The NEW Wedding Planning Primer

A woman in a blue dress holds a branch of baby's breath. She can take a breath from wedding planning.

COVID-19 has changed EVERYTHING when it comes to wedding planning for the foreseeable future.

It’s no secret that 2020 has seen the events industry turned upside down due to COVID-19. With postponements, cancellations, limits on how many can gather, and even straight up bans in some areas, planning an event couldn’t be more difficult right now. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Let’s talk about wedding planning in a world with COVID!

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Emily and Alec’s Oshkosh Fall Wedding 10/26/19

Close family and friends, who traveled far and wide, gathered at Best Western in Oshkosh after the ceremony to enjoy cocktail hour consisting of DJ’s choice of music coming from the simple, but elegant Ember set up. As guests trickled in, the fried cheese curds were the fan favorite as everyone admired the centerpieces with flowers from 88 Events, framed by baby pumpkins and candles coordinating with the gold, navy, and burgundy autumn theme. 
Once everyone was seated, the grand march consisted of funny stories to introduce Emily and Alec’s chosen four into the reception. Dave Mason from Isphotographic captured the people who have supported—and made Emily and Alec laugh—throughout the years. As the wedding party entered, everyone cheered and applauded!

Stopping at the cake table briefly, Emily and Alec cut their beautiful three-tiered cake, baked especially for them by Cake Bake, before joining their wedding party at the head table. The wedding party kept Emily and Alec laughing and supported throughout the entire evening.

We love when the way the bride and groom are signaled to kiss is unique and fun. Emily and Alec’s way was also fun and entertaining! The kissing method during dinner was “sing a love song,” of which, my favorite was sung in Will Ferrell fashion to imitate Buddy the Elf singing a candy-gram to his father working in the Empire State Building. Incredibly heartfelt toasts occurred throughout the night, where there wasn’t a single dry-eye in the hall. That said, the toasts were reciprocated with hearty laughter from Emily and Alec’s guests as Emily’s sister and Maid of Honor detailed what childhood was like growing up with Emily as a big sister—and growing up with their little brother (check your toothbrush!), and although it took some time to warm up to Alec, she loves him as a brother. Alec’s groomsmen were hysterically hilarious, both recounting—in their own perspective—being assigned and then taken away the title of Best Man! It is clear Emily and Alec’s wedding party truly care for their dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Baullosa. 
Their parent dances were full of love and affection as all their family and friends took in the special moment. Emily’s dad surprised Emily with the song choice “I Loved Her First” by Heartland to which they swayed and shared tears of happiness and tears of a very proud father. Alec and his mom sung all the lyrics to “Boy” by Lee Bryce for their parent dance. Then Alec surprised his stepmom by offering the next dance in her honor for all the support and love throughout the years.
Emily and Alec have an amazing love story: two kids from different states, meeting over five years ago and swapping their numbers on a bus ride to the dinosaur museum, which was one of the highlights of a National Youth Church Gathering in San Antonio, Texas in July of 2014. After years of texting and calling, Emily and Alec became best friends hoping to meet up in Chicago someday. During the summer of 2018, Alec seized his opportunity to see Emily! She had traveled to Indiana for her sister’s dance competition and definitely wanted to see Alec face to face when they had only talked to each other through technology all those years. After seeing each other in person, Emily and Alec knew they had to be together. Alec put in his two-weeks notice at his job in Indiana, talked to his friend about designing and making a ring for Emily, and moved to Wisconsin. Less than two months later, after visiting Indiana, Alec had the finished ring in his possession, and decided to do a very Alec-like thing: propose to his best friend and the love of his life right then and there in the car on the way back to Wisconsin through Chicago. Having politely asked Emily to take out Alec’s headphones, Emily sat holding them for over a minute while Alec kept driving, wondering when she would notice the ring tied into the headphones. When Emily finally noticed, she was so surprised! She said yes (of course!).
Emily and Alec, your love is pure and your story could definitely be made into a Hallmark Movie! We were so honored to share this special day with you. 
​Wishing you love and music,
SoundFire DJ Creed #teamtj&alyssa
Amazing vendors that made this wedding possible:

Best Western in Oshkosh
88 Events
Cake Bake

Alyssa Braun

Master of Ceremonies, Writer, and Blogger

Porsha and Reed’s Family Barn Wedding 10/12/19

​Welcome to the Charles Family Barn: equipped with a cozy pallet-stove fireplace, adorable pumpkins, sunflowers, an impressive hayloft, and two friendly barn cats. Porsha and Reed worked hard to make their wedding day as special as they could and showcase their kind personalities. Reed’s dad even shared with us the history of the barn and showed us the date it was built, penciled on the barn post.
Reed and his father greeted Tyler and I (after I got lost! Yikes!) with welcoming smiles and hospitality, offering to help us in any way they could while we set up for their ceremony and reception. The EMBER option was perfect for the space, filling the barn with amazing sound and a wash of colorful light. Sound reinforcement was set up in the loft across from the hayloft, making it easy for all of Porsha and Reed’s guests to hear toasts and announcements. We were even visited by the curious barn cats while we set up!

The wind howled outside as friends and family arrived for the ceremony. Porsha and Reed’s wedding party entered, the men looking dashing in their suits, and the bridesmaids stunning in their burgundy dresses. Walking in to a cello and piano rendition of “You Are the Reason,” Porsha was a vision in her gorgeous dress. Reed and Porsha exchanged vows and rings up in the hayloft, and were pronounced husband and wife surrounded by their loving family and friends down below.
Family photos were taken by Yvonne Marie Photography before a combination of rain and freezing rain (burr!) started to fall. Guests huddled around the fireplace, chatting and congratulating Porsha and Reed before the grand march started. The wedding party consisted of a lively group of close friends who were super excited and ready to celebrate! They definitely brought the energy as they skipped into the barn dancing to “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, jumping and shuffling into the middle of the crowd and up to the hayloft where the head table awaited with lights, sunflowers, and pumpkins, and hay as their backdrop—and insulation against the wind!

Their journey is a sweet one, for as it turns out Porsha and Reed have known each other most of their childhood. They met as kindergarteners and started dating in high school. They used to joke about eloping in Jamaica if they didn’t find anyone. Reed proposed to Porsha at Peninsula State Park in Door County and they pinky promised to love each other forever. Before dancing for the first time as husband and wife, their favorite things were shared about each other from an interview we conducted before their wedding day. Porsha laughed as she was reminded that her and Reed would never go hungry as long as they had potato salad (their favorite)! Lusaint’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” filled the barn, all eyes on the lovely newlyweds.
​Creating a storybook trail of events, Porsha and Reed honored their parents by sharing dances before dinner to symbolize their two families coming together as one. Porsha danced with her father to John Mayer’s “Daughters,” reminding him that she wouldn’t be where she was today without her parent’s love and support, and the bravery instilled in her by her father. Not only to honor his mom, but all the loved ones no longer with them, Reed shared a dance with his mother to Celtic Woman’s “Auld Lang Syne.”

With parent dances concluded, the amazing scent of food wafted from the warm tent beside the barn, where the buffet line was set up. Guests enjoyed dinner, while brave family and friends climbed a ladder to ring the cowbell! This signaled Porsha and Reed to smooch! Homemade cake pops were on each of the tables, accenting the fabulous decorations. Toasts started shortly afterwards, starting with Porsha’s dad, who sweetly toasted his beautiful daughter and new son-in-law. Reed’s mom stood half way up the steep stairs to the hayloft, reminiscing about Reed growing up and helping her with the hay, having to climb the ladder—one rung at a time—herself close behind so he wouldn’t fall. Life is a lot like the rungs of a ladder, their wedding day being the top of their amazing journey up the steps to celebrate their love. Reed’s mom ended with reassurance that if Reed and her new daughter-in-law ever need a parent to help them up the ladder, she would always be there.

​Toasts continued with the Best Man explaining that he and Reed met each other in 7th grade attending the same camp, only to be reintroduced in college where they made memories working on cars, drinking beer, and practicing their marksmanship at the shooting range. The Maid of Honor and Porsha’s sister recalled their childhood, meeting Reed for the first time with his Justin Bieber haircut (haha!) and growing up with her beautiful sister. Two more bridesmaids expressed their love and appreciation for their friendship with Porsha. Concluding the heartfelt speeches, Porsha and Reed shared a few grateful words to their closest family and friends.

Soon the dancing started, with the wedding party kicking off the party with “Mamba No.5!” Dancing kept the chilly night at bay, as people packed onto the dance floor to share in the festivities honoring Porsha and Reed. Tyler made sure to play “The Time” by the Black Eyed Peas, “Buy U A Drank” by T-Pain ft. Yung Joc, and Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” There was even a request for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller!”

