Modern Morals, Would You Rather, Wedding Traditions – S3E67

Modern Morals, Would You Rather, Wedding Traditions

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Podcast episode 67 is titled Modern Morals, Would You Rather, Wedding Traditions. I discuss people’s view on morals today, Drey runs through some “Would You Rather …” relationship scenarios, and Ryan speaks on wedding traditions.

Modern Morals, Would You Rather, Wedding Traditions Outline

  • J Topic: Public Opinion on Morals Today
    • I was reading an article from the Pew Research Center on modern morals (A Barometer Of Modern Morals). Pew Research Center took a surveyed on 10 behaviors to determine if it was morally wrong. I will only focus on 3 of them.
    • Married people having an affair.
      • Morally wrong: 88%
      • Morally acceptable: 3%
      • Not a moral issue: 7%
      • Depends: 1%
      • Don’t know: 1%
      • Q1 Any surprises here?
      • Q2 Would these results differ if the person was separated?
    • Telling a lie to spare someone’s feelings
      • Morally wrong: 43%
      • Morally acceptable: 23%
      • Not a moral issue: 26%
      • Depends: 6%
      • Don’t know: 2%
      • Q1 Any surprises here?
      • Q2 Any scenarios that you think it would be morally acceptable to lie?
    • Sex between unmarried adults
      • Morally wrong: 35%
      • Morally acceptable: 22%
      • Not a moral issue: 37%
      • Depends: 2%
      • Don’t know: 4%
      • Q1 Any surprises here?
      • Q2 Does anybody really care anymore if people are unmarried and fornicating?
  • A Topic: Would You Rather …
    • Last weeks episode was dark so I thought we should do a fun and lighthearted one. When I’m drinking with my friends, we love playing “Would you rather…” It’s simply a game where you come up with a hard hypothetical decision and ask your friends what they would do in that situation. It’s not only a fun game, but you learn a lot about the people that you play with. You see how they think and what they prioritize. In the game, you have to choose 1 of the answers and give your explanation as to why you chose that way.
      • Would you rather …
        • Be in a bad relationship for the rest of your life, or never have another partner again for the rest of your life?
        • Have a jealous partner that is willing to be your complete sugar mama, or have a trusting partner that you share all responsibilities with 50/50?
        • Date attractive but stupid or unattractive but intelligent? By unattractive, I simply mean someone that you are 0% attracted to.
        • Find true love, or find a suitcase with $20M?
  • R Topic: A Variety of Wedding Traditions
    • For those of you who saw the IG stories, Kundai (friend of the Podcast and guest host on our Facebook Dating Episode) now getting ready to get married. Being the best man, I wanted to prepare and see if there were any wedding rituals people do today (besides the bachelor/bachelorette party of course covered in this episode) and here’s what I came up with.
    • What type of wedding traditions are important in your culture?
    • What’s the coolest (and/or weirdest) wedding tradition you’ve been apart of?
    • What’s one traditional wedding tradition you’d change?
  • Resource Reads:

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The Engaged Life #8: The Disney Syndrome


TLDR warning: this is a lot more dense than my usual posts.

Disney. The media superhouse known as Disney. It’s crazy to think something that started as a simple animation studio has become the behemoth it is today. It’s still crazy to think that since they own both Marvel and Lucasfilms, they basically have a monopoly on millenial nostalgia.

But that isn’t the point of this post. I want to talk about Disney itself and about the perception of reality.

Older generations often criticize the millenial generation as being too idealistic, as being too grandiose in their goals, or as being almost delusional in seeking purpose. I’m in my 30s and although I suppose I fit into the age group of millenials depending on who you ask, I have to agree with this assessment. Many of my peers struggle with their perceptions of reality. There seems to be this disparity that exists between intellectual progressivism and reality as it comes.

I call those afflicted with this skewed, fatalistic ideal as those having the Disney syndrome, mainly because when I noticed this I was living in Anaheim, the home of the original Disneyland. Thus, I’ve seen this affliction on a much more ubiquitous scale than perhaps the most astute observer anywhere else in the country. Disneyland itself is a monument to this ideal, as evidenced by the thousands who go there, seeking a partial escape from reality. It’s not unlike alcoholism, except that it is much more permissible. Are there people who go to Disneyland solely for fun? Of course. This is not a slight against them. But there is no denying that this need/want to be in Disneyland is indicative of a deeper psychological issue within my peers of this generation.

I’m definitely not the only one that thinks this way. Author, Kurt Anderson, was featured on Big Think essentially putting his twist on it. He clearly has trouble condensing his thoughts on the matter, but that’s a testament to how much there is to say:

So first let’s break down a few of the main symptoms of Disney syndrome.

  1. Inability to comprehend the unfair nature of reality.

  2. Thinking that all ideas are created equal.

  3. Feeling entitled to certain rights and privileges.

  4. Sadness in the face of adversity.

There are more, but I feel like this rounds up the most characteristic qualities of the syndrome.

My theory is that having been bombarded with fairy tales on a massive scale from basically time of birth has led to a generation of people that come to expect that said fairy tales will one day come true for them. On a side note, I believe this is why American wedding culture is out of control. People are spending upwards of $20-50k on a single day of celebration to essentially make a blissful envisionment of their fantasy come true. Pair that with the 40-50% divorce rate (with a good portion of that being 2nd and 3rd marriages) and I think you can quickly surmise that there’s something cyclical about how this ends up playing out in reality. They want a fairy tale, they get it for a day, then they can’t possibly maintain this level of idealism, and subsequently give up and try again.

