Non-alcoholic (Dry) Weddings with Riley Mullane – E110

Dry weddings episode 110

Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs and Riley Mullane of Anne & Ellis and wedding DJ chat about non-alcoholic weddings and making them a success.



Show Notes:

  • Sobriety as a Wedding DJ
  • Heartwarming Wedding Moment
  • Ceremony Sets the Tone
  • About Riley Mullane Businesses
  • Venue Agency
  • Riley Mullane Media Channels
  • Having a Dry Wedding
  • Skip Intoxication
  • Wedding Integrations and Music
  • Unique Food Options
  • Fun Wedding Ideas
  • No Liquor Surprises
  • Tip for Engaged Couples
  • Being a Resource
  • Contact and Discover Riley

Welcome everybody to the Wedding Songs Podcast. I am Matt Campbell. And today we’re going to be talking about non-alcoholic weddings. To help me with that, I have Riley Mullane from Iowa. He is from Anne and Ellis and also wedding DJ, Riley Mullane.

So welcome to the show, Riley. Well, thank you, Matt. Thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the invitation. Yeah, I think it’s an important topic. And even though we are the Wedding Songs Podcast, everybody’s thinking about music and how they can have the ultimate party even without alcohol.

Sure. Sure. Well, you know, we were talking a little bit before. We started the podcast and I’ve always been an open book with pretty much everything I do with my business specifically. I think it’s important for any wedding DJ to earn that trust and earn that excitement overall from a client. And I feel like the best way throughout my 17, 18 years as a wedding DJ, specifically the best way for me to have earned that trust and excitement with those clients is being very honest about who I am and, as you know, and I’m sure as all the DJs listening and even those that you’ve interviewed would know that this.

Is unlike any other business transaction you’re going to have, this isn’t like buying a book or buying a pair of shoes where the transaction is done. You have what you want. They have what they want and it’s done. It’s like, that’s just the beginning. And so it’s all of those intangibles that I talk about with clients where I think that value is found.

Sobriety as a Wedding DJ

I’ve been very open about my struggles with alcohol. You know, I’m going on two and a half years sober, and it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I’ve had a lot of fellow wedding professionals in and outside of the wedding DJ industry, but some photographers and planners, and the list goes on reaching out, wanting to talk a little bit more about that journey and knowing that I’m putting that on YouTube and knowing that I’m putting that on Instagram and Facebook.

I think for some people, it can be scary because they don’t want to expose some of those vulnerabilities, but I think it’s important to be who you are, you know, and, I’ve always made mention of that even during consultations, that I’m, I’m not a drinker. So I’m not going to be the wedding DJ who is going to be drunk at 7:15 at night and looping the same song over and over or saying your last name incorrectly.

You know, again, all of these horror stories that. I’m sure we’ve all heard about it, I’ve been very, happy with the response of just being honest. I think that’s, that’s important in life being honest, being who you are. Yep.

As a side note, we’re right in January and something that started fairly recently that I’m going through is a dry January. A lot of people are doing that and, first of all, congratulations on your sobriety. I have a family that has those struggles as well. And, I think, being upfront and telling your story will help others. Yeah, it’s all fun and games until kids come into the picture and then they start to pick up on certain habits that you know, if you continue with those habits, it’s going to turn into somewhere down the line, it’s going to turn into a habit for them.

Maybe it’s not drinking, but it’s, it’s a denial of something negative. And I wanted to be the best example for them as possible. And don’t get me wrong. I envy those that can drink in moderation, like my wife or, I have several friends that can have a drink here, drink there, and like, They’re done, right?

And they just do it in social settings. To me, it was, it was just a whole new level. I never drank at weddings. That’s, that’s what’s also kind of interesting, Matt, is in my 600 and some weddings that I’ve, that I’ve DJ’d, not one time that I ever drank at those. It was a, it was a light switch that I could turn off and I wasn’t bringing a flask with me or going back in the storage closet and sipping a drink here.

I still take DJing weddings very seriously. It’s what pays our bills. It’s what gives me and our family the freedom and flexibility to live the life that we want. And I don’t take that for granted at all. Well, let’s get a little less deep. And let’s start off with our, Icebreaker question.

Heartwarming Wedding Moment

Can you share a heartwarming wedding moment? Yeah, that’s a great question. I had a conversation with a buddy of mine, Russ Collins, who’s a DJ out of Northwest Arkansas. Really, really good dude doing some incredible things with his business. And I shared with him that a turning point in my career was when I DJed a wedding.

This had to have been, I would say at least 15 years ago. And it was at a very modest community center. They did not have a lot of money to spend at all on their wedding. They were an incredible couple, very sweet, very kind, very much in love. So easy to talk to. And. You know, going into a venue like that, I’m sure you’ve been a part of weddings where they had an unlimited budget and you walk into these huge, grandiose kind of ballrooms and it has a feel to it.