Between the dancing, Porsha and Reed were ushered into the spotlight once again to participate in the “Shoely-wed” game! Family and friends found out Porsha is most likely to hoard the Peanut Butter M&M’s, and Reed would be your man to trust behind the wheel any day. The dance floor filled once again as we found out who the longest married couple was during the Anniversary Dance to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” and celebrated more wedding traditions by throwing the bouquet and garter!

Chicken Booya made for a wonderfully warm late night soup in between dancing and socializing. Porsha and Reed danced the entire night under the twinkling barn lights and our colorful wash lights. “The Git Up,” “Cha Cha Slide,” and the “Cupid Shuffle” were also danced to before the celebration was over. All family and friends swayed and sang with Porsha and Reed for the last song of the night, wishing the newly married couple a happy send off to, “I’ve Had the Time of my Life” by Bill Medley.
Porsha and Reed, we had an absolute blast celebrating with you at your family barn in Southern Door. We wish you many years of peace, adventure, and laughter. Thank you for choosing SoundFire DJ to provide your musical experience on your special day.
​Wishing you love and music,
SoundFire DJ Creed #teamtj&alyssa

Alyssa Braun

Master of Ceremonies, Writer, and Blogger

Gaby and Kurt’s Autumn Wedding at Road America 9/28/19

The sound of racing cars flew into the Tufte Center at Road America as Tyler and Alyssa set up for Kurt and Gaby’s wedding reception. The industrial trussing of SoundFire DJ’s Brilliance Option was set facing the front of the dance floor, where two moving heads and four wash lights would be mounted, eagerly waiting to be used for an epic party. We placed sixteen lights to balance out the room, enhance the soft vibe, and flood the walls with a soft blush, rose-gold color. Flower arrangements made by Gaby’s mom, Ginnie, provided the perfect finishing touches of the romantically chic room.

Ginnie’s beautiful flower arrangement as the table centerpiece with a framed picture of Gaby and Kurt.

A beautiful slipper filled with gorgeous flowers and a rose-gold/blush uplighting featured on the wall behind it.
Two subs were set on either side of our DJ booth to provide amazing depth in the music throughout the night. Cocktail music was easy listening while Gaby and Kurt’s guests arrived from the ceremony. Chatter and laughter emulated from family and friends outside as the team from Kirsten Jane Photo captured the magical moments of the day, which included group photos. 

Brilliance Option all set up in at Road America, ready for a full night of dancing!
Gaby and Kurt gathered their wedding party and entered the reception in grand style. Gaby wore an exquisite gown with a beautifully beaded belt, and her bridesmaids were a vision in all different shades of sangria and rose-gold. Kurt and his groomsman looked very suave in their grey suites as they prepared to escort the bridesmaids in for dinner. Musko the Lakeland University mascot made a surprise appearance for the grand march, followed by Gaby’s co-workers from Engaged Marketing Co. who also wore furry masks for the occasion. Gaby and Kurt surrounded themselves with an incredibly supportive and energetic wedding party who danced and laughed their way to the head table; subsequently, Tyler cued up “Here Comes the Boom!” and the new team entered the reception as husband and wife to an ocean of cheering.

In front of the gift table, a beautiful sign welcomes guests into Gaby and Kurt’s beginning.
Adult contemporary music included the iconic voices of Frank Sinatra, Nora Jones, and Eric Clapton while Millhome Supper Club served a delicious family-style dinner. Gaby and Kurt kicked off the toasts with gratitude and thanks to their family and friends who gathered on their special day. Gaby’s dad welcomed Kurt officially into the family and lovingly praised his daughter. Gaby’s best friend and Maid of Honor as well as Kurt’s college roommate of four years and Best Man made hilarious and heartfelt speeches brimming with college memories and mischievous times for the books.
Before parent dances, Gaby and Kurt performed their first domestic duty as a married couple: the cake cutting! Tables were efficiently removed from the dance floor as guests admired the two-tiered pastel cake, adorned with white daisies and luscious roses, and enjoyed cupcakes and Dutch treats. 
Sharing the dance floor with her father, Gaby thanked her parents for pushing her to be a better person, and reassured her dad that she would always be his little farm girl. “I Loved Her First” by Heartland ended, and then Kurt and his mom danced, Kurt exclaiming that there were not enough words for the amount of thanks he owed his mom.

​Before Gaby and Kurt’s first dance as husband and wife, their love story was unwoven, depicting the ponds of Lakeland, broken down buses on New Year’s, and Kurt’s proposal in October 2018 during a snowy hike at Dave’s Falls. It is clear Gaby loves how goofy Kurt can be, how much he makes her laugh, and how much he takes care of her. Kurt adores and admires Gaby, appreciating how much she challenges him to try new things. Excited to continue their quirky relationship together, Gaby and Kurt danced to Garrett Hedlund’s “Give in to Me,” surrounded by friends and family, their wedding party swaying in the background. 

PictureThis cake looks scrumptious!


PictureThe party has started, and it’s a full dance floor!

The wedding party joined Kurt and Gaby on the dance floor to get the party started, as “Shake your Tail Feather” played. Tyler mixed right into songs like “Old Town Road,” “Despacito,” “December 1963,” and a lot of Shania Twain in honor of Gaby. The dance floor was packed the entire night. Gaby and Kurt boogied the hours away, until they were booted off during the Anniversary Dance, where we discovered who the longest married couple was. Beyoncé made an appearance during the Bouquet Toss with her song, “Love On Top,” and “Pony” by Ginuwine was played during the Garter Toss.
After a full night filled with Polaroid selfies, delicious cupcakes, and lots of dancing, Gaby and Kurt surrounded themselves with a full dance floor of loving family and energetic friends, as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” ballad was played as the last song of the night. 

Celebrating Gaby and Kurt’s wedding, the remainder of family and friends gather for one last group photo before the night comes to an end.
Gaby and Kurt, we wish you many years of goofy adventures, epic basketball moments, and love. It was an honor providing music for your amazing family and friends. Thank you for choosing SoundFire DJ.

Gaby and Kurt with DJ Tyler and MC Alyssa!
Wishing you love and music, 
SoundFire DJ Creed 

Alyssa Braun

Master of Ceremonies, Writer, and Blogger

Top 5 Wedding Entertainment Trends for 2020

Picking the entertainment for your wedding can be one of the most challenging tasks for couples!

For better or worse, the entertainment is what makes or breaks a wedding reception. The most important ingredients couples want out of their wedding day entertainment are typically the following:

  • They want someone to run their day for them so they don’t have to
  • They want modern and sophisticated, not tired and cheesy
  • They want their experience to be fun, comfortable, and inviting for their guests
  • They want their wedding reception to be a unique reflection of who they are!
The entertainment a couple selects is the single greatest investment they will make for their wedding day. Here’s why:

  • It keeps guests centered and engaged. More of your guests stay longer.
  • Have you ever been to a wedding where you didn’t feel like you knew what was going on? Lots of couples have. Great entertainers who have proper MC training know how to keep your event moving and your guests informed.
  • The memories your photographer will capture at your reception are a direct result of what your entertainer does to “set the scene”. If you have great entertainment you’ll get pictures of you and your guests having the most amazing time at your wedding reception. Likewise, the inverse of that is true too.
  • Everything else you’ve invested in for your wedding is enjoyed more, and you get more “bang for your buck” out of it. Decor is enjoyed more, food is enjoyed more, drinks are enjoyed more, essentially the entire experience is enhanced by having great entertainment.

If that’s not enough, the other benefit you’ll have by investing in great entertainment is your family & friends talking about how fun your wedding was for years to come. 

What are the top 5 trends couples are looking for to make their wedding stand out in 2020?

5. Production Value

DJs are no longer supposed to be the cheesy guy with a couple blinky lights! Couples want clean lines with elegant accents. With emphasis being placed on having unique spaces and atmospheres it’s now imperative to select a DJ service that provides a clean presentation that compliments the hard work & investment being put into the setting & decor. More so, couples are looking for their DJ to be able to create impact during those key moments such as the introductions, first dance, and more! What are some of the more modern production elements that DJs can use to enhance your experience?

  1. Theatrical lighting – again, gone are the blinky “Spencer’s Gifts” lights. Theatrical lighting looks more impressive, is more expressive to help enhance the right mood, and looks WAY better in your photos.
  2. Visual elements – displays, atmospheric effects, pyrotechnics are all elements that can be used to great effect at the right moments. One thing that DJs are adding more commonly now are displays that can have content personalized to your wedding reception.
  3. Proper sound reinforcement – with non-traditional venues often times having multiple spaces where guests will congregate, it’s important to have sound everywhere so that when the MC is informing guests of what’s happening, no one misses a beat! What about when a guest’s favorite song/song request comes on? Again, they don’t miss it. What about dinner? Have you ever sat next to a DJ setup when the DJ is trying to blast the music on one end of the room so that it’s at a complimentary volume for the other side of the room? Not fun. A DJ that has proper sound reinforcement capabilities can eliminate this problem altogether!

