Wedding Band vs DJ: What’s your style?

Wedding DJ

Many cou­ples have the debate of wed­ding band vs DJ dur­ing the first few months of wed­ding plan­ning. No doubt about it: Music can make or break a wed­ding celebration—think of it as the heart and soul of a recep­tion. When con­sid­er­ing your choice, it starts with ask­ing your­self some basic ques­tions, specif­i­cal­ly what type of enter­tain­ment suits your per­son­al taste, bud­get, space allowances, and guest demo­graph­ics. Here, I list some things to con­sid­er while you make your music choice.

Things to consider:

Vibe: the kind of music you pick can set the tone of your wed­ding and cre­ate a theme. The way the music is delivered—by live band or DJ—also affects the atmos­phere. The type of music you want may also dic­tate your deci­sion too—big band sounds are gen­er­al­ly best live, for example.

Vari­ety:  Whether it is a band or DJ be sure they play slow and fast songs, as well as old and new tunes to encour­age all guests to hit the dance floor.

Space: It is impor­tant to con­sid­er what you event space has room for, bands are typ­i­cal­ly are going to use more space with all the equip­ment and amount of peo­ple need­ed to per­form. The amount of space for enter­tain­ment could affect the qual­i­ty of the performance.

Below, are a few of our favorite enter­tain­ers in the industry!

 

Mary Ann Productions Mary Ann Productions

Mary Ann Ross has been in the busi­ness for over 25 years! When it comes to expe­ri­enced DJ’s this is your woman! When lis­ten­ing to Mary Ann talk about her busi­ness and some of her clients I can tru­ly tell that this woman cares about each and every client that she comes across. Mary Ann con­sid­ers each couple/client to be the most impor­tant on their spe­cial day and will tru­ly go above and beyond for them. When Mary Ann is DJ-ing she real­ly lets the music guide her, she feels the beat and lets the crowd guide her to the next song. Mary Ann would explain this as her kind of style for events: “I use my exten­sive song cat­a­logue to main­tain the flow of the evening and keep the dance floor full with­out need­ing to inter­ject sil­ly, inap­pro­pri­ate com­ments and gags to fill your dance floor. So, if you are look­ing for a per­son­al, wel­com­ing recep­tion that is ele­gant, warm, and tremen­dous­ly fun, I am the per­son you want pro­vid­ing the sound­track to your mem­o­ries on the most impor­tant day of your life.” If you are look­ing for this kind of expe­ri­ence and a DJ that tru­ly cares about you, then Mary Ann Ross is the right DJ for your spe­cial day!

How did you get into this indus­try, and how long have you been in this line of work?

I have been a wed­ding DJ since 1989. My spouse was play­ing with a wed­ding band and start­ed notic­ing at his gigs that “these “DJ’s” were start­ing to show up. My first DJ gig was spin­ning vinyl and cas­sette tapes at Bonaven­ture Roller Rink at 16. I was always that girl in school who would opt for the oral pre­sen­ta­tion over the writ­ten report and was involved in musi­cal the­atre, choir, debate and forensics.

What is your favorite genre of music to play?

 It would be eas­i­er to tell you what I don’t like to play…Country; because I don’t lis­ten to it. Although I could research the favorites for a gig it would be a great dis­ser­vice to the clients. Most DJ’s will tell you they play every­thing, but an hon­est DJ/Entertainer will make sure they are a great fit for the cou­ple & their guests. If forced to choose its old school; Motown & Funk. Any­thing I per­son­al­ly love is what I’m best at!  I agree w/Nick about that sweet spot com­ing out of din­ner; it can range from 10–30 min­utes but real­ly sets a vibe!

Do you have a favorite artist?

Nope! But I will try…James Brown, Amy Wine­house, JT, Boy Bands, Ste­vie, Jamiro­quai, Stones, EWF. New for me would be DNCE and Bruno but the sound is old school so guess that proves my point and I’m a show tune freak like my girl but I’ve only found three cou­ples who want­ed it for their wed­ding day.

What do you enjoy most about work­ing events like weddings?