And it’s a lot of fun to be a part of those, but this one was, you know, definitely more modest. And so they had. Catering on a budget and very little floral very little decorations and a very modest head table. And so anyway, I got there. I’m like, all right, here we go. Let’s let’s, let’s do this thing.

And so the night continued and had a really great time with them. And at the end of the night, they came up and said, you know, looking around the room, as you can tell Riley, we didn’t have a really big budget at all. You know, we had to pay for the wedding ourselves and we decided to invest the majority of our budget in you because we really trusted you.

And we knew that the impact that you were going to for us our wedding and our guests was going to be something that was worth every single penny. It was at that point that I knew my role in this industry was to treat every single client that way, no matter what their budget was, you should never overlook the kind of impact you have at a wedding or event.

DJ there’s, there’s people listening and watching at those events that you don’t know, or watching and listening to the things that you’re doing. And weddings are expensive, right? I mean, I think it’s just so easy for us wedding professionals to say, this is our price and this is what things cost.

And we get in the groove and we get in the habit of just. Kind of overlooking those costs a little bit, but it’s significant, especially in today’s world, today’s economy. I mean, things are expensive. And so when people are going out of their way and they trust you and they trust the kind of value you bring to the table, it kills me when I see DJs taking those things for granted.

It really, really does. So when I train and coach the DJs, I spend a lot of time talking about what sort of character and integrity we should have as DJs. So shout out to those individuals. Changed the trajectory of my DJ career.

Ceremony Sets the Tone

You know, that even reminds me of Vegas because we’re the quote, unquote wedding capital of the world. And there’s an average of 200 weddings every single day here. And exactly what you’re saying that you know, I remember going to a meeting and it was the officiant or the venue. And they’re saying, Oh, you’re a couple number one, couple number two. And you just cannot do that.

And you have to have that, philosophy of this is their moment and you have to treat it. As there are no other retakes you really do, you really do. And you have to feel the essence of what that day means to them. And I think it’s easier to do when you’re a DJ that, that is married and you remember your own wedding day and just how.

Important that day was for you. So I try to kind of channel the same emotions that I had on my wedding day, which I was a nervous wreck, to be honest. And I was in the industry for a long time leading up to that point. This was 2012. We got married. And it’s just like, where are these nerves coming from?

Like, I know how things are going to go. I’ve been a part of a million ceremonies, but you do, you’re nervous and you lose track of time and you’re bombarded with people and they’re looking for somebody to help guide them down this path of a successful wedding, so.

It’s funny, I interviewed Maria Romano, who’s an officiant, and we talked about the importance of the officiant plays. After all, they have to relax the couple because they are so nervous, whether it’s telling a joke or whatever that is, it’s funny when I got married, our pastor said, the we-ness and the us-ness, and I was just sitting there, what did he just say?

You know, I’ve, I’ve officiated a lot of weddings. I don’t market myself as an officiant, but when I work with couples, they, they can’t find anybody or, you know, there’s just a super fun couple kind of quirky and they just want things different, in comparison to other weddings they’ve been to. And they ask, and they’ve seen pictures of me officiating.

That’s how I typically have landed some of the gigs. They’ve just seen things that I’ve done. And I tell like, listen, the ceremony in my humble opinion, as, as a wedding DJ, I think the ceremony is the catalyst for everything else. To come throughout the night. And again, it kills me when I see officiants that are marketing themselves as officiants and they are treating the couple like a number.

They’re not practicing, they’re stumbling over their names or saying their names incorrectly. They’re going out of order. Come on. This is, this is a production. It doesn’t have to feel like a production, but it should feel very organic and it should feel very natural and people listening and watching you as the officiant should notice how prepared and comfortable you are. So the couple can kind of acclimate to your environment. A hundred percent.

About Riley Mullane Businesses

So you mentioned officiating. Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you and all of your media projects that you have going on? Yeah, I am a very multifaceted person when it comes to being in the wedding industry, you know, I started off as a wedding DJ, and still enjoy weddings.

There were a couple of times in my career when I was going to retire and work on other things. And I did work on a ton of other things and found a lot of fulfillment and enjoyment, but I was just, I was continuing to get inquiries and leads from couples that maybe had a sister that got married where I DJed.

You know, friends and family. And so I never turned that valve off. And, I even put out actually a Facebook video, a big Facebook video thanking everybody. It was like in 2022 and starting in 2023, I’m no longer booking weddings. And people are like, yeah, yeah, yeah. You and I both know that’s not true, Riley.

And I think I did 25 weddings in 2023 and a handful going into this year, 24 and beyond. So wedding deejaying has been my main economic engine for everything I’ve done in my life. And I have learned so much about myself. I’ve learned so much about human patterns and behavior and just kind of this psychology when it comes to, human nature.

And that is something, that I think a lot of wedding DJs start to understand the more they’re in the industry as they start to recognize certain things that a lot of people maybe don’t realize we recognize as DJs. Now, that being said, I linked up with a really, really good friend of mine. and my business partner and we run a wedding and event agency called Anne and Ellis.

