2019: Why We Dance

One of the highlights of the annual MBLV conference is the Celebrate Life Hike at Red Rock Canyon…a great break of fresh air after a couple of days of indoor presentation.

Earlier this month, I attended the annual Mobile Beat DJ Conference in Las Vegas. This was my 23rd straight year attending, and as usual it was a great week of networking, learning, and a little bit of Vegas-style fun. There were quite a few great seminars about marketing, gear, and performance.  My favorite presentation was called “Why People Dance” by New Jersey based Mike Walter who runs one of the largest DJ entertainment companies on the East Coast…Elite Entertainment. Mike’s seminar dealt with the different types of people who attend parties, and why most everyone falls into one of three groups…DANCERS, SKEPTICS, and SITTERS. Understanding who these people are in the crowd and why they are all important is key to being a good DJ. To be honest, this is stuff that most veteran DJs know already subliminally just from reading a crowd for many years, but I never thought about these three types of guests from a purely psychological standpoint and it was really interesting.

Mike Walter’s presentation “Why People Dance”

Here’s a breakdown of the three groups…the DANCERS are real party people who are out there on the dancefloor most of the night, and will be shaking it to just about everything most of the night from oldies to hip hop.  They need little encouragement and are usually a DJ’s best friend.  But the SKEPTICS are equally important to a party, and at most weddings, are usually the largest of the three groups.  These are folks that need a reason to get out of their seats, and are sometimes looking for a reason to sit back down.  Awkward song transitions and genre changes can easily send them back to their seats. The SITTERS rarely dance (for a variety of reasons listed in the next paragraph) and will only get on a dance floor for their all-time favorite song or if Uncle Steve drags them out there.  Mike noted during his presentation that DJs should never “force or guilt” a sitter into dancing, and I totally agree with that…but hey, if Uncle Steve does it, it’s fine by me. Sitters, interestingly are the best source of referrals for DJs because if you can get them out to dance, you’re doing a great job. Some of my favorite online reviews are the ones where the bride mentions something like, “Ron’s music even got my Aunt Edith out there…and she never dances!” I love the challenge of having some Aunt Edith’s in the crowd.

So what are the top reasons people dance? Obviously celebration is the most obvious. A person’s attraction to their dance partner is another. Dancing for ritual is embraced in many ethnic cultures, and finally.. to escape life’s reality, or maybe forget life’s problems. Here are the top reasons Mike pointed out as to why people DON’T DANCE…Maybe they don’t know the song, or they’re not in the mood to dance. Other reasons guests don’t dance is they don’t like the song, or possibly lack the confidence to get on the dancefloor. Maybe it’s simply that there is no one on the dancefloor, and they don’t want to be the first one out there.

Most of Mike’s information was garnered from an online survey he put together in the months leading up to the conference.  This is an ongoing survey, and is totally anonymous.  If you’d like to take the survey (it’s only 10 questions) and contribute to the database, here’s the URL:

Why People Dance Survey

 

2018: Top 25 From 25

Next month marks the 25th anniversary of my first wedding in Colorado. To celebrate, I’ve tabulated the all-time top 25 requests from my wedding couples and their guests at over 1,000 weddings from the last 25 years. So here’s the ranking from #1 to #25:

1. Electric Boogie – Marcia Griffiths

2. YMCA – The Village People

3. Cha Cha Slide – Mr C

4. Chicken Dance – The Emeralds

5. Shout – Isley Brothers or Otis Day

A few interesting facts about the top 5…none of the songs hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and only one hit the Top 5 on Billboard – “YMCA”. Although Griffith’s “Electric Boogie” (aka Electric Slide) never even hit the Top 40 when it was released, it has been extremely popular, charting on my annual Top 10 request list for 23 of 25 years – by far more than any other song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Macarena – Los Del Rio

7. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

8. Cupid Shuffle – Cupid

9. Old Time Rock And Roll – Bob Seger

10. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix A Lott

Who would have thought that a couple of middle-age men from the south of Spain would launch the biggest dance craze of the ’90s. With the possible exception of the “Chicken Dance” at #4, “Macarena” would also become one of those rare songs that is both loved and despised by brides, grooms, and wedding guests. It winds up on my couple’s “Do Not Play” lists as often as it is requested to be played. Hey Macarena!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

12. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

13. Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees

14. Twist And Shout – The Beatles

15. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

I can count on one hand how many times I got a request for “Don’t Stop Believin'” prior to the 2007 Soprano’s finale. The song was played at the end of the show’s final episode a decade ago and dance floors haven’t been the same since. Not only has it become an end-of-night last dance anthem, but it has become the most requested song of the ’80s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. The Wobble – Vic

17. Mony Mony – Billy Idol

18. At Last – Etta James

19. We Are Family – Sister Sledge

20. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It – Will Smith

Seven of the top 25 most requested songs have had a resurgence in popularity years after their initial release. “At Last”, much like “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” were rarely requested until becoming more popular decades later. Etta’s classic didn’t even hit the Top 40 charts when it was originally released in 1961. But after appearing in a TV commercial and some movies in the late ’90s, it returned to the charts in 2002, and has become one of the most popular first dance songs of the last fifteen years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

22. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks

23. Marry Me – Train

24. In The Mood – Glenn Miller

25. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

After tabulating this all-time Top 25, I was amazed that there was only one country song that made the chart. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that country music is “artist driven”, as opposed to other genres that are more “song driven”. In Garth’s case in particular, I can name at least a dozen of his songs I’ve gotten at least a dozen requests for over the years. Likewise, for other country artists. With the exception of the Beatles, Michael Jackson (the #1 most requested artist of the last 25 years), and a few others – most non country artists have a couple of big signature songs and the rest never get requested. “Friends In Low Places” has been a country wedding staple for a quarter century.

2017: Floor Plans & Finales

Arguably, two of the most overlooked aspects of many weddings are the finale at the end of the night, and the reception room floor plans (or simply FPs as some wedding pros refer to them). I’ll briefly hit upon a few suggestions for each, and how to maximize these two areas of wedding planning that often get minimal attention.

Jen & Ryan’s reception certainly ended on a high note. Special thanks to the amazing Mallory Munson for the great shot at this wedding we worked together back in January at the Twin Owls Steakhouse in Estes Park.
http://www.mallorymunson.com

The Finale. Most wedding guests have absolutely no idea when the end of the reception is.  It’s not on the invitations. It’s almost never mentioned, or even talked about during receptions by most DJs unless it’s New Year’s Eve. Most wedding guests just assume that the end of the reception is when the alcohol runs out, or when the venue closes down.  At almost all of my receptions, I let the guests know at the beginning of the night when the end of the night is – and more importantly – why it’s important that they should stay until the end. Not surprisingly, most of my weddings end with a packed dance floor. But there’s more to it…and a few challenges:

Most couples contract their venue for 6 or 7 hours or more of reception time. Most couples, likewise, think that in order to get “their money’s worth”, that they need to party until the end. The optimal reception time for weddings is 5 hours, 6 if you have a really rowdy crowd of late-night partiers.  Beyond six hours, I’ve sometimes seen things get ugly. Real ugly. I’ve even heard a few photographer friends mention that they can’t even get good photos of people after 11PM because most guests are too drunk.  That may be extreme, but keep in mind, longer is NOT better.  It’s always best to end the party with people wanting a little more, than go an extra hour or two and have most of them leave. Think quality over quantity.  Ending on a high note, with the majority of your guests still there, on a packed dance floor is priceless, and makes for some great photos, and equally as important, it makes for some great memories.

I always try to plan some sort of finale immediately after the last dance with my couples well before wedding day.  It can be as simple as gathering the guests around the bride and groom to sing “Piano Man” or “Don’t Stop Believin'” (see photo).  A bit more planning is required for exit tunnels, sparklers, limo getaways, and even fireworks (certainly not permissible at most venues but it’s pretty awesome when I’ve witnessed it).  As with almost any part of your reception, it’s imperative to hire a DJ who has the experience to direct and keep guests updated on all the upcoming activities throughout the evening from cocktail hour, to dinner, through the dances and formalities, all the way to a full dance floor finale and exit.

