ooking to Explore some great options for your First Dance as a married couple at your wedding?
Here's a lot of great options to look into - you may find the perfect song or you may just get the creative juices going - but either way you're sure to find something you love on this custom Wedding First Dance playlist!
What makes for a great first dance? As long as it speaks to your love it's perfect. My first dance with my wife was a track called "Kickass Violin Solo" by Aphex Twin and we did "I Only Have Eyes for You" by the Flamingoes as a coda. Anything goes!
At Stylus - we're obsessive about music and we're always looking to help our clients find the perfect fit for their special day - so if you're looking for 2020 New Wedding Frist Dance Songs then we can help. Click to explore some new and exciting options for your First Dance - there's a ton of great songs to fit every style, genre, and mood.
What makes for a great first dance? It could be something classic, or an updated classic, or something brand new from a favorite artist or a brand new song from an unfamiliar artist whose song speaks to your soul.
What Should You Pick? That's easy - pick the song you love most. Preview the songs below :
Whether it's John Legend, Taylor Swift, Mario, Harry Styles, Dan & Shay, Chase Rice, or something a little more left field like Why Don't We or Gabby Barrett, you're sure to find something you love in this playlist full of songs that most couples haven't considered yet. Enjoy :)
There are lots of great wedding songs for your first dance - from songs that are more popular in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill like beach music hits from the Platters or General Johnson and the Chairman of the board, to songs that are so good they've stood the test of time like Etta James, Frank Sinatra, and Van Morrison.
There are also some truly fantastic songs that are perfect for your 2018 Wedding, new songs with a lot behind them.
Are you looking at the DJ as an experience or as a commodity?
Specifically, are you just looking to fill in your DJ with someone who's cheap, someone who's not going to screw anything up, or someone who's going to do a better job than the other people you've been getting quotes from?
Remember - your DJ is responsible for 80% of your wedding - so this one choice means a lot more for your event than most people think. What does a Raleigh Wedding DJ cost and why?
Most couples haven't planned a wedding before - and the idea that you're supposed to know everything once you get a ring on your finger is crazy. Don't worry - we're here to help you wrap your head around what you might want to budget for your wedding. Considering the DJ's resposible for 80% of your reception - it's easily one of the best values in any part of your wedding planning. However, some budgets are tighter than others - and the questions of how you value the entertainment is something you'll need to really consider and address.
Budgeting is a crucial part of event planning - getting an idea about what your budget might get you is important to help you get a real idea of how to proceed.
DJ pricing generally breaks down into a couple of categories. Bear in mind, this is generic pricing for a 4 hour reception. Adding services or elements can get any DJ package way up. These prices are cobbled together from what I've heard over the past couple of years, and doesn't reflect every single DJ's pricing, and you may find higher performing DJs at a lower price point (rare) or lower-performing DJs at a higher price point. I've also learned that nearly every DJ will tell you they're the best.
This accounts for the vast majority of what I've seen and heard over the years - but I've seen/heard of messy set-ups and middling performances from higher-tier DJs, and decently respectable performances from basement-rate DJs. One of the things you're really playing here are the odds - for good or ill.
Finally - price points are often a reflection of how much work you'll be doing versus what your DJ is doing. A lower price point likely means you're carrying more of the respsonsibilities of your event, whereas a higher price point usually means they've got more time invested in preparing and executing your event. Lower pricing generally means more risk - higher pricing generally means less risk - but there are benefits and concerns at every tier you need to consider.
Ipod/Tablet/Streaming/Bare Bones DJ:
$0-$400 - WE NEED SOMETHING & HAVE NO BUDGET!
Not often a 'DJ' in the conventional sense - but it will certainly be music for an intended audience. You're probably looking for background music & might not be expecting a lot from your DJ. You can rent a sound system and plug in your favorite tunes or put a close friend or ally in charge of picking tunes - or maybe letting your guests hop in. MP3 players can carry a lot of music - or you can stream a playlist - but the secret to a great party is the selection - that's a big part of what you're getting with a more experienced DJ/Emcee. You may even consider hiring a pro DJ to help you design your playlist even if you're not going to have them at your event - it's amazing how flow and tone can impact your event. Plus every song on your player is mastered differently and you'll need to adjust the volume every song to make sure it's not too loud or too low. You're taking a risk in order to keep costs down - make sure you've got someone who can help you troubleshoot in case of emergency.
Craiglist DJs / 'My friend's a dj and can do the wedding':
$300-$700 - THE DJ ISN'T OUR TOP PRIORITY BUT WE CAN STILL DO IT
Usually the lowest price - but there are some pros working here too who keep their costs down by advertising on a free platform. With that being said - we get panicked calls every week from people who just found out their DJ didn't show/isn't coming. Many of the DJs in this category are single-genre DJ, which means they're comfortable with ONE TYPE OF MUSIC. Or perhaps they're first-timers who are going to use your wedding to start dipping their toes in. You're likely getting very little planning insight and you're taking a gamble so you can invest in the stuff that matters more to you than your party. Have a back-up plan in place. This is the choice for the couple that prioritizes most other things more than the DJ - they just need something. The equipment could be cobbled together, possibly mismatched, and might be too little or WAY too much. I've heard about guys showing up with small speakers and huge subs, meaning they don't have a lot of experience with how to balance the sound in a room (makes a big difference). They likely don't have insurance, a website, a business license, or much by way of flexibility, but they're ready to party as long as someone doesn't offer them more money for your date. Please make sure you get a contract. Most of the people we hear from didn't have a contract. Ask any coordinator about their DJ horror stories and they're often from this category of DJ.
New & Training DJs / "In House DJs" / Standard Lite
$600-$900: YOUR IDEAL LIMITED BUDGET CHOICE
With a reputable company they're definitely going to show up. They might not have a lot of music, experience, equipment, or back-ups, but they're looking to build their experience and you can get a decent price if you're just looking to check the DJ box. Sometimes you'll find the venue owner's son is available/required as a DJ for your event - it's easy and they know the space well. Kind of like the DJs at resorts - there's a set they do and that's what you get. The biggest complaint from other vendors about this group is that they might not know how to handle tricky situations or equipment malfunctions, and you might hear comments about the way they dress or their event dynamics might be choppy or uneven. The new DJ's inexperience might show up during the planning as well as the execution- you're less likely to get opportunities to customize but they're usually well-meaning and eager to please. This is a great budget choice if the DJ isn't something you value as much as something like the flowers, cake, linens, photographer, coordinator, ceremony musician, food truck, invitations, bachelor/bachelorette parties, ETC... Music will play, people will listen and you'll have some dancing, and you might even have a great event! Their set-ups might look rougher than most standard DJs pros though, it's something that takes time. There are also some more developed DJs in this category, they like to stay busy by keeping their costs down, and their price point makes it worth it for their preferred clients - not as much pressure - just show up and have fun. Key points here include contracts, timelines, and music choices.
Standard Wedding DJs
$850-$1300: STANDARD ON PURPOSE - EXACTLY WHAT WE WERE EXPECTING (YOUR DEFAULT BEST CHOICE)
They've got experience, pro equipment, and a DJ playlist that includes the top 200 songs you're going to probably want played at your wedding. This is the baseline for professional DJs - not necessarily a whole lot of Wow! but it's just the right fit for many couples. They're usually competent on the mic and play songs, usually one after the other, kind of like radio DJs. They're aiming for the middle so that they can avoid anything outside your comfort zone. They'll usually have a good command of all the songs you're going to want at your wedding and you're going to get some useful planning advice. They'll know how to run a wedding (it's an important skill that not everyone has!) and how to avoid making a terrible mess of things. You've got some customization & personalization here and they'll know how to handle some of the issues that can show up often at weddings. Standard set-up includes two speakers on stands, a nice looking DJ rig (controller, CDJs, turntables), usually they've cleaned up their cables and taped down everything so that your guests don't trip. They're there to 'just push play' and make sure your names are pronounced correctly. They're mostly likely going to have back-ups and solutions to handle possible event issues - there's peace of mind here. There are also some really fun DJs in this category. Manyof the DJs at the bridal shows are going to be in this range. They're accessible, competent, and generally reliable. If you found you vibed with someone and have a light budget- this is probably where you want to be.
Club DJs as Wedding DJs -
$900-$1600 : (SPECIFIC) POWER SETS - LET'S GET TO THE DANCING (YOUR IDEAL GENRE CHOICE)
There are some technically talented DJs in this category, but, as a general rule, they're going to lack in the MC and event direction categories. Don't expect a lot of planning, and another element to keep an eye on is they might not have 'clean' edits of songs and are more likely to dress in a club friendly style. My only caveat at this level is don't expect too much more than powerful DJ set and make sure they understand that they need to show up early to set-up since most club DJs aren't regular event pros. They're more likely to need more input from your other vendors to make sure they know what to do - but there are some real gems in this category - they're just really hard to come by. This can be a real win if you REALLY like a specific genre, maybe something clubby, or something Trap, Hyphy, or Techno/House. With some of them, you might not be able to expect a lot of songs your parents will know &, as I've often seen, their turntables/controllers will generally be fancier equipment but they are more likely to have them set up messily and their sound systems are often going to be older, rented, or borrowed.. You're also more likely to have mispronunciantions in this range than the standard wedding DJ, since thye're not practiced event MCs in the usual sense - but you're going to have a lot of power under the hood so it might be a good trade off if that's what you're going for. They're not going to have much by way of back-ups, so you're probably going to want to make sure they have a plan if anything goes wrong. The other element to keep in mind is that many of these DJs might not have a back-up in case they get sick or their backup is a club DJ with even less experience. Finally, you're probably getting what you're looking for - the set the DJ wants to play - give them the freedom to do what they do best.
Top Local Wedding Pros:
$1500-$2500: THE EVENT WE WERE LOOKING FOR (MY BEST WEDDING CHOICE)
This is the group you can be really comfortable with in almost every situation. You're going to get a solid showing on the MCing, DJing, Event Direction, and Planning. The music will be customized and appropriate for every situation. They're going to be right in everyone's wheelhouse and you're going to get great feedback from your guests about your choice. Great planning help, top notch execution, clean looking systems & cord management, and lots of opportunities to personalize your event. Even here you'll see a wide range of styles - and it's really important that you like your DJ's overall approach to your event. They're the director of the most expensive event you'll ever put on. The biggest complaints about this group are varied because it's very individual and not reflective of the category as a whole. You've got some great options and are going to be able to find something that works for you. This is the baseline I chose for my own wedding when we were on a really tight budget of less than $10,000 because I knew that the DJ makes more of an impact than anything else I chose.I chose this instead of a fancy dinner, invitation, cake or flowers since those things didn't engage my guests as long.
