14) Video Preserves Memories!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 14

Every Celebration should be recorded on Video!

I reached this conclusion long before YouTube was conceived. The ability to record and replay the sights and sounds of your life is powerful.

When you are the star of the show, as at your Wedding, Anniversary, or Birthday celebration, you are “LIFO” – Last In, First Out. You see less of the event than any of the guests do.

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A video camera will capture those moments. But without a video recording, the Guest of Honor misses an awful lot. The Bride and Groom would have completely missed the moment above without videography.

Meredith Liewehr, publisher of the Perfect Wedding Guide in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, says if she had one thing for a “do-over” at her own wedding, it would have been to hire a professional videographer. Too much is lost without it! There was a moment where she almost tripped on her gown in the aisle, that would be priceless if her children could see it now – but it’s lost forever.

When I got married, professional videographers were scarce; in fact, they were hard to find. We had a friend record our wedding, using a single VHS camcorder borrowed from his office. While I wouldn’t trade that recording for anything – it’s 26 years old, and to me and my lovely wife, it’s gold – it does show a rather unfortunate camera angle, where I recite vows to a beautiful gown, with a potted plant where my wife’s head should be. A pro would have used multiple cameras, and caught that scene from the other side.

A professional video of your wedding from PM Celebrations captures a priceless memory. But if you have to cut your budget, at the very least, get a friend to record your vows, as my wife and I did. It will mean a lot to you in later years, and can save a marriage.

13) Never Assume You’ve Seen it All!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 13

As a DJ and MC for all types of celebrations, I have been fortunate to see and do some interesting things.

I rode an elephant. I got to fly in a stunt plane. I have worked on boats, barns, basements, and balconies, warehouses, treehouses, restaurants, bars, churches, yacht clubs, hot tubs, farms, ranches, hotels, motels, and some beautiful homes.

PM Celebrations is an interesting business. Now that’s an understatement! There is always something new ahead. I have learned not to assume I have seen it all!

I have worked with celebrities, musicians, magicians, mimes, jugglers, sports figures, naked people, and politicians (not all at the same time).

I have seen people catch on fire and have a leg removed.

Jim and Laura Schwendig at Bass Hall; photo by Kent “Hoss” Evans

I might say nothing surprises me, but I know better! In this business, you just don’t know what surprises tomorrow may bring.

I love my job!

12) Wires are the Root of all Evil

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 12

We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

Where audio-visual equipment is concerned, what usually goes wrong is a simple cable connection: a loose wire. In fact, one of the early attempts at a DJ association in North Texas chose the painfully prophetic name “The Loose Connection.” Like all systems with loose connections, it failed.

Without proper attention, it can seem like the cables are taking over! This storm-in-a-spaghetti-factory is NOT a PM system!

And as systems grow larger and more complicated, it seems like the wires start taking over. It’s as if they mate inside the road cases, and multiply like Tribbles (reference to a furry alien life form from a Star Trek episode that multiplies quickly.)

PM Celebrations takes great pains to prevent wires from becoming a problem.

First off we use high-quality cables of the correct type for the required task. Then we use locking connectors that cannot come loose from vibration. We use shielded cables to prevent RF and EMI interference, and we carry lots of spares and a cable tester.

Wherever possible, we eliminate wires altogether!

PM Celebrations pioneered the use of wireless microphones while the technology was in its infancy (and so were many of the youngsters calling themselves DJs today!)

Today we utilize wireless technology for speakers as well, enabling better sound quality and coverage at lower sound pressure levels throughout a banquet room.

Look, Mom, no wires! This PM powered speaker (seen in a chapel) has a built-in wireless receiver, and has its own Power Module concealed beneath the tripod skirt. No wires to see or to trip on.

We even have wireless control of our lighting systems. And when the electrical outlets are not where they need to be, we provide our own portable Power Modules, thus eliminating extension cords that are not just unsightly, but pose a safety hazard.