This view from the DJ booth is an ideal reception room floor plan…all events in one room, dance floor centrally located, low profile centerpieces, bride and groom and DJ on opposite sides and adjacent to the dance floor. It’s party time!

The Floor Plan. This is basically a schematic of the layout of the room.  Over the years, I’ve seen the good and bad. I’ve come to realize as being the Reception DJ & Director at most of the weddings that I am part of, that it’s imperative that I play an active role in the room’s layout to maximize the dancing, flow, and overall enjoyment of the guests.  Ideally, every reception would take place in a room where all guests can easily see everything that happens throughout the evening regardless of where they are sitting.  This is rarely the case, as most reception facilities were not originally designed for wedding receptions – especially many of the more historic venues. Sometimes tables are set up on the dancefloor that have to be moved, or guests are seated in separate rooms, or the bar is clear on the other side of the venue.  It’s important to keep these thoughts in mind when choosing a venue for your wedding, but the good news is, even if you already have and it’s not ideal, there are six ways to easily deal with these issues:

  1. Centrally located the dance floor and do not block the DJ behind your guest’s tables. Consult with your DJ before your venue’s Walk Through Meeting so they can give you suggestions based on their experience at the venue.
  2. Try to locate the bar in the same room as the reception, as well as the photo booth (dancing feeds off the photo booth, and vice versa).
  3. Limit flower centerpiece height so guests can easily converse at their tables and see everything that is going on.
  4. Choose assigned seating over open seating. Grouping guests of similar demographics, families, and ages make sense.  It creates more conversation. I’ve found that most weddings with open seating have less dancing.
  5. When making a seating chart, list names alphabetically – not by table.  It makes it much easier for guests to find their name, and will prevent the dreaded logjam as guests enter the reception after cocktail hour and are trying to find their names on the chart.
  6. With the exception of the Wedding Party and Parents tables, go with assigned tables as opposed to specifically assigned seating.  It gives guests freedom to sit where they want at the table, and eliminates the need for place cards.

Another shot of Ryan & Jennifer’s finale in January at the Twin Owls Steakhouse. Photo by Mallory Munson.
http://www.mallorymunson.com

2016: Couple’s Panel

On February 20th, I attended a wedding panel discussion hosted by the Northern Colorado Wedding & Event Professionals at The Agave Room in Fort Collins. Four recently married couples answered questions from a roomful of local wedding professionals regarding their decisions about their who they hired, why they hired them, and if they had to do it all over again……what would they do differently. It was an insightful evening of information.

View More: http://kjandrob.pass.us/nocowep-bridal-panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my Top 10 Takeaways (in no particular order):

  1. At least half of all wedding planning research is done online. Social media plays a key role, but few couples initially find their professionals via social. Most are found from word-of-mouth, venue referral lists, or online review sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot.
  2. Online reviews are huge.  Most couples are very aware of Wedding Wire and The Knot and realize these review site are legit, and the reviews can not be altered by the vendor.
  3. The top 3 things couples would have spent less on if they had to do it over again are: Food…Dress…Flowers.
  4. Other things that they would have done differently included: Having more time with guests (longer reception / rehearsal dinner / cocktail hour)…Having a weather backup plan for the outdoor ceremony….Spending more time writing their individual vows for the ceremony…and the ever-popular “Should have hired a professional DJ”.
  5. Most couples were limited by their parent’s allocated budget which seemed to be split evenly among brides and grooms parents.
  6. The top 4 reasons for hiring a particular wedding professional was: Price / Value…Reputation…Familiarization with the venue….First impressions when meeting them.
  7. Almost all couples liked the idea of all inclusive package pricing vs. an ‘Ala Carte’ style pricing structure, mainly due to a concern for hidden charges and extras.
  8. Recent photo trends that couples like: ‘The First Look’ and the photojournalistic / candid style wedding photography.  Photo booths are also still hot.
  9. Their wedding budgets ranged from $10,000 to $30,000 and guest lists ranged from 130 to 190.
  10. Speaking of budgets, their top 4 budget items included: Photography…Food / Bar…Venue…Entertainment (DJ/MC, Photo Booth)

