8/2016: Armed DJs?

A couple of months ago I hopped a flight to Tennessee to attend a DJ conference known as ARMDJS, which stands for Appalachian Regional Mobile DJ Symposium. On the flight over, I sat next to lady who was asking me questions about where I was heading. When I mentioned the name of conference, she politely said in her southern accent, “Armed DJs?…So y’all are a bunch of DJs with guns?…My son would just LOVE that.”  No ma’am. Let me explain….

13406858_1340937675921725_7337176861720332298_nThat was the start of a fun week. This was my fourth time attending ARMDJs.  The conference is a bit of logistical issue to get there as I needed to fly to Nashville, then rent a car and drive 4 hours across the state to the small town of Greeneville at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.  Greeneville’s population is just 15,000, but its claim to fame is that it the childhood home of the 17th president of the United States Andrew Johnson.  The area is also a hotbed for Civil War buffs, as there are several battlefields around the area.

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Attendees of The Professional Process pose for a group shot with our completion certificates at the conclusion of the workshop.

The 2-day conference was bookended by a 2-day workshop called The Professional Process – an intensive 16-hour marathon training event featuring tons of information on wedding structure and planning hosted by Peter Merry, author of the book “The Best Wedding Reception…Ever”. When all paired together it was 4 days of DJ panels, workshops, seminars, and networking. This was the fourth time I’ve taken this workshop, and amazingly each time I walk away with pages of notes and new ideas. Check out the photo of the attendees with their certificates.

This month’s Guest Wedding Blog is an informative look at some new wedding design trends for 2016 from award-winning DJ / Wellness Coach, Marcello Pedalino from MMP Productions in New Jersey. Marcello’s new book “Celebrate Life” is available at http://www.celebratelifebook.com

7/2016: Blog On Blog

Since we’re smack dab in the middle of the 2016 wedding season, I’ve decided to feature two blogs from two weddings featuring two superb photographers I recently worked with. Both weddings were super fun and I was able to collaborate with the bride and groom on some fun ideas and activities for their guests. Special thanks to Katie Brewer at KB Digital Designs and Dave Russell at Rocky Mountain Aperture for the awesome images:

Rachel & Brad – Highlands Ranch Mansion

Meg & Paul – Arrowhead Golf Club

5/2016: The Panel

On February 20th, I attended a bridal 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

4/2016: MBLV & CSES

20160320_172915Last month I attended two great conferences during the same week in Las Vegas.  The first was the Catersource / Event Solutions (CSES) conference, a wedding professionals conference that “catered” (no pun intended) to catering and wedding service professionals.  This show was attended by thousands from around the world, and was the first time I attended.  You certainly didn’t have to be a caterer to get benefit from the show as there were lots of learning opportunities for anyone in the event production field. The second was the annual Mobile Beat Las Vegas (MBLV) DJ conference at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino.  This was my 20th consecutive year attending this conference…yes I’ve managed to attend ever one they’ve put on since 1997.  I’ve watch this show grow from its humble beginnings in a small, cramped hotel lobby to a massive contingent of DJs from across the nation and as far away as Australia. It was great catching up with my DJ friends from across the nation, checking out the latest gear, and learning the latest tips from the experts. Here’s more:

One of the attractions of the Mobile Beat conference are the evening festivities. This year, they brought in Redfoo from LMFAO to "Party Rock" the crowd.

One of the attractions of the Mobile Beat conference are the evening festivities. This year, they brought in Redfoo from LMFAO to “Party Rock” the crowd.

The banner was up to greet the multitudes on opening day at the annual Catersource Event Solutions conference at the Mirage.

The banner was up to greet the multitudes on opening day at the annual Catersource Event Solutions conference at the Mirage.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of "Celebrate Life", written by my friend, New Jersey-based DJ Entertainer and DJ Of The Year winner, Marcello Pedalino. His book describes "how to live it up, discover fulfillment, and experience the joy you deserve. Look for it in bookstores soon.

I was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of “Celebrate Life”, written by my friend, New Jersey-based DJ Entertainer and DJ Of The Year winner, Marcello Pedalino. His book describes “how to live it up, discover fulfillment, and experience the joy you deserve. Look for it in bookstores soon.

Wedding Wire's marketing expert Alan Berg gave an informative seminar at about social media at the Event Solutions conference.

Wedding Wire’s marketing expert Alan Berg gave an informative seminar at about social media at the Event Solutions conference.

