Saturday, September 1, 2018

Brett & Cameron at Silver Legacy's Grande Exposition Hall

There are weddings and there are weddings. I've been fortunate to have deejayed at nearly 900 now, and every wedding has had something special about it- about the couple, about the crowd, about the venue, about the events and moments celebrated within it. The list goes on. As a DJ privileged to witness these moments, I have many favorites but it's hard to pick, say, the top five weddings ever. Well, if I were to have to pick my top 5, Brett & Cameron's evening last weekend would easily fall into this category. That is really saying something- that is roughly the top half of one percent of all the weddings I've played at, and my brides and grooms are already a notch above so that is really saying something! What, do you ask, made Brett & Cameron's wedding so special? Everything!

First and foremost there is the happy couple. Brett is a college educator and highly organized, energetic and opinionated. Opinionated in a good way. He knew what he wanted down to the smallest detail. His vision was extensive and inclusive, and his enthusiasm would not be deterred. On our original meeting, I was just amazed at his ideas and thoughtfulness, his sense of humor, and his love for Cameron. On our next meeting, I met Cameron as well, and he seemed the perfect ying to Brett's yang. He is a peace officer and has a solidity and serious nature that is a perfect mix to Brett's impetuous energy. He lets Brett be Brett with a twinkle in his eye and an all-consuming love. His sense of humor and kindness must make him an extraordinary first responder- someone I'd want in my community. They are so natural together. I knew it would be an extraordinary night and I was so happy to be a part of it.

They chose the Silver Legacy as their venue. Most of their friends and family would be coming from Oroville, the Central Valley and the Bay Area and they wanted them to have a magical weekend, not just a magical night. They even had a couple they had met in Japan come across the Pacific to share in their day! This attitude, where they were always thinking of their family and guests, permeated their planning and manifested in so many ways that night.

The Silver Legacy is a favorite venue of mine. In a city of casinos, The Silver Legacy and their associated properties consistently rise above and beyond the norm. I am always amazed at their professionalism and their ability to make whatever their clients dream come to fruition. I've deejayed in the Silver Baron Ballrooms many times and I spin tunes for thousands in the Reno Ballroom for several large events, but I had never deejayed down in the Grande Exhibition Hall. This modern set of adjoining ballrooms can be made into a huge space for conventions and concerts, and indeed the evening before Cameron & Brett's Big Day, a Phillip Phillips concert took place there. Brett & Cameron wanted a club-like atmosphere, so they enlisted Eric, the main audio/visual guy for the Silver Legacy, to be their lighting tech that night. My mind was spinning! What fixtures would be available? Could I tap into their sound? It was a DJ's fantasy come to life!

I have a very credible set of lights and my JBLs kick butt acoustically, but Eric just smiled and said that Brett & Cameron could have the concert setup that Phillip Phillips and company used the night before. All I had to do is plug my board in and spin! Think of a top-of-the-line nightclub and multiply the lighting and sound by ten. It still gives me goosebumps! But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The evening quickly approached. I worked closely with them and we had put together music and an ambitious, spectacular timeline that would punctuate their evening perfectly. Everything they did was unique, classy, and most importantly, said "Cameron & Brett" through and through.
The guests enter...
The soon-to-be-married couple greeted and welcomed each of their guests as they came into the Hall. They would hug and talk with each guest, get a portrait photo against a backdrop with them, and then give them a gift bag that also told them which table they were assigned to. I thought this whole idea was genius. I know there are old traditions of not seeing your spouse before the Big Moment, and I respect that. I vividly remember seeing my wife when she appeared at the door of the church as I awaited her on the altar. I get it. But on the other hand, that reinforcement of their appreciation of their guests coming and sharing in their most special day just set a fantastic tone that never diminished an iota the rest of the evening. The guests would then find their tables, visit the bar, and had an opportunity to watch a slideshow of Cameron & Brett playing on a huge screen. When the last guest had been welcomed inside, the Silver Legacy began their dinner service.
Cameron & Brett had a special menu that night: their favorite finger foods and appetizers. Their guests piled their plates with all sorts of goodies and the Silver Legacy folks had everyone through the three buffet lines in no time at all. B&C had a chance to eat some of the delicious offerings and then Eric, running his lighting boards behind me, played a cool movie trailer on the screen that featured Brett & Cameron and their upcoming adventures together (of course created by the happy couple).

