The Dana on Mission Bay is a gorgeous resort that is a wonderful place to get married. One ceremony location is on the north side of the property that faces the bay. The guests walk down a path in between two hotel room buildings. Then it opens up into a 180 degree view of the bay with grass stretching hundreds of yards in both directions. This area is shared by the hotel with the City of San Diego as the surrounding area is a park called Sunset Point Park. The other ceremony area is nestled in their beautiful and lush garden that is called The Dana Courtyard. This tropically decorated ceremony area is very private that creates an intimate setting for up to 150 people.
Every time I am wedding DJ here, I feel like I am in Hawaii. Both locals and out of owners get married there because it is centrally located in San Diego. It isn’t a very large hotel so there aren’t that many guests at any given time. The event spaces are perfect for 100-200 person weddings.
Brant and Laura were from out of town and were looking for that San Diego wedding experience. By playing acoustic music and reggae, I kept the vibe steady throughout the ceremony. The cocktail reception was high energy with country drinking music. The dinner was laid back with 70’s and 80’s soft rock. Once open dancing kicked off, the couple was looking for a lot of club music, so I obliged with some heavy hitters. We wrapped a bow on the whole wedding by playing Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” Yes, it was a good day that lead into a great night at The Dana on Mission Bay.
Bali Hai is one of San Diego’s best wedding venues for an island or Hawaiian style weddings. Whenever I get a chance to do a wedding where I am allowed to wear a Hawaiian shirt, I show up with my favorite Tommy Bahama. Otherwise I rock the linen suit with a Tommy Bahama tie. Speaking of Tommy, shout out to Tommy who runs the place with his Dad Larry.
Preston and Brooke found me at a Bali Hai mixer where the venue showcased all of their vendors. Brooke was there with her parents and I first met her father. He came up to me and I could tell by his relaxed swagger that he was from San Diego. We hit it off right away when he asked me:
“So what’s your day job?”
I responded with, “I’m a donut chef, You?”
He said, “I’m a cop.”
I replied, “So am I hired as your Wedding DJ?”
He said, “Yup” and walked away.
I thought the conversation was over. He then brought the whole family to me and we all decided that it would be best if I was their wedding DJ.
The Father of the Bride
Let’s fast forward to the wedding day and Brooke’s Dad’s speech. The thing that got me was that before his speech, the man was balling his eyes out watching his daughter dance with her new husband. He then proceeded to give an excellent speech with funny memories, witty antidotes and great advice for a long lasting marriage. The father daughter dance was up next and he had specially edited it to start with Heartland’s “I loved Her First” and then transitioned into the chorus of LMFAO’s “Party Rock.” The two danced as I am sure they did for her whole childhood. FINALLY They stopped, hugged and he gave a thumbs up to his new Son in Law. Cheers.
La Valencia Hotel was built in 1926 and has been a favorite hotel of mine for decades. Whether I am being a wedding DJ there or simply stopping through for a drink at the bar, this place takes me back in time, every time. My wife and I stayed in one of their villas on our wedding night which was one of the nicest hotel stays we have ever experienced.
I do 4-6 weddings at La Valencia Hotel a year. When on site, I always make sure to stop what I am doing for a moment and enjoy the breathtaking views.
Amer and Liz were referred to me by the events staff at La Valencia Hotel. I make it a point to always meet the bride and groom before the wedding because meeting them on their wedding day is tacky. They lived out of town and we were unable to meet up before the wedding. I made the mistake of addressing the groom’s bother as the groom after the wedding. That would not have happened had i met them in advance.
Some wedding at La Valencia Hotel can be upscale to the point of stuffiness but not with this crowd. The guests were well dressed and came to have a great time. You could tell because at the ceremony, the conversation were particularly loud, but not obnoxious. People were genuinely enjoying each other’s company. That enjoyment lasted through the cocktails, into dinner and leaked all over the dance floor.
A Witty Groom With Great Musical Taste
Amer was a very witty man. His speech was very formal but he had some quick one liners that had many people laughing including myself. Their first dance was a song by Charles Aznavour called “ For Me Formidable.” That translates from French to English as “For Me Wonderful.” This song became an instant favorite for me and is now regularly played in my jazz and big band sets during dinner.
Galway Downs boasts of their vision of quality, beauty, hospitality and grace. When I showed up to be a Temecula wedding Dj for the night, I had high expectations. All of my expectations were met. Galway Downs originally opened in 1968 as the Ranch California Track and Training Center and created a long standing history of Equestrian excellence of every discipline. 2010 brought a new family to renovate the property and add to the prestige of the property. An event center that they call The Carriage House was renovated to host weddings receptions and this was one of the tallest rooms I had ever done a reception in.
