The Vegan Groom Speaks up!
I confess that I’ve been feeling selfish lately. Turns out that I have some really great wedding vendor info that I’ve been just sitting on, so I’m sharing it with you for your benefit, and to ease my conscious!
I’m going tell you all about one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time (besides the obvious VERY best decision of marrying Candy Tolentino, The Vegan Bride!). Simply put, it was choosing Phil Birdsell as our wedding DJ.
About two months before the big day Candy and I were on a scouting mission at a local bridal fair when we first met Phil Birdsell. We weren’t there looking for a DJ - we were just looking for DIY ideas – but, as will soon be elaborated upon, Phil Birdsell seemed to sense our needs. My “first 3 second” assessment of Phil was that he was friendly, really really into his craft, and very professional. The remainder of my experiences with Phil only confirmed my initial assessment. The reason we weren’t looking for a DJ was because we had decided that in the interest of staying on budget that we probably needed to just throw a bunch of songs on the iPod and call it a Day. I’m REALLY glad now that we didn’t stick to our initial plan, because I’m afraid we might have end up calling it a Bad Day.
We met with Phil about six weeks prior to the wedding and talked about what we were hoping for in our event. Phil was extremely organized, and was intent on understanding all of the ideas, nuances, and preferences that we had for our event. He wanted to bring to life our our music, not just play his music. He wanted to deliver exactly what was in our mind, not what was convenient for him to deliver. For example, Phil asked us not only what the different genres of music what we wanted to have played during the different parts of our cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing, but he also asked us to give him any specific songs that we wanted so that he could make sure to include the. And the Vegan Bride does lover her music! I don’t think Phil realized that he was going to get such a long and obscure list of old-school rap and R&B songs when he asked that question! Candy came up with a list of songs that people hadn’t heard for years. Guess what? Phil already had most of these songs and the ones they didn’t have he went out and found just for our event!
We were impressed with Phil’s preparation and organization for sure, but because this was my first wedding celebration, it still wasn’t obvious to me how important of a role the DJ plays in the pacing and cohesiveness of an event like this. Turns out that having a great DJ is EVERYTHING! Especially for our celebration. You see, as our wedding day approached, we found ourselves SO behind we didn’t have time for a proper final meeting with Phil to carefully go through our timeline again, along with all the rest of our wants, needs, and details for the evening. This wasn’t completely bad though, because it provided a wonderful opportunity for us to see the true talent Phil Birdsell has. We basically gave Phil by a VERY rough timeline for the evening along with a quick note that said “Phil at this point we are so behind all we can say is that we’re glad we can trust your professionalism and know that you will pull this off for us and we apologize profusely”. And pull it off he did! From the announcements made to help direct our guests from location to location within the building to the announcements of the evening’s entertainment, to the introduction of the bride and the groom, etc., Phil was on point to make the evening a seamless experience for us and our guests. The guests had NO idea that our event and entertainment program was not carefully planned and well rehearsed! Can you imagine if they could tell? Phil basically turned what could have been a mediocre arrangement of tradition and entertainment into a wonderful, seamless, and enjoyable event for us and our guests.
Based on our experiences, I cannot recommend strongly enough to work with a professional, and to NEVER work with a recreational DJ. If your DJ has a day job, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Go with a professional, someone who DJs for a living. Phil Birdsell is a professional DJ. His livelihood is at stake, along with his reputation, at every single event that he does. And Phil takes his job very seriously. He loves what he does, and he does what he loves. I felt that our wedding was the most important job that Phil Birdselll ever did or would ever do, and I have every reason to believe that each of his clients feels the same way. He’s NOT a guy with some sound equipment you can rent by the hour, rather he is a consummate professional that will bring an element of style at to your event you would otherwise not have.
To drive this point home further, let me digress for one moment… As you may know our wedding celebration took place at two separate venues – the ceremony at one, and the reception/dinner at the other. Because of the short amount of time between events (the guests were transported between the venues on a chartered bus) we elected it to have Phil join us for the reception portion of our event only, to allow him adequate time for setup sound checks, etc. So for the ceremony, we hired a guy from craigslist with some speakers who was willing to push the play button for the CD that we created with selections for our ceremony. This was an BAD choice. It turns out that I forgot the CD of classical prelude music in the limo which caused about a 20 minute delay in getting it to the sound guy. So in the meantime, as our first guests begin to arrive it to be seated, they got to enjoy popular Elvis hits. Now this would have been fantastic, if our event was being held at Graceland, but it was not. It was in a beautiful garden setting that begged for equally beautiful, soothing, and romantic music. Now I know that I can be a bit demanding at times, but when you’re an advertised “DJ” who has agreed to provide and operate the sound equipment for a wedding ceremony, is it possible that a backup CD with a couple of standard wedding ceremony classics might be a good thing to consider bringing? In the words of the Vegan Bride, “is it me?!” Now, in case you missed the point of this story, let me summarize it for you here. If we had used a professional DJ for the ceremony, as we arguably should have, then I (the Vegan Groom) would not have been up mixing my own CD of music for the wedding ceremony at five in the morning the night before the biggest day of my life and our guests could have heard exactly what we wanted them to be greeted with.
You should also know that in addition to being a professional DJ Phil Birdsell is also an accomplished entertainer. Since we trusted Phil, we gave him carte blanche to sprinkle any impressions jokes or any other elements of entertainment over the event in keeping with our our theme and our agenda. Now some people with big egos might have abused this and turned our event to showcase of their own talents, but not Phil, not in any way. He knew exactly what and when to add to fill the slow spots and to enhance the bright spots of our evening.
As a final note, in good conscious I must leave you with a warning. There is one major downside to having Phil Birdsell as your DJ, and I’ll explain by way of example. I recently attended a friend’s wedding and found his DJ to be so awful in comparison to Phil that it distracted me from being in the moment with my friend. Their DJ did not even seem to know how to use his own equipment (the sound levels were WAY too loud causing distortion and muffling making it very hard to understand the DJ, the musicians, the toasts, etc.). I also found the other DJ to be shockingly rude and annoying toward the guests. What a shame! So, as long as you’re okay with your event DJ (a.k.a. Phil Birdsell) setting a standard of excellence that may cause you to be annoyed with other people’s DJs, then with a clear conscious, I enthusiastically recommend Phil Birdsell for your next event or wedding. And even if going to busted parties is not your thing, I STILL recommend Phil Birdsell for your own event. Just don’t forget to take your Prozac before going to every OTHER event for the rest of your life!