Wedding DJ Best of the Best:
$2000-$6000: WE'RE CREATING THE BEST WEDDING THEY'VE EVER BEEN TO
These are the DJs who are doing far more than just pushing play. They can be part of company or on their own. Just like certain restaurants and venues know what they have is great - there's a premium on the experience. More engagement, personalization, music opportunties, and elements that highlight you and your guests engaging together. There's a lot of variation in set-ups, but they'll all look amazing and everything will be safely secured and clean. They are usually insured, have great reviews, and can offer lots of great ideas for how you can develop your event dynamics. Your guests will be more than impressed because the DJ knows how to make it happen for you. They don't get to that level with their secret sauce. There are a few DJs who are operating at this level - this is the top tier in the region. If you're doing something REALLY DIFFERENT - then this is probably where you want to be. The biggest issues I've heard about at this level are managing extended set-up & tear down times (i.e. you can't tear down a big event in 30 minutes), and a slightly higher catering need since they're often bringing an assistant or two. Also, some of the highest paid DJs in this category don't mix a single song. Seriously. They mix like a standard DJ but their level of service is through the roof, which means they're earning their higher fee in different ways. In some cases you can expect more of a production, although having expensive equipment is sometimes seen as a substitute for skill and experience - it's not. While equipment matters, it's not what they're playing on that determines what the experience is - it's how they use it to deliver a great event. But, they're generally going to be using gear that costs 2-10 times what budget DJs are using.
$5,000-$2,000,000: REMEMBER WHEN WE...
You'll need to get your equipment rented, delivered, and set-up and make sure you read the rider carefully. For the love of everything good in the world please get a professional event planning company - something like this requires way more than you think. This is when you just HAD to have the DJ who made the track you danced to the night you met. Find out how many extra people they're bringing and double check. Have a back-up plan in place in case flights get delayed. Be prepared for a crazy story. Calvin Harris was 2 Million for a private event a few years ago - it may be even higher now.
For some people, picking their wedding music is really easy - they either know the perfect wedding song or just let the DJ do it.
If you’re having a hard time picking out the perfect wedding songs, here’s a little help to get you started.
Let’s start with the songs you’ll need to pick out and then look at some fun options.
CeremonyPrelude - This is the music that’s playing 1/2 hour before you come down the aisle while your guests are being seated. Some couples want nice instrumentals, others want classic love songs, and others want grand piano versions of Usher and Beyonce. This is a great way to set the tone, but we recommend making the instrumentation and styling DIFFERENT than the choices you’ll use for your actual ceremony music.
Vitamin String Quartet
CeremonyProcessional - This is the song that plays when you come down the aisle. The most classic choice is the Dum, dum, da-dum, dum DUM da-dum…. (AKA Mendelsohn’s Wedding March from his incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream). The most popular modern song is “Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, but, you’re not limited to classical music or even instrumental music.
Some other great options include:
Train - Marry Me
Pachelbel - Canon in D
Haley Reinhart - Can’t Help Falling in Love
Brother Iz - Over the Rainbow
John Legend - All of Me
Etta James - At Last
Star Wars- Throne Room/End Titles
Ceremony Recessional - This is the song that exclaims “We’re Married Now!” and plays when you’re walking BACK down the aisle. I usually recommend picking something that expresses how you feel to be officially married to the LOVE of your life.
Jackie Wilson - Higher and Higher
Stevie Wonder - Signed Sealed Delivered
American Authors - Best Day Of My Life
Ray Lamontagne - You Are The Best Thing
Hall & Oates - You Make My Dreams come True
Big & Rich - Lost in This Moment
This is the moment when the wedding party (or just you two) enter the main reception area. We recommend picking something upbeat and energetic because it helps get everyone ready to party. If it’s just the two of you then the song won’t usually play very long. If you’ve doing a larger wedding party, just remember to pick a song that’s good for you the WHOLE way through.
Justin Timberlake - Can’t Stop the Feeling!
Bruno Mars - Marry You
Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
T.I. & Jay-Z - Bring ‘Em Out
AC/DC - Back in Black
DJ Khaled - All I Do Is Win
Blue Swede - Hooked on a Feeling
First Dance Song
This is the song you’ll play when you and your partner take to the dance floor for the first time. In southern culture it’s considered inappropriate for anyone to dance before the VIP couple dances, which is why most couples do this dance right when they enter the reception area.
It’s great to pick something that makes you happy and fills you all the right feels, no matter what that song is for the two of you.
DON’T pick a song because you THINK it’s appropriate. Pick a song that’s just right for the two of you. This applies to your parent dances too, but it’s especially important to remember for this dance because you’ll have this as your first dance for the rest of your lives and every time you hear it it will be YOUR song.
Also, DON’T be afraid to pick a song that someone close to you has already used. Neither of you wrote the song and your cousin or friend from college doesn’t have a monopoly on the relationship YOU and your partner have with that song.
Here are some great wedding first dance songs to inspire you:
Dan & Shay - From the Ground Up
Ed Sheehan & Beyonce- Perfect Duet
Thomas Rhett - Die a Happy Man
Adele - Make You Feel My Love
Christ Stapleton - Tennessee Whiskey
Ben E King - Stand By Me
Here are some slightly more unconventional first dance songs:
Sam Smith - Latch (acoustic)
Outkast - Baby Take Off Your Cool
Steve Azar - Lay Your Heart Next To Mine
Bright Eyes - First Day Of My Life
Dave Matthews - Crush
Tamia & Eric Benet - Spend My Life with You
And here’s the songs my wife and I danced to:
Aphex Twin - Kick-Ass Violin Solo
The Flamingoes - Only Have Eyes For You
Parent Dance Wedding Songs
The parent dances can be one of the most poignant moments of a wedding, and the same rules apply - pick something that fits your relationship with your mother/father , whether it’s something unapologetically cliched but important in your lives or something out of left field. You’ll invite your parent (or someone you want to honor and recognize) out to the dance floor for a very special dance.
The thing many clients think is that they have to cut this dance short, which you can absolutely do. I would argue that you don’t have to though. This may be the most time you spend with them on your whole wedding day, and if your guests can’t sit down and shut up for 4 minutes out of respect while you share this special moment with one of the most important people in your life then their opinions on the matter are irrelevant.
Father Daughter Dance Song
Heartland - I Loved Her First
Tim McGraw - My Little Girl
Temptations - My Girl
Frank Sinatra/ Tony Bennet/ Maroon 5 - The Way You Look Tonight
Stevie Wonder - Isn’t She Lovely/ Ribbon in the Sky
Paul Simon - Father/Daughter
Beach Boys - God Only Knows
Mother Son Dance Song
Rascal Flatts - My Wish
Louis Armstrong - Wonderful World (it’s short!)
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
Boyz II Men - Song for Mama
Beatles - In My Life
Phil Collins - You’ll Be in My Heart
Reba Mcentire - He Gets That From Me
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Cake Cutting Song
You may be wondering why you have to pick out a cake cutting song, that’s because it’s going to take a few minutes for you to get over, have the photographer explain how to cut it and position you for the best pictures, and then actually cut the cake. Usually we recommend picking TWO cake cutting songs because it often takes longer than just one song. This is a good place to play around with whole sweet/sugar/cake/food thing because your guests can certainly appreciate a good song selection.
Maroon 5 - Sugar
James Taylor - How Sweet It Is
DNCE - Cake By The Ocean
Archies - Sugar Sugar
Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar on Me
Four Tops - Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
Flo Rida - Cake
Average White Band - Cut the Cake
This is where you invite all the single (read: unmarried) women to the dance floor and toss a bouquet to them. From the get go, it doesn’t have to be just the women. You can invite any guests who are looking for a partner. This tradition is one of the oldest and can give you some great photographs for your wedding album.
Some fun Bouquet Toss Songs are:
Beyonce - Single Ladies
Meghan Trainor - Dear Future Husband
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Shania Twain - Man! I Feel Like A Woman
David Guetta - Where Them Girls At
Spice Girls - Wannabe
Ludacris - Move B*tch
Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot
TLC - No Scrubs
This is the moment where your partner pulls your garter off your leg (if you’re wearing one) BEFORE he throws it to the assembled single men. There’s a lot to have fun with in this moment if you decide to include it and the right song can absolutely make the moment!
Georgia Satellites - Hands To Yourself
Mission Impossible Theme Song
Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone
Nelly - Hot in Herre
Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
Jimi Hendrix - Foxy Lady
Big Pimpin - Jay Z
Just like the bouquet toss but for the fellas. This is a great photo op and a lot of fun when you set the right tone. Some really fun Garter Toss songs include:
Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
Panic at the Disco - Death of a Bachelor
Killers - The Man
Jidenna - Classic Man
Inner Circle - Bad Boys (Theme from Cops)
Aloe Blacc - The Man
ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man
One of the most controversial wedding events, it’s great for some crowds but inappropriate for others. This is where the guy who caught the garter puts it back on the leg of the person who caught the bouquet. In reality, that’s just the set-up - the main event is the dance routine!
Garter Replacement Songs:
Ginuwine - Pony
Marvin Gaye - Let’s Get It On
Hot In Herre - Nelly
David Rose Orchestra - The Stripper
Warrant - Cherry Pie
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long
R. Kelly - Bump & Grind
Weeknd - Earned It
Big & Rich - Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy
Niall Horan - Slow Hands
Last Dance Song
This is the final song you want played before you head off into the world as a married couple. There are three schools of thought about this dance - Romantic (either for everyone or just the two of you), Full Party Mode (wild it out!), and Sing Along. Any of these can be great, but what’s best for your wedding day?
Journey - Don’t Stop Believin’
Semisonic - Closing Time
Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes - (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life
Michael Buble - Save the Last Dance for Me
Donna Summer - Last Dance
Billy Joel - Piano Man
Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel
’N Sync - Bye Bye Bye
Isley Brothers - Shout
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Luke Bryan - I Don’t Want This Night To End
Fun - We Are Young
There are lots of reasons why you might not want certain artists or music at your wedding reception. In the modern age we have more access to news and information that reveals details about some of our favorite artists. What do we do when the artist is problematic and how do we move forward?
There are some songs that thrill us and are part of our shared cultural fabric - from classic hits like Thriller, and ABC, Let's Dance, and Twist and Shout, to more modern hits like Ignition, Still Dre, Run It, and Cool Kids. What happens when we learn something disturibing about the artist. What happens when someone's actions have come to light that change not just how we view that person, but how we view their music, and its impact on our lives?
This year, the drummer from Echosmith, a young but legal-adult autistic musician, was caught trying to slide into a 16 year old's DMs. We've gotten no requests to avoid their music.
Several years ago, Robin Thicke was accused by his ex-wife Paula of domestic abuse. We didn't get any requests to avoid his music, although Blurred Lines, the biggest hit of 2013, is gaining in popularity again.
A decade ago, we had to confront domestic abuse with Chris Brown, who had an unbearable exchange with his then-girlfriend Rihanna that was a horror brought all too close with the pictures that followed. At the time, we received a ton of requests to avoid any Chris Brown songs at weddings. In the past six years we haven't received a single request to avoid his music and his recent hits are consistently requested at weddings.
Almost twenty years ago, rumors were circulating about R Kelly and his predatory predilections. Last year a documentary was released that detailed his depravity. We continue to get requests for Ignition. The trial made for a Chapelle show sketch where we were asked to confront liking music without somehow implicitly condoning the artist's behaviors.
