Real Bride Blogger Jessica: Pump up the Jam!

Since it’s Music Monday and because I haven’t updated everyone in awhile, I’m going to share my experiences on selecting a DJ and picking music for the big day. I think the importance of picking a DJ is an often over-looked process. A DJ actually can play an integral part in the wedding. The DJ has to make sure to play the right songs at the right time (how awkward would it be if they played the wrong father/daughter song? or worse first dance song!?) and of course they have to be an excellent MC. Don’t want someone droning on in the background the whole night!

At first, I tried to go the bargain route (definitely learned you get what you pay for!) on DJs and met a couple of duds before I found the perfect one. My first DJ meeting the guy didn’t even show up. Hmm- can’t hire someone that can’t even make it to the meeting. What if he doesn’t show up on the Big Day?! The second DJ was just not my style- too corny and not really enthusiastic about playing songs I want to hear. He actually said- “Yeah, you can, like, pick a couple songs you want me to play.” Are you kidding me? I want the music at our wedding to reflect us, not just a couple random songs thrown in.

{Can’t go wrong with The Flashdance!}

When we met Chad from Injoy Entertainment, I knew we would be in good hands. He showed me a couple videos of him DJing at different weddings. He talked about how he would handle certain situations, such as cutting off too many people from toasting and getting the crowd to watch the cake cutting. I also love that Injoy has an interactive web portal set up where you can update your music and put in must play songs for the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner time, and dancing. Now I know all our songs will be played- not just a couple!

Now on to the playlist! Music selection is a huge part of our wedding; it’s not only going to set the mood for the whole occasion, but also really resonates with us as a couple. Honestly, picking the music has been one of our favorite parts of the wedding process!

Selecting the ceremony music has been the easiest so far. I knew right away what song I wanted to walk down the aisle to and was certain of our recessional song too. I want to leave some of the songs a surprise for everyone. But here’s one of the processional songs- Band of Horses- “On My Way Back Home”

Picking a first dance song was a little tricky, since I feel like we have so many songs that are “our” songs. Again, I’m not going to tell which song we picked but here’s some that we had a hard time deciding between:

Brad Paisley – She’s Everything

Garret Hedlund & Leighton Meester- Give into Me

Jeffrey Gaines- Your Eyes

Picking a father/daughter song has been rough too. Sorry Dad, but we both know you’re not the greatest dancer and I’m dancing with you to Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark or Rocky’s Eye of the Tiger. Definitely don’t want to go the corny route either (think Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlise or I Loved Her First by Heartland).  But I do think I’ve finally decided on the perfect song that will easily transition to a nice mother/son dance as well. Sorry keeping it a secret for now!

I’m really looking forward to cocktail hour and dinnertime music selections. We aren’t huge dancers so most of our favorite songs are more upbeat mellow music. Guests are going to be playing cornhole and sipping signature drinks to the sounds of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Sublime, Tom Petty, and Alan Jackson. Dinner music will include songs form Radiohead, Modest Mouse, Mumford & Sons, Bob Marley, & the Eagles. Our music is definitely a mix of old school songs, country, rock, and indie.

 I’ve also nailed the perfect cake cutting song, in my opinion! Everyone told me that it has to do with sweets or sugar, So I’ve decided on “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard. And yes, I think Grandma will love it!

For dance music, we are actually taking requests! We have a song request line on our RSVP cards, because we really want to make sure that guests are grooving to their favorite jams (please no Call Me, Maybe). Nothing is worse than a bunch of people just milling around at the edge of the dance floor (not that Chad would ever let that happen!). Not going to lie, I expect to see some great moves to “Low” by Flo Rida- as much as the boys sing this song ( you know who you are).

I leave you with a couple more songs that will be in the big day somewhere. Enjoy!

“This is How We Do It”- Montell Jordan

“Forever Young”- Youth Group

“Gravity Rides Everything”- Modest Mouse



A Few Notes from B &A: As much fun as it is to select all of the specialty songs (cake cutting, father/daughter, first dance, etc.) it is also really important to discuss with your DJ songs that you do not want played during the wedding. Some couples “Call Me Maybe”, could be another couple’s “Macarena!” If certain songs irk you, don’t assume your DJ will know this- make a list of DO NOT PLAY songs and pass it over to your DJ a couple of weeks before the wedding to ensure a non-stop perfect playlist! Don’t forget to also find out what attire your DJ plans on donning and if it will fit with your vibe. You can give them some guidelines so don’t feel bad for double checking!

