Bundle Packages….Are you really getting a deal?

After researching and trying to find the perfect vendors for your wedding, you may feel that having a separate vendor for each service you need at the wedding seems both expensive and exhausting to find.  Suddenly, you come upon a vendor who can do it all for one low price! You are immediately excited and thrilled that your DJ will also do your wedding ceremony as a Justice of the Peace, run uplighting, provide your photography, your videography, your room decor and even run the photo booth! Why wouldn’t you stop your search and book this fantastic “bundled” deal?

“Bundled” services differ from a “package deal” that some larger companies will offer if you book several “individual” services they offer separately and as a package. “Package” services are typically still provided by independent wedding professionals, who each offer a price reduction on their specific service if booked as a “package” along with other individual services they work with on a regular basis. A bundled package means one price includes the whole farm from one company… (DJ, uplighting,  photo booth, video, justice of the peace, room decor… etc) but dividing the total price of the bundle by the number of services they provide will give you an idea of how little is actually being allocated to pay for each service within that bundle.

There are many reasons why you risk a trade-off in quality and attention to detail when booking a multi-component bundle package that will rarely add up to the same level of quality you would have gotten with booking individual services. A wedding is extremely difficult for any wedding vendor to master and each vendor you hire needs to really understand their particular job in order to deliver the level of quality you expect. One person juggling several responsibilities at the same time, no matter how experienced or efficient, cannot possibly give each component their full attention simultaneously, whereas skilled individual vendors can each concentrate solely on their specific, specialized service.  Imagine having the DJ who is also your videographer, standing behind the DJ table shooting the video all night. What happens if he’s busy choosing the next song to keep the crowd dancing and misses an awesome, emotional moment across the room that is now lost forever? Perhaps he may start playing music that he thinks will get better video results rather than the style that better fits your audience.  An uplighting designer with a degree in theatrical lighting may change the lighting several times during special moments or during a DJ’s dance set, but a DJ who is also responsible for those lighting changes is far less likely to be worrying about ambiance and emotional impact of the lighting while worrying about making sure all the requests have been played, formalities have been carried out and the music is keeping the audience dancing.

Many companies that have these bundle packages bring a staff comprised of friends and relatives with them and each person has a different job. Rarely are they full-time pros within that specific field and most have merely been taught how to operate the camera or the lighting controller?  Perhaps the person is a photo booth attendant one week and a videographer or uplighting technician the next?  Do you think the bundled temp holding the video camera or a full-time videographer will give you a better finished product? Do you think an individual vendor with just one responsibility will divert their energy and time to unrelated aspects of the wedding… or devote 100% attention to their specialty?

Choose wisely when you try to save money by bundling services with one willing vendor who may mean well, but unwittingly be spreading himself too thin to actually offer you the top quality you seek.  It’s too late on the day of the wedding to decide it would have been wiser to spend a bit more and cover each service with a dedicated professional who takes pride in his or her ONLY service.

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Dealing with last minute emergencies and changes

Most of you are familiar with the phrase, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  Whenever a wedding faces an obstacle or an unavoidable sudden change in plans there are also opportunities to turn that mishap or snafu into a positive situation. Every bride plans meticulously and then expects her wedding day to be the “most perfect day of my life.” As much as you plan and hope for nothing to go wrong, something may happen that disturbs the timeline or flow of your wedding day, even if you have hired the best of the best.  A car accident on a major highway causing late arrival of guests, family or you and the wedding party, inclement weather forcing the relocation of an outdoor ceremony, sudden power outages during the reception, or even an emergency with one of your vendors requiring last minute changes are all possible ways that your carefully planned wedding day can be altered. However, even if one (or more) of these things actually happen, your entire day is NOT ruined.  You might have to do a quick re-vamp of your wedding day timeline or eliminate something at the last minute, but chances are… your guests will never know the difference.  They are all there to eat, drink, socialize, dance and help you celebrate your wedding.  They will still have fun and enjoy the celebration as long as you do too.  Your guests don’t know it when the schedule of events is not done in the proper order or that it was supposed to be mushroom gravy served with the main course, or a song choice featured the right song but the wrong artist, or a group photograph was missing the little children who left early or that a bouquet of flowers that was not what it ought to be.  Even though the day may not be flawless now, it is important to keep a positive, optimistic attitude so you can make the best of what you do have.  If the negative situation (like a power failure) is obvious to everyone, they will see how you respond to it and this will set the overall tone for their enjoyment of the rest of the event.  If there’s nothing you can do about it… let it slide, move past it and find a way enjoy the rest of the day!