Twenty-eight years ago, Dr. Dre viciously beat a female rapper and tried to throw her down the stairs while his bodyguard held back would-be samaritans with a firearm, then, when she fled, he followed her into the women's restroom and continued beating her. We've never received a single request to avoid any of his songs and many of our clients have Beats by Dre headphones, a consciously obscene joke.
Thirty years ago Michael Jackson was taken to court by several families who accused him of harming children. After the release of the most recent documentary the temperature on this issue has risen dramatically. People aren't sure, but we get far more requests than we get cancellations, despite the horrifying details.
Forty years ago John Lennon admitted he battered women in his life when he was younger. We don't get any requests to avoid Beatles songs.
Fifty years ago David Bowie & Jimmy Page took indecent liberties with a 13 year old girl. We still get requests for David Bowie (albeit not as many as right after he passed) and Led Zeppelin,
The question of what to do with this information and should we allow it to impact our appreciation or enjoyment of music that has a special place in our lives?
Obviously, any artists you don't want to hear is someone we will avoid, but I wanted to take a second to dig deeper into this and explore whether or not it should be something you need to take into account.
Let's back up just for a second and ask why certain artists get 'cancelled' from a playlist and others don't. Since the release of the recent documentaries the questions about whether or not R Kelly or Michael Jackson should be on our playlists is something we've had to come to terms with. As DJs, this is something we've had to deal with for a long time and our policies are, simply put, to respect whatever your position in. If you're so troubled by what you've learned that you would be emotionally harmed by hearing it at your event then you should absolutely put them on your Do Not Play list. There are lists of problematic artists available that will allow you to consider each instance and how much or how little you want to remove the songs they wrote or performed from your reception and your life.
If your guests will be harmed by hearing their music, you definitely want to make sure they're on your Do Not Play list. Taking your guests needs into account is a crucial part of being a good host and, at your wedding, you are the curator of their experience. If you have guests who suffer migranes we can drop the lights, if you have guests who have peanut allergies we can craft a peanut-free meal. If you have guests who are sensitive to artist's personal lives and will be affected by hearing songs they associate with that artist then you're being proactive, responsible, and conscientious.
I also want to give you permission to not be held hostage to the bad behavior of others. This is how we, as DJs, handle these issues, because an artist's behavior doesn't affect whether or not our guests enjoy a song. I personally abhor the actions of Michael Jackson, R Kelly, Jimmy Page, Bobby Shmurda, David Bowie, John Lennon, Dr. Dre, Takashi 6ix9ine, XXXtentacion, and Nick Carter, but the music isn't the artist, and the music has an independent place in the world - and our memories.
Several years ago I was sitting in a hotel bar watching the Country Music Awards on an out-of-town work trip with a pair of good-ol' boys who were working with me on a tech project. Elton John came on. We had literally been having a conversation about changing opinions on same-sex marriages and relationships, which they were opposed to. They started singing along to his and Dolly Parton's version of John Lennon's Imagine and I was stunned. I asked, and they praised elton's music, talking about their favorites. I followed up with, if they were so offended by his lifestyle, why they loved his music so much, and one of them responded, "His music makes up for his gayness." His response, while crude, was honest in that it revealed a deeper truth about music that has stuck with me ever since - a song's meaning is internal, unique, and personal. These two, who had visited scorn upon people they'd never met for a lifestyle they didn't agree with, could sing every word to every one of his hits.
I guarantee they could sing every word of the world's most famous coming-out song - Bohemian Rhapsody. The artist's lifestyle and behaviors are irrelevant to many people because their enjoyment of a song isn't depending on the artist.
There are artists, politicians, scientists, designers, teachers, musicians, chefs, and neighbors whose personal behaviors are stunningly bad. Would you be proud to own a Picasso? Would you buy a Mitsubishi? A BMW? Anything made by Hugo Boss? Every one of those is problematic at some point. The questions is really, does your choice to include it in your presentation make you feel weird or make you concerned about your guests’ reactions?
Let’s take another tack - Would we throw out a scientific advancement made by a scientist because we found out she was horrible in her personal life? The point is that there's no going back - once it's out in the world it's beyond that individual's ability to 'ruin' what it would mean to others.
If you're going to prohibit them, also consider whether or not you'd like to announce to your guests that songs by certain artists will not be available, or if you want your DJ to just say "No" whenever guests requests their music. You have all the power in the construction of your playlist and the environment you’re creating - and we want to make sure you have every opportunity to create exactly what you want.
And, with that in mind, I encourage you to explore your own feelings on these issues and determine what's best for you, your guests, and your moral comfort as you prepare your request list.
Most couples, when they're contacting a wedding vendor, will usually jump right to the heart of what they think the matter is.
“What's the Price?”
That's actually the last question you should ask after you've asked everything else. CLICK HERE to read a list of the right questions to ask.
Why? That's because price and value are actually not related the way lots of people think they are.
In Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill there are 70 different DJ companies. Most of them fall into several different pricing categories, but that doesn't actually tell you what they do or how they do it. You should really be focused on the VALUE of what they're bringing to the table, because you'll find that makes your decision even easier.
Let's think about this another way.
For instance, if you're looking to provide dinner for your guests and you've got three caterers to choose from, with the first offering a fancy meal at the highest price (let's say $50/pp), another offering an unispired but OK meal at $40/pp, and the third offering chicken nuggets and Ramen noodles at the lowest price of $10/pp, what's the best value?
The best value in this case is, without a doubt, the highest price meal. Not because it costs more, most people would think that the best value would be the lower cost meal, but for only $10 more per person you're getting filet mignon instead of frozen chicken. That's what we call the added value. At that point we're examining the fixed costs associated with caterers (serving staff, washing dishes, broken glasses, office rental, kitchen costs, food costs) and looking at how we can get the most out our experience.
Meanwhile, if you'd gone to a caterer and said “we can afford $35/pp” and judged their proposals you'd have a great opportunity to examine where those values really are. The biggest flub a lot of couples make is they come at a vendor with a budget that's unrealistic. If you've budgeted $400 for a dinner of 100 people you're going to have to hit the McBurger drive-through and hope your aunt is nice enough to serve everyone.
Obviously, setting a budget is crucial, and we recommend talking with lots of different people to start getting a sense of what costs really are, and then you need to identify what's most important to you, but pricing isn't as important a questions as you might initially assume.
On of the main things we hear is 'Why is everything in a wedding so expensive?” I remember working for another company years ago and they offered videography. A client called and said, “Why do you charge so much for a DVD of our wedding when I can buy a DVD at Wal-Mart for $10?”
Wal-Mart carries your wedding video there? So they sent videographers out, spent 20 man-hours capturing your wedding, spent another 30-40 editing, and then the additional 8-10 hours rendering and converting it? All while using unique skills, professional equipment, and techniques developed over years of effort? Of course not.
It's the same with photographers. They spend 3-4 times the amount of time they spent AT your wedding working ON your wedding pictures. That 10-12 hour day they just pulled is just the beginning for them.
Again, this goes to the heart of the matter - assessing VALUE.
For most of our clients, a great party and wedding day experience are the most important things. Not that they don't put serious thought into the other details of their event, but it's the experience of having a great time with their friends and family that matters the most.
For you, it might be something different, you might be more focused on the dinner, or the florals, or the guest gifts.
That's where we start really assigning value.
If you don't value what a DJ brings to the table, you're probably not looking to spend a lot on it.
If you really value the difference a DJ can make on your wedding day (this is a really easy choice for people who've seen bad DJs at weddings) then you're going to want to work with the best of the best.
Once you've identified what's most important, start looking at the vendors who might be able to help you make the most of your event. That's why price is the LAST question you ask, because you're really interested in the true VALUE of the service they're providing, and that value is only really determined once you take stock of what their offering really is.
I see this all the time with different vendors. Yes, a photographer might be $1000 more than another photographer, but you're probably getting a full-time pro with more experience and a catalog of work that really speaks to you, versus a photographer who's part time, with less experience, and who's work doesn't exhilarate your soul. Would you budget the difference and maybe back off the florals, cake, or accoutrements a little?
If I book a high-end photographer for $3500, who puts 10 hours in on the wedding day and an additional 30 hours on the back end editing and preparing my photos, that averages $87 an hour. If I've got a guy who's offering to shoot my wedding for $1500 but will only give me the raw files that's not as great a value because I'm paying nearly twice as much per hour and not getting the highest quality edited and prepared images of my wedding day. The value of the high-end photographer is easy to see.
It's somewhat similar to Djs. Yes – there are lots of Djs and it's a little harder to make sense of it because no DJ is going to say “Yeah, I'm bad, but I'm cheap!” Everybody's going to tell you how amazing they are, but there are a few things to look for, and follow this link a list of the questions you should be asking.
Yes, Stylus is a little more expensive than a lot of other Djs, because we're full-time, do better work, and put more effort, time, and energy into a wedding than most other Djs. We work best with clients who understand real VALUE when they see it, because Stylus is your absoulte best value. It's not because we're the cheapest Raleigh DJs, but because your cost/benefit ratio is better than anywhere else.
If you're looking at flowers, check with several different florists and find out what options are available at different price ranges and see how it aligns with your goals. Again, if flowers are more important, you're going to want to really invest in it and downplay other elements. But, you're not going ask about price until you ask the other important questions: How long have you been doing this, are you full-time, what are your back-up plans, what's your philosophy on design, are there things that you do that really set you apart...
One of the biggest mistakes couples make (and we've seen it a hundred times) is trying to do EVERYTHING instead of really focusing on what matters. For instance, I didn't do a lot of flowers at my own wedding because I was more interested in transforming the room with lighting. I wanted the WOW factor instead of traditional big bouquets. Because we were on a tight budget, I also didn't do a traditional food service because I wanted to make sure I put my resources into the things that were most important to me (the party).
When I'm assigning value to something, it's not necessarily the cheapest thing, it's the one that thrills me and makes me happy with my purchase. Most of us would rather pay a little more than be stuck with something we wish we hadn't gone the cheapest route with. That's why I don't drive a jalopy, eat nothing but mac n cheese, or wear tattered clothes, because the true value of something isn't just how cheap it is - it's how well it's done.
As Aldo Gucci said, “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory “
Group Dances & audience participation songs are the enfants terribles of the wedding dance party. From classics like The Twist and the much maligned Electric Slide (it’s a Bunny Wailer track!) to more contemporary works like Blanco Brown’s ‘The Git Up’ and the Cupid Shuffle, they’re either something you’re dreading or something you can’t wait for at your own event. Here's our thoughts on what to keep in mind before including them or cutting them out entirely.
Most of our clients put the ‘group dances’ on their DO NOT PLAY list and want everyone to freestyle dance the whole evening.
At Stylus, we take our client requests as gospel, and if our client request lists (and DO NOT PLAY lists) are any indication - these songs can be sticking points for couples. It’s important for you and your partner to talk about how you feel about them and understand the pros and cons of group dances - and why this one decision may have a bigger impact on your wedding day timeline and your party than you think.
