Event Pacing - The key to the "Magic"

I have to admit it always tickles me to hear the sales pitch of DJs who proclaim about how it's their "sparkling personality" or "mic skills" that make an evening special for their guests. Sorry, I beg to differ. Perhaps I'm a bit of a simpleton (an under-statement) but I believe a great event is designed and executed. It does not just "happen magically", at least on a consistent basis. Sure, there are a million little tid-bits of tricks and stunts we pull to control, influence and steer but at the end of the evening, the event pace is what makes it all come together.

Start with a Timeline of Events

The first goal we have is to build a good timeline of events. Grand Entrance, Dinner, First Dance, etc. Now I know that some DJs are strict "by the schedule" guys/gals but with our crews, we use the timeline as a "game plan" and that game plan revolves around (in the case of Weddings) the Bride, and to a lesser part, the Groom. Before each event change, we check in with the Bride/Groom and see if they're ready. If not, do a time shift. If they are, notify the other vendors (to give them time to get in place), and do it. For our timeline builder, we use a custom-designed, web-based system to get timeline events from the client. Everything is online, centralized, and in the case of an emergency, anyone else in the organization can step in and execute the program, exactly as our client requested it. Once the timeline is built (with a phone consult the last week to go over details), we get into the meat of how to put it all together.

Break it into Segments

I remember from my musician days at The Grand Ole Opry where several artists told me, "Rick, always give them something different". We use that concept today in how we time and run our events. It seems to work. The most basic rule is "No segment longer than 20-30 minutes maximum" (possible exception of dinner). We humans are funny creatures with short attention spans that must be constantly prodded and re-directed. Run anything too long, it's boring. Run it too short, it's piece-meal. This is also an argument to not just stack things together (First dance, parent dances, cake) to "get them out of the way". No, put each element into its own time frame and use that to re-focus and re-center your room's attention at every turn.

Patience is a Virtue

The other element of a well-run event is patience. You have to realize, the event's energy has an ebb and flow, much like waves crashing on the shoreline at the beach. I've seen so many Brides worry themselves silly because their floor wasn't slammed in the first 15 minutes. Slow down, be patient. This is the time where we're testing the waters and gauging reactions from your guests. You'll see a lot of musical change-ups (remember our "Rule of Rotating Fours") and a good DJ is sitting there, silently, behind the console, and carefully observing, planning for when and how he's going to "drop the hammer" and kick it into overdrive. Remember, you want to start strong, and finish strong.

While some DJs like to claim "I'm the party starter", most parties are going to start on their own and if the guy on the mic tries to push it prematurely, it usually annoys the guests more than entertains them.

The DJ-by-Proxy Bride

Another thing that often can trip up a successful evening falls squarely at the feet of Mr. Steve Jobs and a little device called an iPod. Let's face it, we've all got a million songs and it makes everyone think they're a DJ who can easily write out a slamming mix that will have the house jumping. I have to admit that I cringe anytime I get that dreaded 60-song playlist (yes, we'll do it, if that's what you want) where the client has picked out every single song, and in the order they want them played. Big, BIG mistake. The smartest advice I can give is to give your DJ about 10-15 of your personal favorites. A good DJ can take that list and can tell within a few seconds where you are (musically-speaking) and will know how to angle the evening to make it work for you. Let the professional you've hired do what you've paid them to do. They have a method and a plan, you just enjoy the evening because I assure you it will go by quickly.


I hope you find something helpful above. Setting the tone and controlling the pace, not too fast and not too slow, works and it works consistently (alcohol or not). I wish you well in planning your very special day.

Would you like more info on our services and how we can benefit your event?

About The Author

Rick Ryan Entertainment is Nashville’s premiere party entertainment service. Our team of DJs and support personnel provide the ultimate in DJ, Emcee, Lighting and PhotoCenter service for many of the area’s most discerning clients.

Nashville Wedding Photography, DJ & Lighting Service


Liz & Ryan's Wedding (8-10-2013) Cathedral of the Incarnation

Client: Liz & RyanDate: August 10th, 2013 Venue:Cathedral of the Incarnation – Nashville, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram (Diamond Pkg) Photo Album: Liz & Ryan

What a wonderful couple! Meet Liz & Ryan as they get down with some of their friends.

They are an absolutely delightful couple and they certainly did a great job on putting together a stellar event. Their event was held at the Nashville Cathedral of the Incarnation, right down by Vanderbilt. This is a choice venue and we always love working there.

For lighting, Liz asked for a "peachy but not too pink". The Cathedral has these lovely old (and yellow) stained glass windows, which change the tint a bit while sunlight is still streaming. Over the head table, we placed a large monogram of their last name and date. It seemed to be a hit with a lot of folks.

