What Wedding Vendors do I Need

What Wedding Vendors do I Need

Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of the team.   So how do you determine what wedding vendors you need?  

Most couples will have the following “core”members in addition to their venue:

Wedding Vendors You Need


Wedding Officiant 

A very important vendor, especially if your ceremony is NOT going to be at a religious institution.  Some couples opt to have family or friends take on this role, but it is also a professional position.  


If your venue does not offer catering, you will need to hire an off-site catering company for food beverage services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you can hire, others don’t have any restrictions. 

Music (ceremony and reception) 

Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJ when they think about music, but don’t forget the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide this service, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!


This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!


If you are doing your own flowers, please remember these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is already a busy time with final appointments and wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  


Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

Hair & Makeup 

Most brides choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will go (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

Stationer (invites and other paper products) 

What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

What Wedding Vendors are “Optional” 

Wedding planner 

I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly believe that having a professional wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  

Many of our full service clients hire us AFTER booking their venue, and are locked into pricing that may work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

”Day Of” coordinator

While nothing beats the personal attention that you get from a full service planner, I highly recommend you have at least a “Day Of Coordinator”.   The name is deceiving though, as no professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute things seemlessly.  

Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two before the wedding.  They will go through the details and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  

I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

Note on Venue Coordinators-

Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators.  Do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day.  They will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.

          Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  


I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand this, there’s nothing like hearing your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversary.  Hiring a professional videographer is an investment, but please do give it some consideration.


This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  Many times, however, the ceremony and reception are in different locations, or maybe you want to take photos at on offsite location.  In this case, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  Additionally, if you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  


This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates, lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  


If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge difference.  Dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common,  butchat with your lighting company about additional options.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact on the event design.

Photo booth 

While the traditional booths are still popular, there are now many other alternatives to consider.  This includes “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

Now that we’ve discussed WHAT wedding vendors you need, take a look at this post to learn more about how to hire your wedding vendors!


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Hiring your Wedding Vendors

Hiring your Wedding Vendors

How to Hire your Wedding Vendors 

Hiring your wedding vendors is one of the most important things you will do for your wedding.  Here are some tips to hiring your wedding vendors, but make sure to check out this post for a more thorough review! 

Every event is different, but most couples will find that they need: 

  •      Caterer/Venue
  •      Musician
  •      Photographer
  •      Videographer
  •      Florist
  •      Planner
  •      Hair & Makeup
  •      Transportation

Prior to meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to take a look at these tips so you know what to expect during vendor meetings.

1.)   Know, Embrace, and Stick to Your Wedding Budget

Before you hire your wedding vendors, PLEASE make sure you know what is budgeted for that category.  I’d hate for you to meet with and fall in love with a photographer, just to find out they are out of your budget.  Request pricing information via email or a phone call first, and only set up appointments with those in your price range.  

2.)   What is Your Wedding Style?

Do you want a photojournalistic photographer, or someone with a more traditional style?  Are you picturing a rustic chic look, versus something with a bit more bling?

Figuring out what your wedding style is will help you narrow down what vendors might be a good fit for you.  While you don’t need to know every single detail, it’s important to have an idea of your likes and dislikes at this stage.  

The importance of this will vary depending on the vendor, of course.  But start pulling together some inspiration images for each category, Pinterest is an amazing resource for this!  Floral images for florists,  photography shots for photographer meetings, and even wedding song lists for entertainers.  Having an idea of your wedding style before your first meetings with vendors will be very helpful! 

3.)   Do Your Research on wedding professionals

Doing your research about a potential vendor prior to meeting with them is important. This will give you a general idea of what services the vendor provides, and what you can expect from them. Research prior to meeting with your vendor allows you to see the possible package offers that the vendor provides (and the prices!).

I also highly recommend you look at vendors online reviews.  Sites like WeddingWire and The Knot are the most popular, most vendors will have reviews posted there.  

4.)   Come with Questions Ready

You’ve already done your research.  You’re only going to set up meetings with vendors that are in your budget and compliment your style.  The next step in hiring your wedding vendors is the actual meetings!

Most vendors are used to holding consultations in person, over the phone, or with a service like Skype or Zoom.  There is typically not a charge for these first meetings, it’s just a part of the inquiry process.  

Make sure to come to your initial consultation prepared, but don’t feel like it’s a formal job interview.  Think of it more like meeting a new friend for coffee or a cocktail!  

Have a list ready, you can find some great questions to ask wedding vendors here.  Also be ready to take notes, you’ll want to remember the details after you’ve met with several vendors.  

5.)   Listen to your gut

Don’t feel pressured to sign anything at the initial meeting.  It won’t be uncommon for you to want to go home and talk about the options afterwards.  No vendor should make you feel pressured to sign a contract on-sight.  

Don’t be afraid to ask your potential vendor for referrals, especially if they don’t have many reviews online.  

Finally, there is an emotional component involved when choosing your vendors.  Therefore, if you do not seem to click with them, that’s okay!  

On the otherhand, you might feel that strong connection at that first meeting,  and sign the paperwork right then.  Because you’ve already done your research, you know they are already a great fit for you, and the meeting can be just a formality.  