View More: http://kjandrob.pass.us/nocowep-bridal-panel

2015: Budgeting

What would seem to be a fairly straightforward way of going about coming up with a realistic wedding budget, many couples get sidetracked due to other people’s expectations and media manipulation.  What should be an enjoyable process is sometimes very stressful. Some couples end up with their wedding budget depleted before they’ve even hired all their vendors. The problem ultimately lies NOT with the actual budget dollar amount itself, but in the allocation of where the money is spent.

wedding-budget-pie-chart[1]More specifically, the problem lies with the source of where this wedding budget information is coming from.  It’s no surprise that couples use wedding budget pie charts and suggested budget breakdowns.  They’re all over the internet and the percentage numbers vary widely.  You’ve seen them (like the one shown here) in wedding books, websites, and other media. They list the percentages of various wedding services that couples “should” be spending their money on. As ridiculous as it sounds, these lists and pie charts are suggesting the percentage that couples should spend on each category like every wedding and every couple has similar preferences.  This kind of logic isn’t used in any other type of major lifetime expenditure. Can you imagine buying a car or a house and the sales person hands you a pie chart with pre-determined categories and preferences that they think you should have?  Of course not.

So how does a newly-engaged couple juggle this jungle of wedding hi-jinx, and come up with a reasonable budget that doesn’t bankrupt them while having the wedding day of their dreams?

The answer is MUCH simpler than you may think….

Spend money in direct proportion to the importance that you place on each service.

First, come up with a reasonable wedding budget amount that you can afford and is not going to put you or your parents (if they are paying for it) in debt.

Second, come up with a realistic allocation plan. On two sheets of paper, the bride and groom should write their “Wedding Top 3”. This can be a combination of various things such as…

  • What you want the most important part(s) of the wedding to be
  • What you want your guests to remember most about your wedding
  • What you dream about most for your wedding day

Combine your answers and come up with an overall Top 5, then correlate each to their respective vendors that represent that service. These are the Top 5 items that you should spend your money on. Hire the best vendors you can find for anything in the Top 5.  Whatever money is left over after you’ve reserved your Top 5 services, should be spent on anything else you may need, but shouldn’t exceed your overall budget.

Warning… this method goes against the typical wedding budget philosophy, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It requires most couples to develop a different way of thinking about their wedding, but it pretty much guarantees that a couple will have the wedding of their dreams while keeping their budget in check. Most couples can save thousands of dollars by sticking to this plan.

Here’s another way to look at budgeting for your wedding…

What’s your focus? Are you currently planning a food-focused, visual-focused, or entertainment-focused wedding reception?  The answer may surprise you.

THE “FOOD FOCUSED” RECEPTION is by far the most popular type.  About 60% of all wedding receptions are food-focused. If you’ve ever been to a wedding where most guests started leaving after dinner and / or the cake cutting, you’ve attended one of these. A large portion of the budget is spent on food and beverage (the bar), leaving little left over for much else. Interestingly, in post-reception surveys, most wedding guests (74%) can’t remember what they ate at the last wedding they attended. Few guests at these types of weddings make it to the last dance.

THE “VISUAL FOCUSED” RECEPTION accounts for about 30% of receptions. At these, the couple wants to impress guests with a high-end venue and décor.  The “Wow Factor” is in full effect. Though great food is prominent, the majority of funds are spent on a high-end venue, décor, linens, chair covers, beautiful centerpieces, ambient lighting, etc. These tend to be the highest budget weddings. “Wowing” your wedding guests can be costly for a multitude of reasons. There is certainly nothing wrong with this type of focus, but visuals will only hold guests’ attention for so long.  If the guests are not entertained, and if they become bored, they may start discreetly heading to their cars. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “We were at this amazingly beautiful wedding where they spent all this money, but everyone left before the end of the night. We felt so sorry for the bride and groom.”