The same can be said about the millenial workforce.They were shown and told from an early age that as long as you work hard to be kind to others, you can accomplish anything and be anything you want. Then, they get into the workforce in a less than optimal position, and they quickly become dissatisfied. Unbeknownst to them, a majority of the people that came before had to just deal with the grind for a long time before they started actualizing any semblance of their dreams, if they even got that far.

Why do I think that this type of thinking is dangerous? It’s for many reasons.

Since the podcast focuses primarily on relationships, let’s start there. People that have this extraordinary sense of idealism when it comes to relationships will most likely have a much harder time finding happiness. You hear about it all the time, the hopeless romantics. While it seems sweet and everyone dreams of meeting someone like that, you have to realize that that kind of attitude has to be incredibly taxing on a person. It’s great for the recipient, but not great for the gifter. There are a few people that can pull it off. Kudos to them. For the rest of the people with less than perfect mental acuity, it can actually lead to depression.

Mental health is also a hot button issue in today’s world. Lately, we’ve heard a lot about celebrity suicides and troubled youths. I can’t even begin to try and figure out motive, but I feel like everyone would be remiss if they did not think that part of the reason for these actions had something to do with reality vs expectation.

So what’s the moral of the story? Reality is always there, waiting for you to become its friend. The sooner you become friends with reality, the sooner you can have a healthy appreciate of life and what it has to offer. Idealism isn’t bad. It’s when you conflate idealism with expectation that things will go awry. Furthermore, screw fairy tales. Screw antiquated ideals made up by people you may not even personally know. Live your life as your own and create your own tale, for better or for worse. Any story that you write with this attitude will be better than anything that Disney can come up with.

If you have any thoughts on this yourself, be sure to leave a comment below!

As always, you can reach me at


The Engaged Life #7: Why I’m Not Having a Bachelor Party


As per usual, let’s get all the caveats out of the way first. I’m not knocking anyone for having a bachelor/ette party. It’s incredibly commonplace in America, so insinuating that I’m against almost everyone is laughably inaccurate. I believe that celebrations such as these are the choices of the celebrant, and no one else’s. If you accept that premise, then I feel like I’m well within my jurisdiction to abstain.

To understand my stance on this, I suppose I need to give a bit of background on myself. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like unneeded attention. If I’m promoting a gig or a project that I worked on (i.e. the TRP podcast), then of course I’d like the attention to help either myself or my team succeed. Outside of that, I don’t really need or want a lot of attention. This has been my philosophy for a while which is part of the reason why I don’t even celebrate my own birthday. Sure, some friends have pointed out that my life experiences have also contributed to this “tradition,” but I distinctly remember making a conscious decision in my adult life not to celebrate my birthday anymore. I can make a whole post on my reasoning for that, as well as the social experiment I conducted after I made that decision, but that isn’t the point of this post. I just wanted to lay the groundwork for the topic at hand.

So here are a few reasons why I am choosing to not have a bachelor party:

1. I don’t want the attention

Following through with what I just said, I simply don’t want the attention. I don’t like being the celebrant, especially in America. There’s this odd stigmatization in America specifically. Whenever there’s a celebration, it’s usually the case that you want to support the celebrant and do whatever he/she wants to do. However, the instant the celebrant refuses to want to celebrate, they get admonished.

“C’mon, why don’t you want to do anything? You’re weird. It’s your last hurrah. Don’t be such a lame ass.”

I get that there’s a benevolent agenda behind these words. Trust me, I do. But, there are a few things I find wrong with it, and the main one is that it’s almost like people forget who they’re supposed to be supporting. It’s one thing when someone isn’t sure and needs a bit of encouragement. It’s a totally different situation when they’re sure and that’s their position. If I want encouragement, then I’m not one to turn it away. However, if I’ve made a decision, I prefer support rather than having to fight tooth and nail to defend it, especially when it doesn’t really affect anyone else (see the next point).

2. I know the party isn’t completely for the bachelor, but I don’t really care

Okay, so let’s get real here. Nowadays, I know the bachelor party is less for the bachelor and more for the guests coming along with him. It’s an excuse to get the guys together and spend time. It’s an excuse for married men to relive some of the bliss from before they were married. It’s supposed to be male bonding at its finest. I get that. I’m just not sure if I care. It’s not that I don’t care about my groomsmen or my friends and don’t want to spend time with them, I just don’t buy into this as the reasoning for a bachelor party. I don’t like being guilt tripped into doing something I’m not comfortable with if it doesn’t serve a noble purpose.

I consider my groomsmen my brothers. They were here for me long before, and they’ll be here long after. We’ve been through hell and back together. I’d much rather take them out after the wedding and treat them to a guy’s trip. I’d rather show them my appreciation than have them take me on a trip which I find no personal meaning. Or maybe we can just go out and celebrate what we’ve been through together. It accomplishes the same goals as the bachelor party without any of the subtext which I don’t agree with. This is where I would prefer to take responsibility for being the outlier. Just because I don’t like being the celebrant, it doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a celebration or any appreciation shown at all.

If your response is “well it’s harder to do that after you’re married,” then that perplexes me. Here’s what I can’t wrap my head around. Why would it be more acceptable for married men to go to a bachelor party than to go on a trip like the ones I’m proposing? Is it just because a pending marriage is involved? Even though the term “bachelor party” itself connotes and sometimes almost guarantees debauchery, it’s somehow more acceptable?