4. Dependability/Reliability

With music being even more accessible via services such as Spotify and Tidal, there have been lots of hobby and amateur level DJ services popping up. Likewise, even couples are trying to DIY DJ their weddings by renting sound equipment and hooking up their phone with one of these streaming services. The thought behind this is that all a DJ does is show up and play music over a big sound system. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mistake that’s often discovered by the time it’s too late is that there is no substitute for a professional. With DIY DJ weddings, things just get out of hand, and often times the volunteers you find to “make announcements” or “make sure people don’t mess with the music” either back out, don’t fully prepare, or aren’t as dedicated to doing their job as you hoped. Likewise, for the amateur/hobbyist DJ, their dedication is going to be minimal as well, and that’s even if they show up or don’t flake out on you weeks or days before your wedding – which is what we want to emphasize here:

WITH THE RISE OF AMATEUR/HOBBYIST DJs THERE HAS ALSO BEEN A RISE OF NO SHOWS!! Why risk one of the most important services for your day on someone who isn’t professional just to save a few dollars? It doesn’t make any sense. Work with a professional, even a low-end one, to make sure you’re not left stuck shortly before your wedding stressing out over finding a DJ who’s open. Plus, when that amateur bails with your money, good luck getting it back.

Because of how widespread this problem has become, what couples want is someone who is dependable, and the expectation is that they create an amazing shared experience for all of their guests. Which brings us to the next item on our list!

3. An inclusive experience

One of the comments couples make when asked what they’re looking for in a DJ service is, “I want everyone to have fun together at my wedding.” They want an inclusive experience, and who wouldn’t? A wedding is a celebration where two families come together to join as one, and it’s very likely that these two families will never get together this same way ever again!! Therefore it’s unequivocally essential that the entertainment being chosen, the service that’s supposed to bring everyone together, includes something for everyone. The way this is done is by choosing a DJ service that is actually willing to take the time to get to know you, and learn about you and your guests. It’s easy to spot this when interviewing different DJs – do they talk about themselves and their service the whole time (granted they should spend some time doing this), or do they take some time to ask you questions that are about you?

Now, someone may take the time to learn about you, but how do you know they’ll actually use this info to make your wedding day better? Listen to what else they say, and how they’re trying to understand these personal details. Also, and this is a big one, has the DJ sought out any professional training from mentors outside of the circle of DJs in your local area? This is a huge clue to telling the difference between a DJ that actually cares about bringing the best service to their clients, and one that’s just in it for the side money.

2. Love Story

It’s the ULTIMATE personal statement on your wedding day. The wedding day is a huge step in the journey of your love story, but how did you get there? Great DJs take time to learn about how you met, how you started dating, how you fell in love, how you decided you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together, and that incredible moment when the proposal happened. It’s the magical difference between just hearing your names introduced before your first dance, and sharing a moment with your guests that brings all of you closer together, while reflecting on the beautiful memories that led to you finding the love of your life. How do you know you have a DJ that can legitimately deliver a proper love story? It’s actually very simple. There is only ONE training in the United States that teaches it properly from the husband & wife team that developed this technique, and it’s called The Marbecca Method. If your DJ isn’t Marbecca trained, then they don’t know how to deliver a proper love story. Currently there are only slightly over 1,400 DJs worldwide that are Marbecca trained, and there’s only one DJ service in Northeast Wisconsin with this unique training (hint, you’re reading their blog right now).

1. Authentic, Marquee Level DJ/MC Talent & Skill

The #1 thing couples want out of a DJ service is a REAL DJ & MC! I know this sounds so obvious, but when you consider some of the previous things mentioned on this list (dependability, personalization, inclusiveness, etc.) it becomes clear that these skills are not widespread! In fact, in most markets outside of major metropolitan areas (Chicago, L.A., New York, etc.) it’s likely that only 1% of DJs in your market actually know how to deliver an authentic experience at a marquee level. What makes a marquee level DJ/MC? Let’s break it down between both!

Marquee level DJs will:
Perform on proper DJ gear: this means some kind of “turntable” style interface. If your DJ performs on a laptop only they cannot create the same experience as a DJ that uses the proper instruments. Of course, it’s not enough to just have these instruments, it’s knowing how to use it with creativity, and fluid/flawless technique.
Know what beat matching & key matching is, and how to actually do it: Beat matching is something that nearly every DJ has heard of, but very, very few DJs know how to do. Some try to use their software to do it for them using a function called “sync” which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t work. The hidden thing most DJs don’t know besides beat matching is phrase matching. Without getting too technical into music theory, phrase matching is making the music sound like it goes together in the form (i.e. chorus to chorus, verse to verse, etc.)
Read a crowd not just to play what guests want to hear, but to also play what they didn’t know they wanted to hear: It’s pretty easy to figure out what a group of people are into. About 50% of DJs can read a dance floor, and play what people want to hear. That’s good, and it will be a good party, but not a great party. About 1% of DJs in most markets know the skill of reading a crowd to play what people didn’t know they wanted to hear, and that’s FAR more exciting! Ever been on the dance floor when the crowd goes, “OOOOOOHHHH!!!” when the next song drops unexpectedly at the perfect time? That’s the difference.
Use lighting in coordination with the music and the mood: So many DJs set their lights on an automatic or sound reactive mode. It’s especially noticeable when a slow song comes on, or when the lights just do the same thing all night. The fact of the matter is that nearly all lights, even the cheap ones, have the capability to be controlled more deliberately by the entertainer. The entertainer should be able to change the lighting to enhance what’s happening in the moment and/or the music. It makes a huge difference when done right, and it can be headache inducing when it’s done wrong!
Create a unique musical experience: THIS MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT PARAGRAPH YOU READ IN THIS ARTICLE! The reason why some couples choose to DIY DJ their wedding isn’t just about the money. Sometimes it’s about the perception they’ve had of DJs. Likely they’ve never experienced a marquee level DJ. There’s an old joke where if someone doesn’t think they have great musical ability they say, “Well, I can play the radio!” It’s true! Anyone can play the radio!! However, marquee level DJs differ due to the fact that they will create unique musical moments for you. They’ll have your favorite music in a way you’ve never heard it before. It’s the ultimate marriage between familiar & fresh. No one wants to dance to music they’ve never heard before, but at the same time, no one wants to dance to the same songs they’ve heard at every other wedding! The only solution to this problem is by working with a DJ that knows how to take the music you & your guests know and love, and do something creative and fresh that sounds good! A great example is taking the song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and putting it to the beat of “Timber” by Pitbull & Ke$ha. Now you’ve given two songs that you’ve likely heard to death, and given them new life by putting them together. Plus, you know both songs, so you’re going to instantly be familiar with what’s happening, and where the music is going.

Marquee level MCs will:
Direct Inform and Guide your event so you don’t have to. There’s a proper skill to doing this the right way that only about 5% of DJs actually know how to do. How do you know it’s so few? Ask yourself, “Have I ever been to a wedding where I either didn’t feel like I knew what was going on, or the MC turned me off so I didn’t want to listen to them?” Chances are the answer to this question is yes more often than no.
Personalize, personalize, personalize: Just saying your names with some short, generic statements in between is not proper MC work at a wedding. The sign of a great MC is that some of your guests are going to wonder if this person is a personal friend of yours.
Work in the background with the other professionals you have hired: This starts before the wedding day, and extends all the way through it. Your DJ is the central hub of communication on your wedding day. Nothing happens until they say so on the microphone, and everything needs to be ready to go when they do make that announcement. Nothing frustrates a photographer more than a DJ that starts something without them being ready, and likewise nothing will frustrate you more than not having pictures of an important moment documented in your wedding album.
Always keep the focus on the reason we’re here, not on themselves: One of the biggest turnoffs according to wedding attendees, is a MC that has the appearance of wanting to be the center of attention. It’s important for the MC to be able to command the attention of the room, but the purpose of gathering everyone’s attention should always be directed toward the greater thing happening whether it be the couple, the guests, a first dance, a parent dance, etc. An MC that introduces themselves at a wedding like a stand up comedian is in the wrong place.

Agree or disagree with us? Leave your comments below! Also, let us know what entertainment trends you’re most looking forward to in 2020, and be sure to get in touch with us if you have a wedding coming up where you want great entertainment!

Alton O.

