If you have an appreciation for music and value a brand that gives a customized wedding experience, then you need to meet Meritage Entertainment! In business for over 15 years, this team not only focuses on the art of DJing and music, but will give you the wedding vibe you’ve always dreamed of. They kick any cliches you may have to curb and enhance your wedding with a variety of tunes. We got to connect with James and he’s sharing all about what makes Meritage Entertainment unique. Keep on reading to find out more!
Tell us about Meritage Entertainment + how long you’ve been in business.
James: We’ve been in business for nearly 15 years. Meritage truly is a brand. We have a core set of values that we proudly stick by. Every DJ in the company has a deeper musical background (most having started as musicians.) Everyone on our team is somewhere between their mid 20’s to late 30’s. Consistency means everything to us because couples can trust that their vision will be met. There is a strong focus here on a wide array of music knowledge, the art form of DJing, professionalism, and avoiding all things cheesy. Combine those details and you get a modern, customizable approach for weddings.
How did you get started in weddings?
James: I grew up in both the wedding and music industries. My dad was a guitar player in a band and also a DJ. Seeing my obsession with music, he bought me a DJ system when I was 5 years old and let me have his album collection. I would spend hours recording my own mixes onto tape. I did my first gig at the age of 8 and from there, I worked school events/town events pretty consistently. At 14, I started assisting at as many weddings with as many DJs as I could. I was also gigging as a drummer in original bands around that time. I think that dichotomy shaped the brand we have today. I became especially in tune with what I felt was a “cheesy” or cookie-cutter vibe throughout the entire wedding DJ industry. It was nearly impossible to see a DJ that had the music knowledge to expand beyond musical cliches, or not speak in an over-the-top emcee style. I wanted to offer the solution to that. So, at age 18, I started consistently performing at weddings. The Meritage brand began development around that time. My (now) wife Liz and I fully realized what the company could be shortly after. Thousands of weddings in with multiple branches and like-minded DJs, we never looked back. This leads to how Meritage Nashville came to be. I met Ryan Key through a music project and saw that he was frequently DJing Emo Nites. We became friends and talked about what it was that Meritage offered. Being the lead singer in Yellowcard, having some DJ knowledge, and having attended many weddings with out-of-touch DJs, the mission made perfect sense to him. He quickly pulled a team of modern Nashville DJs together and we expanded to Nashville. The demand has been pretty consistent and we now have his girlfriend Laura Gillway also managing the quickly expanding company.
What’s the philosophy behind Meritage Entertainment?
James: “A new approach for the modern couple.” #nowaycliche
What are your strengths compared to others in your category?
James: Our couples love that our DJs have backgrounds as musicians. It can be very difficult to find a DJ that is knowledgeable with music that expands beyond the top 10 hits and “traditional wedding songs.” We offer the solution to that. When a couple brings up Tame Impala, Mac Demarco, Taking Back Sunday, Thundercat, or Disclosure, we intimately know what they are talking about and can offer ways to incorporate these unique tastes, without taking away from the dance floor. We also expertly mix music. So once the dance floor gets going, one song seamlessly blends to the next. But on a deeper level, our DJs often cleverly transition in ways that tell a musical story. This is something all the artist couples in Nashville especially hone in on! In terms of the emcee approach, we keep it classy. There are no jokes, gimmicks, or unnecessary interruptions. We stick to professional, polished announcements during formalities and then let the music do the talking. Finally, having a fully staffed office that has overseen thousands of weddings makes the planning process stress-free for our couples. We can always offer experienced feedback on all angles of things, and promptly.
What attracts couples to Meritage Entertainment?
James: We consistently work with couples that put music as their first wedding priority. They might be musicians themselves or just music enthusiasts, but we talk to people daily that have a deep connection with music. We also find that many young professionals love everything our brand has to offer. It’s emphasized in reviews how professional all aspects of our communication are. It’s common for us to have a wedding weekend filled with couples who are doctors, business owners, and celebrities.
What is the most innovative new product, service, style or other aspect of your industry that brides and grooms might appreciate?
James: There seems to be this thing in wedding entertainment where DJs chase the latest “flashy” trends; fog machines, CO2 blasters, etc. We’ve never been that company. Our focus is and always will be consistency in expert music knowledge, professionalism, and a polished emcee style. Being in this industry my entire life I can say, the trends come and go rapidly and are mostly a distraction from what matters most. At least, we see it that way and our couples do too. We stay highly focused on all the latest music and how to successfully incorporate it into weddings. As a result, I think that discipline makes us as innovative as can be.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about Meritage Entertainment?
James: What Recent Couples Say: “From beginning to literally the last song at our wedding – I was blown away. We continue to get comments from our guests “best DJ!” “Best dance floor!” “I’ve never danced so much at a wedding!” -Tanya W | 1.14. 22 “His communication and responsiveness was top-notch – always making sure my now-wife and I were at ease with the wedding day proceedings. His insight and recommendations helped make the reception an all-night party that our friends and family can’t stop raving about.” -Josh G | 12. 30. 21 “Working with Brer Sunshine, through Meritage Entertainment, was one of the best decisions we made for our BIG day! Professional, arrived early, quick to respond to all of my concerns, easily adapted to our microphone needs for ceremony, followed our playlist, andeasily adapted to our last minute requests. What are you waiting on? BOOK NOW!” -Erika G | 12. 9. 21 “We hired Meritage at the recommendation of our venue, and we can see now why they came so highly recommended! We had been planning our wedding playlist for years, so we were very apprehensive about turning the music over to anyone else, but I’ll admit how wrong we were! Throughout the whole process, they were so responsive and accommodating. We can’t even begin to describe how ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE our DJ was!!!! He took all of our comments and suggestions (and our extensive playlist!) into account and made the ‘soundtrack’ to our wedding more amazing than we could have imagined! Everyone (from our guests to the staff at the venue) kept coming up to us all night and even the next day to tell us how amazing the music was! Make good decisions and hire Meritage for your wedding DJ – you will not regret it!!!!- Michelle | 11. 13. 21