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Reception Seating Planning...

posted Oct 8, 2015, 10:36 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Oct 8, 2015, 10:43 PM ]

In a previous post I detailed how important the setting plan is to the success of the dance floor. Following from a recent experience I felt compelled to mention this again...PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...don't sit elderly guests right next to the DJ.

At a recent Brisbane wedding an entire table of elderly parents & grandparents were seated right in front of me. I play an acoustic set for dinner - just live guitar and vocals at very low volume so your guests can  eat and talk - still I was too loud for this table. They asked me to turn it down which I did immediately, then they asked again and yet again - I had my left speaker volume set on 1...you had to stand directly  in front of it to hear it at all. This was a large room with 70 or 80 guests all talking...with the volume set as I had it nobody on the far end of the room could hear a note.

I knew I had a problem when one of the guests approached me at 4pm while I was setting up and said "I hope you're not going to be too loud"...not a good way to kick off a party! He also made comment about how he did not like  flashing lights.

There was a table of younger guests that later proved to be the "party table" who were seated all the way across the room from me. That is the table you want next to the dance floor...they were the ones dancing and making requests later on!

I do not believe in ear-splitting volume because it's not necessary however to get a crowd up and dancing there does need to be a decent volume on the floor otherwise you might as well plug in an iPod and save yourself some money.

Paul
Wedding Music Queensland


WMQ featured on Easy Weddings "Real Weddings"

posted Jan 20, 2015, 4:54 AM by Paul Clairs

 Last November I had the pleasure of providing all the music for Daniela & Brad's wedding at Mantra on Salt. Today they had their wedding featured in "Real Weddings" on Easy Weddings I am so humbled that a couple would make special mention of my contribution to their awesome day!

Check out the feature here:

Reception Seating Plan

posted Sep 21, 2014, 4:33 PM by Paul Clairs

Today I thought I would talk a little about your reception seating plan...what has this got to do  with music?...it is critical to the musical flow of your evening that some thought is given to who sits where...the single biggest mistake people make when doing a seating plan is sitting the older guests such a Nana & Pop next to the DJ. 

You know which table is going to be the party table - put those guys next to the dance floor and let Nana  enjoy her night without putting cotton wool in her ears! 

Warning: Science Content - As we grow older it is common to lose the higher end of our hearing frequencies. Turn down the treble on your iPod and you will get the idea - because of this loud music will get muddled with background noise and speech making it very frustrating to concentrate on a conversation if there is a loud music in your ears. People often think "Nana won't care she's half deaf anyway" - exactly that is why it matters even more to sit here away from the floor.

Give some thought to which guests are more likely to be up dancing later on and get them close to the floor. In the most common reception set up where to dance floor is at one end of the room I can set up so there is good volume on the floor but the guests at the far end of the room can talk without going deaf - the end result is your guests leave with a satisfying musical experience from the dance floor fillers to the folks who want to enjoy their night catching up with old family and friends.

Happy Planning
Paul Clairs - Wedding Music Queensland

Helpful Advice When Booking Your Entertainment

posted May 8, 2014, 5:26 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Nov 1, 2014, 6:45 PM ]

I have been doing this for a very long time. Over the years I have seen and heard things that would blow your mind when it comes to dodgy operators in the wedding industry. As recently as just last week I was made aware of a Brisbane "DJ" who turns up to your wedding with an iPod...that's it...an iPod and a couple of cheap speakers - for the biggest event of your life!

On the bayside of Brisbane (where I am based) there is a guitarist/DJ who not only copied all my pricing and package deals but made an exact copy of my FAQ page (word for word) and placed it on his website...a short phone call to him and it was removed but he still uses my tagline "Invite Paul To Your wedding"...he  changed it to "Invite Me To Your Wedding" but it's still very poor form.

I thought it might be helpful to some couples to offer some advice on what to look for when booking your entertainment.

  • Make Sure Your DJ is Licensed - it is illegal to play recorded music in a public venue without a P.P.C.A license. If a P.P.C.A rep happens to do a spot check of your venue and your DJ is unlicensed the DJ can be shut down.
  • Equipment - make sure your DJ/Musician is forthcoming with what equipment they are going to use. All my sound gear & lighting is listed HERE for all to see. It is also a good idea to ask if they carry a back up system - if they have a system failure what is their plan?
  • Testimonials - Any pro or semi-pro DJ/Muso will have countless testimonials on their website and facebook page - if there is 2 or 3 testimonials and they claim to have been in the business for years be very afraid!
  • Ask for photos of their set up -this is the biggest event you will probably ever plan. It is costing you thousands of dollars. If your DJ turns up with Crazy Clarks flashing lights on top of a black milk crate it is a pretty good sign of what is to come.
  • Do your homework - see if the supplier has reciprocal links - if other suppliers recommend them that is a good sign. The people listed on my links page are professionals that I have worked with. I know how good they are or  I wouldn't recommend them.
  • Ask what time they would arrive at your venue to set up - some DJ's proudly boast they turn up 1 hour before...really?...so the bride and groom are entering the reception room at 6pm and this guy is strolling in at around 5 to start setting up - WRONG ANSWER...I arrive a minimum of 2 hours prior to the reception start time - more if I am allowed to by the venue. I need to set up my gear, sound check, set up lighting, discuss the run sheet with the venue manager...so many things to do how can it possibly be done in less than an hour?....maybe if all you have to set up is an iPod, 2 speakers and a some party lights from Crazy Clarks :)
  • I love this story - I did a wedding last year for a couple who had originally met with a a band. They went to see the band play and the set consisted of pub standards such as Rolling Stones, Jimmy Barnes, etc...pub classics...when they asked the band what music they would play during dinner they said "We play these same songs but slower"...LOL...ask for song lists or at least discuss what types of music will be played during the various parts of the evening...unless you actually want Eagle Rock played during entree...we all know what that leads to...


