The Only Thing Your Planner Needs

May 30th, 2016
The more there is to do, the more you should talk to your planner.

The more there is to do, the more you should talk to your planner.

Your wedding (or party) planner or coordinator can be your best friend, someone who takes care of everything you need them to and solves all the little problems (or, occasionally, the big ones) to make your party or wedding a huge success.  And there is only one thing she or he needs from you to make all that happen:


It sounds obvious, but when you’re getting close to the big day, you might need to remind yourself of this basic truth:  If your day-of coordinator is going to coordinate your day, she needs to know what you want; what you have done; what is going to happen; what is supposed to happen; what you want to avoid at all costs.

So, whenever you get new information or have a change of plans, make it your habit to tell your planner, first thing.  And if your planner asks you for information, be sure to tell her.  Your busy life is even busier when you are planning a wedding, so you’ll have to prioritize.  Make it a high priority to communicate with your planner.


Band vs. DJ

May 23rd, 2016
Here's a hot dance band.

Here’s a hot dance band.

So, you’re planning your wedding and you are wondering what kind of music you should have.  Should you hire a band?  Or hire a DJ?  How do you decide?  Both options have things in their favor.

Hiring a DJ is definitely one good choice.  You get a wide range of music and it’s generally less expensive than hiring a dance band.  Quality DJs can not only be your reception MC, but they know how to keep the dance floor full and make sure that everyone has a good time.

If you have the funds, though, there are a lot of high quality bands available.  With a band, you get almost everything that a DJ offers, and you get a more vibrant sonic experience.  While a band might not have the breadth of repertoire you can get from a DJ, there is something about the sound of a live band that says “party.”  The best bands have a wide and deep song list with something for everyone, and they also bring their own unique sound to the dance floor.

Either way, you really can’t go wrong.  Make your decision based on your taste, your budget, and your preferences.

What’s Wrong With Candles?

May 16th, 2016
Candles add light and color.  Photo by hannahelaine photography (

Candles add light and color. Photo by hannahelaine photography (

Everybody loves candles, and they are usually everywhere at a wedding reception.  They create a beautiful, festive atmosphere and always add a touch of class.  So, what could possibly be wrong with them?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with candles, but there are some things to be aware of before you decide to put them on every available surface.  There are two areas that concern me: safety and environmental considerations.

The thing to be aware of on the environmental side is that candles are made from petroleum, and burning them releases hydrocarbons into the air.  This is not a huge amount of air pollution, but if you are planning to burn candles indoors at a party, it would be worthwhile to investigate the ventilation options in the room so that it doesn’t become warm, stuff, and filled with candle smoke.

An alternative to burning standard candles is to have soy or beeswax candles, instead.  The output of these candles is less toxic than standard candles.  It’s a small way to improve the sustainability of your event, but it’s worthwhile.

banquet table

Candles in the middle of the table are safer than anywhere else.

On the safety side, please be thoughtful about where you place your candles.  They are safer in the middle of a table than at the edge.  (I recently had to pick up two large, lit pillar candles that got knocked off the edge of the gift table at a wedding.  Luckily, no one was injured.)  Candles are even safer if they are in glass containers.  Your local fire code or the venue’s rules may even insist on this.  If not, it is still a very good idea.

I heard a horror story recently about candles at a wedding that made me acutely aware of the safety issues.  There was open flame at the reception, and the bride’s long veil brushed by a candle and went up in flames.  It burned so fast that there was no way to save it, and, I imagine, the bride’s hair did not escape unscathed.

You can avoid having such things happen at your wedding or party if you consider in advance where your candles are placed and how they are protected from being bumped, nudged, knocked, or brushed.

Feeding the Guests

May 9th, 2016
catering buffet

Serving a buffet might mean some savings on catering. Photo courtesy of

One of the biggest expenses of your wedding (or any large party, really) is feeding your guests.  After you’ve asked your friends and family to travel and spend their day with you, you probably feel obligated to make sure they are well fed–and rightly so.  But that’s a big expense.  What do you do if you just can’t afford to feed everyone you want to invite?  You have several options (as well as several things that I can’t recommend).

You can invite fewer guests.  This may not be the easiest way to solve the problem, but it is the most direct.  After all, you have family obligations and friends you can’t leave out.  But one way to solve the food budget problem is to invite fewer people.  Sometimes, it is necessary to take an axe to the guest list.

You can find less expensive ways to feed your guests.  At a certain level of service, it is hard to cut costs, but one way is to have an early wedding.  Breakfast and lunch are generally less expensive than dinner.  Depending on your caterer, you might find that a buffet costs less than a plated meal.  Likewise, depending on your caterer, a buffet of heavy appetizers might give you some savings over a full meal.  And, of course, if you don’t have to serve sirloin and wild-caught salmon, you can have a good meal that doesn’t break the bank.

This next recommendation is a tough sell sometimes, but another way to cut costs drastically is not to serve alcohol.  The bar tab adds a lot to catering costs.  You might find this easier if you’re having a morning or early afternoon event, but I’ve been at plenty of dry weddings, and there’s nothing wrong with them.

I do not recommend cutting costs on service.  If you have a restaurant deliver pans of food, it is certainly inexpensive, but you will still have to find people to do all the invisible work: setting up chairs for the ceremony, moving those chairs for the reception, setting the tables, setting up the buffet, keeping water glasses filled, clearing tables, packing up rental dishes, cleaning the venue, and generally keeping your guests happy.  It generally works out better to have a full-service caterer to take care of those things and so many others.

Finally, please do not ask your guests to chip in for their meal.  You are the host of the party.  If you have invited people to be your guests, please treat them as your guests, and not as paying customers.