Founder & Professional Entertainer – SoundFire DJ

Johanna and Aaron’s Green Bay Botanical Garden Wedding 8/10/19

On one of the most beautiful August days, Johanna and Aaron celebrated their marriage with their closest friends and family. Under a large tent decorated by the team at Sash & Bow in the Green Bay Botanical Gardens, each plate was adorned with a packet of seeds, and each table had a description of favorite places Johanna and Aaron had been to, such as, “The Spotted Cat: our favorite little jazz club in New Orleans.” The kissing wheel was set up in anticipation of the couple of honor kissing throughout dinner. 
Dashing groomsmen, and bridesmaids in flowing pink dresses entered in grand style. Everyone gathered to see Johanna dance with her father to “Landslide” sung by the Dixie Chicks. Johanna and her dad reminisced in their favorite memories and their unconditional love throughout the years, and tears of joy were shared as the song concluded. Aaron thanked his family for playing a role in creating the man he is today, before dancing happily with his hero and role model: his mom. Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock” finished, and guests took their seats inside the tent. 
Before a delicious dinner from Renard’a toast was made to Johanna’s grandmother, who was married on the same day 70 years ago. Monzu provided a scrumptious dessert table that guests savored. After dinner, family and friends surrounded Johanna and Aaron as their love story was recounted from when they met in 2013, to their first date chatting at The Libertine, walking to Hagemeister, smiling and giggling the whole time, until Aaron leaned in and shared his first kiss with Johanna. The story ended with the retelling of the proposal at the Chanticleer Bed and Breakfast in Door County and Johanna and Aaron smiling with happy tears. The two shared their first dance to “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell. Not a single dry cheek watched as Johanna and Aaron danced, her beautiful dress sparkling in the last rays of the day. 
Music was enjoyed the rest of the night, as Johanna and Aaron delighted in their friends and family, dancing in front of the stars, KLEM Studios capturing each beautiful moment. Songs such as “Fishin’ in the Dark,” “Cowboy Take Me Away,” and Beyonce’s “Love on Top” were played. 
It is clear Johanna and Aaron share a deep and beautiful love for each other, and it was an honor sharing music during the wedding reception. Thank you for including SoundFire DJ in your special day. 

Alyssa Braun

Master of Ceremonies, Writer, and Blogger

Laura and Dan’s Appleton Summer Wedding

Ninty-mile an hour straight-line winds were not what Laura and Dan ordered for their wedding day. With trees toppled over, power lines down, and branches lining the streets, family and friends still gathered to support Laura and Dan say I do. Their ceremony didn’t have any power, but it was a magical moment, as Laura walked down the aisle, her beautiful strapless, full-length Cinderella gown sparkling in the post-storm lull. 

Fortunately, the Red Lion, Paper Valley Hotel had power for Laura and Dan’s Disney themed reception. Cocktail hour was held in the reception hall, with décor to match Laura’s love for Disney. Every guest was assigned a Disney character, which matched with a dinner table. Everything was soft, purple, silver, and fairy-tale like. 

Laura and Dan met each other on Christian Mingle in 2016. The two officially met on their first date at Dan’s house. They chatted the whole evening, with “Scooby-Do” playing in the background. Dan proposed to Laura during their trip to Disney World in May 2018, at the Magical Kingdom, with the glorious castle as their backdrop. 

After group photographs with their photographer, Jocelyn from Paper Raven Photography,the grand march ensued with style and energy, as family and friends welcomed Laura and Dan’s close friends and family of the wedding party into the reception to “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. All the bridesmaids and groomsmen were incredibly supportive and ready throughout the special day to help Laura and Dan in any way. Dinner was delicious, interspersed with guests picking Hershey kisses from a tote, which were wrapped in three different colors. After picking a gold kiss, several people had to smooch another, and others (including Laura’s dad!) told a story about Laura or Dan when they picked a silver kiss. Finally, Laura and Dan got to kiss if guests picked a purple-wrapped Hershey kiss! Toasts followed, with funny stories shared by the Maid of Honor and Best Man, showing their love for Laura and Dan. Dr. Keith conducted a funny, well-researched speech praising his daughter’s accomplishments and welcoming Dan to the family. 

Cue the Disney music! Mickey and Minnie Mouse made a surprise visit all the way from Disney World! Laura and Dan took V.I.P. photos, and then cut their beautiful three-tiered cake topped with Prince Charming and Cinderella, and decorated with a purple sash of elegant frosted-flowers. Laura and Dan’s photos of their cake cutting were displayed on the live-stream EverSnap.  
The parent dances were touching, and Dan’s mother, Barb, shed tears of joy for her son. Laura and Dan shared their first married dance to “Everything” by Lifehouse. During the “Shoe”ly-wed game, Laura and Dan were asked, “Because you must sacrifice that which you love most, who would you sacrifice to the soul stone?” (In reference to “Avengers: Endgame.”) Both Laura and Dan lifted their own shoe to signify they would sacrifice themselves for their spouse. Then family and friends joined Laura and Dan on the dance floor to kick off a night of dancing and fun to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. 
During the party, Laura threw her beautiful bouquet (equipped with purple Minnie Mouse ears!) from Twigs and Vines Floral, to the women of the house, and Dan threw his Halo themed garter to the gentlemen. Dan also put on a show to the song, “Hail to the King” by Avenged Sevenfold with all his friends standing around him in a circle. The night closed to Michael Bublé’s “Save the Last Dance for Me” and a group picture. 
Laura and Dan’s special day was a joy to be a part of. Full of personal touches and close family and friends, the entire wedding was full of love and magic! It’s clear Laura and Dan have created a bright and charming foundation for themselves in the wake of their enchanted wedding. 
Laura and Dan, we wish all your dreams come true! Thank you for including SoundFire DJ in your special day. 
Here’s to new beginnings, 
SoundFire DJ Creed #teamtj&alyssa 

The #1 Question You Need To Ask Yourself About Every Wedding Pro You Hire

It’s no question that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful endeavors a couple goes through in their journey to say “I do”. Having a celebration with your friends and family can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life, and …
what better day to have that celebration than on the day you commit to the love of your life?

So why is something that is so wonderful so stressful? There are many reasons, but the biggest is simply that we want everything to go right without any snags! Add to this that this is the biggest, and likely most expensive, party you have ever thrown in your life, and the pressure just adds up.

While there can be some really huge snags that can happen with friends & family, there are also huge snags that can happen with professionals. The biggest snag that happens with the people you’ve hired for your wedding day can simply be summed up as: They go out of business, or they don’t show up for your wedding day.

The #1 question to ask yourself about any business or professional you hire for your wedding is:
Will this business be in business by the time we get to my wedding date?
Now, no one has a crystal ball and can predict the future, and no business is immune from problems that can lead to a business having to close their doors. But some things greatly reduce that likelihood down to a very slim chance if you know what to look for. Here are three simple rules to follow when selecting your wedding professionals:
1. Only deal with businesses in the first place!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if I could collect a dollar for every time someone suggested a “friend” take the place of something a professional should handle at a wedding I wouldn’t need to DJ anymore. This is also, hands down, the most common scenario where a couple ends up in the awful situation of finding a replacement last minute because the friend backs out or just ghosts the couple. Usually couples try to do this with the two most important ingredients of the day too: documenting (photographer/videographer) and entertainment (DJ/Band). 
What makes this situation even more stressful is when the friend bails, depending on the popularity of your date, there may be very limited availability from professionals in the area. Sometimes you might get lucky and find someone who is very good that can handle a wedding on short notice, but if you haven’t set aside an emergency fund to cover the difference between the cost of your friend and a professional, then that’s another stress. 

Again, only deal with legit businesses in the first place, and your risk goes way down.

Bonus tip: If you do happen to have a friend who runs a business as a wedding professional treat their business as if that wasn’t your friend running it. They should do the same for you too. This means don’t ask for any special favors or discounts, and keep the friendship separate from the service they provide as a professional. It may be too hard to do, and it may be best to not hire friends at all.

2. Does the price you’re paying for the service fall into a professional range in the market?
The toughest question that couples deal with is, “How much?” Ironically it’s likely one of the first questions a couple asks when looking around (i.e. “What are your rates?”, “How much for a wedding?”, etc.). This question gets tougher when a couple determines a budget without having done research on the cost of the services their looking to procure, and without factoring a reasonable guest count (in the Northeast Wisconsin market, and most markets across the country, a reasonable way to figure out a total wedding budget is to take your guest count and multiply it by $150). 

Before determining your budget allocation for each part of your reception, it’s important to talk to lots of professionals. The best strategy is to start at the top and work your way down. Find the highest priced services in the market. Learn about their service, then ask the next lower, and the next lower. Pay attention to what’s missing as you work your way down. For some services you’ll want the best of the best. When it comes to the major three for a wedding: entertainment, food & drink, documentation; these are the areas that will most directly impact the success of your event along with the memories you preserve from it, and the ones you’ll likely want to invest the majority of your budget. Start there before you get to things like the dress, the invitations, and the favors.

