• Isaac Freed

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Written by Isaac Freed/Music in Tahoe and published by Megan Butcher/Tahoe Unveiled

Though we publish many beautiful and unique weddings on Tahoe Unveiled, it's not often that we get the chance to share the intricate planning and preparation that vendors use to create a couple's dream day - particularly the essential element of music. Tawny and Andrew's wedding at The Hideout was a fabulous celebration, and, as a professional dancer who tours with an international pop star, the bride wanted music and dancing to take center stage throughout her big day.

In this post, Isaac Freed of Music in Tahoe talks us through the inspiration and preparation his team used to execute the musical journey of Tawny and Andrew's celebration and even shares the dance party mix so you can join the party! VILD Photography photographed this very special wedding. Listen to the mix here!


Andrew and Tawny first met in high school and went the distance for their relationship. After having a long-distance relationship for six years, Andrew surprised Tawny with a unique proposal, flying her out to "teach a dancing class" in her hometown only to have her mom blindfold her and drive her to the actual proposal!


Nestled in the woods near Kirkwood, The Hideout was the dream location for Andrew and Tawny. Not only is The Hideout located on forty acres of pristine mountain landscape, but it allows couples to create weddings that are personal and unique, choosing which parts of the venue they want to use and when. Complete with a gorgeous lake and a natural hot spring, The Hideout is a one-of-a-kind venue. They selected a neutral color palette with stunning flowers that looked like they were gathered straight from the woods.


Tawny and Andrew enlisted Isaac Freed of Music In Tahoe to create their ultimate wedding party, and he shared with us just what went into making their big day unforgettable. Andrew and Tawny expressed that music was of utmost importance for their wedding. With the reputation as the areas premier musical purveyors, the owners of the Hideout, Tom and BJ, referred them to work with Music In Tahoe. Once we got a chance to talk specifics about music for their wedding, they explained that they wanted an eclectic mix of wedding classics, soul, Motown, funk, reggaeton, top 40 and hip hop with a little country and traditional Irish music sprinkled in. They put me to work to create a club vibe in the woods using their unique blend of musical styles with one main goal, they wanted the dance floor energy to stay high all night.

I sent Tawny and Andrew our Song Selections sheet, where they could indicate their absolute favorite songs for me to use as inspiration. They gave me about 50 tracks to work with, and I was able to add in additional songs that I felt worked for their personalized soundtrack. My goal was to use smooth transitions between similar vibe songs to build energy throughout the night. I wanted to honor the classics while providing a modern twist that would create a "tasty and genuine" overall feel.

It's not just about making a playlist for me, but rather creating tasteful transitions and live mashups to ensure the desired effect is achieved. Keeping in mind the bride's background in dance, I wanted to deliver the absolute best DJ set for her party - leaving behind anything cheesy, contrived, and lacking in authenticity.


We kicked off the celebration with the 80's classic "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates following their officiant's cue - "you may kiss the bride." During cocktail hour, the highly-talented Wade Preston from NYC, a friend of the families, gave an excellent performance of time-honored favorites and original compositions on piano and vocals. The newlyweds entered the reception gracefully and had their first dance outside to an acoustic version of "Latch" by Sam Smith.

During dinner, I played an understated mix of classic soul, country ballads, and timeless singalongs, including "Blueberry Hill' by Fats Domino, a Meyers family tradition. Tawny's parents, Perry and Maranda, gave absolutely tear-jerking toasts, which were felt by all and followed by an Irish blessing over the marriage. Andrew's brother and Best Man, Adam Meyers, closed out the toasts, roasting Andrew in a fun-loving way that only a brother can. He also brought it home with sincere gratitude towards Tawny for being "the absolute best fit" for his beloved brother.

The newlyweds slow-danced with their respective parents, and then we kicked things off with a 1972 hit from British glam rockers The Sweet entitled "Little Willy." This was somewhat of an Andersson family anthem and got everyone on the dance floor surrounding Tawny and her dad as they sang along and danced together, spinning each other around in circles.

It was already clear to see that dance was not only Tawny's profession but an absolute lifelong passion. I mixed, blended, and beat-matched classic selections to get the dance party going. The floor was packed with guests of all ages belting familiar lyrics from the greatest hits of the past fifty years, cutting it up, and line dancing the night away. Paying close attention to not only the time and beat of each song but also to the melodic content, I mixed a themed yet varied set of hits.

When I dropped 'Dance Off' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, something spontaneously awesome happened. Tawny and Andrew squared off in the center of the dancefloor and began to challenge each other with their dance moves and primal energy. Moving side-to-side with their glare locked on each other, they let loose! I must say, Andrew held his own against a world-class professional dancer, but the winner was clear as she hair flipped, threw her arms in the air, dropped down low, and brought an impressive and expressive energy to each one of her wild moves. The crowd went wild as Tawny walked off the dance floor to get herself a victory drink.

