Gig Rewind: Traversing December’s White-Wedding Whiteout Storm

Getting Booked & Logistics

I originally picked up this wedding via word of mouth, the bride to be knew me from events I had previously done at the corp we both worked for. Our first meet up over coffee would be two and a half months ahead of wedding to flesh out my usual questionnaire I fill out with each client. She agreed to my rate on the spot and sent over a deposit a few days later, shortly after I provided a recap of the meeting with our remaining follow-up tasks outlined. Three months would pass as the wedding approached so we met up one last time to tie up loose ends a week ahead of the event.

Gig Prep: Coordination & Track Prep

It was an afternoon wedding with an 11:30 procession so I had to be there by 10 am. I give myself 90 minutes to setup for weddings, two full hours if I have uplighting. This particular venue was a 40 minute drive to be made worse by forecasted snow. I threw as much non-electronics gear into my car as possible since it would be dropping to 20 degrees F, I wanted no chance of malfunctioning equipment. I budgeted a full 90 minutes for the drive and another 90 minutes to get showered and packed in the morning. The last thing I ever want is to be rushed, or god forbid late to a wedding.

Game Day: Arctic Adventure

That morning I loaded up the mics, backup controller, flight case, backpack and speakers. Unfortunately it snowed more than expected and was showing no sign of letting up, clearing snow off the car ate an extra ten minutes before I even had a chance to load any gear. Despite my first round of delays I was still tracking well, my buffer time was already coming in handy.

Ten minutes into my drive I realize the trip is going to take at least 50% longer. Worse than that, some hills were so bad that I hardly made it up two of them! I may not even make it let alone be on time. I’ve never had an issue in the snow with my hatchback but the condition of some of these roads were nail-biting to say the least. My first big hill I made up, but just barely. I had slowed to a crawl as I lost more and more traction, moving just 10-15 mph as I peaked over the edge with a line of cars building up behind me. The next one I made sure to get a running start, first pulling over so there would be no cars ahead of me to break my momentum. Luckily I made it.

The Setup

It was 9:30 by the time I got there, perfect. A whole two hours of setup time! Unloading actually wasn’t too bad. There was an awning available to pull under so I could keep out of the elements. Unfortunately at one point I stepped into a big snow pile and got my socks wet. Foreseeing this as a distinct possibility as I first loaded my car I threw an extra pair in my bag just in case though I ended up not needing them with how busy the rest of my day was. Usually I bring an extra button down for summer gigs in the event I sweat excessively but that obviously wouldn’t be necessary today.

Now, a day or two before the wedding I had found out the ceremony rehearsal would be an hour before the wedding. I made sure I had sound up and running by then in the event I was needed but it was actually held somewhere else. I clearly wasn’t missed as no one reached out to ensure I was there, not that I would have been of much use since I was only playing one/two tracks anyway. Either way, I’ll be adding an explicit confirmation to my client questionnaire to ask about rehearsal if I’m involved with the procession.

Basic audio setup was done by 10:15 with the finishing touches taking another 30 minutes giving me 45 to spare. Around this time the bride’s planner came up and gave me the envelope containing my balance. Shortly after I began realizing I wasn’t 100% sure if the procession music would be just one song. I was 95% positive, but you better bet your ass that procession is perfect otherwise it’ll be your ass! Despite making it look like I might not have my shit together I got confirmation from the bride.

Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Hiccups

Thankfully the ceremony went off without a hitch. Cocktail hour would not be my usual as the reception area was walled off with curtains. This required me to blast music to the bar area 100 yards away, not only did this muffle the music but also prevented me from seeing the guests and getting a read of how things were going. I found this out once the ceremony was over.. *sadness*.

After folks were shuffling into the reception area and getting ready for the wedding party intro, I once again found myself only 95% of the best man’s name. Our original plan had me announcing just names, couple by couple, but as things usually go things changed. Not only was I to announce titles but the actual roster of the wedding party itself was adjusted as they were lining up for their entrance. Lesson: Get titles with wedding party names ahead of time, even if you don’t think you need them.

Dance-floor Gymnastics & Script Flips

My intro went well enough, usually my most nerve-wracking part of running a wedding being not used to MCing. The bride jump started the dance-floor by coaxing people on, though they were very reluctant. I could tell this would be a more difficult than usual gig given the reaction. I had them going for a few disco tracks but suddenly the floor cleared as soon as I went into a non-recognizable 70s song, despite staying with the genre and keeping the vibe consistent. Being how artificially the dance-floor began this made sense. They weren’t really ‘into’ it to begin with, like they were looking for a reason to leave regardless of the momentum I had created.

Unfortunately, Traktor also became crackly about two hours into my set again. Had to whip out my phone for a bridge track to restart the program. There was some silence as it took me ~5 seconds to realize which button I had to hit to activate the RCA input. This wasn’t really a big deal, dinner was being served and both tracks were low volume anyway. After restarting though I had lost Traktor’s ‘played state’, I wouldn’t be able to tell what I already played. I knew this would happen so before closing I sorted by played tracks within my setlist and added them to a separate playlist then deleted them from the original, problem solved.

Cutting of the cake became more of a thing, shortly after dinner the groom asked to pair it with singing happy birthday (being that it was the brides birthday) and topping it off with a spontaneous speech. This cleared the dance floor for a good while, though, this wasn’t exactly a raging dancing group to begin with. This interruption was also exacerbated by the the bride not rolling right in to her son’s special dance following the cake cutting as originally discussed. No matter, one thing I’ve learned is that the more changes you handle the more appreciative the couple when you brush them off unfazed.

Client Feedback

Despite everything the bride and groom expressed sincere heartfelt gratitude for a great time as they caught me on my way out. The bride came over the top, thanking me getting there so early despite the snow. Later that week she graciously wrote up some feedback for me over email. She loved the 90’s throwback gems that initially got the dancefloor moving, really appreciated me braving the storm so early and gave compliments on my coordination. She did point out though wanting more of a heads up in regards to how much of each genre I would play; I had asked her to provide song suggestions which led to some unintended assumptions.

Overall she gave me a 7/8 out of 10 and “would definitely recommend you.”

Takeaways:
* Have first dances after dinner to jump-start the dance-floor.
* Have in writing all titles and relations of wedding party ahead of time.
* Confirm procession music is all one song or will switch over- write it down!
* Inform couple(s) who have special dances that they can give me a nod and I can fade out.
* Will cocktail hour be in same location as reception? This will indicate a potential need for a satellite setup.
* Confirm if I’m required for rehearsal if procession music is involved.