“A Team Effort Makes the Best Wedding”

The holiday season is a time to bring everyone together! Friends, family, and co-workers alike all celebrate the important people in their life and truly look at this time of year to reminisce and be thankful.

Last night, we at AllStar Entertainment & Uplighting had our annual holiday party where we have the chance to eat, drink and enjoy each other’s company outside of the busy workplace. Due to the nature of the wedding industry, having everyone in the company in one room at the same time was definitely special. Our office staffers work during the day and our 12 DJs,  6 uplighting designers and 4 photo booth attendants typically work their events on nights and weekends, so we rarely see everyone together in-person.  Even so, the entire staff get along very well and there is a lot of mutual respect for how good each separate division is at their different jobs. The gathering of all our employees gave us a chance to reflect on the advantage of different services from the same company working together as a team at a wedding.

Since many brides and grooms book two, three or more of our services as a package, it is very likely that each DJ and each uplighting designer or photo booth attendant will have worked numerous events side by side with the others in the course of a year. DJs and Uplighting designers at the party shared funny stories from past weddings they’d performed at together.  The more a team works together, the more they learn what they can do to make the overall event better for each other.  For example, a photo booth attendant working as a part of the team will encourage guests to take their pictures at a time that won’t keep them from enjoying an important dance, a video presentation or a toast that the bride & groom have scheduled with the DJ to be done at a certain time. The uplighting designer is also on the same page so that the lighting will change to accompany a pre-planned moment perfectly.

Three such vendors who have never met before are far less likely to work that well as a team. Often they are so focused only on providing their own service that there is almost a state of conflict where one or more service can actually interfere with the others. Staff members from the same company who are already comfortable working as a team will ultimately provide a more smooth flowing, harmonious event.

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Ahead of the Curve

When do most engagements occur? If you guessed that the most popular time of the year for engagements would be over Christmas and New Years you were correct! Fifteen percent of marriage proposals happen in December, while February, despite the romance of Valentine’s Day, accounts for just 8 percent, according to the Conde Nast American Wedding Study 2009.  Weddings book a year or more in advance in many cases. Between the months of January and March 2013, newly engaged couples will be looking to hire the best vendors for any popular wedding dates remaining in 2013 and further-out dates well into 2014. Now is the time for smart, already-engaged couples to be out booking their vendors before the mad rush after the first of the year!

The busiest “booking season” of the year (as opposed to busiest wedding dates) happens right after the holidays are over!  That’s also the time that there are lots of bridal shows.  Newly engaged couples will start their search and other couples who are already engaged will make it their New Years resolution to stop procrastinating and get their process moving. If you have been engaged for a couple of months or even a year, the longer you wait to book, the more difficult it will be to find vendors who will match your “perfect wedding vision” or venues that still have your preferred date available. Don’t be surprised if a large number of popular wedding venues are already booked for the 7 prime wedding months between April and October. If you are set on having your wedding at a specific venue on a specific date, start making vendor appointments now, because all the best venues and vendors are gone by March for the busiest dates!  Saturdays are the most popular day, followed by Sundays, then Fridays.  The two most “in-demand” Saturdays of the year are the Saturdays of Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend, since both offer a Monday off, to recuperate!  Oddly enough, Labor Day weekend is a distant third in popularity… as many folks are still away on vacation or closing down a Summer home that weekend before school starts up again. Many brides shy away from that “last glimpse of Summer” weekend.

If you find that you are not able to get a date that you want, don’t panic. Try looking outside the box and pick a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon wedding, which can work just as well as a prime Saturday night.. and possibly save you some money. Many venues offer a discount on Fridays. Being flexible is key to keeping wedding planning more stress-free. Seasoned vendors know when the busiest booking time is so they are your side and will work with you! Stay ahead of the curve and you’ll have an edge on the rest of the couples looking for the same wedding date and vendors that you are!

“Your Wedding Vision”

What is your wedding vision? Every bride has a picture in her mind of her wedding day whether it began when she was a little girl playing dress-up in the attic wearing her mother’s bridal veil or when she first started thinking about it the day after she got engaged. Every bride’s wedding vision is unique and whatever you envision for your wedding, it is possible to make it very close to what you want, even on a tight budget. Having a positive outlook and hiring the right team of wedding professionals to work with you is the first step to making your wedding vision become reality.

