We had a chance to talk with Benjie Hughes, founder of Backthird Entertainment, for this week’s Vendor Spotlight. Benjie began the company by playing ceremonies with a few friends. One friend was a DJ, so they began offering that service and things took off! They’ve been providing both DJ and live music for weddings since 2005.
I think we’ve stayed at it this long because every wedding really is unique—there are some best practices that are the same every time because that’s how you throw a successful party, but within that structure the details are different from person to person and party to party.
We love being surprised every weekend with how this couple and this group will have their own personalities and their own twists we’ve still never seen.
Backthird Entertainment does about 150 events a year and have done somewhere over 1,000 since starting in 2005. With a motto “happy made easy,” Backthird wants to help clients get very personal with the parts you want to make personal, but for the parts that you don’t care about—they want to make it as simple and low-stress for you as possible. Benjie and his team do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure they don’t have to ask administrative questions that you may not know the answers to.
When you’re talking to your DJ or Account Manager, we want it to be about the fun stuff—music and people. And you should be able to leave the rest to us!
The service approach that Backthird has is different from a lot of DJs. They not only focus on equipment and music, but providing an experience.
It’s the experience your guests have on the wedding day, but it’s also the experience you have in planning everything for months ahead of time.
Backthird Entertainment is also one of a handful of Chicago-area companies that offer live music AND a DJ as part of the same team.
And I believe we’re the only group that plays pop music with the unique combo of cello and violin with guitar and piano!
Music at your wedding is important…it is the difference between your guests having an incredible time and never leaving the dance floor or your guests yawning and wanting to leave. Backthird tries to make the planning of your playlist as easy as possible. Benjie and his team provide couples with a login to their website where they can complete a planner with special dance requests and the names of people who will give toasts, get introduced and so on. They can also build a list of “must play,” don’t play” and “play if possible” songs using that same login.
Anybody can make like a jukebox and play a list of songs, but we don’t really see that as our job. Our job is to take your ideas and then apply our expertise to figure out how to present those ideas in the best possible way. It’s about WHEN and HOW we play the songs, not just which ones we play.
Benjie says that most of the DJs would probably say the last two hours of the night are their favorite part of the reception—when all the speeches are done and it’s time to tear up the dance floor and have fun.
For me personally though, I have to admit I like the moment right before dinner where the wedding party is getting ready to be introduced, guests are finding their seats and everybody is sort of waiting for the party to begin. There’s something exciting about that moment where we’re all anticipating the party—it’s like being at the top of a roller coaster in that moment right before the tracks dip down and everybody’s hands go up!
Benjie’s favorite song to play at a wedding is a song that is still current, but it’s become popular enough that parents probably know the words too. It won’t be the most hip song of the night, but it will be the one that gets all ages out there dancing at the same time!
For the last few years “Uptown Funk” has been this song, but something new seems to come along every summer or two to take over this spot.
We are so happy to have Backthird Entertainment on our preferred list and we love that Benjie, and his team, enjoy working with us too.
The Haight is so cool! There’s enough space there to throw a killer party, but it still has a feeling of intimacy and personality you don’t necessarily get at a hotel or country club. And it’s great having dancing in the same room as dinner, without the two being right on top of one another—it means guests who want to take a breather and have a drink can go where the music is a bit quieter, but still be a part of the party. And that helps us tempt them BACK onto the dance floor once they’ve caught their breath!
Benjie’s advice for newly engaged couples is to pick a few areas you really want to personalize, and go all out! For the rest, hire vendors you trust and let them take that off your plate.
For my wife and me, it was about the ceremony and the toasts—we got really personal in those areas, writing personal things and hand-picking the music. But when it was time to dance, we knew our entertainers were pros so we just said “do what you know is gonna be awesome.” It was a huge help to NOT have to worry about that part of the night, and our dance party was fantastic!