Internet Wisdom

Posted in DJ Stuff, Professionalism, Weddings! on January 14, 2016 by djscottshirley

There are more than 80 DJ Chat boards on social media, and some of them tend to deteriorate into Ford vs. Chevy arguments about equipment or formal wear.

But once in a while a real gem comes from the DJ Chats. This comes from Carl Naples of DJ By Design – Wedding Arts & Entertainment of Syracuse, New York. Thanks, Carl!

#0 Traits of a Solid DJ

Now It’s My Turn: FOB, Part One

Posted in Father of the Bride on March 31, 2015 by djscottshirley

I Am the Father of the Bride

Part One in a Series

I am the Father of the Bride.

I have worked at more than 2,000 weddings. I have been the Master of Ceremonies, the DJ, the photographer, the bartender, and the videographer. I have served food, mopped floors, stitched buttons, changed flat tires and jump-started cars. I’ve performed pre- and post-marital counseling. I’ve been the wedding coordinator and the florist and the decorator and even the bouncer. I’ve broken up fights between step-parents and newlyweds. I’ve done every job you can think of at a wedding, and a few you can’t imagine.

Except for Father of the Bride.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

I knew it would happen someday. I am the father of two little girls. At least, they were little yesterday. I know I haven’t gotten any older; when did they grow up?

Daddy's little girls

Just yesterday they were little girls!

Now they are getting married. BOTH of them. Within three months of each other. Am I paranoid in feeling they are ganging up on me?

Bad enough that sending them to college cost more than a nice house. I thought it was expensive to put braces on their teeth. I thought providing them with nice reliable cars was costly.

But at least I had the illusion of control back then. The dentist and the car salesmen made a point to ask, “What do you think, Mr. Shirley?” They at least pretended that my opinion mattered.

The first thing I learned as FOB is that my opinion is irrelevant. My vast wealth of wedding experience doesn’t count. My knowledge of the internal workings of weddings, and my connections to the top vendors in the industry, don’t mean a thing. All that counts is what she wants. Don’t ask the price. Shut up, Daddy, and write checks.

I know what they say. You know, the ubiquitous “THEY.” As in, “They say you ought to…” They always have an opinion, and everyone you know will quote what they say. And what they all say is “Just give her a budget, and tell her that’s all she’s getting. Spend it however she likes, but don’t ask for more.”they say

Yeah, right. Show me a Father Of Bride (FOB) who claims he has done that, and I will show you a man who is a liar or a divorcee, or both. Possibly an amputee. And likely estranged from his daughters as well.

I hate THEY. They are wrong.

I had this naive illusion that, because of my experience and industry connections, we could host a beautiful wedding for less money than regular people pay. Regular people like my customers! I frequently give clients advice, at their request, about how to save money on their weddings. I work to save them money, it’s part of the job. They listen, and they thank me.

Not my girls! They won’t hear it. To them, I am not the experienced wedding professional, I’m only Daddy.  If I start to vocalize the slightest hint of a suggestion, I hear, loud and clear, “Daddy!” The tone is the same as they use to scold a dog. I never complete a sentence, if they suspect I might offer advice.

The younger one got engaged first. I knew she would want a big wedding. So right away, I gave her business cards of some of my favorite vendors: my favorite wedding photographer, videographer, some outstanding caterers, and a great cake baker. Let her make her own choices, or so I thought. Little did I know that it was the Kiss of Death to be one of Daddy’s favorites! People I know and trust, who get great reviews from clients…eliminated in the first round. She didn’t like the photographer’s website; refused to even call him. She wanted her friend’s caterer. The cakes in her brochure looked too…well, something, for her.

Well, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. 25 years of being Daddy has taught me something. I still know how to use old-fashioned reverse psychology. “You liked the photographers at Rachel’s wedding, why don’t you talk to them? We probably can’t afford them, but you should ask.”

Seed planted. I didn’t mention that I already spoke with them, and approved. Maybe we could get a decision.

No such luck. Turns out they were not expensive enough. So she found one on her own. Forty miles from home, and more than twice as much as the others, she had to have this photographer! Cost? More than her car.

