There is so much more to wedding entertainment than just choosing a few songs and hoping for the best. Music sets the tone for the party which is such a big part of your wedding celebration and Serge of DJ:Plus! Entertainment knows all the tips and tricks to ensure that the music will have your guests rocking all night. Not only that, he has other talents – he’s an organiser, director and co-ordinator of proceedings, he’s an MC and can ensure your wedding runs smoothly, and last but not least, he cares about you as a couple and providing the best possible entertainment experience for you! And he loves, LOVE! Today Serge shares his story and thoughts on entertainment – let’s dive in shall we….
How (and why) did you get into the Entertainment business?
My love for music began when I was a child and I began DJing purely by accident in 1974 as part of my involvement in a local youth group committee, as a way to minimise costs on some of the social events we were running. This eventually led to enquiries for private parties, birthdays, engagements and then weddings.
Whilst I did spend the very early part of my DJ career doing some work for other, at the time, established operators to learn the so called “tricks of the trade”, I instinctively knew that things could be done so much better and in a way to make weddings much more distinctive, fun, tasteful and memorable.
Around a year later, I began my own DJ MC Service determined to change the perceptions and expectations of the industry, general public and couples – one wedding at a time.
What services do you provide to bridal couples?
DJ:Plus! Entertainment provides a personalised, boutique style, wedding MC/DJ service (together or individually) and wedding ceremony coverage. Of course there are lots of elements to delivering each of these and the service provided includes so much more than what couples and/or guests have become accustomed to expect from either a DJ or MC service.
Image by DJ:Plus! Entertainment
How many weddings do you book per year?
With a philosophy that focuses on quality, not quantity, a deep conviction that each wedding celebration is so extremely special, not only for the couple, but also their family and friends, and accordingly, not only deserves, but requires my full attention, I limit the amount of clients to a maximum of 40 per year.
What do you see as unique about your service?
Some of the things that I believe distinguishes DJ:Plus! Entertainment from most other similar services are:
- First and foremost, I genuinely care about my couples. I understand that their love is precious. I understand that their love is so strong that they cannot imagine life without one another. I understand the emotional and financial investment they have in their wedding day. I understand that some may have had to endure some difficulties that have really tested their relationship, yet love has prevailed. I understand how it can be such an emotional day for the parents. I understand the significance of the day, I appreciate the importance of their day, what it means to them, their family and friends. I greatly appreciate the trust they place in me and the huge responsibility that goes with it. It is all these things and more that drive me to deliver the best wedding celebration I possibly can for each and every couple.
This understanding and appreciation is backed by:
- the boutique approach, which incorporates personal attention, very detail orientated service, exceptional quality and premium entertainment.
- being a full time wedding specialist and limiting the amount of clients taken, ensures each wedding receives the true undivided attention it deserves.
- extensive pre-planning so that nothing is left to chance; I understand that the secret to a fun and successful wedding is in the pre-production work. Therefore an average of 24-35 hours is dedicated to each wedding.
- guiding & directing the flow of the wedding day so that the bride and groom can relax and fully enjoy themselves, instead of worrying.
- creative assistance to help make the wedding more engaging, meaningful and unique.
I am also a certified wedding planner and whilst I don’t offer wedding planner services as such, the knowledge gained certainly assists in providing a much better service, organising the flow and helping to relieve a lot of the couple’s stress and concerns.
What special personal qualities do you bring to your profession?
I am truly a hopeless romantic, a very passionate loyal person and someone who just loves everything about love – hence why I love weddings so much! I am also a very detail orientated individual. These personal qualities allow me to enhance what I do by allowing me to be true to the real sentiment and meaning of a wedding whilst ensuring that details, regardless of importance, have been considered, discussed and if necessary, agreements reached as to plans of action, to significantly minimise the likelihood of things going wrong or being overlooked.
What are the steps involved in booking your services? How much consultation time can you provide?
