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The Short Version: Breaking news – wedding entertainment doesn’t have to be cheesy. Toast & Jam is a group of wedding DJs based in Chicago who create personalized music experiences for every moment of a couple’s special day. Unlike many other wedding DJs, the team at Toast & Jam works closely with their clients from the beginning of the wedding planning process to create meaningful and memorable musical backdrops and experiences for their wedding day.
I’m a bad dancer, but that’s never kept me from dancing. Despite years of mom-mandated dance lessons, I’m still not entirely sure how to move my limbs with any amount of harmony. For me, dancing isn’t about looking good – it’s about having fun.
The fear of looking silly rarely stifles me on the dance floor, but bad DJs definitely do. I distinctly remember a high school semi-formal dance where the DJ (who was also our assistant principal) was playing tunes from his glory days, including the likes of AC/DC and Michael Jackson.
Needless to say, the awkward conglomerate of teenagers who were ready for Post Malone and “Juju On That Beat” were disappointed and confused. DJs can really make or break an experience, and that’s especially true when it comes to weddings.
Toast & Jam is a Chicago-area wedding DJ service that works closely with couples to bring them a personalized and professional wedding day music experience. Toast & Jam DJs reject the common gimmicks of the typical wedding DJ and instead focus on providing each couple with a tailored and well-planned set that reflects their tastes and the energy of the special day.
Mary Nisi is the founder of Toast & Jam. She told us about the common wedding DJ pitfalls and how Toast & Jam DJs stand out among the rest. “When people think of wedding DJs, they usually think of some sweaty guy in an ill-fitting tux,” Mary said. “It’s not necessarily a cool reputation, and I wanted to change that.”
Mary got her start as a radio DJ in Chicago and soon began playing sets at clubs and other events. She said that music had always been deeply important to her, and when she started deejaying a few weddings here and there, she realized that a lot of other DJs didn’t tailor their set lists to the tastes of the wedding couple.
“A lot of people would just go and play the hits,” Mary said. “Which is fine, but if you have a weird music taste, like ‘70s German Kraut rock or something, I want to know about it so I can find a way to incorporate it into your set.”
To Mary, the services that a wedding DJ provides are “the sonic representation” of a couple’s wedding day. She said she thinks that’s a big deal. Beyond that, she said it’s important that a wedding DJ has a good relationship with the couple and a well-rounded understanding of the kind of music they want – and don’t want – on their special day.
“Beyond playing good songs that the couples like, DJs also need to have the couple’s back,” Mary explained. “You know, being able to say no to the drunk uncle’s country music request, and knowing that the bride and groom categorically don’t want to hear the song that the best man keeps on pushing.”
Mary said she founded Toast & Jam to create a group of wedding DJs who do more than play the Top 100. Toast & Jam DJs are multitaskers who are invested in the whole event of the wedding and use music to create the kind of environment and energy that the couple wants.
“The thing that people say most in our reviews is how easy it was to work with us, how we were their least troublesome vendor,” Mary said. “We like to hear that our DJs made everything easier and made the day memorable and unique and awesome.”
Toast & Jam DJs are involved in more wedding planning than your average DJ would be. Mary explained that it’s important for DJs to be intimately familiar with the details of the wedding day, so they can play the right music at the right time. This ensures the highest quality musical experience.
“We want to know if they want a raging dance party right from the moment people walk in for cocktail hour, we want to know how many people are coming, how old they are, if their guests are mostly family or friends, to manage their expectations,” Mary said.
Unlike other DJ companies, Toast & Jam assigns each client their own DJ, who works with them from the time they hire a DJ to the day of the wedding. The first DJ a couple meets with is the same one who will be spinning tracks on their wedding day.
This is an important step in Toast & Jam’s process. It ensures that each client’s DJ has a comprehensive understanding of what the wedding day will look like and how the client wants the DJ to fit into it. With the input of the couple at the forefront, DJs have plenty of time to create bespoke set lists that really speak to the couple’s tastes.
Toast & Jam DJs can also help couples make decisions related to music on their big day. They can help couples decide how they want to incorporate music and which parts of the ceremony and reception need music. If couples don’t have a clear idea of what role music will play in their wedding, an experienced DJ can lend them advice and suggestions.
As wedding music pros, Toast & Jam DJs learn a lot about weddings and how to make them go smoothly. They know about the little details that can make a big difference and can help couples make decisions that may be out of their wedding planner’s realm of expertise.
Mary said they also sometimes develop preferences, or pet peeves, from working weddings so often. “It’s always my pet peeve when they plan the cake cutting while the dance floor is open,” Mary said. “I don’t want people serving cake while dancing is happening because it usually means people don’t dance for the first half hour.”
We asked Mary if she had any favorite songs to play at weddings. “There are some songs you hit play on, and nobody’s mad. Like ‘September’ by Earth, Wind, and Fire. And I like that song because I don’t feel like it’s as overplayed as songs like ‘Celebration’ and ‘We Are Family,’” Mary said.
“It’s also fun to pair weird songs with each other, you know, go from Jay-Z to ‘Build Me Up Buttercup,’ it gets everybody engaged,” Mary continued. Toast & Jam DJs have plenty of dance-floor-filling techniques.
Personalized playlists and whacky song combos aside, Toast & Jam also offers a photo booth experience for its wedding clients. Toast & Jam offers open-air ring light photo booths, where the special couple and all their guests can capture memories throughout the night. The high-tech photo booth offers physical prints and digital prints, which can be sent directly to guests by phone number.
Like all wedding vendors, a wedding DJ should be someone the couple can trust and rely on. Mary said it’s also important for couples to jive with their wedding DJ. “You want to have someone you can trust, and that goes for all vendors,” she said. “But more than that, it’s important to have someone you vibe with, and they vibe with you.”
Music is personal to most people, and even more so when it is the soundtrack to their love and commitment to their new spouse. Mary told us the deeply personal relevance of music in people’s lives is what makes having a great – not just OK – wedding DJ so important.
“Eighty-six percent of couples say they regret not spending more on entertainment for their wedding,” Mary said. “I would never want anybody to walk away and feel like Toast & Jam didn’t meet their every expectation. You know, anything can happen, but I can almost guarantee you that our DJs are going to bring an amazing experience. And we’ve got thousands of happy clients to tell you that story.”