THE “ENTERTAINMENT FOCUSED” RECEPTION accounts for just 10% of weddings because most wedding couples budget a small percentage for entertainment (national average is just 8% of the budget). Entertainment focused couples not only budget more for entertainment than 8%, but more importantly…they know the value of hiring a competent full-time professional DJ / MC who can not only keep the dancefloor full, but also run the reception, plus collaborate with them on some fun and unique customized and personalized reception activities. Ask yourself this question…“What percentage of the success of our wedding reception will be riding on the DJ?” If your answer is 50% or more, then you are planning an Entertainment Focused reception. Weddings that have this type of focus tend to last longer, and most end with a packed dance floor at the end of the night. The focus is on the FUN, but also on saving money, as these weddings require a much smaller budget. The Colorado average for an “Entertainment Focused” reception is $10-15,000 versus the state average of $20-30,000 for the other two types of weddings.

Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding these money saving concepts, or if you’d like to set up a free budget analysis.

2014: Questions To Ask

Here are ten important questions to ask your DJ before you hire them:

1. Will you provide a written contract to review BEFORE I hire you?…. Many DJ contracts protect only the company and do little to protect the client. Read the fine print. A fair contract should equally protect the client and the company. At your initial consultation, make sure you receive a written contract that you can take home so you can review pricing, packages, and services before hiring the company or sending any money.

2. Do you have a PROFESSIONAL microphone style?….  Make sure your DJ / MC matches the style you want at your wedding.  Some DJs are very talkative, some say little at all, while others are somewhere in between.  There is a fine line between cheesy and classy. Whoever you hire as your wedding DJ will also be the spokesperson and Master Of Ceremonies (MC) for the most important day of your lives, so choose wisely.

3.  Can I see a copy of your LIABILITY insurance?…. The mobile DJ industry is completely unregulated.  There is currently no licensing, certification, or standards. Though it is not a requirement to have this document, finding someone who does shows that the company at least takes their business seriously. More importantly, many wedding venues are now requiring DJs to provide proof of liability insurance before they can set up. A state or city issued business license is also a good indicator of professionalism.

4.  Will you attend my ceremony REHEARSAL?….  If your DJ will be providing ceremony services, it is important that he / she attend the rehearsal to review all ceremony details. These include rehearsing processionals and recessionals, and reviewing details with the officiant. In addition, two sound systems should be used on wedding day – one for the ceremony, one for the reception to avoid a lengthy equipment transfer.

5.  Do you have a BACKUP plan?…  Simply put, emergency backup sound equipment is a must, and it should be available, and not back at the office. What happens if the power goes out? Hopefully your DJ has a temporary power supply or generator.

6.  Do you do this FULL-TIME?…  Only 15% of all wedding DJs do this as a full-time career. This may not be a deal-killer for most couples, but remember, DJs who have a full-time commitment to their wedding couples tend to invest more time in the planning process, and also generally return calls, texts, and e-mails more promptly.

7.  Will you send everyone a TIMELINE before the wedding?….  The number one mistake couples make when hiring a DJ for their wedding is…they just hire a DJ. If you want your wedding reception to flow smoothly, then it is imperative to find a DJ that does more than just play music and make a couple of announcements. Make sure they are able to “run the reception” and are willing to e-mail an agenda to your Wedding Party, Parents, and your Wedding Team so everyone knows what to expect on wedding day.

8.  What PERSONALIZED options do you offer?… During your initial consultation, your DJ should have shared with you with some fun, unique options that will separate your wedding reception from all the others your guests will have attended. These may include fun Wedding Party introductions, dinner activities, and unique alternatives to the typical formalities.