On a side note, I’m not one that believes that flings on the bachelor/ette party don’t count. Your actions are your responsibility, it shouldn’t matter the context. If you feel like you need to have a fling before you get married or even during it, then maybe you aren’t/weren’t ready. There, I said it.

3. It may be tradition for some people, but it isn’t one of mine

Although I’m proud to be an American, I’m still a child of immigrants. Even though Indonesia is starting to adopt bachelor parties, they’re well aware that it was adopted from American culture specifically. My dad didn’t have a bachelor party. Neither of my grandfathers had bachelor parties. I don’t have any historic or cultural reason to have one. It’s such a foreign concept to anyone who wasn’t raised with it. I personally didn’t even come across the concept of a bachelor party until I was in college. When your family doesn’t believe in them and no one around you is talking about marriage yet, then it never comes up.

It’s kind of like the whole gender reveal party thing that’s been gaining popularity recently. I personally don’t understand gender reveals as a new tradition that people are starting. I completely get baby showers. Your child’s actual birth is still a private family matter so you can celebrate with friends beforehand (read: cash in on some helpful presents). I’m still not sure how gender reveals fit into the whole scheme of things. In my opinion, bachelor parties are to marriage as gender reveals are to baby showers.

4. I don’t need a last hurrah

This is usually the tertiary reason that people give for a bachelor party which is why I put it last too. I’ve lived my live exactly the way I wanted. I’ve prepped myself for being married this whole time. There isn’t any angst in my life anymore. That was the whole point of my early adult life. If you spent your time wisely and gained as much experience (good and bad) as you possibly could, then you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything when you’re 30+. Are there more things that I would like to experience in this life? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean that I need to be single or unmarried to do them. Will childrearing later on severely limit my mobility when it comes to pursuing some adventures, travel aspirations, or career changes? Of course, but that comes with it’s own set of rewards that I feel will balance out at the end. It’s all about perspective and making sure that yours conforms to the reality that you have to deal with.


To be honest, I wrote this in response to a lot of people that have been asking me about it. This way I can just link them to this, without having to explain myself over and over. Nonetheless, this is how I honestly feel about the matter. I don’t foresee anything drastically changing my mind, and I feel like that bachelor parties are such a vestigial part of wedding tradition that people aren’t going to really take the time to draw up a full counterpoint to what I’ve said. The underlying point is: if it’s something I can’t logically defend, then it’s something that I shouldn’t logically do.

Change my mind. If you have any thoughts on why I’m wrong or any other comments on this topic, be sure to leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me at


The Engaged Life #6: Should I Wear a Wedding Band?


I’m the type of person that needs a reason for everything. The reason doesn’t always have to be pragmatic. It’s okay if the reason is rooted in tradition, culture, or religion, so long as I know what the roots are. From there, I can at least make an informed opinion on whether or not I agree. Even a cursory look into some age-old traditions that us Americans take for granted will lead you to some dubious history. If you don’t believe me, really take a look at Columbus Day and the history of Thanksgiving. You might learn some stuff you wish you didn’t learn.

Before I get into this, I’m going to say upfront that I’m not knocking anyone for wearing a wedding band. The whole reason I’m writing about this is because I’m genuinely trying to sort out if this is something I want to integrate into my life. Everything means something different to every individual and this is my journey to try and ascribe my meaning to wearing a wedding ring.

Anywho, as our big day approaches, it becomes time for me to choose to choose a wedding band. This band will be something I will have to wear for the rest of my life. Or, at least that’s was tradition dictates. Who’s tradition, though? Every source I looked up seem to concur that the earliest example of this tradition was in Ancient Egypt, ~4800 years ago. It then began to proliferate from there as Romans and Judeo-Christians traditions adopted it centuries after. If you want to read a brief history on wedding bands, you can go here.

It seemed to me that I may find some answers within religion. I was raised as a Muslim and my wife-to-be was raised Roman Catholic. That said, I started with Judaism because it is the oldest of the monotheistic religions. Surprisingly enough, neither the Kabbalah nor the Talmud require it. Any gift can be given the day of so long that it is a personal belonging of the gifter, and has a value over a certain amount. Over the years, it just became more customary for this gift to be a ring. If a Jew wants to wear a wedding ring, it has to be simple, with no jewels or engravings. For why this is and more about Jewish wedding ring tradition, check this out.

Going over to Christianity, we find that it is has been tradition for a long time, but was not really adopted until the 9th century or so. Here’s a snippet from the article I linked above:

It was not until about 860 that the Christians used the ring in marriage ceremonies; even then, it was not the simple plain band as we know it. It usually was highly decorated with engraved doves, lyres, or two linked hands. The Church discouraged such rings as ‘heathenish’ and, around the 13th century, wedding and betrothal rings were considerably simplified, and given a more spiritual look which was very aptly expressed by a Bishop when he dubbed it a “symbol of the union of hearts.”

So this leads me to believe that wedding bands are not inherent within Christian theology at all. If it’s something adopted almost a millennium after Jesus was said to have lived, I don’t think anyone can say that wedding rings are a requirement under Christianity. I’m not too surprised here since Jesus was Jewish and I would have assumed He followed the Jewish customary traditions of the time.