Visions can certainly vary! Some couples want a wild and crazy party that leaves guests dancing on chairs until well after midnight. Other couples feel that an elegant, classy wedding with subtle lighting and soft music will really make their day special, romantic and one to remember. Perhaps you want something in-between? The way you envision your wedding might not match any other weddings you have ever attended. Keep in mind that everyone has a certain style, personality, and mood they want to project for their guests to feel and experience at their wedding.

No two weddings will be exactly the same nor should they be, since everyone has different tastes. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t take ideas that you like from past weddings, magazines, movies and online to incorporate into your own special day. Adapting great ideas and making them your own is key to making your day unique. For instance, you were recently a guest at a country-themed wedding where they had finger food for appetizers, a buffet for dinner, and an open bar throughout the night. You might love the idea of an open bar so everyone you love can drink all night without worrying about the cost, but hate the idea of anything other than a formal, sit-down dinner. Knowing what you and your fiancee like and don’t like will narrow down specifics that you visualize for your celebration.

Having a clear vision of your wedding day really helps when you are in the planning process. Choosing the right vendors who will assist with your needs and help with your ideas is important to making your wedding day perfect. Vendors who listen and work hard to make your dreams come true are a real asset to have. If you picture your wedding photos having a vintage-look or want your DJ to play classic love songs that are memorable to you and your fiancee, conveying to them all the things that matter most to you will truly make you feel more comfortable about arriving at your vision. Your wedding day should be everything you hoped for and more… and it will be with the help of reliable vendors and an optimistic attitude!

Requests: A Musical Request Triangle

It’s a year away from the date of your wedding and you just booked a great DJ who is the perfect fit for you and your fiance. As months go by, you think of songs that you love and would want played at your wedding. You make an on-going playlist and by the time you are finished you have already chosen 60 songs! There are “must-play” songs that you have designated for formalities such as father-daughter dance, mother-son dance and your first as a married couple, but what about the other fifty something songs on your list? Is that too many… or not enough?

Most receptions are typically four to five hours long with an hour for cocktails when you are off taking pictures and probably won’t even be there, then roughly two hours dedicated to dinner and the remaining time for the after-dinner “fast” dancing. If you do the math, songs are usually about four minutes long, which means only about fifteen songs can be played in an hour. Sixty songs would be the same as picking four hours worth of music.. provided there are no announcements or interruptions. The music you’ll select is based on your own preferences, without any input from the DJ or any consideration for the musical tastes of your guests. Before serving up such a long list to your DJ… ask yourself: Will everyone at your wedding know and enjoy all of the songs you have chosen? Will your playlist keep everyone (all age groups) at your reception dancing until the last song? Is your playlist full of songs that are both danceable and widely recognizable.. rather than obscure album cuts and indie groups you followed in college?

Think of the music played at your wedding as coming from a musical request triangle having three equally important sides. One side (1/3) can be requests from you and your fiance, (the bride and the groom), this allows you to personalize your reception with your favorites. The second side (1/3) should be drawn from requests from your guests and the last side (1/3) should be choices decided and added by the DJ, based on keeping the dance floor full and making sure you and all your guests are having fun. When all 3 sides are balanced correctly, the songs played at your wedding will reflect the styles and tastes of you, your new spouse and everyone else in attendance. There is no harm in telling the DJ all your favorite songs and artists, as long as you leave the DJ enough flexibility to play the best songs from your list, read the crowd and add the best audience requests and personal choices to keep the dance floor full and make everyone happy. Sometimes certain requests are not appropriate for your function and having a DJ who will play the good ones and filter out the bad ones is equally important to a successful reception.

Knowing and accepting that all your guests might not enjoy the same music that you do is vital. More importantly, giving flexibility to your DJ to read the crowd and adjust the music accordingly is far better than having him just play from a list a list of personal favorites that might not work for everyone. Ultimately your reception will be a greater success if you trust your DJ to play a balance of music drawn from all 3 sides of the musical request triangle!

