When Is Your Edmonton Wedding Out of Control?: The Perspective of an Edmonton Wedding DJ

Equinox Sound and Entertainment Inc. provides hundreds of services each year for events all around the Edmonton area. 99% of the couples we work with have their heads on straight, understand the difference between right and wrong and know that at all times, nothing will be perfect. This 99% understands that all professional parties involved will do their best to make every event a huge success.

Every once and a while however, there is that 1% client who ruins the experience for everyone. The event is embarrassing, the feedback on both sides less than ideal and the parties involved never walk away un-scarred. In these events, there should always be a lesson learned.

Here at Equinox Sound and Entertainment Inc., our staff use every experience as a way to improve upon making sure instances don't repeat themselves. Even when these instances were not the fault or caused by anything we might have done during the planning, prep and serving of any event, those who want to learn and grow will see what can be done to improve every time out.

We recently DJ'd an event that created the motivation for this article. It taught us much about how to handle certain situations and should this type of event ever repeat itself, what our staff can do when faced with such a unique challenge.

Let me give you a little background...

Just two days before this event, one of our DJ's had a number of items stolen from his vehicle. Among those items included his sound system meant to be used for this particular event. Because our company has backups in place in the event of illness or emergency, we felt bad, but knew the show must go on. We let that DJ take care of his current needs and the loss of his personal items and placed another DJ on this event with a spare set of equipment. Obviously in doing our jobs properly, the couple was not aware that there was an issue and were not left searching for another DJ last minute despite that fact that many of our local competitors would have been in a real pickle had this situation arisen with their company.

Knowing that the client had particular tastes, we spent hours the day before the event with this backup DJ ensuring they had the songs, requests and style of music these clients had specified.

Despite our challenges in reaching these clients throughout their planning process because they wouldn't return phone calls or emails, from our the limited contacts we could arrange up to the event and the forms the client had filled out requesting all the information we'd required, there was never any mention of this being a detailed or interactive show. It was the perfect event for this DJ to have to take over if this type of situation were to pop up, which it did.

The DJ was at the event more than an hour early, had his gear ready to go and tested things out. There was a slight delay of two minutes in doing the entrance of the bride and groom to ensure things were right and once sorted, away they went! However, this smoothness was momentary only to the surprise of our DJ when the couple and their wedding party sat down at their head table and didn't move awkwardly for about 2-3 minutes.

During this 2-3 minutes our DJ was in the process of being blasted by a barrage of cuss words and insults by what we think was a father figure to the couple, about how the people at the back of the room could not hear our DJ well over the mic during the entrance. The DJ offered to correct the issue and was finally free enough of the yelling to go over to the bride and groom and introduce himself officially and ask if there was anything he could do or say that would help move the evening forward.

The response from the bride was "do whatever you want, your the emcee". Not at all aware that our company was to emcee the event and unsure of the next set in the itinerary because we were literally not provided one, the DJ asked if they would like an announcement for dinner, to which the groom replied, "dude, there is no supper." Our DJ now really confused asked if they would like some background music or to start the dances, to which again the couple responded "man, do whatever you want". As the DJ was walking away the groom then decided that the first dances were in order to which the DJ obliged at 7pm that evening.

First dances went off without a hitch, the DJ moved into some country which was requested by the couple and after about 12-15 minutes of that, tried an oldies classic which fit the age group of the room. The father of the bride within mere seconds of the song switch marched up to the DJ area and followed with "what the f%$$ is this s%&$?" to which the DJ responded "I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand. Would you like me to play more of something particular?"

Side note: For my personal taste, one episode of that kind of language from a guest is enough for me to inform the bride and groom that further use of it won't be tolerated. This DJ, knowing that he was working on our behalf and as a rep of our company, wanted to show he could not only handle the criticism, but excel under the circumstances. We applaud him for his efforts but realize now that it caused more problems than it solved. 

The father proceeded with, "I'm not paying you to play this "sh$%. Play something we can all dance to." ironically causing a scene in front of a dance floor that had people dancing on it. The DJ finished the song, and despite his better judgement and to appease the father, put back on country music to which people did dance, but to which then the bride approached the DJ asking for something other than country.

This was the start of the back and forth that was to be the rest of the evening. A night filled with "we want this and we want that" by a variety of guests unwilling to consider any music tastes of the other guests beyond their own. What made this night even more special is that these requests were not simply "requested". These requests were covered in a nice thick layer of insults, coarse language and threats to the DJ from the crowd who had continued to drink despite not being fed a meal of any kind. The topper of it all, or the icing on the cake if you will, was a nice helping of "f&$* the bride and what she tells you" from the father-in-law, who'd clearly had too much to drink, responded by an "it's my wedding!" yell from across the room to anyone who was standing at the DJ table asking for something other than what the bride had asked for.

This officially was an event that was out of control! Our DJ returned that night visibly shaken and bothered by what had happened giving real thought to whether or not this was a job he felt he really wanted or needed.

The result was a conversation from our office with this couple who proceeded to blame everyone but themselves and to shift responsibility everywhere but upon their own shoulders. It was disappointing to say the least, but we learned from it.

The moral of this story? Here are a few tips you can take to your event to ensure this kind of night isn't embarrassing for you or your guests:

1) Serve food. If you're not going to serve food, don't make alcohol purchases inexpensive. The combination is a bad idea.

2) Fill out all forms your vendors give you in as much detail as you can. While some might think they are micromanaging, the vendors will always admit that they'd rather have too much information that not enough and have to guess at what you'd like done at your event.

3) Allow your vendors to do their job after you've given your direction and requests. If something is missing, obviously point it out, but you've hired them because you believe they are professionals. Let them prove it.

4) If you scrimped when you hired, expect that the services will not include elements that the big boys charge for. If you took the lowest package you could because it saved you the most money, don't expect that same level of service and quality that a package twice as much was going to include. There is a reason the package exists. If you need it, shell out for it.

5) Time your event accordingly to what you are including or excluding in the night. If you have no dinner, speeches or presentations, why start the event at 6pm? You've essentially planned a dance. No dance starts that early.

6) Answer calls and emails from your vendors. It's rare that vendors are as prompt and communicative as you'd like them to be. When you find out you've actually hired one that wants to communicate with you, respond. Don't be one of those couples who doesn't extend the same courtesy you demand from your hired vendors.

7) Have fun and relax a bit. It's a wedding! It's meant to be a good time, not a tense, stressful night of mean spirited evil. Look back and really ask yourself why you're holding the event in the first place. To celebrate and enjoy each others company. Not hate!