The first step involved in booking my services is to make contact by calling either of the telephone numbers or completing the form on the Contact page of the website. Once availability is established, we need to ensure that we are a good fit for each other. The best way to do this is to have an initial chat about the wedding. Most commonly, this is over the telephone or via Skype. The chat allows us to discuss the couple’s requirements, detail the inclusions, offer suggestions and allows us to gain an initial view as to suitability. If following this initial chat we both feel that DJ:Plus! Entertainment is a good fit, then a complimentary Entertainment Design Consultation is scheduled at the couple’s convenience. Alternatively, if a couple wishes, they may also book the complimentary Entertainment Design Consultation without the need for the telephone/Skype chat.
The Entertainment Design Consultation is a comprehensive process with the couple and involves getting to know them, hearing their love story, understanding their likes, dislikes and vision for the wedding, providing ideas and suggestions on how their dream wedding can be brought to reality, demonstrating how personalisation can really add to the wedding by making it more meaningful, a walk through the online planner and a sample of various unique inclusions available, but most importantly, it allows us to ensure that we truly have a match and that we “click” before making any commitment. Following this consultation, the couple takes a few days to consider everything further and make their decision. If the couple decides to proceed, a few additional details are obtained to complete the Booking Confirmation and an initial payment is required to confirm the booking and secure the date.
The initial Entertainment Design Consultation does take between 2 and 3 hours, but sometimes, to ensure that all a couple’s concerns are adequately addressed, may take a little longer. If the couple decides to proceed with my services, they have access to as much consultation time as they desire either on the telephone, Skype or face to face in the lead up to the wedding. On average (subject to lead time), couples receive somewhere between 9 and 12 hours of consultation time in the lead up to the wedding day.
How does your experience help you provide a better service?
Having been involved in various facets of the wedding industry for close to 40 years, I have certainly come across many situations which couples should avoid when organising their wedding (both entertainment and not entertainment related), made some mistakes along the way, but very importantly, I have learnt from each and every one of these situations and mistakes. These lessons have been invaluable in helping provide sound helpful advice to couples over the years so that they can not only avoid making these same mistakes, but also allows me to alleviate some of the stress and make suggestions on how their wedding can be more entertaining and full of beautiful memorable moments.
I also regularly undertake workshops; attend seminars and network with other industry professionals to ensure that there is continual inspiration, improvement to offerings and able to bring fresh and creative ideas to my couples.
How do you see professionalism playing a part in your MC duties?
Firstly let me just say that professionalism plays a large part in all aspects of services provided by DJ:Plus! Entertainment. From before the first contact right through to well after the conclusion of the wedding, to me, everything matters!
But let’s focus on the MC role. The MC at a wedding is essentially the spokesperson for the couple. Everything and anything a MC says and does reflects directly on the bride and groom. The role of the MC is to direct, inform and guide. If they are not doing these three things they should not be speaking on the microphone, yet I am certain most have been to at least one wedding where the MC just never stops talking and the wedding ends up being more about them than the bride and groom. A good MC will keep the focus on the couple and guests feeling included and connected to them and their love.
How does professionalism come into play? Can you imagine the outcome if the MC has not taken the time to get to know the couple on a personal level, learn about their family, their love story, ascertaining if there are any sensitive subjects of situations they should avoid, etc. and then says the wrong thing or upsets a family member or guest? Knowing the couple can equip an MC to make the correct decision on when and how to enhance a moment or when there is a need to move on and deflect from a potential negative situation developing – all of which will keep the reception flowing, enjoyable for all and create beautiful memories.
I also believe in and practice, restraint on the microphone, if I am able to organise an activity so that it will appear to have occurred organically, while making the participants look great in the process and subsequently not requiring any announcement at all, I will! Not everything needs a commentary, sometimes you just need to be in the moment or let that moment breathe.
Image by MM Photos
What parts of the day do you provide MC duties for?
Whether a couple engages DJ:Plus! Entertainment as their MC only, DJ/MC, DJ only or Ceremony Service there will be aspects of the overall MC duties delivered. That being said, the majority of the elements relating to the MC Service are generally provided for the reception.
What other tasks are you able to undertake as Wedding Master of Ceremonies?