And so her middle name is Anne. My middle name is Ellis. So Anne and Ellis, there you go. And she owns two really popular wedding venues called Ashton Hill, one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and one in Galena, Illinois. Galena is a tourist town. It gets 1.3, 1.4 million tourists a year. It’s kind of like a little Aspen without the mountains basically, but it is a very boutique town.

Kind of like out of a Hallmark movie. So she built a venue there in 2020, which was perfect timing through COVID. Right. But, she made it and, she’s on the other side of that. Thank the Lord. And so we linked up, roughly 10 years ago, and we started to get to know each other really well, personally, professionally.

And she is one of the kindest, smartest, just, I mean, I, Megan Knatz, she is fantastic. One of my best friends. And so anyways, we took the ball, we started to run with it as far as gaining and gathering. If you think of it as a preferred vendor list, but. It’s so much deeper than that. So when somebody, I’ll give you the 32nd version of how Annea Nellis works, because I think this is very much scalable, not that we would want to do it, but for anybody that maybe is owning a wedding venue right now, that could be listening, that wants to try this out.

Venue Agency

We did like this pilot program. So when any, any couple would tour the venue, they would have a really great tour experience and champagne and dessert and all of these things made them feel very special as they should feel very special. They’re spending a lot of money on a venue. and then after they book, they meet with one of our team members kind of a wedding consultant.

All of that is free. We would spend 2 hours, sometimes longer with these couples and we would establish their budget and some might say, okay, our budgets. I’m making numbers up here. $30,000. Okay, great. I want a DJ, I want a cinematographer, a photographer, and then we would start to dive deeper and deeper into what sort of catering they wanted, what sort of photography, I want light and airy, and I want a really moody, cinematic feel for our video.

On the back end, we had a stable, of really, really great wedding vendors. And we would sell on their behalf. We would be an advocate. We didn’t do their contracts for them or anything like that. But we would say, here’s how much these individuals cost, but here’s why they cost what they cost. And so the majority of our couples, I mean, they were booking 80 percent of their wedding within a couple of weeks.

Because we were getting them everything they wanted. I mean, we weren’t saying, okay, you’re looking at a $2,500 DJ. Well, here’s a bunch of $5,000 DJs. We’re not trying to upsell them. We’re trying to get them what they want as an agency would do. Think of it as a real estate agent. Your budget for a house is $400,000 again, making numbers up.

I’m not going to show you a bunch of million-dollar houses because you’re just going to be let down. See the price. And so our couples would really, really, really, be receptive to that. And we’re like, we’re onto something here. And so we continue to grow our agency. I’m pretty detached from that only because we have a team that’s doing that, which is fantastic.

We’ve done the training, we’ve done, you know, the sales side and the educational side of what we do. And, and that, that’s running very, very well. And then the other side of that, Megan and I started a podcast, the Anne and Ellis podcast, which you can find on YouTube, just search Anne and Ellis. I think we’re at 64 episodes.

Riley Mullane Media Channels

Last week we actually started. Switch our format, which is going to be very business-focused. We’ve shortened the time of our podcast. We just get in, get out. We talk about how to build a network and how to create a mastermind what you should be saying during that initial consultation and the importance of this and the importance of that.

And then I have a YouTube channel. And then, of course, Instagram is just at Riley Mullane. I’m very easy to find. Cause, I go by my first and last name for everything that I do, but that channel is all about the purpose-driven. Wedding DJ. So if you’re somebody that is maybe you’re one, you’re two, I mean, maybe you’re, you’re 10 or 15 or 20 and you’ve lost your purpose and you don’t know why you still DJ weddings, maybe it’s just money, maybe it’s just something that you do because you’re scared.

You can’t do anything else in life. And trust me, I’ve, I’ve felt that way too. Like if without DJing, who am I like? I’m a shell of myself. Like music is so embedded in who I am. That channel is all about. Real strategy, like real tools that you can use to open up a conversation with a client, interviewing really great people.

I’d love to have you on sometime and no hype, no gimmicks, all free. Hopefully, it starts to develop itself as a really healthy ecosystem for people to come in and leave their egos at the door. And. I’m a big believer in acting as if you know nothing, but you want to learn everything like that, that’s my mindset going into any sort of learning environment.

So yeah, check out Riley Mullane, on Instagram and of course, YouTube channel. Awesome. Thanks. And speaking of that too, I think that the more. Experience that we have through the years. We really want to give that back to the community and I feel that that’s really what you’re doing now too is giving back to that.

Yeah, I think that’s kind of an obligation. We should all have. We shouldn’t be selfish with the things that have worked for us. You know, my. My goal with all of the DJs that I’ve trained and continue training and coaching, and I train a lot more on the business performance coaching side of things with photographers and I’ve done venue consulting and I mean, I’ve, I’ve worked, I’ve worked with chiropractic offices that have built a new office and they want.