If your wedding is populated by mostly 20 somethings who go out clubbing every weekend - we might not need to lure them onto the dance floor with anything other than bangers - but many weddings have a wide variety of guests in attendance and, in many cases, our uncle’s freestyle dance moves aren’t legendary.
Let’s take a moment to understand what a group dance is and how it can be used.
A ‘Group Dance’ is a song where we’re asking the audience to engage in a specific way. There are a lot of types - and group dances include the Copperhead Road, Before I let Go by Beyonce, Shout,All I Do Is Win, the Harlem Shake, We Will Rock You, every Carolina Shag song like Carolina Girls and Ms. Grace, and all ballroom dances like the swing, waltz, rhumba, hustle, salsa, and two-step. Slow dances are a subset as well, it’s just a much smaller group. Also included, the Hora, the Kola, the Dabke, and the Dab.
A second subset of group dance is Sing Along/ Call & Response songs - like Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believing, What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, Truth Hurts by Lizzo, Mr. Brightside, and Wagon Wheel.
From your DJs standpoint - these are powerful engagement options to help your guests develop the party vibe and cohesion that creates memorable experiences. They’re simply tools to engage your audience. It’s also a great way to switch up the energy and develop the floor. We find we get a much more involved dance floor when we can provide opportunities to dance to different styles of music throughout the evening.
The reasons some couples don’t want the group dances are pretty simple - they hear them at other events and want their wedding to be different. When thinking back to all the events you’ve been to before - how many weddings would you consider as ‘different’ and what made it so?
It’s our experience that every single wedding is different - not just because of the music that the couple loves but also because we’re at a one-of-a-kind event with your specific elements, at your specific location, with your unique combination of friends and family. In most cases - the things that make a wedding different are unique to you and your guests, not necessarily because the playlist didn’t include a group dance.
Looking back at my own wedding, some of my strongest memories are the dances that engaged people who didn’t engage as strongly with other songs I requested. This included the Cupid Shuffle where I taught my 90 year old great aunt to do the dance and Bohemian Rhapsody where everybody got crazy during the drop (Thanks Wayne’s World!).
Another reason to avoid group dances is that you simply don’t like the song - and that’s a great reason to avoid them at your event. If you hate a song - you shouldn’t hear it. There’s also a reason many of these songs are played at events featuring large groups of people - since the number of songs that people jump out of their seats for (especially early in the evening) are actually not as big as you might think.
Group Dances are, by several orders, the most requested songs at weddings. It’s likely that many of the guests at your event will enjoy them. They are also a powerful tool in your DJ’s toolkit - an element that can be used effectively to build a great party.
The truth is that there are likely going to be some guests at your event who aren’t as comfortable as you might be, and they are more likely to get engaged with a slow dance, a group dance, or an audience participation dance like the Anniversary Dance.
The downside of banning group dances is probably a little different than you’re thinking. Yes, your guests will probably get involved and the DJ can pack your dance floor with a great group dance song choice, but choosing not to allow the DJ to use a group dance can have a bigger impact on your timeline than you think.
Your DJ can fill the dance floor almost immediately with a group dance, whereas they might spend 10-20 minutes, or even more with certain groups, trying to build the dance floor organically. Consider your actual party time (after dinner service and formalities) and how much time you’re willing to let guests mingle before engaging.
Another aspect to consider is guest sentiment. The music is a little different than other elements - like the food or the photo booth. Whereas your guests would be OK accepting your menu choices and recognizing that asking for something off menu was not possible. A caterer will rarely have to say, "Sorry, the bride has specifically requested that no allegery-free or vegetarian options be avaialble this evening," and your guests will treat the music very differently and can often get upset when we tell them that we’re unable to play group dances.
This extends to some of your other song choices as well - if you know your guests are going to love Hip Hop, Country, or EDM - but you hate that style of music -you may consider putting a few of their favorites on your playlist BECAUSE you know they’ll like it. You’re probably not going to look back on your wedding and say “I’m so glad I didn’t play that one song my friends liked.”
If a big dance party matters to you, you might consider which group dances you’d be OK with. This can supercharge your dance floor and give your DJ the opportunity to work in a greater variety of music. Plus, your mom has probably been on YouTube trying to learn the Wobble.
We love your insight and we also love it when clients leave it at our discretion - because that lets us avoid them if we can or use them if they’re needed as we help you create a memorable party to celebrate your wedding day. Please remember to let your DJ know how you feel.
Uplighting has become a popular trend for many weddings, almost a necessity for certain venues. Just a few uplights can dramatically alter how you feel about a space, taking you from “Didn't we go to a wedding here last summer” to “OMG!” There are a lot of very pretty venues out there – but the vast majority of them benefit from uplighting – how can you tell if your wedding venue could use a little extra pop?
Uplighting is the term we use to describe par cans placed around the perimeter of the room to shoot up the walls and architectural details. Sometimes called accent lighting, uplighting is the cheapest, fastest, and most impressive way to affect a room. Conference halls, hotels, and the vast majority of traditional meeting space are usually done in very safe and neutral colors. Chances are your wedding colors aren't taupe, beige, khaki, and puce, uplighting is how we fix it.
The trick to uplighting and figuring out what's right for you is the type of impression you want to make.
If you've got the budget to do the whole room you're in for some truly amazing options and color combinations – allowing you to pull the whole room together with a series of spectacular color combinations that compliment everything from your florals and linen color choices to your bridesmaids shoes or wedding cake. If you've got a smaller budget and can only afford a limited number of lights you're better off selecting a key area to highlight.
It's better to light one area correctly than spread them too thin.
Like you and your partner - they work better together.
Uplighting is great as a stand-alone options, but works best in combination with other elements, including custom GOBOs, drapery, beads, and select spatial details.
There are two principal approaches to how we light a space. Either we're lighting the details or we're lighting the space as a whole. The former means we're structuring the lighting to create a visual pattern that carries through, allowing for an impressive visual component that lasts throughout your whole event. With the latter, we're creating dynamic contours and emotional interaction through our delineation of space (real or perceived depending on your venue).
Let's unpack that a little.
Par cans come in a few varieties, but break down into two main categories: incandescent & LED.
Incandescent are the lights that have been used for over a century (you probably still have them everywhere). They're cheaper but have a much higher power draw and a severely limited range of colors, although they do certain warm colors particularly well.
The vast majority of modern uplighting is done with LED lighting and these break down into a few different categories.
draw your guests to these unique spaces?
You can talk with us about your venue and we'll be happy to make recommendations based on your needs, space, and budget.
RGB (Red Green & Blue)
RGBAW-UV (Ultra Violet)
By combining the intensity of the different colors we can hit any color in the rainbow. LED par cans were all originally a single color, then they started adding three principal colors (Green replaces yellow as the primary mixing color for most LED manufacturers) to allow the end user to adapt the fixture to fit their exact color needs. Initially, you'd think that RGB would be enough but it was found they there were certain colors they didn't do as well as the incandescants, including amber and white – so they started adding those LEDs to bring us to the full range of color we have now.
You can use lighting to create broad splashes of color across the wall, create vertical columns of luminance, or activate spaces to draw guests to certain conclusions or their eye to particular details.
The trick to this is figuring out what matters most to you. Is the venue a little bland and you need to spice it up a little or are you going for a warmer, more subtle effect? Are you having your reception in a place with large columns that would pop with a little extra color or are you looking to light the colonnade and draw your guests to these unique spaces?
You can talk with us about your venue and we'll be happy to make recommendations based on your needs, space, and budget.
Don't Settle for Average! Have a Stylus Wedding Experience Instead!
We're always thinking about weddings. It's because helping you celebrate with your friends and family is one of our all-time favorite things. But some couples are settling for a less than average or just OK DJ experience - when nothing else about their wedding reflects that same lack of attention to detail. Here's why Stylus might be the right fit your for your Raleigh wedding DJ experience.
Let me be up front about this - there's nothing wrong with an OK DJ for some events. Some events just need someone to play appropriate music and maybe talk on the mic a little. For that - there are plenty of OK DJs who will do just fine. An OK DJ will probably be able to deliver and will might get a great review because the bar is set fairly low. At that point, all they have to do is avoid playing too many songs with words that will make grandma frown and refrain from saying the bride's name wrong over and over and over again.
But Stylus is far from average - and it's important for you to understand the difference before you book your Raleigh Wedding DJ (don't worry, we'll do your event if it's around the country or the world too!)
Let's start at the begining with what makes a Stylus Wedding DJ special and why Stylus doesn't have any 'filler' cheap Raleigh Wedding DJs on staff.
To start with - we don't have anybody on staff who hasn't been DJing for longer than you spent in High School. Imagine the difference between 13 year-old you and 20 year old you - it's a huge difference, and that learning curve isn't something we want our clients subjected to. That's how each and every Stylus DJ brings a true party to your event - not just someone pushing a play button.
Stylus DJs are party experts, and it's an expertise that's been built up at hundreds and thousands of parties - it's something you can't buy - it has to be earned. Every Stylus DJ has earned their place.
FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING GOOD IN THE WORLD - DO MORE THAN JUST PUSH THE $%@*! PLAY BUTTON!
There also the matter of HOW they're playing - and it can't be just pushing play. Stylus DJs do more than just play a song, then another song, then another song until time runs out. Stylus DJs are club resident DJs, that's essentially the highest level of performance accountability - which means we can deliver more music, more fun, and more experience to you and your guests in a way that sounds uniquely you.
A PERFORMANCE, NOT A PLAYLIST
A STYLUS wedding experience is more than just a playlist -it's a performance. What that means is that each and every Stylus DJ knows how to read a crowd and develop the energy and sonic experience into something uniquely you. An OK DJ will play the same set at wedding after wedding after wedding. We've all heard it before. At Stylus, we set higher standards on what you should expect and we over-deliver. With on the spot remixes, clever solutions for your event needs, and an unparalleled energetic delivery, you're getting something really special and uniquely yours.
NOT JUST ANOTHER WEDDING, MC
Microphone Skills aren't for the faint of heart. I couldn't tell you how many coordinators I've heard from over the years complaining that the DJ refused to talk on the microphone, and the coordinator had to hop on the mic and bring in the bridal party or introduce the cake cutting or lead the toasts. It's horrifying. While an OK DJ will make the most basic announcements, a STYLUS DJ builds a story into your experience. It's not overly wordy and it's not distracting, because with a few words we can create a narrative thread that ties it all together and helps develop the very real sense that this once-in-a-lifetime event is more than just another wedding - its YOUR wedding. Every Stylus DJ is a microphone master - a capable master of ceremonies who guides your event the whole way through.
WHAT YOU CAN'T BUY
The stuff you can buy is a key part of any DJ set-up, but that's not what sets Stylus apart - it's how we put it together. While an OK DJ is fine with using cheap gear or low-quality music rips from YouTube, the Stylus difference isn't just the quality of the equipment or the music - it's how we put it all together - and that's the stuff you can't buy or fake your way through.
ANY OTHER VENDOR
Finally, the thing that's overlooked more often than anything else when clients are looking at their wedding DJ is how they run the event. Your DJ is responsible for 80% of your reception, and how they run the event is going to determine more about how your wedding feels and what your guests think about your event than ANY OTHER VENDOR. Stylus DJs are wedding pros - and no matter how complex or streamlined your event is - your Stylus Wedding DJ is going to help you make the most of it.