When the trailer ended and the applause subsided a bit, I played "Eye of the Tiger" and introduced Cameron like he was a heavyweight champion coming into the ring "All the way from Oroville CA, weighing in at 160 lbs." etc... He ran down to the stage, illuminated by an industrial spotlight from Eric, ready to defend his championship belt and the audience responded with cheers and applause! I then faded out Survivor and brought up the Theme from Rocky and similarly introduced Brett. The crowd, already loving the spectacle, went wild!

They then grabbed microphones I had placed nearby and again welcomed and thanked their guests and family. They had planned several different entertainments and they started by calling up some of their best friends and closest family for a fun and festive game of musical chairs- Brett's team vs. Cameron's. When that was through several rows of chairs were set up on the dance floor and we gave everyone a five minute warning- the ceremony was about to begin!

Everyone took their seats and their officiant Carol Baisinger-Criddle, their officiant took the stage. I had not worked with her previously but she knocked it out of the park. Brett & Cameron had designed the ceremony to not only reflect them but also to start and end at specific times. It was a tall order, in the chaos that sometimes befalls the best-laid plans, to start and end at a specific time, but it started right on schedule. At 7:57pm, a two-minute video started playing, a humorous yet sweet prelude to what was about to happen. Again the preparation of these two! At 7:59 sharp Carol explained that while the two grooms would come down the aisle as individuals, they would leave together, unified in love.

Brett chose Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and walked down the aisle and joined Carol up on the stage and waited for his husband-to-be to join them. Train's "Marry Me" then accompanied Cameron as he walked down the aisle, perfectly punctuating the moment. Looking around at the family and guests watching them unite up on stage, I was filled with pride and had to thank God for the opportunity to witness this ceremony. For everyone watching was aglow, looking on the two men who stood before them to profess their love and cement their bond together. It was a perfect moment. I teared up a bit, because what was on display was pure love. In the eyes of both families and all of their friends was an expression of joy that was not clouded by outdated ideas of gender or discrimination. Love is love is love and whenever I am privileged to deejay a same-sex reception it always seems bigger than the couple and the marriage- it's an acknowledgment that the world is changing for the better and that more love in the world is always better than less.
The ceremony continued on. I became nervous. The clock was ticking and lots of words were said, and it was getting closer and closer to 8:18pm. Why the fixation on 8:18? We'll get to that in a moment, but just then Cameron took a mic and said his personal vows to Brett. All clock watching was forgotten as his funny yet poignant words encapsulated his journey with Brett and his hopes for the future. As people cheered for his words, Brett took the mic. His vows were just as fitting- he didn't pull any punches with their journey up that point and with how he felt about Cameron. Then he headed over to their sweetheart table and further punctuated his vows with props and visual aids. It was funny, sweet, unexpected, and again so unique.

Carol finished up the ceremony, pronounced them husband & husband, and then said my cue: "You may kiss the groom!" At that moment I started "Love Me Like You Do" by Ellie Gould at 3:08 into the song which perfectly framed their kiss and triumphant walk back down the aisle as a married couple. Fantastic. And I looked down at the time: 8:18. Brett and Cameron had timed it perfectly. Eric and I kinda looked at each other and nodded our heads and smiled. Perfect. It was 8-18-18, and they probably had kissed right about 18 seconds into that minute. Imagine that!  Married at 8:18 and around 18 seconds on 8-18-18.  So unbelievably awesome.

