Wedding DJMany 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 are some things to consider while you make your music choice:

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 ProductionsMary 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.

Contact: Mary Ann Ross
Website: http://www.maprodj.com
Phone and Email: (586)-362-3584   ma@maprodj.com

 

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
Website: http://elysiumexp.com
Phone- (586)-203-8575
Email – Nicholas@elysiumexp.com
Address: 20504 Hall Road Clinton Township, MI 48038

 

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
Website: e3detroit.com
Phone: (734)-620-1159
Email: derek@e3detroit.com