Wet Hot Tennessee Summer | The Wedding Edition

Summer Time. 

"Here it is the groove slightly transformed
Just a bit of a break from the norm
Just a little somethin' to break the monotony
Of all the hardcore dance that has gotten to be
A little bit out of control it's cool to dance
But what about the groove that soothes that moves romance
Give me a soft subtle mix
And If it ain't broke then don't try to fix it
And think of the summers of the past
Adjust the base and let the alpine blast
Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme
And put your car on cruise and lay back cause it's the summertime"

This is one of my favorite songs.  I think it captures the picture of youth and the feeling of being on break.  Away from the grind of it all.  It also captures a picture of hopefulness, young love and change.  I chose to start this DJ Diary off with this lyric to set the tone for a sampling of my summer weddings and the work involved.  Clearly hopefulness, young love, and big changes all occurred during these long hot Tennessee summer nights but how were those moments staged?  What happens behind the scenes of these epic venues draped in that incredible Nashville lifestyle and flare?  I'll put it this way...for those of us that are designing and working the event, our behind the scenes work should be making our clients feel like the Will Smith lyrics above.  I have to ask myself this question since we are officially in the Dog Days of summer now.  Do my clients feel like they can "lay back 'cause it's summertime" at their event?  Here is a way I like to look at it.  At a wedding or event, the behind the scenes should be like the tunnels below Disney World.  Congested with hard work, timing, attention to detail, no questions  unanswered, no rock unturned and a TON of team work.  While above the bustling of the tunnels should be a beautiful fairy tale that every prince and princess would want to be a part of.  How can this be achieved?

That moment on the 4th of July you think you can River Dance with the bride and groom! Seriously one of the best times I've had at a wedding! Thanks for the picture Rae Marshall!

That moment on the 4th of July you think you can River Dance with the bride and groom! Seriously one of the best times I've had at a wedding! Thanks for the picture Rae Marshall!

1.  Customer Service.  Really!?  Did I stutter?  Do you know that this seems like the most obvious answer in the world, but it is the single biggest hurdle that many clients face.  Almost every person I have worked with knows someone who had a bad DJ experience.  And by bad I mean that they didn't show up, call the bride, find out where the venue was, have the right songs, play the right songs or combinations of the aforementioned.  Your job is to play music for someone and you don't call them, play the music they requested, find out where your playing or sometimes you just don't show up?  How are any of these companies in business??  CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Our jobs as vendors are service oriented.  In other words "What can I DO for YOU?"  I'm going to sum this up as shortly as I can.  Vendors...interview your clients like you were hiring them to be the Vice President of a company that you run.  Why?  You wouldn't make someone your second in command without knowing their habits, likes, dislikes, their family members, their past, their favorite band, their personality type and the way they deal with stressful situations.  If you knew all these things about your clients tell me how you can fail?  

2.  Attention to Detail.  Of course!  Well, I've been amazed at some of the events that I've been to where it felt like everyone was flying by the seat of their pants.  Now, I understand that things happen; however, the sign of a well planned event is what happens when those problems actually occur.  As a DJ, if a bride requests a father/daughter song, is it enough that I just play it?  What if there is a 30 second intro to the song and I didn't listen to it? Just because the bride did not request the song to be shortened doesn't mean she's not expecting you to shorten it.  I had a groom once who had the single job of picking the first dance song.  He picked four different older country songs that I didn't know.  They all had "love song" titles. He ended up picking four songs with "love song" that ended up being break up songs. I would have never known these songs were actually really depressing unless I hadn't taken the time to listen to the songs and review the lyrics.  Just because they pick a song does not mean they know it inside and out.  Attention to detail is asking those questions, listening to those lyrics and communicating.  I had to listen to all the lyrics of five different songs before we found one that was actually about staying together!

3.  Frame of Mind.  I'm talking about the client's; NOT ours.  In the wedding business, we tend to talk about the clients that are high maintenance and picky or really engaged and helpful.  But what about the client that doesn't give you a lot of information?  What about the client who lets you pick everything?  That does not mean the client doesn't care or doesn't have a plan.  Sometimes a client that isn't engaged is a sign that they are so stressed out that they have thrown up their hands and have agreed to let fate take over.  As professionals, we can't operate in a positive/negative only environment.  Nothing can be assumed.  There is work to do even when the client isn't giving you feedback.  I have found that I may have to carefully draw it out of them and in the process hopefully take away fears that I didn't even know were there.  Sometimes after I've had a really great meeting with a client, their attitude completely shifts and I feel like I may have overcome the fear brought on by some often told DJ horror story.  We can't know what lies beneath until we poke our heads below the surface.

These are the lessons I have learned this summer.  I could have answered the question correctly the first time but was I executing service and detail to the best of my ability every time?  I believe we all need reminders.  And for the brides, grooms, and event professionals out there, you should expect us to treat you this way!  You should arrive at your event and be able to LAY BACK while the rest of us run around behind the scenes working to make your event a fairy tale. 

Check out my video for this DJ Diary entry.  This video is comprised of a great mix of weddings and corporate events I had the privilege of being a part of this summer!  All of these events were examples of great customer service, attention to detail and great client vendor relationships!  Hats off to all the great people I've gotten to work for and with this summer!  This summer I've seen a classic night at War Memorial Auditorium, dancing through the decades, a joint 30/40th birthday house party, a beautiful evening framed by the Gaylord Springs Golf Links, a night with hundreds of red heads, a wedding framed by hundreds of bourbon barrels and a incredible fireworks display over the hills of Mint Springs Farm.  I hope you enjoy my summer re-cap and I hope this diary entry helps you find that extra mile you've been looking for in your events.  So "adjust the bass and let the Alpines blast!"