Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cleveland’s Own My Life DJ Service Wins a WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award® 2016

North Olmsted, OH  January 7, 2016 – WeddingWire, a leading global online wedding marketplace, named My Life DJ Service as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016 for Wedding DJ in northeast Ohio! 

The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016 recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The esteemed awards are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories based on their professional achievements from the previous year. 

While many industry award winners are selected by the host organization, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate such a high-caliber, committed group of professionals for the Couples’ Choice Awards’® eighth year,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “We are proud to continue to serve as the industry leader, with over 2.5 million consumer and peer reviews, and feature award-winning merchants...” 

As a Couples’ Choice Awards® winner, My Life DJ Service is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of more than 400,000 wedding professionals globally. 

We are proud to be one of the top wedding DJ services in northeast Ohio in the WeddingWire Network. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016. 

To learn more about the Couples’ Choice Awards®, please visit www.weddingwire.com/couples-choice-awards. 

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire, Inc. is the leading global online marketplace connecting consumers with event and creative professionals. Operating within a $200 billion industry, WeddingWire, Inc. hosts 10 million monthly unique users across its mobile and web platforms. Consumers are able to read over 2.5 million vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a database of over 400,000 businesses. Globally, it provides these businesses the technology they need to serve their clients through advertising, marketing and business management tools such as websites, payment processing, invoicing and contracts. Founded in 2007, the WeddingWire portfolio of sites serves couples and businesses across 14 countries in North America, Latin America and Europe, making it the worldwide leader in weddings with brands including Bodas.net, Casamentos.com.br, Matrimonio.com and more. The company employs more than 650 and maintains global headquarters in Washington, DC and international headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Event Pros, What To Accomplish During The Off Season

We are sometimes asked, what do event professionals do during the off season?  The answer is that we continue to stay busy but in different ways.

This post is really meant for our colleagues in the event and wedding industries but it may also be of interest to the broader population including brides and grooms, event planners and others in the field, so here we go!..

In northeast Ohio, where we operate, the busy season for us starts in late April and continues strong right to the end of the year.  Our slower season is January, February and March, although we still typically have a number of events to fulfill.

First let's acknowledge that for serious event pros, our busy season takes a lot out of us. We're constantly on the go, traveling from one event to the other, conducting planning meetings with clients, setting up, performing and taking down equipment, etc.  It's a long busy marathon that doesn't seem to end but when it does, we're truly exhausted. And I can say this because I've been in the industry for over 25 years now, the older one gets the more it seems to take its toll.

A funny thing happens, however, when we finally do enter our slow time of the year. After a couple of weeks of recovery in the way of sleep, rest, and maybe a short vacation, we begin to get antsy for the business again, don't we?  We begin to get excited about the coming year and we try to prepare in the best way possible.

Here are some important tasks for event professionals to accomplish during the off season:

Respond to inquiries and book events - Many bookings for the year happen during the down time, so we're actually really quite busy responding to inquiries, answering questions, meeting with prospective clients and generating contracts. The goal here, of course, is to fill up our calendar for the upcoming year!

Review your pricing strategy - If you are going to change your prices, now is the time to do it.  Are you adding new packages and prices?  How will this affect your marketing strategy?

Review your marketing strategy - If you are going to change your marketing strategy, make these changes while you can before things get busy again.  Does your website need an update?  Are you going to do more or less paid online marketing?  What kind of traditional marketing will you do, if any?  Review your print material, are these documents still accurate?

Prepare for the upcoming tax season - Consult your tax preparer, issue tax related documents to employees and contracted workers.  Gather and organize receipts, copies of contracts, etc.  Make changes in your book keeping routines if you need to in order to have a smoother year ahead.

Repair or upgrade equipment - The field is tough on equipment.  During the year you have probably noticed a need to repair or purchase new equipment.  Perhaps you finished the last few weeks by using your back-up stuff because something was dropped or broken but you really don't want to start the new season with back-up equipment.  Be sure everything works perfectly going out of the gate!