*A quick side note of caution that I would pass along to all of my clients.  Pricing for many wedding services will vary greatly.  Though it can be tempting to be attracted to a good deal, keep in mind that phrase “is it too good to be true”?  Cutting corners by hiring a cheap vendor can often result in a less than desirable end product or service.

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Wedding Entertainment – 7 Tips for Hiring your DJ or Band

Wedding Entertainment – 7 Tips for Hiring your DJ or Band

Your wedding entertainment will set the tone for your reception, so it’s a very important decision in your wedding planning journey!  We have all been to a wedding with a horribly cheesy DJ or band, nothing could be worse!  No worries, we’re here to help you avoid some common mistakes couples make prior to even meeting with potential entertainers. 

Derek Rafferty of E3 Detroits Dan Rafferty Band shares some key steps to take before hiring your wedding entertainment! 

7 Tips for Hiring your Wedding DJ or Band

01 | Decide what components your wedding will include

02 | Build a short list of potential providers

03 | Be sure each provider includes everything you want

04 | Think about the “experience” you want

05 | Make sure you know exactly who you’re working with

06 | Go see your band/dj perform live and get to know them

07 | Make sure they work well with your other vendors

Still trying to figure out if you’re more of a DJ or Band couple?  Check out this post here  where we explore the pros and cons for both! 

Questions to Ask your Wedding Vendors

Questions to Ask your Wedding Vendors

Meeting with potential vendors can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure what to ask outside of how much their services cost.  Here are some suggested questions that you’ll want to make sure to ask vendors as you are interviewing them:



  1. How do you create your wedding ceremonies?
  2. Do you attend the rehearsal?  
  3. Will you help us write our vows?  
  4. Will we meet in person to create the ceremony? 
  5. Do you have samples of religious and or non-religious readings, vows and symbolic ceremonies?  
  6. What is required to secure your services?  When is the final balance due? 


Caterer (if not provided through venue)

  1. Have you had events at our venue?
  2. Are you a licensed caterer? Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
  3. Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event? 
  4. Do you offer event packages or is everything à la carte? What exactly do your packages include?
  5. Does the pricing include plates, flatware, glassware, etc.?  Is this disposible?
  6. Does the price include gratuities for the staff?  
  7. Can you accommodate dietary restrictions, such as kosher, vegan, etc.?
  8. How much do you charge for children’s meals? Vendor meals?
  9. Would we order our additional rental items through you? (Chairs, tables, linens, etc as needed)
  10. Will you provide a banquet manager to coordinate the meal service portion of the event?
  11. Do you provide servers through the end of the night to take care of bussing the tables and taking out the trash?
  12. Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders? Can you accommodate specialty cocktails?
  13. Is coffee and tea service included with the per-person meal charge? What brands of each do you offer and do they include decaf and herbal tea options?
  14. Do you provide ice, water, and all mixers for the beverage service?
  15. How much time do you require for setting up and breaking down my event, and are there extra fees for this?
  16. Are there any fees that won’t be included in the proposal that we should be aware of? Ex. cake cutting, corkage fees, overtime hours, etc.


Music (ceremony and reception)

  1. Have you had events at our venue before? 
  2. How long have you been in business? 
  3. What is your pricing? Does this include setup and breakdown between ceremony and reception locations
  4. If the event lasts longer than scheduled, what are the overtime charges?
  5. Do you carry liability insurance? NOTE: This usually only applies to production companies that also supply lighting, effects, etc.
  6. How extensive is your music library or song list? What genres can you cover? Can I give you a specific list of songs I want or don’t want played?
  7. Are we guaranteed to have the DJ or perfomer(s) of our choice at our event? 
  8. Can you provide wireless mics for the ceremony?
  9. Does any of your equipment require special electrical outlets that I need to inform my wedding site about?
  10. What kind of space or stage do you require for the DJ or band?  Do you require a riser to be rented? 
  11. How much time will you need for setup, sound check and breakdown on the day of the event?
  12. What music will be provided during the breaks (for band only)? 



  1. Have you ever shot at our venue before? 
  2. How long have you been in business?
  3. How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?
  4. How would you describe your photography/videography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)? 
  5. What makes your work different from other photographers/videographers?
  6. Do you have a portfolio I can review? Is all of the work yours, and is it recent?
  7. Can I give you a list of specific shots we would like?
  8. Are you the photographer/videographer who will be at my wedding? Would we have second shooter or assistant?  
  9. Do you have backup equipment? What about a backup plan if you (or my scheduled shooter) are unable to shoot my wedding for some reason?
  10. What packages do you offer? Can I customize a package based on my needs? Do you include engagement sessions in your packages?
  11. Does this include any physical prints or albums? 
  12. When and how will we recieve the images/video after the weddding? 
  13. For video, what is the end product, and how long can I expect it to be? 
  14. For video, can I get the raw footage of the ceremony, toasts, etc? 