3/2016: Venue Tours

I recently attended a day-long auto tour of the top wedding venues in Denver’s west metro area – basically west of Golden along the I-70 corridor. The tour was sponsored and arranged by the Association Of Bridal Consultants, a great group of wedding professionals I’ve been a part of for more than a decade. Here’s a couple of photos from our fun, informative day in the mountains:

Blog 1

Our group poses for an informal photo at Mount Vernon Country Club’s ceremony site which has a great view of Golden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Participating venues:

Pines Of Genesee

Mount Vernon Country Club

Ameristar Hotel & Casino

Briarwood Inn

Golden Hotel

Table Mountain Inn

Special thanks to the Ameristar Hotel & Casino for hosting us for lunch.

Special thanks to the Ameristar Hotel & Casino for hosting us for lunch.

2/2016: Budgeting

It’s well known that February is the most popular month for planning weddings.  Many couples get engaged during the holidays, and start planning their weddings and hiring their “wedding team” during the first two months of the year. I’ll assume that a portion of the people who read this blog post are couples that will be getting married.  I’m hoping it can help you, and bring a sense of financial peace of mind to what may appear to be a crazy time.

What would seem to be a fairly straightforward way of going about coming up with a realistic 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 are fairly consistent between them.  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. Here’s how to do it…

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

You should each come up with a Top 3 but it’s important to write these down separately so you’re not influenced by the other’s answers. Come together, and compare your Top 3’s and rank them in order (3 points for #1, 2 points for #2, 1 point for #3), and combine points for items that are on both Top 3’s. Add up the numbers, tabulate into an overall Top 5, and correlate each item to their respective vendors that represent that service. These are the Top 5 items, in rank order, that you should spend your money on. Hire the best vendors you can find for anything in the top half of 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.

For more information on how to save money, one of Colorado’s top wedding venues, Black Canyon Inn, recently published a blog on wedding budgeting and unique ways to save money:

Black Canyon Inn Blog

Tune in next month where I’ll be highlighting some of the top wedding venues in the Golden area…..

1/2016: Year In Review

thM74UV7NRNormally, this year-end recap is about recent trends and “What’s Hot” and “What’s Not” as well as the top requests of the year.  Since I covered the non-music items a couple of months ago, this month is all about the music….my top requests at my 2015 weddings. By far, the top new songs were Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” also the most popular first dance at my weddings this year, and the Bruno Mars / Mark Ronson collaboration “Uptown Funk”.  The usual group dances and classic floor-packers were popular, as well. Love them, or hate them, here a rundown of the most popular:

TOP 10 REQUESTED SONGS:

  1. Cupid Shuffle – Cupid

2.  Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars

3.  Watch Me (Hip Nae Nae) – Silento

4.  The Wobble – VIC

5.  Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon

6.  Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

7.  Shout – Various Artists

8.  Cha Cha Slide – Mr. C

9.  Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

10.  Shake it Off – Taylor Swift

TOP 10 REQUESTED ARTISTS:

  1.  Michael Jackson

2.  Bruno Mars

3.  Journey

4.  Beatles

5.  Taylor Swift

6.  Maroon 5

7.  Ed Sheeran

8.  Tim McGraw

9.  Bob Seger

10.  Pitbull

If you want more charts, here’s a listing of the top 200 most requested songs at weddings across the nation put together by the DJ software company DJ Intellegence.  In addition, there are charts for each decade, as well as wedding specific music charts.

 

12/2015: Vive La Paris

Paris-in-the-Fall-8[1]Happy Holidays!  As another year comes to a close, I’d like to thank my clients who entrusted me with informing, guiding, and directing their wedding guests, as well as providing entertainment that kept their dance floors hopping. It’s also been an honor to work with some of Colorado’s top wedding venues, caterers, florists, officiants, and photographers (many of whom were featured in my September blog on photography). There was a wedding photographer that was not featured, Dave Russell with Buffalo Heart Images. His recent trip to Paris last month, one of my favorite European cities, reminded me of how great this city is, especially in the wake of the last month’s senseless terrorist attacks. I’m looking forward to my own trip back (my first since 1999) this coming spring to run the Paris Marathon. Check out his blog link below:

PARIS IN THE FALL

Tune in next month when I tally and count down 2015’s top music requests.

 

11/2015: WMBA 4.0

Wedding Wire's social media expert Sonny Ganguly addresses the masses on Day 1.