Communicate with your insurance broker - Annually, make or update a written list of equipment inventory (as detailed as possible) and send it off to your insurance broker.  Savvy event pros will also include photos for good measure.  You want to be sure they know what kind of stuff you own and how much it all costs.

Communicate with your lawyer - Send your lawyer a brief email describing any new services or assets that you've added recently or intend to add to your business.  For example make sure he or she knows how many people you employ, describe your services, especially anything new you are adding.  It would also be a good idea to have your lawyer do a review of the language in your contract.

Communicate with staff members - It's important to communicate with employees and others who help you operate your business in order to share with them your strategy for the upcoming year.  What will be expected of them?  How will their respective roles change?  Are you adding products or services?  Will training be necessary to learn about new equipment, software, etc.  Be sure everyone is on the same page about what you want the business to accomplish when things speed up again.

Back up files - You should be doing frequent, periodic back-ups of electronic files during the year but at least annually, be sure to have a back-up system in place.

Prepare for bridal fairs - If you participate in bridal fairs and other such gatherings you know how much work is involved in setting up a booth or table, preparing marketing materials, etc.  Be ready with these items so that you can concentrate on being with guests and prospective clients and not running around at the last minute!

Get serious about your health - Many people begin their new year's resolutions during the off season and this is a good time to get serious about your health.  As an entrepreneur, your health is an asset of the business.  When asked about their biggest fears, self employed people will often say staying healthy is always a big concern.  They know that if they should get sick or injured, their business could suffer affecting their ability to make a living.  So now is a good time to establish diet, exercise and sleep habits to promote better health for the whole year 'round.

Well, I hope these suggestions are helpful.  Please let me know of other tasks to accomplish during the slow season that I may have forgotten to list.  I will add them in future updates to the article.  Best wishes for a successful year!

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

So You're Engaged, Now What?

You'd be surprised at how many people ask advice of their wedding DJ about all aspects of the wedding.  Brides and grooms know that an experienced DJ has witnessed hundreds of wedding ceremonies and receptions, so we should have some value to provide, right?

So many newly engaged couples tell us that they don't know where to begin.  In other words, they don't even know how to start thinking about their wedding day.  That's the goal of this blog post, to help you develop a strategy for how to think about your wedding.  And, the best part of this suggestion is that it involves going out on a date!

If you're newly engaged, you've probably been dating for a while now.. So, going on a date to develop a strategy for wedding planning should be easy for you and even fun.  Your very first task is to develop a value structure for your wedding day.  I don't mean value in the sense of money, although it will ultimately help determine your budget.  I mean, value as in priorities.

Plan a date for just you and your fiancé.  No one else is permitted at this point to join you in your discussion.  Ideally, plan a date where you and your fiance can have a relatively uninterrupted, focused discussion about your wedding day, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a walk in the park or something like that.  The goal of your discussion is to prioritize the elements of your wedding day experience.  When you think about your wedding day, what's most important to you?  Is the setting most important because you desire a rustic outdoor experience?  Or, is the food most important?  What about entertainment? Try to have agreement between the two of you as to the top three or four priorities.  Here are a some questions in no particular order to help you get there:

  • Is it important to you to have your wedding during a particular season (for those who live in areas that enjoy seasonal changes). Do you envision a spring wedding or a fall wedding?
  • Do you prefer a small gathering or a large gathering?
  • What words would you use to describe the type of experience you want to have?  Describe your wedding in just one or two words, for example - elegant, festive, informal, casual, traditional or other such description.
  • Is it important to you to be married in a church or will you want a secular ceremony elsewhere?
  • Is the venue or physical setting important to you?  For example, do you want an indoor experience or an outdoor experience?
  • When thinking about what you want guests to remember most about your wedding day, what are they? Delicious food?  Great entertainment? Beautiful floral arrangements?


There are many more questions along these lines, of course, but you see where we're going here.  By the time your date is over, you should have an agreed consensus about the top three or four priorities for your wedding day.  It should be such that if you can guarantee that these top priorities are fulfilled, you will enjoy the wedding of your dreams and everything else is really secondary.