“Great DJs Do More Than You See at a Wedding!”

Rather than viewing the DJ as just the person who comes in and plays music for 4 or 5 hours, view the DJ as the wedding vendor whose work affects the entire direction and flow of events at a wedding reception. DJs will frequently provide other vendors at the reception with tips about the timeline. This is based on what has been previously planned out with the future bride and groom. A great DJ will point out to the photographer or videographer when a key moment about to happen; one that they might otherwise miss. A great DJ listens to their clients and gathers information about special moments and formalities that other vendors might not know or anticipate. Lastly, a great DJ learns exactly what their client really wants at the wedding and then delivers a reception based on everything they’ve ever discussed…  from their very first meeting right up to an impromptu request sent up at the end of the night. It’s all about making the client’s “perfect wedding” vision a reality, not playing the same songs DJs play at every other wedding! Many of the things a great DJ does to make the wedding a success may not even be noticed at all.

Sticking To Your Wedding Budget!!

Sticking To Your Wedding Budget

All couples planning their wedding have a budget. This is completely normal. You usually get what you pay for… but obviously, you can’t stick to a budget and also have the very best of every category or vendor you need to hire.   How do you stick to your budget, yet still have an awesome wedding?

Rather than approaching all vendors with “how much do you charge?” try this first.  Set your maximum budget.  This is the total amount of money you can spend on all the vendors, services and related wedding expenses for your special day.   Next, sit down and discuss what is most important to you both on your wedding day.  Maybe the most important thing is keeping all of your guests dancing and having fun with great music or having journalistic photos that capture all the beautiful moments of your day. Maybe it’s great food and drink and an outdoor location that top your priority list.  Perhaps you have your heart set on a photo booth and romantic “candlelight” amber uplighting.  Make a vendor/services list in numbered order of your highest to lowest priorities.
    
Now it is time to plan your budget so that the highest priorities are allotted a higher percentage of the total budget.  Be realistic and don’t let amateurs who quote low-ball prices cloud the reality of what a top-rated service or vendor will actually cost.  You’ll still be able to afford the best vendors for those services that are the most important to you.  The key to staying “on budget” is very simple… don’t increase your total budget to get a better caliber vendor, get the better vendors for stuff at the top of your list and decrease your budget for those things that are a lesser of a priority for you both. Best of luck!

Email Pricing Inquiries… Let the Buyer Beware!

Visiting wedding vendor websites is an effective way to learn the basics and compare each company’s general information and professionalism.   You can usually tell right away if a company impresses you, offers what you’re looking for and seems like a good fit at first glance.  That’s when you’ll send an initial email or place a call to get more information and find out the cost.  If 2 vendors give exactly the same price… the one with more years of experience and a verifiable reputation for higher quality is usually the better choice.  The biggest mistake most consumers make is assuming that a lower price from one is a better deal, without meeting with both those vendors.  A lower price may mean an inferior product or service.  Unless you live out of state, it is not in your best interest to shop wedding vendors by price alone for the most important day of your life.  Without a face-to-face meeting with the actual vendors who will be a part of your special day, the price quoted is only a blind amount… with no guarantee of a vendor who matches your actual needs or who will work with you to help create your wedding vision.  This means scheduling a consultation appointment with all promising vendors who pass the first contact “test”.  What is that, you ask?

Did they respond promptly and in a professional manner or did they wait a few days and offer a lame excuse?  Chances are, that’s an indication of what you can expect from each one… once you hire them.  Did they ask questions as to exactly what you were looking for or did they simply rattle off a quote and ask for the sale?

Remember, you want your wedding day to be a personal one that reflects both you and your fiance’s preferences and style. Any vendor that simply quotes you their usual price without seeking any details or offering ways to personalize their service or product to better match your vision is clearly “cookie cutter” (the same thing for everybody), and will probably not be flexible when you decide to change something to reflect your preferences.

You can’t learn this when you send out emails and simply gather prices.  There’s usually a reason why one service costs a bit more or a lot less than the competition. Email, when used as the only means of contact, hides these finer distinctions.

Introductions: It All Starts Here

Planning your wedding formalities provides an excellent opportunity to personalize your reception.  Incorporating your ideas, unique style and personality into your reception’s special moments will make them more memorable for you and your guests. What better place to start than with your wedding party introductions?

