Choosing the Wedding Singer for You
Everybody has a different taste in almost everything. Music is no exception and in fact is probably the best example of how people differ. While some people may like a wedding singer that is very low key and plays well in the background, others may like the wedding to feel like a bit of a party. Especially if itʼs a cocktail wedding. They may want a wedding singer to engage with their guests and put on a bit of a show. But the last thing you want is a singer and guitarist with a microphone who thinks he is a bit of a star. The job of a wedding entertainer is to read the situation and play accordingly. Every single one of those guests are not there to see you. Some egos may forget that and Iʼm sure that would be quite annoying for the bride, and in fact everybody. But when you are dealing with creative people, you often find large egos and in some cases, delusions of grandeur. This is why itʼs very important to make contact with your wedding singer so you can get a feel for them. If you find they talk a lot without listening, you may run the risk of booking the deluded dude. Fortunately, most entertainers have a grip on reality and realize what situation they are in and how to best play to a wedding audience. But I would still call them up just in case.
So back to the different tastes. There are many different sounds you will get from different players. Some may be particularly quiet and introverted when playing but are good musicians. Who knows, maybe this is perfect for you. You may get the musician who has cut his or her teeth on the pub scene, therefore are pretty rocky with a considerable amount of energy to them. But which ever musician or group you choose, I think it is a very good idea to go and see them play live. Especially if they only have one or two videos online. If a musician has a whole bunch of videos you can get a feel for them and they are more likely to be experienced. But if you like someone who only has one or two, make sure you put that on your To-Do list. There is a lot of software out there that can make a singer sound considerably better than they actually are so do your homework.
Being predominantly a wedding singer in Perth for over a decade, I have come to learn many things. But I think the one thing that I have learnt that is the most valuable, is what NOT to do. The set list or repertoire that I have is very vast and covers a lot of different styles and areas of music. This did not come from my common sense early on, although it seems it should have. But years ago I did not have a large repertoire to choose from. This limits you terribly and if you only have one or two styles, it won’t be long before you find a bride or crowd that doesn’t like either, so someone who is prepared for that is the more logical choice. This is just inexperience and only comes with making mistakes and learning from them. But who wants to book a rookie for their big day? If your budget is not realistic that’s exactly what you will get.
To finish off I would say that you want someone experienced, that is a must, but also someone who is still in love with their passion and seems enthusiastic about what they do. Some people can get burnt out and will come across boring because they are bored. You want you and your guests to feel like this is a very special occasion, even if it is just another day for the wedding singer. Wedding Singers and DJ’s need to check the ego at the door and realize we are not superstars, we are there to feel the mood and play to it.
Wedding Singer Advice
A wedding singer should not be something that you choose based on price alone. Of course this has to be within your budget but if you are planning a wedding you should have a considerable budget to work with. These days it’s not enough just to be a wedding singer, you need to have the skills to get people on the dance-floor as a DJ as well. It’s not so important to beat-match as it is to read the crowd and play the appropriate kind of music at the appropriate time.
The wedding singer you choose should be somebody that you speak to on the phone rather than just email. As everyone knows, email has no tone so it’s not as easy to get a feel of someone’s personality. If you phone them and have a quick chat about your wedding, you will get a feel for them and find out if they are socially comfortable. Because even though you would think someone who is an entertainer would be comfortable speaking with people, you might be surprised to learn that some of them are not. This can be a sign that the performance may be introverted. So on the phone you will get a feel for them and find out if they are socially comfortable. Therefore you need to find someone that you click with personally.
You will find a lot of different kinds of wedding singers, those that play a lot of Aussie classics. They are the type of musician that has been doing many pub gigs. You will find more jazzy singers which can be appropriate for the early part of the evening. And you will find all-rounders. Those are the type of musician that have been doing weddings for a long time and have perfected their playlist.
As the wedding singer myself, and as someone who has won many awards in this industry, I find that a solid mix of young and old songs to try to please everyone at some stage is the best formula for being a successful night. Also a side note, if you make the performer feel comfortable at the wedding by at least smiling to them or coming over to say a quick hello, that can really help the musician relax and be comfortable in front of a crowd of people they have never met. Although we do this all the time, it really does help because every gig is different.