If you start at the top and work your way down, it’ll also become much clearer to you what is an unsustainable, and therefore, unreasonable rate. An unreasonable rate is:
 – When the exchange of money is disproportionate to the service or good being exchanged.
Can that be a business that charges “too much”? Yes. Keep in mind that this is very uncommon though as “ripoffs” tend to get called out very quickly by the public and the media. A far more common unreasonable rate is one too low where a business could not survive without a supplemental income from another source. These are the side-hustlers. For example, if you hire a photographer with 10 years of experience that is only charging $800 for your wedding, that means you’ve very likely hired a side-hustle photographer. Why does this matter to you? Here’s why: if that photographer lost their “real job” tomorrow, had to sell their camera to make their rent/mortgage, and your wedding is in 2 weeks, guess who isn’t going to have a photographer for their wedding. It’s the same thing with cheap DJs, unlicensed bakers, etc. 

​The old saying, “If it’s too good to be true…” sums this point up nicely.

3. Does the business carry insurance?
The fact that this question even has to be asked is ridiculous, but the reality is that there are very few, or no gatekeepers when it comes to some of the wedding professions. This is going to mostly apply to your creative professionals. In fact let’s give you a list where you should and shouldn’t have to ask this (but it’s always a good idea to ask every pro you hire):

Shouldn’t have to (but it’s a good idea anyway):
Hair & makeup
Venue (if you’re having your wedding at a private residence you may need to purchase your own event insurance)
Tailor/Dress Shop/Tux Rentals

These professionals typically need licenses to run their business, and usually part of keeping and maintaining that license is to have insurance. So it’s a pretty safe bet that they have it, although it doesn’t hurt to ask how their coverage may help you and your event in the case of an incident.

Should Ask:

These professionals have zero licensing requirements. That’s why the level of skill and quality can vary so greatly. Insurance from these professionals helps protect you and your event, but it also protects the business owner to help keep them in business should something go wrong at someone else’s event before yours happens.

So, it’s that simple! Hire professionals (not friends/people who do things on the side), expect to pay a professional rate, and make sure your professionals, especially your creative professionals, are insured. You’ll feel A LOT less stressed!

What does the average wedding DJ cost?

Wedding DJ prices are all over the place…

When couples call around to look for wedding professionals often times the first question that comes to mind is, “How much?”, or “May I have a quote?” It makes sense from the standpoint that most couples are focusing on their budget. However, this is also where most couples find their first surprise when wedding planning.

Everything costs more than originally thought!

The statistics say that over 80% of the couples getting married have both people in the relationship getting married for the first time. All of the information out there is new to these couples, and the info on prices their parents paid is likely 20+ years old. Here’s where it gets even more difficult: there isn’t a lot of reliable pricing information out there on the Internet when it comes to the individual providers. Nowhere is this more true than with creative professionals for weddings – the photographers, videographers, musicians, and DJs. Before even calling around often times couples greatly underestimate the actual cost of these professionals, and, due to this misperception, end up spending a lot more time considering amateurs which makes wedding planning even more stressful!

It’s not your fault!

With garage sale groups on social media, cheap/free websites, and the simple fact that just about anyone can buy gear and claim they’re a photographer/videographer/DJ, it has made it harder than ever for couples to know where to be when it comes to cost. In fact it can sometimes make things so much about cost, that people get caught up in how much they’re spending rather than focusing on choosing the right professional. (More on that later.)

​The simple fact is, while there are more amateurs than ever before, and new technologies have made the barrier to entry easier into these crafts; the professionals will always stand out because they have put in the work, dedication, and drive to provide excellence in their service.

So where do people often end up when looking for price?

A lot of times they wind up on the major wedding planning websites to help make their determination for what to budget. While this is helpful to an extent, it can be a mistake when using it to determine the cost for certain professions. Why is this a mistake you may ask?

Simple, often times these averages don’t discern between the professionals and the amateurs.

I’ll use DJs as the example. According to one website,, the average rate for a wedding DJ in 2017 was $1,231.

Why is this number extremely misleading? In a word: quality. It’s a poll from what couples reported they spent. It has no other qualifying factors to take into account – especially a question that really matters – was the person they hired an actual professional, and did the couple even like the service they received? Trust me, the profession that has the most “my friend does it” people are DJs (photographers a close 2nd). This average DJ cost number used by includes the $200-$1,300 amateurs as well as the $1,300-$3,000+ professionals.

Why does it matter? The number one thing that couples say is most important to them at a wedding is that “everyone has a good time”. Since the DJ is the service provider that is going to have the most impact on this, who would actually want someone that isn’t working on a professional level?

What about a percentage?

The other advice we’ve seen planning websites give are percentages. This is better than using averages (like above), but only to a certain extent. A lot of these planning websites say 5-10% for entertainment. That number is outdated, and is what often times leads people to finding sub-par services. The actual percentage is 10-20% for entertainment, and if you take into account what the average wedding costs (in 2017 $33,391 source: this percentage falls in place far more realistically. Why is the actual portion 10-20%? Well, this is another area where couples get tripped up in budgeting.

DJs aren’t just DJs anymore…

DJs, at one time, weren’t the Master of Ceremonies. They used to begin only once it was time to dance (btw “DJ for 4 hours” is so last decade), but now they begin when the event begins as the leader of your party. Being a Master of Ceremonies is a separate skillset from being a DJ, and this is now another thing to strongly evaluate when choosing your professional. Not only will they be in charge of the music, they will also be the spokesperson for your party. Ask yourself, “Do I fully trust this person on a microphone in front of my friends & family on my wedding day?” If you don’t feel at least 100% confident, then don’t hire them. Hire the person that makes you feel 150% confident.

Pro tip: if you can’t meet the potential spokesperson for your wedding up front, then it’s likely that the DJ service you’re speaking to doesn’t assign you a DJ till only a short time before your wedding. Do you want someone that only knows you on paper who’s never heard of you until two weeks before your wedding?

It has even grown beyond being an MC and a DJ

DJs can now actually fit into several different categories of your wedding budget. Of course their core service will fit in the entertainment category, but what about things like Photo Booth, uplighting, etc.?
Uplighting, or any other decorative service a DJ can provide should be considered separate from your DJ budget. Services like lighting design (includes uplighting, downlighting, architectural lighting, etc.), pyrotechnics (if legal, and the DJ is properly licensed), and atmospheric effects for visual purposes (i.e. dancing on a cloud) are all things that should be under the “decorative” portion of the budget. If you factor decorative services under the entertainment portion of your budget, you’re robbing yourself of getting the best core service when it comes to your DJ.
Photobooth is something that should still be under the entertainment category, but then you need to factor towards the higher end of the percentage range. Also, keep in mind, that if you’re doing a ceremony in a non-traditional location (outside, not at a church), then the DJ can often-times offer a service to help with that too. 

There is no such thing as same for less.

The adage “you get what you pay for” couldn’t be more true than it is for creative professionals. However, A WORD OF CAUTION: when you’re looking around you will come across those that try to sell you on the phrase, “We can do the same for less.” This is a flat out lie, and people who say this are either intentionally misleading or extremely ignorant. In a creative profession one can’t even claim to do the same thing for the same price. The nuance & style of a performance is based on the individual you hire. Now, there will be artists that are objectively better than others because they’ve invested more in their education, skills, & practice, but you won’t ever find someone that can do the same for less. It simply doesn’t exist, and the people who try to sell you like this do so because they have no value other than their tools (equipment). This brings us to the next point –

Don’t purchase equipment, purchase results.

Some DJs will try to sell you on their equipment. They’ll even list out every light, speaker, and component used in their setup. The ONLY thing you should spend your time caring about when it comes to the DJs equipment is:

To illustrate the point. Here is a DJ that has decent quality equipment, but very poor presentation:

What makes the presentation and use of the equipment very poor is the height of the lighting (spotlights should be above eye level, these are at chest level), poor cable management (too many wires visible, not bundled properly, etc.), it’s asymmetrical (TVs around the table are at different heights, laser [the pink light] on one side and not the other), and overall just appears cluttered. Did we mention how poor the cable management is?

The other thing to consider is that with the DJ’s party lighting the photographer is going to have their work cut out for them, and it will likely reduce the quality of the images taken – especially with that laser.

One last thought on this topic:
Let’s say instead of a DJ you were picking out a carpenter to build you an heirloom bedroom set. Would you pick the carpenter that talks about what tools they purchase, or the carpenter that builds the highest quality, most beautifully designed furniture?

If we get back to talking about DJs, it’s the difference between the image above, and this:

Which would you rather have in your wedding album?