In addition to welcoming guests, introducing the wedding party, facilitating the formal aspects, ceremonies and traditions of the reception (e.g. speeches, cake cutting, first dance, parent dances, bouquet toss, garter toss, farewells, etc.), the MC service is designed to also offer creative planning to incorporate ideas for guest involvement that reflects the couple’s personal style. I also assist with creating a smooth flowing agenda that keeps everyone engaged and entertained throughout the entire celebration.
As Wedding Master of Ceremonies, I also liaise and co-ordinate with relevant other suppliers, prior to the wedding day, to ensure that any concerns are addressed, resolved or compromises reached to facilitate that smooth flowing reception. On the day of the wedding, I guide and direct the flow of the reception ensuring every element and supplier is ready or in place before proceeding with any of the scheduled activities.
You have ‘Plus! Entertainment’ as part of your business name. How does this align with your MC and DJ roles?
It has always been my desire to exceed expectations in all areas of the service delivered. The service provided has always been so much more than “just a DJ” or “just an MC” service. As mentioned earlier, this stemmed from those early days of working for others, understanding the significance of a wedding and what it means to the couple, a belief that there was more to entertainment than just music or a few announcements and the reality that you only get one opportunity to deliver a couple’s dream wedding.
DJ:Plus! Entertainment was selected as the business name as it was felt to accurately represent what was being offered. How does this align with my MC and DJ roles? I believe it aligns very well; unfortunately however, a lot of what I do can’t be appreciated until the day of the wedding. I think it is probably best to leave the explanation by quoting some of my past couples, who after the wedding have stated;
“I now understand why you call yourself DJ:Plus!, the Plus is soooooo under estimated in the title.”
“There was definitely no comparison between the services offered by DJ:Plus! and others we looked at. What Serge offers is like no other DJ/MC service.”
“From the first conversation we had right through to the wedding day, you proved that you really are a DJ PLUS. So much more! We felt throughout the planning stage like our wedding was the only one you were working on!”
What criteria should a couple consider when choosing their DJ?
Booking early is important as this allows more time for adequate planning in order to achieve the couple’s dream. Couples should also ensure that their DJ Entertainer is quite clear on their likes, dislikes, fully understands their vision of their dream wedding and is able to deliver on all the aspects which are important to them. Most DJ Entertainers do many of the same things, but asking questions and finding out HOW those things are done will make it a lot clearer for couples as to whether they are dealing with a DJ that really cares and truly understands exactly what they desire or not.
Following research into potential DJs couples need to ask themselves these questions:
- Did they make them feel comfortable?
- Do we have the highest degree of confidence in them?
- Can they provide exactly what we want for our wedding?
- Will they be able to skilfully turn our wedding into the best celebration it could possibly be?
If the answer to any of these is no, it might be a good indication that maybe that DJ is not the right choice.
Given the impact that entertainment can have at a wedding – think about it for a minute, even if the food, flowers and room are not quite perfect, this will be easily overlooked if the guests have been entertained and enjoyed themselves immensely, however if the entertainment is bad, everyone will notice immediately and then even great food, lovely venue and beautiful flowers won’t help much; couples should allocate a higher priority to securing great entertainment and take as much time in selecting their DJ, MC, band, etc., as they would put into searching for and selecting their venue, photographer or florist. If necessary, they may need to allow a larger portion of their budget to secure great entertainment.
Image by Swoon Weddings
How does a couple go about choosing the music to feature?
Couples are given access to their personal online account where they will not only find a comprehensive reception planner, which allows them to select all the music for the key moments such as wedding party entry, cake cutting, first dance, any parent dances and farewells, but also a separate music selection tool which allows them to select as many or as little individual songs for background and dancing as they wish. These songs may be categorised into “Must Play”, “Play If Possible” or just as importantly, “Do Not Play”. Should they not be able to find any particular favourite track, there is a facility to enter artist and song title details, and given enough advance notice, I will source these for their wedding.
In addition, the music selection tool also allows couples to listen to samples of many of the songs, has a facility to check the lyrics of listed songs and gives them an indication of how much actual music has been selected in hours and minutes.
