Last week, I introduced you to Andy Booth, one half of the team at Jeremy Ganss Productions. This week, Andy is giving us a behind the scenes look at what his life really looks like when he has a wedding to DJ. I'll be honest…even I was shocked by this one! I have worked with Andy many times before and even hired him to entertain at my own wedding…but I had NO IDEA about the amount of work and attention to detail that went into his job. If you think all a DJ does is make a playlist on an iPod, you are dead wrong, my friend. Andy works his tail off. No wonder he has a reputation for being one of Pittsburgh's best wedding DJs! Here is what a typical work day looks like for him…
My wedding on June 20 was at The Pennsylvanian in downtown Pittsburgh. It is a converted grand old train station and a historical landmark. It is beautiful, big, and full of marble and glass. It starts out as an empty space, and a great team of vendors turns it into a beautiful ballroom. While there are acoustical challenges that come along with the space, my business partner, Jeremy Ganss, and I have figured them out, and I approach a wedding there with confidence. As the groom told me after this wedding, “You were right about the sound…it was amazing!”
Since June 19, 2014, when the bride and groom signed a contract with Jeremy Ganss Productions for me to entertain at their wedding, I’ve been in regular contact with them. In the interest of keeping this post relatively short(er), I will skip ahead to May 2015, when planning started in earnest:
Monday, May 11
Meet with bride and groom after work to review timeline, details, and to chat about the reception. Looking to clearly understand “vibe” the couple is looking to achieve.
Tuesday, June 16
Exchange Facebook messages and emails with Jean Ross of Opening Night Catering regarding timelines and event flow. Compile event “cheat sheet/time line” and share with other vendors.
Wednesday, June 17
Test 20 uplights and dial-in the bride's desired color. Charge uplights. Update firmware on Bose equipment. Verify and listen to all “event” songs on bride's timeline.
Thursday, June 18
Download this week's music files from POOL (DJ subscription service) and listen to key new songs. Last minute email to the bride to confirm an open item and briefly review flow.
Friday, June 19
Chill time…usually a movie with my wife. This week, we stayed in, as my youngest daughter was leaving at 3 a.m. Saturday for a mission trip to Coast Rica. Celebrate Fathers Day, since both of my girls will be out of the country on Sunday!
Saturday, June 20/Wedding Day!
10 a.m. – Rise and shine (late for me, but see note above about 3 a.m. departure)
10:30 a.m. – After coffee and breakfast, start checking and moving music to performance computer.
11 a.m. – All new music transferred to Mac, time to build the playlists! Playlist 1 contains “event” song choices. Playlist 2 contains Must Plays. Playlist 3 is a special dinner list. The Must Play list was too long for the amount of time, so several slower songs were mixed into the dinner mix.
Noon – Put lights back on charger so they are fully charged for the reception.
12:30 p.m. – Lunch break. Salad and Gatorade. Staying hydrated on a humid day like today is critical!
1 p.m. – Pack lights, gather forms, computer, hard drives, etc.
1:30 p.m. – Load the car.
2 p.m. – Iron shirt and suit and hang in car (so I don’t forget them!).
2:30 p.m. – Shower.
3 p.m. – Leave for The Pennsylvanian.
3:15 p.m. – Quick stop at a convenience store to stock up on Vitamin Water!
3:45 p.m. – Arrive at The Pennsylvanian and start to unload.
4 p.m. – All equipment now inside, car parked, time to get going on setup.
4:05 p.m. – Greet and chat with Jean Ross of Opening Night Catering.
4:15 p.m. – Set 16 lights around perimeter of room, on pillars. Test wireless connection to lights. Double check angle, position, consistency of color. Since this was my first uplighting event at The Pennsylvanian, I went into Santa Claus mode—making a list and checking it twice. VERY happy with the results.
5 p.m. – Now on to the audio setup. Set up and sound check four Bose L1 systems around the room. Two are hard wired into my main box, and two are wireless, placed on the perimeter of the room.
5:25 p.m. – Happy with the sound and the lights, time to change into my suit (with Batman socks!).
