I recently agreed to step in and help a friend-of-a- friend coordinate their daughter’s wedding. They wanted a band, which is why I was never called to DJ in the first place. I’m a sucker…I had the night off…so I said “yes.”
I phoned the bride to discuss a few details. We went over the names in the wedding party and their order for the Grand Entrance. I also let her know that I would be happy to make the announcements if she would like, since it is what I do. I said that not all bandleaders really want that responsibility, and since I’m already going to be there, I would be happy to help. Upon my recommendation, she called and asked the bandleader if he wanted to make the announcements. His response, “I’m fine doing announcements.”
I created an agenda and shared it with the bandleader and the venue. The bandleader responded after a few days and said it looked good to him. When we met on the day of the wedding, he was very polite and accommodating. I asked if he was sure of all the pronunciations and if he was ready to go with the announcements, and he said he was. It was then that I noticed he had printed my agenda, but had not bothered to create his own Grand Entrance script with BIG FONT. Yikes!
The status quo.
I lined up the bridal party without the assistance of the bandleader who did not come out to check the pronunciations one more time. When I cued him that everyone was ready, the band began playing a nondescript jazz instrumental at a volume that was overpowering the bandleader’s voice. He did not have the attention of the crowd and began reading names. Sure enough, he got one name wrong (and yes, it was a doozy), and he introduced everyone with the excitement and energy of Ben Stein reading a grocery list. He switched the order of the first dances without discussing it with the family and his introductions of the first dance and parent dances were without any emotion or connection to the wedding party and the guests.
Every announcement began with “Ladies and Gentlemen can I have your attention” and he said “bride and groom” instead of their names 95% of the time.
During dinner, their volume was WAY TOO LOUD, although they did at least push the level down when I went over to them to request an adjustment.
The band had no wireless microphone for the toasts, so the Best Man and Maid of Honor had to stand up with the band to make their toasts.
When it was time for the cake cutting immediately following the toasts, I asked the bandleader to announce it. And that is exactly what he did. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it time for the bride and the groom to cut the cake.” The room was silent. No Music. No interaction. No Direction. Nothing. I made sure they had their cake knives, forks, a plate and a napkin and very quietly advised them what to do, as any good coordinator should, but the room was DEAD SILENT…and it wasn’t my job to speak up and do what I knew needed to be done. I was not the MC. The bandleader was the MC. I had offered my services and was turned down. I kept my mouth shut, cringing inside because of the train wreck happening in front of me.
Later in the evening, when it was time for the garter and bouquet….the MC skills of Mr. Bandleader were again even WORSE than I thought possible.
Important ceremonies gone bad.
He invited the bride and groom up to the dance floor and said, “oh good, someone brought up a chair for you” (yes, that would be me…behind the scenes). The awkward silence as the bride and groom stood alone on the dance floor waiting to be told what to do, was deafening. Again, no direction. Nothing. FINALLY, the bandleader said, “whenever you’re ready.” That’s it. No music. Just a drum roll as the groom pulled off the garter. Did I mention, they were ALONE on the dance floor. Then he said, “Single men, come on up.” They didn’t. He asked again. They didn’t. Still no music was being played. Woof. I handed the bride her toss bouquet and she threw it in silence. It was the most anti-climactic event I have ever witnessed. Then, with the formalities done, there was MORE SILENCE as no one knew what was happening. Finally the bandleader said, “I’m going to play a song that I think you will all know,” then waited about 20 seconds and began playing his dance set, which jumped around from beach music to big band causing major musical whiplash with 10 to 20 seconds of dead air between EVERY SONG!
Minimal expectations and minimal delivery.
Amazingly, the bride, the groom, the guests and the family were all oblivious to just how bad all the special moments were. It was “fine.” They had the “proper announcements” just as they thought they wanted. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. They’d never seen anything different, so they accepted the status quo. I would venture a guess that many DJs do announcements the same way as this bandleader and no one knows how bad they are. It’s the status quo. Minimal expectations and minimal delivery.
When speaking to the family as I bid them good night, they were raving about how wonderful the band was, and all I could say was, “Yes, they are VERY talented musicians….they are a great band.” (Aside to myself: they just SUCK as MCs) “How much did you pay for them, if you don’t mind my asking?” Her answer: $3,000.00. At the end of the night, the bride’s mother said to me, “I don’t know how I could have ever done this without you.”
A $3,000 Train Wreck that
the client thought was “fine.”
To give credit where credit is due, I must say, as musicians…THEY WERE VERY TALENTED! The MUSIC was fantastic. The dance floor was hopping most of the night even with the lulls between songs and the genre jumping. They were also very polite and professional. Nonetheless, in my eyes the wedding was a train wreck. Why? Because they failed to deliver anything more than music. Every formality was an interruption to their performance and was delivered in a perfunctory manner. How sad. It’s even sadder that no one in the room knew any better. (Just me and the banquet captain)
What we do and what we can help create is SO MUCH MORE THAN MUSIC! This bride and this crowd deserved better…MUCH better!!!
Liz Daley – A Passion for Performance
Liz Daley is a seasoned veteran of stage and screen and is the owner of Liz Daley Events, a Virginia-based boutique entertainment company.
She works with brides and grooms to create Classic, Fun and Memorable wedding receptions.
She is currently co-hosting an educational performance workshop for Wedding DJs and Masters of Ceremonies with Peter Merry entitled, ”Make It GRAND!”
Liz got her first radio job at 16, but her passion for live entertainment moved her across the country performing from New York to Nashville as well as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas!
She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Boston Conservatory of Music.
You can write to her c/o Liz@lizdaleyevents.com.