I love that we’ve built this wed­ding ven­dor fam­i­ly. I real­ly look for­ward to see­ing my pals every week­end and I have aligned myself with the best in Detroit. It’s amaz­ing to watch every­one do their thing to deliv­er the event to the cou­ple and their fam­i­lies. No cel­e­bra­tion is com­plete with­out a sound­track to back it; it’s why I am con­vinced that no oth­er ven­dor can make or break a wed­ding day like the enter­tain­ment. (yep I said it and you can quote me) I have built rela­tion­ships that span over two decades with the fam­i­lies I have cel­e­brat­ed with.

How would you describe your style?

 I have been described as under­stat­ed, pol­ished, warm, fun­ny & pro­fes­sion­al. I believe an enter­tain­er, & their style, rep­re­sents a cou­ple to the guests. It’s not just about the music. Nick is cor­rect you do tend to tweak things based on the clients wants. In gen­er­al I am girl they hire because they were at their friend’s wed­ding and the DJ was too involved. (aka Cheesy)

How many wed­dings do you typ­i­cal­ly do in a year?

 About 50

Do you take requests or do you like to have a set list made up before the gig?

I DO take requests and think it’s very impor­tant (keep­ing in mind the vision and do not play list from the client) My clients and I work hard before their wed­ding day to cre­ate a sound­track that we believe will work for THEIR guests. I’ve always treat­ed music selec­tion as a team effort. Although I bring expe­ri­ence to the table, the cou­ple has an enor­mous amount of per­son­al infor­ma­tion that a great enter­tain­er should be ask­ing for. Set lists for cock­tail and din­ner hours are typ­i­cal­ly “made up” after speak­ing to the cou­ple but when it comes to the dance floor there are nights I’m watch­ing the sec­onds left on a tune and freak­ing out think­ing about what I’m play­ing next; I could nev­er pro­gram that por­tion of the evening.

 

To wrap…I have deter­mined, like math lovers, there are true music lovers. Nick, Derek and I have loved tunes for for­ev­er. We have musi­cal back­grounds (I played piano & a bit of sax & drums (ok drums only last­ed 6 months) and a Dad who took me to Bak­er’s for Jazz when I was 12. I’m con­vinced I nev­er would have got­ten to do this job with­out him.

Web­site: http://www.maprodj.com

Phone and Email: (586)-362‑3584

ma@maprodj.com

Con­tact: Mary Ann Ross

 

Michigan Wedding DJ

Nicholas Hardy — The Ely­si­um Experience

 

When I think about the ulti­mate enter­tain­ment expe­ri­ence Ely­si­um comes to mind right away! I’ve had the plea­sure of watch­ing Nicholas Hardy trans­form a recep­tion. It’s so impor­tant to give your guests an expe­ri­ence they won’t want to for­get. Not only does Nicholas DJ/MC but he also does light­ing and sound for your event. This com­pa­ny tru­ly trans­forms a venue and brings to life an event. This com­pa­ny believes that they are at an event to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment with light­ing, sound and enter­tain­ment that will cre­ate such strong emo­tions from the crowd that the expe­ri­ence will nev­er be for­got­ten. If you are look­ing to cre­ate an event that your guest will tru­ly nev­er be able to for­get then, Nicholas Hardy of The Ely­si­um Expe­ri­ence is who should hire!

How did you get into this indus­try, and how long have you been in this line of work?

I began work­ing full time in the events indus­try in the sum­mer of 2011 when I left my day job as a music teacher.  I start­ed “Dee­jay­ing,” if you can call it that, in high school for a few school dances and grad­u­a­tion par­ties.  In col­lege, I was a part of a small jazz group that per­formed reg­u­lar­ly for uni­ver­si­ty and cor­po­rate events and then I would end up dee­jay­ing some of them as well.  In late col­lege, I start­ed to pick­up quite a bit of wed­ding work as a DJ and musi­cian.  When I began my teach­ing career in 2005, I con­tin­u­al­ly worked on my side busi­ness of per­form­ing music (DJ & live).  The num­ber of events increased as I learned more and gained expe­ri­ence.  In 2010, I reg­is­tered Ely­si­um Wed­ding Enter­tain­ment with the inten­tion to leave teach­ing with­in a few years.  At the end of the 2010–2011 school year, I left teach­ing and took a leap of faith that this new path would work out.

What is your favorite genre of music to play?