The evening was filled with a lot of fun, dancing and elegance and finished off with one of the sweetest final dances I can remember.

Special props go out to the vendor team:

Lindsey Stamps (615-390-6450) - Coordinator (great job!)

Ambrosia Catering (www.AmbrosiaCateringTN.com)

B&B Portraits (www.bandbportraits.com)

Enchanted Florist (http://enchantedfloristtn.com/) Caprice, you're a monster, as always!

We wish the happy couple many, many wonderful years together! Thanks for letting us be a part!

Nashville Wedding Photography, DJ & Lighting Service


Press Release: Our new Online Song Request system

Ryan Photography, DJ & Lighting is proud to announce our latest tool to make your event a memorable experience. Our new Online Song Request system is now online and ready for our clients' use.

A key part of making any event successful is pre-planning. From the DJ side of things, that means gathering the information needed to create a timeline, also known as the Schedule of Events. For any event that we perform, our clients start receiving reminder notices about 90 days out from their event date. In addition to the Online Planner link, these notices now will include Client-access and Guest-access links to our new Song Request system.

"Why include guests in the song list?"

The easiest way I can explain it is; "To build a buzz." As we often tell our clients, "Song requests are vital in making your guests feel a part of the celebration. It's the glue that keeps them at the event longer and letting them have input on music selection really makes them feel part of the action." The link that we provide can be forwarded to friends and family and is designed to let them "vote" on their favorites. Here's a screen shot (not an actual event):


 Guests (and clients) make their requests and can "Vote" on any song(s) to move them up the list (only 1 vote per request per guest is allowed). Your guests can come back as often as they like to see what position their request(s) are. The important thing is, it keeps them thinking about you and your up-coming wedding day.

Now in addition to the Guest-access option, we also provide a Client-access link. This one gets priority (hey, it's your wedding day after all) and any requests entered go straight to the top, although guests are still allowed to "Vote" for particular songs as well.

Another important part of any song requests that we get from our clients are "Do Not Play" (DNP) requests. These may be any song(s) that trigger painful memories or perhaps just are annoying to the Bride & Groom. As the entertainment provider, it's absolutely top priority that we protect our clients from anything that might possibly add spoil to their "Special Day". Additionally, we also segment the DNP list into two categories;

"Soft DNP" - These are songs that you'd really rather avoid but hey, if "Uncle Charlie" is just pestering you to play it, then go ahead.

"Hard DNP" - These are songs that absolutely, under no circumstance, should they be played at this event. In all cases, we give preference to our clients' wishes and will avoid these.

Keep in mind, that the majority of our clients don't need or provide us with a DNP list. It's only there because we're thorough and careful in our business. In this line of work details matter and we always "Sweat the details". The new Song Request system is now online is going out now with all new Online Planner notifications.

Ryan Wedding Photography, DJ and Lighting


Meghan & Robert's Wedding (6-1-2013) Houston Station

Client: Meghan & RobertDate: June 1st, 2013 Venue:Houston Station – Nashville, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram, Italian String Lighting Photo Album: Meghan & Robert

Meet Meghan & Robert as they enjoy their First Dance together.

Both of them are teachers and wow, do they know how to throw a great party! Their event was held at the el-chique, Houston Station, which is a lovely old converted warehouse space near downtown Nashville.

This event had a few special items on lighting so let me share a few of those. Over the dance floor, we installed Italian String Lighting, then hit the floor with an Amber, patterned leko light as well as the couple's monogram. Around the perimeter, we also installed LED uplights with a rich, Amber tone to it. Here are a few pictures.

Seeing that there's a nice, long entry hallway, we used a combination of another Amber Leko light (same gobo pattern), Amber LED uplights as well as some Blisslight star system lasers. It gave the entrance a magical feel to it, which the guests loved.

Now enough about the boring techie stuff, let's get to the party (and boy, what a party it was)!  From the minute we opened the dance floor, it was packed all night and these guys partied like rockstars!

What a fantastic evening and to top it all off, the guests were given Tennessee and Yale pom-poms for a drive-by send off. Thanks for letting us be a part of your very special evening, guys. We wish you all the very best in life.

Nashville Wedding Photography, DJ & Lighting Service


Zena & David's Wedding Reception (5-25-2013)

Client: Zena & David

Date: May 25th, 2013

Venue:Loews Vanderbilt – Nashville, TN

Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram, PhotoCenter

Photo Album: Zena & David

Meet Zena & David during their First Dance.