Being a great wedding singer is only half of the battle though. What clients really want is a good time on the dance-floor. They want all their friends to get up and dance all that nervous energy away. This is when you need to draw on your DJ skills. It does seem easy to simply press play and turn the volume up, but I can tell you from experience it really does take experience and a lot of common sense to choose the right songs. Not only the right songs but there are lots of intros to songs that are quite long so it’s important to start from when the beat kicks in. Because a full dance floor can be lost within 10 seconds so you have to be on your game.
I enjoy DJing and getting everyone pumped and into the mood having a great time, but my real passion is acoustic guitar and vocals. I started out 12 years ago as a wedding singer in Perth and I have loved it ever since. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I added DJing into the mix. Becoming a full package for clients and their music needs on their wedding day. I have had my share of mistakes and misread crowds but as I grow and learn, after a decade of doing this full-time I have honed my craft to hit the mark 95% of the time. No one is ever going to have successful gigs 100% of the time. There are too many variables that can interfere with a great gig. But I always make sure I am there with plenty of time to set up, I always make sure I have all the information and song choices from the clients clear and on a timeline that is understood. I always have a playlist that is filled with songs from the client. All of these details add to becoming a successful wedding singer and DJ in Perth.
Wedding Singer Perth Package
The best combination of Wedding Music would be a live music and DJ Package. Tod’s ability to entertain comes from many years as a wedding singer in Perth, and also as a cover band performer. Being able to choose the best song at the best time is a winning combination both as a live musician and as a DJ.
Being a proficient musician or DJ is only half the battle. The other half is being able to read the audience you have in front of you. This can only come from a wide range of live performance situations. From a backyard party, to a formal engagement with hundreds of guests. It is no use to be the best musician if your songs are wasted on the wrong crowd, this is not economic. What use is a brilliantly performed Jazz song if your audience wants to hear a rock number?
Another important aspect of live wedding music is not only what repertoire to use for a certain audience, but what songs to play within the feel of the gig itself. For example, a very popular song in Australia for weddings is ‘Horses’ by Darryl Braithwaite. Many people request this song in my experience and while it is a slow tempo which would work well early in the evening, it would be relatively wasted, simply because it is a sing-along song and hardly anyone is going to feel like singing along before they have had a few drinks. This song needs to be played toward the end of the night and in many cases, as the very last song. This would be a very high energy song at the end because everyone will be feeling the effects of the drink, but also the effects emotion elicits from a patriotic song like this. Similarly, you don’t want to begin the evening with high energy or up-tempo music because there is nowhere to go from there. The music of the night needs to build. Like a storyline in a movie. Also as with a movie, there need to be high points, low points, areas of tension, release, humour and resolution.
Having someone that has a wealth of experience in this area is of huge importance. Someone who knows how to play to and for the audience, rather than someone who will pick songs randomly.
Keep these things in mind when considering wedding music in Perth.
Choosing The Best Wedding DJ
How To Start Searching:
With so many to choose from, how do I search for the best wedding DJ? Answer – Experience. It’s like getting a tattoo. You don’t want to save a few bucks on this because they are inexperienced. You may not be wearing this like ink, but you don’t want a lasting impression of your wedding reception to be one where people say, “You remember, that one where the DJ played whatever he wanted?” Because it happens. In this wedding climate, people know that they can charge more for a wedding than anything else, so in order to snatch a few hundred bucks, people will offer you amazing discounts that seem too good to be true. Only to find that they could not read the crowd, and they did the bare minimum. The horror stories are everywhere on social media.
As much as it seems like an easy thing to do, choosing a song every 3 and a half minutes for several hours on end that is going to keep people on the dance-floor, is not an easy thing to do. And there is no magic list of songs that will work for every audience. What kills on the dance-floor at one wedding, will be scoffed at, at the next. This takes many years of experience to be able to gauge well. It may seem easy when everything is flowing, but trust me, the skill of a wedding DJ is not beat matching like in the clubs, it is knowing what is going to work with the particular crowd that is in front of them. 10 seconds of the wrong song, or even the right song with a long string intro, is going to clear the dance-floor quicker than losing a toupe in a hurricane. So my advice would be to start searching for evidence of experience. Don’t take the word of the DJ. Of course they are going to plug themselves. But search for them on youtube, seek out referrals, reviews, testimonials, facebook groups, wedding pages. Have a listen to what former clients have to say. Judge for yourself with the media that is available. If there is little or no media available, chances are you are dealing with an inexperienced DJ. So keep in mind that the best wedding DJ’s are the ones with most experience.