Cameron & Brett headed out to the foyer to take a moment and sign their marriage license and then I introduced them for their first dance, "Say You Won't Let Go" by Boyce Avenue, accompanied by the "Dancing on a Cloud" effect from my Nimbus. Magical. Eric had spots washes perfectly set up for their dances and everyone started to get a small taste of what dancing would look like in a few minutes :)
Mother-Son Dance
The happy couple then took the microphones and toasted everyone present and then made a special toast to their families- especially their mothers. They then invited their moms up to the dance floor and I played "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban as Cameron danced with his mom Stephanie and Brett with his mom Annette. After a minute or two they switched and other family members joined them dancing. It was another fabulous moment in a night filled and still to be filled with fabulous moments.  After they finished to applause and wet tear ducts, I announced that their Money Dance would soon follow. I told everyone that it would be quite different than other Money Dances that they may have experienced before :)

Indeed, the two of them had taken it upon themselves to give their guests a night they'd remember, many of those touches already in evidence. But the Money Dance should maybe have been called the "Money Dance Off" because with Beyonce playing in the background, Cameron challenged his new husband and Brett eagerly accepted. Two money jars were placed on either edge of the stage- one for each groom, and Brett lead off with some very enthusiastic lip syncing to "Formation" which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone packing the dance floor to watch. Cameron then followed with some slick moves to Drake's "In My Feelings"- the crowd went wild!

Not to be outdone, Brett followed that up with "7/11" by Beyonce and had a hundred fifty people waving their hands in the air in unison. I even saw one of the Silver Legacy ladies bussing tables with one of her hands up. So awesome! The crowd was in a frenzy by now. Then Cameron went into Apache mode as Sir-Mix-a-Lot's "Jump On It" played. (That was my favorite, but I'm Old School). It was a tight race!

The third and final round started with Brett doing a very good Bruno Mars impression to "Uptown Funk." By this time most of the audience were dancing, but everyone was jamming when Cameron's last choice, "Bring em Out" by TI came on. He was joined by Brett and everyone else and then we went into the Wobble and the dance floor never cleared from that moment onward. Brett and Cameron were on the dance floor all night long, which always makes for a fun night, and Eric behind me, on his thousands of dollars worth of video boards, used all kinds of effects, gobos and washes to create best lit dance floor I've ever been a part of, and I used to DJ clubs back in the day.

I have to give kudos to the grooms. They didn't have to go that extra mile for the lighting and sound. But they did, thinking that they wanted to have a party that would be the one that everyone always looks back on in wonderment; the one everyone compares any future reception or party to.  Brett & Cameron: mission accomplished! Eric was phenomenal. He wasn't just a bored tech. He enthusiastically worked his magic on several dozen moving heads, washes, spots and a couple of hazers. And the sound from the two concert-level arrays hanging from the ceiling was unbelievable. The lighting itself probably was worth at least $100,000 and I don't even venture to guess what the arrays cost. Fantastic. Great grooms, enthusiastic crowd, and phenomenal sound and lightshow... basically a DJ's dream.

We had some neat dancing moments. "Livin' on a Prayer" followed by "Don't Stop Believing" had everyone singing. Brett led everyone in a 10 minute Beyonce mix (his favorite artist). Latin songs were super popular- stuff like "El Za Za Za", "Suavemente" and '"Sabor a Mi", and 90's hip hop along with current hits and a wide variety of requests filled the evening. The dancing briefly stopped while they cut their cake, fittingly to "Cake" by Flo-Rida. Those Central Valley people really know how to party and midnight came and we still had a large crowd. I played a few into the morning and then everyone packed up and hit "The Row".  Party of parties, check!

I want to thank Carol Baisinger-Criddle for her great officiating and fantastic attitude. It is clear she enjoys what she does and is great at it. Thanks to the outstanding captains, waiters, and bartenders from the Silver Legacy. Top notch as always! And of course thanks to Eric. His technical knowledge and enthusiasm for his job was such a asset to an incredible night. He wanted to go above and beyond for Cameron and Brett, and he did.

Finally thanks to Cameron and Brett. Two nicer and more genuine newlyweds I can't recall. The night was all about you two, and you worked hard to make it just as much about your guests and family. So unselfish, yet still you were the stars of the evening. Shining stars at that. Thanks so much for letting me be a part of your celebration! I'll remember it for as long as I live. Much love and happiness together!
Cameron, the DJ, and Brett at the end of the evening.