After recording over 400 weddings, you begin to see what makes for a successful, high-energy, fun day for your guests and family. Notice I said nothing about the Bride and Groom.
Unfortunately, you miss most of your own wedding day because you are tied up doing formalities. You are isolated for most of it.
I can fix that. Get a video.
That was easy…more on that later.
You’ve been to weddings. What did you really care about as a guest? Two things:
1. Did I have a good meal?
2. Did I have a good time?
But this is your wedding and you have a vision of how it should be. So, I am going to break this into what works and what not to do.
Your wedding is a production. All your vendors provide timely service, so the team you hire should be able to work together.
1. Photographer and videographer can’t compete for your eyes at the same time.
2. Flowers shouldn’t block the table view for your guests from eachother.
3. DJ who starts the party too soon, older guests leave.
What is the most important moment on your wedding day? (Here is where I let potential brides think about it.)
Answer: When the food comes out of the kitchen. Really?
How easy is it to get 160 meals out on time?
Which is why the venue coordinator gives the photographer a time limit to get formal pictures done. They have your shot list. Your videographer should not be getting in the way. Which is why you are given a time for the ceremony.
You have a built in time frame to freshen up before the DJ lines you up.
Your bridal party gets introduced then comes your introduction, and the first dance.
A prayer and toast come next. All the while, the kitchen is timed out to get the main meals ready.
You start to eat the soup/salad but off you go…table to table to greet your guests.
Then you are brought over to cut your cake, followed by parent dances. Then the meals come out. All coordinated and timed.
Think about it.
Your “Get Ready” morning is timed to arrive at the ceremony location.
Your entire day is tied together by a production clock.
The venue you choose should have a great staff to move the day along besides serving great food. It is your day but all of the parts are tied to the production clock.
So select trusted vendors who do good work under pressure, can work as a team, and have back-ups should something go wrong.
Let’s go through all of the vendors and parts of your wedding and what I see as Do’s and Don’ts.
Getting Ready Tips
Dress – Every wedding I’ve ever done, the bustle has failed. The bride is off to the
side getting re-attached. So choose a bustle that has industrial hooks or ties. They all fail.
Bring safety pins and an emergency needle and thread.
Limo -If your wedding day ride is early, there is a chance that they may be booked for a second gig that day.
Hire one that is only for you that day. I’ve seen some ugly arguments between drivers and the dad. They rush you to get to the next gig.
Flowers -Beautiful expense, just don’t block the views of your guests who want to
talk across the table.
Be sure you have the right moment for the give-away of the centerpiece.
How it ‘s done: Pass the Dollar, Pass the Napkin (no hands), Closest Birthday
Photographer – Select a photographer who has experience and whose work you
have seen. Why spend all this money and hire a friend or someone starting out.
Let them get the experience at someone else’s wedding.
I’ve seen the following:
– Bought cheap memory cards – crashed – lost
– Do they have back up cameras
– Proper lighting
– Can they work under pressure
– You get what you pay for because it’s about gear and experience
Many photographers work with an 8-10 hour package. Why?
– Bridal couples do not buy a lot of dancing pictures for the album. So they leave 2-3 hours before your last dance. Many will stay but experience says dancing pictures are few in the album.
Groom Tip – Always place your hand UNDER your wife’s vail. Placing your hand around her shoulder, which is natural, you pull down on the vail and snaps her head back. Keep your hand UNDER the vail.
Open Bar – I’m not a big fan of these as many drinks end up on the table or
consumed. The last 2 hours of the reception is when alcohol kicks in and things happen you don’t want to have happen, let alone be on camera.
Cocktail Hour – Place and time for open bar…..my opinion
Lots of appetizers. Your guests are hungry. Some venues are creative with their offerings, all at a price. Open areas, decks, make the cocktail hour fun as your guests have room to catch up on each other’s lives.
Cake – Lots of choices – that’s on you.
Biggest tip for cake cutting: Most couples cut left and right and then try and
lift. Then the cake slice gets destroyed or flips up when the bride tries to lift it up.
MAKE a Third cut – back cut. So, it’s left, right, back cut. Then the cake lifts
easily and makes for great pictures and video.
-A good venue coordinator or your photographer should let you know that your cake has a ribbon or cardboard, or bead link around the cake. You cannot cut through them. Someone should peel back the spot for the cut. Oh, the stories I can tell of cakes destroyed trying to cut through cake decorations.
DJ – I have favorite DJs. I like the ones who can talk to the crowd, but knows
when to be quiet and play music.
