Summer Wedding – DJ Photo Booth – Oaks at Salem in Apex, NC
“We saw you at our friends wedding and knew you were the DJ we had to have!”
How we learned to embrace the rain – one couple adapts & has a great wedding!
Apex North Carolina is a big small town. It’s a somewhat suburban and somewhat rural area with an adorable downtown, lots of farmland, and several truly spectacular wedding opportunities, including the Oaks at Salem, just a spell down the road from the aforementioned adorable downtown.
The Oaks at Salem features a beautiful restored 3 story home, a massive property full of ancient trees perfect for pictures, a stunning large pond with a gorgeous ceremony site overlooking it, and plenty of hidden parking for lots of guests.
This May, we were fortunate enough to celebrate the wedding day of Alexandra & Mark. They’d attended a wedding we DJ’d at the Sheraton Downtown Raleigh back in June 2019 for Shelby & Thomas (one of my all-time favorite wedding reviews – I’ll post it later), who was the sister of a bride whose wedding we’d done at the Homewood Suites in Apex (Amanda and Adam) back in 2015.
Interestingly, Adam & Amanda’s wedding in 2015 was also the event where we found the couple who’d been married the longest out of any couple we’ve ever found during the anniversary dance – married for over 80 years! It was adorable – when I interviewed them a little he revealed that he and his wife had eaten lunch together every day since they’d been married. He said, “If she’s not there I don’t eat.”
Alex and Mark knew the Oaks at Salem was perfect for them as soon as they saw it. Ceremonies usually take place by the lake, the bar area is just inside the (air conditioned) house, and the reception takes place under a tent attached to the main house.
There is a unique challenge associated with this venue, namely that the DJ has to plug into their house system in order to play the reception. The Oaks does this in order to limit the amount of noise DJs are throwing across the lake. The speakers are mounted in the ceiling and pointed directed down onto the dance floor. Luckily, we have several options to help us navigate this requirement that helps us deliver the best possible experience for guests, our couples, and the venue itself. We don’t get noise complaints because noise complaints cost the venue money and can shut a wedding down just as it’s getting good.
However, your DJ will provide all the sound for the outdoor ceremonies and we usually use a combination of over-ear, lapel/lavalier, and handheld microphones to make sure we’ve got microphones for every person who’s going to be speaking. As a general rule, everyone who speaks during the cermeony needs a mic, otherwise the things that make a ceremony beautiful (wind through the trees, birds chirping, etc.., not to mention possible traffic noise from down the road) make it hard to hear from even a few rows back.
While we’ve done many beautiful outdoor ceremonies at the Oaks at Salem for couples from Apex, Raleigh, Durham, and even further afield (this couple lived in Florida!), it wasn’t to be on this particular day. The chairs were all set, and we waiting until after we’d set up the Reception system (which would be our emergency back-up plan in case of rain) before we put $15 grand in sound and equipment out for a wedding ceremony that might feature water falling from the sky. Water is not well known for its impact on electronics.
As we were getting close to the ‘We Need to Make a Decision’ time, the sky made up our minds for us and started raining down epic deluges and sheets of powerful drops, followed shortly by quarter sized hail. We’re definitely not doing an outside ceremony for this event. But luckily – we’re prepared!
Adjusting our approach, we get everything in place and we’re ready to go long before the first guest enters.
By the time the ceremony actually starts, the rain has stopped, but everything is so beautiful and everyone is so caught up in the emotion of the moment that no one thinks twice.
This particlar ceremony was notable for a number of reasons, but two in particular stand out:
- Their vows were amaing. Seriously moving. These two are as perfect for each other as you could ever hope to meet (they have that in common with Shelby & Thomas and Amanda & Adam too!)
- They were the first couple in a long time that I’ve seen use both Wagner’s Bridal March from Tannhauser (the traditional ‘here comes the bride’ song you remember) and Mendelsohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- Bonus reason – Yes, I still get teary-eyed when I get to witness the powerful emotion of a wedding ceremony. You can ask my wife – I text her during almost every ceremony to let her know how much I love her and how lucky I am to live our lives together. I totally texted her. That’s how great this ceremony was.
