Avatar photo

By Hein Kaiser


Meet the man who has performed at 3,800 weddings

He has now branched out into production as a sound engineer and is writing music as well.

It has been three decades and counting for wedding singer and musician Jonathan Birin, whose tally has reached 3,800 performances at forever couplings.

He sees every wedding like it is a World Cup final, a day that can never be repeated, and he said as he drives into every venue, before taking to the stage, it has become a mantra for him to ensure he does his best, every time.

How it all started

Birin started off as a one-man band which evolved into a band, and about halfway into his career, he spread his wings and became a sound engineer, too.

Today, he spends his time in studio recording high-profile musicians, produces volumes of podcasts and mixes everything, from commercials to serials and movies.

He is a busy guy, but Birin’s affable nature – you just want to give the man a hug when you meet him – through to a nonstop sardonic sense of humour, gives evidence why bookings for weddings continue to stream in.

Sometimes, he performs at three weddings a week.

ALSO SEE: PICS: Inside Princess Diana’s niece and her SA husband’s wedding and honeymoon

“I love the challenge [because] there is always something that might go wrong, and you have to fix it. You’re on stage, so everyone looks to you for some sort of relief. The power may go off, or there might be drama somewhere in the party, and we just to carry on playing,” he said.

Funny wedding moments

Things can go mightily wrong. There have been some funny moments during his 30 years of performing.

Birin recalled a stage and dance floor constructed over a large swimming pool.

“It was one heck of a party; everyone was on the dance floor, and then the stage started creaking, audibly taking strain. A few moments later the entire structure collapsed and suddenly everyone was in the pool, soaked.”

He said had the groomsman not had the good sense to quickly unplug all the equipment, most of the wedding party might have ended up being electrocuted in the water.

Bridesmaids, he continued, are the life of the party, and Birin ascribed this to the idea that they tend to start “vibing”, as he put it, with the bride from early in the day. The party doesn’t stop and come the ceremony and the reception, bridesmaids are always first on the dance floor. Or in the flowerbed.

Birin laughed: “It was like the movies. A bridesmaid had way too much fun at a wedding and passed out in a flowerbed.”

Everyone, he said, rushed over to take pictures and post them on social media. He added: “It was a bit unfair to post such embarrassing pictures online. It never goes away, almost like a hangover that just keeps lingering.”

It’s not just the bridesmaid collective that parties hard.

A few years ago, a groom had to be taken away by ambulance, before the reception, as the combination of nerves and loads of tipple courage led to a somewhat muted celebration for the rest of the night.

ALSO SEE: Micro weddings are now a thing, here’s what to know

Mr Deejay

After the band completes its performance, Birin heads to the decks and continues to deejay for the rest of the night.

He said: “My target, to outplay everyone and be the last person standing.”

Sometimes, the last-to-leave party animals can jive it up until the early hours, but Birin said he has not come second yet.

Weddings have a formula, not a programme. It’s a mistake many wedding planners and venues tend to make, he said.

Tying the knot should not be run by a stopwatch, but rather in an order of progression: timing everything to the minute just spoils everyone’s fun.

After all, it’s a celebration.

He remembered one incident when a bridesmaid scolded him for a two-minute delay in the programme. “I simply asked her whether her day job was as an accountant. She asked me how I knew, and I responded by telling her to don her party shoes and shed the suit. We were not balancing a budget; we were all there to celebrate a union of love.”

Birin is in love with his job. While he was formally trained in sociology and psychology, he’s never practiced it. Though it does help him read a crowd and adjust.

He said: “I look at people who wear suits, go to the office, working a nine to five job and I am grateful that I get to pursue my passion, music and performing, that I get to share momentous occasions with so many people. And on the flipside, create and produce beautiful audio for my clients.”

Presently, he is busy with a personal project and is writing music for relaxation and meditation. Birin doesn’t plan to commercialise it, he is simply uploading the tracks onto public online platforms for people to enjoy.

He said: “We live in such a hurried and rushed world with so much pressure. Sometimes taking time out for a few minutes, just for ourselves, is an essential mechanism to reboot.”

For Birin, nothing he does is a job. It’s a way of life, and he thrives on taking joy wherever he goes.

– news@citizen.co.za

NOW READ: Unstoppable Thabooty – Meet Thando Thabethe’s mom and the stars of her reality show

Read more on these topics


Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits