Summer ’18: W.O.W. (Pt 2)

As promised, a back to back installment of “World Of Weddings”.  This time, a visit to Spain. While we were there a couple of months ago, we just happened to see a few newlyweds, so I couldn’t help snapping a few photos.  April must be a prime wedding month in Spain

SPAIN

Spain’s location in the southwest corner of Europe gave it relative isolation from the rest of the continent mainly due to the Pyrenees Mountains running between Spain and France, plus it’s proximity to northern Africa’s Moorish culture. Because of this, Spain’s history, culture, and wedding traditions are a bit different from the rest of Europe.

Spain is a nation of regions. Many of which were once independent countries.  Most are widely known such as Andalucia, Catalonia, La Mancha, Castille, and the Basque region, just to name a few.  A few of these even have their own languages that are still spoken with pride. It was interesting traveling across the country and hearing these different languages, accents, and dialects. Within the past year, Catalonia has even tried to seek independence from Spain – so far unsuccessfully. Likewise, each region has distinct wedding traditions, although for the most part, the majority of weddings are fairly similar to those here in the US. Here are a few differences:

**Roman Catholic is still the largest religion, and most weddings take place in a church. Most ceremonies happen in the evening, especially in southern Spain (Andalucia) where midday temperatures can be extreme. Europe’s all-time hottest temperature of 122 degrees was recorded in Seville back in 1881.

**In Andalucia, some brides where frilly flamenco style dresses.  I took the photo above in Seville where this bride was doing a photo shoot with her photographer near the fairgrounds.

**Brides occasionally wear a mantilla, a lace headdress which is usually made by the mother of the bride.

**The rings are worn on the RIGHT hand, not the left.

**Firecrackers are sometimes set off as newlyweds exit the church.

**The bouquet is thrown to whoever will be the next married, as opposed to “all the single ladies” here in the United States. Sorry, Beyoncé.

**Due to the warm subtropical climate, most brides carry a hand fan to cool themselves off (see photo below from a couple I spotted roaming around the Alcazar after their wedding).

**Guests generally spend much more on gifts than Americans, and cash is the most popular gift.  Typically a minimum of $100 is customary, although average is $200-250.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, I just got word that one of my weddings from last year has been featured in the COUTURE COLORADO WEDDINGS blog.  Click the link to enjoy highlights from Chris & Jenni’s wedding day at Black Canyon Inn & Twin Owls Steakhouse last September featuring photography from Two Bright Lights.

 

Have a great summer!!   

 

 

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Spring ’18: W.O.W. (Pt 1)

Traveling is a great passion of mine.  Interestingly, on every international trip I take, I see at least one, and usually multiple sightings of brides and grooms in various wedding day rituals. Out of curiosity, when I get home, I research the wedding traditions I’ve seen to learn a bit more about what traditions are popular around the world. This is the first in a two-part series of W.O.W. (World Of Weddings) posts I’ll be making this year  to share what I’ve learned.

TAIWAN

I spotted this photographer and bride finishing a pre-wedding day photo shoot in downtown Taipei last December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I visited Taiwan last year and spent more than a week in the Taipei area with some close friends. This was my first trip to Far East Asia and I found the culture, people, and the food to be absolutely amazing. One very interesting Asian cultural wedding experience is for the bride and groom to do a pre-wedding day photo shoot.

One day, while I was walking across Taipei’s Chiang Kai-Shek Plaza, I spotted two brides on opposite ends of the plaza decked out in full wedding attire taking photos for their weddings. I found out both their weddings were weeks away, but it was important to have the photos done in time for display on wedding day for family and friends.

There are photography companies that specialize in these sessions called “wedding salons”. Taiwan alone has hundreds of these companies. It’s a custom to have these photos taken well before wedding day, sometimes months before wedding day. Many Asian-American couples (like my friend I was traveling with) have flown to Asia before their U.S. weddings to have these photo sessions taken. The best part is the bride and groom don’t even need to bring their own attire.

