Today in our Chancey Charm Atlanta Wedding Vendor Highlight, we’re chatting with Brandon Stiles of Uptown Down Entertainment! Whether you’re looking for an awesome band or a high-energy wedding DJ with a totally custom playlist, you’re guaranteed to have a great experience with Uptown Down Entertainment + MC’ing abilities that raise the bar for your wedding. Brandon is sharing how he got his start in the industry, tips for brides and more below. And don’t forget to check out his special for Chancey Charm brides. Enjoy!
– The Chancey Charm Team
What’s your area of expertise?
Entertainment (live bands and DJ)
First job you ever landed
The first wedding we were ever hired for was in 2012 at this Elk Lodge in the middle-of-nowhere Kentucky, haha. It was pretty much what you think it’d be: we arrived, set our whole sound system and light show up in a corner of the lodge on the floor, and started performing to a tiny little crowd. I’ll tell you what though, that was one of the most fun weddings we’ve ever performed; everything was just so simple, and every one of the guests seemed to know each other really well and had an AMAZING time! The couple was so nice too, and their bridal party was more down for dancing than just about any couple we’ve come across since!
What brought you to the wedding industry?
It was a little bit by chance. I was working as a songwriter in Nashville at the time, and needed to make some extra money. So a friend of mine asked me to come play guitar for him at a wedding he was playing, and I had the best time! We were playing at a lot of honky-tonks and bars at the time, and it was kind of a rough crowd. When our eyes got opened up to weddings, where everyone was super happy and very enthusiastic, and having one of the best days of their lives, all that positive energy carried over to our performance as musicians and had a huge impact on us as entertainers. There are just so many good vibes and good-hearted people that want to come together to celebrate their friends getting married, so getting to play a part in adding to that happiness really makes us as entertainers feel good!
A lesson you learned the hard way in the wedding industry
The importance of investing in yourself.
As a small business (and especially a NEW small business), the thought of spending money for advertising, associations, insurance, etc. can be a little daunting, especially if your calendar isn’t being filled up yet.
However, being willing to invest in yourself, your idea, and your business at the forefront (even just a little bit) will pay off in the next 12-18 months, and will also get you used to spending on yourself to progress, which is going to be HUGE once your business hits the tipping point!
Favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon
This one’s easy! Usually our wedding performances are Saturday nights, so I get home late Saturday and then play guitar at church on Sunday mornings. By the time I get home about noon on Sunday, I’m totally wiped out. My favorite thing to do is to go out into our sunroom with my wife and our boxer dog (Bruce Wayne) and fall asleep watching the ID network; nothing holds a candle to drifting off while subconsciously absorbing the inner-workings of a homicide detective investigation.
Best piece of advice to someone new to the wedding industry
Build your reviews!
Nothing serves as better social proof and builds trust with potential prospects like getting 5-star reviews. I know there are a TON of places to get them; I would focus on 3-4 avenues, and build them there. I would DEFINITELY make Google Business one of those avenues, and after that, you could go with things like The Knot or WeddingWire or something like that. That way you can build a lot of positive feedback in a concentrated number of places and not spread yourself too thin, all the while building client trust and social proof in one fell swoop.
Best piece of planning advice to a new bride
This is one my wedding planner gave to my wife and I on our wedding day: Right after the ceremony was over (as in, after you walk back down the aisle and out of the room), we were taken straight to a private room in the venue to be by ourselves for 10 minutes. Our planner set out two plates of our caterer’s food, and we just hung out by ourselves for a few minutes – no cameras, no planners, no parents/family. It was a brief few moments, but probably my most treasured moment of our wedding day.
We got to actually eat the food we had catered in, and got to talk with each other about how the day was going and about the ceremony. It was just a few minutes to enjoy those early moments of being married before the craziness of the reception. The reception will fly by and feel like a whirlwind, so take those 10-15 minutes (even before pictures) to eat and enjoy the moment!
Some words you live by
“Success through over-delivery and consistency.” Also, “fake it ’til you make it.” We’ve ALL been there!
Best tip for balancing work + home life
Getting up early! I used to be the antithesis of a morning person; in college, I would sleep till 2-3pm and was the guy that stayed up till 4-5am watching movies and hanging out. However, I found myself coming home at night and feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done. I started reading a lot about morning routines, and started implementing one into my life, and it changed everything. I try to wake up about 4:30am everyday to read for a few hours, and take time to be quiet and still and get ready for the day ahead. It gives me some ‘me-time’ without talking/texting/emailing anyone (because no one else is up or expecting a call that early) and has been great for getting important things done when work starts about 8:30; by then I’ve had about 4 hours to pay attention to myself!
Best moment of your career
So far, it’s been playing at the Georgia Dome before an Atlanta Falcons game last October. The energy was awesome, the crowd seemed to get SUPER into it, and we had a blast! The free tickets to the game weren’t too bad either!
One that I touched on before would be watching the ID network – basically a bunch of murder-mystery shows and real life whodunnits. The second one would be 90s music. Color me nostalgic, but if I’m having a bad or a slow day, I’ll flip on a 90s playlist and it instantly turns it around. Matchbox 20, all the grungy alt rock, the hard rock…. nothing can touch those old songs I grew up on!
Photo Credit: Once Like a Spark
Your favorite Instagram account
I’m not a HUGE Instagram/social media guy, so maybe I’ll say my wife’s? She has a lot of pictures of trips we’ve been on and a bunch of pics of our dog, so I like going looking through those, especially on any long business trips! Other than that, any account that has a bunch of travel pics of the tropical islands!
What’s your favorite aesthetic
In terms of weddings, I really like a lot of white. And I don’t mean just like the white dresses and all that; more of a classy, fresh (non-yellow) white that’s used throughout a wedding venue, especially in the flowers. As a moonlighting web designer, I think a lot of white (or what we commonly call ‘white space’) allows you to direct peoples’ attention towards more special parts of a wedding ceremony/reception. Instead of a smorgasbord of color, use 60% white, 30% of a light shade color, and then 10% of a pop color (a red, an orange, a light green, whatever), and all the decor you spent so long picking out will look AMAZING and really pop out.
Intimate or Par-tay? What size wedding do you recommend and why?
As an entertainer, I like the par-tay! People up and dancing, excitedly chattering, smiling and having fun. If people are more interested in talking and sitting around and relaxing, that’s totally cool, but I get a little weirded out because I feel like we’re not doing our job, haha.
What’s the first thing a newly engaged couple should do?
In terms of planning? I always think nailing down the Big Three are pretty critical:
1. The venue
2. The caterer
3. The band/DJ
In my experience, those are the things that get booked up the furthest out, so to get the ones you REALLY want, start early! If we’re talking what a newly-engaged couple should do in general, I’d say right after the proposal, call your parents and share the big news with them, then go out to eat at your favorite restaurant to celebrate!