Dance floor shenanigans continued as I mixed and mashed up a storm of hits, pushing the tempo and energy higher and higher as the night went on. This nearly three-hour dance party came to an end outside the HideOut barn with an original idea from the bride: a LED parachute send-off. Guests held the corners of the parachute and raised it as high as they could, creating a space for the newlyweds to embrace underneath.

As you can tell from VILD's beautiful photography and Isaac's play by play, Andrew and Tawny's wedding hit on all the senses. It was a sweet, highly-energized, ridiculously fun, and hilarious merging of two amazing families. Lucky for us, Isaac pressed record on his DJ equipment early in the night, and we're so glad he did because he captured the entire mix live we're able to share it with you today! While you don't need to be a professional dancer to have the time of your life at your wedding reception, Music in Tahoe can make you a customized soundtrack like they did here that will maximize the musical journey of your wedding day.

Get the full experience and listen to Tawny + Andrew's personalized dance party mix by Isaac Freed of Music in Tahoe here!

Photos by the amazing Rob + M of VILD Photography

  • Isaac Freed

1) Align your vision of what 'good music' really is.

Everyone has different tastes when it comes to music. The idea is to find a DJ who can understand your personal brand of 'good music.' Once you've aligned your vision with your potential DJ, talk about it for a while. Talk genres, artists, eras, songs, what you love, what you hate. Go back in time to your high school and college years and think about what songs will make your guests erupt with laughter and joy when they hear your DJ work it into the mix. Your DJ should have a really solid understanding of what your individual and collective tastes are. This will allow him/her to make judgement calls when creating your playlists and once guests begin to make requests. Your wedding DJ is like your "musical elected official" and you must feel good about their musical vision for your wedding.

2) I'm sorry, but not all DJs are created equal.

Some wedding DJs will only take your requests, make them into a playlist, and play them in order at your wedding. You deserve better than this. A professional DJ will not only take this first step, but will also 'read between the lines' of your requests. They can add their own favorites, which will fit nicely within your list to create a themed yet varied array of music that will invigorate you and your fiancé as well as your guests. Your DJ should also be able to mix all of your music together in a smooth and seamless fashion. Once the dance floor starts to move, it shouldn't stop! Your ideal wedding DJ will mix, blend, beat match, and mashup your favorite music into a truly unique tapestry that not only represents you and your fiancé, but also speaks to your guests as a whole.

3) It's not all about bangers.

At Music in Tahoe, we like to think of ourselves as not only fantastic musicians and DJs but also as Musical Directors for your wedding. It starts with timeless and tasteful pre-ceremony selections. It continues on with masterful arrangements of your favorite songs played live for your ceremony. We will continue to connect with your guests through our classic cocktail hour live playing and we haven't even touched the turntables yet! With a close focus on your big day in its entirety, we're able to play selections that speak to your guests, taking them back in time to when they first heard these amazing love songs. 

4) It is all about timing.

Most every song has a time and a place. From a classic sing along to an all-out party anthem, your DJ must have the 6th sense of being able to know what works best, and when. We often get song requests from couples that sometimes could kill the dance floor vibe but would work great during cocktail hour or dinner. It's all about knowing what will work best, and when. We like to keep the music upbeat and energized throughout the day, but the energy should have an overall flow which can only be controlled and directed by a top-notch DJ.

5) A successful DJ is an accessible DJ.

Let's be honest, we dance hardest to songs that we know. Since we all know different music how could a DJ appease an audience with an 80 year age gap? Our approach is simple; we play extremely accessible tunes early on in your wedding. I'm talking Ritchie Valens, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, it's those motown/soul vibes. This music speaks to the older generations and invites them onto the dance floor to engage in the music they love with their children and grandchildren. Your grandparents will light up with joy when they hear songs they grew up with and can sing along to. As the night goes on we will play more modern music, more remixes, and will push the energy higher and higher until even the youngest guests are on their feet.

6) Want your party to go all night? 

Many Tahoe wedding venues have a noise curfew. It's usually 10pm, sometimes as late as midnight, but do you and your closest friends love to party? Do you want to keep the vibe high? Consider having a silent disco after party. We can provide a top-of-the-line wireless headphone system and can provide hundreds of pairs to keep your guests dancing all night. If you like the idea of partying under the stars and the full moon, then inquire about silent disco options and see if we can provide the dance party of a lifetime. 

7) What about a slow dance or two? 