Me to come in and just feel the vibe, right? Like what’s the color temperature like in here? What is, what is the, what’s the music be when somebody walks into the waiting room? Is the individual at the front desk, are they smiling enough? Like what, what’s the first impression? So I’ve helped produce a lot of events for people.

And you know, with the keynote speakers I’ve helped consult with the lighting. I love getting down in dirty regarding the Experience. What is somebody? Going to say when they leave this event, how did it feel? I think it’s really easy if you have a bunch of money to make it look a certain way, but where it’s really difficult is how can you get it to feel a certain way.

That’s what I love how to give everything. You’re a part of a feel. That is a great transition then to our main topic. I love that.

Having a Dry Wedding

What are some common reasons then for having an alcohol-free wedding that you’ve seen in the past? Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. And I, I’ve, again, I’ve been excited to talk about this now in full disclosure are the majority of the weddings.

I DJ dry weddings. No, they’re not. Have I djed dry weddings? Yes, I certainly have. Have those weddings been a success? Absolutely. And I was thinking a little bit Matt about, this conversation last night before I was going to bed and, and trying to use it. Some examples and not just come up with different hypothetical scenarios.

Like, so, a couple of weddings that come to mind in regards to their decision on not serving alcohol. A couple of them were religious based reasons. And so the guests knew that going in. And I think those couples even put on the invitation, in an eloquent way saying, you know, there will be no alcohol served.

And it was more eloquent than that. And so people just kind of knew what they were getting into. And those types of weddings. I think are structured the same way they started this normal time, you know, ceremony at 4-4:30. I’m always very curious to know across the country, like how ceremony start times, how they vary, right?

Because I’ve talked to some individuals. one was actually in South America, I was talking with the DJ and they were talking about how the ceremony started so much later there. But anyway, they did the same, ceremony and then quoted cocktail hour was mocktails, right? It’s your lemonade. And of course, you got your iced tea, but there were some really great mocktails, right?

Some, I’m not sure exactly what they were, but there was, there was one that was like a non-alcoholic version of a Moscow mule and, and, and stuff like that. And they had about 150 ish people, I think. And there was a ton of family, a ton of friends that shared the same values, right? Like, I think that’s how you can curate a guest list.

If you’re going to have a dry wedding. Maybe take a little bit more time to curate your guest list. So you’re not going to be inviting people. They are really turned off by the fact that they can’t have 18 Busch Lights at a wedding or high noons. And now don’t get me wrong as a DJ, selfishly out of pure selfishness.

The more people drink, the more people dance. You know, my dad’s been in a band for going on 45 years now. I grew up around music. I know exactly how alcohol correlates to music and it makes for a very good time. There’s a reason why they serve alcohol at nightclubs. I mean, it’s like, duh, and so I, I think anytime somebody thinks about a dry wedding, they’re like, Oh gosh, this is going to be such a bust and nobody’s going to dance.

Everybody’s going to be stuffy. It was quite the opposite. In my experience, they set their expectations. They were true to who they were and their guests respected that. And then I also, I was thinking about a couple of different examples. I had the privilege of DJing. I’ve DJed a lot of weddings for athletes.

Some that have been in the NFL. Some were an exceptional Division One athlete, but I’ve DJed for whatever reason. I have DJed quite a few weddings for Iowa wrestlers and A lot of the wrestlers, don’t drink and they are of such sound mind and their, their body and they treat it like an instrument.

And it was wild for me to see 15, or 20 wrestlers along with their significant others and some of their parents who were wrestlers. They didn’t drink at all. And so the bar now, now were they serving alcohol? Yes, but very, very, very few people were drinking and they were having the time of their life because they’ve just conditioned themselves to not need it.

Right. They don’t look at it as an accessory to their party. Well, and I think that is such a misnomer where. Everybody thinks that they have to drink alcohol just to have a great party. And, that’s why I want to have you on here because that, that is so false that you can’t have a great party with limited, or, or maybe you’re not having the hard liquor, you’re having the Busch Lights as you said.

Yeah. And I always try to be self-aware enough to know and understand, like, I never want to come across. Well, because I don’t drink, nobody needs to drink. Like I’m not, I never have ever judged anybody for doing the things that they want to do in their lives. The same goes for clients, by the way, you know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with clients that are very introverted throughout the entire planning process.

And they started to get a few drinks in them and they are a completely different person. They’re so, I mean, go figure, right? Alcohol kind of can bring out the best or worst in some people, but you know, they’re, they turn into a much. more, again, outgoing personality, but just everything kind of shifts a little bit.

So I don’t, I don’t judge those individuals. I just look at my own path and how I can, kind of guide others through whatever situation that they’re in. And again, with clients, it’s, it’s no different. And I talk a lot about the reality of what a wedding day is going to look like with clients. I tell them, to try to eat something in the morning.