The salon pricing which can range from $2,000 to $6,000 includes not only the photographer but hair and makeup services, wedding dress rental, props (Chinese imperial costumes, samurai and geisha outfits for Japanese couples), and a variety of formalwear for the grooms. There are usually multiple costume changes during the session. The couple gets an album of framed photos, and a thumb-drive with a slide show complete with music.

Stay tuned for W.O.W. (Part 2) in June….

Winter ’18: 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.

Fall ’17: Fab Photogs Part 2

A few years ago, I did a post about some of my favorite wedding photographers and featured some of their work here on my blog. Since it’s been awhile, and I had a few weddings with some amazing fall foliage recently, it’s time to do it again.

The weather couldn’t have been better for Mike & Emily’s ceremony at the Estes Park Resort on the shores of Lake Estes on September 22nd. http://www.RubyLouisePhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex & Beth’s wedding was one of the furthest I traveled to this year. It was on a remote ranch west of Buena Vista. Photographer Libby Neder had some amazing scenery to work with. http://www.LibbyNederPhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As much as I love working at venues I’m very familiar with I also enjoy new venues. Brandon & Brittney’s wedding at Paradise Ponds near Loveland was my first at the venue, and offers a nice lakeside ceremony area, and a rustic barn for the reception. It’s also great working with photographers I know really well like Mark Creery. http://www.MarkCreeryPhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literally just across the highway from Paradise Ponds is Sweet Heart Winery which hosted Bre & Brandon’s wedding on October 7. Julia was able to get some great shots just before sunset. http://www.SincerelyJulesStudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It had just snowed the day before Kim & Ryan’s wedding up at Blackstone Rivers Ranch in Idaho Springs. At 8,000 feet, you never know what’s going to happen in late October. After a chilly ceremony by the river, guests quickly warmed up inside the tent and danced until late in the evening. One of my favorite couples of 2017. http://www.MegWhitePhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably my favorite photo from my weddings this year. Lindsay managed to capture the Milky Way in this great shot in Estes Park from Jenni & Chris’ wedding. http://www.KristopherLindsay.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we’re on the subject of great photographers, here’s a recently published “Real Weddings” blog featuring one of my 2016 couples, Rachel & Brad, from their wedding at Highlands Ranch Mansion.

Hey guys…if you’re wondering how to choose the perfect suit for your wedding, here’s some great information from Ryan Wagner with Bespoke Edge, Colorado’s top rated clothier for men.

NEXT UP…my annual recap. Check back in late January for a summary of the year’s top music requests and trends. Since this is my 25th anniversary in business, I’ll be featuring a special “Top 25 Requests From The Last 25 Years”, a tabulation of the 25 most requested songs from the last quarter century.

 

Summer ’17: FPs & 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

Spring ’17: Sin City Seven

Las Vegas for 7 straight days. A whole week in Sin City. Yikes!

I didn’t think I could do it. Would I still have my sanity? Would my ears be ringing from the slot machines? Would I become blind from the neon lights? Would I be hacking from all the cigarette smoke? I’m happy to say that none of these things actually happened. Yes, I survived. I did, however, see a 70-year old dude walking down Fremont Street wearing nothing but a G-string thong. Like the saying goes, “What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas”.

This was my 28th trip to Vegas.  Almost all these trips have been for the annual DJ convention Mobile Beat Las Vegas or the Wedding MBA conference held each October. This was the first time that I spent more than 4 days.  What was different this year is that I bookended the Mobile Beat conference with a 2-day “hands-on” wedding workshop hosted by Mark & Rebecca Ferrell. More on that below, but here’s a photo recap of the week:

Day 1: After spending a few days in sunny San Diego visiting friends and family, I drove to Vegas with two other DJ friends. Thank you Eric for the Tesla experience. This photo was taken at a charging station in Barstow.

Day 2 & 3: Close to 1,000 DJs from all over the US and the world converged on Las Vegas for 4 days of learning and networking…and a few parties. My good friend Marcello Pedalino kicked things off on Monday with the opening presentation. It was a tough act to follow for the next 20 presenters over the following 4 days.

