Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gazebo Wedding Ceremony

Outdoor wedding ceremonies held under a gazebo are beautiful and very romantic.  Although a gazebo is an ideal site for a wedding, they almost never have an attached PA system.  For this reason, we are often asked to help couples facilitate their gazebo ceremony by providing a PA system, a microphone and/or music.

If you are having a small intimate gathering of 40 or 50 people and you do not wish music to be a part of your ceremony, you may not need a DJ to assist with a PA system.  You  and your officiant will probably be heard just fine without the aid of sound amplification.  If your group, however, is larger than 50 and/or you wish music to enhance the celebration you will certainly need a PA system at the gazebo.  I suggest against the boom box option as they tend not to be powerful enough and outside ambient noise can easily drown out the quality of sound coming from a boom box.  Plus, the boom box option requires a family member or a friend to work the controls and this takes away from their experience at your wedding, even if all else works fine.

You'd be surprised at how affordable it is to have a professional provide this service for you.  Typically, we charge only an additional $100 to $150 to set up a sound system at the gazebo if the ceremony is held at the same site as the reception, which is almost always the case.  A recent client of ours commented on how valuable this service was to her because it relieved her of a lot of stress related to the ceremony.

We'll arrive well before the start of the ceremony to set up equipment in a manner that not intrusive.  We'll do a sound check, prepare the microphone and music, etc.  When guests begin to arrive, they are welcomed by prelude music already softly playing as they find their seats and prepare for your ceremony.  When the ceremony begins, you and your bridal party will enter to a processional song(s) of your choice, making for a very moving experience.  And, hey, what about the postlude song as your officiant congratulates you as husband and wife?  We'll make sure that the end of your ceremony is a great springboard for fun and celebration afterward at your reception!

For more information about how we might help you with your ceremony and reception, please contact us soon to set up a phone chat or a personal meeting!


Friday, August 9, 2013

18 Considerations When Planning An Outside Wedding


So you’re planning an outside wedding?  Here are a few things to consider.  These considerations are not all-inclusive but simply a handful of ideas to get you in the planning mode.  Let us know if you have other helpful tips to add!

Mother Nature:

This will not be a surprise to serious planners but if you know anything about living in northeast Ohio, you know that the weather is unpredictable and can change quickly.  You will need to have a rainy day plan, meaning a protected area for guests to go to if weather should be severe.  I recommend planning your day assuming that the weather will be bad for part or all of the day.  I don’t want you to do this because I’m a pessimist (I’m not).  But I’ve learned that a little planning can go long way toward a successful event.  If the weather is nice – great!  If the weather gets nasty, you’ll be ready for that too!

Many clients rent a tent, choose a venue that is connected to or near a cabin, covered pavilion, deck, porch, barn, etc.  Your DJ and perhaps other vendors will be bringing equipment that needs to be protected in the event of rain such as a PA system, lighting, etc. and even a 10 minute rain shower can damage electronic equipment. So, having covered protected space is going to be important no matter the weather.

You’d be surprised at how many people believe that Mother Nature will respect their special day enough to forego bad weather.  It won’t rain on us… 6 months from now!  No need for rainy day plans – ugh!

Consider your guests.  You and your fiancĂ© may be outdoorsy people along with your close friends but not all of your guests are.  Severe heat or cold is tough on some older folks.  Will your grandparents be OK in 90-degree heat if it should be a hot day?  Just something to consider.. Be sure to share with your guests that your wedding ceremony and/or reception will be an outdoor event.  Share with them, too, if there will be protected areas from rain, sun, etc.

Here are just a few Mother Nature considerations:

1) Rain – Will you have cover? What can and cannot get wet? Where will guests gather if it should rain?
2) Drainage – Are you setting up guest tables on a high or low plateau? If it rains will water flow and puddle in that area or will it drain away nicely away from the area?
3) Wet Ground – What if it rains the night before but stops on the morning of your wedding day?  The sun is out but the ground is wet and possibly muddy.  Are there walkways and/or concrete areas for guests to gather so that shoes don’t sink into muddy ground? If I had a dollar for every time I saw a female guest in high heals sink into the mud – I’d be RICH!
4) Wind – Not usually a problem but consider, what should be fastened down in case the wind picks up.  For example, if you are having your ceremony outside and you are using a runner for the aisle, you’ll surely want to figure out a way to prevent it from the affects of the wind. I’ve rarely seen a runner stay in place during an outside ceremony. Also, what about table centerpieces?  Make sure they’re heavy enough to withstand wind!
5) Heat – Again, there’s not much you can do if it’s really hot outside but guests will appreciate shady areas.  Make sure you have plenty of water available for guests to hydrate during the event.  Do not keep your wedding cake out for lengthy periods of time on a hot day.  I’ve seen a number of cakes melt, tilt, etc. due to extreme heat.  Have a protected, preferably cooler place for your cake to be kept until you plan on cutting and serving it.
6) Cool Weather – This isn’t the problem that a really hot day can pose but be sure to keep a sweater, jacket, blanket etc. handy if you should get an unusually chilly day in the middle of summer.
7) Bugs – Yes, I said BUGS! If you can, have the area sprayed a day prior to your wedding day to minimize bugs, spiders, mosquitos, etc.  Some clients also provide bug repellent torches for the event itself and spray repellent for guests if they choose to protect themselves.  I know this sounds crazy but… Contact a pest professional and ask them what bugs/pests are prevalent during that time of the year and what to do to minimize bug problems.  For example, for some reason, bees are angrier during the later months of summer and are more likely to sting – August & September.  A pest professional can give you tips on how to handle different types of bugs and other creepy crawlies.
8) Weather Radar – Just about everyone today has a smart phone with access to updated weather information. Have someone, a friend or family member, check the weather radar periodically during the event to stay informed about changes in weather – especially later in the evening when weather can change quickly in northeast Ohio.
9) Outside Noise – What?  Noise?  Yep. As DJ’s and sound professionals we’re always tuned into ambient noise.  A windy day can be noisy. Is your venue near water such as a lake or waterfall?  Animals, birds, etc. are noisy.  Is there a road or railroad tracks nearby?  There is more ambient noise outside than inside under controlled circumstances.  If you are having your ceremony outside, will your guests be able to hear your officiant declare you husband and wife?  We are often hired to provide a PA system, microphone and/or music for outside ceremonies.

Logistics:

Planning an informal outside picnic for a small group of guests is one thing but what if you are inviting a larger group of people to enjoy a grand celebration?  Yikes!  Here are just a few considerations…

10) Restrooms – Where will guests go to use the restroom?  Are the facilities adequate for your group size?

11) The elderly and guests with disabilities – Navigating uneven ground outside is typically not a problem for most people but what about your 85 year old grandmother?  What about anyone on your guest list who uses a cane or wheelchair?  Is your outside venue safe for them to navigate?  At the very least, delegate someone to assist the elderly or guests with disabilities when they need to move about the premises.  This will avoid trips, falls and other accidents and your guests will be glad that you considered their special needs.  Consider, what are other special needs for your older guests and those with disabilities?

12) Electricity – As DJ’s we always need access to electricity.  Probably some of your other vendors will also. Where are the electrical outlets for them to plug into?  Are they active?  Sometimes, if clients rent a park pavilion for example, the electricity needs to be turned on by the city or the park department before the event.  Don’t assume you have access to electricity at outdoor event venues.  Just something to look into prior to your special day.

13) Signage – How will your guests know where things are?  For example, do you need to post a sign directing guests where to park?  What about restrooms, food, etc.? Are there areas of your outdoor venue that you don’t want guests to access (especially children)? Mark those as well.

14) Lighting – When the sun goes down it will get pretty dark at your outdoor venue.  Is there adequate lighting for guests to be able to safely navigate the area at night?  Make sure you have at least some minimum lighting in the area to prevent guest accidents at night.

15) Basic first aid kit – Oh man, this is going to sound so campy… But, be prepared with a basic first aid kit if a guest should have a minor accident.  Being prepared in this way will minimize a guest’s small cut or bruise – especially if you are having children at your celebration.

16) Noise Ordinances – Check with area safety services to be sure you aren’t breaking any noise ordinances by gathering guests, playing music, etc.  Your DJ will appreciate not being approached by a police officer because he is breaking the law by playing music outside at 11PM.

17) Dance floor/area – If you intend on doing some dancing, be sure to have an even area at your outdoor venue for dancers.  Accidents can happen when people attempt to dance in an area that is uneven and/or otherwise not suitable to fancy footwork.  Consider renting a temporary dance floor under your tent or perhaps designate a deck, porch or some other even, safe area for dancing.  Preferably place your DJ near the dance area as he or she will want to be near the action and not on the other end of the yard from where dancers are doing their thing!

18) Check with your vendors – Each of your hired wedding professionals have their own special considerations regarding outside events.  The things that are important to your DJ/Band will be different compared to your photographer or catering team.  Be sure to share with your vendors your intention on having an outdoor celebration and ask them what they need from you in order to do a great job.  Also, ask for their advice.  Wedding professionals have probably worked hundreds of such events in the past and are more than happy to give you some tips and pointers on pulling off a great and memorable outside event.

We hope this article has helped you in some way, at least by giving you a few things to consider.  Please stay in touch with us if you think of other considerations we may have forgotten.  We’ll add them into the article in future updates.  Thanks in advance!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Introducing Our "Cool Bird" Appreciation Program!


Hey friends!

