Well it’s been a fairly quiet few months for me but after a self imposed three month break with a nice sunshine holiday thrown in, the batteries are fully recharged and I’m raring to go for 2012, which promises to be even more hectic starting with a wedding at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire this weekend.
That’s not to say I haven’t still been busy though, there’s still been plenty going on in the background and this is a part of that. ’Behind The Scenes’ is a new feature and one where I’ll be going behind the scenes of the wedding industry and interviewing other wedding suppliers and delving into who they are and what they do.
First up is wedding DJ Jon Saunders (www.jon-saunders.co.uk). Jon and I worked at the same wedding last July when Daljit and Andrew got married at Oatlands Park in Surrey. Jon is based in Surrey and very much in demand for weddings throughout the south, here’s more about him.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a 36yr old full-time wedding DJ, and very proud daddy to my 6 year old twin boys Billy & Georgie. I’m a born & bred Yorkshireman, originally from Sheffield. I moved South in 1992, so have been an adopted Southerner for 20 years now. I’m a very humble and down-to-earth type of guy, and incredibly laid back, which annoys my mum!
Tell us about your background as a DJ – How long have you been in the business and how did you get started?
I’ve been DJing for a living now for 15 years. It was 1997 when I first tasted what it was like to be a DJ. I was living with my sister at her pub & restaurant she was managing at the time in West Wickham, Kent. We had a weekly 60′s, 70′s & 80′s disco on a Sunday night, and the DJ Steve Moran was fantastic. He was an interactive type of DJ who was very confident and chatty without being cheesy. He was the perfect party DJ, and I learnt a lot from him when I first started. I’d always loved older music, and I just really fancied giving it a go, so I was very lucky that a close friend lent me £3,500 to buy my first lot of equipment. It’s all snowballed from there really.
When did you start doing weddings?
In the early days (late 90′s) I did mainly other types of functions to gain experience & confidence, mainly birthday parties. It was around 2003 when I really started to get into doing a lot of weddings. I’m now 100% weddings only.
Where are you based and what areas do you cover?
I’m based in Sutton, Surrey, and I cover every Southern County. I certainly get around that’s for sure! One weekend I’ll be working close to home in Surrey, and then the following weekend I can be in Hampshire, Berkshire or Sussex. If a wedding couple really want me to be part of their wedding I’ll travel almost anywhere.
I’m an emotional person and very sensitive, so I can relate to the power a wedding creates in an emotional sense. My favourite part of my job is seeing a full dance floor, which to any wedding DJ is what its all about. An empty dance floor is a very painful experience, and one I very rarely witness
What sort of music do you tend to play?
Every wedding is different, purely because my sets are built around each individual wedding client. I don’t just turn up and play the same set every week. All my clients are given 100% freedom to create their own soundtrack, which I then put into an order I think will work best on the dance floor. Usually there is a good mixture of classic floor fillers from the 70′s & 80′s, a sprinkle of 90′s, and some of the best up-to-date chart hits from the present day. Occasionally I get given a very obscure request list, which can make the evening disco very challenging, but overall I’m lucky that most of my clients have good taste in music!
Well, lighting is important at the evening reception, and if a DJ just turns up and plugs in some awful flashing lights, it doesn’t give a very classy look for the evening does it?! My focus has always been to try and make the DJ & dance floor area look elegant & pretty. The Bride & Groom will love you for it, trust me! Like some other wedding DJ’s I use LED mood lighting to ambiently light up the walls around the room where the evening reception is taking place, which makes a very significant difference. I’ve also just introduced a beautiful heart shaped projection with the words ”I love you” written in the middle of the heart, which I shine on to the dance floor for the first dance. Brides & Grooms can pay a little extra to have their names custom written inside the heart. Elegant weddings with subtle lighting is the future.
And the rest of the equipment you use?
All my equipment is from brands such as Pioneer, Denon, Bose and FBT, which all give me excellent sound quality and reliability, which is ultimately what I need when working at weddings. Having peace of mind in your gear is imperative.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve come across as a DJ?
Oh my goodness I’ve had so many!! Probably when a drunken guest asked me to play ”Last Christmas” by Wham as the last song of the night. This was at a summer wedding in July!!!
What’s been your favourite wedding and why?
Any funny moments you can recall?
I once was given a playlist by a bride whose father didn’t like her song choices, and when I started playing her requests he came storming up to me and threatened to drown me in the lake outside the venue!! He was VERY drunk, and demanded I played ”Loco in Acapulco” by the Four Tops at least 5 times!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a DJ?
I was a professional snooker player between 1991 – 1994, so I’d like to think I would be doing something within the game, like coaching. Unfortunately my eyesight has deteriorated so badly that I can’t see the pockets anymore when I go to take a shot. I played for England for 2yrs as a junior, with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Lee as my team mates.
Where do you see the wedding industry going in the next 3-5 years?
I think standards will continue to get a lot higher by all suppliers, and as with the ongoing power of the internet, Brides & Grooms really can find the very best suppliers, so everybody will need to up their game to get work. The cowboys out there will be a thing of the past I feel.
And your thoughts on the music industry at the moment?
I’m not bowled over with some (or most) of what I hear these days. Occasionally there are few good tracks in the top 40, but overall music is nothing like it used to be. I was an 80′s school kid and I still love listening to all those amazing classics from the 80′s, which for me was the best decade for music.
If I were to pick up your iPod and go through your personal playlists, what sort of stuff would I find?
What are the important things that people should look for in a wedding DJ?
A wedding DJ should firstly be flexible and happy to let you have your way with the music. If the client wants to dictate the evening playlist, then the DJ should be fine with this. Another thing to look for when searching for a wedding DJ is to look closely at their reviews/testimonials. The most important thing though is to meet the DJ before any booking is made. You’ll soon know if they are the right person for your wedding.
How can people find you and what’s the booking process?
Going directly to my website is always the best start, as there’s lots of great info on there about who I am, and what I do. There is also a link to my Facebook DJ page, where you can *Like* my page and follow me and see what I’m doing from week to week, and where I’m working etc. The booking process is very simple; if the client decides they would like to book me for their wedding, I will send them a signed contract and I then require just a £75 deposit to secure the booking. My website address is www.Jon-Saunders.co.uk
A big thanks to Jon for agreeing to take part in this blog feature, you can see just how the party was rocking when I last worked with him by taking a look at my blog post from the wedding. I’ll be firing some questions at other wedding suppliers throughout the year but in the meantime, I’ll be back next week with a blog from this weekend’s wedding. Don’t forget you can also follow me on Facebook and Google+ .