Professional DJs bring savvy, variety of music to wedding receptions

Jack Duran is manager of Whatcom Sound, a Bellingham business that provides music and video services for weddings and other events.

Question: How far in advance should a couple start planning music for their wedding?

Answer: We start discussing music on our initial contact with our clients. We find out if we are doing the music for their ceremony as well as their reception. Usually our first meeting is 12 to 18 months before their big day. We need to have final decisions on music two weeks prior to the event, but we have the flexibility to make changes at the last minute.

We also discuss different music lists for our clients. We break it down to the formal dances, such as the first dance as husband and wife, father and daughter, mother and son, and any other specialty dances they might want. We ask for the exact versions and artists, too. Sometimes there are multiple versions of the same song by the same artist. We also discuss the music for their ceremony, if that is necessary.

Q: How important is music to a wedding and reception?

A: Music really does make or break your reception. Music sets the tone for your special day; it can be anything from a mellow brunch to a pretty hopping dance party. It all depends on the music and how it is presented. We will listen to your needs and wishes and help you design the styles, genres, tempo and time frames for your dream day. We have people come up to us and remember the weddings we have done in the past and how much fun they had.

Q: What should a couple consider when choosing their music?

A: Couples need to determine what type of reception they want to have and what type of music they want — whether they want an elegant affair, a casual conversational, an intimate reception or an upbeat wild dance time! The bride and groom need to consider who their guests are and how many people will be attending, the venue location, and the time frame for their party.

Q: What should couples think about when deciding whether to have live musicians or a deejay?

A: There are huge differences between a deejay and live music for your reception. Most bands limit themselves to one or two styles of music. We, as deejays, are virtually limitless. At Whatcom Sound, our deejays can carry and use up to 250,000 songs to each event. We need less space, and quicker setup and tear-down times. And we do not need to take a break; we can play music the entire time, from when we are setup and ready to go until the last dance.

Q: What should couples consider if they are thinking of having a friend or relative provide their music?

A: This is a common question we get. A friend or a relative has lots of music and is willing to deejay the one special day they will remember for the rest of their lives. Having a lot of music is one thing, but knowing how to read a crowd; how to play and know different genres of music; knowing how music starts and ends; knowing about breaks, tempos, beats per minute ... all of that is understood by professionals.

Having the correct gear is important as well. We understand everyone has a budget and we work with people on what they need, what they are looking for and what they can spend.

Q: What are the current trends in wedding music?

A: Usually people want to hear the most current music of whatever style they prefer, be it top 40, hip hop, dance, country, or whatever type of party they want. Because of the different ages of their guests, they also want to hear a great mixture of other music as well. We bring literally thousands and thousands of songs covering the major genres of music, and a lot of specialty music as well. There really are no trends at this time. It seem like things are all over the board, but with a professional doing your music, that should not be a problem.

Q: What are some unique requests you’ve received for wedding music?

A: The different ethnic music is always fun; some of it is in a different language so I have no idea what they are singing or saying. But the dances are great! You get to see the history of the people and the enjoyment on their faces.

When people want to sing, that can also be “special.” Some people have great voices. We have had some professional recording artists singing at weddings and receptions and they have been outstanding. Then there are other people who try their best, let’s leave it at that. People have done skits and choreographed dances, too. We will assist in any way we can with just about anything.

Q: Describe a favorite wedding music moment.

A: I absolutely love it when I see the groom singing to his bride during their first dance as husband and wife! The way they look at each other when he sings to her is what fairy tales are made of.

I did a wedding a few years ago and the groom and I had something special planned for his bride. I started off playing what she thought was their planned song, when from out of their guests a men’s choral group stood up and started walking to the floor singing. I had the groom miked up and he started singing the lead vocal. She had no idea this was his special gift to her, and just about everybody had tears flowing down their cheeks. I love romance!