We are thankful and grateful for your ongoing business and support.  Our little DJ service has gradually grown in events booked, gross revenue and profit with each passing year even throughout this recent economic recession.  We continue to be a 5 star rated DJ service by such leading online booking services as Gigmasters.com, Weddingwire.com, Thumbtack.com and others!

We are developing a loyalty and reward program for people who have helped in our success.  We are calling it our "Cool Bird" Appreciation Program.  A cool bird is anyone who has helped in our success such as clients (current and former), industry colleagues, friends and others who send us referrals, help us promote our business or otherwise act as cheerleaders.

We are designing our Cool Bird Appreciation Program as we go and with input from our cool birds, of course!.. We are already periodically sending charitable contributions as directed by cool birds who are randomly drawn.  If you have not already done so, please share with us the name of your favorite charity.  We may pull your name and send your favorite charity a small financial contribution of between $25 to $100.

More cool stuff will be added to our appreciation program such as prizes and goodies in the near future.

If you are not following us on Facebook or Twitter, please do so.  We do a lot of communication with our cool birds via social media.  Also, share with friends so that they too might participate.

We believe in the motto and life philosophy "givers gain" as promoted by Business Networking International (BNI).  The more successful we are in growing our business, the more we'll be happy to give back!

As always, thanks for your continued support, promotion and referrals. Stay tuned for more info about our Cool Bird Appreciation Program as we "grow" into the future.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Magic Words Are: "Please Send Us A Contract!"

This message will not read anything like a typical post from us here at My Life Media.  In fact, for those who know us, it will resonate contrary to our normal demeanor.  We are not high pressure sales people.  We don't believe in hounding people, using cheesy gimmicks or misrepresenting ourselves during the sales process.  So please don't read into this blogpost something that's not there.  We're not trying to pressure people into making their booking decision before they are ready.

We do, however, want to be sure that we are clear when communicating with potential clients, so here we go... If you are indeed interested in reserving our service for your event date, the magic words are - please send us a contract.

Each year we receive between 500 to 800 inquiries for the skills and talents of just two experienced, professional DJ entertainers.  Not only are we DJ entertainers but more specifically, we are wedding specialists.  Probably 80 percent of the events we do are weddings.  I estimate that I personally have DJ'd and MC'd over 500 weddings in my 20 plus year career.  It's not uncommon for us to get 20 or more inquiries for the same dates, especially if they fall during the peak wedding season.  And, often inquiries tend to come in waves.  So, for example, we might get several inquiries in one day for the same date 10 months into the future.

As you can imagine, a lot of communication happens with potential clients throughout the year as we are sending information, answering questions on the phone, scheduling meetings, etc.  This is all happening while at the same time we are communicating with booked clients to help them plan their special events as their dates approach.

Now, truth be told, we are pretty well organized when it comes to the way we communicate.  We have notes on each email, phone call, personal meeting, etc. We utilize state of the art event planning software to plan and prepare for events.  This is not to say that we can't make a mistake, certainly that happens - rarely - but occasionally.  Nobody's perfect.  But it is rare that we flub up big time when it comes to working with clients.

So we are always surprised each year to have a few people who have submitted inquiries who think that just for the act of checking availability and asking for information, they've reserved our service without actually going through a contract procedure.  This almost always happens when people procrastinate on their decision only to discover that someone else was quicker to make a commitment and say the magic words.

To set the scene: It's possible for us to have been communicating with an undecided potential client for weeks, even months, via emails, phone calls, personal meetings and then have someone else contact us out of the blue for the same date in a brief 5 minute phone call and seal the deal by saying the magic words.

It's a difficult conversation to have with the procrastinator because we can sense the disappointment, frustration and despair.  "But we really wanted you for that date!"

Thus the purpose behind this article is simply to educate those who are planning their special event to say the magic words when they are ready to make a purchase decision.  No other words have the magic!  When you contact us to say "please send us the contract" your event date will be placed in our calendar and we will begin the planning process that will lead to a fun and memorable celebration.






Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Steve Jobs Changed The Mobile DJ Industry

Steve Jobs changed the landscape of the music industry in 2001 by introducing the iPod.  Today, it's old hat to be able to store thousands of songs on a portable digital device that you can fit in your pocket.  But before the laptop and iPod, having such large collections of music was quite a feat left only to music nerds (some of whom are DJ's such as myself) who would proudly fill spare bedrooms, basements, closets and cargo vans in order to have such a collection.

Apple also wanted to dominate the market on how people purchased their music.  No longer was it necessary to buy whole albums (CD's) just to own the two or three great songs that came with the eight or ten mediocre songs you really didn't want.  Consumers, fans of music, could download music one song at a time without even leaving their home.  Toward this end, Apple needed to place a value on just a single song and it would be about a dollar.  Today, it's typically a little more than a dollar but still a pretty reasonable price for a song that you know you'll love before you even buy it.