Why is this exercise important for you to do?
  • It will give you and your fiancé a shared idea for what you want to happen.  You'll both be on the same page for the most important decisions that are yet to come.
  • Others will give you a ton of unsolicited advice that will throw you off your game if you don't have your top priorities already lined up.  Now you'll be able to reply to well intentioned advisors by simply saying, thanks for your ideas but we've already discussed it and we're going with an outdoor wedding.
  • Your priority list will help you figure out your budget.  Be willing to pay a little more for those things that you've given top priority and be ok with spending less on low priority items.
  • You'll be better able to describe to your hired wedding vendors and professionals exactly the type of experience you want them to help you create. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and candor.
  • Knowing your top priorities will help you put together a step by step action plan.  What to put in place first, who to call and when, etc. 
After your date, you should have a wedding day priority statement that summarizes your vision for the perfect wedding day.  Here are a few examples:
  • We want our wedding day to be a casual gathering of a small group of family and friends to happen on an early fall day at a rustic venue.  It's important that the food be out of this world!  We'll have a DJ play background music but if no one dances, that's ok because we're not really about the dancing anyway.
  • We want our wedding day to be an elegant gathering of about 300 guests in an urban setting overlooking the skyline of the city.  Music and dancing is key to our celebration!  We'll have a florist provide minimal decor to add to the venue's charm.
  • We want our wedding day to be a festive gathering of about 150 guests to happen on an early summer day at an outdoor venue under a tent.  Great food is a must!  Amazing floral arrangements will highlight the garden feel of the venue.  We'll have a small jazz band play background music during the reception.
This exercise will only work if you both understand that your initial goal is NOT to plan every detail of your wedding day in one sitting.  It just isn't a realistic goal and you'll both end up very frustrated if you try to do it.  The goal of your date is simply to agree on the top three or four wedding day priorities.  Once you have your agreed priorities in place, you can then bring trusted friends and advisors into the discussion to help with the details.  You'll find that if you begin your wedding planning activities by identifying top priorities first, everything else will fall into place pretty nicely.

I hope you found this wedding planning tip helpful.  Enjoy your date and please leave comments or suggestions for others in the comment section.  Best wishes!

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tips for Visiting Guests at Your Reception

Almost all of our clients, brides and grooms, share with us early in the planning process that one of their concerns is a slow moving reception.  They tell us they've been guests at other wedding receptions and they've experienced confusion about what's happening next, boredom, and a general - when will this party start - anxiety.  They don't want a slow moving, disjointed flow, or lack of flow, to their own reception.

One thing that often slows down the flow of the reception is when the bride and groom attempts to visit each table of guests, typically during dinner or toward the end of dinner.  Ironically, they are sometimes the reason for the very slowdown that they didn't want to happen in the first place. This is because most people do not know how to "butterfly" around a room.  If you've ever noticed a butterfly in a garden, you'll see that it quickly bounces from one flower to the next, not staying in any one place for very long.  For us humans, this is a learned skill that only priests and politicians have mastered.  It's precisely because their main goal when floating through a room is to say hello, be noticed, welcome guests and then move on.  It's not to engage in any type of drawn out reminiscing or storytelling.  It's not that they don't enjoy reminiscing or storytelling, it's just that they know this isn't the right time for it, if they want to honor and acknowledge all guests.

Brides and grooms, let's do a little math.  If you have 200 guests in a room and they are sitting at 25 tables of eight guests per table - how long will it take you to visit all tables if you spend just 3 minutes at each table?  The answer, a whopping one hour and 15 minutes!  What's happening during this time?  The DJ or band can't get the dancefloor going because traditionally, the first dance belongs to the bride and the groom.  I can tell you that this is one of the most frustrating points in the evening for DJs.  We often feel stuck because we know guests are getting antsy for the dancing to begin, yet we need
Two minutes at each table!
to wait for the bride and groom to finish their butterflying.

This blog article is not meant to talk you out of butterflying, although there are other options that we can cover in another post.  The purpose of this article is to give you a few easy tips to be an awesome butterfly!

1) Understand your goal is to thank and welcome guests, not to engage in storytelling.  Storytelling takes time and you can't control the duration of the story if you're not the one telling the story.  Many of your guests know that you're on a schedule but some have no idea about your reception timeline and will immediately begin to share a story about their recent vacation to Alaska.