Should a couple have no idea of the music they would like, wish to leave it up to me or do not desire to use the online tool for other than their key moment songs, then preferred genres, favourite artists, favourite radio station, mood desired for each part of the reception (pre-dinner, guest entry, dinner, etc.) is discussed and this information is used to determine selections.
What are some of the best songs of the moment for dancing?
This is a difficult one as not a lot of the songs released in the last few months will fill the dancefloor at a wedding and to quote one of my DJ colleagues, “we are in a dance music drought” at the moment. Some of the best songs for dancing that I have found that virtually guarantee to fill the dancefloor at a wedding from the last few years are:
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now) – Bob Sinclar
What are five tips to consider when planning your wedding?
- Start With A Wedding Entertainment Specialist. Couples choose a wedding photographer, instead of a commercial photographer, right? A Club DJ or a Party DJ might be awesome for a school dance or a birthday party, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for a wedding.
- Meet With Your Potential Entertainment. An in person meeting is the best way to interview your potential Wedding Entertainment. It lets you get the full experience of their personality, style, professionalism, level of service provided and whether they actually care about your wedding as much as you do.
- Create An Entertaining Timeline. The pacing of your reception should be completely your choice. However, you should create a timeline which will not only fit your style and desires, but also maintains a flow which will result in a celebration where the guests are engaged and that is uniquely entertaining as well. A specialist wedding entertainer will be very happy to assist you in this regard.
- Have The Wedding Reflect You. The most unique part of any reception is the bride and groom. Weave your personality into the wedding as much as possible. This will give your guests the emotional experience of a wedding that is totally you.
- Remember Your Guests. It is always important not to alienate guests by selecting music that is too out of the mainstream. The music should be a balanced collection of the bride and groom’s favourite tunes, songs that speak about the relationship as well as those which will appeal to the majority of the guests.
What do you love about your job?
There are not many things to not love about my job (however those extremely difficult load-ins and load-outs is one thing that does come to mind); weddings are all about love and I just love, love! For me to be invited to play a part in one of the most significant days in a couple’s lives is the greatest of honours. This is a day when they make intimate lifelong commitments, a day that is celebrated with only their dearest family and closest friends – and I not only get to celebrate their love with them, but also have the opportunity to help create some wonderful memories!!
From meeting couples to seeing the happiness as their eyes light up when I help enhance a moment, the beautiful smiles on their faces, the tears of happiness, making a positive contribution to their wedding day and receiving those hugs at the end of it all – what is there not to love?!
I feel so very blessed to be able to do what I do.
Image by The Nook
How do you stay current with music and what is going on in your industry?
I stay up to date with current music by subscribing to an industry service which facilitates obtaining all the latest popular tracks on a monthly basis. I also follow the ARIA, iTunes and Shazam Charts and participate in several local and overseas DJ specific Facebook groups, which allows for the discovery of new music which is suitable for weddings. I also participate in various local and overseas Wedding groups, am on the executive of the DJ Alliance of Australasia (DJAA), a National Industry Association, and regular networking with DJ and wedding industry colleagues all helps keep me up to date with what is going on.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to a variety of music ranging from rock to jazz and lots of styles in between on an ongoing basis. Over the last few days, I have had a selection of Wendy Matthews and Beatles albums on high rotation.
What do you like to do on your days off?
Unfortunately, as the majority of weddings are held on the weekend and with weekdays being taken up with attending to enquiries, initial, progress or final consultations, personalised segments/activities/scripts and other preparation for upcoming weddings being completed, rehearsing, equipment maintenance, etc., there is not a lot of opportunity for many days off.
However, during the quieter times of the year when things are not as hectic, I enjoy spending time with family, catching up with friends, going on walks, seeing a live band or two and cooking.
Thank you Serge for sharing your story. With the wealth of knowledge Serge possesses about wedding entertainment, you can’t go wrong! To find out more about DJ:Plus! Entertainment visit the website.
Headshot by Diverze Photography.