How did you get into DJing?
I initially got into DJing while doing radio when I was at UC Santa Cruz. I was an on-air personality and fell into DJing at clubs, bars, and other venues shortly upon graduating. Having a radio background was a real blessing because not only did I gain an immense amount of musical knowledge, but my confidence in public speaking grew tremendously. At this point, I’ve been DJing for 25 years and have done hundreds of weddings.
What’s been your favorite experience as a DJ?
My favorite experience as a DJ is looking out onto the dancefloor when you really have control of the crowd, and everyone is having a great time dancing. There’s no better rush than that. You feel totally in control and in your element. It’s a wonderful, glorious feeling and one I am thankful to regularly experience.
What do you love most about working with weddings?
What I love most about working with weddings is seeing the careful planning the couple and I have been doing over the past few months, and in some cases years, come to fruition. The look of utter joy and satisfaction on the newlyweds’ faces and the feeling that you know you knocked it out the park is very personally and professionally rewarding. I never take for granted that this is one of their most important days, and I treat it as such. A wedding is never “just another gig” for me.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve DJ’d a wedding?
I’ve DJed many interesting, cool places. From remote barns in the middle of nowhere to lavish City Hall events. Probably the most interesting place I’ve played in is the beautiful Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco—if anything, for the production value alone. I’ve done a few events there, and it’s always such an amazing, elaborate production! The amount of planning and coordination for all involved at this venue is staggering.
How is a DJ different from a band? How is it similar?
I feel that a DJ compared to a band is night and day. With a band, it definitely commands all of the attention in the room. It’s essentially a show. Whereas a good, experienced DJ can be much more fluid and adjust the mood, vibe, and volume accordingly. A good DJ will know when to simply be in the background and when to take command. Subtlety is the key.
A band and DJ are similar in that they’re there to provide a service and entertain guests. Both can make or break a party, so they are crucially important in the grand scheme of things. This is why it’s so crucial to know who you’re booking and why you’re booking them.
What is your biggest wedding day challenge?
In my opinion, the biggest wedding day challenge is always the load in and load out. It’s always tough to arrive at a venue and know that unloading, parking, and setting up is going to be exceedingly difficult. It’s nice when a venue helps facilitate this by having easy and clear loading and parking situations. In some cases, loading in and parking has taken up to 2 hours. It’s a bit much sometimes.
What’s the most unique experience you’ve had while working at a wedding?
The most unique experience I’ve had DJing a wedding was when I worked so closely with a couple for so long that I eventually became like family to them and their close relatives. I still talk to them to this day, 15 years later.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure they find a DJ who’ll make certain their big day goes off without a hitch?
The best advice that I can give a couple seeking a DJ is to not let money guide who they ultimately pick. Meet the DJ ahead of time, sit down, and have a real conversation. If the vibe is right, then you can move forward. Never go for the cheapest option and never assume that the most expensive DJ is also the best. There are a lot of variables involved, and you should always go with your gut feeling.
How do you think an app like Joy can help make weddings better?
An app like Joy can help make weddings better because it helps connect the dots. There’s so much intricate, detailed planning involved in a wedding that it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Having clear, easy access to the right people can make all the difference in the world.
At Joy, we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever. What does that mean to you?
“A wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever” is quite poignant. While having a great wedding is important, of course, it’s ultimately a symbolic gesture to unlock the door for a lifetime of sharing and growing old together. Remember to have fun, let go of things you have no control over, breathe, and enjoy your day.
Find Vinnie Esparza at djvinnie.net.