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Thread: First Wedding Gig on Saturday – Advice needed

  1. #1
    MDD Supporter Casual77's Avatar
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    Default First Wedding Gig on Saturday – Advice needed

    I’ve got my first wedding gig coming up on Saturday and could really do with some advice to help calm my nerves. I know other than a few key announcements that wedding gigs are not all that different to any other gigs…. But this one is a little quirky by most standards and I’m feeling more anxious than usual.

    Here’s the background….

    The groom is from Sheffield and his bride-to-be is from New York. Both have pretty eclectic musical tastes! I’ve been told that I can’t play any contemporary pop of any description. I’ve been provided most of the songs on the playlist, and there are a significant number of them which I don’t know and that don’t appear to be particularly dancey. There is a mixed bag of post-rock, alternative, hip-hop and electronica including songs by artists including The Beastie Boys, The Pixies, Public Enemy, DJ Shadow, Souls of Mischief, Royksopp, Robyn, Scroobius Pip, Prodigy, Orbital and Elbow. As there will be a lot of the brides family visiting from America for the first time they also want a selection of songs showcasing Sheffield’s musical history so there will be some songs by Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Longpigs, Heaven 17 etc thrown in there.

    As things stand at the moment I’ve got most of the music sorted, much of which I’ve had to buy specifically for this gig. I’ve bought myself a Chauvet Obey 10 DMX controller so that I can control the lights for the first dance and I’m having problems with it. That will be the subject of another thread and if anyone is good with DMX and/or has knowledge of this controller I’d appreciate your help!

    The gig has been booked through an agency and it is the first job I’m doing for them so I’m effectively on trial and future bookings could rest on how well this one goes, which adds to the pressure. On top of that the gig is in Sheffield city centre and coincides with the annual Tramlines festival so the place is likely to be heaving. The venue doesn’t have any parking so I have to pull onto the pavement, unload my gear and then hope that I can find a parking space within reasonable walking distance. I have a nagging feeling that this could be a problem. I haven’t been in the venue (I tried but it was closed) and won’t get a chance to now before Saturday so don’t know what area I’ve got to set up in or what the layout of the room is.

    I have spoken on the phone with the groom but haven’t met the bride. They will be arriving at approximately 4pm and want to walk in to ‘Sabotage’ by The Beastie Boys (told you they were quirky!). After that they want me to play chillout/background music for the next few hours while they have the meal (6pm) before starting the evening disco sometime around 7.30-8pm. This will run until midnight with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana as the last song of the night.

    So, here are some specific questions I could do with your thoughts on;

    1. When the wedding party walks in to Sabotage should this be played at loud volume (or mid-level) and then instantly turned down to a much lower volume when I transition from that to the background music?
    2. How will I know when they arrive? Do I wait until I can see them or get the venue manager/ other member of staff to give me the nod?
    3. Should I be addressing the party at this stage or say nothing until after the meal when the evening disco starts so that I don’t detract from the bride and groom. If I should say something what sort of thing should I say?
    4. Will I be expected to announce the speeches or do I leave that to the bride’s father and Best Man unless specifically asked to do so? (This hasn’t been discussed)
    5. Do I need to collar the groom/bride/best man/bridesmaids prior to first dance to get the staging right for their entrance or does it not need to be that formal?
    6. The first dance song by Elbow is nearly 7 minutes long and they have suggested that I invite the guests on to the dancefloor with them after the first couple of minutes. Am I better doing this before I start the song or during the song and has anyone got a suggested script for how to say this?
    7. Assuming people respond to this request what sort of song should I play immediately after the first song? Another slow one or should I go for a big guaranteed floor-filler?
    8. Should I look to get the less accessible songs out of the way early and leave the bigger more well-known songs for later in the night? Or would it be better to intersperse them throughout the night?
    9. Should I discuss the playlist selection and the existence of the ‘Sheffield’ selection in my opening welcome introduction or while the first song of the selection is being played?
    10. Am I right to be feeling nervous or should I just take it in my stride and try to enjoy the experience?


    I know that is a lot of questions and to many on here they will be trivial things you just do without really thinking about them. Any thoughts on any of the above would be really helpful though so that I can plan in my head how it should go. I’m sure after this first one I will feel much more comfortable about it, but mic work is not my forte and I’m keen to do as good a job as I possibly can for them. I’d also be grateful for any general ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that you think I should be aware of for this and other future wedding gigs I do.

