked forward to those group dances. Didn’t you?
 

I also remember being dragged out onto the dance floor, despite not wanting to be there, for the bouquet toss, then stealthfully hiding in the back and slinking away so I was nowhere near that thing when it landed.
 

More recently, though, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a group dance at a wedding, and I think it was 2009 when I last saw the bouquet and garter toss thrown. This made me curious: Is this just coincidence or is this a trend? What other traditional elements of the receptions are staying or are seeing a decline? So, I decided to ask Hudson Valley DJs what trends they’ve been seeing. You might be surprised by the answer:

 
RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THEIR DJ

 

Group Dances
 

It’s unanimous with all DJs we spoke to: Group dances are almost dead. Some couples do the Cupid Shuffle, as that’s a newer song; but the Electric Slide, Conga lines, the Macarena, the Chicken Dance – all that. Gone. So, if you didn’t want one, but were thinking that you needed to include one of those dances at your wedding, you don’t. Unless you REALLY want to have one.
 

Bouquet and Garter Toss
 

This, by far, is the fastest-disappearing trend. I didn’t do it and actually felt enormous guilt not doing it, because it’s tradition. It’s not a wedding without it, right? But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t find any justifiable reason to do it. I knew I would feel very uncomfortable with my husband putting his hands up my dress in front of our family and friends, plus, we had maybe five single friends at our wedding which would have made it really weird.
 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, gives a little history on this tradition, as it was originally just the bouquet toss, but then the garter toss was added so that both the bride and groom had something to do. Today, he says, the bouquet and garter toss are rarely done. “I offer options,” says Fischer. “If you only want to toss the bouquet, you don’t have to throw the garter.”
 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls also says more commonly, just the bouquet is tossed, but he tells couples, “If you feel that you don’t have many single people, don’t do it,” explaining it can become embarrassing when you get only two or three people. “If it’s going to be awkward, don’t do it” he says, which is exactly what we did. Just scrap it!
 

Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction, says, “That (the bouquet and garter toss) tends to be a nightmare, trying to get people to come out on the dance floor and participate in it because they just don’t want to.”
 

Plus, it takes away from dance time, and Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz, says couples want fewer interruptions in the night and more time to dance and party.
 
RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

 

Other trends that may be fading

Lewis says the traditional cake cutting may be the next trend to fade away. “I think the cake cutting is making it’s way out,” he said. “We’ve had more and more couples decide not to stop the party to do the cake cutting.” That doesn’t mean it going away completely. Lewis says “I’ll advise them to come in during the cocktail hour and do a mock cake cutting, so at least they’ll have a picture.” Cake will still be served after dinner, but by cutting it early, they don’t have to disrupt the party and cause a break in the action.
 

New Trends
 

Anniversary Dance –
 

One of the biggest newest trends is something called the Anniversary Dance. This dance, which has several variations, is basically a way to acknowledge those invited guests who are married, especially those who have been married a long time, and celebrating the one couple that’s been married the longest.
 

Fischer says one variation is the elimination process. “You invite married couples up,” he says, “and begin eliminating them based on how long they’ve been married — one year, five years, 10 years, 15 years,” then the couple still left standing gets a gift and recognition from all your guests. “So now, not only did you honor that couple that’s been married 30, 40, 50 years, which is awesome,” he says, “you honored all the married couples that got up.”
 

A variation he’s seen includes a bride and groom writing down the names of the single men and women in attendance on a piece of masking tape and sticking the tape to the bottom of their shoe. The bride writes the women’s names; the groom writes the men’s names. At a certain point at the reception, whoever’s name is still pronounced and legible gets a bouquet.
 

Lewis has a different approach. He asks everybody to make a big circle and asks the crowd who’s married. Once the couple who’s been married the longest has been identified, they then dance together in the middle of the circle of guests, in front of their closest family and friends, recreating their first dance. He says it’s usually always a tear-jerking moment. During part of the song, he has the bride and groom join in to recognize the oldest and newest married couples, then has all the married couples join them.
 

Bridal Party Introductions –
 

Two interesting trends have been happening with this. Lewis has seen bridal party introductions becoming less of a “thing” because couples are focusing on themselves as a couple, realizing the five minutes it takes to introduce the bridal party could mean an extra song or two could be played.
 

On the other hand, Garcia says introductions are getting more personalized. “Introductions are huge,” he says. “I always tell people that (the introductions) sets the tone for the party. You want fun, upbeat high energy music. I’m getting more where they tailor the music to the people coming in where they do a song for every couple.”
 

What dance trends are you doing or not doing at your wedding? Is there a trend you miss? What traditions are you skipping? What new ones are you creating just for your special day? We’d love to know.

 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jade DJ Entertainment

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the one mistake couples make when hiring their DJ

When you hire a DJ for your wedding, did you know that you are not hiring them based on the fact they play music? That sounds crazy, right? I mean, they are called disc jockeys for a reason!

 

I’ll be the first to admit that we hired a DJ for our wedding because we wanted people to dance, have a good time, and get their groove on for a couple of hours. But when I stopped to think about it, our DJ did so much more than play music. Actually, the music came second to what really made our guest have a good time.
 