Josh and Lindsay reached out to have me be their wedding DJ. Actually, Lindsay reached out to me because Lindsay is my homie. I had worked with Lindsay for years at the Bahia Resort Hotel where we quickly became close because we both shared the no BS attitude while wearing a smile. She left the Bahia Resort Hotel and settled in at Coasterra where she frequently refers me for weddings and corporate events. She knows many Djs so when she asked me to be her DJ, I was truly humbled and appreciative.
A Wedding Coordinator’s Wedding
The guests were a mix of family, friends, wedding industry professionals and a bunch of rowdy Sheriffs. It was nice to see all of the wedding planners in the guest seat. I joked with the ladies about how they needed a night off so they were not allowed to do anything. Some couldn’t resist re-setting the center pieces and fusing over runners.
The dance floor opened up and I saw something I had never seen before. There was a large group of hulking Sheriffs in the middle of the dance floor. They were dancing a choreographed routine and singing every word to N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.” That wasn’t something I could laugh at because I wouldn’t want to laugh at these men, so i wore a poker face until one of my planner buddies nudged me with her elbow and we both cracked up. That was a good one.
The Bougainvillea Estate in Indio California is outside of Palm Springs. This estate was laid out like a resort with a long drive way that had grass lawns running perpendicular to it. A pond was in the middle of one of the lawns which was next to the ceremony area. During the ceremony the fountain was off and then once they kissed, the fountain turned on. Cocktails and o’dourves were served on the front patio that seemed less of a patio and more of a court yard, but it was a patio. The dinner and dancing were all around the pool which was surrounded by the main house and three large guests houses making a rectangular and open roofed area.
Scott and Jess were referred to me by my buddy Suher Haidar with Francine Ribeau Events. They had hired a Dj and somehow he backed out a few weeks before the wedding. I had the night off, so I stepped in as their wedding DJ. I never met them in person but judging by our phone calls and their song requests, this was a fun and young couple. Their music selections focused on music that would get both the older family members and young friends on the dance floor at the same time. They told me they liked to dance and proved it.
They told me they liked to dance and proved it.
The open dancing was three hours long which may not seem like a long time but it really is. The dance floor was packed from the first to the last song. These people were either very much in shape, very much in love with dancing or very much drunk. I figured it was all three because the smiles and happy faces didn’t stop with the last song. Once the music was off, everyone jumped in the pool! I packed up my things to head back to San Diego. On my way out, I received many wet high fives.
Fairbanks Ranch Country Club gives the best that a California wedding can offer. Palm trees, bodies of water and green fairways run in every direction from the club house. The cuisine coming out of the catering kitchen is delicious. You have to be a member to have an event there or at least know someone who is.
Danny and Angela had seen me at a friend’s wedding a couple months earlier so they knew what to expect form my wedding DJ services. Danny had also worked at a few bars that used to play at when I was a San Diego club DJ so he knew that I could adapt my style any which way he wanted. Their request list was pretty short, they just wanted me to do my thing. For the ceremony I played some acoustic folk music and for the cocktails I mixed country drink music with beach reggae and pop music. During the dinner I started off with Jazz and Big Band music that later transitioned into Country love songs.
A Dance Party on a Patio
What was a little weird was that my DJ set up was outside on a patio with a couple tables where they put the rowdy guests while most everyone else was inside. Unfortunately I couldn’t run a speaker inside because if the doors closed, my cables would be severed by the airtight doors. To remedy that, we kept one set of doors open.
Open dancing started where I seamlessly mixed track to track through multiple genres and multiple decades. Dancing is like laughter, it’s infectious. The rowdy guests that were sitting outside turned into the rowdy guest on the dance floor. After a few tracks, the dance floor was packed. People were giving me high fives from in from of my DJ set up. At the end of the night, no one wanted to leave so I played a few last songs. Those are my kind of party people.
Hilton Resort & Spa sits on the East side of Mission Bay right in front of the 5 freeway. I grew up less than a mile away and as a kid would roller blade on the boardwalk near the bay right in front of the Hilton Resort & Spa. This resort always reminds me of my childhood and I do 4-6 weddings a year there. I am on the preferred vendors list as a wedding DJ there and I also get referrals from Mary Bowerman who is a wonderful wedding planner who frequently coordinates there.
Darrel & Kerri were referred to me by themselves, because Kerri works in event sales at the Hilton Resort & Spa. Her wedding was the third I did for the staff at Hilton Resort & Spa. I always look forward to doing weddings for the venue staff. Bob Fader is now a sales manager there after being the event sales manager at La Valencia for years. These are my people!
