DIY Weddings: Music

June 25th, 2012

After decor, 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.  One 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.

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.

Vendors I Know: Four Finches

June 18th, 2012
Four Finches, as seen on their website.

Four Finches, as seen on their website.

Recently, I met the creative folks at Four Finches, a flower shop in Evanston.  Okay, to call it a flower shop is missing the point.  Sarah, the owner, has transformed a warehouse space into an alluring oasis of flowers, antiques, gifts, birds, candy, and about a thousand other beautiful items.  I could spend hours in there looking at the pretty things.

I’ve also worked with her on a wedding and loved her floral arrangements.  I think part of the reason she can do such beautiful work is because she is committed to doing only one wedding or major event per weekend.  I noticed when I first met her how focused she is on the wedding she is working on at the moment.  She did not miss a detail.  And, for all that, her prices are very competitive.

When I visited the shop, Sarah showed me some of the new flowers she is trying out, including a purple clematis and flowering amaranth.  I expect to see original arrangements out of her shop because she is always trying out new things. For those who want sustainable flowers, it’s not her primary focus, but on request she will find local and organic flowers.

If you need flowers for an occasion (or nice cards or gifts or…), take a peek at Four Finches.  Oh, and there really are finches in the shop, just usually more than four of them.

Wedding Planning Tips (fifth of a series)

June 11th, 2012
You might need a little help to get to this point.  Photo courtesy of

You might need a little help to get to this point. Photo courtesy of

Every wedding planner has a calendar or timeline laying out the important steps necessary to plan a wedding and reception. The timeline is an important part of planning your wedding, but there are other equally important things to think about in order to have the wedding you really want. Here is one more of them:

Hiring a wedding planner is the same hiring as any other wedding vendor. Have an idea of the kinds of help you need before you call. You probably won’t have all the answers yet, but that is why you are hiring an event planning professional. If you want someone who knows all about bridal fashion and the latest trends, be sure they are credentialed by one of the bridal planning associations. If, on the other hand, you have your own ideas about style, keep looking until you find a wedding planner with an open mind and innovative ideas. Experience counts, too. It is possible to learn a lot about event planning from books and lectures, but nothing beats hands-on experience. Also, find out if the wedding planner you are thinking about hiring has ever been married. I think that a wedding planner who has gotten married has a better understanding of the process of getting married–and a better understanding of the pitfalls along the way.

Wedding Pitfalls: Fake Etiquette

June 4th, 2012
Get what you love for your wedding, not what someone tells you that you need.

Get what you love for your wedding, not what someone tells you that you need.

Have you ever run across one of those “wedding etiquette” web pages?  Some vendors of wedding products have etiquette tips on their websites.  Many of them have useful information.  But some of them are wedding planning traps.

Watch out for sales pitches disguised as etiquette requirements.  For example, an invitation seller might tell you that etiquette “requires” you to have a second, inner envelope for your invitation, which they will be happy to sell you.  Or a florist could push etiquette as the reason to have corsages for every female member of your family.  I’m just making up examples here to give you an idea of what to look out for.  There are many forms this trap could take.

If you want solid etiquette advice, I recommend borrowing an etiquette book from the library or buying one, if you think you’ll use it again.  Emily Post has the classic guides to etiquette.  You might also enjoy Miss Manners on Painfully Proper WeddingsI’ll write more on real etiquette another day.  In the meantime, keep your eyes open for the fake kind.