HubMob Weekly Topic : Weddings

The Curse of the DJ

I love a good wedding. You might think it odd, but I have been to something approaching 100 nuptials in the past 10 years or so. Am I a "bride stalker?" A "hopeless romantic?" A "Sad Git?"

Perhaps I am a caterer, a florist, a wedding photographer or heaven forbid, a vicar? Nope! I am none of the above, though I do fall into the later category - I get paid to go to weddings because I am in "The Band!"

Don't get me wrong, whatever you do! We are definitely NOT a wedding band by definition! You know the type of group - a five or six piece with a huge repertoire of popular covers, sparkly suits, a corny name and chessy publicity photos full of cheshire cat grins and big hair.

Our band falls into the nebulous, "Bride and groom like us" category. Usually people who are looking for something a bit "different". We don't particularly promote our wedding credentials, the work just finds us.

What happens is this: We are playing at a pub somewhere, or even busking in the city centre on a Saturday morning, when someone, usually a groom-to-be or the Bride's mum, comes up and asks us if we play weddings and if so how much?. "Of course we do" is the reply to the first part, and "lots" is the answer to part two of the question. After the exchange of details, the obligatory negotiations by email follow and with luck we are booked, anywhere up to a year in advance.

In many ways, weddings are all the same. Bride and groom have a ceremony, followed by a big meal, followed by endless toasts, followed by a sober-up period, followed by a party, usually punctuated by a buffet around 9pm; band finishes at 11.30, last orders at 12.00. They are that predictable. Now I must make it clear that I NEVER get invited to the actual ceremony, though sometimes people tie the knot at the venue and the seats in disarray, confetti-litter and scattered flowers serve as a poignant reminder for what has taken place.

In the summer time, marquees are a popular choice of venue. Usually set up in a private garden they can be dressed to create any number of atmospheres. For example, one of the best I saw was an open-sided tent on a lawn beside the lazy River that meanders just outside of town . The afternoon sun filtered through the trees, the slow moving water sparkled diamonds and the bar was free for the band. The other toss of the coin is the over-decorated marquee, complete with satin shrouds, ribbons and bows, pleated curtains and fake baroque chandeliers. Must cost a 'king fortune - all for a big fancy tent.

As a musician, the soul destroyer at weddings is the presence of a DJ as well as the band. Bloody DJs. They always arrive well and truly before the band and they always have more equipment than the band, better lighting, bigger sound systems and a huge patter of cheesy disco clich├ęs used to introduce various songs. If a DJ is present then the band ends up setting up on the dance floor as the stage will be rammed with console, CD racks, lighting posts and speaker stacks.

To be honest, at these types of weddings it doesn't matter if we set up on the dance floor, as it is customary NOT to dance to the band if there is a DJ in the house. There is nothing worse than playing a set of your best material with the only people on the dance floor being two children under the age of three and the applause at the end being for the cuteness of the kids rather than the inspiring music and talent of the band. To rub it in, when the band goes for a break, the DJ puts on an Abba track and the bloody dance full is suddenly full of bridesmaids, getting jiggy with the bride's sleazy Uncle Dick.

I sound bitter, I'm not. We get paid well to play at weddings and after 10 years have learned how to make our mark. Here some some hints for being in a band that sometimes plays at weddings.

Get there early to set up. You will never beat the DJ but try and be sound checked well before the reception starts.

Remember - it is not your day - it belongs to the Bride and Groom - leave band egos at home.

Be yourself. The band was booked on the strength of a drunken, anarchic pub gig 10 months ago - this is what they want from you, without the drunkeness and the anarchy.

Don't swear to much. There are Kids and Grannies about.

Get to know, and remember, the Bride & Groom's names. Become part of their extended family for the night.

Don't try and get romantic with the bride's maids.

Don't be intimidated by the DJ, no matter how big his record collection is. Make friends with him, pity him, after all he is probably a frustrated rock star (aren't we all).

To ensure people dance when the band plays, get the DJ to play a song in your genre as his last track before you go on. That way the dancers will be fooled into staying on the floor as soon as the DJ hands it over to you.

Stress that you don't know every song ever written and will only do a request "if you know it."

Don't drink too much until the last set. By then everyone is plastered and it doesn't matter.

Most importantly, try and look like you are having fun.

There is much more to say but I've probably said enough. Have a nice life.

PS: Since first writing this Hub we have added another dozen or so weddings to the CV and with a new, improved band line-up and an ever expanding repertoire, coupled with a modicum of local fame, we have finally banished the "curse of the DJ" and have managed to seduce the bridesmaids (metaphorically speaking) onto the dance floor without resorting to cheese.

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