Experience is not the only thing that determines the best wedding DJ’s around. Sometimes you may find that experience can also breed an apathy for the job. So I suggest getting on the phone and having a conversation to not only feel the level of professionalism and experience, but also attitude. A DJ who is polite and respectful is usually a good indication that there is not a big ego attached. The last thing you want is a wedding DJ with delusions of grandeur. (Keep this in mind when choosing your MC also. There is nothing worse than an MC who makes it more about themselves than the reason you are there). A wedding DJ who blows their own horn a little too much can be a warning sign that they are going to play what they think is cool, and not be observant to what the guests are reacting best to. Conversely, you don’t want someone who has a shy personality because there will be no vibe. So choose someone who seems to have a balanced ego. If you choose someone who is a musician/DJ, chances are they have experience on stage and can deal with all kinds of crowds.
Question To Ask:
You can glean a lot of information from a wedding DJ if you ask the right questions. Below is a list of must ask questions when speaking to potential DJ’s.
Is this your full-time job and are weddings your primary focus and what other functions have you performed at?
Determine whether they have experience with a different type of audience. Whether they have a wide range of experience behind the decks. Different gigs produce different crowds which produce different experiences for the DJ. Having a wide range of experiences can produce a more well rounded professional. But be careful, you don’t necessarily want a club DJ to play a wedding. Not to say they won’t do a good job, especially if it’s a young crowd, but you do run the risk of having a one-dimensional sound for the entirety of your wedding reception.
Can You Accommodate All of Our Requests?
Every wedding will have their own unique requests. It is the job of a wedding DJ to make sure they have these songs available. Not only available but the ability to be able to play them from a particular point in the song. ie For speeches. You need to make sure they can play a song from the ‘meat’ of the chorus so it makes sense as the speaker is walking towards the mic. Or as the bridal party enter on cue.
How Do You Deal With Guest Requests?
It is inevitable that there will be multiple requests for music from guests. Sometimes those tastes might be in contradiction to what the bride and groom have requested. Simply saying no to the guest can create an air of arrogance. You want someone who has a little diplomatic skill. Believe it or not, you even get guests saying that this is the bride’s favourite song. This is a classic move. If the bride has requested 90’s dance-tunes and someone tells you that her favourite song is from Motorhead, they might be trying to pull the wool, so I might just check with her first. People do try to persuade you to play their favourite songs, which will appease them, but clear the dance-floor. You want a DJ who will not just accept all requests, be able to knock a few back if they know it’s not going to work, but do it with diplomacy to keep everyone on side.
Do You Have a Recent Client We Can Contact?
It is perfectly ok to ask for a reference. Former clients will be only happy to refer a good wedding DJ if they have had a good experience.
Can We View What Your Set-Up Will Look Like?
This will give you an indication of the work ethic of the DJ.
What Are Your Usual Go-To Songs and Playlists?
As a wedding DJ, I have a large selection of pre-organised playlists. For eg: Dance. 60’s / 80’s / 90’s / Rock / Jazz / Reggae / Crooners / Aussie / Cruisy / Love Songs / Dinner etc… As I continue to do weddings I will add songs that work, into these playlists. It’s not possible to remember every song that works and when, so if you have a quick playlist reference on what mood you want. you can do a quick search in the right place for the right song. If a wedding DJ cannot list you their playlists, then there is a good chance they are not experienced, not organized, or both. Either that or they have an eidetic memory.
In closing, I would reiterate that although it seems on the surface that anyone can choose songs that will make people dance, it is not as easy as that, and does take a lot of experience to be able to pull this off successfully, over the course of an entire evening. Keep this in mind when trying to find the best wedding DJ you can.
Ceremony Music Advice
MUSIC FOR WEDDING CEREMONIES:
Ceremony music is an important decision. Music is so emotive so choosing the right songs for the right moments is crucial. Invest a little more time thinking about this than perhaps your music playlist for the reception. Don’t rush into this because you have a favourite song, think about the feel of the ceremony. A ceremony is a very formal affair. An important half hour and quite a dramatic thing. (In a good way).