Some of the information we have about innovators and entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs suggests that they don't much concern themselves with the consequences of their inventions.  Their passion is such that if they believe they can accomplish something extraordinary, they should - just for the sake of doing it.  This idea is debatable.  Probably most innovators at least consider how their work might affect society.  And most probably see their innovations as positive socially as well as profitable economically.

If digital music transformed the music industry (it's still transforming) it most certainly dramatically changed the way mobile DJ's go about their business of delivering entertainment to their many local events.  In the late '80s, when I first began DJ'ing, clients saw the value of their DJ service simply in the fact that one (or two) people alone could transport and deliver thousands of songs to the site of their event.  Whether vinyl, audio cassette or even CD format, carrying thousands of songs was quite a job.   Add to the music the audio equipment that was then large, bulky and quite heavy and you really required a lot of muscle as well as a cargo van or a small truck.

Now, sound equipment is getting smaller and lighter.  Music can be stored on small very portable devices.  As said earlier, many high school kids can now boast thousands of songs kept in a pocket of their backpacks.  Thank you Steve Jobs for your innovation but sir, you also made music a commodity.  And customers value commodity products in a different fashion that is often more difficult to sell.

I fall on the side of innovation more often than not and I'm quite glad that Mr. Jobs made music so readily accessible.  It does, however, change how I must market my DJ service.  Interestingly, when I meet with prospective clients they hardly ever ask about music, storage and playback devices, etc.  They pretty much assume that I either already have or can quickly get any song ever digitally recorded.  So, if music is now a commodity, like bottled water, what really stands one DJ service apart from the rest?

First, I remind prospective clients that we legally purchase our music from reputable vendors.  We are not pirates!  It's easy to gloat over stolen property.  But if we say we own 10,000 songs (and more with each passing day) you can readily do the math to figure out our investment.  Next, we do use professional grade gear and that is still not consistent in the industry.  Some DJ's are bringing sub par devices they used at their college frat parties. So I typically take a moment to reiterate these important considerations.

What really stands a DJ service apart from the rest is the experience they bring to the event and the personal attention they are willing to give their clients.  It's easy to rely too heavily on automated websites, software programs and the like in the effort to seek efficiency.  I must say at this point, that we do offer such conveniences to each client and they are extremely helpful.  We are careful, however, not to use technology to the point that we lose human interaction.  Most people still want to sit down over coffee and get to know the person who will be helping them with their wedding reception, anniversary, fundraiser, birthday party, holiday event or whatever it may be.  We do not use technology as an excuse to ignore human beings.  Our real value is in the PERSON who will bring the laptop, the sound system, the lights, etc. and that PERSON'S unique personal experience as an MC and DJ to make it all work in our client's favor, to make their celebration really fun and memorable.

So to innovation we say, "bring it on".  Thank you Steve Jobs and Apple.  But real value will always be found in the person, the people.  And if this is true, we'll be in great shape for a long time! View Steve Jobs Introducing the iPod in 2001

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who Will Pour the Drinks at the Head Table?

This is the one thing that is almost always overlooked at the wedding reception.  It's a small thing and it won't ruin your night, but hey, why leave anything to chance on your big day?

It's about an hour into your reception and all of your guests are enjoying cocktails and looking forward to a delicious dinner.  It's at this point where your DJ will want to do introductions to formally get the event going.  Your DJ does a fine job organizing the members of your bridal party for the entrance and he gets the attention of all of your guests, not always an easy task by the way.  The introductions go well and everyone is pumped to get on with the party.  You are all in the dining area and next on the agenda are the long anticipated toasts!

Your best man and maid of honor are extremely nervous but ready to go nonetheless.  But wait, you discover that no one has poured drinks at the head table.  All of your guests have something to drink but you have empty glasses... Somewhat embarrassing.  You'll either go ahead with the toasts anyway - with empty glasses OR you'll all scramble to the bar to get something which will appear a bit silly and will interrupt the flow of the evening.

I've learned as an experience DJ to check the drink situation at the head table before starting with the introductions.  And, sure enough, it's the one thing most often forgotten.  I think it's because everyone just kind of assumes that someone else will do it, that it never gets done.

As you plan your reception be sure to know ahead of time who will be responsible to make sure drinks are ready for you at the head table, or sweetheart table if it's just the two of you.  Ask your catering team if this is part of the service they provide, often it's the case but not always.  Is this something your bartender will do for you?  Don't assume, ask.  Sometimes it's a designated family member who makes sure drinks are ready for you when you enter.  In any case, be sure that someone has been delegated the task.  You'll be glad that you planned for it when you are introduced to your table and your DJ will have one less thing to worry about.  Cheers!