Their Wedding Reception was held at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. This was an ultra-elegant affair, complete with monogram, uplighting and a PhotoCenter. The pink uplighting blended perfectly with the elegance of the main ballroom. Check out the cake spotlighting.

Zena & David live in Atlanta, moving there from Nashville. During our planning meeting, we had the pleasure to meet David's mother, who is from Chile. Seeing that a portion of the guests were from her home country, we also incorporated latina music, so they would feel at ease as well.

The couple said their guests were going to be huge dancers and they certainly didn't fail to impress this DJ with some serious moves.

The guests also had some huge fun at our PhotoCenter (special thanks to Angela, our PB technician).

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your very special celebration.

Nashville Wedding Photography, DJ & Lighting Service


PRESS RELEASE: Italian String Lighting now available!

We're excited to announce that we now are offering Italian String Lighting for our clients' ultra-elegant events! For those who aren't familiar with it, let me share a photo from a recent event Houston Station in Nashville, TN.

I know, "Oh you mean Christmas lights?" No, there's a huge difference. These are commercial-grade stringers, complete with 15-watt (not 5 or 7-watters) globe bulbs and dimmer circuits. These are incandescent bulbs that give off a soft, romantic light. They give that ultra-chique to practically any event, not to mention the soft glow that will set a wonderful ambiance for your event.

To make things simple for our clients, we're packaging these at three different levels;

"Small" - 2, 54-foot stringers (25 lights), suggested for up to 100 guests

"Medium" - 4, 54-foot stringers (50 lights), suggested for up to 200 guests

"Large" - 6, 54-foot stringers (75 lights), suggested for up to 300 guests

Pricing may be found here. Given the logistics involved with this style of lighting, we require a site survey and venue permission, prior to booking. Please call us today to discuss how this great new product can benefit your very special day.


Nashville Wedding Photography, DJ & Lighting Service


2013-05-04 Megan and Patrick's wedding (Tulip Grove Mansion at The Hermitage)

Client: Megan and PatrickDate: May 4th, 2013 Venue: The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson' home), Hermitage, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Uplighting, Monogram Photo Album: Megan and Patrick

This is Megan and Patrick's wedding that I DJed this past weekend at The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home). The Ceremony was held in the Tulip Grove mansion followed by a cocktail hour. For the reception, the party of about 75 moved out to a 30'X60' tent. Our service was DJ, Dance Lighting, Uplighting (peach & mint), and monogram.

The day was very wet and cold (mid-40s) but I was able to back the van, right up to the doorway to unload. Got everything in place and strung cables and installed the uplighting fixtures (20). I have to admit, I wasn't very crazy about what I might run into on this setup. It was cold and wet (something you don't want to deal with when running lights on the ground) and I knew we were working off a generator. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the tent company had also supplied the generator and they did it right. Big, industrial inverter-style generator with the distro box dropped right behind my table. In addition, the sidewalls had been properly pegged down (attaboy Patrick) and they actually had proper heating in the tent. Have to hand it to the B&G, they did the setup right. Great job guys.

The Ceremony and cocktail hour were held in the Tulip Grove mansion. Nice place with lots of character to it. A bit later, the guests made their way out to the tent for the Wedding Reception. For the Father-Daughter dance, Megan asked us to do a mash-up. Start with a slow piece, then break into about 8 different songs and ending up with the full-length version of Quad City DJ's "Come On Ride The Train". This isn't what I'd normally use to transition into open dance but it worked perfectly. As the last song started, we invited the guests to "Get on board" and boy, did they ever!

This was the perfect start to a high-energy dance set.

A shot of the monogram, projected to the tent ceiling.

The evening ended with all-smiles by our happy couple. Congratulations Megan and Patrick. We wish you both all the happiness in the world. Special thanks go out to our great friends at B&B Portraits and Two Fat Men Catering (I need the recipe on that potato chip chicken, WOW!). Fantastic job, guys!

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

04-27-2013 (Daniel's Big Bar Mitzvah) Old Natchez Country Club

Client: The SaulsDate: April 27th, 2013 Venue: Old Natchez Country Club, Franklin, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Picx/Texting, Shadow-dancing, Uplighting, Monogram, PhotoCenter, Motivational Dancers Photo Album: Daniel's Bar Mitzvah

This is Daniel's Big Bar Mitzvah held this past weekend at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin, TN. This was a huge event with energy that was absolutely off the charts! About 100 kids an 50-75 adults in attendance.

Our crew included a 7-person team; 2 DJ/Emcees, 2 professional dancers, 2 A/V techs and 1 PhotoCenter technician. The package included our huge, dual video screens (which barely fit in the room, btw); Live-Pics/Texting on the left and Shadow-dancing on the right.