2) Keep moving.  It's difficult to pin you down if you're physically moving.  Do the slow walk but don't stop for very long.  If you do stop, make it for just a few seconds to give someone a hug or shake hands.  Move on.

3) Stay together.  Have you ever heard the saying, divide and conquer?  This is true with couples who butterfly a room.  If you get separated, you'll never be able to visit all tables as a couple and you'll literally lose each other at your own reception.  Hold hands while you visit each table.

4) Blame the DJ.  I give my clients permission to use me as an excuse for moving on to the next table.  If you feel caught in the grips of a storyteller, simply say John, I want to hear more but our DJ has us on a tight schedule.  Or, Jenny let's get together to talk more, our DJ needs us soon to cut our cake, have our first dance, or whatever is next.  They'll understand and you won't seem rude about leaving on your own accord.

5) Two minutes or less.  Trust me, you will lose all sense of time on your wedding day.  So, try to keep under 90 seconds to two minutes or less at each table.  That will keep you to about 45 minutes, which is manageable and won't kill the flow of your reception.

Some clients suggest that they will eat their dinner quickly, knowing they'll be first served.  That will give them time to visit guests while guests are eating and thus not impede the timing of the reception.  This can certainly work as a time strategy but if you stop to think about it, do you really want to rush your dinner on your wedding day?  After a long day, you'll be hungry and need a brief rest.  Think about your dinner as half-time for your wedding day.  I think it's better to relax for a bit, enjoy your dinner and be an effective butterfly later.

I hope these butterfly tips help you to keep a fun exciting flow to your wedding reception.  If you have other strategies, please share them with us and our readers in the comment section.  Best wishes!

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!



Thursday, May 21, 2015

So You Want A Career in Entertainment?


In May of 2015 I was invited to speak to students at Strongsville, (Ohio) High School as part of their career day activities.  I was asked to speak to them about the entertainment industry and how best to get started in it.

As some people know I wear many hats, so when I was asked to participate I initially thought that it was to speak as the academic dean of an online college or to share stories of my 23 years in nonprofit charity work.  But this time it was simply to speak about being a professional mobile DJ and event specialist.  Knowing that not all of the creative types in high school are curious about DJ work I thought to broaden the topic a bit and speak to entering the creative fields in general: music, song writing, acting, comedy, and others.  What do these roles all have in common?

I was so very impressed with the response of the students.  They were eager to learn and ask questions. I had three groups each for 30 minutes.  For lack of a better format, I put together an outline which I am now using for this blog post.

So here are some of the points we covered in each session:

1) Many entertainers have dual careers.  Don't let that prevent you from pursuing your passion.

Although I hated to start off on this note, I felt it was important.  Most of the entertainers I know have day jobs.  They're accountants, school teachers, electricians, waitresses, you name it.  The harsh reality for most people wanting a career in entertainment is that making it to the full-time status where you are making enough money to support yourself comfortably takes some time.  I'm not saying that it is impossible because it can certainly happen but I just wanted them to know it's ok and probably necessary to have dual careers.

2) The most successful entertainers are those who also view themselves as entrepreneurs.

Here's the biggie.  Students may feel that they're talented in some way but they don't really consider themselves entrepreneurs.  Why is this important?  As I shared with the students, from the day you are born to the day you turn 18 there are people in your life who either get paid to provide creative outlets for you or who volunteer their time to do so.  These people are typically band directors, choir directors, art teachers, voice coaches, music teachers, theater directors, poetry coaches, and so on.  When you turn 18 all of that goes away.  Creative types must consider themselves entrepreneurs because most likely they'll need to fashion a business structure around their talent to continue to hone their skill, promote their work and hopefully, in the end, make some money.  They need to do for themselves what adults were doing for them when they were kids.

3) Entertainers practice their craft while they learn to run a business, specifically their own "do it yourself" (DIY) media company.

You must be your own promoter at least initially.  That means that savvy entertainers are also savvy "mediapreneurs".