Wedding Wire’s social media expert Sonny Ganguly addresses the masses on Day 1.

It’s been 3 years since I last attended the WMBA conference in Las Vegas (WMBA stands for “Wedding Merchants Business Association”) and my 4th time overall.  This is the top wedding professionals conference in the US, attended by well over 1,000 photographers, planners, caterers, venue owners, DJs, and others that service the wedding industry to learn the latest and greatest in all things wedding.  This year had the largest turnout in the event’s decade-plus history (over 1,600), and the best of the four that I’ve attended. The three-day conference is held at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. There was certainly no need for me to do my regular daily workout or run as I probably logged 3 or 4 miles just walking around the cavernous confines each day.

One of the highlights of the conference was a group photo with all the other Knot "Best Of Weddings" winners for 2015.

One of the highlights of the conference was a group photo with other 2015 Knot “Best Of Weddings” winners.

Dozens of wedding experts covered every topic from legalities  to social media to customer service to what’s hot / what’s not.  The topics were great and it was great to connect with wedding industry friends from around the country that I haven’t seen in an awhile.  As an added bonus, Wedding Wire and The Knot hosted some great evening parties at two of the hottest clubs in town – one in the Bellagio with an incredible view of the world-famous water show. So here’s some information that both brides and grooms who are reading this as well as wedding pros may find interesting. My Top 15:

  1. Average wedding guest count is 136 (down 10% in 3 years).
  2. Average engagement: 16 months
  3. June is still the #1 wedding month.
  4. December is still the #1 engagement month.
  5. 91% of wedding pros serve LGBT couples.
  6. 62% of couples want their wedding published in a major wedding magazine.
  7. 96% of couples use mobile devices for online wedding searches.
  8. Cake is still tops, cupcakes are peaking, designer upscale donuts may be the next “big thing”.
  9. Wine and beer blendings are becoming a popular alternative to the sand blending at ceremonies.
  10. The Knot & Wedding Wire are still the top 2 wedding search engines.
  11. Periscope (a live video streaming app) could be the next big social media craze.
  12. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are still the top 3 social media sites used by couples.
  13. 50% of all couples are using an Instagram hashtag for guests to post their wedding photos from their mobile device (#weddingname).
  14. Signature cocktails still very popular…now at up to 30% of weddings.
  15. Gender-blended wedding parties are the rage (Best Woman, Man Of Honor, Bridesman, Groomswoman).

th[3]

10/2015: Fab Photogs ’15

After last month’s wordy blog on honeymoon travel that topped 1,000 words (yikes – did I really write all that ?!?), I’ve decided to give my fingers a rest this month and feature some of my favorite photographers doing what they do best at the weddings we worked together this year. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so I should be set for a few months.

Photos listed chronologically from most recent:

Amanda & Stewart alpandisle.com

Amanda & Stewart
alpandisle.com

Chelsea & Larry September 6 www.kimballnelson.com

Chelsea & Larry
September 6
http://www.kimballnelson.com

Jennifer & Andrew September 7 www.tomkphoto.com

Jennifer & Andrew
September 7
http://www.tomkphoto.com

Courtney & Anthony August 22 www.joeandrobin.com

Courtney & Anthony
August 22
http://www.joeandrobin.com

Holly & Jordan August 15 www.kjanrob.com

Holly & Jordan
August 15
http://www.kjanrob.com

Rachel & Brad August 8 www.kbdigitaldesigns.com

Rachel & Brad
August 8
http://www.kbdigitaldesigns.com

Krista & Mike August 7 www.daylenewilson.com

Krista & Mike
August 7
http://www.daylenewilson.com

Lindsay & Jeff August 1 www.bluehausstudios.com

Lindsay & Jeff
August 1
http://www.bluehausstudios.com

Marianne & Kyle July 25 www.adore-photography.com

Marianne & Kyle
July 25
http://www.adore-photography.com

Joni & Kris June 26 www.kellykasper.com

Joni & Kris
June 26
http://www.kellykasper.com

9/2015: PTA, Part 1

th[5]I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years that couples are foregoing the traditional gift registries in lieu of honeymoon funding. Honeymoon funding websites like Honeyfund are booming. Just last week, I had an initial consultation with a Denver couple who were planning their 2016 wedding.  Within 15 minutes of chatting, the conversation somehow turned to their honeymoon plans and how they were looking just as forward to their three-week honeymoon in Europe as they were to their wedding day, and how their guests have paid for almost half of their honeymoon. Somehow through Instagram, they found out I was also an avid traveler and we spent the next 30 minutes bouncing travel tips and stories off each other. When we realized what time it was, and they had to get to another meeting, they told me they wanted to hire me even though I hadn’t given them my price yet. I quickly finished my presentation, showed them my all-inclusive pricing, and they happily reserved the day.  I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite weddings of 2016.

