DJS 4 YOU 2 – GREG HOOVER
Our company has been serving the Chicago land area for 20+ years.
I would say that it wasn’t a dream in the 3rd grade to be an entertainer. I found some fun in playing music for large groups of people when I was a teenager, spinning vinyl on turntables with a group of friends. I was working at a bar in high school, when karaoke hit the scene. I was so interested in this new form of entertainment that I started working for a DJ company that provided karaoke. That same company needed people to handle weddings and so it was a natural progression. I spent most of my life managing restaurants and Dj’ing and a few years back, turned my “side job” of DJ’ing weddings into my full time. I have done over 50 events a year for the past 12 years. Being a DJ is just the perfect fit for my personality. I get to mix my silly side with my professional skills and the result is someone who loves what they do and (at least from my reviews) does a halfway decent job at it as well.
THE FAVORITE PART
Easily the introductions of the bride and groom after cocktail hour. Couples don’t know it while planning, but there are two moments in the day, that are “we made it” moments. The first is when you turn around after being pronounced husband and wife at your ceremony and the other is when you walk into that dinner hour and all your friends and family are hooting and hollering to show their excitement. I like to bring the energy to this particular event, which also sets the tone for the rest of the evening
WORKING WITH MEYER BALLROOM & PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Well this is a 2 part question so I will give a 2 part answer. The Paramount is one of my favorite venues in Chicago. I’m a movie and theater type of person so being in this classic old fashioned theater for ceremonies, cocktail hour and dinner really let’s you spend time in the entire facility. As a guest, you spend the first half hour in the theater for a ceremony, then you go to the old box office area for your cocktails followed by 4 hours of dinner and dancing in the new entrance/atrium. It’s gorgeous and unique while moving people around which keeps the blood flowing and makes for a great party.
The Meyer Ballroom has a beautiful place in the front entrance for a ceremony. I love the open space in the main ballroom and the windows help enhance that. Your guests can mingle outside by the river or hang out at the bar which is close to the dance floor. Both of these places are tough for load in and out, in comparison to many of the other venues in Chicago. That doesn’t even bother us as a company because every time we work there, the hospitality is off the charts. If I get that as a vendor, I can only imagine how the guests feel
USING A PRO
This is a great question. I guess to break down the other options, it may help fully answer the question.
Live Band: While hiring a live band can be a great idea, live bands tend to charge more. Remember, these are entertainers (like DJ’s) who really only have 2 weekend days and about 45 non holiday weekends to make their money for the year. It’s pretty normal for each musician in a group to want to make $1000, so you can see how that can get very expensive depending on the size of the group. Hiring a band has 2 other drawbacks. 1 They usually do not MC and provide wireless mics for speeches or ceremony, so you need to hire a DJ both for equipment and to make your announcements and keep the day moving along. Also, bands tend to play a song that is normally 3 minutes and play it for 8 minutes with drum solos and such you get extended entertainment, but usually less dancing. This means you get less songs and less variety of songs. As a side note, they also take breaks so you will need a DJ during that time to keep the energy flowing.
An iPod and some speakers: We have had a ton of clients call us about renting speakers so they can hook up an iPod. iPods don’t read the crowd, they don’t do announcements and they will cause someone (usually the bride or groom because they made this decision) to have to man the iPod all night. It’s very hard to pre-plan a wedding playlist because who knows the groups of people who may be on the dance floor at any given time. It may be cost effective for very small group, but I wouldn’t expect a ton of dancing with this method. You also would not have some of the other things that a DJ brings like microphones and dance floor lighting.
A “non professional” DJ: I hear all the time that someone’s uncle or friend has sound equipment and he is going to “take care of everything”. If this is not what people do for a living, or AT LEAST has done over 20 weddings recently, then they are not going to get the most out of your big day. Again, usually this is cost effective, but when you spend as much money on one day, as most people do, why would you skimp out on the one service that truly will make or break the success of your day? Not to mention, is the equipment reliable and do they actually have all the equipment that you need? Wireless mics? A secondary ceremony set-up? Surround speakers for a large group? Back up equipment? Back up DJ’s?
Hiring a “Pro” is important in anything you do. People all know that, but they also know the risk of not hiring a professional. You my get results that reflect their level of professionalism, and I don’t think risking that on such an important and expensive day, is worth it.
THE UNIQUE TOUCHES
I have done just a ton of unique things for clients, from mixing their first dance song or father/daughter song to mixing songs to honor parents or loved ones. I love doing events during the night like “the shoe game” or “the anniversary dance (with my own twist)”. I have had a bunch of things that clients have asked me to do like entrances in the old Bulls theme or putting dollar amounts on “do not play” songs to raise money for the honeymoon fund. I’m always up for new ideas and happy to make visions a reality. Couples are so lucky today to have sites like Pinterest and YouTube to fish ides from. I can say that with their instruction, we can pull off just about anything they dream of.
Well here is another tough question because I never DJ along side of another company, so I don’t know EXACTLY what I do better (or worse). I don’t even get to attend family weddings and see other DJ’s because I am typically working my own events. From my reviews, what I read about is that my client’s guests talk about their weddings for long after the day. The dance floor is always packed and I was very organized both in planning and while running the event like a coordinator.
In my heart, it would be hard to think of anyone who loves what they do as much as I do, or that cares about the end result as much as I do. They may be tied, but I don’t think they can surpass my feelings in these two areas.
I have so much advice for couples but here are my top few:
- Your wedding day is not really for you! Ha Ha, I know, I know but think about it…Your wedding is a success if your guests leave with smiles and are tired from dancing all night. They will talk about your day for years to come if they have a great time AND, you can trust me that if they are having a great time, you will be as well. Keep this in mind while making playlists or “Do not play” lists.
- If you don’t have a planner, recruit some of your friends, or siblings to help clean up at the end of the night. It’s always sad to me when everyone is gone and the bride and groom are the last people there cleaning up. Those people around you love you and they are going to ask what they can do, during the whole process. Giving this task out will make them feel like they have helped and will help you to get in your ride after the event and off to do what newly married couples do.
- Enjoy the moments: The group of people that under the roof at your wedding is specific to your two families. You will most likely never have that group under the same roof again. Take a moment to stand on the side and take it all in. Appreciate all the family and friends that have put their lives on hold for a day, to help you celebrate.
- Let Go! Once your wedding day starts, you can no longer plan and the cards are going to fall where they may. Don’t get stressed if the cake topper falls and breaks or the bar forgets to bring in Tito’s for your day. These things are insignificant in the big picture and the more you let roll off your shoulders, the more you and the people around you will enjoy your day. Not to mention, most the time the things that go wrong at a wedding are the most fun to laugh about in years to come.