Day 4: It wasn’t all work and no play. After 2 straight days of seminars, it was time to get some fresh air. We headed out to Red Rock Park 30 minutes east of the city for a hike with a few dozen of my favorite DJs. This spot is highly recommend, and is a welcome respite from the craziness of Las Vegas. There are several fantastic trails of varying lengths just off the 13-mile loop road that goes around the park.

Day 5: After a final day of seminars, it was time for another break. We checked out the Neon Museum, home to all the vintage signs that lined the Strip over the decades. Yes, even the old Stardust and Riviera signs are here. I couldn’t resist taking this photo.

Day 6 & 7: My week in Nevada wrapped up with a 2-day, 16-hour Love Story workshop hosted by Mark & Rebecca Ferrell. I highly recommend their workshops for any DJs who want to take their business and skills to the next level. See link above for more information, and their upcoming workshop schedule.

Winter ’17: Year In Review

thtt0v1enyAnother year is in the books. 2016 was marked by numerous celebrity obituaries and a crazy presidential election unlike any other in U.S. history. More importantly, it was a great year for weddings.  There were lots of new trends – many of which started in 2015 but only really caught on this past year.  More on that later.  Music-wise, the biggest trend was that there were no big new trends. Prince’s untimely death in April vaulted him into the Top 3 most requested artists for the first time in over 20 years. Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars rounded out the rest of the Top 3. The biggest new dance anthems of the year – JT’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, DNCE’s “Cake By The Ocean”, and Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” were all about fun and kept Colorado dancefloors rocking all summer long.  As you can see by this year’s tally, group dances were still extremely popular as well. Love them or hate them, here’s a rundown of this year’s Top 10 requests:

  1. The Wobble – VIC
  2. Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
  3. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  4. Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
  5. Uptown Funk – Ronson & Mars
  6. Cha Cha Slide – Mr C
  7. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  8. Shout – Isley Brothers
  9. Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon
  10. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

583-mandie-stephen-aug-282016 was a big year for changing trends in weddings. Most of these emerging trends include drone videography, food trucks, and late-night dessert / coffee & espresso bars. By far, the biggest trend was having a friend / relative officiate the wedding ceremony. I’ve seen first-hand how this is both good and not-so-good. On the plus side, a friend or relative can offer a real personalized touch since they personally know the couple. I’ve even witnessed a few ceremonies this year where the Father Of The Bride officiated. These were some of the best weddings I’ve witnessed in years. There is rarely a dry eye in the crowd when a father tells a sentimental story about his daughter before marrying her.

On the negative side, many of these friends have little to no public speaking experience. Some of the worst officiants I have ever seen were at 2016 weddings. All were friends. All were either unprepared, nervous, didn’t want to be the officiant, or a combination of the three. All were asked by the bride and groom to officiate. They obliged out of respect but really they would have rather been guests watching from the seats. I know this because each of them told me as I was getting them “mic’d” before the ceremony. If you are considering this option, PLEASE…. choose someone who is willing and capable, preferably someone who has approached you already and offered to do this very important part of the most important day of your lives….or when in doubt – hire a professional officiant.

The photo above is from Mandie & Steven’s wedding at The Manor House back in August.  Their friend Jim did a great job as their officiant. He was prepared, professional, and well-spoken. He offered a personalized ceremony since he new the couple for many years. Well done, Jim!

Here’s to a fantastic 2017…

Fall ’16: 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 in 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.

I’m featuring two different guest wedding blogs in this issue.  The first is an article I wrote for Adore Photography’s blog a few months ago entitled “Selecting A DJ For Your Wedding”. Thanks to Shannon for including me in her post.

The second 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

Summer ’16: Brides Talk

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

Spring ’16: 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.

Winter ’16: 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. By far, this is the rarest type of wedding because most couples budget a small percentage for entertainment (national average is 8% of the budget). Entertainment focused couples not only budget more for entertainment than the typical 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. They also tend to have money in their budget for other entertainment options like a fun photo booth, or lawn games for their cocktail hour, among other things that will keep guests’ attention. Weddings that have this type of focus tend to last longer, and almost all end with a packed dance floor at the end of the night with the vast majority of guests still there to witness a fun send-off finale like the photo above. 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.

Fall ’15: 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.