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Author Topic: New here - My first wedding DJ  (Read 1124 times)

Steve Garris

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New here - My first wedding DJ
« on: July 22, 2018, 04:17:40 pm »

I've been a regular on the Lounge forum, and decided to move to also doing wedding DJ events this year. I've been mixing live rock bands for 30 years, on big & small systems. My freind asked me a year ago to provide the audio for his daughters wedding, and play some Spotify tracks for the reception.

This wedding was yesterday, and I learned a lot from this single experience. This was an outdoor ceremony, with a large 300 person tent-like structure for the reception. The venue was absolutely beautiful, exceeding my expectations. There was a no sub rule, and strict SPL limits, so after talking to the people in charge I left my subs at home.

For the outdoor ceremony I deployed a single Yamaha DSR112. I brought two, but due to cable running restrictions I only could use one, which turned out to be more than enough. I used my Mackie iPad mixer for the event, and played music for the aisle walk, and before & after. I purchased two medium quality wireless mic's for the ceremony; a Senn EW135 G3 handheld, and a Shure BLX W85 Lav mic. The lav was on the officiant, and the handheld on a straight mic stand between the bride & groom. My mixer and mic transmitters were a good 150 ft away. Both mics worked flawlessly and the ceremony was heard very clearly by everyone (we had about 200 people). For announcements I used wired SM58's.

Inside I had a pair of PRX615's running full range. The music sounded excellent inside with this rig. I was limited to 90 db at my mixing/DJ table with the meter pointing out to the crowd. The system was barely breathing at this level, and once the party got kicking I really wanted to give it more, but relented to the venue bosses (they were fantastic to work with).

Prior to the event, I was having major concerns about my preparedness. I was overly concerned about my MC capabilities, almost to the point of having a panic attack! Turns out, I was over reacting and I fell right in to it as the party went along - actually enjoyed it a great deal. The most satisfying part was being told by my friend that several attendees were asking "where did you find that DJ, he's really great"! Personally, I'm a perfectionist, and I give myself a B- for this first DJ gig.

What I got right:
Great sound - I know how to make a mic sound good - no feedback, nice warm audio.
I MC'd the entire wedding, and felt I did as good as many DJ's I've watched on Youtube.
Last year I purchased a giant LOVE sign with back-lit letters, 4 ft tall. This was placed in front of my table and was a huge hit. It's styrofoam, so lightweight but bulky.
I read the crowd, and ended up not playing much of the music given to me by the bride. The people dancing were 40 something year old moms & husbands, so I ended up playing disco dance classics. I kept the dance floor packed right up to the end. I received $200 in tips.

What I got wrong:
Spotify on iPads & iPod's. This is lame & I know it. Just didn't have time to put anything better together. I'm going to get a dedicated pc laptop for all future gigs, with a digital DJ player, and a much larger library of music. I do not feel the need for one of those DJ mixers to do weddings.
I used my live band light-tree pointed at the dance floor for lighting. While this thing looks great behind a drummer (it's sound activated), it wasn't right for dancing. I'm going to pick up a couple of disco lights for future weddings.



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Jeff Lelko

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 08:29:51 pm »

Congrats Steve!  DJing can be a lot of fun, especially if the event is a good fit with your personality and preference for music.  The funny thing is that once you get the hang of it and how to handle various situations, it's not hard and you can make some serious profit margin compared to the other lines of our work.

Regarding playing music off a laptop, that's what I do when needing to play background tunes or outright DJ an event.  I have a pair of solid state media/CD players as backup, but I've never owned or needed a DJ mixer.  If you plan on doing beat matching or remixing on the spot that might be a different story, but between primary DJ software and something like QLab to handle specialty parts of events I've never needed anything else.  These days I primarily use Virtual DJ, and that was after finally giving up on OtsDJ after about a decade (and switching to all MacBooks).  Just like with lighting, most programs have a free demo to play with before buying.

As far as DJ lighting goes, as I've said in the lighting forum numerous times I'm a big fan of the Martin Wizard-style effects.  They look good with or without fog, fill the room nicely, and can run both fast or slow to fit the style of music.  I've never found the LED effects to be a good fit for my type of work - they're either not bright enough or look too cheap - or both.  All my effect lights are halogen or discharge.  Good luck and have fun!   

*Edited to remove the quote brackets - not sure why I wanted to quote myself...
« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 08:54:19 pm by Jeff Lelko »
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Dennis Wiggins

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 08:48:47 pm »

Steve-

...read the crowd, and ended up not playing much of the music given to me by the bride.
   Hah!  No comment.  ::)

...a much larger library of music. You can't beat shopping for CDs at Goodwill, church resale shops, or buying whole collections on CL. Get you head around cocktail/dinner BG music.  Keep it MOR, but always 'lovey' and happy (not sappy).