DJ Russ started the evening off with a series of fun games and the kids quickly got into "party mode". Our dance team, Shay and Malik helped us with the kids as well as a new friend, Angela. Thanks guys, for such a great job! As the evening progressed and daylight subsided, the bright and bold uplighting colors really began showing. We used about 30 fixtures, which were strewn through several different rooms around the venue and we used a color scheme of Blue, Orange and Yellow, which matched up with Daniel's chosen theme and table center-pieces (Blue/Orange/Yellow Lacrosse balls). The PhotoCenter was also a huge hit and we look forward to seeing the PictureBook from it. Following are some pictures from the event.

The kids with their glow necklaces. Live-Pics/Texting on the left screen, shadow-dancing on the right

Monogram with blisslight background

Lotsa games (and Shay with a big ole smile)

Lots of dancing on this one

For dance lighting, 4 chauvet LED scanners and 1 Martin acrobat

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

04-20-2013 Lauren and Philip's Wedding (Old Natchez Country Club, Franklin, TN)

Client: Lauren and PhilipDate: April 20th, 2013 Venue: Old Natchez Country Club, Franklin, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Ceremony Photo Album: Lauren and Philip

Meet Lauren and Philip (as he gets her garter).

One of the absolute sweetest couples you'll ever hope to meet and they were an absolute joy to work with on their wedding. The event, both Ceremony and Reception, was held at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin, TN.

This was my first time to work at Old Natchez. Very nice club and the staff there are superb and hosted a flawless event. There are separate areas for dance, dinner and cocktails, yet all three areas are adjoined together. The rear veranda opens up to some fantastic scenery, overlooking the golf course.

Once we began the dance segment, the energy went through the roof. Check out a few dance shots:

To finish off a perfect evening, our lucky couple departed to a sparkler exit.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com


Amanda and Stephen's Wedding at Bluegrass Country Club

Client: Amanda and StephenDate: April 6th, 2013 Venue: Bluegrass Country Club, Hendersonville TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Cake Spotlight, Monogram, PhotoCenter Photo Album: Amanda and Stephen

This week finds us at the beautiful Bluegrass Country Club in Hendersonville for both the Ceremony and Reception of Amanda and Stephen. The Ceremony was held in the back "Glass Room", which overlooks the golf course, while the Reception was held in the Grand Ballroom.

Patti Corn is the Private Events Director at this venue and she always does a fabulous job on whatever kind of event she's producing and this one was no exception.

For those who have never been to Bluegrass, it is one of Nashville's premiere establishments, with one of the best kitchens in town. Their food is to die for and the surroundings are ultra-elegant.

Our lucky couple chose a two-color Uplighting theme and we ended up installing close to 40 LED fixtures; both along the wall space and behind the sheer curtains that face the front of the building.

For Monogram, Amanda chose a simple "B" in Brock Script, which we placed on the ceiling above the dance floor. We used the Blisslight Star System lasers to highlight the monogram.

Our guests had a great time with lots of dance floor action.

The PhotoCenter was a huge success with everything from singles to some rather huge group shots. The props went over huge!

"Thank You!" to Amanda and Stephen. We wish you both all the very best in life together.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

Rachel's Mighty Monkey Mitzvah (3-23-2013)

Client: Rachel & AustinDate: March 23rd, 2013 Venue: Embassy Suite Hotel Cool Springs – Franklin, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram, Professional Dancers, Shadow-Dancing Photo Album: Rachel's Bat Mitzvah

This week finds us at Embassy Suites Hotel in Coolsprings for Rachel's Bat Mitzvah.

The event was held at the Embassy Suite Hotel in Cool Springs and this is a gorgeous facility. Since Rachel just adores monkeys, this was our evening's theme complete with a Monkey Ice Sculpture and tons of monkey-themed prizes for the kids. Here's DJ Russ, striking a pose in front of the sculpture.

This is one of our largest setups, complete with two, 10-foot rear projection screens on either side of the DJ table. The left side was our patented Live-Pics (r) and Text-messaging system. The right screen was setup for some fun shadow-dancing.

While the adults enjoyed themselves at a Cocktail hour in the Atrium, DJ Russ and our dancers, Shay and Malik, kept the kids entertained with a series of great games.

As the night moved along, even the adults joined us on the packed dance floor for some great dancing.

And, as if that weren't enough, we also had a very special musical guest when Jordan Meredith (of American Idol fame) took the mic to belt out some serious Aretha Franklin stuff.

