Q – the great debate, DJ or a Band?

let’s get this party started…right!

When contemplating between a DJ or a band, you have to consider the advantages of each.  Here’s my insight coming from one Wedding Planner who has seen many, many bands and djs.

Consider the advantages to choosing a deejay…

  • tend to be more budget friendly – approximately $650 for four hours
  • do not require a lot of space (typically need a 6ft or 8ft table)
  • does not require a lot of power/electricity – a live band usually requires a lot of power for their lights and equipment
  • a flexible playlist – from current hits to the classics
  • can play continueous music without a lull or “break”
  • comfortable with emceeing the event from the introduction of the wedding party, toasts to the special dances

What sets a live band apart…

  • gives the event a dramatic tone with their presentation of vocalists and instruments
  • provides entertainment – energy for those dancing and importantly, for those who don’t
  • impressive sound quality (I love a live trumpet)

When meeting with various entertainment groups, I suggest asking the following questions:

1. A Toast!  Are they providing a wireless (because a long cord is just unsightly and sometimes a trip hazard) microphone for the toasts/speeches?  Do they bring extra batteries?  Live bands typically do not have a wireless microphone so logistically plan on the speeches to be given by the band.

2. Lead the way.  Are they experienced with and willing to emceeing the event?  Preferrably, you will want them to introduce the wedding party, invite the bride and groom to cut the cake, ask for the toasts, etc.  Make sure they are comfortable with making announcements – it would just be uncomfortable for everyone for them to be stumbling or nervous.

3. Meals and Breaks.  Ask if they require any breaks and how many?  This schedule will need to be coordinated with your evening: the toasts, cake cutting and special dances.

Double check if they require a meal since this will affect your final guarantee due to your caterer.  If they do require a meal, consider where will they dine?  Are you providing a table for the band within the reception or is there room for a seperate space for them to break/eat?  Don’t forget to coordinate a time for them to eat with your reception/catering staff to ensure they are not forgotten.  I understand that some vendors do not like to leave the area out of fear of missing something, therefore, as the Wedding Coordinator, I always reassured my fellow professionals that nothing will happen without their presence.

4. Miscellaneous Needs: Power/Electricity, Setup, Staging  Most bands I’ve worked with have power needs that may incurs additional fees to the bride and groom.  Read the band contract carefully and refer to your reception venue before signing.  I have seen additional fees up to $500 from venues to accommodate the band’s equipment.

Most bands also require longer setup times than a deejay (usually need an hour).  So again, make sure your reception site can accommodate their setup needs and sound check.

Staging…some bands love them while others hate them.  Read their contract to find out their preference and again, discuss it with your reception venue.  Some reception sites are willing to set staging at no additional charge, where others may add labor fees and/or rental.

Witches’ Brew

This gives your house a wonderful fall scent throughout.

Witches Brew
1 apple
1 orange
1 lemon
2 T whole allspice
2 T whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
I sliced the fruit into rings (leaving in the peels, cores, seeds, etc).  Fill the crock pot with water and add all the ingredients.  Simmer it on low and refill the water as needed.

halloween mantle

2012 Halloween Mantle

I jumped on the “Subway Sign” wagon and added a fun glittered out “Hocus Pocus” label as well.  Incorporated from past Halloween’s are the feather wreath (love Target), black crows and lanterns.  I googled the printable subway signs and framed them in black dollar store frames.

 

 

Link

I love October because of the cooler weather, the leaves turning colors and of course…picking out pumpkins!

This year we avoided the crowded typical hot spots and were lucky to find Valley Farms which is about 5 minutes from our house.

Valley Farms was perfect!  Plenty of pumpkins to pick from, animals to feeds, a hay maze with a slide, a tractor ride, a barrel ride for the smaller ones and finally…the perfect background!

You can find more information and directions by clicking here.

Q – how do I plan for guests who didn’t rsvp?

The invitations have been sent and now it’s the struggle for finalizing the guest list.  Unfortunately, we live in a society where formal events and rsvp’s are not the norm.  Your friends and family will “assume” you know that of course THEY are attending.   tell my brides that this will be the “worst” part of the planning but realize that it happens to everyone.

SOLUTION

As you begin calling those who did not respond, you will run into a handful of guests who cannot commit one way or the other (whether they are battling an illness, etc).  When you submit your final guest count to your caterer and reception venue, be honest with the number of guests that are still “tbd’s” as I call them.  Hopefully at the time of contract, you have negotiated a percent of “overage” the venue will prepare for.

If you have assigned seating, I suggest allowing 3-5% over your final guest count.  Open seating is a bit trickier…since people do not like to fill the tables you will need a minimum of 2-3 open tables (for an average wedding of 200 guests).  Communicate with your reception venue where the open seats/tables are for those “surprise” guests.

Note that this affects the number of favors, centerpieces and rented chairs/linens.  A wedding planner will help you prepare for this in advance.

parents/step-parents+ footing the bill

Weddings are a wonderful time.  Or at least they’re suppose to be.  The planning process can bring out the worst in our families; revealing our weakest seams in our extended family blanket.

I have come across many divorced families over the years and honestly, arranging the seating chart is easy-peasy when working with some blended families.  I have seen quite a few tension-filled luncheons to public arguements over the final charges to even as far as one parent storming out of the rehearsal dinner refusing to even show up to the wedding.  Though this article is not the cure for those instances, here are just a few tips I have coming from one wedding planner and divorcée herself:

Establish a budget.  Budget is just the ugly B word that every newly engaged couple must first establish.  I highly recommend consulting a Professional Wedding Planner for a budget review.  This will give everyone the “average” cost of all aspects of planning a wedding as well as guidelines for allocating your funds.  Any sticker shock can be handled through the Professional.
Remember the 5 P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Peaved Parents.  Read each contract carefully to know how to calcuate your inclusive costs.  Inclusive cost will include: labor fees, taxes and service charges / gratutity.  These costs are usually listed in the contract however, I would still ask for a Total Estimated Event Cost based upon your expected number to see your total financial committment.  This will ensure your calcuations are correct. Here in Missouri, the service charge is taxable.  A small fact that can feel like a “hidden” cost at the end.
Expected Number versus Agreed Number. The Expected number of guests refers to the highest number of attendees.  In a perfect world, if everyone you invited were able to come, what is that number?  Make sure your venue can accommodate up to this number but I would negotiate a contract based upon your Agreed Upon number.  Agreed Upon number is generally 30 – 20% less than your Expected.  Some venues have minimums so take that into consideration. 
Keep your spreadsheet up to date with your expected number of guests.  This will also ensure you are staying within your budget with your florals, invitations, etc.  Share this information with all paying parties so that any objections can be handled descreetly within the family prior to the final balances being due.
Being proactive with establishing your budget, consulting with a local professional for a planning roadmap and proper expense record keeping can help alleviate any potential objections.
Happy planning!