If we move to Islam, which is the religion that I was raised in, no males are allowed to wear any gold rings, for any reason. It is haram and not permissible under Shariah Law. You may wear silver rings, and it must be simple. Here’s the kicker though, it cannot be considered a wedding band for religious purposesThis is where it gets kind of hazy. Islam has something called bid’ah, which are “forbidden innovations.” Before people get up in arms about me double-talking in Arabic, this basically means that any religious norm or custom that is foreign or counter-intuitive to Islam are forbidden. So taking communion or believing in multiple gods would be going against being a good Muslim. Nothing too egregious here. However, the loophole is if the ring holds some sort of cultural importance. If the ring is tied to some cultural tradition that isn’t religious in nature, then it’s fine. For example, heirlooms like rings passed down traditionally on the day of the wedding would be acceptable. At that point, it holds some cultural importance and it isn’t necessarily a borrowed or foreign custom. So that kind of leaves me where I started, since if I decide to wear a wedding band, I wasn’t planning on it having any religious meaning for me anyway. I’ve mentioned on the podcast multiple times that although I was raised in Islam, I don’t practice currently. I still wanted to do my due diligence regardless.

Looking at the cultural aspect of it, I can’t think of a single family member, extended or otherwise, that wears a wedding ring. My parents never wore wedding rings. Indonesians generally don’t wear wedding rings although you see it occasionally. In light of what I’ve learned about Islamic tradition and given that Indonesia is 90%+ Muslim, it’s starting to make sense. This is why I’m stuck having to figure this out on my own, it’s not something that comes up in my family.

I can’t seem to find any reference to wedding rings having any significance outside of religious or traditional symbolism (at least in any way that would be relevant to me). Since no answers have been revealed to me on either of those ends, it seems to me that this dilemma comes down to my personal conviction.

After much thought and discussion with others, I’ve come up with a few reasons that I can’t buy into, and only a couple that I can. Here are a few:

Reasons I CAN’T buy into:

It’s tradition/religious. Meh, not quite sure that’s exactly the case as I’ve elaborated above. Furthermore, I don’t think people really want to use historical reasons for their wedding bands anymore. You don’t have to search far before you find references to “ownership” of the wife and the other incredibly chauvinistic and antiquated meanings that the ring historically entails. I purposefully did not go into depth on this aspect of it because of this reason. Plus, it doesn’t hold any traditional value in my personal family, so I can’t find it within myself to do it just because it’s a commonplace tradition.

It will help to let people know that you’re married. I have no issues telling people that I’m married. If another woman wants to become romantically involved with me, it’s my responsibility to let her know that I’m not available. If you have an affair, does it really matter if your ring was on or off? I honestly don’t understand this idea that going out without your wedding ring means you’re any less married. Your fidelity is your personal responsibility. Own it.

A wedding band is to serve as a reminder. I really don’t like this reason at all if I’m honest. I don’t use anything right now and I seem to have no problems with staying faithful. I must have incredible memory. Joking aside, I think that I just don’t like the idea that someone needs to be reminded that they’re married. It’s like taking any other oath. You’re volunteering your love and commitment. As in, you’re doing it out of your own free will. It kind of defeats the purpose if you need to be reminded. If you’re dealing with an arranged marriage, then that’s a whole different ballgame which is too complex to even touch in this article.

It’s a symbol of your commitment to unity with your partner. This one is okay but I just can’t quite bring myself to fully buy into it. Ultimately, your actions are the symbols of your commitment. When you look at it that way, the ring itself as a physical manifestation of these sentiments seems to fall short. To draw an analogy, I’m sure it takes little effort for anyone to think of a person they know who is a complete dickhead but has something like a crucifix or an ankh or whatever somewhere on their person. The symbol means absolutely nothing without the accompanying attitude. That begs the question, “why have the symbol at all?”

Reasons I CAN buy into:

It’s a symbol of pride for your relationship with your partner. This is the only reason I’ve come across that I find acceptable. And I have to admit that I really like it. It’s akin to wearing the apparel to your favorite sports team or band. You just want to show off that you’re really into someone or something. In this case, it’s for your partner and the relationship you have built. I find this reason to be quite charming and endearing, as well as genuine. Another way to look at this is that it is an outward expression of your belief in the institution of marriage, which is also fine in my eyes.

Your partner wants you to wear it. There are 2 sides to this. If it’s something that is incredibly important to your partner and he/she really wants you to wear one, then I think it would be in your best interest to wear it, even if it doesn’t have any personal significance to you. This is part of the compromise that comes with marriage. However, that person needs to understand that you can never ascribe the same meaning to it as they do. It would be important to you only because they find it important. At that point, both parties just need to be happy with the final decision.


I know I’m in the minority and I’m sure this article has ruffled some feathers, but the real purpose of the post is to share some history with all of you and give some insight as to what it’s like being of a non-mainstream background. Conundrums like this have existed for me throughout my life and while I don’t feel like I struggle with it, I do see that most people are fortunate enough to not even have to think about stuff like this. Most people don’t even have it on their radar, and others simply take their traditions for granted.

Indonesian culture and American culture aren’t always easily integrated. Hell, that’s why they call it westernization right? The East has always been stigmatized for not doing things like the western world. Truth of the matter is, I know this is an ongoing thing for a lot of Asian-Americans. Do I default to my Asian roots, or do I defer to the American society in which I was raised? Some pick and choose based on convenience, and others (like me) have to dig deeper to find meaning.

