Wedding Planning Tips
As one of the leading participants in the wedding entertainment industry in North Carolina I have seen many different styles of celebrations - from the backyard soiree or pig pickin’ for a few close friends and family members to elaborate affairs at the most expensive facilities in the area for five or six hundred guests and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is that people want the ideal celebration for their event and will go to great lengths to achieve their goal. As a service to you I have compiled a few easy and logical tips to keep in mind when you are planning your big day. These may seem elementary, but are often forgotten in the excitement of planning such an important event. And if there is any way in which I or any of my staff can assist you, please feel free to call on us at any time. Getting the right information (and lots of it) is the key to a stress free celebration.
1. Create a file. When you first start planning your event, you will be gathering lots of information from caterers, bands, DJs, photographers, decorators, etc. Some of this will be over the phone, some from visits to their offices and still much more from local bridal shows. You will literally be inundated with information. It will only be helpful and useful if you have it organized and can connect it with the people from whom you obtained it. To keep things organized, get a collapsible file or file folders for each aspect of the party. Add personal notes of your own about your impressions of the companies and people you dealt with. When it’s time to make your final decisions, you won’t have to base them on what you may or not remember from your conversations with dozens of service providers.
2. Do some research. There are a myriad of bridal magazines and books out there from which to choose. Two of the clearest and most helpful we believe are put out by The Knot and is titled “Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World" and "The Best Wedding Reception Ever” by Peter Merry.
3. Establish a realistic budget for your event. A professional consultant can help you here or you can do it based on estimates in bridal publications, but keep in mind that pricing for various services may vary greatly based on the regional location of your event. Everyone wants to find a bargain and there is nothing wrong with trying to save money. But keep in mind that if you make cost your only consideration in hiring service providers, you may get exactly what you pay for. Have you really saved money by having your aunt take your wedding photos if none of your photographs turn out? If the disc jockey you hired is $150.00 less than all the others, was it worth it if your reception becomes a disaster because he doesn’t have the skills or equipment to handle your event properly? Or worse yet, if he doesn’t show up at all? It is hard to put a dollar value on the peace of mind you will have from hiring people in whom you have confidence and faith. Professionals who will give you the wedding day you’ve dreamed of and make it as stress free for you as possible.
Hint: If your budget is tight, consider getting away from the idea that a wedding has to be on a Saturday. Most vendors have lower prices for other days because they are in less demand. If you want a calmer more laid back reception, try a Sunday afternoon. If you want your reception to be an evening event where your guests can stay later and have a more of celebratory atmosphere, a Friday evening event can still save you a lot of money.
4. Are they available? Your first question to any service provider should be about their availability. It doesn’t pay you to get excited about the services someone can provide if it turns out that they are not available for the date in question.
5. Get references. There are two important factors to consider when hiring any service provider. Their skills and how easy they are to work with. Talking to previous clients about their experiences can give you a lot of insight about what you can expect. In addition to previous customers, talk to other wedding professionals who have worked with them before. If you have confidence in the person who manages the facility or catering department at facility you have chosen, don’t hesitate to ask them about photographers of whom they think highly. If you have faith in your photographer, feel free to ask him or her which disc jockeys they would recommend. They are already working with you on the day or your event so they certainly wouldn’t want to steer you wrong.
6. Deal with professionals. This is one of the most important days of your life. If you hire an amateur photographer, caterer or disc jockey to save a little money, you may get exactly what you pay for and spend the next 50 years regretting it. And keep in mind that anyone who pays the fees can advertise in the yellow pages or participate in a bridal show. That alone does NOT guarantee their professionalism or the quality of their work. How do you know if you’re dealing with a professional? Here are a few points to consider.
a. Can you reach them? No one can be at their phone 24-7, but if you always get the answering machine no matter what time of day you call, perhaps their full time job is doing something other than taking care of their wedding clients (i.e. you).
b. Do they have an office you can visit?
c. Do they have a business license to operate in the city in which they are located?
d. Are they insured?
e. Do they use a written contract? This is a biggie. No real professional in the wedding industry will operate without a written contract detailing the services you can expect and the price you are expected to pay.
f. Do they belong to any professional organizations?
g. Are there any complaints on file about them with the local Better Business Bureau?
h. Whenever possible, schedule meetings with potential vendors and ask lots of questions about fees, staff, and their experiences working at the site you’ve chosen. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you can expect from them.
