The story of Bob Carpenter and his company Main Event Weddings is one of love bringing things together: the story of Bob and his wife Michelle, and the uniting of their passions for what they do—Rob’s performing and Michelle’s imagery. Together they target a clientele looking for their powerful, high-quality combination. Publisher Ryan Burger recently talked with Rob about his business and more…
Ryan Burger: Bob, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the business.
Bob Carpenter: Well, I got into the business in 1992. Actually, a good friend of mine—who actually is a very well-known disc jockey in this area of the woods, anyways; he goes by the name of Johnny K. I’ve known him as John Kelly; I grew up with him. And around ‘92 we became very close friends. And he just, one day, he decided he wanted to be a disc jockey. So we started together, and he acted as the MC and I was his henchman-in-crime. I was the disc jockey. I did all his mixing. And back then it was all records, of course. And then later on, a few years later, I met my wife, Michelle. Actually, John introduced me to my wife, and she lived in Rhode Island. And we kind of went our separate ways amicably. I still talk to him monthly and we’re still very good friends. But I started Main Event after I moved to Rhode Island. And at the time it was solely—well, I don’t want to say solely, but we were a disc jockey and videography company. My father was the original videographer of the company and my wife actually became one of our disc jockeys. Later on she developed a liking for videography. And then later, probably around ‘96 or ‘97—she had been going to graphic design school and she decided to take up photography. So that was how we all kind of fell into the whole multi-service type of operation…We became one of our area’s largest multi-op/multi-service companies. That had gone on for quite a number of years, probably about eight years, and then in 2005 we had just about—just from being multi-service for so long, we were very run down. It was impacting our health and we just decided this might be a good time just to start focusing on what we want to do, and our health. And within a few years’ time I had been introduced to a number of other DJs in the community—the national community, Marcello being one of them. And Marcello really impacted me and my health, and he had this great message. And I just loved how much energy he had and charisma. And I wanted to—I just decided I’ve got to change my life, my lifestyle. So I actually went down, met with him, and I saw how he operated. And I had been introduced to Jason Jani. I really loved the kind of thing that he was into, the production. And I just decided with my wife that this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to revolutionize the way we do business. We were going to not only take care of our clients better, but we were going to service—we were going to be able take care of them in a way that whatever they envision we could handle. So now we’ve expanded, and since that time we’ve dropped close to 60 pounds. I’m down to about 200 pounds now. I have none of the health issues that I had. I have none of the stress level. I don’t have the management, but our productions are very big. Typically if someone just hires me for a DJ service it’s usually more than just that. They’re hiring a number of things, whether it’s lighting or photo booths. So just the DJ portion of it, when I’m going out, I’m averaging about $3,500; when it’s my wife and I go as a team it’s typically about $7,500; and when they incorporate video it’s somewhere around $9,000 for all of the services. I know those numbers sound fantastic and they’re great. But one of the things that we’ve decided to do is model our business around 45 or so weddings; not taking on too many, really just servicing our clients, giving unbelievable attention to detail, making a lot of time for them; whether it’s having open houses or just phone discussions, calling them up, email reminders. We really just focus around the service. And we get to know our clients a lot more than we did when we were a multi-op/multi-service company. So that’s pretty much us in a nutshell…
R B: Looking around your website, your wife does amazing photography, whether it’s the bride or the theme that you guys have set through your lighting and everything. Tell us a little bit about how you’ve been able to successfully move into these other areas that typically a wedding consultant or a decorator would be doing.