Here’s what I mean. A few weeks ago I saw this on the website of Digital Musicians Entertainment: “In this new age of easy access to technology it seems like it’s possible for anyone with a laptop and some speakers to be a “wedding DJ.” The truth is, what we do encompasses so much more than pressing play. It’s so much more than playing other people’s music through some big speakers.”

 

I was floored! That really made a lot of sense, so I thought I would ask professional wedding DJs in the Hudson Valley their thoughts, and they all agreed that playing music is just a part of what makes your wedding hop.

 

RELATED: Why Hiring an Experienced DJ for Your Wedding is a Bad Idea

 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, says, “A lot of people think that a DJ is a human jukebox – that a DJ just plays music – and that is about the last thing we do.”

 
dj quote
 

In fact, Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie, says, “The DJ, more important than the music, guides and directs, becomes the master of ceremonies, makes sure things happen at the right time, they coordinate between the vendors, the caterer, and the other various vendors. … The DJ is the nucleus of the formalities.”

 

Those are some powerful words – the nucleus of formalities. So let’s break this down into what DJs really do, and that goes far beyond playing music.

 

 

Wedding DJs can sometimes act like your wedding planner, and guests look at them as the ones in charge

 

Think about weddings you’ve attended in the past. Did it seem like a choreographed dance? Dances, speeches, cake cutting, dinner, photos all seemed to be happening at the right time. That wasn’t by chance.

 

“There’s so much more to DJing a wedding than just playing music,” says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. “We’re involved in everything, and the whole flow of the evening is in our hands. We need to make sure that everything is happening according to the schedule. We need to make sure that it’s what you want it to be, and planning is the biggest part of that.” That includes working with all your vendors and making sure everyone is on the same page following the same schedule.

 

Andrew “Enriquez” Nikola, DJ and president of Enriquez Entertainment in Marlboro, says, “DJs aren’t just playing music. It is not an iPod. An entertainment company is a wedding planner, an MC, and a DJ. They are working closely together with all the other vendors, as well as the venue, to ensure the greatest success of the event for the couple.”

 

This is why Fischer says guests often look at the DJ like they are the ones in charge.

 

RELATED: 9 Crucial Things You Need to Do for Your Wedding Vendors

 

Wedding DJs are also the MCs (Master of Ceremonies) and entertainers

 

I spoke to Pat Mahan, owner and DJ at Digital Musicians Entertainment in New Windsor, who was the inspiration for this post, to explain what was written on his website. “The DJ is so much more than playing music,” he says. “If you take away the master of ceremonies or if you take away the DJ, yes, you have somebody playing music at your wedding … but the downfall to that is, all the little things add up and take away from the total music time.” Little things, such as not mixing songs properly, stalling when certain formalities are being done, essentially anything that a DJ with little experience does, that interrupts that natural flow of the night and takes away from dance time.

 

When you work with a single operation DJ, meaning the DJ is the company, they are the DJ and the MC. With multi-operation DJ companies, meaning the DJ business has several DJs working for them, you will often times get a DJ and an MC for your wedding. Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls, says, “It’s really important to have a two-man show, like a team. You need a DJ to play the music all night long and an MC to be on the microphone and get in the crowd to make sure that everything is being hosted correctly.”

 

 

DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls, says, “If certain things don’t come together … if the DJ isn’t doing a good job moving people through the day, people will remember that lack of flow, they’ll remember it wasn’t organic, it wasn’t natural.”

 

Wedding DJs are your own personal AV, backstage, and lighting crew

 

Swatek explains “a good MC, a good DJ will get their hands into every single part of the wedding day, even little things like ‘what are your wedding colors?’ Well, why are you asking that? Because I’m bringing lighting, and I want to make sure that it coordinates with what you’re doing.”

 

But you also need to look at your wedding day as a whole, not just the reception, in terms of what you are hiring your DJ to do. For example, are you having an outdoor ceremony? Then you need wireless mics. Are you having music at cocktail hour? Then you need a separate setup.

 

Fischer says, “They (couples) lean on me a lot for the ceremony. Two-thirds of all the weddings I do, I’m involved in the ceremony.” He says almost any ceremony outside of a place of worship is going to need something, whether its live music like a violinist or at the very minimum a PA system. “If they (the couple) are out in the middle of a field on a farm and there are 200 guests,” he says, “the people in the first three rows are going to hear it (the ceremony) but what about the other 175 guests? So at the minimum, you need PA.”

 

 

Mahan says music should really be the last thing you discuss with your DJ. “The music is a byproduct of the process,” he says, “and the process is what’s important.” A truly experienced and qualified wedding DJ will be able to answer questions like “What happens if the first song cuts out? What happens if I have a last minute request? How do you accommodate that?”

 

So, you can see, a wedding DJ does so much more than play music. In our next article, we’re going to teach you the best ways to hire a DJ, what you should be looking for and questions to ask.
 
If you already booked your DJ or had your wedding, what did your DJ do that surprised you in any way? What made you say “Oh, I didn’t know that?”

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