Former Client Reviews

In today’s society, the trend of checking online consumer reviews before buying something has grown tremendously and ultimately shapes the way many consumers view a business, service, or product. Former customers routinely log onto websites like yelp.com and sitejabber.com to share their feelings on particular products and services. Brides post reviews on weddingwire.com or weddingchannel.com. Others visit these sites to see how the general public feels about their future purchase. They often eventually buy a product or service they have never heard of before, based solely on reviews from complete strangers. For some inexplicable reason, we all think that when a person we don’t know at all writes a review they are being 100% sincere and honest and that their values match our own and their opinion is totally accurate, reasonable and fair. Hmmm…

Obviously, that is not always the case. Some reviewers have an axe to grind with a company or product they were disappointed by. Their negative review may cover a legitimate flaw in the product, but to make the point and drive the stake a bit deeper, they also trash several other aspects of it that were perfectly fine or exactly as advertised. Some reviewers unfairly harm the reputation of a very good business or product because they had unrealistic expectations for the product or service they purchased. “After 4 hours in the gym, the gum had lost it’s flavor.”

“The salesman at the car dealership told me that if I bought this car I’d only have to fill my tank once a week. He lied to me and you shouldn’t buy a car from them.” The reviewer had never mentioned to the salesperson at the dealership or to the readers of his review that he commutes over 100 miles each way to work every day. This reviewer had poor math and communication skills, unrealistic expectations of a perfectly good car and then felt he’d been lied to because he had to fill his tank more often than once a week. The dealership suffered a blow to their business and their hard-earned reputation even though the salesperson and the dealership in this example did absolutely nothing wrong and had 15 other positive reviews that were all perfectly delighted with the same car and it’s gas mileage.

Reviews can also be falsely posted by competitors or others who are not actual customers. To use reviews effectively, you must first learn to read between the lines when a bad review is the only one along with dozens of perfect reviews for the same business, service or product. Not always, but quite often the combined opinion of the majority is the most accurate overall review to consider.

One Stop Shopping – The Bridal Center

If you are a bride-to-be starting the search to find everything for your upcoming wedding, you’ll quickly realize how stressful and time consuming the process can be. Today, everyone has a busy schedule and nobody has extra time to waste traveling to meet with multiple vendors and wedding retailers going store to store, vendor to vendor, city to city, week after week. When it comes to weddings, imagine how helpful it would be to find one building that has everything you need for your wedding, all in one place. Look no further; The Bridal Center in Andover, MA is a first such building with NINE wedding-related businesses all at the same location, specifically designed to be a one-stop bridal shopping experience. 

 

The Bridal Center is New England’s only one-stop shop for weddings and is in fact, the first of its kind in the country. This fact alone has helped this destination catch the attention of TV’s Chronicle, the Boston Globe, “I Do” magazine, and most recently, a national production company that is currently filming a television pilot for a TV reality show that will follow the brides and merchants of the Bridal Center.

 

The newly renovated, elegant three-story building is home to nine established bridal businesses that offer brides award-winning wedding vendors with experienced advice and a variety of options, top-quality retail apparel, products and services and unmatched professionalism from all the businesses.  You can truly find it all at the Bridal Center including wedding gowns, bridesmaid’s & mother’s dresses, shoes & bridal accessories, photography, DJ/MC entertainment, classical musicians, uplighting, linens and floral decor, tuxes, limo service, photo booths, wedding planning, fitness training and nutrition counceling, and even intimate apparel for the honeymoon. Combined, the Bridal Center businesses have over 100 years of service and experience in the wedding industry. 

 

No matter what you are looking for, the Bridal Center is one convenient address (1 Main Street in Andover, MA)offering something for anyone planning a wedding. Imagine the convenience of making just one trip to find your wedding dress at Cristina’s, your DJ, decor uplighting and photo booth at AllStar Entertainment & Uplighting, your formalwear and limo at Russo’s, your photographer at Photography by Linda, linens and table decorations at Festejos and all those extra necessities at First Date Boutique and the Ivory Corset. The building was designed to help brides and grooms find all their vendors in one location and then get a better deal if they book more than one service… which is really icing on the (wedding) cake. Do yourself a favor and check out this unique one-stop shop for all of your bridal needs!

Uplighting At Daytime Weddings?

Recently, having wedding reception uplighting has become a “must have” for many brides and grooms. Some feel that adding decor uplighting to compliment their color scheme is an absolute necessity at a bland, white venue while other add uplighting to add colorful changes and excitement along with the dance music after the meal. One thing that everyone can agree on is that uplighting has quite a noticeable impact on any function.