Back to the question at hand, I know I’ll have a ring for at least the ceremony, but I haven’t really found much personal purpose beyond that. I might wear it the rest of my life, or I might even take it off before the reception. So, it’s still up in the air for me. I’m not married yet, so maybe I’ll be able to come up with a new reason through the actual wedding to help lock it down. I just have to continue to keep an open mind, in the same way as when I was doing this research. I know this is a bit of a crappy ending for this post, but I have to be intellectually honest.

If you think of any other reasons to wear a ring or any reasons that you wear a ring that I didn’t mention, be sure to comment below or drop me a line at I hope reading this article was as enlightening for you as it was for me in researching for it.



The Engaged Life #4: How to Pick Your Venue


I know this list is made kind of backwards, since your venue should be the first thing that you book after you get engaged, but I think it’s more important to have a foundation on understanding your vendors to effectively pick your venue. Let me explain how:

Step 1: Figure out how much space you need.

  • I worded it this way because you do not need to actually book a venue. You do, however, need to be able to accommodate all of your guests. If you have a small guest list, like making your wedding an immediate-family event, then you probably don’t need to rent out banquet space. A nice backyard would be sufficient.
  • The key here is that you need to fit everyone and be able to feed them. If your guestlist is slowly creeping up the double digits and getting into the triple digits, you may need to book a venue.
  • There’s no law that says that you are required to rent out a huge hotel banquet hall and invite everyone you ever met. Small weddings are just as legitimate as large ones.

Step 2: Outside or inside? Combination?

  • Outside weddings, especially during the spring or summer, are sometimes favorable because of the nice weather and added ambiance. However, you have to contend with bad weather if it does occur. Since you normally book months before the event, you’re not going to be able to predict the weather that far ahead. Most outdoor venues have contingencies for things like rain, but it’s still something that may interfere with the mood you’re trying to set.
  • Inside weddings are great to get out of weather. If you don’t care to have a wedding in the spring or summer months, you can potentially save a lot of money by getting married during the low season. If your wedding is indoors, then it doesn’t matter what the weather is like.
  • Note that there are a lot of venues that do combinations. The ceremony can be outdoors, but the reception is indoors. Or vice versa.
  • After you pick a venue, this is one of first things that you need to communicate with your photographer. Outdoor weddings require you to constantly be aware of ambient light and change settings accordingly. Indoor weddings have an entirely different set of challenges.

Step 3: What audio/visual equipment does the venue have?

  • On the audio side, does the venue have a house sound system or is your DJ responsible for providing that? If the venue does have its own sound system, take a picture of the connection to give to your DJ. You’d be surprised how many different types of connectors that audio equipment has (i.e. XLR, 1/4″, speak-on, banana, etc.).

    Actual picture I took when venue shopping. This picture alone tells me a lot about the venue.
  • On the video side, does the venue have projectors or TVs that you can use? If you plan on showing a sideshow, video, or same-day edit, this is a crucial thing to note. Figure out how you would need to get your media on there. Having a screen built into the venue is a lifesaver for everyone. Otherwise, you’ll either have to source it from an A/V rental company, an event company, or maybe your DJ.
  • What kind of lighting does the venue have? As I mentioned in last week’s article, lighting can make a huge difference. Many venues have lighting solutions built in. This is another thing you need to bring up to your photographer. If the venue is using colored uplighting, you want to make sure that your photographer knows how to shoot with flash. There’s no way around this. Otherwise, all of your pictures are going to be the color of your uplighting.

Step 4: Haggle

  • I guess this isn’t well known, but you can negotiate with most venues, or they can restructure their proposals to fit a lower budget.
  • No venue is “perfect.” There’s always something that you like a little bit more at another venue or could be a littler better. Bring this up to the salesperson. Chances are, the price they quote you is slightly inflated from the start to help buffer later negotiations. Be honest with them about your budget. Bring up any concerns you have. If they can’t meet your budget, they’ll more than likely meet you somewhere in the middle.

Step 5: Profit

This one isn’t as detailed as the other posts, but that’s because there’s actually a lot of preference involved in this one. I’m just bringing up some of the aspects that I feel a lot of people overlook.

Anything to add? Leave a comment below! If you have any questions, send them my way at I may not have all the answers, but my wife-to-be is actually a wedding planner, so I can always ask.

Happy hunting!




The Engaged Life #3: How to pick your Wedding DJ

Church @ Downtown Fullerton – circa 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed last week’s article. This week I attempt to tackle how to pick your wedding DJ. While I said I had a fair amount of experience with photography, DJing is something that I have even more experience with. For those that don’t know me personally, I had a decade long career of DJing before retiring around 3 years ago or so. I started as a hobbyist and quickly became a mobile DJ shortly thereafter. I gigged throughout my entire college career, doing both private events and clubs/bars whenever I had the chance. With the way the music landscape was changing, and the fact that I was never too keen on becoming a full-time producer, I ended up deciding that DJing wasn’t a career that could sustain me financially in the long run. While I still have a decent amount of my equipment because I still enjoy it as a hobby, I’ve considered myself retired and stopped taking gigs around 3-4 years ago.

