Happy Wedding Wednesday!
So, good news. I got my wedding disc, YAY! Which means that I now have to go through them all and decide what to post and what not to post. Believe me, there are some pictures with tears that are NOT flattering that might not ever see the internet. I tried so hard, but I don’t think that I avoided the ugly cry on my wedding day. Sorry folks! There are a TON of photos to go through, my mother has been all over me about it lately. I am working on going through them as fast as possible, so that I can share soon, I promise. :)
For today’s Wedding Wednesday post, I wanted to do another vendor review for any clients looking for these types of services. We were SO selective in choosing our vendors, and I’m so glad that we took our time and really put some thought into it. The time and energy we put into it really paid off on our big day!
With all of that time and energy spent though, one decision that I didn’t really spend a lot of time on was our DJ. It’s kind of funny how we met. At the end of 2010, after getting engaged that summer, I went to a bridal show with my cousin. This wasn’t the huge bridal expos, it was a small, intimate setting at Maggiano’s. It was my first one and we were just kind of browsing. At the time I wasn’t shooting weddings so I didn’t have a lot of information about vendors and what to choose, so we were checking things out. We talked with vendors, had some awesome cookies and met West. No, not the direction, I’m not confused – that is his name – West Shirley. He was the DJ for the event, and when we met him I was instantly hooked. He has a type of energy about him that is addicting. West is such a positive person with an amazing vibe, he’s the kind of person that you just want to be around! I told him that my fiance is a musician and we would be very picky about the music, and he was totally fine with that (whew!). He told us that his wife came to all of the weddings with him to help out, which sounded pretty cool as well. So voila, we had a DJ. Seems to good to be true, right? We liked what he had to offer, the price was within our budget, and he just seemed to be a pretty awesome person in general.
There are a few places where brides try to save money, and DJ is one of them. After all, you can just hook up your iPod and press play, right? Wrong. A DJ keeps the night moving. They are the ones that can help if someone has had too much to drink. They can decide that maybe we need a slow song because things are getting out of control. They can handle the song requests that are completely inappropriate, and do so with professionalism and a sense of humor. In our case, they had to work with a script that was a little goofy too.
Before I continue, there’s something to understand about wedding vendors. Things happen on wedding days, things go crazy, people can act a little looney, and sometimes things just don’t work the way we plan for them to. It’s life, it’s just the way it is. I’ve found that vendors can fit into one of two categories – 1. They go with the flow and help wherever necessary, or 2. They say that it’s not their job and try to avoid the situation. Umm… you can imagine which one is more enjoyable to work with, and better for the bride and groom!
Fast forward to June 2011, I had the opportunity to actually WORK with West at Lorynne and Chuck’s wedding. West is most definitely a type 1 wedding vendor. He and I communicated throughout the day to make sure that the wedding was awesome. Not only that, but I got the chance to meet his wife, Chris. WOW what an unbelievable help she is! How is it possible that two such amazing people fell into my lap because of a bridal show at Maggiano’s? Example of awesomeness: at this wedding, I wasn’t the bride. I wasn’t the mother of the bride, or anyone that was to be impressed that evening. Let’s face it, at weddings, the bride is pampered and catered to, provided she hired the right vendors. I was just the photographer. And when I was on the golf course (not even CLOSE to the reception site) and miserable because of my allergies, Chris brought me allergy medicine and water. Oh I was shooting, grinning and bearing it, and I kept saying I was okay – we’ve all been there right? I had a mission (awesome photos of the bride and groom) and nothing was going to get in the way. But she looked at my swollen eyes and knew that I needed help. She made sure that not only were the bride and groom taken care of, but I was too. AH-MAZING.
Here’s a shot of DJ West doing his thing at Lorynne and Chuck’s wedding.
When our wedding day rolled around in September, I had not only worked with West at a wedding beforehand, but had gotten to know both he and Chris a little better. We went to dinner to discuss details, and just ended up having a good time over some Sangria and pizza! (Can’t go wrong with that, right?) We finalized the song details, and talked about our introductions – which were definitely different! We asked West and Chris to do things that were a little different and fun, that were a little beyond just playing music. Instead of complaining or saying “that’s not my job” they embraced it and were excited to do it!
For any of you that have seen sneak peeks of our wedding photos on Facebook, remember the fun uplighting behind us? West provided all of the lighting for our reception. Lighting can make or break a party, I promise. As a photographer, I’m even MORE aware of this. West and Chris attended our walk-through to make sure that they knew the layout so that he could set up the lighting to look wonderful! They were both with us every step of the way – going out of their way to make sure that we were taken care of. When I forgot to take the flash drive of music to the right location, Chris was there to pick it up from me so I didn’t have to worry about it. When we arrived at the ceremony and reception location, setup was already in progress, and they handled the sound for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. After all, we were in a garden and wanted to make sure that our guests could hear everything! Chris made sure that she knew each vendor, and they all worked together wonderfully. While we were taking family photos, Chris helped to round people up, while West was finishing the setup for both locations. And just to understand here… the locations weren’t close. We had pedicabs for guests that were unable to walk that distance. West was hauling stuff back and forth, to make sure that the sound setup was perfect. Every time Chris walked by me, she stopped me and asked if I needed anything. EVERY time. West was taking care of the music, Chris was taking care of us and our guests.
Another LOVE for Mr. West – he has a bit of a different style when it comes to being a wedding DJ. One factor in our decision was that we didn’t want the obnoxious DJ that is singing along to the music, vying for attention. We’ve all seen that horrendous video where the DJ is using some poor chick’s bosom for drums, right? That’s exactly what we DIDN’T want. We wanted someone more laid back, someone that would play what we wanted but was able to look at our playlist and know what we wanted, even if we didn’t add it. Someone that would be a master of ceremonies and control the flow of the evening, without completely taking over everything and being THAT guy.
West and Chris are an amazing team. He keeps everything going, moves the party through the night, and oversees everything, while Chris engages with the guests and makes sure that everyone is taken care of and having a great time. And not just the bride and groom. She talks to everyone, and makes sure that everything is going smoothly! I swear, by the end of the night, I think she danced with everyone at our wedding! She’s the gorgeous chick that’s asking everyone to dance, and the guys just can’t turn her down. And what mother of the bride will turn down a dance when the father of the bride is busy with another duty?
Between Chris and Julie (Bliss Elevated), my every need was taken care of. And West made the reception look and sound amazing. A wedding really takes a big team of people to make it happen and make it awesome, and I’m so, SO glad that DJ West and Chris were a part of that team. They are so much more than just a DJ, and I HIGHLY recommend talking with West if you’re planning your wedding. You can find his website here – contact him, they are definitely two people you want on your day! They do other events as well, so if you have a party coming up and need some help, check them out.
West and Chris – wow. I am humbled by your attitude of service, and sincerity. Thank you so much for the countless things that you did for us on our big day. We had so much fun getting to know you, and instead of just another vendor, we feel like we have become friends. We need to have more sangria soon! Okay, very soon! ;)