Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Photo: Christopher Long
I DJ'd a wedding a few years ago for a bride named "Mary" who was, to say the least, more than a little stressed out. As we sat together one afternoon planning her ceremony  and reception  itineraries, she began bombarding me with  a seemingly endless list of music-related de- tails. She  informed me of each selection that "must" be played, the song order and the exact amount of time (to the second) that each piece would play before segueing into the next. "Wow, that's quite a bit of info," I commented. "Well yeah," she replied, appearing to be as overwhelmed as I was. "My mother and my aunt told me that this is how it has to be done because it's tradition," she added. After years of working in the wedding biz, my first thought (which I kept to myself) was, whose "tradition?"
One thing I've learned since my first (working) bridal experience back in 1984 is that "TRADITIONAL" IS OPTIONAL. "Traditional" is a buzz-word that I believe a lot of industry-types like to throw around to intimidate brides and grooms in order to enhance the perception of said professional's importance — they know about "tradition" and boy are you lucky to have found them! As with Mary, often, family members also can get hung up on the notion of "tradition" and further intensify a bride's stress-factor.

I've been involved with various scenarios from casual, short and sweet beachside ceremonies with the bridal party, family and guests all dressed in Hawaiian shirts, shorts and flip-flops to the most formal (and lengthy) Mass-like church events. Some ceremonies include pre-recorded music, while others feature live singers and musicians. And sometimes, there's no music at all. But in the end, each bride and groom successfully all said, "I do."

In the '90s, I was involved with a very "unique" wedding. To say that the bride and groom were both Star Wars enthusiasts would be an understatement. In fact, this couple was so passionate about the legendary movie franchise and its iconic characters that they chose to create a complete Star Wars theme reception.

As I entered the very elegant hotel ballroom to load in my sound equipment on the day of the event, I noticed that from movie-related posters pasted on the walls to the theme-oriented napkins, cups and plates placed on the guest tables to the Princess Leia and Han Solo figurines atop the cake, the atmosphere more closely resembled a kid's birthday party than a "traditional" wedding reception. And guess what? The newlyweds and guests alike all had a blast as everyone partied and danced the night away.
More recently, I DJ'd a wedding event in Orlando. Although this wasn't a full-on theme reception, the newlyweds clearly were passionate about all things Disney. Per the bride's instructions, I played "It's a Small World" during the Grand Entrance and as the song reached its well-known chorus, the newlyweds leaped through the doorway of the reception hall, hand-in-hand, donning matching Disney-style mouse ears as they gleefully waved to their cheering family and friends.

FYI, Heather's not-so "traditional"
cupcakes were fun AND delicious!
A new twist in recent years is the growing popularity of serving cupcakes at re- ceptions as opposed to a "traditional" cake. If I may offer a slice of personal philosophy, let me say that I believe there is NEVER a bad time for cupcakes! And by thinking outside of that "ol' box," brides currently are adding some fun and fresh pages to the standard traditional wedding playbook.
And then there was the reception a few years  ago  where  the  groom  actually played  an  active  role  in  planning the party.   He indicated to me that he was struggling   with  choosing  a  song   for the   "Mom     and     Groom"     dance.  Im- mediately,  I  suggested  such  tried, true  and  traditional  choices as Kenny Rogers'  "Through the Years" and Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings," but he  wasn't  connecting   with  any  of my re- commendations.

On the day of the event, the groom ap- proached me during setup and informed me that he had chosen the perfect song. Do you have Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia?" he asked. Of course I did, as it's a timeless classic and one of my personal all-time favorites, but for the "Mom and Groom" dance? Noticing the perplexed look on my face, the groom confessed to me that he and his mom frequently danced to the song when he was just a boy. "We used to have the 45 record," he added. His song choice was anything but traditional, and although it made no sense to me, it did make perfect sense to the groom, his mom and many of the guests. Ultimately, it did prove to be the perfect choice.

My point is simply this — in my view, if there is ONE tradition, it's that the bride and groom must feel comfortable coming into their "big day" and then be happy with the outcome. I'm not suggesting that anyone should go overboard by taking a "Bridezilla" approach to their wedding. However, I do encourage brides to focus more on choices and decisions that make sense for them, and not be dissuaded by someone else's perception of "tradition."

To be continued...

I'm very accessible and I'm happy to assist folks at any time regarding wedding-related questions, concerns and comments. I can be contacted through either the "Comment" forum of this blog or directly via my personal email address.

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