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Bonnie Hope is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic and has DJed around 3,000 weddings since 1982. She grew up as the first girl to play music at parties, but left her musical sensibilities untapped when she went to school full-time to seek a license as a therapist. After school, Hope decided to start making records again and apprenticed to a downtown DJ. She soon began booking performances at fraternity and fraternity parties in Isla Vista. With some experience in hand, Hope branched out into weddings. “I really love weddings, so I wanted to explore this a little more,” she said. She decided to rent a booth at a wedding fair in the area and got flooded with phone calls after the fair. She founded Music by Bonnie and has been offering wedding music ever since. I recently spoke to Hope about what it means to be a wedding DJ.

What are your most requested songs from the past? The party classics that people say, “Please don’t play this at my wedding,” other people ask, like “YMCA”, “Twist and Shout”, “Macarena” and “Sweet Caroline”. Some people will play an ordinary reception song to make a special guest happy. Some people say, “If my mother asks, 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 noticed about these dances is that they choose a song that was special to them when the daughter was younger. For couples without a song, I tell them to choose one with suitable lyrics and a danceable beat. Whichever song couples choose, they should practice at home so they don’t stand on the dance floor and find they can’t dance to it, especially when everyone is watching.

What was the most unique themed wedding you’ve worked on? We did a Star Wars themed wedding last year. For the grand entrance, the bridal shower had raised their lightsabers so the couple could pass through.

How do you compete with live wedding bands or niche musicians? A reggae band won’t be able to play Glenn Miller big band songs. We try to encourage people who want a live band to play a DJ before and after the band or during their breaks.

Do you see the desire for DJs dwindle in the future? The need for DJs will not go away. When iPods hit the market, people were like, “Oh, I’ll just make playlists and borrow equipment,” and that didn’t take long. I think people will always need a DJ to play the right music at the right time, make announcements and keep things running smoothly to make sure all aspects of the day go smoothly.

Do you see yourself doing that for another 20 years? I’ll do it as long as I love it and my customers love me. It’s such a part of my life that it doesn’t feel like a job.

To contact Bonnie Hope, visit musicbybonnie.com or meet her in person at the Simply the Best Wedding Showcase of SB on Sunday, February 26th, 11 am-3pm at the SB Woman’s Club. Tickets and information can be found at Simplythebestofsb.com.

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