  1. Have you done events at my ceremony and reception location(s) before? If not, are you familiar with the sites?
  2. How long have you been in business?
  3. How many weddings have you done?
  4. How many other weddings or events will you schedule on the same day?
  5. Can you work with my budget?
  6. What recommendations can you give me to maximize my budget?
  7. Do you offer specific packages or is everything customized?
  8. What flowers are in season during our wedding?  What would you recommend that works with our style and budget? 
  9. Can you provide any other accessories we might need like table numbers, card boxes, seating charts, etc? 
  10. Can I see photos of weddings similar to what we are looking for?
  11. Do you provide mockups of our flowers before the wedding? Is there an additional cost for this? 
  12. Do you set up and tear down all of our floral decor?  Is there an extra cost for this? 



  1. Are you a licensed baker? (your venue may require this)
  2. How are your cakes priced?  Are you able to work within our budget, or do you have a minimum order? 
  3. What flavors do you offer?  How many do you recommend we pick based on the size of cake we’re looking for?
  4. How many wedding cakes do you make in a weekend? 
  5. What are the fees for delivering the cake? 
  6. Do you have cake toppers, a knife and server, and/or cake stands to rent? What are the fees?
  7. How far in advance should I order my cake? 
  8. How much is the deposit and when is it due? When is the final payment due?
  9. Do you offer tastings? Is there a charge?


Hair & Makeup

  1. Would you come to us at the hotel/venue, or do we come to the salon?
  2. Do you have a minumum for the number of booked services?
  3. Can you provide lashes? Airbrushing? 
  4. How early would we need to beging to be completed on time? 
  5. Do you offer hair and makeup trials?  What is the cost?  
  6. Can you accomadate last minute add ons, if necessary?
  7. How should my wedding party prepare for services (wet vs. dry hair,  clean vs. dirty, etc)?
  8. When are final payments due?  Is gratuity included? 


Stationer (invites and other paper products)

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What is your design background? 
  3. How do you create your products (template vs. custom)? 
  4. Is your printing done in-house or do you outsource it? 
  5. If they do custom invitations, what are my options for paper type, colors, ink and fonts? 
  6. Can you help us with the proper wording for the invites? 
  7. Do you offer caligraphy?  If not, can you print guest and return addresses for u? 
  8. If we need other products like place cards, programs, menue, etc, can we order those to match? 
  9. How long will it take to get my invitations in, once ordered? 
  10. Do you assemble and mail my invitations?  
  11. Will I recieve a proof before ordering the invitations? 
  12. Can I order samples before submitting the larger order? 


 Wedding Planners

  1. Have you worked at our venue(s) before?  If so, can you provide any feedback?  
  2. How long have you been in business?  What made you decide to be a planner?
  3. How many weddings do you do a year?  Are the all Full Service? Or another level of planning help?
  4. What different services do you offer?  
  5. Would you be our planner on the wedding day, or would we have a different coordinator? 
  6. Are you a member of any event industry groups? 
  7. What are some challenges you’ve had come up on wedding days, and how did you handle them? 
  8. Would our wedding be your only one for that day/weekend?
  9. Is event planning your full time job? 
  10. Would you have any assistance with you on our wedding day?  
  11. Are you onsite through the end of the event? If not, how long would you be onsite for? 
  12. Would we recieve and discounts through working with your vendor recommendations? 
  13. Do you make a commission on any rentals/orders that go through you? 
  14. If we hire you for Day Of or Partial Planning services, can you still recommend vendors for us? 
  15. What is included in your different packages? 
  16. Do you help run the wedding ceremony?  How about the rehearsal?  


  1. Do you have vehicles of the appropriate size available for us on our date? 
  2. What is the cost for the vehicle we’re looking at? Are we able to split up rental hours? 
  3. Does this include champagne and/or a “Just Married” sign? 
  4. Is gratuity included? 
  5. Are we limited to the number of stops or locations within our rental time? 
  6. Can we bring food and beverages (alcohol and non-alcoholic) on board with us? 
  7. How are the vehicles licensed and maintained? Will AC/and AV be guarenteed to work?
  8. What happens if our vehicle has maintenance issues on the day of our wedding?  

Rentals (linens, chairs, lounge furniture, etc)

  1. What style of product do you have available for our date?
  2. Are you familiar with our venue and the load in/load out process? 
  3. Do you have liability insurance that you can provide our venue, if required? 
  4. Will you be able to deliver/pick up the items in the allowable time? (Some venues have very strict set up and tear down times that might result in additional fees from the rental company to staff properly, or overtime charges from the venue)
  5. Are there added delivery fees or charges for our venue? (It’s not unusal to see added fees if the venue has a challenging set up like no elevator access, or an elevator that is not suitable for their use.) 
  6. If our count is lower than predicited, are we still charged for the quoted amount? 
  7. If our count is higher than predicted, are we able to add to the quoted amount?
  8. When do you need final counts before the wedding? 





Wedding Entertainment – Band vs. DJ

Wedding Entertainment – Band vs. DJ

Wedding DJMany couples have the debate of wedding band vs DJ during the first stage 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, sharing a bit of their “behind the scenes” takes on music on a wedding day!


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 – 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