THINK ABOUT THE EVENT ITSELF
When choosing the music, whether it be live or from a CD or iPod, make sure you factor in the emotional feel of the event itself. This is arguably the most important few moments of your life, so make it powerful. Music can create an atmosphere like nothing else. As a musician I would offer this advice. Select something that means a great deal to you, but also something that has a rhythm and feel conducive to an epic event to set the ‘dramatic’ tone of the ceremony, especially for the walk down the aisle.
WHAT NOT TO CHOOSE
Try to avoid choosing your favourite party song or anything that is too ‘happy’ or fast. Although this is a very happy event, having happy music can often make light of an event which deserves more serious reflection. I would suggest using your favourite party song for the first song after the bridal dance at the reception, when all the formalities are over and it really is time to party.
LIVE OR CD?
Live: It is nice to have a live musician to play for the ceremony, it adds not only the live sound, but a visual addition to the ceremony. It is also a nice feel for when guests arrive. A little tip: Make sure you ask your musician to start playing prior to your arrival as some will just play from the walk down the aisle. Specifically ask them to ‘warm up’ your guests with some nice background music that isn’t overpowering and just sits nicely behind the excited chatter of your guests. The only downside of the live option is that it can be expensive for this option because the musician has to take time to set up and play for just a few songs, so they will generally charge a few hundred. I charge 3 – $400 for ceremonies depending on location.
CD: If you have favourite songs that are from divas such as Mariah Carey or Celine Dion, it may be best to choose the CD option. Similarly if you want something that is highly produced or requires a big sound such as an orchestra, it is impossible for one musician to recreate that kind of sound so go with the CD. If you are timing your walk because you have a few in the bridal party and you want to arrive at a certain climax of the song, it may be best to rehearse with the original track so you know exactly where you are and when.
WHAT SONGS FOR WHEN:
I have done hundreds of ceremonies and it almost always breaks down into 4 song choices. 1: The Processional. (The walk down the aisle). This song needs to be the most dramatic, emotional and powerful song of the bunch. 2 and 3: The Signing. Many couples only choose one song for this but it usually times out to be one and a half songs. These songs can be nice love songs with a positive vibe. Not as emotional as the first, but more emotional than the last. 4. The recessional: This is when your celebrant will announce to the world those famous words, “I now give you, for the first time as husband and wife, Mr and Mrs Johnson” The music needs to jump in right at that moment and be a very up-beat, happy tune, preferably something that most people would know.
Remember these are just guidelines from my experience as a musician and there are no hard fast rules. If you want to walk down the aisle to The West Coast Eagles or Dockers theme song, then go for it. It is your day and you are the boss so go with what you think will make a memorable wedding ceremony to remember for all time.
Wedding music has connotations of being a little cheesy and tends to bring to mind images of long walks on the beach, picnic blankets and happily ever after sunsets. But being in the wedding industry for over ten years, it really isn’t like that at all. Requests from clients have ranged from Del Shannon to Metallica and on more than one occasion, favourite footy team theme songs.
The wedding music of today does not have a genre. More and more wedding couples tend to choose songs for the important moments of their weddings from their wide ranges of tastes, and can be vastly different from the next couple. I guess this means one thing – music has changed drastically over the past few decades and the choice for the listener is almost infinite.
If we go back just a few decades to the 50’s when rock and roll first reared it’s headbanging head, that’s when it all started. With memories of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry jumping and gyrating around on stage to a group of screaming girls on the Ed Sullivan Show, the world could sense that a musical revolution was about to explode. And explode it did. When Beatle-mania hit, it sparked a massive interest in pop stars and celebrity which has continued to grow and grow to this very day.
So at this early juncture in modern pop music, there was only one real genre apart from country music, and that was pop. Originating from the coined phrase ‘popular music’. So on the radio it was either hip swinging rock ‘n roll or beautiful ballads sung by boy bands to begin with, then girl bands as well. Usually featuring 3 or 4 singers that would have rehearsed dance moves in sync. This was an explosion that led to mowtown where many groups had hits throughout the late 50’s and 60’s.