Congrats to miss Rachel!


Rachel & Austin's Wedding Reception (3-23-2013)

Client: Rachel & AustinDate: March 23rd, 2013 Venue: Stones River Country Club – Murfreesboro, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram Photo Album: Rachel & Austin

Meet Rachel and Austin as they made their Grand Entrance.Photo

We always love working with members of our Armed Forces and Austin is a Second Lieutenant. They were given a full Sabre entrance. For those who haven't seen this type of entrance before, it's really unique. First, the soldiers use their sabres to form an archway for the Bride & Groom. As the couple reaches the last pair of soldiers, they lower their sabres in order to stop the happy couple and encourage them to kiss (as in the shot above). As soon as they kiss, the sabres are raised, allowing the lucky couple of pass through. As the bride passes the last pair of soldiers, one of them give her a little "swat"

DJ Ed and Shannon handled day-of duties on this event and it was a great party. Our service included Amber Uplighting and it set off the room beautifully.

As the night went on, the guests had themselves a very good time on the dance floor.

If you're looking for a great venue, try Stones River. Becca George is Special Events Manager and I highly, HIGHLY recommend her services. She always goes the extra mile to make certain that every detail is absolute perfection. We'd also like to give a shout-out to our good friends over at Myrick Studios. Myrick Cowart is one of the most talented and highly-rated photographers in the Nashville market. It's always a pleasure to get to work with such top-rated pros.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com


Isaac's Giant Bar Mitzvah - Gordon Jewish Community Center - Nashville, TN

Client: IsaacDate: March 2nd, 2013 Venue: Gordon Jewish Community Center – Nashville, TN Service Provided: Sound, Dance Lighting, Perimeter Uplighting, 2-10 foot projection screens, Shadow-dancing, Live-Pics, Texting and PhotoCenter DJ/Emcee: MusicCityMitzvah Photo Album: Isaac's Bar Mitzvah

This week found us teaming up with our good friends over a Music City Mitzvah for Isaac's (pronounced "Itzak") Bar Mitzvah at the gorgeous Gordon Jewish Community Center. Here's young Isaac (center):

This was a rather large event, with somewhere around 125 very energetic kids and about 50-60 adults. This one required a team approach and included the following cast members:

DJ/Emcee - Russ and Jordan Lighting/Sound/AV - Rick Dancers - Shay & Malik PhotoCenter Technician - Shannon


This was one of our larger lighting setups, and included over 30 perimeter Uplighting fixtures (green & purple), 4 mirror scanners, 2 Martin acrobats, and followspot for the Grand Entrance. For visuals, we ran 2 ten foot screens on either side of the stage. On the left, we ran Live-Pics (our live picture slideshow) and Text messaging. On the right we ran another ten foot screen for shadow-dancing (projector in the back and we let the kids dance in front of the screen-very cool).

I have to brag on my friend Russ, at Music City Mitzvah. This guy is the absolute king of hosting Mitzvahs, having been a top name on the New York City scene for almost 18 years. With all the games, dancing and other activities, there wasn't a moment wasted the entire night. Check out Russ in action:

Our Motivational Dancers, Shay and Malik also had their hands full, engaging the kids (and adults) and even led a group dance-off during the night.

I have to give props to Shay. Earlier in the evening, she was on the floor and working with the kids when one young man got a bit excited, swinging his coat over his head. It just so happened that a button from his coat caught Shay right in the eye (major ouch) and it started swelling shut immediately! Instead of packing it in, Malik got a bag of ice and Shay used it to take the swelling down, then headed back out onto the floor for more action the rest of the evening.

The PhotoCenter was also a huge hit and Shannon stayed busy the entire night running over 185 sessions (560+ individual shots) for the night. This was probably the most shots we've ever squeezed into a single event and Shannon handled it like a pro. Props to her for doing such a great job.

The rest of the evening was spent with dancing and tons of prizes and cool glow-wear.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com


Gessell and Lee's Wedding (Radisson Hotel) Nashville TN - 2-23-2013

Client: Gessell & LeeDate: February 23rd, 2013 Venue: The Radisson Hotel – Nashville, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Ceremony Photo Album: Gessell & Lee

Let me introduce you to Gessell and Lee. Photo

We had the pleasure of providing DJ service for their Wedding Reception at the airport Radisson Hotel in Nashville, TN. Both of these guys were as laid-back and easy to work with as anyone I can remember in recent history. In fact, I don't think I ever saw them without a huge smile on their faces.


In addition to working with such a lovely couple, we had another nice surprise when our friends, Michael and Michelle Blair, from B&B Portraits showed up as the couple's photographers. Always love seeing our friends at events and M&M do a superb job. As for Gessell and Lee, we wish you guys all the very best!

