A self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, Bonnie Hope has deejayed around 3,000 weddings since 1982. She grew up as the go-to girl for music at parties, but she left her musical sensibilities untapped when she went to school full-time to become a licensed therapist. After school, Hope decided to explore spinning records again and became an apprentice to a deejay downtown. She soon began booking gigs at sorority and fraternity parties in Isla Vista. With some experience under her belt, Hope branched out into weddings. “I really love weddings, so I wanted to explore that a little more,” she said. She decided to rent a booth at an area wedding fair and was flooded with phone calls following the fair. She founded Music by Bonnie and has been providing wedding music ever since. I recently spoke with Hope about the ins and outs of being a wedding deejay.
What are your most consistently requested songs from the past? The party classics that people say, “Please do not play this at my wedding,” other people request, like “YMCA,” “Twist and Shout,” “Macarena,” and “Sweet Caroline.” Some people will play a run-of-the-mill reception song to make a special guest happy. Some people say, “If my mother asks for it, then play it.”
What is the most played song for the first dance and father/daughter dance? One of the most popular songs for the father/daughter dance is “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. What I’ve noticed for these dances is they will pick a song that was special to them when the daughter was younger. For couples without a song, I tell them to pick one with appropriate lyrics and a danceable beat. Whatever song couples pick, they should practice at home so that they’re not on the dance floor and realize they can’t dance to it, especially when everyone is watching.
What’s the most uniquely themed wedding you’ve worked? We did a Star Wars–themed wedding last year. For the grand entrance, the bridal party had the lightsabers up for the couple to walk through.
How do you compete with live wedding bands or more niche musicians? A reggae band won’t be able to play Glenn Miller big-band songs. What we try to do is encourage people who want a live band to consider a deejay to play before and after the band plays or during their breaks.
Do you see the desire for deejays disappearing in the future? The need for deejays won’t be disappearing. When iPods came on to the scene, people thought, “Oh, I’ll just make playlists and rent equipment,” and that didn’t last very long. I think people are going to always need a deejay to play the right music at the right time, make announcements, and keep a smooth flow going, making sure all aspects of the day are seamless.
Do you see yourself doing this for another 20 years? I will do it as long as I love it and my clients love me. It’s so much a part of my life that it doesn’t feel like a job.
To contact Bonnie Hope, see musicbybonnie.com or meet her in person at the Simply the Best Wedding Showcase of S.B. on Sunday, February 26, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at the S.B. Woman’s Club. For tickets and information, see simplythebestofsb.com.