Once the ceremony was done, the guests of honor headed out onto the newly sun-drenched grounds to take some amazing photos. Guests made their way inside to the bar for social hour. During the social hour, the Groom and his groomsmen made their way inside some some, as they put it…’Responsible shots.’
“I GOTTA BE RESPONSIBLE – SO WE’LL DO RESPONSIBLE SHOTS OF TEQUILA!”
After the social hour it was time for introductions, recognizing respected elders and parents from their seats, before bringing out the wedding party – and they brought the party (you’ll see later).
They shared their first dance to Willie Nelson’s All of Me, then their father daughter dance to Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, and the mother son dance to Carole King’s Child of Mine.
There was a welcome by our guests of honor as they offered their heartfelt thanks to everyone for traveling from around the Carolina’s and from around the world to attend. There were attendees from Canada, England, and one woman who had flown all the way from Australia to attend!
After that, dinner began and guests were not disappointed by the options at the buffet. It was obvious the couple knew their guests because people went back multiple times to sample more of the delicious food.
After dinner, the couple cut their cake and we had a series of wonderful toasts that honored the couple and their commitments to each other.
One toast I was eagerly anticipating was Thomas’ toast. See, Mark was his best man at his wedding three years ago. To this day I can still remember how crazy they got as we partied, with Mark taking his shirt off and tying his tie around his head. At one point he actually mooned the mother of the bride in the photo booth (I can’t share that photo because only Thomas and Shelby have those photos). The toast he gave at Thomas’ wedding was very short – only a few words, before he got choked up and just pulled Thomas in for a big hug while everyone clapped and cheered.
Thomas gave a much longer toast than Mark did, almost 5 minutes – but the result was the same. Tremendous cheers and big hugs for all!
Then – it was time to party!
The photo booth was set up just outside the bar which meant guests were stopping by and taking pictures with friends and family every time they moved from the dancefloor to the bar and back again. It’s the perfect location at that venue!
The party was outstanding thanks to our hard work to prepare the space with sound and lighting. Plus, their playlist of requested songs were excellent too!
Some examples of their song requests:
Bennie & the Jets – Elton John
Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
Stevie Wonder – Signed Sealed Delivered
Pepas – Farruko
Moondance – Van Morrison
There She Goes – The La’s
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
My Girl – The Temptations
A Song for You – Leon Russell
Stan – Eminem & Dido
Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
Back That Azz Up – Juvenile
Dancing Queen – Abba
Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Mr. Brightside -The Killers
During the party – we had a special guest stop by: A frog perched on the far-side DJ Lighting stand.
WEDDING FROGS ARE GOOD LUCK!
And there was even a brief moment of potential calamity in that the staff was alerted to a Tornado watch. As soon as I got the alert I contacted several of the catering staff and some of the bridesmaids and groomsmen and made sure that they understood exactly where I needed them to help me move everyone as quickly as possible (into the basement) in the event of a potential emergency. The Stylus staff, the catering staff, and the staff at the Oaks at Salem were all ready to spring into action just in case! I’ve been through a lot of tornados (Thanks Indiana!) so I know exactly where to go.
Side note, I was actually Djing a wedding at the Sheraton Downtown Raleigh when it was struck by the tornado. Everyone was fine and the wedding featured one of the best bacon displays I’ve ever seen. The couple were awesome and we were able to get everyone safely into the internal hallways and safely away from flying glass or debris. Their grandma was German and made wedding cookies for every family member – they were delicious! Also, they were the first couple that I’d ever seen do the German Wedding cup – and I remember we did some really fun ‘minute to win it’ style challenges during the wedding. Good times!
Once the wedding wrapped up – it was time to get everyone out for sparklers and before the bride and groom headed off to their lives together I presented them with their instant digital copies of every photo from the photo booth and a digital print of every session. I handed it to him with the warning that I’d seen Thomas over there a few times – view carefully. After a quick hug and a hearty handshake, the Stylus staff headed back into the venue to clean up and the couple and guests headed off to make new memories, wherever they happened to be traveling to next.
So, if you’re getting married in Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, or Raleigh – we’d love to help make your wedding day special if you’re looking for a fun, profesional, and amazing party experience at your wedding!