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

Ruby & Henry's 50th Anniversary (Hermitage Golf Course)

Client: Ruby & HenryDate: December 29th, 2013 Venue: Hermitage Golf Course – Old Hickory, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, PhotoCenter Photo Album: Ruby & Henry

We recently had the pleasure of providing DJ and PhotoCenter for Ruby & Henry's 50 wedding anniversary celebration.  This was a rather intimate affair, held at the Hermitage Golf Course clubhouse and included about 50 guests, mostly family. Meet the lovely couple:

Ruby has several sisters, which showed us their wild-and-crazy side. Check out the fun at the PhotoCenter.

After a fantastic meal, provided by HGC (these guys have one of the best kept secrets with their chef, by the way), we kicked it up a notch and let our guests "cut a rug".

Toward the end of the night, both Ruby & Henry got up to exchange gifts. One of the gifts was a trip to Disney World, which they and several family members were leaving for the next morning. I just loved the Mouseketeer hats. Thanks guys, for letting us be a part of your celebration!

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

RIP Jack Greene

RIP Jack Greene khaz jack greene 20130315

Nashville is mourning the loss of one its true legends of the Country Music industry today. I'd like to add my own perspective to the chorus who knew, respected and loved Jack. He was an incredibly kind, gentle soul and always treated everyone with the utmost of respect. As a member of Stonewall Jackson's band, I had the opportunity to back Jack on several occasions. There wasn't a time that I didn't stand in awe of the way he carried himself and delivered a song.

I remember backing Jack on a Michigan road date. I can't remember the town, just that it was Michigan and at a campground with about 1000 folks in attendance. One of the songs he wanted to do was Dottie West's "Here Comes My Baby Back Again". I should have known it but am ashamed to admit that I completely butchered the thing. It was rough, really rough but Jack delivered his clear vocal right over the top of my foul-ups. For a few years after that gig, every time I was on the band backing Jack, you could tell he was as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs but still, he'd let me be a part and never mentioned the train wreck in Michigan.

It was at that Michigan gig that we began to suspect what I later understood was diagnosed as alzheimers and for the next several years I observed the most incredible thing. Jack was such a "pro" that he could still shake your hand and greet you, just as if he knew who you were, even though it was clear the disease had already taken its toll. On stage was even more amazing. I remember we were working at the Ryman one night and at this point, Penn (his band leader) had to lead him out to the stage. The moment that first note was hit on the intro, the most incredible thing would happen. You could see him come alive again. His voice rang out clear and pure and with perfect pitch and timing. He knew where to hold the mic, where to stand, and how to project just like the true star that he was.

For those of you who have had loved ones who suffered with alzheimers, you know how they often lose the most basic of abilities but not Jack. The man was a truly legendary entertainer. Thank you sir, for blessing us with your talent. Rest in Peace. I'll see you on the other side.

Rick Ryan

Lindsay & Clint' - Rural Hills Church of Christ (Wedding)

Client: Lindsay & Clint
Date: January 5th, 2013
Venue: Rural Hills Church of Christ – Antioch, TN
Service Provided: DJ, Emcee
Photo Album: Lindsay & Clint

This week finds us in Antioch at Rural Hills Church of Christ for Lindsay and Clint's Wedding Reception. Here's Lindsay, dancing with her father.

The event was held in the fellowship hall of their home church. Given that it was a non-alcoholic event and being hosted in a church, Lindsay was concerned that there might not be any dancing (or very little). You tell me:

This was a basic DJ service and I decided to use the Bose. Everything sounded great and the event went off even better than expected. The guests loved The Shoe Game (as did the Bride & Groom). Now for the behind-the-scenes story.

Given that this was a basic DJ event, I decided to take the Bose and use my personal car (instead of the van). Matthew and I left in plenty of time but when we were about 5 miles away I got rear-ended by a Ford Expedition doing roughly 45 MPH. The Camry ended up being totaled and had the bumper hanging down with the trunk caved in about a foot.


To make matters worse, the other driver decided to leave before the police showed up. I called the client, to let them know what happened then waited. After the report was written up, I ripped the spoiler and bumper off and threw them on the side of the road then, drove the car to the church. We had to go in through the rear seat to get to the gear and, fortunately, the Bose wasn't destroyed in the accident. I popped several Ibuprofen, put on a big smile, then conducted the service we were contracted for.