I hope some of this information is helpful to you as you wade through the minefield of DJ's and musos out there.

Paul Clairs

Wedding Music Queensland

Reception Music Choices

posted Apr 14, 2014, 9:11 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Apr 14, 2014, 9:11 PM ]

A year or so ago I met a wonderful couple who booked me for their wedding. They were mad country music fans and wanted their reception have a live music "country" feel to it. I put together playlists based on their favorite artists and songs and even purchased a cool black country style shirt to fit in with the theme.

I kicked off with some quiet acoustic tunes during dinner to set the mood - some Keith Urban, Garth brooks etc as per their wishes. After the bridal waltz I invited all guests up to the floor to kick off the dancing...about halfway through the 2nd song it was painfully obvious that the bride and groom were the only people in the room that liked country music!...I quickly changed tack...some Rolling Stones, Creedence, Van Morrison and I had the floor full and the party was back on track...the lesson in all of this is to think about your guests tastes also...you may love Country Music or Techno or Death Metal....but is that going to get 100 of your friends and family in party mood?

One of the best tricks of the trade is to ask for party song requests on your invitations...this is becoming more and more popular -  and for good reason. What better way to get a party started than with a list of 60 tunes that you know for a fact someone in the room is going to love!

I know some people reading this are probably thinking..."Hang on it's my wedding I will get the musician/DJ to play whatever I want"...and you are absolutely right...just keep in mind your tastes may not be in perfect sync with everyone in the room.


Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland


Venue Supplied Sound Systems

posted Dec 11, 2013, 7:22 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Dec 11, 2013, 7:22 PM ]

I often get asked about my policy regarding venue supplied sound systems.
My policy states that I supply all my own sound gear and I carry a complete spare of that system in my car.

I won't use venue supplied sound systems.

Why?...There are several venues in the south-east that have built in systems and DJ's must plug into these - no exceptions.
There a many reasons for this but mostly it is for control of volume. They either have decibel levels they must adhere to or they have had too many cowboy DJ's blow the walls down despite requests to turn it down.

I set my policy after playing a sporting club function in Brisbane around 2 years ago. The venue insisted on the use of their in-house system so I had no choice. On the afternoon of the function I arrived and was given some very basic instruction in the use of their mixing desk (one I had never seen before) then told the amplifiers were in a secure room and I had no access to them. I was not allowed to adjust any volumes or touch anything other than the desk.

About 5 songs into my DJ set all the roof speakers died leaving me with only sub woofers - this meant the sound was muddy and bassy and the volume was significantly decreased. The venue called the technician who found the main power amp had blown a circuit and he subsequently re-set it and left. In the meantime the dance floor was empty because the music was not loud enough to dance.

20 minutes later this happened again. The tech turned up (not happy) and accused me of touching his amps - I had not left the DJ booth so this was impossible of course.

To cut a very long story (and night) short...this happened on and off all evening. A few days later the client called me and explained that the venue tried to blame me for interfering with their system and I should give them a refund not the venue.

I don't use in-house systems anymore.

Electronic equipment always has the possibility of deciding not to work on any given day regardless of how well maintained it is.
The difference between a pro DJ and an  amateur is how they handle a system shut down.

In the unlikely event of a system malfunction I have my spare system in the car and I would be up and running again in around 5 -10 minutes. In fact if space allows I actually have my spare system right there with me hidden under my DJ booth for quick access.

Several years ago I purchased a brand new set of speakers (in fact I got 4 of them) the next day I set 2 of them up at a ceremony location and waited for the bride to arrive. 10 minutes before she was due to arrive I noticed my volume had dropped - I did a quick check and one of the brand new speakers had died!...I had a spare right there, plugged it in and not a single guest even noticed - it's how a situation like this should be dealt with...Quietly and effectively.

An inexperienced and unprepared DJ will come and find you and say "My amp just died so I'm going home...have a great night"...you won't have any trouble hearing what he just said due to the deafening silence on the dance floor!

It's good to check with your venue about their in-house system policy if you have any concerns.


Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland


Paul's Top 10

posted Oct 21, 2013, 9:38 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Oct 21, 2013, 9:38 PM ]

I recently read a Blog on a popular wedding website that listed the Top 10 dance floor fillers as rated by some of the best music suppliers in the country. Some of the songs had me scratching my head thinking "Wow if I played that at a Brisbane wedding I would have 30 angry girls throwing drinks at me" so here is my list of Top 10 DJ tunes and Top 10 live tunes that after 25 years of gigs have proved themselves as floor fillers:

Top 10 DJ Tunes - Although music comes down personal taste this list very, very rarely fails to get people up.

1. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
2. Dynamite - Taio Cruz
3. Blame It On The Boogie - Jackson 5
4. Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim, Mya version
5. Celebration - Kool & The Gang
6. Raise Your Glass - Pink
7. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO (mashed up with Sexy And I Know It)
8. Good Feeling - Flo Rida
9. I Got A Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
10. Time Warp - Rocky Horror - (as overplayed as this song is it stills works almost every time - I only play it by request however)

Honourable mention: I have found there to be 2 types of crowd - Nutbush Crowds or NO Nutbush Crowds. If your crowd is in the 1st group it can be so much fun when 50 people get up on the floor and try to stay in sync. If your crowd is in the 2nd group God help the DJ who plays this song :)...another by request only tune!


Top 10 Live Tunes - When I play live gigs (just me and my guitar) the song itself is the key not the beat. If people want to dance they find their own beat. With live music it's all about the song and getting people singing along.

1. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
2. Twist & Shout - The Beatles (throw in a verse of "La Bamba" for fun as the chord structure is identical)
3. Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel
4.  Roadhouse Blues - The Doors
5. Proud Mary - Tina Turner version
6. Steal My Kisses - Ben Harper
7. Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
8. I'm A Believer - The Monkees
9. Throw Your Arms Around Me - Hunters & Collectors
10.Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond

Honourable mention: As with Nutbush your crowd is either a Khe Sahn crowd or a NO Khe Sahn crowd - let the guests decide but it can be fun to see 20 guys screaming about the "Last Plane Out Of Sydney" at the top of their lungs.

Here is the thing - a wedding dance floor ebbs and flows: meaning it can be packed for 45 minutes then gets quieter for a while (this is when I can throw in the slower requests) It's OK for your guests to go and grab a drink and come back when the mood hits them.

Don't stress about the floor not being full for 3 hours solid. Let Nana dance to an Elvis song, let your jive dancing uncle and aunty do their thing to Bill Haley & the Comets, let your Mum & Dad dance to their wedding song - let your little niece hear One Direction...the wedding dance floor should be about ALL the guests having fun, yelling out requests and laughing loudly...let it happen.

See you on the floor
Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland

Music For Your Bouquet Toss

posted Oct 8, 2013, 11:19 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Oct 8, 2013, 11:19 PM ]

Music plays such a big role in every wedding it can be daunting trying to choose songs for all the various parts of the day and night.

I often get frustrated brides email me asking about a song for the bouquet toss...of course Beyonce solved this for most girls when she released "All the Single Ladies" back in 2008 (even though the song is actually about a girl who goes clubbing after a break up and sees her ex there and tells him if he liked it he should have put a ring on it)

Here's what I suggest: Think of a song that has a significance with you and your girlfriends. Perhaps it has a humorous connection with your friends or maybe a song that always gets you all out on the floor when you are at a club. Think fun, up-tempo...something that will be sure to get a reaction from the girls!

...and if you don't have a lot of single friends left don't worry - do the bouquet toss with all the female guests. Get Mum & Nana up there with you - have a blast!

Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland



Pre Reception Drinks

posted Sep 16, 2013, 11:09 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Sep 16, 2013, 11:09 PM ]

Have you given any thought to entertainment for your guests during pre reception drinks?
While you and your new spouse are off getting photos taken how about some live music?

My acoustic pre reception drinks option is perfect for this part of your day - a few groovy tunes at a nice volume so your friends and family can chat before they head into the reception room.

This option is available on my $350 Ceremony & Drinks package and my $695 Reception & Drinks package.

Click on the tabs to the left of my site for more info...




All Good Things Must Come To An End...

posted Jul 21, 2013, 10:11 PM by Paul Clairs   [ updated Jul 21, 2013, 10:11 PM ]

Sad as it is your wonderful day will draw to a close at some point...so how should you end your reception?

There are many options. Some couples choose to just quietly exit with no fuss, some choose to drive off in a blaze of fireworks (yes I have seen that), the human arch is an old popular tradition but the most requested ending that I personally love is the goodbye circle.

Your wedding day goes by so fast and there is so much going on that couples often don't get time to have more than  five minutes with some of their guests. The goodbye circle gives you an opportunity to say thank you to every guest personally.

Around 15 minutes before last drinks we gather all the guests on the dance floor and form a circle - the couple then makes their way around the circle saying thank you and taking a moment to enjoy the company of everyone one last time, then they head out the door amid a huge cheer and off to start their lives together.

Song choice is important too at this point. You need at least three songs to take up the time spent in the circle. Some couples go for fun, up tempo tunes (after all these are the last three songs of the night) and some go for a more mellow mood so they can chat to their guests.

At one recent wedding I played the ceremony processional song last - so the day started and ended with the same beautiful song making a perfect bookend.

Paul Clairs
Wedding Music Queensland

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