That was when I decided to invoke the advice of “THEY,” and put my foot down. “I will not pay that kind of price for a photographer! I gave you a great photographer, and you wouldn’t speak to him, and I am not going to mortgage the farm for this!”

No_ControlThis was how I learned that I have NO control. They went begging to the Groom’s mother, and she agreed to pay for the high-priced photographer.

I am the Father of the Bride. I can’t win, and I can’t quit.

Scott Shirley is the owner and Entertainment Director for PM Celebrations. He has provided entertainment and event planning services for more than 2,000 weddings, and his daughters let him know that he doesn’t know anything. He can be reached at Better yet, call him at 817-294-9539. Maybe you can benefit from his money-saving wedding ideas.

Five Complaints About Wedding DJs

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2014 by djscottshirley

We have written at length here about Professionalism; what it is, and what it isn’t.

And much advice is floating around the Interwebs, much of it conflicting, about DJ professionalism and prices. By definition, a “professional” does it for a living, not a hobby or a sideline to their Real Job. And just like a professional photographer, or a professional anything for that matter, he or she must charge enough to earn a living wage. True professionals are worth it, and their clients all say so and send them more customers.

But 95% of them are hobbyists. And while some of them have talent, and may be “professional” in their demeanor, appearance, or their business practices, they don’t have to kill to eat. Professionals live off of referrals, and thus will do whatever it takes to make your event successful. Amateurs don’t need to.

Here are the Top 5:

1.  They Play TOO LOUD!

This comes from two mistakes amateur hobby DJs make: A.) small cheap system with just two little speakers on sticks – their only option is to “turn the volume up to 11,” and B.) a youthful DJ who intentionally shows off how loud the absurdly HUGE sound system can get. That sort of unprofessional practice is simply immaturity. Neither is equipped nor qualified to play for a wedding.

Absurd overkill, and TOO LOUD even switched off!

A professional uses the appropriate system design and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to get good coverage and sound quality at lower volume.

2.  They Dress Inappropriately.

This one is just stupid. The DJ/MC is highly visible, and needs to look professional. For a wedding this means a tuxedo or a suit. Too many inexperienced DJs want to look “badass,” and many have a thing about dressing in all black, and an aversion to wearing a tie.

3.  They Get Drunk And Hit On Bridesmaids and Guests.

Really? Do I really need to explain this? Bad, unprofessional, and potentially criminal.

4.  They Play The Wrong Music.

Perhaps the most bothersome aspect is that this is ranked fourth! A professional will meet with the Bride and Groom as much as needed to select music that is just right. No two are alike, nor should they be. The music should be what the client wants, not the DJ. This is why it’s not a great idea to ask the Club DJ you like to play for your wedding. Totally different skill set.

5.   The DJ is “Cheesy” or Says Inappropriate Things

This one belongs in the same category as getting drunk. Totally wrong and unprofessional. Horror stories abound, all because people planning weddings fail to check references or choose the lowest bidder – sure ways to end up with an amateur. Sadly, this often happens with a FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) who thinks such comments are funny, that no true professional would ever say.

Party Machine Celebrations has many Blogs archived about Professionalism. In the Dallas-Fort Worth market, there are fewer than three dozen experienced professional DJs who do weddings full time. A Google search will turn up 4,000 amateurs. Ask your planner or your  photographer who the real Pros are, and CALL their references! Call and speak to them on the phone (NO texting.) Why? Since this will be the voice that represents your family, don’t you want to know if he stutters? Talk with him, or her!

Good, professional DJs are out there. If we are booked for a date, these are the people I will refer too, because I can count on them to be professional. Someone told me that to find a good Doctor, you should ask a malpractice lawyer who he sees. To find a professional DJ, ask one who he would trust enough to refer for one of his best clients.

Call me at Party Machine Celebrations at 817-294-9539, and we will get you with a professional.

Off-Shoring Theme Parties?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2014 by djscottshirley

At Party Machine Celebrations, we have always loved events with special themes, and work hard to make them special and unique.

We have done Western Themes and New York Themes. We have done White Themes (all the guests dressed in white), Tacky Parties, Blacklight Parties, and “White Trash” Parties with a Redneck theme. We have even done Redneck Theme Weddings!