I’m ter­ri­ble at favorites.  To me, this is very con­tex­tu­al.  Just like I love ketchup…on some things but def­i­nite­ly not salmon or chick­en.  I will say that in terms of a wed­ding, one of my favorite peri­ods of the night is the tran­si­tion from din­ner to the for­mal dances — a peri­od the Ely­si­um Expe­ri­ence team calls the “Cock­tail Reprise.”  In this peri­od we have more flex­i­bil­i­ty and can spin some real­ly unique music to get peo­ple ready to dance.

Do you have a favorite artist?

Again, I’m not good at favorites.  But with that being said and off the cuff: Ste­vie Won­der, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Michael Breck­er, Justin Tim­ber­lake and Ben L’Oncle Soul is my new favorite.

What do you enjoy most about work­ing events like weddings? 

I love that you get to be a part of one of the hap­pi­est days of a couple’s life.  In com­par­i­son as a teacher, there were reward­ing times but far too much dis­con­tent from stu­dents and par­ents.  It ranged from their grades to dis­ci­pli­nary actions, the ratio of dis­con­tent ver­sus feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed was dis­cour­ag­ing.  Con­verse­ly, I feel like that in our work with wed­ding cou­ples, we often feel val­ued, appre­ci­at­ed and a part of their friend group.  Although ven­dors know there is plen­ty of real work and aspects that aren’t under­stood, its real­ly great we get to do this for a living.

How would you describe your style?

This is a dif­fi­cult ques­tion to answer suc­cinct­ly.  I think it would be accu­rate to say unique, how­ev­er, there are sev­er­al of us that are unique and that doesn’t help a client more specif­i­cal­ly under­stand how we are going to help them.  Often our cou­ples val­ue our abil­i­ty to build a great rela­tion­ship with their guests, engage and inter­act.  Some­times we have cou­ples that want a more con­ser­v­a­tive expe­ri­ence that is fit­ting for their audi­ence and they appre­ci­ate our atten­tion to detail and poise.  Ulti­mate­ly I would ven­ture to say that our style is like a Chameleon — adapt­ing to the appro­pri­ate style of the context.

How many wed­dings do you typ­i­cal­ly do in a year?

Depend­ing on the year we range from about 80–100 wed­dings with music enter­tain­ment.  We also have between 20–50 per year for oth­er ser­vices such as light­ing or some­times we have been hired just to pro­vide sound.

Do you take requests or do you like to have a set list made up before the gig?

This is a great ques­tion.  Music prep is very impor­tant to us and a key to deliv­er­ing con­sis­ten­cy of engage­ment over time.  Most of the time when we walk into a venue for a wed­ding, we already have a very sol­id plan for the sound­track.  We don’t fig­ure it out on the spot but rather per­form the music we’ve planned.  When you have a con­sis­tent engage­ment and a great sound­track, you usu­al­ly don’t get too many requests.  Some­times guests have real­ly great requests and it’s a good idea to play them.  Many times peo­ple request songs and they are not a great idea — expe­ri­ence teach­es you how to art­ful­ly respond to the inap­pro­pri­ate requests.  One inter­est­ing thing we’ve learned about requests is that the hard­er some­one push­es for a request, usu­al­ly the worse of an idea it is.

Con­tact: Nicholas Hardy- Exec­u­tive Producer

Office phone- (586)-203‑8575

Mobile- (586)-946‑5000

Address: 20504 Hall Road Clin­ton Town­ship, MI 48038

Web­site: http://elysiumexp.com

Dan Rafferty Band

Derek Raf­fer­ty — E3 Detroit 

Wed­ding Bands bring a dif­fer­ent kind of ele­ment to your spe­cial day, live music is always excit­ing and enter­tain­ing but the Dan Raf­fer­ty Band takes it to whole oth­er lev­el. This band is very high ener­gy and tal­ent­ed. With some wed­ding bands it can be very clear if they have nev­er worked togeth­er very long, they seem to not know each oth­er very well and can almost seem awk­ward. The Dan Raf­fer­ty band has been play­ing togeth­er for a long time now and they often do oth­er gigs along with wed­dings. The Dan Raf­fer­ty band is pas­sion­ate about their show and being able to con­nect with their clients. They explain the band as: “Our front vocal­ists are all young styl­ish enter­tain­ers who love today’s top 40 and hip hop dance music, and take great pride in per­form­ing these songs with the same ener­gy and authen­tic­i­ty as the orig­i­nal artists!” This group will be guar­an­teed to get your guests out of their seats and onto the dance floor. If you are look­ing for a high ener­gy band to par­ty with on your spe­cial day, then you need to con­tact Derek Raf­fer­ty at E3 Detroit!