Now I'm mentioning this because it's a prime example of why it's good to go with a multi-DJ service. We had another DJ, only 3 miles away, who was ready to go if needed. Regardless of the claim some DJs make that "I've never missed a gig." things can and do happen. It's always best to be prepared for ALL contingencies.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service
http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

Callie & Matt at The Loveless Barn (Wedding)

Client: Callie & MattDate: January 19th, 2013 Venue: The Loveless Barn – Nashville, TN Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Ceremony Photo Album: Callie & Matt

Let me introduce you to Callie & Matt.

Callie is an Actress, Model, Spokesperson and Singer from Los Angeles. Matt is an up and coming Country Music star from Nashville. They chose the uber-hip, The Loveless Barn for their nupitals. I have to add they both were an absolute pleasure to work with.

This was an interesting affair, as we got to share time with a live Bluegrass band, which played for the Ceremony and Dinner. This added a real "Nashville" flair to their event and set the ambiance perfectly for the evening.

The guest list was highly diverse, with 19 different states being represented. This obviously makes it challenging for the DJ, as different areas of the country have widely varied tastes in music but then again, we love a good challenge.

As the evening progressed, the energy level went through the roof. Lots of dancing and guest requests.

We wish Callie & Matt all the very best in life and much success in your entertainment careers. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special day.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

Top 6 Ways To Get Them Dancing

If you know anyone who is getting married soon, please pass this along. What I'm about to share with you is ultra-top-secret and has been passed down through the "Secret DJ Society" for centuries. Okay, maybe just a wee bit dramatic but seriously, getting their guests to loosen up and enjoy themselves is a major concern that we hear from Brides. Below is a list of "Top 6" tips that will help make any Wedding Reception a success. #6: Setting The Tone Setting the tone is key to a successful event. From the moment your guests walk in, their sense of sights and sounds will tell them what kind of evening to expect and what kind of job you did in preparation. Pleasant music should be playing as they arrive and this is where decor comes into play. The DJ area should be neat and clean with no loose wires or junk strewn about. Lighting effects such as Uplighting, Monograms, or Star System Lasers are what we use to get that "tilt back effect" as guests arrive. When their eyes light up and I see them pause and point around the room, then I know that the chances for a stellar event just went up.

#5: Pacing Your Event There is always a rhythm to any event and there's a time and place for every part of the evening to unfold. Once you've made your Grand Entrance and done your First Dance, sit back, relax and drink it all in. Go with the flow and let it develop. We typically recommend the following order of events to start off; Cocktail hour, Grand Entrance, First Dance (use the energy of the GE for your FD), then dinner.

By the time we've reached open dance set, some Brides get nervous if they don't see their dance floor fill instantly. Here again, realize there's a pace involved which is affected by how out-going (or conservative) your guests are, whether they actually enjoy dancing, the weather, etc. A great DJ will work the room and find what gets response and what doesn't. Some parties start with a bang but the majority ramp up to a crescendo. A truly great DJ won't get rattled by non-response but will continue to needle and prod a crowd patiently, until they get what they're after.

#4: Choose The Right Material

Trust your DJ. You hired the best, right? Some of the hardest gigs that we work are the ones where we have a client who gives us five or six pages of song requests, then can't understand why their guests aren't dancing to their "Ultra-Alternative-Rock mix". We call this a "Want to DJ by proxy" client.

We ask our clients for a list of 10-15 songs that they really like. From this, we can tell where you are, musically, and will steer the evening in that direction while encouraging your guests to become involved with their own requests. Guest requests are the glue that makes them "stick" at your event. It makes them feel a part of creating the event and is vital to making it all work. Yes, this is your special day but remember also that your special day wouldn't be so special without your guests being a part of it.

#3: Mix It Up A lot of DJs like to do the "generational thing". Big mistake. It takes too long to get the party started and that often causes guests to start bailing early. We use what I call "The Rule of Rotating Fours". We usually start the open dance set with an Anniversary Dance. As soon as that is over, we'll hit a 70s funk piece (it lets the parent know the music won't just be for the young people), followed by mainstream Dance/Hip-Hop material. From there we'll flip genres and time periods in 4-song blocks. The idea is to tap every person in the room within 4 songs. What we've found is Grandma is cool with Ludacris or Gaga as long as there's something she likes within a few songs. The twenty-somethings also will put up with a few older selections as long as they have something cool coming up shortly.

The other part is psychological. People are motivated by change, especially when it's something they didn't quite expect. A good example of this is where we'll be in the middle of a strong Dance segment ("Wobble", "Dougie" etc.) and drop something like "Rocky Top" right in the middle. You'd think the Hip-Hop crowd would leave the floor but what often happens is hands fly into the air, everyone screams and the energy level goes through the roof. I often joke that my job is to keep them confused. It might sound strange but it works.

