The Planner Says:

There are three things people will be talking about after your wedding – the ceremony, the food, and the music.  The ceremony will be a reflection of your love and the start of your life together.  The food and the music are the heart of the reception.  Is everyone having a great time?  Is the dance floor full?

Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography
DJ Chris Garrow of Unforgettable DJs kept the dance floor hopping for Janel & Pete’s wedding on a HOT day in June.  Photo courtesy of Jen Rutherford Photography

Question # 18 on the ATB new client questionnaire is about entertainment.  Band or DJ?  This is a 100% personal preference and is sometimes driven by budget as some people believe that a band costs more than a DJ.  There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not this is true.   Some clients choose a DJ because they only want the hear the original versions of their favorite songs.  I’ve had clients hire a fantastic band but still asked them to play the recorded version of their first dance song.  Regardless of the choice the leader of the band or the MC/DJ must know how to read your crowd.  They may have a planned set list but will see the crowd not responding and make a change on the fly or the crowd is very much into the current set and it might not be the time to change the tempo.  Only an experienced leader can see that and react accordingly.

The Rhythm Shop at Ashford Estate
The Rhythm Shop at Ashford Estate.  Photo courtesy of The Studio Photographers

If the answer is band, the next question is what kind of band?  Here at the Jersey Shore there are quite a few bands that play the local bars in the summer and do weddings as well.  There are small bands, there are large bands that can get larger, and bands that also include a DJ.   PLANNING NOTE:  Your band contract should include the specific musicians and singers that will make up your band.  Get their song list and find out how much time they need to learn new songs.  Check their space and electrical requirements with your venue.   See the band(s) you’re considering in action.  Some bands play at bridal shows and others have their own showcases.  Check their website for a schedule of live performances.


Part of the brass section from Brian Kirk and the Jirks in action at the Liberty House in Jersey City for Kristen and Mike’s wedding.   Photo courtesy of John Arcara Photogrpahy

If your answer is a DJ the next question is what type?  Do you want the over the top kind of DJ that makes plenty of noise or do you want someone a little more laid back?  What kind of music do you expect will be played for the dance sets at your reception?  Do you like club music or are the ’80’s more your style?  All the Best currently has four strategic partners in the DJ category that we recommend based on the criteria given to us by clients.  There are literally hundreds of DJs out there in a variety of price ranges. PLANNING NOTE:  Please do not make your decision based solely on cost.  This goes for any professional you choose for your wedding.  I promise you that basing your decision on cost alone will bite you in the butt every time.

Two of our strategic partners have two DJs to choose from,  another has seven, and the other has over 20 including women and DJs that are bi-lingual.  They all offer lighting and A/V packages.  One offers live musician accompaniment such as percussion.

DJ Jeffrey Balkin of the SCE Event Group provided Kathy & Chris specialty lighting and video screens with their wedding day DJ package. Their 225+ guests danced all night!  Photo courtesy of the bride and groom.

If you choose a DJ there are a number of things to consider including whether or not the DJ has the personality you’re looking for for your event.  Does the DJ have the skills to get your guests involved in your event  from the moment they walk in the door through last dance?   Is the timing of intros, toasts, food courses, and cake cutting done in such a way that there’s still plenty of time for dancing?   Have you seen them in person, gotten a referral from a trusted source, read their reviews?   Are you being pressured to add high priced extras to your contract?  Are they listening to you?  Is this your wedding or theirs?   PLANNING NOTE:  Once you’ve found the DJ that’s right for your event get a contract to secure your date and the specific DJ that you want.  You can always add the bells and whistles later.

DJ Phil Walsh of Elite Entertainment helped orchestrate the sparkler send off for Marissa and Jonathan.  Photo courtesy of Timothy Martin Photography.
DJ Phil Walsh of Elite Entertainment helped the ATB Dream Team orchestrate the sparkler send off for Marissa and Jonathan. Photo courtesy of Timothy Martin Photography.

PLANNING NOTE:  Whatever form of entertainment you choose don’t forget to include them in your vendor meal count for your caterer.  The count will include the technicians too.  Ask your contact for a count for meals.  One band we know provides their own meals and will charge you accordingly.  BTW – meals for your professionals (including photographer and videography) should always be hot meals.  The cost should be considerably less than it is for your guests.

The Mother of the Bride says:

This was the easiest part of the entire wedding for me.  Alison and Austen wanted a DJ for their New Year’s Eve party.  As a professional musician the music was very important to Austen.  They wanted a DJ that would bring a club vibe to the event.  I gave them the four websites to look at and after some discussion they chose Jason Jani of the SCE Event Group.   When I called Jason to see if he was available, without telling him it was my daughter, he said he would change his own personal plans for my client if necessary.  I am grateful to his wife for being so understanding!

DJ Jason Jani of the SCE Event Group in action at Alison and Austen's wedding.  Notice the flat screen in the background showing photos taken earlier in the day by John Arcara Photography
DJ Jason Jani of the SCE Event Group in action at Alison and Austen’s wedding. Notice the flat screen in the background showing photos taken earlier in the day by John Arcara Photography

Alison and Austen made an appointment to meet with Jason to discuss music selections and I spoke to him about lighting, furniture and draping.   I’m going to discuss the decor of the event in another blog post but here’s a sneak peak of the main event space that Jason and his team brought to life based on my design.

Alison and Austen with custom lighting for their New Year's Eve celebration.
Custom logo provided by Abbey Malcolm Press.  The Kingsley Ballroom at The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel dressed up with custom lounge furniture and lighting from the SCE Event Group.  Photo courtesy of             John Arcara Photography.

The SCE crew rocked the party from beginning to end!  The screens they brought showed videos of some of the songs they played, the photographer’s same day edit photos, and the countdown to midnight with the ball drop in Times Square.  Jason got the party going the moment the doors opened and the guests started coming in.  He handled the bride and groom intros, their first dance and the bride’s dance with her dad.  He even made it snow!

Alison dancing with her dad.
Alison dancing with her dad laughing instead of crying.   Photo courtesy of John Arcara Photography

Austen’s friend Mimi told me that she was supposed to go to another NYE party but didn’t go because she was having too much fun with us.  Another friend commented that being at the party was like being at the best club in NYC that was filled with everyone you wanted to party with.  The packed dance floor even included my 82 year old mother who danced until we ended at 1:00am with everyone yelling “ONE MORE SONG!”

The view from the DJ booth of the dance floor.  That's the 82 year old grandmother of the bride in the black floral jacket at 1:00am!
The view from the SCE Event Group DJ booth of the dance floor. That’s the bride’s 82 year old grandmother  in the black floral jacket! Photo courtesy of John Arcara Photography.

The SCE Group creates VLogs of each event that they do.  Jason created two for Alison & Austen’s wedding that show the magic created that night.  One is a time lapse that’s about a minute and 40 seconds long.  The other is great capture of the energy of the party that’s a little over 4 minutes long.   In the longer version you can see the snow and the way the lighting changes affect the room.  Just click on the highlighted text to see either or both so you can see for yourself just awesome it was!