Understandably, most people do not consider adding uplighting at a day-time wedding. However, depending on the venue and the level of daylight that can find its way into the space, it may still be well worth considering. For example, if your reception is taking place in a canvas tent on an overcast day… in a hotel ballroom without windows, in an older mansion or even in a castle, you will find that uplighting works very well because bright sunlight has a tough time shining through. Such venues have plenty of dimly lit spaces, dark corners and shadowy areas, making tasteful, elegant uplighting a colorful life-saver… and to many, a necessity. Function rooms that may look fine in sunlight, can look dingy and dull on cloudy or rainy days and will benefit when uplighting suddenly transforms them from a drab, off-white to warm, vibrant color.

If your function facility has large windows that do let ample light in, this does not mean uplighting must be totally ruled out. Table uplighting is a great alternative to lighting the whole room when uplighting throughout the room will make only a minimal difference. If you are using white linen for your table cloths, adding a single uplight under each large guest table can showcase any color you want to brighten and tie together your overall color theme within the room… and then dazzle your guests when the colors change!

If you are having an afternoon wedding, the right uplighting added by a professional lighting designer, can make any venue “pop”! The goal, day or night, is to hear your guests commenting in wide-eyed amazement as they first walk into your reception and view a room beautifully colored in light, just as you’ve planned.

Outdoor Ceremonies: “Weather” or Not

Many brides are opting to have their ceremony on-site at their venue, either 1) in the same room as the reception, 2) in a different room, or 3) outside in a garden, deck or gazebo on the property.  More and more couples are booking venues that are able to accommodate outdoor ceremonies simply because it seems to be a “picture perfect” way to combine the beauty of their ceremony with the beauty of nature and the great outdoors.

Most outdoor ceremonies are held between the months of April and October because those months usually have the best weather. However, we all know that the weather in New England doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. Just last year there was a massive snowstorm in late October and it was 90 degrees on marathon Monday in April!  There are no guarantees from Mother Nature, so we suggest having a back-up “Plan B” that you can quickly switch to and still be equally happy about, especially if the outdoor ceremony becomes a nightmare weather scenario for you and your guests.

At a recent wedding, heavy rain was in the forecast, but it had not yet started, even though the skies were threatening. With half an hour to go before the start of the ceremony, the event manager kept checking with the bride as guests reluctantly began to assemble outside, their eyes glued above to the dark, foreboding clouds gathering overhead.  The bride’s heart and mind were firmly set on having an outdoor ceremony… and she wasn’t budging.  “Unless it starts raining, we’re having the ceremony outside”, was repeatedly her answer.  The guests, the JP and the DJ, with all his expensive DJ/PA equipment and microphones waited outside in a humid, 95 degree late afternoon sauna… and then the thunder started.  Within a few minutes guests of all ages, dressed in their finest clothes, were suddenly scrambling for cover as the wind picked up and tossed buckets of rain over everyone.  The bride quietly watched from her window inside and then, finally, decided to move the ceremony indoors.  Plan B indeed…

Having your mind made up that the ceremony will be outside “no matter what” is allowing the fantasy ceremony vision to block out the reality of the situation and ultimately inconveniencing your guests, the JP, DJ or musicians, event staff, and everyone else involved in making the ceremony flow smoothly. Attendees and staff at your wedding will end up with wet hair and damp clothing for the whole night.

We’ve also had an 11 am outdoor ceremony planned in late October where it was 30 degrees outside at 10:30 am. Guests wouldn’t even go outside from the warmth of the venue to be seated until the bride was almost ready to walk down the aisle. They brought coffee and hot chocolate with them to fight off the cold. True story…

We are not certainly trying to be “Debbie Downers” here, but as full-time, professional wedding entertainers, we have seen it all. The last thing we want is for anything to go wrong at your wedding.  If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. Cold, hot  or rainy weather should not alter the outcome of a great wedding day… it will not ruin your wedding as long as you create a “plan B” that you can accept and equally embrace if it becomes necessary to implement.  Don’t let a vision of perfection prevent you from accepting the reality of the circumstances at hand.  A smart bride plans her wedding with an open mind so that even if an outdoor ceremony must be cancelled at the last minute, her “plan B” means the day can still be a success with minimal inconvenience for her guests and everyone else involved.