Tapas Bar @ Newport – circa 2008

The most important takeaway is that although my career ended in the digital age, my foundation was in the analog. I’m not sure how old the readership of this article will be, but I was a DJ during the tail end of the vinyl era, where people still carried crates of vinyl records to each and every gig. To say that DJing is something that I’m passionate about is an understatement. I started during a time where the skill and cost barriers to entry were staggeringly high. Even if you could afford the equipment, it would take you months before you really knew how to use it. There was no “sync” button at the time (not even on CDJs) and literally everything was manually controlled. Special effect units were costly and unwieldy, so most of what sets each DJ apart was their personal skill level.

Note the USPS crate of vinyl records on the left. OneBeLo Show @ UCI Bren Events Center – circa 2005

I’m giving you an abridged background on DJing because I want to emphasize the level of expectation you should have of your DJ. The sad truth is that DJing has become a saturated market. Anyone with $200 can become a “DJ.” The wedding DJ market has been struck the hardest, much like the wedding photography market. Why? Because it pays the most and the clientele typically doesn’t know much about DJing or photography. Of course, I don’t expect that everyone should know everything with regards to either of those skill sets, but the fact that a majority of people either don’t care or don’t want to learn is why both of these industries are rife with amateurs trying to make a quick buck. #endofrant

Proof Bar (Get Down OC) @ Downtown Santa Ana – Circa 2009

So here are my steps to successfully book your DJ:

Step 1. Ask what genre are they most comfortable and have the most experience with.

  • DJing Hip Hop and DJing EDM are 2 entirely different skill sets. I love House, especially Deep House, but I HATE DJing it, or rather DJing House “correctly.” EDM has an emphasis on long, smooth transitions that should be undetectable under the flow of the set. Hip Hop has an emphasis on comparatively quick, creative transitions meant to somewhat surprise the listener and maintain a higher energy level.
  • Make sure the DJ you go with is comfortable with the genre you want to play most of the night. If you feel like you’ll have a lot of music requests that don’t fall into the more common genres for DJing, I would err towards a Hip Hop DJ. They will have more transitions up their sleeves to get in and out of songs in a pinch.

Step 2. Find out if they have a way of either downloading requests or getting it on vinyl or CD.

  • Instead of asking what equipment they’ll be bringing, ask how they will be playing any special requests you may have.
  • It’s YOUR responsibility to let the DJ know of your song requests, but it’s HIS/HER responsibility to figure out how to get it played. Make sure they’re able to follow through with this responsibility before booking.

Step 3. Do they MC or work regularly with an MC?

  • The MC/DJ dynamic is something that is often overlooked. Having worked with a number of different MCs, sometimes I clicked with them and sometimes I didn’t. Some of these people were even my personal friends. Just because you’re friends, doesn’t mean you have performance chemistry.
  • Your MC (along with the DJ) is in charge of keeping the schedule moving and energy levels up. You may have a wedding planner, but your MC and DJ are in charge of executing the schedule once the reception starts. Do not underestimate the importance of this aspect of your event.
  • Use this opportunity to find out how many people they have on staff for your event. Ideally, the MC and DJ combo will work to support each other, but it’s not uncommon for a DJ to have an assistant. FEED YOUR VENDORS, DON’T BE A DICK.

Step 4. In the event that you’ve never heard them perform, do they have a mixtape that you can listen to?

  • This should give you an idea of their skill level in a closed environment. If they can put together a cohesive set that you enjoy listening to, you can at least know that they’re at least competent or have an ear for it.
  • FIND OUT HOW THEY MADE THE MIXTAPE. Anybody can go into Audacity, Garageband, or Ableton and make a sick mixtape with enough time. Make sure their mixtape was recorded live. This will help you find out if they know how to perform.
  • I would highly advise against going with any DJ that doesn’t have a mixtape readily available. They don’t NEED a website. A DJ is a performer, as long as he/she has their work somewhere, their head is in the right place. I’d much rather book a DJ with no website but dope mixtape, than one with a really nice website but shitty/no mixtape.

Step 5. If your venue has no uplighting or lighting effects for the dance floor, see if the DJ can provide this.

  • Lighting can make the difference between making your reception feel like a formal gala or a fun party. If you want to set the tone that your wedding is a merry celebration, you’re going to want some sort of lighting solution.
  • A well-placed moving stage light or par light can make a huge impact on the perception of your dance floor. You don’t need a truss system to achieve this effect.

Step 6. Have a talk with your DJ. See how long they’ve been doing it. Find out why they got into it. Befriend your DJ.

  • I guess this point can be applied to any vendor, but DJing is a particularly thankless job. I used to refer to us as the “unsung heroes of the dance floor.” Most people don’t recognize a good DJ until they hear a bad one. That’s part of the job. A good DJ will figure out how to get you on the dance floor and keep you there, all whilst never alerting you of his/her presence.
  • Finding out if your DJ is truly passionate about their work is a reflection on how much work they’ll put in to your event. It isn’t like photography or videography, where the work can be archived and enjoyed anywhere. The performance is it. Your DJ needs to be in it for the artform, or they’ll never progress.

Step 7. Winning

This should give you a rough outline for you to follow if you’ve never had to book a DJ or don’t know anything about it. Here are a few recommendations from me to help you get started.

DJ Wrex – My wedding DJ of choice. He’s a fellow DJ I met years ago while I was in the Hip Hop scene and he was working booths to start Acrylick Clothing. He was always one step above me. When I was doing house parties, he was doing bars. When I started doing bars, he did clubs. When I did clubs, he was on Power 106. I was already super familiar with his work, but his mixtape page is exactly what I meant in Step 4. He’s also worked tirelessly to become a one stop shop with his connections in the industry. If you want a pink elephant for your wedding, Wrex knows how to get it.

