'Tenby Observer Wedding Planner' - Ask the expert - DJ
The name Steve Briers is synonymous with the music world in South Pembrokeshire - and indeed beyond! He has been a DJ for over 30 years and has gained a vast amount of experience of working with different audiences for many varied events, from weddings and family celebrations to children’s parties and black tie corporate functions.
“No two weddings are the same, and a good DJ needs to know what is happening with his audience at any given time through the night, and play the right music at the right time for the variety of musical tastes in the same room, as well as having a good knowledge of current chart and dance music trends to programme in with all the classics from previous decades!” says Steve.
Here he shares with us some of his expert knowledge and advice.
What advice would you give couples looking to book a DJ?
I would recommend any couples looking to book a DJ, to do a bit of homework, and book a DJ based on recommendations and reputation firstly, and price secondly, as anyone can buy some equipment and call themselves a DJ, and practise their craft at the expense of your wedding or function, but not necessarily do the job professionally or properly! They need to look for reliability, as well as experience, because the night party is the perfect end to a perfect day and the wrong choice of DJ will certainly taint those happy memories at the very least and you cannot afford to have regrets after the event, as some couples have had with entertainment horror stories. If your budget will stretch to a good band as well, the right band will certainly be a good enhancement to the evening, but a good DJ is still absolutely essential to fill in between and complement the band’s set and the wrong choice of ‘band fill in,’ i.e. the band playing music through their PA system, or offering to ‘do a bit of a disco,’ could prove disastrous! Another thing that couples tend to have low on their list of priorities until near the date is timings. An early wedding at, say, midday will give everyone the chance to enjoy the day and make the most of everything without rushing. If the wedding is late, then by the time they finish at the church, complete all the photo options, get to the venue, enjoy the wedding breakfast and speeches, turn the room around, it can spill over into the time allocated for the night party. Perfect timings for the night party are, DJ start at 7.30/8 pm with background music, food at around 8.15 pm, first dance at around 9 pm, then lights down and crank it up, party time!
What type of equipment do you use and do you also have your own lighting?
I do pride myself on the superior quality of my PA sound system which provides a clean sound at low or high volume, as well as having a PA big enough or small enough to cater for any size venue. My lighting rig contains a superb blend and variety of LED effects, moving head, cluster and animated laser lighting that is not ‘in your face,’ but is very effective and creates a lovely atmosphere and can be tailored to suit any size venue. Thanks to the continued evolvement of my light show, I have purchased a new Text Projection Laser System which enables me to customise my show to your wedding by enabling me to project your name, i.e. ‘Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Thomas’, or any personalised messages onto any wall or ceiling as a scrolling graphic in colourful red, green and blue lasers, plus many colour washes using a mix of these colours from my LED uplighters. This simply enhances the atmosphere at your wedding, though I primarily pride myself on the choice of music that I play to give you and your guests the best night possible.
How long in advance should couples book their DJ?
Once a couple has decided on the date and confirmed with the vicar or registrar, they should book their DJ, as well as all the other associated specialist businesses like venue, photographer, etc, as soon as possible, so that they are in control of the date, rather than the date controlling them. Therefore, they can book one year or two years in advance, which is not a problem. Once the decision is made, then there is no point in waiting. Everything can be ‘nailed’ in just a few hours, taking away a lot of stress that can be associated with organising a wedding. Again, though, just remember that the right choice of specialist wedding service providers is vital for peace of mind throughout the process.
How many songs do you recommend couples choose for their play list?
I recommend that couples request as few songs as possible for their play list, as it’s best to leave it to the DJ to do what he does best, so that the list doesn’t control the night rather than the DJ’s skill and experience. However, it’s great if a couple make a personal list of say 20 songs that they would like played at some point through the night, then the DJ can programme them in at the appropriate time to enhance the flow of the music and to keep the dance floor as full as possible.
What are popular first dance songs?
There are many popular and brilliant first dance songs like Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,’ Lonestar’s ‘Amazed’ and Take That’s ‘Greatest Day,’ but it’s all about personal choice and a couple may have a song that is ‘their song.’ The most important thing is that they make the effort to have a first dance or even a ‘shuffle in a clinch’ so their guests can take that all-important first dance photo, before the DJ invites everyone onto the floor to join the happy couple and get the party going. We got married last year and our first dance song was Extreme - ‘More Than Words’. Awesome tune!
What’s the most memorable wedding you have been the DJ at?
To be honest, most weddings create their own memories and they all have different elements that create those memories and my head is full of those memorable wedding parties, too numerous to mention without me writing a book. Now there’s a thought!
You have recently got married to Linda, can you tell us about your wedding theme and party entertainment?
Our wedding theme was ‘music’, not a bad theme for a DJ and two lovers of music. Our table centrepieces were 12-inch records named after bands with a colour in their name, like Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, etc. We had props of old 78 records and an old gramophone, as well as other music artefacts.
For our wedding entertainment, we had a variety of entertainers, starting with Linda’s daughter Emma Stubbs and a guitarist friend of ours, Mr. John Rodge, who wrote a special guitar/saxophone composition of Bruno Mars’s ‘Amazing’ and played it live for us while we signed the register.
Whilst the photographer was capturing our happy memories, we engaged the mind-blowing services of Luke Jugglestruck to entertain our guests with his own brand of mirth and magic. The brilliant John Rodge was also performing for our guests playing classical guitar music throughout the necessary ‘photography process.’
We had Paul Reggie singing and playing guitar straight after the wedding breakfast and before the evening party, much to the delight of everyone as he filled in a gap that can sometimes be quite boring for wedding guests whilst the room was rearranged and the band set up for the evening party.
The evening entertainment was provided by the excellent eight-piece soul and swing band, Symphony Sid and The Swing Kings, with our friend, DJ Rob Mayhew, providing the disco music in between the band’s sets and to finish off the night too.
What recommendations would you have from your wedding for couples?
My advice and tips to any brides-to-be would be to plan and consider all the timings of your day, get married early so that you maximise the day and are not trying to squeeze everything into the late afternoon and evening. Plan and book things early and be in control of your date, rather than letting the date control you, so that you can have who and what you want before they get booked up elsewhere. Do your homework and research wedding services before you book them. Personal experience and word of mouth references are really important considerations. Listen to advice and opinions about your wedding, take on-board the advice friends and family may give, but remember, it’s your wedding and do things the way you want to, make it your day and put your personal stamp on it, because there is no right or wrong way to plan a wedding, only your way.