So fast forward through the amazing 60’s and then rock lost it’s roll and became simply rock. Electric guitars were becoming evermore popular and the advent of distortion bred the first generation of rockers. Some music began to take on a slightly darker side from this point. Louder, faster, more aggressive. If you listen to early rock the message started out as love but some bands took advantage of the intensity of the music and began delivering a message of the outlaw. It became cool to be a bad ass.
Then came the 80’s. Wow, what a transformation. Brightly coloured clothes and high hair. Lot’s of strings and saxophone. What a great era. I grew up in the 80’s and have great memories of extraordinary songs from that era. With bands like Wham, INXS and Dire Straights. Songs such as Footloose, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Bohemian Rhapsody. Who can forget this music and it is probably the most popular genre of music that I play as a wedding DJ.
Rock became glam rock. Tight lycra pants with huge permed hairstyles and electrifying guitar solos. Many a hotel room was trashed by these bad boys on tour. Poison, Bon Jovi and Guns ‘n Roses come to mind. So music had changed considerably in 20 years and the choices of the listener seemed to be growing by the year with different genres of music popping up and spawning offshoots of other styles such as punk rock. From there it evolved into alternative rock once the 90’s came around.
Toward the end of the 80’s a new kind of genre altogether exploded onto the world music stage. This is of course rap. Rap was huge and found an audience and massive fan base with blacks in America. Pretty soon everyone loved this kind of rhythm and it became a culture within itself. Hip Hop evolved from rap, gangsta rap evolved from hip hop and it continues to evolve. It is interesting to look back at where some genres evolved from. I’m not sure where disco has it’s roots but R&B certainly evolved from disco and definitely the bebop of the 60’s. It has given rise to some amazing vocalists over the years. R&B also merges with Hip Hop as rock merged with rap thanks to Aerosmith and Run DMC. Now even country is beginning to merge with other genres.
Pop has always remained steady at the forefront of music. Pop is the most mainstream of all genres and I guess draws the straightest line back to those days of Elvis and The Beatles. The formula of pop has generally remained the same with a verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus chorus chorus. It seems to be the most identifiable genre in all of music, however the differences between musical styles, artists, fashion and culture vary so much in todays world that we are literally spoilt for choice.
This brings me back to my main point. Wedding music. Time goes by so fast it is easy to forget that the music you took for granted as a young person as being so cool, is very dated now and that trend will no doubt continue. So it is not surprising that the choice of wedding music these days is not as cliché as one might think. I have done weddings in a cave to goth music. I have done all sorts of cultures. African, Bosnian, Filipina, Jewish, Irish, Italian, Greek. Every culture has it’s very own tastes.
When it comes down to Aussie weddings, although the tastes are also very varied, there is always one or two constants involved. These are songs that are usually played at the very end of the night, when everyone has had a skin full, the good times have rolled and it’s time to say goodnight. It is my duty as a wedding singer and DJ to play the appropriate Aussie wedding music. This comes down to two songs. You’re The Voice by John Farnham and Horses by Daryl Braithwaite. These two classics seem to get any true blue Aussie up onto the dance floor, singing at the top of their voices. I wonder how long these will stand the test of time before some other classics are born and take over.
Perth Wedding Singer
So it’s time to get organized. It’s been a few months since he proposed and the happiness and butterflies have quietened down a little bit and the reality is sinking in that you have to do some organizing now rather than dreaming. There are 3 or 4 ‘must do’s’ that come to mind straight away. But before you can even think about who you are going to invite, you must have a plan.
The Venue: That’s a given. You want to get in early because Perth is a bulging city and it’s more than just you and him in this moment of matrimonial bliss, so get in quick because all the front seats are going to be taken by the most organized. A quick list I would suggest in no particular order would be as follows:
Just to name of few of my favourites who I know always do a great job. Click on the links for some independent video reviews of these venues.
But this blog is about finding a Perth Wedding Singer. Ok I am biased yes, because guess what? I happen to be a Perth Wedding Singer and I know a thing or two about what makes a wedding go smoothly when it comes to playing the right music. I haven’t won 7 ABIA awards for sitting on my hands. Music is evolving. The older we get, the younger the married couples seem to get and things are not always going to remain the same.