  2. #2
    Ezekiel 25:17 funkymook's Avatar
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    To be honest I would’ve refused this one if I were you - it’s a specialist booking by any standards and for a first wedding a nightmare. I suspect every other DJ it was offered to by the agency said no thanks.

    How well do you know the know the music? If you do then just use your judgement to weave the more alternative stuff in throughout the night, obviously leaving the big tunes for peak times. Announce a 30 minute history of the Sheffield music scene early on during the background to get it out of the way. Are the NY guests of similar music tastes - if so then some CBGB’s type bands would be great and really fit in with the music brief....if not then they’re in for a night of music they probably really won’t like yet alone recognise.

    Use the search function ‘Longpigs’ would be a good start, then other bands. You’ll find a few playlists that’ll give you some music ideas.

    For the B&G entrance (and I hope for your sake they’re not expecting the whole bridal party to be introduced into the room) you need a clear signal they’re ready to enter and whack the music up loud or it won’t be heard over the shouting and clapping. Hopefully the best man or someone has taken on the MC duties which will make things easier for you.

    I’m sure others will be along in a minute with more advice.

  3. #3
    MDD Supporter Nakatomi's Avatar
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    Out of around 80 or so (I think) weddings I've played at only one would be what I'd describe as quirky.

    All I had to go on was my gut feeling since I didn't know the majority of the tracks on the 'must play' list. Get to know the tracks you've got to work with as best you can & maybe group them by energy & style (not necessarily just bpm).
    In my case I was given the tracks on the night & spent the entire background music time trying to get more familiar.. Not an easy task!

    For the grand entrance track don't go blasting it. It's got to stand out not startle people.

    Since it seems like you're working the whole reception I'd assume it'll be you expected to announce everything unless the venue already has that covered.

    A brief interruption to the first dance song to say everybody is welcome to join the b&g on the floor would be acceptable in most situations I think.

    As for what to play next, context is king. Is there anything out of the existing request list that'll fit?

    For a first ever wedding gig it's natural to be nervous. I've done a 'few' weddings now but I generally know the venues 'formula'. It's nothing like this one, so I'd be apprehensive at first.

    It's quite a thing to take on for a first wedding but just do everything you can to prepare. Know the music better than you do now, and plan what you're going to say before you open the mic. Practise your introductions & announcements until you sound more natural.. In the car, in the shower... Practise engaging your brain before starting to talk

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    Shakermaker Promotions Shakermaker Promotions's Avatar
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    I have to agree with what Martin has said.
    You're obviously nervous and apprehensive about it and rightly so because it's your first one.
    I don't want to make your nerves any worse but ever heard the saying "Thrown in at the deep end"?
    Put it this way, if you can get through this one easily enough then you've done well and everything in theory should be a lot easier from then on.

    If it doesn't go to plan or you find it difficult just remember that they won't all be like this so don't let it put you off.

    Good luck!

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    MDD Supporter Nakatomi's Avatar
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    I misread the bit about the entrance track & thought it was just the b&g coming in. No. Hoof it out like Martin said.

    I can't emphasise enough how important it's going to be to prepared.

  6. #6
    Admin Shaun's Avatar
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    You're definitely in at the deep end, a lot of the details you're trying to sort out now really should have been organised and confirmed pre-wedding. However..."dont panic Mr Mannering"


    the gig is in Sheffield city centre and coincides with the annual Tramlines festival so the place is likely to be heaving. The venue doesn’t have any parking so I have to pull onto the pavement, unload my gear and then hope that I can find a parking space within reasonable walking distance. I have a nagging feeling that this could be a problem.
    I've had my fair share of parking problems in the city, even with the best of planning I've arrived to be faced with hellish situations. My advice, arrive a couple of hours earlier than you had planned to, arrange with the venue to get access a little earlier. This will allow you a lot more time to try find somewhere suitable to park. Ask the venue for advice. If they have no parking they've no doubt been asked hundreds of times in the past for advice on the closest parking. They'll no doubt be able to assist.