...disco lights for future weddings.  First, get a pinspot (or 2, with gels) and a 16" mirror ball/motor.

...by listening to and observing the venue manager and guests, you are well ahead of the game.

You will quickly find that you will be "asked to" to keep the schedule moving.  That can be very frustrating, or satisfying - it wildly differs for each gig.  Your choice.

Jam On!     -Dennis

<edit.  Oh, and be prepared to constantly walk the floor, as EVERY recording is different. Levels an EQ are definitely not "set-it-and-forget-it".  Also, you may want to introduce sub-harmonics (a little goes a long way) to helps recordings that don't have any real bass content.

-D
« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 10:35:11 pm by Dennis Wiggins »
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Steve Garris

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2018, 02:35:57 pm »

These days I primarily use Virtual DJ, and that was after finally giving up on OtsDJ after about a decade (and switching to all MacBooks).  Just like with lighting, most programs have a free demo to play with before buying.

As far as DJ lighting goes, as I've said in the lighting forum numerous times I'm a big fan of the Martin Wizard-style effects.  They look good with or without fog, fill the room nicely, and can run both fast or slow to fit the style of music.  I've never found the LED effects to be a good fit for my type of work - they're either not bright enough or look too cheap - or both.  All my effect lights are halogen or discharge.  Good luck and have fun!   

*Edited to remove the quote brackets - not sure why I wanted to quote myself...

Thanks Jeff - I was looking at Virtual DJ myself.

Not sure if those Martin's are in my budget. I want a music-activated disco light that I can simply turn off/on when needed. I'm reading that lasers are a bad idea as they ruin wedding photo's, so if it has lasers I would need to disable. I'm looking for (2) lights at a $500 total budget or less.
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Steve Garris

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2018, 02:39:45 pm »

Steve-

...read the crowd, and ended up not playing much of the music given to me by the bride.
   Hah!  No comment.  ::)

...a much larger library of music. You can't beat shopping for CDs at Goodwill, church resale shops, or buying whole collections on CL. Get you head around cocktail/dinner BG music.  Keep it MOR, but always 'lovey' and happy (not sappy).

...disco lights for future weddings.  First, get a pinspot (or 2, with gels) and a 16" mirror ball/motor.

...by listening to and observing the venue manager and guests, you are well ahead of the game.

You will quickly find that you will be "asked to" to keep the schedule moving.  That can be very frustrating, or satisfying - it wildly differs for each gig.  Your choice.

Jam On!     -Dennis

<edit.  Oh, and be prepared to constantly walk the floor, as EVERY recording is different. Levels an EQ are definitely not "set-it-and-forget-it".  Also, you may want to introduce sub-harmonics (a little goes a long way) to helps recordings that don't have any real bass content.

-D

Thanks Dennis. I read another post where someone was recommending thrift store cd's - probably you!

Pinspot & mirror ball on my list - thanks.

I had an anxious step-mother-in-law all freaking out about the schedule, LOL. I gave her the "kill her with kindness" treatment.

I did walk the room and EQ with most songs - agreed it was necessary at times.
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David Allred

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2018, 03:27:35 pm »


<edit.  Oh, and be prepared to constantly walk the floor, as EVERY recording is different. Levels an EQ are definitely not "set-it-and-forget-it".  Also, you may want to introduce sub-harmonics (a little goes a long way) to helps recordings that don't have any real bass content.

-D

I use Traktor Duo. It is no longer current, but it has an auto input gain matching setting option, so it maintains a fairly level level by pre-monitoring the waveform.  I bet others do the same.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2018, 04:33:33 pm »

Thanks Jeff - I was looking at Virtual DJ myself.

Not sure if those Martin's are in my budget. I want a music-activated disco light that I can simply turn off/on when needed. I'm reading that lasers are a bad idea as they ruin wedding photo's, so if it has lasers I would need to disable. I'm looking for (2) lights at a $500 total budget or less.

No worries.  What sold me on Virtual DJ is how it handles the "Auto DJ" feature, which is something I use heavily.  Traktor and Serato are the two other big ones, but they seem to cater more to the live DJ and not so much to someone like me who just cues up a song list based on the demands of the crowd.  My needs for beat matching, pitch bending, and creative crossfading are minimal. 

