When I launched my DJ career, it was ancient times

My partner and I started our DJ business 21 years ago on a whim. We had no experience and no equipment but thought we could make it work.

Since 1997, we’ve performed at more than 400 weddings. I’ve also served as the minister at more than two dozen weddings, including the wedding of an ex-girlfriend. 

We’ve done weddings for the same groom after his marriage, divorce, and second marriage.

I've DJ'd the weddings of Elysha's college boyfriend, my ex-girlfriend, and my ex-wife's ex-husband.  

We have many, many stories.

Though we constantly contemplate retiring, our company goes on. We’ve reached the point in our careers that we turn down many weddings. We pick-and-choose our clients and wedding venues carefully. We only work when we want to work. 

2018 might be our last year in business. 

A lot of time has gone by since our first wedding. When I started my career as a DJ in 1997:

  • Smoking was still permitted inside most wedding venues.
  • Digital photography did not exist in its current form. Every single professional photographer was still shooting with actual film. In fact, my partner and I carried two extra rolls of film with us after multiple photographers had run out of film at weddings.
  • Digitized music did not exist in any realistic form. Every song that we played was purchased at a brick-and-mortar store like Strawberries.
  • We still played some songs on cassette tapes.
  • There was no GPS or even online mapping website. Directions to wedding venues and client’s homes had to be taken over the phone and written down by hand.
  • MMMbop, Tubthumping, and Barbie Girl were the hot new songs.  

Twenty-one years is a long time to be doing anything.

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A simple declaration and a smidgen of self confidence can launch a business and change your life. Just look at my mother-in-law.

Yesterday I barged into a friend’s office and told her to launch a new business. I’ll refrain (for now) from telling you what this business is and what she will be doing, but it’s a no-brainer in terms of profitability. She’s perfectly (and almost uniquely) qualified for the job, will earn a lot of money doing it, and will help many people in the process.

It’s also a business that doesn’t really exist in the world at this moment, and it solves an enormous problem.

She’s going to be an great success with hard work and a little luck.

To my surprise, she seemed agreeable. Excited, even. She asked some questions about taking a class at a local college or becoming licensed, but I pushed back on those ideas and every other question that might delay her launch.

“No,,” I said. “You’re just going to start. Buy some business cards, declare yourself open for business, and find your first client.”

Too many people spend far too much time talking and planning and strategizing about doing something instead of just doing it.

Eighteen years ago my best friend called me and asked me if I wanted to become a wedding DJ and launch a company with him. I had no experience in the DJ industry. No equipment. No music. No knowledge of music outside of a few, not exactly wedding-friendly genres. I’d only been to a handful of weddings in my entire life and didn’t know how a wedding was supposed to be run. I had no training. No mentor. No experience.

My friend was in an identical position, but we didn’t worry about these obstacles. Didn’t look for training or seek out a mentor. We declared ourselves wedding DJs, and six months later, we were working at our first wedding. Since then, we have performed at almost 400 weddings and about 100 other events in five five different states.

One moment I wasn’t a DJ, and the next moment I was. It didn’t happen via a complex process or specialized training. It was a simple declaration.

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I followed a similar path in becoming a minister, a life coach, and a teacher of storytelling. One day I simply declared myself to be these things, and just like that, I was.

My mother-in-law has done something very similar. Years ago, she began selling merchandise on eBay. She started by raiding her own closet, looking to convert handbags into cash (so she could buy new handbags), but as women began purchasing the unused item in her closet, they began asking if she would be willing to sell the handbags and clothing in their closets as well.

A business was born.

She soon found herself selling thousands of dollars of merchandise on consignment for other women. Before she knew it, she had a growing stable of clients. 

For years now, she has been selling high-end clothing, accessories, and jewelry online. It has grown into a successful, profitable business and her primary source of income, despite the fact that she was forced to work on a dial-up modem for years.

Her husband eventually came onboard as well, constructing a photography studio in their basement where he shoots images of the merchandise. He has since transformed himself into a professional photographer whose images are so good that customers have accused them of using stock photos rather than actual photos of the merchandise.

Their home has become a warehouse of merchandise from clients from around the world, and my mother-in-law is now a top seller on eBay.

Just this week, she opened her own online store called Babsy’s Closet.