Real Bride Blogger Jessica: The Backyard or The Beach?

After determining the guest count, the next thing for us to do was choose a VENUE. I’ve never been one of those girls who grew up knowing just  where I wanted to have my wedding. Plus, I’ve moved around a bit- so as much as I may have liked a certain spot in Texas or LA it just didn’t make sense for the wedding now.

We did have a few basic guidelines that helped us to narrow down the search:

– Ceremony site near the ocean (Nick is an avid surfer)

– Something casual and not too formal

– Nothing too pricey (rather have more food than space if you ask me!)

– Something with vendor options (definitely wanted flexibility to choose my own vendors)

This is really where having a planner helped me out. There are so many incredible venues out there; I never would have seen all the right ones for us without guidance. Kate and Ellen sent me a list of venues that matched the requirements we gave them, plus a couple extra venues they thought were worth looking at. My favorites were Condor’s Nest Ranch, Leo Carrillo Ranch Park,  The Thursday Club, Martin Johnson House, and my parents’ backyard.

{Condor’s Nest Ranch by Katie Neal}

To narrow down my choices, I started by making a list of pros and cons for each venue. Condor’s is a lovely scenic ranch, but ultimately is too far from the ocean for us. The Thursday Club in Point Loma is near the beach, but doesn’t let you have hard alochol. This may not be a deal breaker for some, but knowing our friends, we had to keep looking. Leo Carrillo Ranch is located fairly close to the ocean, full of charm, and is flexible with vendors. It was definitely a top contender

{Leo Carrillo by Tec Petaja}

Ultimately, it really came down to my parents’ house (ceremony at J Street look-out and reception in the backyard) and The Martin Johnson House. Both choices had the feel we wanted our wedding to exude. I really liked the idea of a causal backyard wedding and I figured it could save us some money that we could use elsewhere in our budget. Plus, I would be able to have the sparkler send-off that I always envisioned.

However, when we budgeted out the two options, they were more comparable than we thought. We really weren’t saving that much by holding the reception in the backyard, since we had to bring in more décor elements and all of the rentals. The final deciding factor: I really just disliked the idea of guests having to commute the distance from the ceremony site to the reception location. With Martin Johnson house it was all right there with a pretty ocean view bow on top!

{Lookout From Martin Johnson House}

After walking through the Martin Johnson a couple times with Kate and Ellen (this had been their number 1 all along) and looking through past weddings held there, we knew we had found the perfect venue for us. It was casual beachy, but still beautiful. Our ceremony will be held facing the Pacific Ocean. Black’s Beach (a favorite surf spot) is even visible from the ceremony site, a big plus for Nick. I love that the ceremony and reception can both be held in the same area.

The actual house has a homey feel and a huge deck overlooking the ocean that is perfect for dancing. There is ample room for lawn games, which I really want to incorporate into the cocktail hour. But what really sold us, is the amazing natural beauty found on the property, including huge trees, vibrant succulents, and the breath-taking views. The only bummer for me, is they don’t allow sparklers. So we’re brainstorming other options for my perfect send-off

{Ceremony at Martin Johnson House}

Finding a venue was a piece of cake compared to my next challenge…dress shoping! Boy was that a HUNT! Stay tuned to find out all the knitty gritty details on the dress!

From B & A: Jess covered a lot here so we don’t want to overload you with venue talk, but we would love to point out a few tips! Options… it’s always good to look at multiple locations even if you think you know exactly what you want. Jess didn’t seem too keen on the Martin Johnson House at first, since it was in La Jolla and they were originally thinking of a surf spot in Encinitas, however, we just knew it hit everything on their checklist.

Seeing a site in person makes all the difference. A site that looks gorgeous in one particular picture might not be so charming when you see the surrounding area in real life, and vice versa a lesser-known site could have lots of hidden potential!

Definitely do what Jess did and make a list of requirements from the start. Then weed places out through pros and cons. You should feel great about the venue you choose and really be able to envision YOUR wedding there!