Skip Intoxication

I mean, don’t be, because the emotions and the nerves and the anxiety will get the best of some couples and by the time seven o’clock clock rolls around, they’re so intoxicated that, I mean, it’s terrible, but I’ve had some clients that they were surrounded by a wedding party that. We’re just, I mean, a wedding party, like an actual party, they were having a hard time getting through their first dance, getting through their toasts, getting through parent dances.

I’ve had parents who were too intoxicated to share a dance. With their son or daughter during that time. And it’s like, man, that is so disappointing. You know, what do you do? But yeah, that’s so tough.

In some capacity, there is a sober movement happening. I’m not saying that everybody has to hop on that train. It was just something that was right for me because I knew it wasn’t going to end well.

But you go into even breweries now, there are a ton, a ton of non-alcoholic options. You go into any sort of grocery store, you go into a liquor store. I mean, it’s wild how many non-alcoholic choices there are that by the way, taste I mean, I would love to do with somebody a blind taste test to tell me like, can you really taste a difference here?

They’re getting real good, getting real good. Actually, you brought up the brewery. One of the breweries that I go to here in Vegas they were promoting the dry January here. Here are some options. You can come here, and watch the game, but here’s some non-alcoholic. Options that you can have.

Wedding Integrations and Music

Yeah. So would you change up your wedding playlist because guests are not gathering at the bar per se? Maybe a little bit. Another thing that I, pertaining to your question, I’ve noticed with Some of these dry weddings or the vast majority of the guests and the couple not drinking is they start to add a little bit more of, I’ll call them integrations to the day.

So, maybe they will have a photo booth or they will have bags, I think some people call it cornhole. So depending on where you’re at in the country, so bags, cornhole, they’ll have a Jenga, they’ll have, different types of entertainment for their guests to do. And I typically know if those things are going to be there going into the wedding.

So I have an opportunity to talk with a couple to say, And I talk about this during the initial consultation before they’ve even officially booked with me to say, okay, here’s the reality of what I have witnessed. Through 600 and some weddings, number one, there’s a big difference between integrations and distractions.

And the more you have in that room that can compete with music, and it’s okay. If there are things there that compete with music, just please understand, that as a DJ, my role and the music that I’m playing. might become more secondary than primary and it is like, what do you want as a couple?

What do you want? And they’ll say, well, I want everybody dancing and having a great time. Okay, well then my honest opinion is to limit how many distractions or even you can define them as integrations, but even a photo booth, if the photo booth is placed way back in the corner of the room and not near me.

Now your guests have to commit. They’re going to say, Oh, I want to go and dance, but gosh, I’ve been in line for the soda booth for the last seven minutes. I’m going to finish this line out, and take my picture. And now the dance floor is running at 40, 50 percent capacity where I’m like, man, if that photo booth was just closer to me, they could be dancing in line, or they could at least be closer to that dance floor.

Or if you have. A cigar bar cigar bars, a big one, because the better the cigar, the longer it takes to smoke. Right. And you’re kind of savoring the flavor and you don’t want to rush through the process. Enjoying the cigar. It’s kind of an art form.

It takes like 20, or 30 minutes to smoke a cigar. And it’s like, where is every, Oh, you’re out there on the veranda. And there are 50 people out there smoking these incredible cigars. And they have a cigar roller that came in from, you know, Phoenix. I’ve had a few of those and they’re awesome, but it’s like, well, nobody is dancing.

What do you want me to do? So I just tried to be very honest with them, like do whatever you want, but every decision you make. We’ll impact the dance floor in some way, shape, or form. And the further you get away from the dance floor, the bigger impact it’s going to have. Like you’re saying outside if your games are outside the corn holes outside lawn darts or whatever is outside, boy, it’s tough to bring those people back in.

And, it could be, you know, 80 degrees outside, beautiful. They may not want to be on the dance floor and you just have to accept that as a couple, no matter what music’s playing. You are absolutely right. And some of the newer DJs. They can take that kind of personal, right? Where it’s like, you understand what kind of music I’m playing right now.

Everybody dances to these songs. Like, listen, it’s not you. Like there are times when as a DJ, it’s not you. And that’s why I try to get ahead of it. This leads to a whole different sales conversation, which we won’t get into, but I try to get ahead of all of those things at the initial consultation to say, here’s what could happen because I don’t want the couple looking at me being like.

Why is nobody dancing, Riley? Why on earth did we hire you? I thought you said people were going to dance. Well, I didn’t know 17 other distractions were happening. I didn’t know there was a food truck that randomly showed up. That’s a quarter mile away. That’s serving incredible free food for your guests.

I can’t compete with that. I’m sorry. Usher’s Yeah, is not going to compete with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. nine o’clock at night.

Unique Food Options

So what other food things are you seeing in your area? It’s so funny because we went to a wedding last year that had a cookie food truck and it’s like, man, this is awesome.

But then like we were talking about, everybody’s outside. Yeah. I think, you know, it’s helpful, that we run an agency because our agency, as I said earlier, is centered around education. And so we just, we try to get ahead of it. Everything possible and our day of coordinators. Are, I mean, phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.