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Barbara knew nothing about online sales when she launched this business. She wasn’t an expert on the Internet or even technology. One day she wasn’t an online retailer and the next moment she was. She didn’t take a college class or go to work for another online retailer to learn the ropes. She simply declared herself to be in business, and she was.

My hope is that I will be telling you about my friend’s exciting new business soon, and that you will be recommending her to your friends and family as the need arises.

I suspect I will. She seems excited. I think she sees the possibilities. I know that she is passionate about the subject.

I just hope that she moves quickly. Doesn’t delay. Declares herself in business soon, if she hasn’t done so in her mind already.

There is so much delay in this world. So much calculation and uncertainty.  

While there is certainly a time for strategizing and consideration, many times rapid action and on-the-job training is just as good, if not better.

Brave and bold often defeats cautious and calculating.

Faking your own death as part of the proposal? Exchanging vows via Twitter? Strange, but still better than this.

A Russian man faked his own death in order to propose to his girlfriend. Alexey Bykov hired a filmmaker, makeup artists and stuntmen to create elaborate car-crash scene, then arranged to meet his girlfriend, Irena Kolokov, at the site. When she arrived, she saw him lying on the ground,  covered in blood amidst a scene of mangled cars, ambulances and smoke.

Bykov planned an elaborate hoax to show his girlfriend what life would be without him. After being told by the paramedic that he was dead, Kolokov broke down in tears. At that moment Bykov popped up and proposed.

She accepted.

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A couple in Turkey, Cengizhan Celik and Candan Canik, exchanged wedding vows via Twitter. Their officiant prompted them to say “I do” with a tweet. They responded by tweeting the Turkish word “Evet,” or “Yes,” on their iPads.

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A recent study found that almost 6 percent of wedding proposals are made over the phone.

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These marriage-related stories seem odd. At least one is possibly insane.

If any of these people came to me for advice, I would advise against these courses of action. 

But here’s the thing:

I also find these people much more interesting and far less offensive than the degree of snobbery that I see and hear in regards to weddings today.

Which is worse?

Any of the people described above or the woman who receives a wedding invitation from a friend and then phones a mutual friend in order to discuss how cheap, tacky or poorly designed the invitation is.

This happens.

Which is worse?

Any of the people described above or the recently married couple who complains to friends or family members about the inexpensive, poorly chosen or unwanted wedding gift that another friend or family member has given?

This happens. A lot.

Which is worse?

Any of the people described above or the person who criticizes a friend or family member (often behind their back) for failing to adhere to all of the marital traditions and customs of their religion or culture.

This happens. All the time.

I once ministered a pagan wedding in which the guests were required to remove their shoes and the bride was required to cut her finger with a ceremonial dagger prior to the exchange of vows in order to consecrate the ground upon which she would be married.

I once worked as a DJ at a wedding where only Celtic music could be played. The bride and groom drank from dragon-encrusted goblets and asked me to teach their guests something called The Mummer’s Dance.

I once worked as a DJ at a wedding that was delayed for almost two hours because the police dog that the bride and groom wanted included in the ceremony was delayed due to a possible drug shipment at the airport, and they refused to get married without him.

I once worked as a DJ at a backyard wedding that included a Slip ‘N Slide (used by both the bride and groom) and a hotdog cart.

After 16 years in the wedding industry as a DJ and minister, I have hundred of stories like this that I could tell. In each of these less-than-ordinary instance, I would much prefer to spend time with these kinds of people rather than the brides and grooms obsessed with ensuring that their wedding looks expensive or just like their friend’s wedding or better than their friend’s wedding or as close as possible to the celebrity wedding that they read about in People magazine a year ago.

Slicing your index finger open with a ceremonial dagger in order to drip blood on the ground is surprising to say the least, but I am always more surprised (and disgusted) by the woman who criticizes her friend’s choice of wedding gown or the man who complains about the quality of the top-shelf liquor at the reception or the bridesmaid who makes the bride’s life difficult by complaining about the dress that she’s been asked to wear.

In the wedding industry, there is nothing worse than pretentiousness, snobbery, overt opulence and the petty, hyper-critical, judgmental attitudes of people who find it impossible to imagine why anyone would ever get married in a way that is different than their own wedding day.