By DJ Cam Reeve
I’ve had the opportunity to take part in a few surprises at weddings throughout my time as a DJ but the surprise I witnessed recently has to be one of the most unique I’ve ever seen. Not only did the bride surprise the groom with a musical number, the groom also surprised the bride with the same thing! Wedding surprises like this can be something truly exciting and emotional but they sometimes require a lot of leg work in the background to make things happen. Today, we’ll talk about how this bride and groom pulled off this epic double surprise and I’ll share some tips on making sure any planned surprises at your wedding are a success.
Let’s set the stage. A few months back I got a call from a potential bride by the name of Julia. She mentioned to me that she was a “Swifty,” and I have to tell you that our phone call was one I will never forget. I remember talking for maybe 15 minutes but in those fifteen minutes the vendor relationship just clicked. She shared with me some of her love for music and her dance floor vision. She also shared her love for her fiance and his family. At the time of this call, I had no idea that both of their families would play such an important role in how the day would turn out and the surprises they planned for one another!
One thing that stood out to me in our first conversation was her love for the vendors she had chosen, including the venue. She had booked the Castle at Wadley Farms (a personal favorite of mine) and had hired vendors like Branson Maxwell Photography and Lilly & Iris for floral. All of these were vendors I love working and collaborating with. Now, together we had assembled a swifty, a castle fairytale wedding, and an incredible team - it sounded like a wedding I wanted to be a part of! We finished our conversation and - no surprise at all - right away the contract was signed and the deposit was paid.
With that completed I sent Julia my wedding music guide and a few other things to get her started in planning for the big day. This included a link for getting information to me through an online portal. For Julia’s wedding I was going to be a part of their full day, from the start of the ceremony to the end of the reception. For a DJ like myself, a 7-hour wedding day, from the start of the ceremony to the end of the reception, means the amount of hours spent equals out to about 27 hours total! This includes phone calls with couples, music prep/studio practice, phone calls with wedding planners, gear prep, travel & performance etc.
Three weeks before the wedding they completed their wedding music guide and I went to work organizing my library with their music. Julia chose some incredible music for her wedding that was both elegant and fresh. Some of those tracks included, O Mio Babbino Caro, The Swan, Dawn, Air On A G String, Moon River, I See The Light and many more classical songs.
In our final meeting, Julia & Marshall didn’t mention anything about wedding day surprises - obviously they weren’t looking to share with the other what was going on. It wasn’t until I spoke with the wedding planner that I found out about their planned surprises! This turned out to be a great learning moment and teaching point, and really served as the whole genesis of this article. If you are thinking about doing any surprises on your big day, the best way to go about things is just like what Julia & Marshall did the weddiing - tell your wedding planner. This makes it so much easier to coordinate everything and make sure it happens flawlessly.
At this wedding, Julia was going to surprise Marshall by singing a song to him accompanied by her brother on the guitar. Unbeknownst to her, that same brother was also involved in a full-on band that included Marshall’s friend, his brother, and Julia’s other brothers. Talk about a double surprise!
Now if I was not told about these surprises before the wedding, I would not have been able to bring the right gear to make all of this happen. We also would not have been able to do a sound check for each surprise, while keeping both a secret from the other and coordinating the times to make it happen. This was no simple task - any of my sound or artist friends reading this can understand what I’m saying from an audio perspective! Because they told the wedding planner, who then told me, I was able to coordinate a time to find out their needs and make it happen flawlessly. You have no idea how fun it was to be a part of these surprises!
So when did we incorporate these surprises into the wedding? Well Julia is the bride and it was only fitting that she would go first, so Julia surprised Marshall by singing after right after toasts. The room was captivated and Marshall was straight-up in shock when it happened. Now, as you might be aware, whenever a few instruments are involved there is some setup time required. To keep the element of surprise for Marshall’s large group, we did cake cutting right after Julia’s number, coordinating the wedding party to make a circle around Julia and Marshall to block the line of sight to the staging area. Meanwhile, the group plugged in their instruments and I setup all the required microphones! I’m happy to report that it worked! Julia and her brother sang a few songs and then Marshall and the entire group joined them.
There have been a few moments in my career when I’ve felt like time slowed down and I had the impression I was in the right place at the right time. When Marshall and the group were performing, I had one of those moments! I am repeatedly honored to be a part of incredible weddings like this one and I am glad Julia & Marshall shared their ideas with their wedding planner. Little details like this, combined with a planner who was on top of everything, kept everyone informed and helped us all make it happen!
If you are looking to surprise people at your wedding, make sure it’s not a complete surprise to your vendors on the day of the wedding. Most of the time, things can’t “just happen,” especially when it comes to band or anything involving music. Unfortunately, I’ve had times where someone did not tell me there was a surprise, I did not have the exact song they needed, and we were at venues that do not have service or internet. However, with a little planning, we can still keep the element of surprise while also coordinating the timeline and gear to make it all happen. Julia and Marshall kept their planner in the loop and, being the awesome person that she is, she relayed that information to me. For an even greater chance of a flawless surprise, you can speak directly to all the vendors involved. All of this so that, in the moment, it feels almost like a story.
I love working with couples who are creating memories and showing who they are in their wedding day schedule and events. If you care about the details and want to have a DJ who can help with those details, I would love to work with you. You can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my contact form.