We have an individual on our team, MJ, and she is, I mean, a wedding expert. She’s the wedding whisperer for sure. She can tell you about problems before the problems even arise like she can see them six months away. Anyways. So we just talked about if you want to do late-night snacks, try to make it a limited menu.

You don’t want guests sitting out there for 30 minutes trying to figure out what they want, limit the menu. Give them three options. And let’s get on with the night because, by the time nine o’clock hits, which is typically when food trucks show up for late-night sets, we don’t see a lot of food trucks for dinner.

We typically see served or plated meals or buffets. You know, this is Iowa. We see a lot of buffets. It just is what it is. Even at some of the nicest venues you can imagine a lot of times, it’s buffet because it’s more economical. And a lot of times our couples aren’t looking to win awards for their food.

They just want it to be hot, and good. Nobody’s complaining. and get on with the night. Let’s get to the party, which again, as a DJ, I love that mentality selfishly. so if we know they’re going to be doing certain things like that, we obviously encourage that. We’re not going to talk them out of it, but we see a lot of like, food trucks that are serving tacos.

I’ve not seen a cookie, like a cookie-making building station. I know those are becoming really popular here. Like storefront-wise. I don’t know about you, but there’s been a lot of times where I’m like, I’m jealous. I wish I was a guest right now. Like, I don’t think these guests quite understand, like, this is not the average wedding you guys have.

This is crazy how far out. These sliders are awesome. What am I doing wrong? You guys are so spoiled right now as guests, please don’t take this wedding for granted. For sure.

Fun Wedding Ideas

So what are other fun ideas that you can incorporate into the wedding to keep people interactive? Yeah, more from like, if you’re not serving alcohol.

Correct. It’s a good question. I would say a photo booth for sure. You know, I think. If you’re going to be removing alcohol, which tends to be a staple at most, I would say it’s probably over 90 percent of weddings across the country, where alcohol is being served. So if you’re going to be in that 10 percent demographic, then give your guests options.

You know, the more options you can give within reason, the less it feels like something was removed. So throw some things at them that they didn’t see coming and that it’s like this surprise and delight vibe, right? So I think photo booths are great. We’re seeing some really cool modern. We actually sold, we had some salsa photo booths that we really love through a photo booth supply company.

Shout out to them. They’re great, but we sold them just cause they didn’t really fit our business format anymore. So I’m to a local DJ and we recommend him. so they’re booking those out like crazy. I would say the food stations are great. Guests just love variety. It comes back to variety because if you can put yourself In the shoes of a guest, what makes you happy when you go to, whether it’s a wedding reception or just anywhere and you’re looking, Oh, cool.

They have this. Oh, cool. They have that. Oh my gosh. Look at that. Oh, that’s neat. That’s kind of the surprise and delight, you know, and food stations really Do that. Well, I know food stations are one of the more expensive formats as far as dinner goes, but yeah, I mean, don’t, don’t shy away from some of those yard games or whatever you can bring inside, giving them not only a variety but.

Ways, the things that they’re doing kind of feel like you as the couple, you know what I mean? Like Tom and Tina Smith, this is totally them. This makes sense. That’s what I love most about DJing weddings is when the wedding feels like the couple. I love that they’re not forcing anything in any sort of direction.

It feels very much like the couple. So when couples take chances, even during their ceremony and, even certain songs, right? I mean, that’s. Things get a lot of fun when you can customize the day to fit the personalities of the couple. So whatever that means in a, in a physical form, like a game, I’m not one to do like scavenger hunts and, and things like that.

I’ve, I’ve done them before. And if a couple is adamant, they want to do it. Fantastic. Let’s do it. But, you know, like the shoe game, being able to kind of break up the night in a way where it doesn’t feel like you’re breaking up the momentum of the music that you’re playing or breaking the bank.

You know, we were talking about food trucks. It seems like every year at the wedding MBA, our booth is always across from a wall of donuts. And that’s something that’s. Less expensive. You could get gourmet donuts, of course, but you know, if you met a Dunkin Donuts or you met at a coffee shop, that might be something that fits your personality and helps tell you, tell your story.

Absolutely. Donut walls are becoming huge. You know, I have seen so many couples choosing not to do their cake-cutting. As the years progress and the demographic changes and the things that they would. You know, they don’t want it to be like their parents’ wedding. That’s just the reality. They want it to be their wedding.

And if they look at cake cuttings and bouquet tosses and garter tosses and certain dances, whether it’s a dollar dance, I haven’t done many dollar dances at all, but, I did 10 years ago and that was like something you did every time and all of a sudden they were like, we’re not doing it anymore. And for whatever reason, okay, fine.

Perfect. As a DJ, it’s easier not to do those things. Then great, don’t do those things. And it, when you can trim some of that stuff off, to me, you just get to the heart of what people want, which is to eat, have a great time, and dance. Yeah, it’s definitely the trend let’s party, forget all of them, even the formal dances.