4) You are in the list building business.  Build your own fan base.

As a mediapreneur, entertainers need to utilize the technology that is now available to them to share their work and their passion.  Social media is one very powerful way to accomplish this.  Entertainers are essentially in the list building business - the list of followers and fans who care about them, the work they do and their next project.

Nick Gatfield, CEO at Sony, shares with us in this 10 minute video interview the importance of growing your fan base.  The truth is, you'll need to do it yourself until they decide to pay attention to you.  Watch, How To Make It In Music.  If you're in a hurry start it at 3 minutes and end at 4 minutes.

Julia Nunes is a wonderful example of a grass roots, organic, DIY entertainer.  She started initially posting video to Youtube of her playing the ukulele and singing cover songs along with some of her own original stuff.  It was her attempt of simply staying in touch with her high school friends while in college to let them know what she was working on.  She was surprised when many others saw her videos, liked them and began following.  It helps, of course if one is truly talented as she is and also likable.  The likability factor is fodder for another blog post someday but suffice it to say Julia was on her way to building a strong list of devoted fans.  Some of her videos now have over 1 million views.  She has over 200,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel.

Pomplamoose is another example of self-made, DIY entertainers.  In fact, they went on to spearhead some very creative new ways for fans to support their work.  More about that in a minute.  Take some time to click on them at the link above enjoy their unique sound.

The Piano Guys own a music store and enjoyed recording impromptu jams when business was slow.  The idea of taking a grand piano on the road to unlikely concert spots such as riverbeds, mountain tops, bridges, etc. was the wacky unique twist that many followers loved.  The thing that I like about the Piano Guys is that they're older, mature men who break the mold of the twenty something, hip, gen y entertainer.  They have a business, they're family men and they just also happen to be amazing musicians and again, very likable.  Check them out at the link above before moving on.

These entertainers and thousands of others have discovered the secret sauce - share your work via the internet, develop and grow a list of followers.  Not only are your followers excited to help you advance your talent, they're also willing to buy your stuff!

5) You must sell yourself, so marketing and promotion is key.  If you don't like these activities you'll need to partner with someone who does.

To piggyback on what we've just covered, entertainers must think of themselves as businessmen and businesswomen as well as entertainers.  If the entertainer does not possess the skills to act as an entrepreneur they'll need to find someone who does.  This really is not a new construct but the way entertainers go about their list building and selling is now very new and different thanks to computer technology and the internet.

6) Some entertainers join small groups or collectives of others who are pursuing similar careers.  They support each other and share resources.

Entertainers are a close knit "band" of people and for the most part they really do want to help each other succeed. It's this magic glue that enables musicians who play traditional big band jazz to get along with members of a hip hop group.  The genre doesn't act as an obstacle to mutual respect.  All performers have the common challenge of creating, performing, promoting, etc.

A small collaborative in northeast Ohio is Euclid City Limits.  This group of folk musicians purchased a house in a suburb of Cleveland, remodeled the inside to create a mini-concert venue.  50 people would be a sellout.  The goal really is to have a safe, supportive place for musicians to practice their skill, mentor each other and promote (list build).  I am impressed with the work they're doing and am happy to share their work in this post.  Many such collaboratives exist, albeit sometimes hidden, across the country.

7) You need to monetize your talent. Doing free stuff is fine for a short while but start asking for $$$ as soon as possible.

There is an awful myth that permeates our society that suggests people who pursue a career in the arts and entertainment do not need to make money to feel fulfilled.  This is also found in the social service, education, and charity (caring) fields.  I say bull crap (is bullcrap one word or two?).  If you have a special skill or talent you should get paid to share it just as an electrician gets paid to wire a house.  In our ever turbulent, stressful world, there is a demand for art and entertainment that is financially quantifiable, even if it offers nothing more than a temporary escape from the real world.  I happen to believe it offers much more than just an escape.

The truth is, if you offer your talent for free, people will simply want more free stuff.  Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't do free stuff, you should.  If you're just getting started and need to practice your skill, ok.  If you want to donate to charity, ok.  But the sooner you move from free to paid, the sooner you'll be seen as a professional.  I'm also not suggesting that you need to be expensive, you don't.  Charge a reasonable and affordable amount of money for your talent until you get asked to be the half time act in the super bowl.  Then charge a bunch of money and retire!