In the 9th century (about 1300 years ago) The Banu Musa brothers in Baghdad invented an automatic organ and flute player that played a lot like a player piano or music box (invented in 1796). The player piano used paper scrolls in 1876. Were they Djs? Could you DJ with them?
Phonautograph - The FIRST Audio Recording
The Phonautograph was made in 1857 by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville in Paris. The earliest known recording is of a french woman singing part of the folk song Clair De Lune in 1860.
Phonograph Cylinder - Thomas Edison
The first practical sound recording and reproduction device was the mechanical phonograph cylinder, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The development of mass-production techniques enabled cylinder recordings to become a major new consumer item in industrial countries and the cylinder was the main consumer format from the late 1880s until around 1910.
Emile Berliner's VINYL reconds
When did we start using Vinyl records? That started with Emile Berliner in Paris in 1889, although Alexander Graham Bell had demonstrated it 8 years earlier in America. It was made of shellac, not Vinyl. The most popular format was called The 78 because they turned around 78 times in one minute.They were made for 20 years before they took over from Cylinders in 1910 and ran strong for 70 years, we’re still using them today.
band recording by stamping cylinder
How did they do the recording? They had the band play into a horn which ‘stamped’ the sounds into the disc or cylinder.
Guglielmo Marconi - Let There Be Radio!
In the late 1890s, Guglielmo Marconi was developing a wireless telegraph using electromagnetic radiation, calling them “Hertzian Waves” or “Aetheric Waves.” We know it these days as Radio.
Let There Be Reginald The Canadian in North Carolina!
Next, let us introduce Reginald Fessenden, one of the most important OGs you've never heard of. He was a Canadian working for the U.S. Weather Bureau in Maryland then he transfered to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Just before Christmas Day in 1900, Reginald transmitted speech by radio for the first time, then like many artists, got in a fight over ownership rights and left. After many other years of development, on Christmas Eve 1906, he transmitted the first music broadcast by playing Handel’s Largo (Xerxes).
The World First Radio Disc Jockey - Ray Newby (The Noob)
3 years later, The first radio disc jockey was a 16 year old kid names Ray Newby of Stockton California who, in 1909, played records on a small transmitter while a student at Herrold College of Engineering and Wireless in San Jose.
worlds first mixer
In 1910, some of the most exciting work was being done to help the movies. That’s where the worlds first mixer and crossfader come from. The Gaumont Chronophone which synchronized sound and film for the Gaumont Palace Theater in Paris. It was loud enough for an audience of 4000, but the records were short so they needed to be able to switch back and forth so that there was no break in the music – a continuous soundtrack.
Electronic recording didn’t really happen until World War I, when the U.S. And Britain tried to reproduce the sounds of German Uboat Sub so they could train their guys. It didn’t work very well. It wasn’t until the phone companies started developing better microphones that things started to change. With the creation of Magnetic tape (1917) there was a brand new format that held a lot of promise, but the first recordings were atrocious. We’ll come back to that later.
In the 1920s, Juke Joints picked up, as people could get together to listen to Juke Boxes, hearing their favorite records. Fun Fact - Juke doesn't mean what you think it does.
Birth of the Discoteque
In coastal ports in France, groups of sailors would buy records and keep them at their favorite local bar so they when they came back they could listen to them. They started calling them record libraries, or, in French disco-bibliotheque, – Disco-theques. Most of the Victrolas and record players also had something called Pitch Control, which allowed the user to speed up or slow down a record until it sounded right, since there was no industry standard for how fast the record should turn. Originally the pitch control was to account for inconsistencies in record pressings. Ultimately it became the tool DJs used to match tempos with records of different timing. In 1924, things were going very well indeed and Western Electric (the aforementioned phone company) showed their work on Microphones to the big record companies and they snapped it up immediately, releasing their products with Electronic Recording techniques starting in 1925.
western electric microphones
Up to this point, most music on the radio is done by live musicians being broadcast from the studio. That can be quite the expensive payroll. You had announcers reading jingles, bands providing the soundtrack, and dramas incorporating full casts and sound designers (making thunder with metal sheets).
In 1925, announcer Martin Block, trying to keep his audience entertained while they were waiting for news about the ‘Crime of the Century‘ (the Lindbergh baby kidnapping), played recorded music and pretended he was in a ballroom. The Show was called ‘Make Believe Ballroom.’ This changed everything. Suddenly, everyone realized you could make a big-sounding show relatively cheaply.
That’s when, in 1925, Walter Winchell, the famous newsman, first tried to describe what Block was doing by calling him a disc jockey – and that’s where the term DJ comes from. Why did he call him a disc jockey? A jockey is someone who operates equipment (horses were equipment then, apparently).
We see the radio show up in cars for the first time in 1930, when the very first Motorola product gets put into a Model A deluxe coupe. The car cost $540. The radio cost $130. That same year, the very first Drum Machine was made – the Rhythmicon, by musical theorist Henry Cowell (commisioned by Leon Theramin, creator of the instrument bearing his name).
The development of FM Radio in 1933 didn’t really change anything at the time, even though it offered substantially higher fidelity. FM radios didn’t get into cars until the late 30s and didn’t overtake AM radio until the 80s.
World War II
The second most consequentail event of the 20th century (after the first world war) didn't need to happen if they'd gotten the Treaty of Versailles right, but it did substantially jump certain technologies foward, including:
It also introduced Americans (like your Great Grandpa) to stuff they'd never heard before. That's going to work out pretty well for you - just wait.
first dj dance party loyal order of ancient shepherds
In 1943 he who shall not be named launched the world’s first DJ dance party by playing jazz records in the upstairs function room of the Loyal Order of Ancient Shephards in Otley, England. In 1947, he claims to have become the first DJ to use twin turntables for continuous play, although we’ve already seen that isn’t technically true. He was a horrible human being.
The First Dance Club!
Happily, that same year (1943, during WW2) the Whisky a GoGo opened in Paris, the first commercial Discotech. There, they replaced the Juke Box with a live DJ playing records on two turntables.
Vinyl Records As We Know Them
Vinyl was introduced en masse after World War II, it was more expensive but lasted longer and sounded better. There are two standard Vinyl Record formats – the LP (long playing – invented by Columbia Records in 1948) which spun at 33 1/3 revolutions, and the 45 rpm microgroove single (RCA Victor, 1949). Why do you think they called them 45s? The Record Companies have standardized the revolutions per minute of records and there are more records being released. They want to track which ones are selling best, so they start taking surveys of the top newly released songs.The Top 40 radio format appears in 1951.
sock hops platter party djs
In the 1950s, American Radio Djs started showing up at ‘Sock Hops‘ and ‘Platter Parties.’ These were mostly GIs returning from World War II and they used the Public Adress systems (PA System) they knew from their military days. They would play a record and then talk on the mic while putting a new record on. Then they started bringing a drummer to keep up the beat while switching records. The first American DJ to bring two turntables was Bob Casey in 1955, allowing him to keep the music going. Rock music changes everything very briefly, then Americans get bored with it and don’t remember what is was until the Beatles remind them five years later.
Klauss Quirini (18) stumbles into a local bar in Aachen, Germany in 1953, heckles the guy the behind the turntables (an opera guy from Cologne), and the manager asks him if he can do a better job. He says he can, gets on the mic with “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ll flood the local now,” then plays a song about ships. People go nuts, he takes the job getting paid to play music at the bar. 50 years later, he claims to be the first DJ.
jamaican ghetto sound systems
In the Late 50s, Sound Systems were developed in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica (home of reggae). Different promoters would compete to have the best sound system and best Djs, and they would talk over the music in rhythmic narrative chanting rhymes called ‘Toasting.” A lot of people point to this tradition as the grandfather of Hip Hop.
The First 'Mobile Music App'.
1956 Chrysler introduces the first ever in-car phonograph. This requires much heavier Vinyl records. They are rare. The most expensive Elvis records are the heavy grain records made for these devices.
1952 – The endless loop tape cartridge is developed, leading to the eventual release of the som8 track in 1965, when Ford includes an 8 track dashboard mounted unit.
In 1962, Phillips invents the Compact Cassette, using the magnetic tape technology initially developed in the 1930s. In 1969 they release the portable Radiorecorder encouraging people to make their own recordings of the music they loved. This was the first Boombox.
The First REAL DJ - Francis Grasso
The spiritual father of all Djs is Francis Grasso, who played at a popular club in New York City called Sanctuary in 1969. With a Reco-Cut knob fader and two Reco-Cut turntables, he popularized a concept known as ‘Beatmatching (also called mixing or blending). With live music, this is very impressive. He also credited with developed ‘Slip-Cuing,” holding a record while the platter is still spinning so that the DJ can drop the beat exactly when he wants to, with little or no delay or start-up time. Grasso later credited Bob Lewis at CBS with the technique. He was also the first DJ to use headphones to make sure the record no one heard was in the right place before he brought the volume up, although he eventually got so good he could cold drop just by looking at the grooves on the record. He is also credited with developing DJ formatting (or picking your music to appeal to the crowd) but I think this is likely a vast overstatement. Everyone who isn’t playing to the crowd is doing a bad job, whether it’s playing Top 40, Classical, or Dance. He was also putting out mixtapes. This guy is kind of a big deal.
At this point, the Clubs were still Discotheques, they clubs had the records and the equipment, not the DJ.
DJ Kool Herc
Enter Jamaican born DJ Kool Herc. He is considered the godfather of Hip Hop Culture and he had his own records and his own sound system. He got his start performing at block parties in the Bronx in New York City. He would mix two copies of the records together to extend the rhythmic section, or Break. In 1973, this was considered revolutionary (pardon the pun). You could extend the part of the song you wanted to use indefinitely by Hip-Hopping from deck to deck.
In 1972, Matsushita, under the brand Technics, released the SL-1200. 40 years later, it’s still the gold standard for many Djs. I have heard stories of the abuse these things have taken – drinks spilled all over, falling out of trucks, thrown into a wall – and they’ll still play. Other than their durability, why were they so important? They were one of the first turntables that catered to the professional user. They had all the right elements – a direct drive (not belt driven, direct drive starts faster and lasts longer), pitch control, and a light tone-arm (which protects the record from being worn down). They also allowed you to spin the record backward, so you could line up the exact moment or create a unique sound with a backspin. Plus, how else were you going to listen to your Black Sabbath record? It was everything you need to keep your records in good shape and play them with precision.