thFED1PAQWSo in honor of soon to be newlyweds Steve & Trish, I am going to do a two-part blog post with travel tips I’ve learned over the years to maybe help couples plan their honeymoon or other future trips. The theme is “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” (hence the ‘PTA’ title above…no, this blog is not about Parent Teacher Associations). It’s named after my favorite Steve Martin movie. This month will deal with air travel and Part 2 (sometime next year) will cover trains, automobiles, and everything else. Next month’s blog will feature three of my favorite photographers covering my Labor Day Weekend weddings, and November will feature a report on my trip to the Wedding MBA Conference in Las Vegas, so stay tuned.

 

th[8]Planes!  After booking over 100 flights for myself over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the airline industry (with a few exceptions) doesn’t really care about it’s customers. There are some carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue that are doing the right thing, but most don’t really care. Southwest is the only airline that I have joined a frequent flier program with. I’ve heard Jet Blue and Frontier also have good programs, as well. The bottom line is there’s no such thing as the perfect airline but Southwest comes pretty darn close. Speaking of Southwest, why is it that this low-fare carrier is one of the few, if any, that offers it’s customers free non-alcoholic beverages, a light snack, no luggage charges, and service with a smile, yet it comes in almost every time as the lowest price on competitive routes?  I wish other airlines would take note of its business model.

tearupcreditcards[1]If you have a credit card that gives you miles, make sure you are paying it off IN FULL each month. The annual fee and higher interest rates on these cards in many cases negate any airline miles savings or free tickets you think you may be getting. If you carry a balance on these types of cards, the reality is that “free” flight you get every year or two is not free. Just add up the $59 – $99 annual fee and high interest charges incurred between “free” flights. Honestly, if you have good credit, there is no reason to pay more than 10% on any credit card, ever….so pay those airline cards off each time you get the bill, or rip the card up.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that there is not a perfect time to book a flight. The general consensus is 3 to 4 months for international flights and during domestic holiday prime time and between one and two months for domestic flights during non-holiday times. I’ve booked killer deals two weeks out and 6 months out, and it really is about luck and the destination you choose. I have noticed fares are usually lower if you fly midweek, and believe it or not, if you BOOK the ticket midweek. The price also depends on the popularity of the route and competition between carriers.  A flight from Denver to any of the New York metro airports is mile for mile less than one from Denver to Fargo.  Pick big airports. Try to pick routes where there is competition between airlines. If your destination is Evansville, you will probably save money flying into St. Louis or Indy than you will flying directly into Evansville, especially if you need to rent a car anyway.

000For flights to Europe, I highly recommend Icelandair. They fly non-stop from Denver to Iceland with convenient, minimal layover connections to over a dozen of the continent’s major cities like London, Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam.  Prices are very competitive and are usually lower than most US-based carriers. Furthermore, you can schedule a multi-day layover in Iceland on the way over (or back) without a penalty. You can even book local tours and hotels through their website that pick you up or drop you off from the Reykjavik airport. By the way, I swear I’m not getting any kickbacks or residuals from either Southwest or Icelandair, in case you were wondering😉

thRO5IYJMMTo find the best flight, I use flight search engines like Kayak, Cheap Tickets, and Expedia.  They’re all essentially the same and flights are almost always the same price across the board between the three. I personally like the graphics and easy to navigate Kayak the best. I search for all my flight parameters on these sites by plugging in my cities, dates, preferred times, and non-stop / connecting choices, and they give you the best flights based on time and price points. Once I find a flight, I DON’T book it on the search engine. Instead I go to that airline’s website and book it directly through them to avoid any contractual miscommunications and to assure I’m contacted directly by the airline in case there are any changes. I use Kayak simply to find the best flight over many airlines thereby saving time, instead of going to every airline’s website. Keep in mind that some “low-fare” airlines like Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier don’t always post their flights on these sites so you may need to check them separately. The price all on these search engines is usually the same as the airline’s sites, and on some occasions has even been cheaper on the airline’s.

Until next month…safe travels!