9.  Can I get in WRITING who my DJ will be?…  If it is important to you that the DJ you met at your initial consultation is the same one that shows up on wedding day, ask for that DJ’s name to be on the contract as your “guaranteed DJ”. To make up for their low prices, some DJ companies have been known to substitute DJs at the last minute, or even double-book dates.

10.  Do you have a written money-back GUARANTEE?… Some sort of written guarantee should be in place in case you are not satisfied with services rendered on wedding day, and it should be on the contract. This goes for not only your DJ, but for all the vendors you hire.

Ron’s Value Guarantee…My answer to all of the above questions is YES. If you find another DJ that can also answer YES to all ten, and has provided you with the guarantees and contract to back it up, I will match their price! 

2013: Sunset Photos

Sunset photo cody van pelt goldenIn my 20 years of Colorado weddings, one of the things I’ve noticed is the importance of having a good photographer at the reception.  More importantly, having a photographer that knows about lighting, whether it be natural or man made, is paramount.  Some of the most dramatic wedding photos that I’ve seen have been taken around sunset.  That magical 15 to 30 minutes around the time the sun sets can yield some of the best photos. This amazing shot above by Cody Van Pelt was taken in the foothills of Jefferson County.

Sunset photo Sarah Welch Ellis RanchThis month, I’ve asked a few of Colorado’s top wedding photographers to share their favorite sunset photos as well as suggestions they give their clients to get that once-in-a-lifetime image. Sarah Welch shared this great photo from Ellis Ranch and commented, “I encourage my clients to steal away for a few moments during the reception so we can get a few more amazing shots as well as give them a breather of time to themselves.”

Sunset photo Adore ShannonShannon Scholtes with Adore Photography noted, “It is important to plan ahead.  Since the beautiful colors fade very quickly you want to make sure that time for the sunset photos has been scheduled so you are not in the middle of reception events at the perfect sunset time.”  She took this dramatic photo at Mary’s Lake Lodge in Estes Park.

Sunset photo Craig Vollmer FCCCCraig Vollmer shared this photo from one of my personal favorite Fort Collins Country Club weddings from 2012 and suggested this DIY tip, “If you want to create your own sunset image with the sun shining through, take a light reading of the sky from around the edge of the sun and put your camera on manual.  Close down your f-stop one or two stops.  This gives your sky an even more dramatic look.  Make sure your flash or off camera strobe is synced so you are lit correctly…or just hire me and I will make it all happen for you.”  Craig’s second option certainly seems like you’d have a much higher success rate, especially if you are like me and don’t know the difference between an f-stop and a flash.

sunset photo nicole nichols blackstone cc auroraFinally, Denver’s own Nicole Nicols added, “For me, it’s not so much about capturing the colors of the sunset, but the amazing light it can create.  One of the first things you learn in Photography 101 is to have the sun at your back and avoid shooting into the light. I’ve always liked to break the rules a bit.  The bright white setting sun and it’s rainbow glare (seen in the bottom right of her image) breaks the traditional rules of photography but the dramatic mystical landscape looks amazing for the artistic wedding photographs I like to create.”

sunset photo ken sandberg westin downtown denverJust to prove that you don’t have to have the classic outdoor nature setting to get an awesome sunset photo, check out this image from Ken Sandberg taken at the Westin in downtown Denver. Thanks again to these amazing visual artists for sharing a bit of their knowledge on my blog.  It’s always a pleasure to work with you all.  As an added bonus, I’ve included a timetable of sunset times for Northern Colorado below to help you plan the perfect sunset time.   Finally, always let your DJ know if you are planning a sunset shot so they can plan the reception’s activities accordingly.