7. Hiring a Wedding Consultant. Many people consider hiring a wedding consultant as an “added” expense. The fact is that a good one can save you money and help you make the most of your budget. A good consultant will know all the best facilities, caterers, florists, photographers, bands, and DJs in your area and price range. They will also be able to help you set up your budget, plan all the details of your event, select a site, go over vendor contracts, create a timeline or schedule for the event, handle invitations, manage the wedding day and supervise your vendors and act as your spokesperson. Before hiring any consultant, make sure that you feel this is someone you’ll be comfortable working with on a very stressful day and someone who you feel will help you realize YOUR vision of what your wedding day should be like and not try to force you to accept theirs. The Knot’s Complete Guide to Weddings says that “if you think you’d feel better doing it on your own, or with the help of your mom, maybe a consultant isn’t for you.” And they offer the tip that “We can’t emphasize it enough – do not hire a consultant who doesn’t listen, is bossy, tries to convince you of what’s best for you, has no references, won’t sign a written agreement, or wears acid-washed jeans. Period.” They also advise that the consultants’ fee should not exceed 10% - 15% of your total wedding budget. If you’re considering using a consultant to alleviate some of your stress, these are some of the best in the area. Give them a call.
Above & Beyond Wedding and Event Planning I Do, Etc.
April Plummer Carol Rinehardt
(336) 803-3301 (336) 885-6852
Behind The Scenes, Inc. Perfect Directions
Veronica Foster Jo Stanley
(336) 375-3164 (336) 922-2833
8. Hiring a Photographer. The Triad area is blessed with an abundance of excellent professional wedding photographers. When talking to brides about photographers I usually mention just two things. First, you will be spending a great deal of time on your wedding day with your photographer, so make sure you hire someone you’ll be comfortable working with. Next and most importantly, look at samples of their work. If you are in a museum, no one is going to argue that a Picasso is “better” than a Renoir. They are both excellent artists, but their styles are very different and one’s style may appeal to you more than another’s. Among the professionals, wedding photography has become a true art form. While most of the professional wedding photographers may do excellent work, you may find that one’s style may appeal to you more than another’s. Here are a few of the best in the area for you to check out.
Nixon Photography Elly's Photography 336-253-7666 (336) 413-2034
9. Hiring a Disc Jockey. Just as some amateur with a nice camera may consider himself a wedding photographer, any college student with a nice stereo system may market himself as professional disc jockey. And even within the industry, there is a huge difference between someone who does radio, night clubs and frat parties and someone who specializes in performing at weddings and related events. Apply the tips under “Deal with Professionals” when hiring entertainment as well. Most people put this decision off until near last on their list or treat it as an afterthought. That is ironic because it is one of the most important decisions you will make about your wedding day. The entertainment at the reception is the last thing your guests will experience before they leave and sets the impression they will carry with them about your event. While the cost of a disc jockey service usually averages less than 8% of a total wedding budget, the disc jockey can make or break your event. It is the single most important element controlling the success of your wedding day. In addition to the usual questions, ask about their attire. A wedding is a formal occasion. If a disc jockey specializes in them, then their standard attire should be tuxedo wear. You should never have to pay extra for formal attire. Ask about back up equipment and personnel. You may hire a great single unit operator, but if he/she gets sick, injured or has a family emergency, do you want to deal with a last minute cancellation or have them subcontract out your wedding to someone who does not have the experience, equipment or music for which you’ve paid? Ask about the brand names of their equipment or ask to see photos of their set up. If you need additional assistance or advice feel free to call on us at any time.
I hope that the above information is helpful. The last piece of advice I can give you is to never be afraid to ask questions. This is one of the most important days in your life. You have the right to the peace of mind that comes from having faith and confidence in the vendors you have hired. You will have that if you make sure that all of your questions are answered before you make your final decisions. If there is any way in which my staff or I can be of assistance in providing you with information or recommending sites or vendors to you, please feel free to call on us at any time.