PM Celebrations systems look better, work better, and are safer and more reliable because “we got it wired!” Or unwired, as the case may be.

11) You Can Learn a New Trick From Almost Anyone

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 11

For all these many years, I have yet to meet anyone that didn’t have something to teach me.

It took several years when PM Celebrations was starting out, to learn to learn, from everyone I encounter.

Good ideas are everywhere!

This especially applies to my professional peers – other DJs. Because this service is complex and has so many variables, it often forces DJs, sound men, and light techs to innovate. Through the years I have learned tricks from both rookies and old salts.

And it’s not just technical tricks, either. I have picked up amazing ideas from caterers, decorators, and photographers. I keep notes from PM Celebrations events about simple and elegant ways to make a ballroom or party venue look and feel spectacular.

Ever see a good idea that seemed really simple, and wonder, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

So I pay careful attention, and constantly innovate, improve, streamline and integrate fresh thinking and new ideas.

10) Humor Bonds People Together

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 10

Everyone needs a good laugh!

It’s normal to be apprehensive about going to an event with a large crowd of people. It’s natural. People feel isolated at events where they don’t know anybody.

Weddings, in particular, seem to bring out this feeling. Often the bride or the groom is the only familiar person in the room.

The best weapon in our arsenal to combat this syndrome is humor.

Sharing a belly laugh brings people together. A bond is formed when we laugh together. Laughter changes strangers into friends.

PM Celebrations always works in some good-natured humor at our events. Celebrations should be fun – and funny.

9) Thou Shalt Not Steal The Bride’s Fire!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #9

This is The Prime Directive at PM Celebrations!

Nothing should steal the bride’s fire!

We know that weddings are all about the bride. The bride is meant to be the star of the show. The Master of Ceremonies should be a director and facilitator. Too often at weddings, an amateur DJ tries to make himself the center of attention – WRONG!

Nobody else should be the star of the show.

This includes other guests. Through the years I have seen weddings where a bridesmaid or even the mother of the bride tried to steal the show. We make sure the reception is focused on celebrating the marriage of the bride and groom.

8) You Can Never be Overdressed

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #8

If you look good, you feel good. It creates confidence, that spills over into all that you do. Nobody ever told James Bond he was overdressed! A proper tuxedo or a well-tailored suit is never out of place.

Nobody ever told James Bond he was overdressed!

In the early years of PM Celebrations, it was not common to have a DJ at a wedding reception. I started acting as Master of Ceremonies and event facilitator at my weddings, and started wearing a tux in 1983. It started a trend, and now most weddings prefer an experienced MC – in a tuxedo – for wedding receptions.

What the well-dressed DJ wears: French cuffs, with Turntable cufflinks.

7) Fresh Batteries are Your Friend!

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #7

The Dead Battery Beast can be the death of the party

PM Celebrations has always been an early adopter of new technology, especially wireless technology. Most problems encountered with such hardware can be blamed on a weak battery. Every event requires new, fresh batteries in wireless Mic transmitters and devices with memory. It’s cheap insurance.

6) Early is On Time. On Time is Late.

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #6

Being a little early ensures a smooth event.

Goes hand in hand with “Always have a Plan B.” When things go wrong, whether a flat tire or a defective connector, some time will be required to solve the problem. PM Celebrations crews always add extra travel time and extra setup time before an event, in case Murphy’s Law should attack. That’s how we have been able to maintain our perfect record: Never a late start in 35 years!

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #5

In 35 Things Learned in 35 Years by djscottshirley

5) Observe the K.I.S.S. Rule

There is a tendency in the event industry to over-complicate things. In fact, it exists to some degree in every business. But there is a difference between elaborate and elegant, and often simplicity can be the most elegant choice. Some entertainment companies get so involved in showing off their capabilities that they lose sight of the goal. I have seen a formal wedding with so many flashing lights that it looked like a circus! Where complex systems are concerned, such as DMX lighting control or multiple-room sound systems, simplicity = reliability. All things being equal, choose the simplest option.