The entertainer in you will not know how to ask for money for your talent.  That is why you must also develop the entrepreneur-self.  That side of you will indeed find a way to charge for your work.

New, creative ways to direct follower support and funding to artists and entertainers are available.  Jack Conte, part of the Pomplamoose duo, speaks to his back story of being an independent musician and content creator, the birth of Patreon.com and more.  If you are a serious entertainer and entrepreneur, put on some coffee, get cozy and watch this video (24 minutes).  Click here to watch Jack Conte describe the birth of Patreon.com!

Patreon.com is a crowd funding mechanism of sorts for digital content creators.  You can think of it as a dating service for creative types and people who might follow them/fans.  Best of all, it is a way for the flow of money to make its way to the entertainer.  Remember my story of the ukulele player Julia Nunes?  Go to the following link to see how much money her fans send her for each new video!  Click here for Julia!  Aside from Patreon, Julia sells CDs, digitized music through iTunes, concerts, t-shirts and more!

8) Develop a platform to help others.

If you really want to get fancy with your talent and entrepreneurial skills, develop a "platform" upon which many others can find success, such as Patreon.com.  Another example includes www.Gigmasters.com.  See my profile there at this link: https://www.gigmasters.com/dj/my-life-media. Gigmasters connects event planners with a variety of entertainers from wedding DJs, bands, magicians and more!  Gigmasters charges entertainers a nominal $1 a day to maintain a profile and wants 5% of gigs that are booked through their site.  The customer can pay the 5% or the entertainer can absorb that cost.  Am I happy to share 5% of $1,000 that I know will come to me? You bet I am!

9) Last, how to get started - Find a mentor if you can and incorporate all of their good ideas.  Most people will help you if they believe that you are sincere.

I saved the best for last because although we creative types have more technology at our fingertips than ever to build our empire, there is nothing more valuable than a mentor who is already successful doing what you want to do.  I credit friend and associate, Dennis McNulty, for introducing me to the professional mobile DJ industry in the late 1980's.  He patiently taught me not only the technical aspects of disc jockey work but also the people side, the entrepreneurial aspects of marketing, promoting and charging money for providing a creative service.

Shadowing someone who is essentially a teacher will get you going very quickly.  Weave into this experience the latest technologies and strategies for marketing and promotion, social media, etc. and you'll be in good shape.

10) We're not done yet.  I truly want to hear from readers about their experiences.  Comment on this blog post, visit my website, leave an email.  Friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than hearing from you and, who knows, maybe even helping each other along the way.

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gazebo Wedding Ceremony

Outdoor wedding ceremonies held under a gazebo are beautiful and very romantic.  Although a gazebo is an ideal site for a wedding, they almost never have an attached PA system.  For this reason, we are often asked to help couples facilitate their gazebo ceremony by providing a PA system, a microphone and/or music.

If you are having a small intimate gathering of 40 or 50 people and you do not wish music to be a part of your ceremony, you may not need a DJ to assist with a PA system.  You  and your officiant will probably be heard just fine without the aid of sound amplification.  If your group, however, is larger than 50 and/or you wish music to enhance the celebration you will certainly need a PA system at the gazebo.  I suggest against the boom box option as they tend not to be powerful enough and outside ambient noise can easily drown out the quality of sound coming from a boom box.  Plus, the boom box option requires a family member or a friend to work the controls and this takes away from their experience at your wedding, even if all else works fine.

You'd be surprised at how affordable it is to have a professional provide this service for you.  Typically, we charge only an additional $100 to $150 to set up a sound system at the gazebo if the ceremony is held at the same site as the reception, which is almost always the case.  A recent client of ours commented on how valuable this service was to her because it relieved her of a lot of stress related to the ceremony.