#2: Communicate

Spend some time communicating with your DJ. Let them know about your guests in advance; age ranges, musical preferences, religious status, etc. This is why we ask to do a final read-through, on the phone or in person, the week before your event. It's also why we give you two different Song Request links on your Online Planner. One is for you, our client. The other is a voting system for your guests. The latter helps you to "build a buzz" around your event and to make more people feel a part of the process.

Most weddings have a very wide range of ages but if your guests are primarily 50+, that's an important bit of info that we need in pre-planning. If your guests are non-drinkers then we need to structure the evening differently; perhaps using more interactive games to get the desired participation. Yes, a great DJ can change things on the fly but proper planning is important.

#1: Lead The Way We sometimes have clients that say "I'm not a dancer, but I really want my guests to dance." Sorry, it doesn't work that way. The simple fact is that your guests are always watching you, the Bride, and will take their cues from you and your groom. If you hit the floor, they'll hit the floor. If you stand around and visit, they'll stand around and visit. If you won't dance at your own wedding it's magnitudes-harder to motivate your guests to do so without you.


I hope you find the above list helpful. While there's never a way to guarantee your event (anybody who promises you otherwise is lying to get the gig), if you'll follow the advice given, it does work. If you have any questions, even if you're not a client, please feel free to give us a call or email anytime. We want you to succeed and to have your Special Day to be everything you hoped for.

About The Author

Rick Ryan Entertainment is Nashville's premiere party entertainment service. Our team of DJs and support personnel provide the ultimate in DJ, Emcee, Lighting and PhotoCenter service for many of the area's most discerning clients.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com

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Mollie & Ben's wedding at Carroll Knicely Center, Bowling Green, KY

Client: Mollie & BenDate: December 8, 2012 Venue: Carroll Knicely Center – Bowling Green, KY Service Provided: DJ, Emcee, Live-Pics, Texting, Uplighting, Monogram Photo Album: Mollie & Ben

Meet Mollie & Ben:

One of the sweetest couples you'll ever hope to meet. Mollie booked us in B&B Photography's all-inclusive package (photo + video + DJ + Uplighting). By the way, great crew (as always) with B&B. Love working with those guys.

Mollie called the week before, stressed out that they had too many guests and that the venue was going to have to move them to a room that she felt wasn't quite as pretty as their original selection. I assured her that we'd take care of it and she was nice enough to put her trust in our service.

The folks at Knicely are great to work with, as we've worked there before, and this time was no exception. Mollie wanted to go with a deep, rich purple so we went to work. Let me show you a couple of shots:



It never ceases to amaze me at just how much difference good Uplighting can make to a room. It takes a good venue and turns it into gorgeous! Next up, Mollie told me she wanted her monogram, the couple's last name and wedding date, placed behind the head table. The venue had placed a small, black pipe & drape setup behind the head table, which we scrapped. It was a gamble, given the bride wouldn't see it until she arrived, but turns out it was a gamble worth taking. Mollie said she loved it.

The Knicely Center has a very nice programmable lighting system and was kind enough to let us tweak it out for this event. We setup a medium-lit program to be used for dinner and then another slightly darker look for dancing. This is a great feature (from a lighting perspective) for this room. Guest count was right at 200.

After dinner was over we used an Anniversary Dance to start things off. It was great and our winners had been married 62 years! By this time the guests were primed and ready for action and ate up everything we threw at them.

Lots of dancing, lots of memories and towards the end of the night I was able to capture the sweetest little "kissing shot" you could ask for:

Mollie was also kind enough to give us a wonderful review on WeddingWire.com:

"We hired Rick Ryan as our DJ after hearing great things about him from a friend. He was amazing. We had a last minute room switch at our venue and we were not at all happy with the new room. It was very drab and everything was just gray. We had been counting on the natural beauty of the original room. Rick made our reception look FLAWLESS with his uplighting. He washed the walls with purple light and had our new last name and wedding date on the back wall behind the head table. It looked fabulous. The pinspotting he used on the cake made it a major focal point of the room. He played music that everyone wanted to hear and the dance floor was constantly full of people. He didn't play anything cheesy at all. All of our guests said that they had a great time. I would definitely recommend him and would use him again if we had another event. Thanks so much, Rick!"

Thanks guys, for allowing us to be a part of your celebration. We wish you all the very best in life.

Nashville Wedding DJ, Lighting and PhotoCenter Service http://www.RickRyan.com – http://www.615dj.com –http://www.615lighting.com – http://www.615photobooth.com