    1. When the wedding party walks in to Sabotage should this be played at loud volume (or mid-level) and then instantly turned down to a much lower volume when I transition from that to the background music?
    I'd say High Level to create a high energy entrance, then down to a lower level after the entrance song.

    2. How will I know when they arrive? Do I wait until I can see them or get the venue manager/ other member of staff to give me the nod?
    Either or. If it were me, I'd not leave it to the venue staff, they will be busy doing their own jobs so I wouldn't leave it to chance. You'll be all setup, so just wait out of the room until they arrive. Approach them, introduce yourself and ask if you can have a moment of their time to go through a few details.
    Confirm all the details you have about their wedding:- Confirm their Entrance Song - First Dance etc - Confirm the names and pronunciations for the First dance and the order they want them called.
    Entrance: Have you discussed exactly how they would like the entrance? With the Bride being American they may want an American Style Grand Entrance!
    E.g.- Mother and father of the bride
    Mother and father of groom
    Bridesmaids escorted by Usher
    Flower girls escorted by ring bearer
    Maid of Honour escorted by best man
    and finally...
    Bride and groom

    Check with the Bride & Groom exactly how she would like her Grand Entrance and make sure you get all the names ready to introduce them. Perhaps she'll just want the whole wedding party coming in at once, then the Bride & Groom, but perhaps she'll want everyone coming in in pairs as mentioned above - You won't know till you discuss this with her on the day.



    3. Should I be addressing the party at this stage or say nothing until after the meal when the evening disco starts so that I don’t detract from the bride and groom. If I should say something what sort of thing should I say?
    As above. If the Bride is American she may be expecting the type of Grand Entrances she is used to from home. Grand Entrances are a big deal, and usually delivered with a lot of enthusiasm by DJs. Again, this is a generalisation, once you speak to the Bride you'll get a better idea of her expectations on this matter.

    4. Will I be expected to announce the speeches or do I leave that to the bride’s father and Best Man unless specifically asked to do so? (This hasn’t been discussed)
    Unless I had discussed this in the pre-planning stages I would leave it to someone else.

    5. Do I need to collar the groom/bride/best man/bridesmaids prior to first dance to get the staging right for their entrance or does it not need to be that formal?
    YES! it does need to be done just right. The definition of what's right though depends on the Bride & Grooms expectations on how they want it done. Once you've spoken to the Bride & Groom, don't be afraid to pull the Best Man aside and ask for his assistance. Tell him you have one final duty for him to help the Bride & Groom. Explain the running order of the names that will be called. Write it out for him if you can. As he'll know the guests a little better than you he'll be able to organise people a lot quicker than you will be able to. Don't be afraid to get the Best Man involved. This is something I've always done and it really makes things a lot easier for all.

    6. The first dance song by Elbow is nearly 7 minutes long and they have suggested that I invite the guests on to the dancefloor with them after the first couple of minutes. Am I better doing this before I start the song or during the song and has anyone got a suggested script for how to say this?
    If you've taken my advice and got the Best Man involved, he will already have told the rest of the wedding party when to listen out for their name during the first dance. Just prior to the First Dance, check with the Best Man that all the wedding party are in the room and ready. That way once you invite them onto the floor by name they will already be pepared. Another thing to check with the Bride & Groom. Do they want the wedding party called up individually (e.g. Best Man _____ dancing with Maid of Honour ____ etc etc), or do they just want a general announcement for the 'Bridal Party' to join them on the dancefloor? Just another thing to check with them.


    7. Assuming people respond to this request what sort of song should I play immediately after the first song? Another slow one or should I go for a big guaranteed floor-filler?
    I always like to play a second slow one, before going in with a big hitter. It'll depend on the crowd though, and whether you notice people veering off the floor towards the end of the 1st Dance.

    8. Should I look to get the less accessible songs out of the way early and leave the bigger more well-known songs for later in the night? Or would it be better to intersperse them throughout the night?
    Perhaps play the less accessible tracks during the buffet/meal. That way they are played, but not at any point of the night where they might have an adverse effect on the dancefloor.

    9. Should I discuss the playlist selection and the existence of the ‘Sheffield’ selection in my opening welcome introduction or while the first song of the selection is being played?
    Whenever I'm faced with a playlist that the Bride & Groom has had a lot of input on I tend to mention it early on. Just a little mention that the B&G has worked with you in composing a list of their all time favourite songs for them to enjoy throughout the night. Perhaps leave out mentioning the 'Sheffield' section to right before you play that selection?