DJ Buddy – Chances are,  you’ve been to a DJ Buddy wedding. While Wrex has immense DJ prowess, Buddy is the jack of all trades. If you want your DJ to also be your MC, this is the easiest decision you can make.

DJ Roial1 – Roial1 is another personal friend of mine. I became a fan of his at More Fire Mondays in Riverside, but didn’t ultimately befriend him until he became a resident at Florentine’s Bar in Downtown Fullerton a little over 10 years ago. Admittedly, he is more of a club DJ by profession, but he still does weddings by request. He rocks parties for a living, need I say more?

Once again, I have to say that I’m not getting paid to promote any of these guys. These just happen to be the guys that I would enjoy sharing tables with (in DJ-speak that means working the same gig).

If you have anything you want to add, comment below! Or, if you have any questions or need more help, hit me up at

-Drey  // DJ Indoe

The Engaged Life #2: How to pick a wedding photographer

Santa-Monica-Engagement-Photos-Jannice-Andrey-72 (1)

My cohosts have been doing a fantastic job of continuing to do their blogs on a weekly basis. Being the editor of the actual podcast episodes, I haven’t exactly had the time to flesh out a post since my first one. That said, I’ll try to be a bit more regular on my posts. Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx myself.

Rolling off this week’s episode about customer service, it dawned on me that I can share a good bit of advice about being engaged. This blog is supposed to be The Engaged Life, right? Aside from being engaged, I have been a photographer for about 3 years or so. I started doing event coverage for the events I would attend on behalf of my company, which included a lot of car shows throughout the year and included SEMA. From there, I ended up doing impromptu photoshoots of cars as well as product photos. My work was used as marketing material for the company. This experience fostered a love for photography and a recognition of the power that a strong composition could provide to the viewer. I began experimenting with different types of photography and loved all of them because of what each one teaches you. Street photography was great for getting raw, candid moments. Portraits help you learn how to pose and how to work with people. Macro teaches you about aperture and depth of field. Light painting teaches you how to manipulate light and your camera to create cool effects. I also shot film cameras for a year which taught me to slow down and wait for the right moments instead of spraying and praying. This list goes on ad nauseum.

Some of my early work. Shot with a Canon Rebel T2i that I was borrowing from my manager at the time. Taken in Zurich, Switzerland.

I say all this because I feel like this laid a foundation for me that allows me to give advice on how to pick a wedding photographer. Everything I’m about to say is how a photographer would commission another photographer. So here goes nothing:

Step 1. Ask what the deliverables are

When you meet with your photographer, you should find out what you’ll be getting for what you’re paying. Here’s a list of things to watch out for:

  • Hours. Of course, you should know how many hours your photographer is willing to work and what overtime fees may be.
  • # of shooters and assistants. This would be especially useful since each photographer can focus on a different style throughout the night. Assistants, namely lighting, show that the photographers care about lighting and getting the right set up for the shots they need. You also need to know how many vendors you need to feed. FEED YOUR VENDORS. Don’t be a dick.
  • Is an engagement shoot included or separate? Not a whole lot to say about this one. You just need to find out if they charge extra for the engagement photos that you’ll most likely use for Save the Dates and/or wedding invitations. Sessions are typically 0.5-2 hours depending on how many locations you want to do and how far apart they are.
  • Don’t ask for how many pictures they’ll take. You can ask for an average amount that they normally deliver over the course of an event so you know kinda what to expect, but moments ultimately dictate how many pictures they take. If you have a boring event, they’re gonna take less pictures. They can only gather people up to pose so many times. They’re photographers, not promoters.
  • Don’t bother asking them about their camera, unless you’re a gear whore like me and just like talking about it. They don’t need to have a Nikon D4 or a Canon 5D or Sony A7R3. It doesn’t even matter if they run full frame, APS-C, or Micro 4/3. There are still some photographers that run 35mm film. The photographer just has to know how to work around the limitations of their equipment. Don’t let gear snobs tell you otherwise. However,  you can ask how large of a print they would be comfortable in printing based on the gear they’re using. As long as they can print 8×10 you should be in the clear for the most part unless you know you want to make a really large print. 99% of the time this isn’t an issue so don’t worry about it.
  • Ask what format they’ll be delivering the pictures to you. This can range from online gallery, to CD, to thumb drive. Also ask if they will provide all the raw images of the pictures they didn’t want to edit. You never know, maybe they captured a funny moment that only you and your partner cherish. Photographers vary on this and both sides are valid. If they do share, it’s because they want you to have access to everything that they captured on your day. If they don’t, it’s because they don’t want stuff that isn’t representative of their work to be displayed.
  • Don’t forget that they own the pictures. Under US copyright law, the person who presses the shutter owns the photos. Make sure you find out how they feel about reproductions or reprints of their work, especially if they give you access to raw, unedited photos.
  • Skip the photo album. I’m saying this because it’s a waste of money and time, unless you have samples of their books and they were thoroughly impressive. There are a lot of printing companies and they are not created equal. Not to mention, we live in a social media world. Almost all pictures are consumed digitally now. Unless the sample is amazing, skip the album completely and just print the pictures you really like from a reputable place so that you can frame them. You can always get the album further down the road if you change your mind.