So how much should I spend?

Ultimately, that’s entirely up to you.

​That being said, ask yourself what’s most important to you about your reception. If you are like most couples who say, “I want everyone to have a good time.” then be true to that statement, and make the DJ a high priority in your budget. They will make or break the reception, so invest in a high-end pro that will “make” the reception in an exceptional way. I gave a number example earlier in this post saying professionals are $1,300-$3,000+, and I believe that, at the time of writing this, that’s a fairly accurate range of low-end to high-end professionals in the Wisconsin market. Keep in mind that range is for a starting rate, and not a “package”. Below that price range will generally be amateurs, low-end/budget DJ farms (some that contact local amateurs the week of your wedding to send to your event), or the newly hired DJ on which the company is trying out on you.

​How much is your wedding experience worth to you? Do you actually want average, or do you want an experience you and your guests can rave about?

A better way…

Does focusing on price first feel like putting the cart before the horse? That’s because asking price first when you talk to wedding professionals is backwards from how we shop for everything else.

Normally when we shop for something, the first thing we think of is “What do I want?” Let’s take a TV for example. We don’t start off by saying, “I want to spend $500 on a TV.” We start off by thinking of size, features, brand, etc. i.e. “I want a 65″ Samsung TV with smart features and built in apps.” When it comes to choosing a DJ why not think of this the same way? i.e. “I want a DJ who can gracefully lead my event over the microphone, rock the dance floor, provide in-depth personalization, not be corny, and make my night unforgettable for the right reasons.”

Take a minute to figure out what you want in your DJ. Not sure what that is yet? Talk to DJs without bringing up price. Talk about the quality of the experience. What do they actually do for you? Do they make you feel like just another number, or is your wedding something they actually care about?

​Want to skip the stress and go straight to having the ultimate wedding DJ experience Northeast Wisconsin has to offer?

After the vows – Top 5 Things Brides Wished They Did Differently


Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and after the vows brides often look back at their wedding and see clearly how they could have made life easier in the planning process. Here are the top 5 things brides would have changed…

1. Hire professionals for everything, do your research, and find a way to get who you REALLY want!

There’s a reason that professional wedding DJs, planners, decorators, photographers, videographers, etc. are able to make their living in their professions – they do what they do at a professional level. These aren’t the side-hustle vendors, or the part-time people that a booking agent may send out. These are the professionals that make their full-time living doing this. These are the people who are well-known in your community for being exceptionally good at their craft. When all is said & done, we’re talking about how you will remember your wedding day, and, if you’re working with great professionals, the impact they will have is worth so much more than their price tag.

I reached out to a couple of the wedding communities I’m a part of on social media, and these quotes pretty much sum it up:
Hope Dalebroux – “I wish I would’ve started planning a lot sooner than I did so finding vendors didn’t feel like a crisis sometimes lol”

Amy DeJardin – “I wish I would’ve gone with my top pick of a photographer instead of trying to save money on that part of the wedding.”

Andrea Fields – “I regret a few things from my big day I wish I had a different dress. We also had a friend do photos, and that is my biggest regret cause I don’t have pictures that I love or any pictures I wanted.”

Patricia Dufek – “I wish I would have had a videographer and a planner. I REALLY REALLY wish I would have had someone to set up details/decorating/take down. It would have been so worth it, even though my family/friends offered help… looking back it was such an burden.”

Patricia’s comment brings us to the next thing a lot of couples wish they did differently:

2. Hire a videographer

I’m in several wedding communities on social media, and this is one of the most common regrets I see brides post about. For some reason videography is an afterthought, or gets skipped altogether when couples are budgeting. I get it, when we think videography, we think of the home videos our parents took of their wedding with a camcorder on a tripod.

Sandy Meyer sums it up perfectly – “Have a professional videographer, we had a family member do it for us and let’s just say it’s not what I expected.”

Today, wedding videographers are producing amazing work, and great videographers can make your wedding video look like a movie while creating a strong emotional connection. Here is an example from “Films Nouveau” a videographer we’ve had the pleasure of working & collaborating with:

Yes, that’s us serving as the DJ & MC, and all voice-over audio was provided by SoundFire DJ to help make this video as spectacular as possible.

3. Hire a day-of planner, or a full Wedding Planner

Wedding planning is a HUGE task! It involves planning what is likely to be the biggest celebration, and spending the most amount of money you ever will on one day in your life. It’s also one of the biggest days of your life for the meaning and memories it will have when you pledge your commitment to your life partner. It’s a big enough task if you know what you’re doing – an even bigger task when you don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’ve never done this before, I need help.” That’s why professional wedding planners exist! A lot of planners will even offer different levels of planning for you too. Services tend to range from day-of all the way to full planning. At the very least have a day-of planner to help with decor, coordination, and ensuring details are ready on the day of your celebration. Of course, for the ultimate stress relief – hire a full planner!

Here are a few quotes that sum this up (aside from Patricia’s earlier):
Abi Peterson – “Have a personal attendant to take care of all the ‘little things’ the day of. This way you don’t run back to the venue to make sure it’s the way you want it to look ?”

Amanda Brackett – “I wish I would’ve hired a wedding planner, little details got overlooked(by me) and I think having a planner would have made the whole experience less stressful.”

Jessica Wolosek – “I probably would’ve asked for more help. I really wanted to plan every part of the day, and the week before was quite stressful.”

4. Take a moment, in fact take several

Your wedding day will go by quickly. Take moments throughout the day to soak everything in. If you hired great professionals they will be working behind the scenes to ensure your day goes smoothly. Trust them to take care of you, and let go of worry. When you do this you’ll be able to enjoy the reason you did all this – to celebrate your vows with the love of your life and your closest family & friends.

Claire Urness – “With regards to the reception, it’s so go go go, I would recommend just taking time, stepping back and observing. Take it all in. It was advice that I received that I wish I listened to. With the hustle and bustle, having that moment will likely be en-grained in your brain forever.”

5. Make entertainment a top priority

This one comes from a survey conducted by St. Louis Bride & Groom not long ago.

In their survey 100% of brides would have spent more on their entertainment had they realized how much impact it had while they were planning. 78% wished they had made it a top priority during their planning and budgeting, and 72% wished they had spent more time researching before selecting their entertainment.

That’s a pretty high percentage of people who sound like they had some buyer’s remorse.

The fact that 100% said they would have spent more on it for a better outcome is likely a result of the suggestions that bridal sites and magazines recommend as the 5-10% allocation of the budget “for music”, indicating that in hindsight, 5-10% was not enough. Keep in mind that entertainment for an event isn’t “just music” – especially for a wedding. According to Peter Merry, author of the book, The Best Wedding Reception…Ever, entertainment should ALSO:

  • Serve as the Master of Ceremonies
  • Help you plan an agenda to ensure proper pacing in order to keep guests interested
  • Act as the central hub of communication to keep guests, family members, other vendors, and YOU coordinated
  • Work with you in advance of your wedding to personalize your celebration in order to create lasting memories for an unforgettable celebration.

It is often said that entertainment “makes or breaks” your reception. For something so pivotal to the outcome & success of your event, it should be one of, if not the very first thing(s) you research & book.

Get a book when you book! – our couples receive a free copy of Peter Merry’s book when they book their wedding with us.

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Brock & Mariah’s Wedding 8/11/18 – Stone Harbor Resort

Marian & Brock at Stone Harbor Resort 8/11/18

This wedding was one for the record books in terms of how amazing everything was, and how much fun you could tell everyone had. The day started sunny & breezy on the west lawn of Stone Harbor where the ceremony took place. With a beautiful view of the canal set as the backdrop guests were quickly filling the couple hundred seats they had set out. Among some ambient music to set the mood, our wedding party prepped for their entrance. The music briefly paused, and the wedding party entered. Just before the bride’s processional, the music paused again only to be replaced by the sound of Detroit muscle as Mike Rankin escorted his daughter to the ceremony site in his classic ‘Cuda muscle car.

The audience gave their first of many thunderous cheers for our couple that day. Music resumed, and the ceremony took place with ease.



In between ceremony and reception guests were invited to check into their hotel rooms, and explore some of the nearby sights along the canal. At 5pm cocktail hour took place outside the pool at the resort where guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks. At 10 minutes to 6 our guests were invited inside to the reception hall where they would find their seats and prepare for the Grand Entrance of the wedding party.

Part of our preparation for special occasions, especially weddings, is to learn more than just the names of the VIPs. We want to know the relationships, their favorite hobbies, how they met the couple, etc., and we use this information to give charming, personalized introductions for each bridesmaid & groomsman in the wedding party.

After the Grand Entrance, we turned the microphone over to our couples’ parents for opening toasts and words of thanks. During dinner, in order to get the bride & groom to kiss, guests shared stories about Mariah & Brock!