B C: Well, I think I’m just very, very lucky. My wife is just an absolute—I mean, I’m not just saying this because I’m her husband, because or it’s my company—wife is just an exceptionally gifted photographer. Even photographers around here always tell me that they’re amazed by the work that she produces. In fact, she just made the cover of a very prestigious magazine in the area, Newport Wedding Magazine, for 2012. As a matter of fact, we just attended the bridal show for that, and many people were coming up to her and congratulating her for the cover and whatnot. So in that respect, just being surrounded by talent like that and what I’ve been able to cultivate through my contacts in the wedding industry over the years—and especially the talent that I’ve surrounded myself with in the industry, all the leaders that you hear about, whether it’s Marcello, whether it’s Mike Walter, Steve Moody, Peter Merry—lots of people have really had a profound impact on the way I do business and the way I treat my clients. And I just think that really, when you are passionate about what you do, when you love what you do, it’s just really contagious. You know, people want to be surrounded by people who love what they do. And when you love what you do, you go the extra mile for people. It’s no longer a job; it’s just really family. So that’s really, I think, the secret of how we’ve been able to succeed, especially over the years, just being able to move into the different production things that many people are incorporating now, like lightning, whether it’s dance floor lighting, undertable lighting, pinspotting—there’s just so many variations of lighting. And of course, many of the new trends that are up and coming and the ones that are in place right now, like photo booths and drapery and linen. But being able to take a wedding and actually incorporate all of these, you’re able to charge more for the overall service, so you don’t have to do multiple weddings and worry about four or five weddings. All you have to do is worry about one and get paid very well for doing an outstanding job.
R B: Yeah. I’m looking at some of the pictures on your lighting pages. The dancing on the clouds using a dry ice machine; the uplighting in the corners; battery-powered stuff; the designs on the wall that are slowly turning…showing them these pictures has got to just blow people away when they walk in the office.
B C: Oh, there’s no question about that. But it’s really about creating a target market. I mean, there’s many clients that come into us that are just looking for simple services, and really that’s not what we’re about. It’s really not our passion.We really want—our real love is to be able to go on and do something extraordinary. Every wedding should be a “Platinum Wedding.” Just to go in and do simple DJ service or simple photography when you can do something amazing that people remember, that to me, that’s how I want to be remembered, as someone who just created an amazing time for their family and friends.
R B: Fantastic. Tell us about the tools that you use in the operation. I know it’s not really about the tools, but you know that DJs are interested. What’s your gear of choice for sound and lighting and uplighting, etc.?
B C: Well, for lighting I’m mostly using intelligent moving heads. A lot of sound guys aren’t going to like this, but…for mixing I use Serato. I currently use the Denon DN-HC4500, but I’m actually considering some sort of a different controller at this time. But everything—my music’s all beat-mixed too—most of the music that I play I look for something unique, like hype remixes or something with a little more flair to it than just the typical ordinary song. I want to my clients to have a very unique experience. So when they come to me and I’m playing music for them it’s not going to be the same as when they go to another wedding reception, whether it’s a band or just a DJ. Other than that, I think that pretty much covers all the equipment that I use.
R B: What about photo booths? It looks like you’ve invested in that in the last couple of years Do you have a large percentage of your clients that are opting for that?
B C: About 30 to 40 percent are opting for photo booths. I’ve got two of them. I don’t want to become a photo booth company. I mean, I could if the demand is still very strong for photo booths. I thought it was going to be more of a fad, but it’s more of a trend, I think. I don’t know how long the trend will last, of course. But for now the demand is certainly there.
R B: Where do you see things going with your services in the next few years?
B C: Well, I see things going more towards multimedia. People are becoming more exposed to DSLR footage. They’re loving the “love story” type of introductions, same-day edits. I just think we’re going to see more and more of that type of multimedia presentation along with the lighting being more of a theatrical experience. For instance, lighting, when you walk into a movie theater and everybody’s talking, when the lights go down it signals that something’s about to happen; the movie’s about to start. So people don’t have to be told to become silent. So you take that same concept and you bring it into a wedding; you don’t have to get everybody’s attention because people are talking. But you take the uplighting around the room and all of a sudden you dim it down, people become silent.…So utilizing lighting is going to be more incorporated into weddings even more so then we’re seeing with just uplighting today.
R B: Anything you want to tell some of the younger DJs out B C: Absolutely. Well, the biggest thing is just to make sure that you love what you do. And when you love what you do, my biggest advice is not to be intimidated by other people in the industry, but to seek out their advice. There are so many that are willing to help. Go out and get inspired.
Filed Under: Issue #142, Issues from 2012
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