Darryl and Kerri got married on the lawn where most people get married that looks west to the bay. Ceremonies here are always beautiful and the walk form the ceremony area to the cocktail is a nice stroll down the boardwalk.
I played Vitamin String Quartet for their seating music. Their cocktail reception was at Fresco’s which is a bar at the resort. The playlist there was mostly beach reggae and acoustic music. The dinner was under the large banner tree by the pool with jazz music to start with that transitioned into 70’s and 80’s soft rock. From the first song to the last song, the guests filled dance floor with fist pumps and fluid gyration. The groom LOVED 80’s music so the John Hughes movie soundtracks were on full display. The last song of the evening was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” with everyone screaming the chorus.
Scripps Seaside Forum is close enough to the beach to enjoy the breeze but far enough away to not get sand on your nice shoes. It sits atop the cliffs of La Jolla Shores and happens to be the venue that I got married at. When I get a lead for this venue I make sure to give all the tips and tricks I know about the Forum. I relive my wonderful wedding every time I work there.
Dougie and Kelsie were referred to me from my buddy Inez with Bashful Events who does events and I was also her wedding DJ when she married my buddy Keith. The wedding planner, Melissa Barrad with I Do…Weddings and Events, is someone I have worked with for years and every time I get to work with her, it is a pleasure. She is very down to earth, easy to talk to and gives her vendors the room to do their job. She can also run a program to perfection without adding any additional and unnecessary stress.
Up Lights at Scripps Seaside Forum
I love providing the lighting at Scripps Seaside Forum because there is so much you can do. Usually there is pipe and drape from the floor to the ceiling at the back of the venue. This is a perfect area for up lighting which accents the wedding colors to perfection. When you are in the venue looking west to the ocean, there are two Mexican Palm trees that shoot up about 20 feet. I always suggest up lighting for a cool effect. I also recommend up lighting the other palm trees in the same area. There are so many more tips and tricks with lighting at this venue but I’ll save those for my clients.
Avensole Winery sits in the hills of Temecula and is a wonderful place to have a wedding. The ceremony area has a deep field view of the wineries of Temecula in the distance and the rows of grape trees with in proximity. Cocktails are usually had after the ceremony inside where they have a large bar serving, yes you guessed it, wine and beer. The reception room is intricately decorated with wall decor and fits roughly 150 people with a couple tables outside.
Matt & Morgan reached out to me to be their wedding DJ because I’ve done at least 5 weddings in Matt’s social group and I have known him since I was 8 years old. Matt had a history in the professional paint ball business as a player and as an announcer. He also was the officiate at a few of his friend’s weddings including his sister’s wedding at which I was also the wedding Dj at. I knew everyone at this wedding and went to high school with all the groom’s men. One of the groom’s men Shaun Joe was the DJ at all of our high school parties and was one of the first Djs I ever knew. These are good people.
Matt’s buddy Yoshi was the officiant who did an excellent job. The ceremony was perfect with both the bride and the groom reciting their handwritten vows to a tearful crowd. The cocktail reception got rowdy with old friends making new friends and family catching up while reminding about past memories. The dinner kicked off with a toast from the groom’s father Mark who was my little league coach. The few interruptions from the heckling groomsmen were challenged with verbal jabs by Mark. He really nailed it when he looked at his son Matt and said, “It’s about damn time.” The night went on as laughter and music filled the air while beer and wine filled the bellies. We ended with a group hug and then directions to the after party.
Andrew and Jenna I knew from the San Diego Bar and Club scene. Andrew was a photographer and Jenna did administration and management at multiple places. They reached out to me because I do many industry weddings a year. Most Djs who play bar and clubs don’t like to do weddings. I love them!
Bar and Club Industry Wedding
On this beautiful day as the guests arrived I knew most of them as friends from the industry. When playing for the bar and club industry I am sure to mix the music up from what they are used to hearing at work. I usually stick to standard wedding music because you don’t hear that stuff in the bars and clubs. It sounds weird but most industry staff goes nuts when they hear “Shout” or “Celebration.” You’d think they would want to hear the cool kid music, but it’s usually not the case.
The seating music playlist consisted of acoustic folk music form artists like Ryan Adams, Iron & Wine and Non Iver. During cocktails I played a lot of country drinking music by artists like Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Florida Georgia Line and Zac Brown Band. For dinner I stuck with The Rat Pack until about halfway through when I switched over to 70’s and 80’s soft rock. Once the dance floor was opened up, I played all the wedding classics and we had a blast!