Following dinner we heard toasts from the wedding party, witnessed a special presentation put together by Josh Thompson of Josh Thompson Media, and began our dance by sharing the love story of Mariah & Brock. Sharing the love story has become one of my favorite things to do for my couples at their weddings. It’s something we put together very carefully, and have actually received professional mentoring on both composition and performance to make sure it is always delivered exceptionally well.

SoundFire DJ Brilliance Option at Stone Harbor Resort

The Brilliance Option with our new Video DJ Booth!
After a few beautiful moments filled with Mariah & Brock’s first dance, as well as a dance with their parents to honor their families, we brought the wedding party out to get the dance started. By the end of the first song the dance floor was packed, and it stayed that way all night! Here are a few pics. As a note, one feature exclusive to the Brilliance option is UV lighting, so you’ll notice some of our guests are glowing!



Did the party last all the way to the stroke of midnight? Oh yes! Here’s a clip of the last song of the night:
Of course, when it was all finished, we asked the guests to capture the end of the night in one epic group shot!

I’d say they had a pretty magical day!

A special shout out deserves to go to the following amazing professionals with whom we worked with closely to help make the day:
Josh Thompson Media
Jenn with Magdalene Photography
Stone Harbor Resort

Do you want an unforgettable experience like this at your wedding?

SoundFire DJ at Badger State Brewery

West met Midwest on 7/7/18 for an epic celebration!

With one of the most beautiful days weather-wise we’ve had this summer, we were able to bring the celebration of a lifetime to Kirsten & Garo Masrelian at Badger State Brewing Company.

Our day began with arrival and setup at 10am, with one of the first things being rolled in was our new DJ booth.  (We’re still coming up with names for it.  If you have a sweet idea for a DJ booth name, leave it in the comments!)  Followed by the rest of our gear for the day.  The game plan for the day?  Ceremony outdoors on the lawn, followed by appetizers and drinks inside, the wedding party arrival after departing for photos, dinner, and dancing!    

When you have one of the best DJs in the Midwest, this is the slowest you'll ever see your dance floor.

This is the slowest the dance floor got all night, and it was the only time we could get a shot with only a few people so you could see our setup!
Why we titled this “West met Midwest…” is that our bride Kirsten is a native from De Pere, but our groom Garo, hails from Los Angeles!  Our couple met at a roulette table in Las Vegas of all places, and Garo, after being quite taken by Kirsten, moved to De Pere only 4 months after meeting Kirsten.  How do we know this?  Because we know their whole love story, and had the honor of sharing it with their guests with reactions of excitement, laughter, sentiment, and love.

In honor of our couple we prepared and delivered on several musical nuances to please both our Midwestern and West Coast guests.  I’d say the results turned out pretty well.

When it's after 10pm, and you remember that most weddings you're already on your way home.  But not this wedding, this one is different.

What our dance floor looked like the rest of the night!
It’s always our #1 focus to make sure our couples and their guests have the very best time possible.  The photo just above this text is taken after 10pm, and the energy stayed this high all the way up to our very last song of the night, and the encore song that followed.
After our night ended, we commemorated the moment with one last picture.  As a DJ, it’s one of the most satisfying things to see so many smiling faces from beginning to the end.  Check it out:
From all of us at SoundFire DJ, we’d like to wish Mr. & Mrs. Garo & Kirsten Masrelian the absolute best in their future together as husband & wife.  It was an honor to be a part of helping them make these amazing memories that they will take with them for the rest of their marriage.

Special shout outs to a few other wonderful professionals that were an integral part of their day:
Chefusion – caterer
Let it Rain Studios (Eric Johnson) – photographer

SoundFire DJ exclusive!!

No, it’s not a corn hole toss game … Watch the video to see the reveal!!

We’re so excited to be bringing something special to our 2018 and beyond clients.  This will be for those who have chosen to work with Alton.  We will be working on getting Tyler hooked up with a booth too, but a date has not yet been determined.

To inaugurate our new video booth we’re going to be doing something special for all 2018 and 2019 clients that have booked with Alton before 6/30/18 – we’re going to give you a free animated monogram that will be displayed on the booth intermittently throughout your reception.  This is a $350 option we want to give as a thank you to those who have chosen to entrust their events with us.  That also means there’s still time to book with Alton to get this service!

Here’s the catch though, and while this should be common sense, we need to say it anyway.  The booth will only work for events where it will be compatible with the setting/venue.  For the most part that means that it will need to be a place that has rolling accessibility from where we unload all the way to where the booth will be placed.  It will not roll on grass or soft surfaces.  We will not be able to accommodate stages unless they have adequate ramp access, undersized elevators where the booth cannot fit, and absolutely no stairs.  

For venues where the booth is incompatible we will bring our tried & true setup, that our couples have loved for years, to rock your event.

Again, we are so excited to be bringing this new feature to SoundFire DJ, and use it as an amazing tool to enhance your event!  

See you soon!!

Venue Feature: Badger State Brewing Company

Let’s start with some pics!

*Some photos provided courtesy of Ken Cravillion
It’s no longer a trend.  It’s here to stay.  Couples are looking for other options from the traditional ballroom in a hotel.  They want something unique that reflects their personality while allowing them to really tailor the look & feel.  Badger State Brewing Company provides a gorgeous space for the couple looking to have that industrial chic look.

SoundFire DJ is proud to be one of the very few preferred providers that come highly recommended from this wonderful facility.  We have had several successful events here, and look forward to having several more.

This space can do so much for your wedding, and I’ve personally seen it hold 350 guests with ease.  Not to mention that if you love beer, this is definitely one of the best places to have your reception!

If you’ve already booked, or are considering having, your reception at Badger State Brewing Company, get in touch with us here at SoundFire DJ.  We’ll help you bring the very best entertainment in Northeast Wisconsin to one of the very best venues!

Contact Us

Help! My friend was going to DJ my event, and now they bailed!!


Consider that price reference the DJ company’s average booking.
As an event professional, a call I get far too often, mostly from brides, is where the client is left high and dry by their friend who convinced them they could “DJ their event for cheap”.  However, the other day I actually got a call from one of these DJs, and I posted the story on my Facebook page.  What made the call from this DJ, who fully intends to bail on his couple, even more troubling is that he has a company name, and appears to be professional to the people researching him.  The other thing that made this example stand out is that I had just ended a phone call with another bride 20 minutes prior who mentioned that she was going to make this exact same mistake, and also claimed that the “friend” was part of a DJ company.  Keep reading to see the excuse this DJ gave for wanting to bail…

Planning a wedding, or will be in the near future? Take note:

The other night I get a call back from a bride I met at a very recent wedding show. She was very interested in our services, and knew the price range, but now her fiancé is telling her he’ll get a friend to DJ the wedding because it will be lower in price. She claims this friend is part of a DJ company. I offer helpful experience to her and say, “Be extremely careful. While you may not go with us, make sure you thoroughly put anyone you’re considering through the paces to make sure they’re professional, skilled, and reliable. I get calls all the time, every wedding season, from couples in a panic searching for someone open telling me about the friend who bailed on them.” I then thanked her for calling and offered to provide any help she may need down the line. 

Not more than 20 minutes later I get a call from a DJ. They have the words “Double D” in their business name (smh). I had never heard of them. What does this guy tell me? He was supposed to DJ a wedding for his work-friend he works with at his factory job (this guy isn’t a full-time DJ), and he got asked to stand up in a closer friend’s wedding. He didn’t realize for some time that the two weddings were on the same date! He’s bailing on his work-friend to stand up in his other friend’s wedding despite having agreed to DJ the work-friend’s wedding first. He even said to me “I’d rather stand up in my friend’s wedding than DJ a wedding. You understand!” No I don’t understand. The only thing I understand right now is that you are unprofessional, and have no business taking on an event where you weren’t prepared to 100% commit. 

Now this bride is in a panic because she’s without one of the most important services of the day, and she is only a few months away. Plus her wedding falls on a prime date that’s booked up nearly everywhere. She had no contract with “Double D”, and the amount of money involved with this transaction was insignificant enough to where there was no incentive, or “skin in the game”, for either side to press for the agreement being kept. She also sounds completely unprepared to find a professional DJ at a professional rate. Which means she’s likely going to roll the dice again on a hobbyist. 