DJ History - Disco Revolution
In the mid ’70s, when you had two major musical movements taking shape. Disco, popularized by groups like Barry White and the Hues Corporation, and Hip Hop. Disco started off as variations on Philadelphia Soul and gained real traction in the underground gay and minority communities and then got epic during the economic crises of the 70s when people wanted to escape their troubles with fun but vapid dance tunes. Hip Hop, which was actually just kid’s play for the first several years, took a little longer. The first hip hop recording was made by a guy who heard some kids on the playground and wanted to make some money selling it back to those same kids. By 1975 record labels started issuing “12 inch” singles, which were the size of regular 33 1/3 rpm albums as opposed to the 7 inch 45 rpm single. Mixes were extended by making longer intros and “break” sections. They were also incorporating instrumentals on the flipside of the disc. Most Djs would buy two copies so they could mix back and forth.
grand wizard theodore inventor of the dj scratch
The next big step was completely by accident – in 1975 Grand Wizard Theodore invented the scratch. He was sitting upstairs in his room with his record player when his mom called for him. He put his hand on the record and it rubbed back and forth. PARENTS - THIS IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO YELL AT YOUR KIDS TO CLEAN THEIR ROOM. This is the key moment in Turntablism, this takes the turntable from a device to an instrument. That, combined with Hip Hopping from break to break, and the new sound coming off the playgrounds – led to Hip Hop. You have to wait 4 years before it hits big with 1979′s Rapper’s Delight, which used a disco tune (Chic’s ‘Good Times’) as its foundation. Hip Hop is electronically manipulated disco, which makes it all EDM to me.
Birth of the Remix
Aditionally in 1976 you had the development of the REMIX with Walter Gibbons’ remix ‘Ten Percent’ by Double Exposure. This was a huge leap forward for DJs and the music industry, which could now sell extended 'club play' tracks to DJs, who usually bought two of the most popular records.
dj larry levan
By this point you now have all the elements that make up a DJ: Sound System, Audience, Formatting, Controller (turntables), and the DJ themselves – with the ability to affect all these things to produce a specific environment. It wasn’t until 1977, when Larry Levan gained a cult following at the Paradise Garage that the modern dance club started taking shape. That was the first time the music and the DJ were really the focal point of a club. He managed to get a bunch of people into a room who would never normally hang out – punk rockers, disco dancers, debutantes, celebrities, hip hop heads, businessmen, and pop musicians. This is really where Hip Hop, Rock, and Pop start coming together and set the stage for the developments of the 80s and 90s.
The Birth of Chicago House Music - 1977
The Warehouse opened in Chicago in 1977, and under it's first musical director, DJ Frankie Knuckles, it flourished and defined an era. Frankie played blend of RnB, Disco, and European electronic music (like Krautrock and Italo Disco). The sound developed into what we now know as house and the world is better because of it.
In 1978, we have the Roland CR-78, the worlds first end-user programmable drum machine. For the first time, you can build your own beats.That same year sees the release of the first Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), where you can edit and create beats on the computer.
sony first walkman
When the Sony Walkman was released in 1979, Djs who’d been sharing tapes could sell mixes to the public at large and make it portable. Music can now be everywhere you are.
Here are a few highlights from the the next three and a half decades which progessed quite rapidly.
1979 – Disco Demolition Night - Chicago (Comisky Park) 1979
Death of Disco fueled by a Radio DJ who was tired of it. However, a couple of groups had major hits like Funkytown by Lipps Inc. top the charts in 1980 and Celebration by Kool and The Gang
1980 – Roland 808. The sound of most of your Classic Hip Hop and House tunes. Probably the most important instrument you've heard about but didn't know.
1981 – MTV. New York.
DMC Disco Mix Club – Radio Show 1981, Remix Service 1983, 1986 DMC championship, Mixmag
1981-1984 – Roland 606 Drum Machine and 303 Bass Synthesizer. MIDI.
1982 – Compact Disc CD, first CD Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie (an alpine symphony)
1983 – House Music. Chicago.
1984 – Techno. Detroit. The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson)
1983-1985 – Wedding DJ replaces Bands. Bandleaders start DJ companies. Some do it right. Other do it like this...
1986 – Acid House. Phuture’s “Acid Trax” (not released until 1987)
1986 – Walk This Way by Run DMC & Aerosmith (Rock & Hip Hop) becomes First Hip Hop Billboard Top 10. Why did this take so long? Run DMC lists their DJ as part of the band.
1988 – DJ Times Magazine
1988 – Rave Culture Develops, Summer of Love (Britain) - Creating the Superstar DJ
1989 – First Dual CD Player, Numark CD6020
1990′s Disco Revival. People try nailing the coffin closed, it doesn’t work.
1990's Rave scene builds off Acid House scene. The DJ moves to the spotlight.
1991 – MPEG Layer 3 (MP3) Developed by Motion Picture Experts Group
1992 – reasonable quality, low size
1992 – DJ Flare introduces the Flare Scratch
1993 – First Internet Radio Station – Internet Talk Radio
1995 - Pioneer introduces the CDJ 500
1998 – First MP3 Player – Eiger Labs MPMan f10
1998 – First DJ MP3 Timecode system, Final Scratch, Allows Vinyl Djs to play off a computer.
1998 - Dubstep happens by accident when kids working at a record store are really bad at making UK Garage.
1999 – Napster. People start downloading Mp3s like crazy. Music industry freaks out and people's record collections start getting really good until Metallica's drummer puts the hammer down.
2000 - Native Instruments releases Traktor DJ. A huge improvement over Final Scratch, it details some of the features DJs use most, including scratch macros, cue point functionality, looping, and MIDI. Three years later, Traktor & Final Scratch join forces, leading to way more awesomeness.
2001 - Pioneer releases the CDJ-1000 - THE defining CDJ of the past 20 years.
2003 - the RAVE act is passed in the US, in some jurisdictions glowsticks are considered illegal paraphernalia. The underground electronic music scene is shuttered and forced into bars and clubs. Its unintended consequences cost more lives by preventing concert and event organizers from providing common sense harm reduction saftey measures to guests for fear of being labeled as 'promoting illegal activity.'
2004 - Serato partners with Rane and develops Scratch Live, the default program for many American DJs.
2006 – Hip Hop dies No one tells the recording industry, and we get several years of meh with a few bright spots.
2007 – Greg Gills give up biomedical engineering at Case Western University, accomplishes something in life by becoming a DJ (Girl Talk).
2007 – Controllerism - the premise that you can do really unique things with controllers, kind of like turntablism but with buttons.
2008 - Dubstep gets big, Americans fall in love with the aggro vibe and Skrillex stops making Avril Lavigne remixes and has a watershed moment by producing his first real dubstep album in his room on a laptop with busted speakers.
2009 - Pioneer introduces - REKORDBOX digital DJ software. It's not great, but it gets better.
2009-10 - Candy raver style comes back with a 'can't be bothered' dubstep flavor.
2011 – Paris Hilton has a love affair with Afrojak. Six months later becomes a DJ. World dies a little inside.
2012 – Pauly D. becomes a DJ. World dies a little more inside. According to one review of an australian show in 2013, Andrew Wowk wrote:
"10:38pm – The EDM returns with Gangnam Style and We No Speak Americano and Pauly proudly proclaims he is, quote, “the best in the world”. If there was anything left inside me that could die, I would say that part of me dies inside."
2013 - Stylus founded to solve the problem of 'Did we get the good one?"
2013 – Rihanna loses best RnB track to Justin Timberlake (Mousketeer) and Robin Thicke (Son of the dad from Growing Pains). Irony Abounds.
2014 – Disco is back thanks to Daft Punk and Bruno Mars.
2014 - Pioneer releases the DDJ-SZ - still one of the most impressive DJ controllers of all time. Pioneer also releases the REKORDBOX 3.0 update, making vast improvements.
2015 – Mark Ronson reminds the world that Minneapolis had an amazing sound and that Prince and Morris Day & The Time should never be forgotten.
2016 - Mumble Rap as a term is coined by Wiz Khalifa to express his frustration (and Rick Rubin's frustration, and Eminem's frustration, and J. Cole's frustration, and Russ's frustration) with a style of music known for it's relative lyrical unclarity and penchant to add words like 'yeah' and 'uh' and 'aye' to their flow
2017 - A Club in Prague puts in a Robot DJ. "I don't like the robot," said Marcia Lopes, 24. "It can't feel what people want to dance to. There's no emotion behind the music. When there is a real person, they know what fun is like."
2019 - Phase Introduces the wireless Digital Vinyl solution. This solves one of the most annoying parts about DJing on vinyl - the needle/cartridge/tonearm problems. All of sudden, it's much easier to be a vinyl DJ without the terror of bumped tables, bad connections, or damaged records.
2020- THE PANDEMIC - All of sudden, there were no places to go. No bars, clubs, concerts or events. DJs were holed up in their homes and turned to online streaming to attempt to keep their skills, reputations, and income alive. Facebook clamped down on 'music experiences' and was banning people who played music in their sets. Many DJs turned to Twitch, traditionally a gaming platform, to expand their audience and showcase their talents.
There are a lot of things that many couples want to highlight at their wedding. From the Formal Introductions, to dinner, to the toasts, and all the way through the last dance - the event is full of special moments that we need to make sure we're including. But all those things can add up to a lot of time, and before you know it - your wedding is over! Here are a few tips to make sure you've got plenty of time for dancing.
Your Raleigh Wedding DJ - Jason Huggins - Takes a few minutes to explain how to save time for dancing at your Wedding Reception.
What if your wedding day was full of special moments AND you had a great wedding dance party?
What if you’re like us and want to maximize the time you and your guests get to party together?
Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure that you get all the fun party moments -even in a timeline as full as your wedding day.
You’re probably thinking about visiting some of your guests during dinner. This can be a great way to thank special guests for celebrating with you. But math is not your friend in this instance.
Let’s assume you have 100 guests. If you spend 20 seconds with each person and you’re looking at 32 minutes. If you have 150 guests you’re looking at just under an hour. And that’s assuming you only spend 10 seconds talking to grandma. It’s also not uncommon to only have visited only half of the tables by the time we need to move on.
Your best approach is to highlight the key tables with parents, grandparents, and long distance guests. Let’s be honest, you’re going to see your cousins and college friends on the dance floor and at the bar, so you can skip their table without sacrificing connecting with them. It’s also best to do a 2 and 2 approach. Visit 2 tables from your side, then bounce over and visit 2 tables from your partner’s side - that way, when it’s time to move on with your event, you’ve hit some key people on both sides.
Remember - we can't open up the reception and let everybody experience the event until we complete your key formalities - getting these done sooner will leave you with more time to visit.
The Cake Cutting
You want to save 15-20 minutes? Then manage this your cake cutting carefully. In and of itself, the cake cutting will only take you about one or two songs, so roughly 3-7 minutes. The photographer will help you pose to get the best shots (make sure you tell them if you’re going to smush the cake!). The real time-suck comes from cutting and serving the cake - which will usually take 10-20 minutes.
If this is the last thing you’re doing before you open the dance floor then you’re going to lose time because guests aren’t going to get up when someone just put cake down, unless you want the DJ to open strong in which case you just wasted the hundreds of dollars you spent on that beautiful cake.
So what’s the best way to cut the cake?
The most unorthodox way is to do it before dinner (literally right after the introductions and first dance) - that way it’s served immediately after dinner with the rest of the deserts. It’s avant garde but it’s really effective.