Let’s get those, I don’t want to say out of the way, but get them completed after the grand entrance. So that way, when dinner’s over, toasts are done, let’s party. Yeah, agree.

No Liquor Surprises

And going back to what I was saying earlier, I would say the one thing that I see, the most with dry weddings is that the guests tend to share the same values.

They’re not, alarmed about showing up. What do you mean? What do you mean there’s no alcohol? What? They were very upfront and again, the guests share the same values. Now that being said, because they share the same values, whether it’s a religious, Based value or whatever, whatever it is.

It’s removed. It’s not even a thing that they’re deprived of. And so they just, they get on with it. And I’ve done going back to the few that I’ve done a hundred and 150 people, I mean, they’re ready to party. Right. I mean, just partying doesn’t have to mean alcohol.

I know I sound like an old man when I say a super lame party. You don’t have to have alcohol. Have fun. I’ve said many times, that alcohol certainly can bring a lot of fun, to the party, but you don’t have to have it. And I’ve been very fortunate with the couples that I’ve worked with. They were partying and dancing and they could hold their own to any other wedding that I’ve done.

And the format did not shift very much. Now again, musically things shift. I mean, maybe a little bit, but not a ton. I would say the majority of what I play is edited anyway. You know, I don’t do clubs. I don’t do a lot of bar gigs or anything like that. When I first started out DJing, I did.

So I’m, I’m weddings 95 percent of the times I’m weddings. And then 5 percent are the nonprofits that I MC throughout the year. So everything I’m playing is. Very many songs you’re going to hear on like 80s on a 90s on nine early 2000s early 2000s have been the sweet spot over the last. Five, 10 years, and those are, I want to say, I don’t want to say safe to play, but you and I, me, I mean, those are, you’re not going to, you’re not going to rock the boat with some of those songs specifically if they are edited.

So, I didn’t find myself backed into a corner, holding on for dear life to what am I going to do here. I felt very, very comfortable because the guests and the couple were very comfortable with every decision they made. You know, even if it is monetarily decided not to have alcohol because alcohol is very expensive and maybe, your family are drinkers, then, there’s so much variety now, like you mentioned earlier, mocktails and even I remember growing up just to get a Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers.

I mean, that was the cool thing. Oh, my gosh. I’m like an adult now. Yeah. I just think that there are less expensive ways to go, but still have fun with the drinks at the reception. Listen, when you’re a kid and you start seeing them put that grenadine syrup in and you’re, everything changes.

Oh my gosh. This is not your normal cherry coke. They’re actually putting this in it or Yeah, there’s Shirley Temples with the cherry and, yep. Yeah, it was a big deal. It’s so funny.

Tip for Engaged Couples

So just to kind of wrap things up, what is one tip that you would give to engaged couples that are planning a wedding in general?

It doesn’t have to be a dry wedding. Yeah, that’s a great question. Be yourself. I think again, the goal when it comes to your wedding planning is having your day truly feel like you as the couple don’t, don’t feel like you have to do anything that’s the beauty of the wedding industry. I feel anyway, is there’s, there’s no rules.

There are no rules. There’s, there’s zero, there’s going to be certain decisions that you make that will impact the flow. But with a good MC, with a good DJ, they can jump over those hurdles pretty easily. So the weddings that I’ve DJ that I would define as an absolute success were ones that had nothing to do with the budget, had nothing to do with how much money they spent to get things to look a certain way, but they were very true to who they were.

And that is so important because I think when you look back on your wedding, 15, 20 years, 30 years. You want to remember the things that felt I’ll say very naturally again, right? You know the song you chose for your first dance or the vows that were read during your ceremony. I don’t know 15 20 years after your wedding if you’re obsessing over The one specific flower, and that’s no disrespect to the florist or zero disrespect to, the core companies that’s certainly not what I’m saying because those things provide an impact for the guests that are there.

However, I just think the memory starts to become more refined, and it’s going to be more and more about how your day felt versus how your day looked, which I know I’ve said several times, but that to me is my overall philosophy as a DJ is getting your day to feel a certain way. I think the best way to get your day to feel a certain way is to make sure that it’s a reflection of you as a couple.

It’s interesting. It’s sharing your love for each other. I haven’t spoken about this before, but I just get this vibe as a DJ. When you meet couples, the relationships that are going to last. And I think that the ones that do incorporate their personalities, those are the people that are really into each other and listening to each other and it’s like, yeah,

The weddings are the grooms outside and the brides dancing with their girlfriends. It’s like, man, I don’t know how this is going to work out. You said it, I mean, that’s yes, you are right. And that initial observation, as a potential vendor that may be involved in that wedding and you start to pick up on, wow, these guys, they’re really in love. Like what a great couple that carries through and just the way they look at each other.