In this day and age, not every couple wants to slow dance at their wedding. They can be really sweet and the older generations really do love them, but do you? Think about your family, think about your grandparents. Will grandpa want to dance with you in your wedding dress? Here's an idea; ask your parents or grandparents what their first dance was. Quietly mark this down for your DJ and let him/her know to make a dedication. I can assure you, the tears will flow. Music connects with our senses in a way nothing else can and you may be surprised at the affect one or two slow dances may have. 

8) Light it up!

You've taken time to perfect every detail from the invitations to the wedding dress, but what about dance floor lighting? As any photographer will tell you, it's all about lighting. It's what makes us look and feel our best. Bistro lights are great and can provide a wonderful ambiance for your outdoor wedding but what really takes the dance party to the next level is customized and controlled LED lights. From classic uplighting, to moving head spot lights, we can set the tone for an all out raging dance party with our custom lighting packages. We can control the lights to match the vibe of the music throughout the night. This will make your guests feel more comfortable getting loose and trying out those new dance moves they've been working on. Leave the lighting to us and watch how we can light up the night!

9) To remix, or not to remix: That is the question. 

We all love songs in their original form. That classic intro leading up to the verse of which you know every word. You can't beat it, or can you? Professional DJs have countless remixes of your favorite songs in their library. We can not only play the original version but also mix in tasteful versions that will keep your guests guessing as the song goes on. Some couples like this, others don't. Talk remixes with your DJ to ensure that your vision is realized. 

10) Save the last dance.

Your last song is the punctuation to your amazing Tahoe wedding and could be what your guests will remember most. This is your chance to have your own unique stamp of individuality, and in our opinion, it's as important as your first dance. What works best? Songs that represent you and your crew. Sing alongs from college, your families unspoken anthem, a throwback that unites and speaks to your love, or just a great song that everyone knows and can sing along to. Let this last song unite those who're left standing, your closest and wildest friends. This should be your theme song and will bring everyone to the dance floor for one final amazing series of moments that completes your dream Tahoe wedding.

Music in Tahoe - Tahoe Wedding DJ & Music since 2008

#1 - Start by finding your venue and wedding coordinator, ask for their preferred vendors and go from there

No one is more familiar with the local talent pool than other wedding vendors. Venue owners, coordinators, photographers, videographers, caterers and photo booth rental companies all see the best (and worst) DJs and musicians at work. Just ask who they recommend and who’s the best fit for your personal style.

#2 - Find a local DJ and musician team with great reviews

Tahoe has a lot of quirky, rugged and logistically demanding outdoor venues. Be sure to hire a wedding professional that is familiar with your venue and works frequently in the Tahoe area. You can browse Wedding Wire as well as The Knot for couple’ reviews, vendor endorsements and more.

#3 - Get in touch with your musical interests but also the interests of your guests

How do you, your friends and family connect with music? Do you like to dance? Would you appreciate a tasteful live acoustic duo or would you love to have both? Find a local company that can arrange for everything from live musicians for your ceremony to a top-notch DJ for your reception and can make sure your party stays energized throughout the evening.

#4 - Take time to meet your DJ in person, on FaceTime, Skype or schedule a conference call

Getting to know your DJ and allowing them to get to know you ensures that your expectations will be communicated, understood and met come your big day. A good DJ can do much more than just facilitate a playlist but they need to know who you are and what you’re looking for in terms of the feel and energy at your wedding.

#5 - Hire a DJ who’s charismatic and has good energy

The DJ that you hire will have the most control over the overall vibe at your wedding. This will effect your wedding photos, videos and overall experience more than any other vendor at your wedding. Be sure that your DJ is personable, willing to work out logistics with your other vendors and engage with your guests, it will make all the difference.

Wedding - Meeks Bay Resort & Casino - June 2017

#6 - Hire a vendor team that’s collaborative, intuitive and quick on their feet

Things happen, weather changes, all of your wedding vendors should be creative, flexible and willing to make changes, even at the last minute. This will ensure that your vendors can respond to any changes that pop us and work together to make the best possible experience.

#7 - Hire a professional DJ that’s organized and communicative

There are a ton of little details that go into creating the perfect soundtrack for your big day. Find someone that you feel you can communicate with and has the ability to organize all of these details and keep them straight. Systems are key, your DJ should have the process clearly laid out and follow up in a timely manner throughout the planning process.

#8 - Hire a musician/DJ with a formal background in music

You deserve so much more than someone just pressing play on a playlist at your wedding. You deserve a customized soundtrack with tasteful mixes, your DJs ability to read the dance floor and make changes as needed. This will make all the difference and you’ll be glad you took the time to select the right musicians/DJ for your big day.

Music in Tahoe is proud to offer DJ, live musician and sound engineering services for Lake Tahoe area weddings and private events since 2008. Email info@musicintahoe.com
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