Ask the Wedding Experts
New York magazine|New York Magazine Weddings Winter 2016
Ask the Wedding Experts

The DJ

“Sure, you can play two or three songs that have a special meaning to you as a couple, but the majority of the playlist should be about keeping the party going.” - JAKISSA TAYLOR-SEMPLE, DJ Kiss

You and your husband, DJ M.O.S., are both DJs. Do you trade advice? When one of us tries out a song and it works, we’ll share it with each other. Recently, I came home from a wedding and was like, “Hubby, you have to incorporate Usher’s ‘Caught Up’ into your set!” Turns out it’s one of those gems people haven’t heard in a while and go crazy for.

What was it like DJ-ing for George Lucas and Mellody Hobson’s wedding? I had to follow Prince, who of course performed an amazing 30-song set. After Prince, you can’t exactly put on Ariana Grande. I stuck to classics that translated across generations, like “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. I was super-nervous, but then I saw Mellody on the dance floor, glowing, and I felt like I was doing my job.

What types of weddings tend to be the most challenging? It’s a cool challenge when couples want to incorporate very different types of music. I did a New York wedding with a black groom and an Indian bride, and I had to mix together current songs with hip-hop and Bollywood-style music. I’d play some traditional Indian songs, then transition with something like “Beware of the Boys” featuring Jay Z, which samples that Punjabi sound. If you and your partner are from different cultures, I’d definitely recommend meeting with the DJ ahead of time; the more they know about your backgrounds the better.

Any other DJ-scouting advice? Go out and see them on a Saturday night. That way, you can watch a DJ in action, get a sense of their sound, and basically audition them without them even knowing. It’s important to look for someone who’s feeding off the crowd and not only concerned with what they want to play, since weddings are not the place for a DJ to showboat. Ask for their business card; odds are that even if a DJ doesn’t specialize in weddings, they’ll be down to spin at a reception.

What advice do you have for couples working on playlist suggestions for their DJ? That, yes, your wedding is about you, but just like the food and the décor, it’s also about pleasing your guests. I once DJ-ed for a bride and groom in Red Hook where the guy was really into these obscure indie artists. I told him I was happy to play whatever he liked, but that if I played the list he gave me, the dance floor would clear out. If you spin only songs that are too cool for school, that people don’t know the words to, your little cousin and grandma are not going to be into it. - Arianna Davis

PRO TIP

“I get playlist inspiration from djcity.com—especially now that every time a new song drops, there are 30 remixes to consider along with it. The site is an industry standard, but it’s also good for brides and grooms picking their songs.”

The Dress Dealer

“I started collecting vintage gowns from flea markets, and then I realized there were a lot of Brooklyn girls like me who wanted these for their weddings.” - DIANA LEAHY founder of Freeheart Project

So you sell wedding dresses out of your Greenpoint apartment? Yes, the Freeheart Project started as an e-shop, but we sell mostly vintage dresses. The biggest obstacle with vintage is fit, so I recently started taking appointments in my home. People were always telling me they wished they could just try on dresses in their living rooms, so that’s exactly what this is. You come over, I have my racks out, and we sit down at my dining table to chat about what you’re looking for. I use my second bedroom for the dressing room,and my living room is a big open space with lots of windows, so the lighting is great.

Who’s your typical customer? I’m catering to the low-key bride— there’s a tiered lacey gown with bell sleeves from the ’70s, a mock-neck linen gown with a long train from the ’60s, an off-the-shoulder embroidered column gown from the ’90s. My customers are indie magazine editors and musicians; they love vintage because it’s unique, and there’s the whole mystery of who wore the dress before them. To make them even more unique, I’ll dip-dye the gown or veil for you. And then there are the prices—of the 30 or so I carry, many are under $300.

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New York Magazine Weddings Winter 2016