    10. Am I right to be feeling nervous or should I just take it in my stride and try to enjoy the experience?
    The majority of the forum members in the past say they still get nervous before a big gig. Nerves is a good thing, it keeps you on your toes. So don't worry about the nerves. Just appear confident, take control.....and enjoy!

    I know that is a lot of questions and to many on here they will be trivial things you just do without really thinking about them. Any thoughts on any of the above would be really helpful though so that I can plan in my head how it should go. I’m sure after this first one I will feel much more comfortable about it, but mic work is not my forte and I’m keen to do as good a job as I possibly can for them. I’d also be grateful for any general ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that you think I should be aware of for this and other future wedding gigs I do.

    DO appear confident and relaxed. If you are confident and relaxed the Bride & Groom will be more so to.

    DO pull the Bride & Groom aside upon their arrival. Introduce yourself warmly and enthusiastically. Ask if they can spare 10 minutes so you can get things just PERFECT for them

    DO arrive early (especially on this gig as you are unsure about parking)

    DO get the Best Man Involved for the first dances and entrance preparation

    DO take plenty of chilled water with you. You'll be there for a long day so keep hydrated, you'll feel so much better for it.

    DON'T panic. Even if on the day you feel a bit flustered, just take a deep breath, slow down and take control

    ....DO have a nice chilled beer ready for when you get home at night. You'll have earned it.


    the advice above is all a bit vague and general as it's hard to be exact with knowing the clients expectations. Hopefully it's giving you a few ideas though.


    Best of luck!

  7. #7
    MDD Supporter Casual77's Avatar
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    Thanks all. There is some good advice in there.

    Following on from the various points made...

    It doesn't help matters that the agency I'm working for have specifically asked that I don't mention to any of the wedding party that this is my first wedding gig so there will be little allowance made for any nervousness or imperfections on my part.

    I'm pretty sure that the first dance is a case of everyone pile on the dance floor after the first 2 minutes so thankfully I don't have to worry about names and orders of arrival. I think that may well have been the straw that broke the camels back if I had to do all that.

    The wedding service and wedding photos will be happening at some other location so I won't have any opportunity to speak to the bride or groom until after they have entered the building. I think I'm going to have to have another phone conversation with the groom to ask about the announcements, first dance etc. If I do that I may be able to arrange for him to send the best man in ahead of the wedding party to tell me when to start Sabotage playing.

    The music is fairly obscure for a wedding but thankfully I do know (and like) large sections of it. I'm hopeful that after I get the first dance out of the way that it will be easier from that point on. As for the American relatives I fully expect that they will neither know or like large parts of it. In the first conversation with the groom he was fairly bullish about that not being an issue but I had an email last night and he's starting to get stressed. He's now saying that he would like to include a Motown section so that the parents will have something to dance to. I was thinking I could drop that in after the 'Sheffield' section towards the back end of the night. I'm expecting the evening disco to be about 4.5 hours and I've currently got about 5.5 hours of music without adding any Motown songs in.... so hopefully I will have some flexibility in what I play depending on how the night's going without having to deviate away from the specified tracks. Motown isn't really my bag but I'm thinking half a dozen tracks or soby the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5 and Diana Ross should safely get me through half an hour of play time.

    I'm planning to watch some youtube videos and write some scripts to practice tomorrow so that I can feel more comfortable about the announcements. Assuming it isn't a grand entrance is it safe to assume I can just drop into background music without saying anything? Then I can leave introducing myself and welcoming everybody to the party until after the meal and speeches are finished.

  8. #8
    Admin Shaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casual77 View Post

    The wedding service and wedding photos will be happening at some other location so I won't have any opportunity to speak to the bride or groom until after they have entered the building. I think I'm going to have to have another phone conversation with the groom to ask about the announcements, first dance etc. If I do that I may be able to arrange for him to send the best man in ahead of the wedding party to tell me when to start Sabotage playing.
    I initially missed that you had the Groom's contact details. Perfect! You'll be able to get as much details as possible before the day, which will make things a LOT easier for you.

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