January 10th (4:51)…20th (5:02)…31st (5:17)

February 10th (5:29)…20th (5:41)…28th (5:51)

March 10th (6:00)…20th (7:12 MDT)…31st (7:24)

April 10th (7:34)…20th (7:44)…30th (7:55)

May 10th (8:05)…20th (8:15)…31st (8:24)

June 10th (8:30)…20th (8:34)…30th (8:35)

July 10th (8:32)…20th (8:27)…31st (8:18)

August 10th (8:05)…20th (7:51)…31st (7:34)

September 10th (7:18)…20th (7:01)…30th (6:45)

October 10th (6:29)…20th (6:13)…31st (5:58)

November 10th (4:46 MST)…20th (4:39)…30th (4:34)

December 10th (4:33)…20th (4:36)…31st (4:34)

2012: Photo Booth Fun

Certainly the latest craze in wedding reception entertainment is the photo booth.  This is a recent phenomenon that has been getting more and more popular during the last few years.  This year, I would estimate that close to half the wedding receptions I am hired for, the bride and groom have added a photo booth to the reception entertainment.

There is a wide range in photo booth options.  Some photo booths are simply a cloth backdrop and a photographer.  Some are self-serve kiosks where guests can sit and take their photo with a minimal of props.  The best ones, however, include a photo booth operator to help guests and lots of fun costumes, props, and hats that everyone can try on and really get into party mode. Guests get to take home their photos as a momento of the reception.  One of the more unique options I’ve seen this past summer was when the guests got two copies of the photos – one they could keep and the other went into a scrapbook the bride and groom kept with all the wacky, fun photos their guests took – a more unique and fun version of the ‘old-school’ wedding guestbook.

Two photo booth operators that I have worked with many times are Neil Carlberg and Justin Garcia.  Neil (photo above) specializes in his huge variety of costumes – probably the largest in the state.  Aside from being a good friend of mine for many years, he is a veteran wedding professional. Justin’s company, Redfox Photo Booth features an incredibly beautiful wood booth (photo at left) that he made himself and would blend into any natural surrounding.  It almost looks as if he built it especially for use in many of the popular Estes Park wedding venues (like Della Terra in the photo).

I’m often asked if photo booths take away from the amount of dancing that happens at a wedding reception.  My answer is yes and no.  The key is where the photo booth is set up.  If it’s set up far away from the dance floor, outside, or in another room, the answer is yes.  In this case, you may wind up having two seperate parties going on: the dancing party and the photo booth party.  You can actually make the two compliment each other by having them fairly close together, or at least in the same room.  The energy that is created on the dance floor will enhance the photo booth experience, and vice versa. I suggested to Shane & Kelli (photo above) to set up their photo booth near the dance floor and the results were terrific. Some guests even brought the props and costumes out onto the dance floor for even more fun!

During our planning meetings, we will discuss floor plan options at your venue, and I can recommend optimal locations for photo booth placement if you decide to have one.   As I’ve always said, it’s all about location, location, location.

2011: The Rehearsal

Not to be confused with the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony rehearsal is one of most important parts of the wedding planning process.  Like the rehearsal dinner, it generally takes place the day before the wedding.  It’s a great time for the family and wedding party to meet each other, if they haven’t done so already.  The main reason for doing a ceremony rehearsal, however, is to familiarize everyone with the ceremony script and procedure, where the wedding party stands during the ceremony, how the wedding party will walk down the aisle, and where the parents and other VIPs will be sitting.  Rehearsals generally last about an hour although I’ve seen them completed in as little as 20 minutes.

It’s imperative that your officiant attend the rehearsal.  Having your officiant there to answer any questions that may arise is invaluable.  I am amazed, though, at the number of rehearsals that take place without the officiant present.  One of the reasons is that many officiants charge an extra fee to attend the rehearsal.  It may cost a bit more to have him or her there, but it will be money well spent. Having your officiant at the rehearsal will make everything run smoother on wedding day and will put everyone at ease knowing what to expect.

If your DJ will be providing music and microphones for your ceremony, it’s important that they attend the rehearsal as well.  For a DJ, knowing the music cues and how people will be walking down the aisle is very important.  In addition, I use the rehearsal to introduce myself to the wedding party and parents and to let them know about their upcoming toasts and spotlight dances at the reception the following day.  I also review the ceremony transcript with the officiant so I know exactly where the songs need to start.