Your introductions are a very effective way to set the tone of the reception and instantly let your guests know exactly what you have in store for them!

What is your wedding vision? A high-energy introduction with hot, upbeat music and lively crowd participation suggests that dancing and celebrating are important to you both.  This wedding will burn up the dance floor!

A more low-key introduction, without a lot of hoopla may be your preference if you don’t like a lot of attention placed on you.   Weddings are not “cookie cutter”.  What feels right for one couple may not be a good fit for another, so don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable in front of all your guests on the biggest day of your life.

Personalized wedding party introductions, where the DJ/MC shares a supplied tidbit of information about each person as they are introduced, clearly focuses on how much the bride and groom value their relationships with their wedding party. They hope that sharing a brief personal memory about each member of their wedding party will initiate a new connection with all the guests and help unify both families and friends.

A great wedding venue and vendors will work diligently to help you set the tone for exactly the type of wedding party introductions you envision.  They’ll work together as a team for you to make it happen, even if it’s different from their usual practice.

Your wedding is your special day.  Explore all the possibilities and discuss them with your vendors.  They will help you to create the perfect introductions and reception to match your vision.

Expecting the Unexpected

Talent, experience, organizational skills and flexibility are four major traits seen in almost every successful wedding vendor.  Such traits make for a good team player.

There is nothing more evident to guests than an inexperienced vendor at a wedding.  A lack of experience may not be obvious at the time you reserve the vendor, but once the day arrives it often shows instantly.  A talented vendor who is lacking organizational skills or the flexibility to deal with last-minute changes will also upset the flow and harmony necessary for all your vendors to work together.

The wedding day you envision won’t go flawlessly on it’s own.  It all comes down to hiring vendors who are not only well prepared and aware of your preferences and vision, but who are also ready to confront any unexpected glitches that may occur.

It’s all about being proactive.  Expecting the unexpected and being prepared for it in advance.  Potentially problematic moments are turned into positive ones for you and your guests when your vendors are real pros with enough experience to turn the situation around quickly and sometimes without even bothering their clients.

You may pay a bit more for this caliber vendor, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Wedding Preparation

Congratulations if you have an AllStar DJ booked for your upcoming wedding! You now have the comfort of knowing that you have a full time, professional MC/DJ/entertainer reserved for the most important day of your life. But, what’s next?

We look for your completed reception info forms (and ceremony forms if applicable) roughly 6 weeks prior to your wedding date. It’s never an issue if you need a little more time to finalize your songs and formalities on the forms. We are always here to help if you need advice or suggestions.

Going over all the final details several weeks out is actually not to your advantage, since things often change, even after the forms have been returned to us. Specific details from a meeting several weeks before your wedding may be hard to remember at the wedding for a busy, popular DJ who will be performing at many other detailed weddings in-between.

For this reason, we typically suggest the Monday before the wedding as the ideal time for the final DJ consultation. This may be done by phone or in person, at your preference. We can also switch the day if necessary, for your convenience.

This seems to work well for the majority of our wedding clients.

Micro-Managing the Music

It has become very easy to get access to just about all the music in the world. This is not only true for professional entertainers, but amateur Djs, and any common person. Although an $800 DJ or Ipod wedding is initially alluring, they are sure ways to ruin your wedding entirely.

It isn’t the amount of songs the DJ has that makes the party, it’s the songs they choose to play. If you give someone with no carpentry experience all the tools in the world, they still won’t be able to build you a mansion. They will even lack the foundation to build you a proper shed. The same is true with your DJ, so be careful with who you choose. A professional DJ is trained to read the audience. This involves diligently selecting and adapting the set to what your guests are reacting too.

An experienced DJ has their hands tied when a bride provides a list of 30 must play songs. This will always alter a fantastic entertainers performance, and lower the success rate of your function. Yes, your musical preference matters. However, an equal balance is important. Don’t forget that your guests will differ greatly in age, and musical taste. Trust in your professional DJ’s music ability and you won’t be disappointed.

The Right Wedding Team

The old saying that you are only as good as your weakest link rings true for your wedding day. Choosing the right vendors will entirely determine the success of your wedding. They will be working as a team on your very special day.

When hiring each service make sure that they are not only talented, but have a team-oriented approach. Any experienced wedding vendor knows that nothing hinders a wedding day more than ego.

All it takes is one lousy vendor in the bunch to alter the overall outcome of your wedding day. Each service should have one goal; working together to make sure the bride and groom’s wedding visions are met.