If you’re a Bride or Groom and your Wedding is Outdoors , and the DJ is hired to provide the Music/Sound, and you don’t want to ruin your wedding and kill the DJ… You MUST READ THIS! I’m no Don McLean, but let me tell you about the “Day The Music Died” for me at a wedding.
I’ve been a wedding DJ in Los Angeles for many years now, our company has performed thousands of wedding ceremonies and receptions, most of them being outdoors, and 99% of them have been flawless…but what happened to me recently during the Wedding Ceremony Procession of the Bride was a First, and I pray hopefully a LAST. I feel compelled to share it with you so you won’t allow this to happen at your wedding (or your next wedding if you’re a DJ)!
I was DJing at a venue where our company is the Preferred List of DJs, and I’ve personally performed almost 100 weddings at this property. The Ceremonies are always held in the same spot, in a grove of beautiful Trees, right here in Sunny Southern California. Ceremony Prelude music always starts at 4pm, the sun is high in the sky and it’s July…but fear not, those Trees provide shade! Usually!! But, Not this year. Something is going on with the weather in case you haven’t noticed…the drought in California is BAD, the winters here (yes we have them) are much warmer and drier than usual, and as a result, those amazing Trees decided they didn’t want to fill out this season. With few leaves, those tress aren’t providing a lot of shade for anyone, least of all, the poor old DJ with his expensive, yet sensitive electronics.
So, there I sit, playing 30 minutes of Prelude music (recordings of The Vitamin String Quartet check them out!!!) as the guests find their seats. It’s not more than 80 degrees out, but the sun is shining down on my Mackie sound mixer, my QSC powered speaker which has a built in fan and it’s running at top speed, my wireless microphone unit, and my iPad which is providing the tunes. I’ve used an iPad for Wedding Ceremonies since early 2014 and they’re great, super convenient and lightweight. But what I’m about to tell you has me wondering if this is always such a good idea.
The Procession of the Family and Groom and Groomsmen began…the song was “Marry Me” by Train. Next, the Bridesmaids walked down to “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Ingrid Michaelson…and when the Maid of Honor took her position, I looked down at my iPad to switch to the Bride’s Entrance song “A Thousand Years” instrumental version by Vitamin String Quartet…and the Screen had gone BLACK! I pressed the “home” button and got an error message, the iPad had overheated and shut itself off!! The guests have been asked to stand, the Bride is waiting to hear her music…SILENCE! I went into full panic mode.
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m anal about being overly prepared for everything I do, especially when it comes to DJing a wedding. On this occasion, I had my backup Macbook Pro in a bag, under the Ceremony table…the laptop was powered On but asleep, iTunes was opened already…so I scrambled, grabbed the laptop and opened it, opened the playlist I had created for this particular wedding, Unplugged the audio cable from the iPad and plugged it into the laptop, and pressed Play! The song began and the Bride made her entrance! This all happened in the course of about 30-45 seconds…the longest seconds of my life, mind you, but preparedness saved the day. No one was the wiser, and no one ever mentioned it to me…but I knew and now, you know.
I’ve never had an iPad overheat, but I have seen my iPhone overheat in direct sunlight. I just didn’t expect this to happen, considering the air temperature wasn’t that hot. Boy am I glad I had that laptop with me. I would suggest to any DJ out there, if you know you’ll be in the direct sunlight, do yourself a favor…have a backup plan in place and have it ready to go, not in the bag under the table like I did, not only with your music source, but also with your speakers. If you use 1 powered speaker, it may be best to have 2 plugged in, and only one running, if it get’s too hot and shuts down, it’s simple to turn on speaker number 2 and get sound going within seconds. Turn off the overheated speaker and try to get in in a cooler spot, under the table or something. You will thank me later.
If you’re a Bride or Groom or Wedding Planner, ask the venue about Direct Sunlight and the Placement of the DJ and tell them you would like to provide an Umbrella for the DJ to avoid this problem at your event. I can’t stress this enough…the DJ can’t always fit an umbrella or pop up tent in his/her vehicle…and you’re renting tables and chairs and everything else, what’s one Umbrella to save the music from dying on your most special day? Remember, Electronics are sensitive to heat…and it can’t be the fault or responsibility of the DJ if he/she is put into direct sunlight and the gear fails. It can happen to anyone, no matter how expensive your gear is. Get it in the shade! This goes for the Reception as well…keep the gear cool, and your party will be hot with the sound of music all night long!
No one could’ve predicted those trees not having many leaves this season, it certainly isn’t anyone’s fault. But, I learned my lesson, if I’m forced to be in direct sunlight no matter where I work, the iPad will serve as the backup, and the laptop with built in fan will be the main source of music. I’ll also ask for an umbrella!
DJs, you can never be too prepared, even after 15 years, I’m constantly learning…but I’ve always known, you can’t re-do someone’s wedding…get it right the first time. If you don’t have the money to buy 2 laptops, or 2 music devices and multiple backups of your sound equipment, you don’t need to be a wedding DJ!
Brides and Grooms, ask your DJ about their Backup Plan…make certain they have a solid one in place, get them a cover for their gear, and all will be well in the world, the music lives to see another day. Happy Planning and Best Wishes everyone…oh yeah, and stay Cool!