And, you know, to me, that’s a big reason why a DJ, I mean, there’s many reasons why a DJ, but when you’re DJing for couples that, you know. They found the right ones and they’re just having fun with one another.

Not, they’re not sweating the small stuff. Like they’re collectively agreeing like we’re not going to worry about this. I had a New Year’s Eve wedding. They were a textbook couple, Kelsey and AJ. I mean, textbook. If I could write a book about what sort of couple to be when planning a wedding, they would be on the front.

They would be on the cover and nothing rattled them. They chose really great vendors. The vendors had their back, the vendors have all worked together before, and that’s what we try to do with our agency to create these all-star teams every single weekend to the best of our ability. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the couple feels that too, and they can focus on being in love and enjoying one of the best days of their life.

And they’re always smiling, right? I mean, how great is that when you just see couples that are smiling, you know, they’re dancing like they don’t really care what’s playing. Oh, good to see you. And they’re not getting wrapped up in, you know, that centerpiece is crooked. Or, you know, why are the utensils not lined up the way they should be?

Mistakes happen. As vendors, we’re human, right? If AI takes over one day they can do everything that we were doing, not only as DJs, but as long as we’re Living and breathing as human beings. There’s beauty in the imperfections when it comes to planning a wedding and couples, have to embrace that nothing about their day will be perfect.

And you don’t want it to be perfect because perfection is subjective. Anyway, your perfect day is different than my perfect day. Well, the same goes for weddings. You know, like what is your perfect wedding day look like? I mean, the weather can’t control it. That’s a big one here in Iowa. Anyways, it’s like they want to get married outside while it’s raining.

It’s downpouring. So you have to kind of mentally accept and internally digest that. You only have so much control, no matter how much money you’re spending anyway. So, let it be and smile, be in love, kiss one another, and enjoy the day because it’s over like that anyway. Especially the ceremony. That’s one tip I give to every engaged couple today.

If something bad is going to go wrong at your reception guarantee it it just depends on how you handle that situation and exactly what you’re saying if you just kind of blow it off and you know things are going to happen. Indeed, they do. And it can be somebody that is brand new to the wedding industry or somebody that’s been doing this for 30 years We’re human.

We don’t want to make mistakes. We’re not laughing in the corner saying, yes, I’m so happy that happened. No, we’re mortified too, but you’ve got to rise above it and keep going. And then you also have to remember, this is something I had to get over as a DJ because I was, I was chasing perfection and I was mean, just crazy amount of anxiety and was just making myself sick to death as far as, you know, I want this to be perfect and I don’t want to mess up.

And oh my gosh, I should have played that song and not this one. Oh, what am I doing? I was beating myself up a lot. That’s just kind of OCD and a little bit of a perfectionist by, my fault. But when those things happen, 90 percent of the guests, don’t even realize it’s happening.

Most of the time, the couple does not even know what’s happening. I mean, they’re. Again, they’re bombarded with people who want to get pictures and look at the ring and comment on the dress and guys are talking about, how the Cubs are doing this year. It’s like, you know, it’s just like they’re oblivious to so many things.

That’s why you just, you just have to let go and trust and hire great vendors that care and let everything else be everything else. I agree. 100 percent finding those people that care. And like you’re saying with the anxiety, that just means that you care how the event turns out. Absolutely.

Being a Resource

So is there anything else that we didn’t talk about today that you wanted to cover? No, I, again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you. I am a big fan of anybody that is out there doing things consistently and you know what your business stands for and what this podcast stands for.

I think there’s so much impact that comes with this and having a resource for it. Other DJs or event professionals to listen to something that gives different insights and opinions on things, specifically a topic with dry weddings, I think that’s important.

So I’m just, I’m thankful to be a part of, your journey and the process that, that you’re developing, I think is, is cool. Thanks for Riley. I appreciate that.

Contact and Discover Riley

So how can people find you and contact you? Yeah, well, I would say if anybody has any questions. Anything that I brought up in this podcast first and foremost, you can email me.

It’s just, we’ll do the easy one. So it’s I check my emails all the time. you can direct message me on Instagram. I’m on Instagram, probably more than any other platform. It’s just @RileyMullane. So feel free to follow me there or any questions. Of course, message me there.

Check out our podcast, the Anne and Ellis podcast. It’s on YouTube. It’s on Spotify, anywhere you’re going to listen to a podcast. It’s going to be found there. and then my YouTube channel. Is again, Riley Mullane, and that is, very specific to, again, I’ll say purpose-driven DJs. And, again, we’d love to have you on and have a conversation about all the things that you’re up to.

So we need to, we need to make that happen. That would be awesome. So you know, I know people are listening and very few watching, how do you spell your last name? Just so people know. My last name is M U. So M as in Mary. M U L L A N E. Riley is R I L E Y. Riley Mullane. Very cool. Well, thanks Riley for being on the show.

Stay tuned for future episodes of the Wedding Songs Podcast on Spotify, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, and very few on YouTube as well. But thanks for listening and have a great day.

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