Step 2. Know your style

There are a lot of different styles when it comes to wedding photography and you need to figure out what style you want so that you can find the right photographer. For example, right now the trend is what I like to call “super high key.” Long story short, high key is photography jargon for pictures with a lot of highlights or whites. A ubiquitous reference I can make is most of Apple’s marketing: white backgrounds with well lit subjects. To contrast, a lot of luxury brands of watches often use low key: dark backgrounds with the subject separated with moody lighting.

Standard high key shot. The sun is directly behind them so they would’ve been completely dark without flash. I didn’t want to lose detail so I used off-camera flash to get it right in camera instead of fixing it in post. If the client gave me full creative control, the sky would have been perfectly exposed instead of being slightly blown out.
  • Super high key takes this a step further. It’s something that a lot of people call the romantic look or dreamy look. To achieve this look, the photographer basically shoots directly at a light source, usually the sun, and exposes for the subject(s), not the light source. If no other light is introduced, what happens is that the photo is overexposed and the direct light bouncing around the inside of the lens creates this “hazy” effect. The haze can sometimes look cool but also equates to loss of unrecoverable detail. As a photographer, this style personally drives me nuts. I personally don’t like it. It’s taking everything you learn and throwing it out the window. Granted, there are times where this works out really well, but this trend started because a lot of the photographers that came before didn’t know how to balance ambient with subject lighting. Be wary of photographers who ONLY shoot this style. If they do, it might mean they don’t understand lighting.

The other styles include what I call editorial, candid, and detail.

  • Editorial is when the photographer is mainly concerned with posing and composing shots for each group of people. The pros are that you get well composed pictures in a controlled environment. The cons is that you often miss “moment” and the humanity that’s supposed to be so vibrant at an event like a wedding is often missing from this style.
  • Candid is just that, candid. It’s somewhat like National Geographic where the photographer mainly tries to capture the moments and uses perspective to create mood in the pictures. The pros is that you get some interesting shots that often can’t be replicated. The cons is that this style isn’t always safe and you may not get the shots that you want.
  • The people who I consider as detail photographer is all about high fidelity and lighting. This is the epitome of wedding photographer. You must be a master of your craft to pull this off consistently. If you can do this style, you can do it all. They can pose you to create moments and use lighting to accentuate the mood of the photo. This is my personal preference obviously, and I think the photographer you choose should aspire to be this as well.
Not much Photoshop involved. Elmer @ TNK Photo actually knows how to use gels, diffusion and lighting to achieve the look in camera. This doesn’t look that much different than what he showed me while we were there.

As further reference, you can check out Lin and Jersa’s page where they categorize their different styles. This is an example of a detail photographer and that is why they’re able to do every other style. If you can afford them, you should just book them. It’s a no brainer.

Step 3. Find out their lighting solution

Damn near everyone knows how to shoot in natural light. Most people with a phone can shoot outdoors during the day and get a decent shot. But what happens when it starts getting darker or you have to go indoors? This is what sets amateurs apart from professionals and something that I personally need to work on in my own photography.

This picture was taken at ISO 3200, the maximum sensitivity that I would be comfortable shooting to avoid noise. This picture would not be possible without flash.
  • A pro-level camera can only get you so far. When you increase sensitivity on your camera, you inevitably reach a point when fuzzy noise starts entering the picture and you start losing detail.
  • What happens if you end up dressing up your venue with maroon and red colored uplighting? Are you going to like all of your pictures being maroon and red? This is where knowledge of lighting comes in.
  • Are they using on-camera flash, off-camera flash, diffusers, snoots, bounce flash, etc.? Situations dictate what to use, but they should know how to use what they have to its full potential.
  • Ask for samples of indoor or night events they’ve done.

Step 4. Stick with your budget and work backwards

Let’s face it, not everyone can spend $8-10k on a wedding photographer. While I’m a firm believer that your photographer will be an integral part of your special day, you shouldn’t have to take out a loan just to book one. However, here are a few things to consider:

  • Start looking a bit above your budget. This will open you up to the possibilities that more knowledgeable and experienced photographers can offer. Who knows, if you find someone and can haggle them down because they like you, you might be getting a steal.
  • Work backwards. If you’ve done the first part correctly, you’ll at least have a goal in mind. Start researching the type of work you get for closer to your budget. This way,  you start to see the difference between fair pricing and arbitrary pricing. There are plenty of photographers that just price themselves around the ballpark of what other people are charging, even though their work doesn’t warrant it at all. As you move down in budget, you should be able to differentiate between this.
  • Pay more for service. If you’re stuck between 2 photographers of about equal quality of work, err on the side of customer service, even if they cost a little more. A cohesive photographic team can become a crucial part of your support group during the stress of the actual day. Never underestimate the value of your vendors.

Step 5. Winning

Hopefully this guide has helped you figure out how to book your photographer. If you need help starting out, here are a few recommendations/references from me:

TNK Photos – the company that I picked. High def style with creative lighting and amazing customer service.

Brandon J. Ferlin Photography – Editorial/candid style photographer with over 8 years of experience. Also happens to be a personal friend of mine.

Jason Lanier – Incredible commercial and wedding photography. He does wedding workshops which he documents on YouTube. I highly suggest watching some of his workshops because they’re incredibly informative and entertaining.

Quick disclaimer, none of this is sponsored content. I am not receiving any compensation for any of these recommendations. This are my honest recommendations and want everyone to be successful at finding a photographer that suits their needs.

I hope this helps! If you have any questions, just hit me up at