You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Bad, First Impression

This past Saturday, I deejayed for a wedding in the Roswell/Marietta area. Every thing prior to this day had been arranged over the phone, so I would be actually meeting the bride, as well as her mother (my boss for the day) for the first time, face-to-face, on her wedding day.

Now, I’ve either deejayed or performed at dozens of weddings in my career. Quite a few of those had no wedding planner. Even the one’s with a wedding planner are utter chaos. But the ones without a wedding planner are like amateur hour the likes of which have never been seen. If you can imagine a group of 2nd graders taking their game of “house” to the next level, the wedding they would plan for their hypothetical future together would be reminiscent of the type of event I’m suggesting. This wedding had no planner. And so we had the speeches.

Instead of the typical cast of characters from the wedding party doing some heart-felt speech, one right after the other, that they tried to make humorous but couldn’t get through without choking up, they decided to wait a song between each speech. What is this, trivia night? How can I properly escalate the dance party if I’m constantly being interrupted after every song for some dramatic speech. No people. You get up here, you say your speech, the next person goes on immediately after you. 15 minutes TOPS, all speeches are done. I start playing some Jitterbug music for the grandparents, I transition that into disco, into group dance, into hip hop, and we all go home. But no. When you’re dealing with a group without a wedding planner, you’d have better luck getting the flow of the evening conducive to dancing if you were deejaying a preschool graduation.

But I find myself way ahead…of myself, so allow me to regain focus. This is the story I actually want to tell you about this particular festivity. I felt the need to preface this with the other low-lights of the evening because I feel like it helps drive home exactly what a series of misfires this entire affair became for me.

After I had been deejaying during cocktails and dinner for about 40 minutes already, the mother of the bride (M.O.B.), my aforementioned boss, finally came up to me for the first time to introduce herself. Remember that everything had been arranged over the phone prior to this. Just as I see her coming around my table to shake my hand, the photographer is in my ear on the other side exclaiming, “aren’t they going to do a first dance? You’ve got to play something so they can do a first dance so I can get some pictures of it, and they’re just standing together right over there now, so do it now, now would be perfect, DO IT NOW! NOW NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!!”

So, before I could get out a sentence in the direction of the impatient photographer, I find myself shaking hands with the woman who will eventually be paying me for the night. Unfortunately, my brain hadn’t recovered from all the things it wanted to say to the photog. All I could think was, “hey buddy, they didn’t give me a request for a first dance song, and as of right now, officially no one has told me that they are doing a first dance, so why don’t you just take the pictures and let me take care of this DJ stuff.” And of course, while my brain was thinking that, it forgot how to operate a hand. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late. My very first handshake with my employer for the day was a limp, sweaty, “dead fish,” met with absolutely no eye contact of any kind.

I wish I could say it got better from there. Remember the speeches we talked about? Well, of course I have to shake hands with everyone before I hand them a microphone. And I guess it’s because I was having to concentrate on my fade-outs, and cueing the next song I knew was going to be the only song I’d play before having to fade-out and cue again for the next speech, but every handshake of the evening was a varying degree of the world’s worst handshakes.

I met the maid of honor with a “Sweaty Mcsweaterson.” The best man got “the misfire.” The bride’s personal trainer was the recipient of “the hipster.” the photographer was at one point on the receiving end of “the never-let-go.” But perhaps the worst moment of all was at the end of the night when M.O.B. finally paid me, and I went to shake her hand again to thank her for having me but ended up giving her “the bone crusher” in an attempt to compensate for my previous “dead fish.”

So you never get a second chance to make a bad, first impression, and sometimes you just make two bad ones by even trying.

How have your handshakes been going lately? How do you handle the situation when it goes terribly? Now that I’ve gotten my terminology down for the majority of types of terrible handshakes, perhaps I’ll diffuse the situation when it happens in the future by outing myself and demanding a redo.