Moral of the story: don’t hire the friend who does this as a hobby for your wedding day. Not all DJ companies are actually professional – and be especially careful of the ones that do this as a side hustle. Do your research, and prepare in your budget adequately (at least 10-15% depending on your total budget). Hire the professional that has a solid reputation, works on your experience (instead of selling gear), and charges a professional fee. You won’t miss the few hundred or even a thousand bucks more 10 years later to get who you want, but you’ll regret not having the best possible experience and memories.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your research, and pick the very best DJ you can afford.  It’s no exaggeration when people say that, “The DJ makes or breaks your party.”  If you’re spending thousands on a photographer to capture your memories, why aren’t you also spending that much on a DJ to help create the memories your photographer will capture?  Equally prioritize them in your budget, and you won’t be sorry when your wedding day comes.  If you would like an “easy” button to help find your DJ, get in touch with me.  If we’re not a good fit, I’ll get you connected with one of my worthy competitors.  

At your service,

Alton Olson
SoundFire DJ

Long overdue for a new blog post!

As I get ready to do some wedding prep for my awesome couple this weekend – Hana & JJ, I have to sit and reflect on some things.

First of all 2018 is going to be an amazing year when it comes to our weddings.  We have more weddings on the books than ever before, and it’s only growing from here.  We’re so thrilled that so many couples have chosen us to entrust with the experience that they will share with their guests on one of the biggest days of their lives.  They made the investment in us, and they decided that their wedding day was worth it.  I want to speak for all of us here at SoundFire DJ when I give a big thank you to all of our 2018 couples!

What are we working on for 2018?  

In a word – performance.

SoundFire DJ is already well-known for the awesome delivery of the “Love Story”.  We aren’t stopping there though.  This past March Alton traveled out West to study with his mentor Mark Ferrell, the OG when it comes to telling the wedding love story, and spent 2 full days doing nothing but learning how to do this better.  The results so far are – more “awes”, more laughs, more cheers, more tears of joy, and, most importantly, a greater emotional connection between the couple and the audience when the couple takes the dance floor for their first dance.  After the day is done, this results in better memories for all in attendance.

We talk a lot during our consultations about the difference between amateur MCs and professional MCs.  Although we already repeatedly receive comments from guests such as, “I can tell you’ve done this before. Were you ever in broadcast?” or “Thanks for not sounding corny like the last DJ we saw at a wedding.” – it’s not enough.  Again, we have been taking professional classes to further develop and refine our skills as the spokesperson who will represent you on a microphone in front of your friends & family.  This makes a huge difference when it comes to how people experience your event!

The bottom line is your event deserves better than “cheesy shtick”.  You have something very real to celebrate, and the spokesperson you hire needs to be in tune with that.  We take this very seriously.

Of course, the music is important too, and that’s only getting better as well.  For the past few years we’ve been bringing a level of skill to DJing that you rarely see in Northeast Wisconsin.  We’re not the human jukebox pressing shuffle on a playlist.  We’re DJs.  We study the skill of taking you and your guests on a musical journey, and the learning never stops.  Until you’ve experienced a wedding with us, you don’t know what you’re missing.  We keep the music going with seamless transitions from song to song where everything stays on the beat, along with creative ideas that have crowds reacting like this:


At a Wedding

At a School Dance
See you at your events everyone!  

If you’d like to learn more about how SoundFire DJ can make your event look like the pictures above, get in touch!


November 5th, 2016 – Groose Wedding

PictureAlton Olson & Mike Rakovszky

Our last wedding of the main wedding season!

What a way to send things off!  We had such an incredible time with the DuFrane’s & the Groose families.  They had a beautiful reception up at The Carrington, which is part of The Landmark Resort, in Egg Harbor (our second time being up there this year).  What was also very special about this event is Mike Rakovszky from Advanced Entertainment DJ service came along to co-chair the event under the SoundFire DJ flag.  It’s something special when DJ companies can work together to help bring an amazing experience to each other’s events.

Our couple had their ceremony service at a nearby church, and then the doors for their guests opened at 5pm for the reception.  Guests were immediately greeted with tasteful selections of Adult Contemporary music based on Adam & Megan’s requests, and music we expertly curate based on their tastes.

Right before we began dinner …

we had a private cake cutting with the wedding party, and then introduced their wedding party in grand style!  Immediately following we shared our couple’s love story which painted the picture of how they met, how their relationship developed, and illustrated, through words, the moment when they got engaged.  We were able to pull everyone in the room into the experience our couple had leading up to that day, and then tie everyone in that room into being part of the continuation of that story which we were creating that night.

I’m delighted to share that this resulted in an amazing evening for Mr. & Mrs. Groose, and we put together this short video to wish them a big congratulations!

With love,
Alton Olson
​SoundFire DJ

October 15, 2016 – Firkus Wedding

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of bringing to a reality all of the hard work that was prepared for Matt & Krista.  It was a beautiful day with a beautiful ceremony at the Botanical Gardens here in Green Bay, WI.  

We had the pleasure of working with Vicky Gilson Photography who captured the beautiful memories in which we helped to contribute.  Here are a couple beautiful examples of Vicky’s work:  

While we were posting photos to our Instagram account, we received this wonderful message from Krista:
Thank you Krista & Matt.  The pleasure was ours, and we want to wish you both the very best in a long & blissful future together.  Congratulations!

October 8, 2016 – Brzozowski Wedding

We had an absolutely incredible time with the Brzozowski & Martinez wedding party this past weekend. They had the most beautiful ceremony & reception at Barnsite Retreat & Events Center located in Kewaunee, WI. SoundFire DJ had the pleasure of coordinating their wedding with Kyra Rane Photography and ZoZo’s Kitchen. Everything went extremely smooth for Timothee & Brittany, and we were so honored to be a part of one of the biggest days in their lives!

We want to thank Brittany for leaving us this fantastic 5-star review on Facebook:

Alton did a fantastic job DJing our event this past weekend!! He was not only an excellent DJ, but he helped us out every step of the way, keeping us on track with our planning. He was very professional and genuinely wanted to make sure that everything went smoothly and perfectly for our day. He kept everyone on the dance floor all night, which was very important to us. We would recommend Soundfire DJ to anyone!!

Again, thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Brzozowski!  It was truly an honor to work with you both on creating lifelong memories for your wedding day.  I want to wish you both and Addie the very best in your future together – you deserve it!

October 1, 2016 Weekend – Lots of news to report:

First, as has been in the news the past couple weeks, Jerika Bolen passed away on 9/22/2016.  Exactly 2 months since we had the honor of providing the entertainment for her prom.  This past Saturday Jerika had her funeral, which was kept private in lieu of all the attention her story had received.  Sadly, we were not able to attend due to our commitments to our couples.  Everyone here at SoundFire DJ sends our deepest condolences to Jen Bolen along with other family & friends of Jerika.  

We didn’t get to know her for very long, but she left an impression on us that will stay with us for a lifetime.

Jerika’s obituary can be found here.

Our events:

We had two amazing events this past weekend.  That’s right, SoundFire DJ is growing, and we’re doing so 
in a very careful way to maintain our high standards of quality both in performance and presentation, along with providing the flexibility we have offered our clients all along!

Alton, the owner, was at the Shawano County Park Pavilion for the wedding of Nicholas & Katie Lucier helping them to have a night of a lifetime filled with beautiful memories as we shared their love story, and directed the night to accommodate a very diverse group of guests & special dances.  Here is a brief video we put together to wish them a congratulations!

We also want to share with you this photo that Adam Shea, of Adam Shea Photography, captured of Nicholas & Katie during their first dance.  Adam & Alton coordinated together to create this epic shot of our couple in an effort to, once again, help create memories to last a lifetime.  

Bayport 2016 Homecoming

SoundFire DJ was contacted this past August to work with Bayport High School to provide entertainment for their 2016 Homecoming Dance! We were very excited to work with them, and are excited to be providing entertainment for their Snowball dance this winter. We are in talks already about providing next year’s Homecoming entertainment as well; provided it is scheduled on a date we still have availability (next year’s September is completely booked minus Labor Day weekend, and that day is pending a decision from a couple as we speak, and early October is starting to book up as well).

SoundFire DJ brought on board the talents of Tyler Hooyman, Nate Losinski, and Serna Al aka DJ Baja to run the dance. Our equipment setup for this dance was nothing short of incredible. For lighting we had 10 moving heads, 4 wash lights, and our truss was illuminated in Bayport’s school colors. Our sound system had 4 dual 18″ subwoofer cabinets (yes, a total of 8 18″ low frequency drivers – the bass was insane), and we flew 4 2-way speakers from the truss to have the incredible skills of our DJ – Tyler come through with crystal clear audio over the 1300 students that were in attendance!

Here are some photos of the guys setting up (just for reference, Tyler, pictured bottom left, is 6’6″ tall):

As the students started to trickle in, it didn’t take long for the fun to begin. (Video courtesy of DJ Baja)
Very quickly we had the place jumping.  In the student’s own words, it was a, “Lit Ho-Co!”
We love what we do here at SoundFire DJ!  

Contact us for your next event!