If the Martin Rush Wizard is a bit much, have a look at the ADJ Warlock, or a used Martin Wizard Extreme, or a Martin EFX500 or 600.  They're all the same basic effect.  Just like good speakers, even a single unit will outperform multiples of lesser fixtures.  My pair of EFX600s see regular use and they're about the closest you'll come to a real lightshow in a box (short of an ADJ Tempest 250, which I also have a few of, but they're heavy and bulky to move around).  It looks like there's even a new in box EFX500 on ebay right now.  I don't own a wizard, but I can vouch that the other units mentioned can do a simple sound active mode if you don't want to deal with DMX. 

Lasers get dicey, as you mentioned.  Aside from them causing artifacts in photos, most DJ lights with built-in lasers have them oriented to fire them into the crowd (which you're not supposed to do).   Chauvet GigBars are popular if you want something simple.  Chauvet also recently re-released another incarnation of their Line Dancer, which is actually quite tolerable for an LED effect.  I still prefer my halogen originals, but this might be something worth a look.  Good luck!

 
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Lance Hallmark

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2018, 11:21:48 am »

Congrats on a successful gig! A few recommendations from me:
Get a nice controller and use a computer based DJ program. I would say VDJ has the most features for doing weddings and events, Serato is more for regular DJ mixing but is easy to get your head around and be functional. I'd recommend picking up a Pioneer DDJ-SX controller. It is just below the top level gear, reasonably small and light with proper outputs and ability to connect outside devises as well. Used first gen models probably under $300, new Gen 3 is around $1k, I believe.  The New SX3 has three mic inputs, which is handy for wedding events. The first generation only has one mic input and it wasn't the best quality, I'd recommend connecting a gen 1 sx to an outboard mixer for additional mic inputs and headroom.

Join a record pool to get legal, quality mp3s or Wavs. Promo Only has a great variety and selection geared for the Mobile DJ.
 
Join one of the DJ associations and try to go to some of the conventions they host. There is a lot of great seminars, networking and loads of advice to be gotten from those events. Mobile Beat, ARM both put on great conventions.

Make sure you can adjust what lighting you use. Some fx like little laser dots, don't bode well for making nice pictures of the event.

There are some great party lists of songs for these type of events. Search for the Mobile Beat top 100 chart. Remember, people in their 40s grew up in the late 80s/90s so a lot of tracks from those eras work well. Also brush up on your line dances & latin music, both are very popular at events like this.
Good luck!!
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2018, 01:43:22 pm »

Also, you may want to introduce sub-harmonics (a little goes a long way) to helps recordings that don't have any real bass content.

-D

Hey Dennis,

Just wondering if you could expand a little and suggest a way of incorporating that. Love the idea - some recordings have nothing below 100Hz, and can sound gutless when played after something that goes down low.

Is there a particular bit of software that can do it?

TIA,

Chris
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Scott Olewiler

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Re: New here - My first wedding DJ
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2018, 02:29:05 pm »

Congrats on a successful gig! A few recommendations from me:
Get a nice controller and use a computer based DJ program. I would say VDJ has the most features for doing weddings and events, Serato is more for regular DJ mixing but is easy to get your head around and be functional. I'd recommend picking up a Pioneer DDJ-SX controller. It is just below the top level gear, reasonably small and light with proper outputs and ability to connect outside devises as well. Used first gen models probably under $300, new Gen 3 is around $1k, I believe.  The New SX3 has three mic inputs, which is handy for wedding events. The first generation only has one mic input and it wasn't the best quality, I'd recommend connecting a gen 1 sx to an outboard mixer for additional mic inputs and headroom.

Join a record pool to get legal, quality mp3s or Wavs. Promo Only has a great variety and selection geared for the Mobile DJ.
 
Join one of the DJ associations and try to go to some of the conventions they host. There is a lot of great seminars, networking and loads of advice to be gotten from those events. Mobile Beat, ARM both put on great conventions.

Make sure you can adjust what lighting you use. Some fx like little laser dots, don't bode well for making nice pictures of the event.

There are some great party lists of songs for these type of events. Search for the Mobile Beat top 100 chart. Remember, people in their 40s grew up in the late 80s/90s so a lot of tracks from those eras work well. Also brush up on your line dances & latin music, both are very popular at events like this.
Good luck!!

Lance,

If you're not actually going to do any turntable gymnastics; is there any real advantage to having a DJ controller versus just using VDJ on a laptop into a 4 channel mixer to add microphones?

I DJ'd weddings for a year or so (yes quite a very profitable niche) before boredom finally got the best of me and did just fine with using just a laptop. Always been curious why I would have needed a controller?

Now that I have retired from my day job I may have to get back into it for the easy $$.
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If you want to feel more Kick drum turn up the kick drum fader, not the damn subs.
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