We'll arrive well before the start of the ceremony to set up equipment in a manner that is not intrusive.  We'll do a sound check, prepare the microphone and music, etc.  When guests begin to arrive, they are welcomed by prelude music already softly playing as they find their seats and prepare for your ceremony.  When the ceremony begins, you and your bridal party will enter to a processional song(s) of your choice, making for a very moving experience.  And, hey, what about the postlude song as your officiant congratulates you as husband and wife?  We'll make sure that the end of your ceremony is a great springboard for fun and celebration afterward at your reception!

For more information about how we might help you with your ceremony and reception, please contact us soon to set up a phone chat or a personal meeting!

Click here if you want to learn more about our DJ service or receive a price quote for your upcoming event!

Friday, August 9, 2013

18 Considerations When Planning An Outside Wedding


So you’re planning an outside wedding?  Here are a few things to consider.  These considerations are not all-inclusive but simply a handful of ideas to get you in the planning mode.  Let us know if you have other helpful tips to add!

Mother Nature:

This will not be a surprise to serious planners but if you know anything about living in northeast Ohio, you know that the weather is unpredictable and can change quickly.  You will need to have a rainy day plan, meaning a protected area for guests to go to if weather should be severe.  I recommend planning your day assuming that the weather will be bad for part or all of the day.  I don’t want you to do this because I’m a pessimist (I’m not).  But I’ve learned that a little planning can go long way toward a successful event.  If the weather is nice – great!  If the weather gets nasty, you’ll be ready for that too!

Many clients rent a tent, choose a venue that is connected to or near a cabin, covered pavilion, deck, porch, barn, etc.  Your DJ and perhaps other vendors will be bringing equipment that needs to be protected in the event of rain such as a PA system, lighting, etc. and even a 10 minute rain shower can damage electronic equipment. So, having covered protected space is going to be important no matter the weather.

You’d be surprised at how many people believe that Mother Nature will respect their special day enough to forego bad weather.  It won’t rain on us… 6 months from now!  No need for rainy day plans – ugh!

Consider your guests.  You and your fiancé may be outdoorsy people along with your close friends but not all of your guests are.  Severe heat or cold is tough on some older folks.  Will your grandparents be OK in 90-degree heat if it should be a hot day?  Just something to consider.. Be sure to share with your guests that your wedding ceremony and/or reception will be an outdoor event.  Share with them, too, if there will be protected areas from rain, sun, etc.

Here are just a few Mother Nature considerations:

1) Rain – Will you have cover? What can and cannot get wet? Where will guests gather if it should rain?
2) Drainage – Are you setting up guest tables on a high or low plateau? If it rains will water flow and puddle in that area or will it drain nicely away from the area?
3) Wet Ground – What if it rains the night before but stops on the morning of your wedding day?  The sun is out but the ground is wet and possibly muddy.  Are there walkways and/or concrete areas for guests to gather so that shoes don’t sink into muddy ground? If I had a dollar for every time I saw a female guest in high heals sink into the mud – I’d be RICH!
4) Wind – Not usually a problem but consider, what should be fastened down in case the wind picks up.  For example, if you are having your ceremony outside and you are using a runner for the aisle, you’ll surely want to figure out a way to prevent it from the affects of the wind. I’ve rarely seen a runner stay in place during an outside ceremony. Also, what about table centerpieces?  Make sure they’re heavy enough to withstand wind!
5) Heat – Again, there’s not much you can do if it’s really hot outside but guests will appreciate shady areas.  Make sure you have plenty of water available for guests to hydrate during the event.  Do not keep your wedding cake out for lengthy periods of time on a hot day.  I’ve seen a number of cakes melt, tilt, etc. due to extreme heat.  Have a protected, preferably cooler place for your cake to be kept until you plan on cutting and serving it.
6) Cool Weather – This isn’t the problem that a really hot day can pose but be sure to keep a sweater, jacket, blanket etc. handy if you should get an unusually chilly day in the middle of summer.
7) Bugs – Yes, I said BUGS! If you can, have the area sprayed a day prior to your wedding day to minimize bugs, spiders, mosquitos, etc.  Some clients also provide bug repellent torches for the event itself and spray repellent for guests if they choose to protect themselves.  I know this sounds crazy but… Contact a pest professional and ask them what bugs/pests are prevalent during that time of the year and what to do to minimize bug problems.  For example, for some reason, bees are angrier during the later months of summer and are more likely to sting – August & September.  A pest professional can give you tips on how to handle different types of bugs and other creepy crawlies.
8) Weather Radar – Just about everyone today has a smart phone with access to updated weather information. Have someone, a friend or family member, check the weather radar periodically during the event to stay informed about changes in weather – especially later in the evening when weather can change quickly in northeast Ohio.
9) Outside Noise – What?  Noise?  Yep. As DJ’s and sound professionals we’re always tuned into ambient noise.  A windy day can be noisy. Is your venue near water such as a lake or waterfall?  Animals, birds, etc. are noisy.  Is there a road or railroad tracks nearby?  There is more ambient noise outside than inside under controlled circumstances.  If you are having your ceremony outside, will your guests be able to hear your officiant declare you husband and wife?  We are often hired to provide a PA system, microphone and/or music for outside ceremonies.