How did you get into this indus­try, and how long have you been in this line of work?

I grew up in Las Vegas watch­ing my dad per­form in a band. This was his career, so I had non stop expo­sure to the stage, the per­for­mance, the crowd, the music, etc. It got into my blood and nev­er left. Dur­ing col­lege, while my friends were work­ing at Sub­way or McDon­alds to earn a buck, I would DJ par­ties on the week­ends and I would start to get calls to do pri­vate par­ties from that. It was a side gig after school while I was work­ing in “cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca”. In 2001 I approached my dad, who was then play­ing in a well known Detroit event band and didn’t like it, that we should start our own band that is the oppo­site of all the “cheesy, cliché, tired wed­ding bands” out there. He was all in, and The Dan Raf­fer­ty Band was born. It grew sig­nif­i­cant­ly for 8 years while I con­tin­ued the day job. In 2009, dur­ing the reces­sion, my com­pa­ny down­sized dras­ti­cal­ly and I found myself out of a job and decid­ed that if I was ever going to give this a real shot, this was the time. So I start­ed E3 Detroit as a par­ent com­pa­ny to The DRB and are our ros­ter and list of ser­vices. We’ve nev­er looked back since!

What is your favorite genre of music to play?

Hip-Hop and Top-40 for sure. Typ­i­cal­ly, live bands can’t per­form these types of music any­where near as good as the orig­i­nal artists, and can’t play the ver­sa­til­i­ty of what a DJ can spin. So we focus heav­i­ly on these types music, and when our crowds hear us go into a hip-hop song that they NEVER expect­ed to hear from a live band, their hype lev­el goes through the roof. See­ing our dance floors going crazy, singing along to every word, makes it that much more fun. We of course do old school Motown, funk/R&B/soul (which I LOVE as well), but per­form­ing the cur­rent Top-40 and hip-hop I think is what sets us apart.

Do you have a favorite artist?

Cur­rent­ly: Bruno Mars & Justin Tim­ber­lake. All Time: Sina­tra; Earth, Wind & Fire; Prince; Pearl Jam; MJ.

What do you enjoy most about work­ing events like weddings?

When you care so deeply about what you do, and who you do it for, it gives you a tru­ly sin­cere sense of sat­is­fac­tion and joy to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do it every week­end. I see a HUGE dif­fer­ence between the mass major­i­ty of enter­tain­ers (DJ’s or musi­cians) and those of us who I con­sid­er col­leagues at the top of this game. This is because very few peo­ple have the com­bi­na­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, con­fi­dence, charis­ma, style, per­son­al­i­ty and, prob­a­bly most impor­tant­ly, the deep con­cern that we have for our clients. We can tell you things about our brides & grooms, their friends and their fam­i­ly that some “week­end war­rior” musi­cian or “wannabe” DJ hasn’t a clue about. We invest our­selves into our clients’ events and can give so much more than just the music. We can give them “moments” that they can hon­est­ly FEEL, and will remem­ber for­ev­er. I take great pride & joy in that!

How would you describe your style?

 I would describe my style of per­form­ing as loose, impro­vised, fun, engag­ing, unique and enter­tain­ing. Hope­ful­ly my audi­ences would describe it the same way!!

How many wed­dings do you typ­i­cal­ly do in a year?

 My band per­son­al­ly does between 40–50. Over­all, E3 Detroit books 70–80.

  Do you take requests or do you like to have a set list made up before the gig?

Both! Based on my meet­ings with my clients, I build a a “set guide” that I go into the gig with. 80% of the songs are con­sis­tent from week to week. Then I take the clients’ input and tweak it to include their must-plays and do-not-plays. Then I read the crowd through­out the night, and fol­low the direc­tion our dance floor takes us in. As requests come in, if I can find a great place to mix that in to the over­all per­for­mance, I cer­tain­ly do so. Some­times, I can uti­lize din­ner as a great place to play a bunch of requests. Guests real­ly do notice those songs, and if they hear songs they per­son­al­ly love it gets them in the mood and ready to par­ty, even if the song is more laid back or slow­er. Those “grooves” can real­ly set the tone for the night!

 

Con­tact: Derek Raf­fer­ty – vocalist/MC

Phone: (734)-620‑1159

 

 

 

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