Re-run: DIY Weddings–Music

July 14th, 2014

Here’s another post on DIY weddings from a couple of years ago.  Enjoy!

After decor (which I’ll talk about in a few weeks), the most frequent kind of DIY I see at weddings is in the music.  I have coordinated many weddings where all the music was provided by a laptop or MP3 player.  At the risk of alienating my musician and DJ friends, I have to say that this is one area where you can get away with doing it yourself.  But there are definitely things to be aware of if this is your plan.

The important thing is that everyone is having a good time.  Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

The important thing is that everyone is having a good time. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

A professional DJ or band brings to your wedding two very large advantages:  a sound system and a Master of Ceremonies.  These things can be arranged for otherwise, but by paying professionals you are also obtaining these two important things.

Sound systems can be rented (for a price), but you also need someone to set up and run the sound system.  You will have to put in a good bit of time in advance making play lists.  And someone needs to press “play” on the MP3 player.  The biggest drawback of DIY music is that the play lists are all made in advance and they can’t respond to the mood on the dance floor the way a DJ can.  They also can’t get dancers on the floor and get the party going if that is what is needed.

You might have a friend who is an appropriate choice for MC.  You will need someone to make announcements at your wedding.  Typical announcements include:  introducing the bridal party; announcing the cake cutting; introducing those who are making toasts; announcing the bouquet and garter tosses; and any other important events that happen at the reception.  If you have a friend act as MC, it might be important to impress upon her or him the necessity of remaining fairly sober until all the announcements have been made.

DIY music is definitely a viable option for your wedding reception.  (And don’t overlook another way to do it yourself:  If you have musician friends, ask if they can play for the ceremony or the reception.)  As with any kind of DIY project, it requires forethought and planning and some extra time to make it happen.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Flowers

June 30th, 2014

I’m re-running my entire series on DIY weddings from a couple of years ago.  I hope you find it interesting and useful.  This is the second post in a series on the beauties and pitfalls of DIY.

Perhaps because her livelihood is on the line, a florist friend of mine refers to DIY wedding flowers as “f— it up yourself” flowers.  And because I don’t want to anger all my florist colleagues, I am going to agree with her–up to a point.

This is a professionally designed and created floral display.  Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

This is a professionally designed and created floral display. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

The reason you hire a professional floral designer is because they have specialized knowledge.  It’s true that you can send someone to the farmer’s market on the morning of your wedding to pick up flowers.  But will the buds all be open?  Florists know how to time the opening of flowers so your wedding flowers look picture-perfect.  They also ensure that the flowers stay fresh until they are needed.  And do you really want to be tying bouquets on the morning of your wedding?

There is nothing wrong with this bridesmaid's bouquet that the bride made.

There is nothing wrong with this bridesmaid's bouquet that the bride made.

On the other hand, I have seen DIY flowers that are perfectly nice.  It all depends on the look you are going for.  If you want a home-made look or a casual feel, your flowers might end up the way you want them if you do them yourself.  If you have special training in art, design, or floral arrangement, you’re probably ahead of the curve.  But this is one area where I would recommend to most people to hire a professional, especially if the flowers are important to you.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Potlucks

June 23rd, 2014

When I wrote a new post about DIY weddings last week, it reminded me that I should re-run the entire series on DIY weddings.  Here is the first entry:

Do-It-Yourself is all the rage.  And there are lots of things you can do yourself for your own wedding (or a friend’s). But I have also heard some DIY ideas that might need a little more thought before implementation.  This is the first post in a series on the beauties and pitfalls of DIY.

This is NOT a potluck, DIY place setting.  Photo by Carasco Photography.

This is NOT a potluck, DIY place setting. Photo by Carasco Photography.

I have been to two potluck wedding receptions, and both of them worked out very well.  They were very different from one another and offer some interesting lessons on how to make this idea work.

One was in a church hall with no caterer or serving staff.  The other was in a rented hall that required a certified kitchen staff.

If you have no hired kitchen staff, the question is who will set up the food and–more importantly–who will clean up.  At the first potluck, the bride asked some of her friends (including me) to take charge of scraping and packing the rented dishes at the end of the day.  Other friends helped to set up the tables and the buffet.  Fortunately, this couple have a lot of responsible (and sober) friends who helped them cheerfully.  It was also a daytime wedding, meaning no one had to stay until 1:00 a.m. scraping dishes.

The second potluck had a professional kitchen staff, which increased the cost but meant that the guests were not involved in running the kitchen.  If you are thinking of having a potluck buffet, this might be a better idea, unless you both have a hall that will allow you not to have hired staff and have friends who are sufficiently responsible.  Hired professionals also reduce the risks of food contamination, which can happen at a potluck.

There are other pitfalls to be avoided at a potluck.  The biggest one is not knowing whether you will have enough food, enough good food, or enough variety.  You can overcome this by asking your guests to tell you what they are bringing and making sure the best cooks bring large quantities.  That requires extra organization and extra time on your part.

And there is one more pitfall to a potluck wedding reception:  One of your relatives will be scandalized.  But if you can live with that, if you want an informal reception, and if you can figure out how to do everything that needs to get done, it’s not impossible.   But I would not recommend it for everyone.  Be sure you think it through before you commit to doing it yourself.

Why I Have an Integrity Pledge

March 3rd, 2014

Everyone trusts the vendors when they know they can trust the planner.

Everyone trusts the vendors when they know they can trust the planner.

If you have looked recently at the page on my website that deals with Money Matters, you might have noticed at the bottom that I have my integrity pledge there.  In case you’re not familiar with how this scheme I mention works, let me lay it out for you here.

When I first hung out my (virtual) shingle as an event planner, vendors started getting in touch with me.  They wanted me to refer my clients to them, and for the privilege, they were willing to pay me–in hard, cold cash–a percentage of what my clients paid them for their work.  I understand that this can be quite a good revenue stream for an event planner, but I am not willing to sell out for the cash.  I always insist that the vendor give my client the equivalent discount, instead. It costs the vendor the same amount and it allows me to offer my clients a little bonus.

Taking the “commission” (as they call it) is a problem because I work for the person who is paying me.  If I were to take both a fee from a client and a payment from a vendor, then I would have two bosses with conflicting interests.  I would lose the ability to help my client stay within their budget, since my own personal interest would be for them to spend more.  I also might be tempted to refer clients to the vendor who offers me the largest percentage, rather than the vendor who does the best work or gives the best value for money.

I heard a very telling story from a woman I know who makes and sells eco-friendly event invitations.  She told me that she had been taking her wares around to various event planners.  She was discussing the commission amount with one planner.  The planner pointed to a wall of invitation sample books and told her that those vendors all offered her a much higher commission.  She clearly expected that this woman would offer her more.  And that is a situation that can lead to bidding wars, which can not be good for the planner’s clients.

When I first started out as a planner, I was pretty sure I would never take these kickbacks from vendors.  But the thing that really gave me the resolve came from a very unexpected place.  I took a taxi home from the very first wedding I ever planned and coordinated.  The cab driver was an older gentleman, and we chatted on the way home.  Of course he asked me what I do and where I was coming from.  When I told him that I am a wedding planner, the first thing he said was, “You don’t take those payments from the vendors, do you?”  I assured him that I do not take them.  And I have never been tempted to go back on my word.