Logistics:

Planning an informal outside picnic for a small group of guests is one thing but what if you are inviting a larger group of people to enjoy a grand celebration?  Yikes!  Here are just a few considerations…

10) Restrooms – Where will guests go to use the restroom?  Are the facilities adequate for your group size?

11) The elderly and guests with disabilities – Navigating uneven ground outside is typically not a problem for most people but what about your 85 year old grandmother?  What about anyone on your guest list who uses a cane or wheelchair?  Is your outside venue safe for them to navigate?  At the very least, delegate someone to assist the elderly or guests with disabilities when they need to move about the premises.  This will avoid trips, falls and other accidents and your guests will be glad that you considered their special needs.  Consider, what are other special needs for your older guests and those with disabilities?

12) Electricity – As DJ’s we always need access to electricity.  Probably some of your other vendors will also. Where are the electrical outlets for them to plug into?  Are they active?  Sometimes, if clients rent a park pavilion for example, the electricity needs to be turned on by the city or the park department before the event.  Don’t assume you have access to electricity at outdoor event venues.  Just something to look into prior to your special day.

13) Signage – How will your guests know where things are?  For example, do you need to post a sign directing guests where to park?  What about restrooms, food, etc.? Are there areas of your outdoor venue that you don’t want guests to access (especially children)? Mark those as well.

14) Lighting – When the sun goes down it will get pretty dark at your outdoor venue.  Is there adequate lighting for guests to be able to safely navigate the area at night?  Make sure you have at least some minimum lighting in the area to prevent guest accidents at night.

15) Basic first aid kit – Oh man, this is going to sound so campy… But, be prepared with a basic first aid kit if a guest should have a minor accident.  Being prepared in this way will minimize a guest’s small cut or bruise – especially if you are having children at your celebration.

16) Noise Ordinances – Check with area safety services to be sure you aren’t breaking any noise ordinances by gathering guests, playing music, etc.  Your DJ will appreciate not being approached by a police officer because he is breaking the law by playing music outside at 11PM.

17) Dance floor/area – If you intend on doing some dancing, be sure to have an even area at your outdoor venue for dancers.  Accidents can happen when people attempt to dance in an area that is uneven and/or otherwise not suitable to fancy footwork.  Consider renting a temporary dance floor under your tent or perhaps designate a deck, porch or some other even, safe area for dancing.  Preferably place your DJ near the dance area as he or she will want to be near the action and not on the other end of the yard from where dancers are doing their thing!

18) Check with your vendors – Each of your hired wedding professionals have their own special considerations regarding outside events.  The things that are important to your DJ/Band will be different compared to your photographer or catering team.  Be sure to share with your vendors your intention on having an outdoor celebration and ask them what they need from you in order to do a great job.  Also, ask for their advice.  Wedding professionals have probably worked hundreds of such events in the past and are more than happy to give you some tips and pointers on pulling off a great and memorable outside event.

We hope this article has helped you in some way, at least by giving you a few things to consider.  Please stay in touch with us if you think of other considerations we may have forgotten.  We’ll add them into the article in future updates.  Thanks in advance!


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