5:30 p.m. – Reception begins with cocktails under the Rotunda outside. A string quartet was performing, which meant no need for a sound system there for cocktail music. Although, the system was in my car, ready for quick setup, if something went wrong with the quartet.
5:45 p.m. – Meet videographer and review timeline and plans and talk about audio feed. Set up and test feed from my mixer into his system. He’s happy, so I’m happy!
6 p.m. – Check lights again, now that house lights are down. Check audio again, just because…
6:15 p.m. – Greet groom as he enters the room in search of the restroom. Chat, get his opinion on the lights (which he loved, but deferred to the bride) and point him in the right direction.
6:30 p.m. – Greet the bride as she comes into the room and sees it for the first time. She loved the lights, “Just what I was looking for!” Chat with bride and her dad, and review timeline with dad, since he’ll give a welcome toast and blessing.
6:45 p.m. – Doors open. Guests filter into the main hall from the Rotunda.
7 p.m. – Gather parents and meet bridal party under the Rotunda. Give instructions for intros—where to go, when to perform their dance moves, what to do once they get to the dance floor. Review pronunciations, titles, etc. Discover a change in the pairing of the couples and adjust my cheat sheet accordingly.
7:10 p.m. – Introductions. Announce parents first, to “Happy” by Pharrell. Next, bridal party to “Can’t Hold Us” by Mackelmore. Finally, bride and groom to “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness. A loud, rowdy welcome from the guests, which is always a good sign…
7:15 p.m. – Bride and groom’s first dance to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. Again, a loud and rowdy ovation!
7:20 p.m. – Bride and groom cut the cake to “Love You Madly” by Cake (Always LOVE that choice, by the way!)
7:25 p.m. – Bride’s dad welcomes guests and gives blessing.
7:40 p.m. – All guests served salad. Time for maid of honor and best man to toast the bride and groom.
7:55 p.m. – After a few trips around the room to check audio levels and a review of notes for post-dinner activities, I sit down with photographer and videographer for dinner in the lobby.
8:15 p.m. – I noticed that there were two extra boxed dinners, so after checking with Jean Ross (who loved the idea) I invited the Pittsburgh police officer on duty to join me for dinner. He was so happy!
8:30 p.m. – After greeting tables, bride and groom were ready to kick off dancing!
8:35 p.m. – Father/daughter dance to “Emily” by Frank Sinatra.
8:40 p.m. – Mother/son dance to “Days Like This” by Van Morrison.
8:45 p.m. – Open dance floor with “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by the King.
8:50 p.m. – The rest of the night is a blur. I remember looking at the clock on the far wall, and the next time I did so it was 10:30 p.m. Every song seemed to be someone’s favorite. The bride’s Must Play list was a hit, and she gave me permission to mix in other songs to fit in with her choices. It worked out so well, and the dance floor was packed the whole time.
10:45 p.m. – Chat with bride and groom, who just realized that the night was coming to an end. They had certain songs they wanted to have played in the last ten minutes. Finished with “And We Danced” by Mackelmore, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, and “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money.
11:02 p.m. – Last song ended. Announced after-party for the bride and groom and said goodnight to the guests.
11:15 p.m. – Walk around perimeter, turn off lights and audio, and disconnect cables and wireless.
11:30 p.m. – Chatted with bride and groom and said goodnight.
11:45 p.m. – All audio equipment packed up, wheeled to car, and loaded.
11:50 p.m. – Back into ballroom to collect and pack lights.
12:10 a.m. – Loaded lights into car. One last walk through to be sure nothing was left behind.
12:15 a.m. – Depart from The Pennsylvanian.
12:40 a.m. – Back home and ready for bed! Of course, I’m wired for sound, so I didn’t actually make it to bed until 1:45 a.m.
Sunday, June 21
Unpack car, put equipment away, and relax!
Andy, 1:45 a.m. is like 5 hours past my bedtime. Seriously, old lady right here. But I guess if I was dancing to one of your awesome playlists, I'd want to stay up into the night too 🙂 Kudos to you on all of your hard work and success! And thanks for giving us a backstage pass to a day in your life as a wedding DJ! Special thanks to Leeann Marie, Wedding Photographers for these recent photos of Andy hard at work during a rehearsal dinner. The man never stops.