The most frequently used solution is to put the cake cutting in FRONT of the toasts and parent dances. Usually the toasts will run around 10-15 minutes (or longer, depending on your Dad) which means the caterer can be cutting and serving cake while everyone is listening to your favorite people talking about why you’re their favorite people. You're saving time because the cake is being cut & served during your other special moments - meaning you can stay right on schedule.
The key time-saving element here is WHERE you put your bar and how many bartenders you have. Your venue may have the bar somewhere outside of the reception area - perhaps in another room or even outside. Or they may only have one or two bartenders for 100-200 ppl. This actually puts your event at risk of losing a lot of time.
Because your guests will go to the bar. The first thing they'll want to do once we release them from dinner is hit the bar. They'll start talking. They'll be laughing and having fun and, before you know it, twenty or thirty minutes have gone by. This is all while you're trying to build a dance party, which will be nearly impossible to do when most of your party people are outside waiting for a drink. That means the dance party time is cut by up to a third or more.
If your bar is understaffed then you're going to find your guests waiting even longer to get a drink, possibly missing out on key moments that are important to you.
For the best possible party experience, make sure your bar is in the same room as your reception, you're less likely to lose party people to poor party planning.
Group Dances & Your Wedding Timeline
Group Dances are the enfants terribles of the wedding dance party. From classics like The Twist and the much maligned Electric Slide (it’s a Bunny Wailer track!) to more contemporary works like Blanco Brown’s ‘The Git Up’ and the Cupid Shuffle, they’re either something you’re dreading or something you can’t wait for at your own event.
At Stylus, we take our client requests as gospel, and if our client request lists (and DO NOT PLAY lists) are any indication - these songs can be sticking points for couples. It’s important for you and your partner to talk about how you feel about them and understand the pros and cons of group dances - and why this one decision may have a bigger impact on your wedding day timeline than you think.
The reasons some couples don’t want the group dances are pretty simple - they hear them all the time at weddings or they don’t like group dances. These are great reasons to avoid them at your event. If you hate a song - you shouldn’t hear it. There’s also a reason these songs are played at events featuring large groups of people - since the number of songs that people jump out of their seats for (especially early in the evening) are actually not as big as you might think.
The downside of banning group dances is probably a little different than you’re thinking. Yes, your guests will probably get involved and the DJ can pack your dance floor with a great group dance song choice, but choosing not to allow the DJ to use a group dance can have a bigger impact on your timeline than you think.
Your DJ can fill the dance floor with a group dance, whereas they might spend 10-20 minutes trying to build the dance floor organically. If a big dance party matters, you might consider which group dances you’re OK with. This can supercharge your dance floor and give your DJ the opportunity to work in a greater variety of music. Plus, your mom has probably been on YouTube trying to learn the Wobble.
Skipping the Bouquet & Garter
While these don’t take much time, some couples don’t want to include them and you can save enough time for one or two more songs. The trade-off is you’re losing is some potentially awesome moments with your friends and the pictures in your album. You might consider combining them into one toss or coming up with another fun idea that lets yours guests get engaged.
Making Time For A Special Dance
One of my favorite things is providing a special moment for the newlyweds at the end of the night. If you’re doing a grand exit, that means we’ve got everyone outside and we’re keeping you in the reception hall while everyone gets ready. This is a great opportunity to include one more special dance for just the two of you, a perfect little moment before heading off into the world together.
Many of the traditions that make up the contemporary wedding date back to before writing; others are far more recent than you might think. While the Majority of our contemporary wedding traditions stem from three main places: Ancient Babylon, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Britain, there's been a LOT of variation on these and the roots of them will surprise you.Ever wondered where some of this stuff comes from? Let’s lay it all out there for you!
While the Majority of our contemporary wedding traditions stem from three main places: Ancient Babylon, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Britain, there's been a LOT of variation on these and the roots of them will surprise you.
People have been getting married for longer than we have written history. The bible attributes marriage to the Garden of Eden, although no ceremony was held and it’s easy to assume you were made for each other when you’re literally made for each other. The ancient Sumerians and Chinese, Egyptians and Indians all had marriage laws and customs on the books, we’ve got about 5000 years of written record but even uncontacted hunter-gatherer tribes have marriage laws – meaning that it seems to come less from tradition and more from social necessity. The actual idea of ceremonies and legitimacy and our idea of modern marriage come mainly through the Romans, who considered it a sacred and binding contract to preserve property and produce legitimate offspring. Yes, as unromantic as it sounds – marriage was a business deal – a lot of money traditionally changed hands as part of the bride price or dowry.
Who gets married and why has also changed throughout history (or by state). Ancient peoples used to practice polygamy (multiple wives) or polyandry (multiple husbands), or a wide variety of others arrangements. The age of marriage has varied widely too. While certain cultures dictated that 13 was the age you were legally an adult, In the US the minimum age range is between 13 (New Hampshire) and 21 (Mississipi) but is 16 in most states.
At the end of the 1700s, the average age of marriage was around 28 for men and 26 for women, and at the end of the 1800s, the average age of marriage in the US dropped a little but never fell below 22. In the early 20th century was when marriage ages plummeted thanks to a combination of factors – cars, teenage rebellion, and age discrimination civil rights.
The Best Man
By tradition (according to the ancient Sumerians) the Best Man is supposed to help the Groom steal the bride from her family. That's actually why the bride stands on the Groom's left side, so he can keep his sword/club/knife hand free.
So, the best man helps steal the bride? What about the groomsmen? That’s a little more complicated. In the past, weddings were often a more violent affair (ever hear of the Romans and the Sabines?) As far back as the Sumerians (and likely long before) Brides were often stolen from her family and taken to the home of the groom (sometimes without her consent!). The family might come to get her back and the groomsmen were supposed to beat them back and preserve the groom’s ‘union’.
Well, the groom’s got all those tough guys – that’s a little asymmetrical – let’s add some ladies on the other side. Plus, I think that once the ‘marriage ceremony’ started becoming a thing it was inappropriate for men and women to co-mingle, so you’ve got to have a retinue to help the bride prepare. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
Something Old Something New
Before we talk about this, we want to WARN YOU that people around the world traditionally thought that special powers transfered by touch. That's why anything the bride carries on her wedding day is lucky (i.e. bouquet, garter, money, etc...). They also thought you could transfer attributes to another person - i.e. intelligence, motherhood, strength, luck, etc...
In a traditional rhyme, first put into print in 1898 in England but implied to stretch back for generations, you can see this theme in action:
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe
Here’s the thing, the something borrowed and something blue (the traditional color of marriage) are supposed to help ward off the evil eye (which could supposedly cause barrenness), the ‘something old’ is supposed to be the undergarments of a woman who’s already had children so that the ‘fertility powers’ would transfer to the new bride and she’d bear tons of kids. The silver sixpence is supposed to help ensure that you’ll draw wealth to your new family beacuse touching money means it will be drawn to you.
Another ancient Roman custom, this one originated as a bright flame-colored veil called the flammeus that was supposed to hide the brides from evil spirits who might make her barren or bring her bad fortune.
This is an old one; it's something the bride carries on her wedding day that is supposed to be lucky. There are a lot of traditions that revolve around this idea – and that the young unmarried woman who catches the bouquet will be the next to get married.
One of the most ancient of all the wedding traditions, this dates back since before the Romans but has changed a lot over the years. Originally, a piece of the bride’s clothing was considered lucky on her wedding day (for the same reason the bouquet is also lucky – the bride has carried it). They used to cut the dress up at the reception and a drunk guest might rip the whole sleeve off for a lot of luck. It makes a lot more sense to wear something you can remove without messing up the dress, which has traditionally been passed down from mother to daughter, so in the 14th century they switched to tossing the garter instead of tearing the dress. Another more salacious (and wrong) origin attributes it to the middle eras when a practice called ‘Bedding’ would require witnesses (sometimes official or royal) to the consummation of the wedding (aka getting it on) – which meant that your wedding night might have a lot of spectators and some very awkward conversations the next morning. It’s said that the groom would throw the garter out the door to prove they’d consummated the marriage – this tradition subsequently moved from the bedroom to the reception. This seems entirely unlikely to me considering how regulated courtly social lives were during the middle ages and up through the Victorian era, when even mentioning a table ‘leg’ was considered inappropriate.
This is a relatively modern invention – but one that allows someone else at your wedding to be a superstar for a few minutes. ‘Traditionally’ the gentleman who catches the garter puts it back on the young lady who caught the bouquet. It’s not really about putting it back on though – it’s really about the guy putting on crazy dance to ‘win’ the young lady’s heart.
This is another ancient Sumerian custom that’s gone through a ton of phases. Originally, as part of the marriage contract, the bride’s father was supposed to keep the groom supplied with mead (honeyed beer) for an entire month. Since the Sumerians used a lunar calendar (like many ancient peoples) a month was measured by the moon (28 days). So a honeyed moon is the month after the wedding when the groom gets drunk constantly on the bride’s father’s dime. Later in pilgrimage-crazed Europe it became an opportunity for the bride and groom to travel to meet guests who couldn’t make it to the wedding. Eventually, the bride and groom struck out on their own to see the world and that’s why you’re going to the Riviera Maya after your wedding. Bring your own sunscreen, it’s expensive down there.
The Bachelor Dinner/Party
Back in 5th Century BCE Sparta (Greece) they had a number of very unique traditions. They were a conquering culture and had enslaved the Messinians when they moved into the Peleponesos. As warriors, their most important social and cultural system was called the Mess. It was where all the men of fighting age lived, ate, and trained together. When it was time for a wedding they had lots of unique customs, one of which was celebrating the groom before his wedding with the guys he’s fought and lived with before he moves out of the Mess to establish his own home. Over the years the event has taken on a slightly more risque nature but the foundation is the same.
The Bridal Shower
With it’s roots in Holland, this tradition is a little more subversive than you might think. If a father did not approve of a woman’s choice of husband he wouldn’t provide her with the necessary things to start a home. The bride’s friends would get together and ‘shower’ her with gifts instead. So, really, a bridal shower is teenage rebellion writ formal, and there’s snacks.
Grain has traditionally represented fecundity (fertility). The Roman goddess of Fertility is Ceres, from which we get the word cereal. In case you haven’t picked up the dominant theme yet, having babies was very important and the principal concern of a marriage in many cultures. Throwing grains was supposed to transmit the fertility to the newlyweds and ensure that they were going to have lots of kids. This is the most ancient tradition on our list and has gone through a ton of changes over the years, eventually becoming the cake cutting.
This tradition is older than our concept of marriage. Originally, in Sumeria, the Levant, and that whole region, guests would bring grains and small cakes to throw at the bride and groom (again, to ensure fecundity). The Romans practiced this too, but early Roman bakers changed it from Throw It to Eat It. When the Romans invaded Britain in 43 ACE they stayed for 400 years and a lot of their traditions got picked up by the local people. The Brits had a different idea - make a big pile of cakes and eat them after we roast this goat. Eventually, the pile of cakes became standard, and when the British invaded France during the Hundred Years War (1337 to 1453) the French decided the British were silly and made one big cake that everyone could cut a piece off of. The tiered cake came from a tradition of stacking cakes up and seeing if the bride and groom could kiss over it (until they couldn’t anymore).
