Most couples insist on having the best entertainment experience for their loyal guests who are traveling near and far for their big day. What is often overlooked are the endless possibilities event lighting can offer and add to your wedding day. You’re in luck because Instant request not only offers award-winning DJ services but also specializes in upscale event lighting. This week we spoke with Shawn Plante, who started his business at the age of 14, to get all the best info on DJ entertainment and event lighting in this week’s VOW!
Q: What does Instant Request specialize in?
A: We specialize in upscale DJ Entertainment and event lighting.
Q: What makes Instant Request stand out compared to other wedding entertainment options?
A: The long history of our consistent quality makes us very unique by comparison. Everything from our equipment, logistics, client software, DJ staff and management staff are continually improving to deliver the maximum value to our clients. I think we are an amazing value!
Q: When and how did Instant Request begin?
A: My first gig was a free church basement dance where I built a light show from scratch and borrowed my brother’s home stereo. After that night, I knew what I wanted to do and it was full steam ahead. I was instantly hooked and all I could think about was how to make my music, lighting and sound show better.
I DJ’d my first paying gig at a Country Club wedding at age 14 wearing a red bow tie and cumber bun. I wish I had a photo of that! The couple wanted more than Country music and Polkas from the band. I remember rehearsing the playlists and announcements for months before the show. 36 years ago, DJs at weddings didn’t really exist so I had to come up with a playlist and crowd participation for the evening. I wanted there to be a good progression of events to accommodate old and young guests alike. My mom and I came up with the icebreaker event now known as the Anniversary Dance so we could fill the dance floor right away. In regards to music, I used turntables. My dad had a ton of records and I would make notes on the tempo (BPM) of the song and how popular it was. I went through a lot of turntable needles! It was so much fun to explore and find those special songs that would pack the dance floor. My dad’s collection was amazing. He had records from the Buddy Holly to the Ohio Players. (you know that song – Love Rollercoaster). That was mind-blowing for me in a farm community in northern Minnesota.
Q: How did you come up with the name “Instant Request”?
A: Our radio station took requests over the phone and recorded you live. Then, they would announce an “Instant Request”, (with a really deep announcer voice) play your recorded phone request and then play your song. It was so much fun because you could hear your own voice on the radio. I actually booked my first client before I had a company name. When I got home, I sat at the kitchen table with a pen and paper to come up with name. Turned the radio on, and it instantly came to me. I heard the Disc Jockey playing a phone request saying “INSTANT REQUEST” and I immediately started working on our first logo so I could hit up our art teacher in school to print silkscreen T-Shirts.
Q: Whats an average (event or wedding) day like for Instant Request?
A: Wedding days are from 2:30 pm to 2:30 am. All of the equipment and music preparation is done during the week. We pick up the equipment, drive to venue, load in before anyone arrives, test everything, run through a live soundcheck, change into our tuxedo and start prepping for event, like playing the music for the Ceremony, GRAND MARCH and so on. We spend a lot of time memorizing the proper pronunciation of names and making sure to be organized. Changes throughout the night from the bride or event planner are common so we have to be prepared for whatever arises. The best part for DJs is packing the dance floor for four hours. The music ends as late as 1:00 at no additional charge so by the time we pack up and drive back to the warehouse, it is a 12-hour day.
Q: What would you want couples who are searching for the perfect entertainment experience for their wedding, rehearsal or other wedding-related events to know about Instant Request?
A: Most everyone knows about our 12 Consecutive BEST DJ Awards but many couples aren’t aware of our amazing event lighting. I would definitely say that couples should highly consider some event lighting. It really makes you feel like you are at a special event.
Q: Any advice for couples regarding choosing entertainment options for any part of their wedding celebration?
A: Yes, we have a reservation program called BLACK TIE CERTIFIED where couples can select one of our senior DJ staff and have a face-to-face consultation for a nominal fee. I would highly recommend that extra level of service if the DJ is on your priority list.
Q: How does lighting enhance a wedding? What do you offer for lighting?
A: Now that I’ve done lighting for almost every venue in town, I know that lighting is often overlooked. Adding lighting creates a mood and makes you feel the event. We have LED lights in any color which enhance any design whether it’s rustic or contemporary. We have textured ceiling effects, custom rotating monograms for the dance floor, pin spots to high light floral centerpieces or our dramatic all-inclusive intelligent lighting package which includes a lighting designer on site all night who programs the patterns, color and movement. The package is very versatile so whether the venue is the size of the Calhoun Beach Club or the Landmark Center it is a great fit.
Q: How far in advance should a couple book Instant Request?
A: We book the vast majority of our business 6-8 months out. That means that the shopping starts in October for Summer weddings!
Q: What do you like about working in the wedding industry?
A: I love improving and enhancing events. Everyone wants to go to a fun event or wedding. Great music and tasteful lighting design can make all the difference.
Instant Request Lightning Round questions:
Q: Describe yourself in three words:
A: Honest, accommodating & persistent
Q: Red or White?
Q: Black Tie or Farm to Table?
A: Black Tie ( I like when my wife goes dress shopping)
Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?
A: Milk Chocolate
Q: What’s your go-to comfort food?
A: Turkey and stuffing
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: Cheap Trick
Q: What is your favorite board game?
Q: Favorite music genre?
A: Of course the 80’s!