My personal favorite is Pirate Theme Parties.

We have covered every decade: 50s and 60s parties, 70s and 80s parties Gen-X parties. We’ve done the Rat Pack “Crooner” theme. We do Disco Theme Parties better than anyone, and they have been all the rage for middle-aged birthday parties for several years. The classic Mirror Ball and fog machines can turn any venue into the Disco club from “Saturday Night Fever.”

We have done all kinds of Nerd Theme parties. We have done Plane Crash Victim parties in airplane hangars (not very funny after an air tragedy), Zombie Parties, and Nautical themes. We have done costume parties where everyone dressed as a dead celebrity. Ugly “Bill Cosby” Sweater parties are popular at Christmastime, and college students have had Toga Parties for decades.

We even did a Harry Potter Theme party for the release of the final film in the franchise. The decorating and refreshments were straight from the books and everyone came in costume. We projected the crests for the four houses of Hogwarts on the marble walls of the Great Room. The movies were showing on two huge screens, and we did Green-Screen Photography where we could shoot a guest’s photo, and insert them into a scene from their favorite HP film – very cool!

American Party

But guess what is trending across the pond? American Theme Parties. Or at least, how people in other countries think Americans do it. See what you think.

On Love – and Wedding Cake

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2013 by djscottshirley

How many weddings have you been to, where you heard the familiar scripture on love from 1 Corinthians 13?

It is probably the most popular statement about love used by wedding preachers.

Katy and Clay Hodges’ wedding cake had everyone eating these words:

"Love is not jealous or boastful" although it might prove to be fattening!

“Love is not jealous or boastful” although it might prove to be fattening!

Here is a closeup view:

love cake closeup

At Party Machine Celebrations, we are always finding great ideas. Call us at 817-294-9539 and let us share the ideas learned from 36 years of wedding experience!

Things To Release At A Wedding Ceremony

Posted in Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by djscottshirley

Found this on the Interwebs and had to share it!

Make your wedding memorable!

Wedding Savings Tip: Don’t Rule Out Private Clubs

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2012 by djscottshirley

I am often asked about how to save money on weddings. I will be posting a series of money-saving tips for brides in the coming weeks, so be sure to bookmark this site.

We have already addressed one of the best ways to cut costs: hold the wedding on a less popular date, and have it in the daytime. Prime Saturdays in April, May, June, and October always cost more than a weekday in January. Your family and friends will show up no matter when you have it – “If you host it, they will come.”

One idea that many people don’t consider is choosing a private club for your reception venue. It seems counter-intuitive – private clubs evoke an image of being expensive – but many of my wedding clients have saved hundreds and even thousands of dollars by holding their reception at a Country Club.


Unlike hotels and stand-alone banquet halls, private clubs are often not-for-profit organizations. Banquet rooms are available to members free of charge, and the only cost is for food and drink service. Furniture and even linens are often included.

Compare this to the breakdown of costs from a typical hotel. Hotels charge for room rental, food service on a per-person basis, and beverage service. Some will charge for outside furniture or linen rentals, and for security guards, charges that are often included at the private clubs.

The bottom line total is often less at the private club!

But I’m not a member!

Some are intimidated by the “private” image of private clubs. The truth is that many of them welcome the general public as banquet customers, and even advertise their availability. It is not uncommon to see a Country Club, Yacht Club or downtown City Club advertise in wedding magazines and bridal shows these days.

Some clubs, mainly the older established ones, will require a Member-Sponsor. Many get around this by having a list of members who are willing to sponsor non-member banquets. If a club makes money from an outside banquet, it helps them keep lower dues and fees for their members.

Another consideration is the fact that most major private clubs have “Reciprocity.” If you have a family member who belongs to the local Yacht Club, for instance, he would be granted member privileges at many of the Country Clubs in the area.

Private clubs are generally well-staffed with experienced food and beverage people. Many have a reputation for outstanding food, a great view, or a magnificent staircase for a bouquet toss.

At Party Machine Celebrations, we have worked with major clubs for years, know the facilities well, and can always help save you money.