Prioritizing Your Wedding Expenditures

We can all agree that many Americans are facing economic hardships these days. Whether it’s because of a job loss or demotion, financial uncertainty or simply limited income, everyone is becoming more and more cautious with their budgets. This is true especially when it comes to spending hard-earned money on your venue, vendors and services for an upcoming wedding. Most of us in the real world can’t afford an outrageous “money-is-no-object” wedding with the best of everything. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have the wedding of your dreams!  You just have to adapt to “economic reality”.  It’s entirely possible to stick to a realistic budget if you carefully prioritize your expenses based on what is most important to you.  You’ll find that every wedding budget contains some things you really need to be top quality and some things you don’t really need, but “want”, but can actually do without.

If you ask a dozen engaged couples to name and prioritize the most important expenditures for their wedding, chances are their answers will vary greatly. No two weddings are the same and they shouldn’t be. Some couples believe that the food is the most important factor for the success of their day since it is often the greatest expense at a wedding. Others might feel that they want every single one of their guests dancing at their wedding all night, so their DJ or band is their highest priority. Another couple might place more of their focus on socializing with family and friends so that both food and entertainment are less important to them than a convenient location, and impressive flowers, centerpieces, and uplighting. Whatever your focus, you should adjust your budget so that you spend more on the things that are the most important to you, rather than try to include the best of every category and exhaust the budget early on.

Putting a priority list together for a wedding might not be the easiest if you don’t have one “must-have”. A lot of times, brides and grooms who are on a strict budget still think of every expenditure as being of equal importance to the final outcome of the day. Some couples make the mistake of looking for the lowest prices, but end up with a “cheap” product or service that has a negative impact on their wedding as a whole.  Your best bet is to do your homework and research reputable companies with great revues that you believe will give you the most bang for your buck.  Keep in mind that good companies understand that you have many expenditures to juggle and, within reason, are willing to help you if you are on a budget.

Whatever your focus or whatever aspect of the wedding you feel is most important in making your “perfect day”, make sure you prioritize your vendor choices so that the services you value most were given the highest budget allotments! Top-rated vendors who are aware that their service was your first priority will try even harder to make your wedding vision come true. Regardless of your budget, planning a wedding should be fun and stress-free and prioritizing your wedding expenses by importance will only make things easier on you and your fiance.

Why Photo Booths Make the Best Wedding favors

As many of you know, at most weddings the bride and groom have some sort of favor for their guests who have attended their special day. These favors can be anything from cookies to CDs, figurines, candles, picture frames and even candy bars with the bride and groom pictured on the wrapper. Sure, you might hear about a wedding here and there with a unique favor that is very different from the norm, like a charitable donation made in everyone’s name, but most couples opt for something that is a tangible take-home that wedding guests can remember the wedding by.

If you are getting married and are in the process of trying to find the perfect wedding favor for your guests, look no further. Photo booths have become one of the latest trends in the wedding favor market. Guests simply walk into the photo booth, take four fun pictures which are duplicated in two photo strips, then take home one strip while the other strip goes into a memory scrap book that the guests sign. This party favor is simple and affordable but there are also other reasons why many brides and grooms have chosen this unique service.

First, a photo booth not only allows for a great take-home present but it also allows for a great time. If you have a photo booth at your wedding, it will bring people together and definitely be a conversation starter. You might find guests going into the photo booth who you would never have expected to go in wearing a feather boa and sunglasses. Photo booths provide a chance for fun interaction for guests of all ages!

Photo booths provide a gift to your guests as well as a gift you and your new spouse. The memory scrap book, which goes a step further than a typical guest book, combines both photos and comments in one place.

Most photo booths have props including wigs, hats, sunglasses, signs, and feather boas to add to the fun for all ages! It is a popular trend now because brides and grooms see all the advantages to having an instant, tangible gift and a lasting memory from a single source. Adding a photo booth service is also the best way to make sure your guests keep their favors rather than tossing your well-intentioned, custom labeled CD with music they don’t like, that also doesn’t fit into their pocket or clutch purse into the nearest trash barrel as they leave the reception.