– Not a fan of gimmick DJs with props
– I am not a fan of a DJ who just sits. I saw this at a 40th anniversary party…awful. Everyone was disappointed.
– Don’t give your DJ a playlist. If he or she is good, they know what to play. They know the room and what needs to be played.
– Yes, you can give him a DO NOT playlist.
– Line dances do get women up to dance when things are flat.
– Three things that can kill a party:
1. Kids sliding on the floor. Guests do not want to dance if you have several children running around.
Fix: With the last 3 hours it becomes an adult party and babysitters come and take the kids home. This is an individual choice, but this works very well.
2. Your guests are spending the early hours catching up on each others’ lives. Not much a DJ can do. I’ve seen them kill themselves with no success until…the booze kicks in the last 90 minutes.
3. DJs who start the party too soon. Your party demographics are usually old, middle age, and young 20s – 30s.
The first 2 hours of a 4-5 hour reception, the music should cater to all ages. 50+ want slow dances, Sinatra, the music they grew up with. So your DJ should play them keeping the hot stuff for later.
4. Ethnic music – I had an Italian father of the bride complain to me that the DJ played no Italian music. Sad. Many old timers just sat and listened to Club Music TOO early.
5. A DJ should play back-to-back slow dance songs – maybe 3 in a row. How often you see a slow dance, everyone gets up to dance and the DJ kicks into a hot number and the floor empties. Hello??
A good DJ will transition out of a song with few on the dance floor into something else that might work. A bad DJ plays that dead song until it ends.
The last 2 hours of your reception…let it rip. This is the time for your friends and anyone else who wants to party.
I have seen a reception from 7:00PM to midnight. The DJs first song was hot. 325 guests, by 9:30 75 were left. The older guests all left as there was nothing to do for them.
6. A good DJ knows how much his own voice should be heard. He takes control of the festivities with information and humor. He should keep the photographer and videographer up to date when they are needed. He won’t proceed until they have been notified. That is pure professional courtesy.
Bands – I have never seen a bad party when a band is playing. They are just
expensive. It is important that they have a master of ceremonies. I have seen young bands that think it is a concert. So they have no introduction skills for all the activities that happen in between when they play. Keep that in mind.
Good band – good master of ceremonies.
End of the Night – Extra hour – is it worth it? DO NOT – DO NOT book the extra hour
before your wedding day. What seems like a good idea in the planning, turns into an expensive mistake when the evening should extend by that hour. WAIT to see what happens. Just be prepared for the added expense.
Ask the venue for the cost of that extra hour.
o DJ cost
o Band cost
They are all staying extra.
Vendor Meals – This is the biggest headache for vendors. Many venues feed the DJ,
Photographer, and videographer last. Then 5 minutes later, it is time to get up and work. We hate that. We have been on our feet all day with nothing to eat. Everyone has had drinks, appetizers, soup, salad, and the main meal before we get to eat. A good venue takes care of the vendors early. The best have a vendors’ table in the main room so we can see everything and we get to eat soup, salad, and the main meal and even cake and ice cream. Yay!!
So to create friends for life, ask the Venue coordinator that your venders get fed early, so they can energize and get up to work without rushing.
Tipping – Photographers and videographers have been with you all Day. If you purchased a small package, a tip would be greatly appreciated. Did they do a lot of driving? Did they get fed? Most of their work is after the wedding in post-production that takes many hours.
Videographer – Lastly, the videographer, which I am. Of all the vendors, the videographer is the one that has the worst reputation.
o Do they have good cameras?
o Good in low light?
o What kind of lighting do they use?
o Is the light in your guests eyes. We use a elevated monopole
o Do they have backups for everything
o Do they use a professional edit system. We use the latest Final Cut Pro X (Mac)
o Does the videographer interview guests ? We don’t
o Does the videographer compete with the Photographer ?
o Does the videographer get referrals from Photographers ? (Good Sign)
Videographers are usually last on everyone’s vender list. Can they be ready to go on 2 days notice ?
As a rule, if a videographer is working a 10 hr day, then in the studio, it is double that to complete your video, or 20 hrs. So any videographer offering a very low price is giving it away just to get the work.
Maybe that’s good for you price wise, but maybe they are on the lower end of pricing because they are not that good.
Recommendations from other venders is a good way to know if the videographer is worthy of your time and money.
Seeing examples of their work is important. Putting a 2 hr video up on the internet is not the best use of space. If you see 5-10 minutes of different examples, you will know if the work is professional.
I look forward in hearing from you and answering any questions you may have.