So the main thing is to please the bride. She wants to know that whatever you play is going to suit the vibe of her wedding so make sure you have a close look at the repertoire of the wedding singer you are looking at. Because keep in mind, wedding singers are not always playing weddings. They are first and foremost musicians for hire, so they tend to play at all kinds of events. Some play in different line-ups, depending on the work. Some do a lot of pubs which is great, but if they are predominantly doing pubs all the time then their rep is often going to be saturated with Aussie Rock, or all up-tempo stuff which will please the punters and keep them employed at the pub, but their ballads are going to be rusty as opposed to someone who predominately plays weddings for a living. I would suggest speak to a wedding singer and try to catch them at a public event but choose a couple of songs from the rep to throw at them at the pub, to see how well they may sing them.
I play at least one wedding a week, sometimes 3 in a row in summer so my repertoire is very well suited to playing those kinds of songs that work well over the early part of the evening and are not too intrusive on the ear of the guests. Nice ambient, background love songs with a few feel-good tunes in there to lessen the cheese factor a little and keep it kinda cool. You are also going to want your wedding singer to be familiar with the Perth music scene because he has grown up with what you have, (if you are Aussie), and if you are not, at the very least, a lot of your friends attending will be able to relate.
Another thing to look for is someone with the ability to lift the mood from background ambient mode to pre-dancing, feel good, mid-tempo type tunes that will start to get people in the mood. So check the repertoire over a couple of times and make sure that they are capable of playing these types of tunes and haven’t just added them in to impress you from the sheer volume of songs they do. They may have them in their rep, but they may not have played them for years. Take nothing for granted.
The last thing to consider from a live point of view for a Perth Wedding Singer is that he or she has the ability to keep people on the dancefloor with the live rep. Sometimes your guests will get up early and want to get the dancing underway even before dinner. At this stage you don’t want to go into DJ mode yet because you have hired a live singer (hopefully one that also DJ’s), but DJing changes the whole atmosphere and if you bring it in too early, and can feel odd. So make sure your musician has at least an hour of up-tempo dance songs that will keep people on the floor from their live sets.
Now anyone can DJ you say? Especially at a wedding? Well I’ve done over 600 of them and I can tell you this is the most challenging part of the evening. Finding the pulse of what your guests are going to feel good dancing to is a skill that takes years to learn and even then, sometimes you just cannot please a non-dancing crowd.
A wedding has all types of ages, tastes and dance appetites so pleasing everyone at the same time is NOT going to happen unless you can get a vibe going amongst everyone to the point where they are having such a good time, it doesn’t matter if they are Hip-Hop fans, they will jump around to ‘Come on Eileen’ because their friends and family are all having a good time.
There is an art, an order and a process to DJing a wedding. If you play the wrong song at the wrong time you can lose everyone. A wedding DJ has to be diplomatic to guests who really want a particular song but you know from experience this song will kill the dancefloor so there is a lot of negotiating going on behind the scenes and when alcohol is involved, this can be difficult. So you do want your wedding singer to also be an experienced wedding DJ who can handle a little bit of that pressure and not say yes to every request because your job is to keep people on the floor. The only exception to this is if the Bride or Groom requests a song, then you are locked in, even if it’s the Macarena. It’s their day, they get what they want.
Finding a wedding singer in Perth is not difficult anymore, there are many acts that are transitioning from pubs to weddings simply because of the money they can make. But when you think about it, music can make or break the event. This is a skill that goes beyond just playing music. So my advice would be to book an experienced wedding singer and DJ to avoid a possibly embarrassing night for your guests should you choose an inexperienced, uncaring or unprofessional wedding singer in Perth, as this job takes a lot more than just a musical talent.
One more tip, phone them. Sometimes people are nervous to phone a wedding service provider because they may feel a little obligated. But you are not obligated at all. If you phone someone you can glean a lot of information about them and their personality. One very important aspect is if they are going to be socially adept. Some may have the greatest talent in the world but absolutely no connection with the audience and a sour look on their face all night. You want someone who sounds friendly, professional, flexible and reliable so have a quick chat or set up a meeting to get a feel for your wedding singer. You ultimately want someone who is going to bring a fun atmosphere while also being skilled musically.