In Irish tradition, you’re supposed to break break over the head of the bride for luck, now they cut the cake over her head.
“Following the tradition of eating the crumbs of the wheat, sweet meat cakes spread throughout Europe. In medieval England the tradition broadened to include the practice of washing down the cakes with special ale called “bryd ealu,” translated as “bride’s ale,” words that eventually became the word “bridal.” (passage from Bridal Whimsy writers)
Ok, there are a couple of theories behind this one but I think it simpler than all that. First, the main theory: Originally people would place spread herbs, flowers, and grains to ward off evil spirits, eventually developing into elaborate displays. We can certainly recognize how warding off evil is a longstanding concern at weddings (everybody’s got that cousin…) but I think the roots of it are very simple – flowers are pretty and weddings are nice. People in every culture around the world use flowers for celebration and sacred rituals because they represent beauty and smell nice, especially in an age when no one bathed. A bunch of flowers in bloom represents a fullness and joyousness that’s perfectly suited for a great party (and let’s throw in some fertility for good measure since that seems to be what EVERYTHING at a wedding is about).
Tying the Knot
A phrase euphemistically evoking the act of marriage, it comes from the Celtic tradition of Hand-Fasting (no, that’s not what hand models do to stay shapely). The bride and groom have their hands wrapped at the wrists signifying their lives are bound together. For most of the past three thousand years, church/temple marriages were too expensive for the average person, and hand fasting has been common-law throughout Europe through the present day. In the late 1700s the English tried to outlaw the custom to drive more revenue to the church but the Scottish held out (stubborn Scots and their Iron-Brew) and now Hand Fasting is a common way to help celebrate the ceremony in conjunction with a clergy-officiated rite.
Jumping the Broom
A phrase that means the same thing as ‘tying the knot’ – there are a few speculative roots to this. The first is that it’s an African tradition that hails from Ghana during the Ashanti Confederacy, when European observers couldn’t help but remark about the cleanliness of the roads (especially considering how nasty places like London and Paris were at the time) and the special brooms the locals used. The brooms were also waved over the heads of brides and grooms to ‘sweep away’ evil spirits. Jumping over the broom developed into showing the bride’s commitment to keeping the courtyard of the family residence clean and overall commitment to the new home. It also became a way to end arguments because, by tradition, whoever jumps over the broom the highest (usually the man) gets to make decisions in the household. Its been my experience that trying to tell any woman how she should do anything is the fastest way to a bad day, regardless of what the broom told you.
In America, very few people officially jumped the broom at their ceremony until it was popularized in African-American culture by Alex Haley’s “Roots” although it is also practiced in Europe by the Romani (Travellers/Gypsies) and, a more recent addition, Wiccans.
With all that being said, the story is doubtful - the earliest evidence of it is actually British and French sources in the 1700s. Jumping the broom or “broomstick marriage” refers to a wedding ceremony of doubtful validity (possibly because it wasn’t performed in a church by the clergy). The idea being that it is an informal and not legally binding union that the partners are able to dismiss at will. Bear in mind, common law marriage wasn’t recognized until the Marriage Act of 1836.
It’s also easy to see why african slaves and indentured servants from the British isles would have picked it up, since, in many cases, they wouldn’t have access to, or permission for, legally binding unions.
Essentially, jumping the broom means “I don’t need your permission to be the with the one I love.” Considering America’s history with denying marriage rights to ‘unfavored’ groups I’m surprised you don’t see it at every LGBTQ wedding.
Sawing a Log
This German tradition also has cognates in mediterranean cultures (especially italian) but comes to us from from the waves of Dutch and German immigration (especially in Pennsyvlania).
Tradition holds that it's the first challange that a couple must overcome in their marriage and that, with their family and friends supporting them, they can accomplish anything.
German Wedding Cup
German Weddings have some fun ones, but this is my personal favorite. It's got a great story too.
"There once was a young man in Nuremburg who fell in love with a burgher's daughter. Their romance was forbidden because the young man was poor and the burgher didn't think he was a suitable match for his daughter. Unimpressed with the young man's persistance, the burgher had the young man thrown into jail. Eventually, he pleas caught the burgher's ear and he gave the young man an impossible task to prove he was unworthy and would give up his amorous pursuits. The burgher challenged the young man to drink from the same cup as his daughter at the same time, and if he succeeded he could have the maiden's hand in marriage. The young man was resourceful and adept, and created a chalice that accomplished this very task. The burgher was so impressed with the young man's accomplishment that he allowed his daughter to wed for love and they lived happily ever after.
Beau Mains Deux
Beau Mains Deux (pronounced Bo-Man-Du) – From the French, literally meaning ‘Two Beautiful Hands”, it’s a traditional decoration of folder paper or fabric that covers your glass at a table setting. Essentially a sophisticated drink hat, this tradition comes from the same place Tapas does – how do you keep flying things out of your drink. Etymology ties this to the French who originally colonized everything west of Appalachia in the 1700s, it got picked up and formalized by the southern Gentry (is it any surprise? Look at the hats you see in the Kentucky Derby!) who turned it into fancy origami with booze. The world’s foremost authority on Beau Mains Deux actually lives in Raleigh (Gretchen Garret), and if you’re looking for a fun take on a southern tradition, Beau Main Deux can help.
Traditional Wedding Gifts
People love throwing a good party, but what’s a wedding without presents?
A tradition from the Middle East that was picked up from the Crusades, lost, and then reintroduced. It’s customary to give guests 5 almonds to represent the five wishes – fertility, health, wealth, happiness and longevity. The almond is candy coated representing the bitter and the sweet of marriage or, as I think, to make them tastier.
Glass Eye Charm
From Greece, this tradition involved giving a glass charm in the shape of an eye to ward off evil spirits (the ‘good’ eye to ward off the ‘evil’ eye) and bring good luck. Called the 'Evil Eye' or Mykonos Eye, it's everywhere in Greece and dates back to the 'Classical' Greek period of the 5th century BCE and earlier. They believed that the eyes were capable of sending out negative 'rays' (ever heard of staring daggers at someone?) and that you could combat them with this charm.
So we all know that Easter is named after the Pagan goddess Eastre (related to Astarte/Aphrodite) and that eggs are symbol of fertility (so’s the bunny rabbit for that matter). It’s not surprising that the same concept of coloring eggs to promote fertility is a longstanding Malaysian wedding tradition too. I’m just glad they’re not throwing them at the newlyweds to promote fecundity, that would get messy.
Picking a DJ may be one of the most important decisions you make for your wedding. They more than provide a soundtrack for your wedding – they’re in charge of handling the mood, tone, pulse, and flow of your reception. Making the wrong choice can put your guests off, cost you unnecessary time and money, and undo months of hard work.
While we can't really speak to everything else about a wedding, the reasons why wedding DJ costs are higher than something like a birthday party is really simple - it's 5 times the work. Wedding and event prep is a crucial part of what we do. That's also why weddings and corporate events are more expensive than just a regular party.
I've heard it said that as soon as you say 'wedding' it adds $1000, and while that's certainly inflated for many DJs, there's actually a lot that goes into what makes a successful wedding versus what makes for a great bar or club show or a great house party.
For starters, let's take a look at the amount of preparation we have to do for a 'regular' party.
While we certainly have spent years developing our skills, we're just going to look at what we HAVE to do in order to be ready for something like a birthday or dance party.
Get all the Details correct & turn away other work for that day
Stay on top of all the new music from every genre so that we can responsive to the event.
Contact the client again in advance to confirm the details and identify any challenges or requests.
Prepare music so we can be ready based on the client's requests, usually takes
Check equipment and load up the vehicle with everything we need, including sound, mics and lights
Drive to the Location
Set Up & Test the Sound System in the (sometimes difficult) space
Perform for hours
Remove & transport Equipment
That presumes there aren't a lot of special music, special cues, and that the DJ is essentially doing what the DJ naturally does best - throwing a great party that get's people dancing and having a great time. We're looking about 5 hours of 'not djing' time that goes into the prep for the event, including packing up, traveling, music prep, and client contact.
The second we're talking about a wedding, we're adding multiple meetings over months and years, hours more prep and scores of music cues (unintentional pun). A wedding isn't as simple as 'show up and play', and that's why it's more expensive.
Expect the DJ to put in around 20-25 hours of prep work in advance, including preparing all the specialty music, meetings, organizing the final details, communicating with the client and other vendors. In fact, if your regular Raleigh DJ party price is a nice round number like $500, then a wedding should cost something like $2500 since you're putting in 5 times the number of hours.
Think about it this way, your average ceremony is going to require a 2nd system, specialty microphones and additional equipment. It's more work than a 'show up and play' birthday party DJ, even though it's a 'shorter' event time, only an hour on average compared to a 3 or 4 hour birthday party.
Your wedding ceremony is going to have, on average, between 6 and 17 'cues', which are specific moments that need to have specific music accompanying them. The more cues, the more prep time. Ceremonies usually have specialty music which needs to be purchased, tested, and prepped for use during the event. Your average ceremony will take around 1 - 3 hours to prepare for, not including your wedding prelude music (the music that's playing when guests arrive, before the ceremony itself starts). Plus, setting up and dialing in microphones is HARD. That's why you can't just call Alice, I don't think she'd know.
Once you get the wedding reception, that's where it starts getting REALLY complicated for the wedding DJ, since clients have come to expect the wedding DJ to do more than just play music, the wedding DJ is also going to function as an emcee, event director, essentially the person yelling 'action!' on all the key moments, directing attention where it belongs, and then throwing a great party when the dancefloor opens.
The wedding reception you put together is going to be unique to you, but will most likely have between 25 and 80 'cues', although some will have even more. Let's assume that each 'cue' will take around 3 minutes to prepare for, which mean's that's up to 4 hours of music prep for your wedding DJ - JUST music prep, not including anything else, like learning everyone's names & pronunciations, developing your party playlist, testing mix ideas, or doing anything with equipment.
So, to be honest, if you're expecting a $500 wedding DJ to the same thing a $1500 or $2500 wedding DJ is going to do, you may find yourself wishing they'd spent a little more time preparing, because you only get one shot at doing this right - it's better to make a statement instead of a mistake. We recommend the best Raleigh Wedding DJs.
Finally, there's a little solace in the fact that weddings AREN'T the most expensive service we offer - that would be Corporate events, and the biggest difference is that we're also working with bigger set-ups, mutliple rooms, and truncated set-up times, which require the mobilization of up to 20 or more staff members at any one time. Our biggest corporate events can be more than what you're spending on your wedding JUST for the AV, not including any of the food. So, when it comes to what you're looking at when you're looking at a Raleigh wedding DJ, just remember you're often paying not just for the playing time, you're also making sure that they've got the time they need to make sure your wedding goes the way you want it to, instead of anywhere else.
Finally - while lots of things about a wedding can be expensive, bear in mind that a big part of your budget is going to be identifying what's really important to you. Put your money where it matters TO YOU. If the party is important, spend a bigger chunk of your budget on the DJ, you'll be glad you did.