Professional Wedding Guest – Wedding #1

23 05 2008

My friend Matt from grad school got married this past weekend in Spring Lake, NJ, kicking off a pretty busy year for me as a wedding guest! My husband and I had a pretty quiet year last year but this year we have 4 weddings to attend (Spring Lake, NJ, local, Reading, PA, and Newport, RI)! We decided to make it a weekend getaway (click here to read my travelogue). I know you guys want to see the wedding stuff! Being that this was by the beach, there were many beach themed items.

Are you considering using an iPod for your wedding?

22 05 2008

iPod for wedding musicThere is a great article and video on the American DJ Association’s website (skip the first few minutes) regarding this topic. also has another perspective.

Now you might say, of course they are discouraging people from using iPods. These are DJs and they are losing business to iPods. From a planner’s perspective, iPods are appropriate for some events. For example, one of my clients had a Sunday afternoon lunch wedding with no dancing. With about 70 guests, the wedding was held in a historic home. The iPod literally just provided background music. There were no first dance or father/daughter dance. When it was time for the cake cutting and toasts, the best man asked everyone to gather around without needing a microphone. We did not need a MC per se. The venue already had a sound system that was easy to plug an iPod into the jacks. This would be an ideal situation for supplying your own music.

There is much more to a DJ than just pushing play. Some things a professional DJ does you might not have thought about:

  • setup: what equipment he needs, how to set his gear up so as to not take up too much space, how to load in and out of facilities in the fastest manner possible, knows exactly how long he needs to setup, knows where his speakers will go for the best sound, knows what to listen for when doing sound check, knows what to adjust if he starts getting feedback.
  • safety: how to tape down the wires so nobody trips, how to move all his bulky equipment
  • emergencies: has backup equipment, knows what to do if it starts to rain and you are having an outdoor wedding
  • atmosphere: there is a rhythm to every event and music is an important part of creating a mood. Knowing what to play when is an art and takes experience. Not to mention the skill it takes to speak and cue up music at the same time! DJs have more songs than you could possibly own. If the guests are not grooving to disco music, he can switch to something else that would get them up on the dance floor. He also has radio edit versions of certain songs that might have explicit lyrics which would not be appropriate to play in front of Grandma.

Real Wedding: Karen & David Part 2

12 05 2008

I though Karen did a great job personalizing her wedding. She did it in such a way that wasn’t about throwing a bunch of knickknacks together from bridal magazine. What she did took some introspection.

The more obvious, physical items reflected Karen’s Chinese heritage. The double happiness symbol was found on the invitations, ceremony programs and menus. Karen wore 3 different dresses (a white wedding gown, a Chinese qi pao, and a fuschia evening gown). Finally, the favors of chocolate covered fortune cookies were inside a mini bamboo steamers.

I thought the more thoughtful and more subtle touches reflected David’s German heritage. The ceremony music were all by German composers: Johann Pachebel’s Canon, Bridal Chorus by Wagner and Ode to Joy by Beethoven. Their first dance was a waltz. Finally, several dishes had German influences: potato pancakes with apple and braised red cabbage and the red beet bamboo steamers with chocolate covered fortune cookie; pink cherry blossom and double happiness on menu cards, ceremony programs, disposable camera, table marker

Real Wedding: Karen & David Part 1

9 05 2008

Karen & David's wedding collageVenue: Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Floral Design: Petals Edge. I *love* the work they do. They always bring their A game. Incorporating the pink color scheme and the Asian aesthetics, Gerry came up with two different arrangement for centerpieces (top row, left and center). One of the arrangements is a potted phalaenopsis orchid in a silver square pot which I’ve never seen used before in such a simple yet effective way. She also made the cutest flower girl basket I have ever seen (bottom row center)!

Catering: Fusions Cuisine is another one of my favorites, Fusions Cuisine did a masterful job of developing a vegetarian menu for the evening. Yes! A vegetarian menu as the mother of the bride is Buddhist and they all agreed that it would be a healthy and unique way to go. Although I was skeptical at first, I must say that the food was delicious and Chef Thompson prepared the best beet salad ever and I don’t even like beets.

Ceremony Music: Jeanne Calderon, pianist from Bialek’s Music (middle row right). Wonderful. She worked really well with the violinist and soloist who were both friends of the couple.

Reception Music: DJ Chris Roorda from ThePros. A neutral rating here. He kept the dance floor pretty packed and was amenable to playing some Chinese music. He did forget the mother/son dance and had to send his assistant out to buy a CD at the mall.

Videography: Crystal Video. David Chen was very professional and unobtrusive. Since he was only doing raw footage, I cannot attest to what finished videos look like.

Cake: Fluffy Thoughts. Lara did a beautiful 3-tiered square cake with a cherry blossom design (bottom row left). Lara stayed for quite a while after delivering the cake to do additional touch ups. The only issue I had with the cake was that it looked like David & Karen had trouble getting the knife through the fondant and the one layer I tasted was a bit crumbly.

If I Had to Do It All Over Again …

5 05 2008

my wedding photos

All photos by Emilie Inc. Photography

I thought a post by Aletha at Pearl Events and Kawania at Howerton & Wooten Events on what they would do differently if they were to get married again with the same budget and with a dream budget was so interesting! It was really some food for thought. Here is what I would have done differently.

{Same Budget}

  1. A small bouquet. I loved my bouquet [top left photo]. However, with the leaf collar, it ended up being huge and heavy.
  2. A 2nd sushi chef. We did a sushi station and underestimated its popularity [bottom left photo]. The sushi chef we had was working as fast as he could and there was still a long line. And I should have tipped him handsomely.
  3. Spent more time taking pictures with my husband. Although I love the pictures we have, I wish we had a few more of just us. It was over 90 degrees that day so it would have been really uncomfortable to spent too much time outside taking pictures. I really like the small town/urban feel around the Clarendon Ballroom (where we had our reception) and wish we could have walked around and taken some cool portraits.
  4. I wish I had my Mom with me when I was getting ready. Just would have been fun.
  5. Sat at a table with our parents or bridal party instead of at a sweetheart table.
  6. Hubby said he would have gotten married in the spring or fall. We got married in July.

{Dream Budget}

  1. Hired a trumpet player and/or brass band for the ceremony. My husband is a trumpet player. I heard a brass band played Trumpet Voluntary at a ceremony and it gave me goose bumps! The organist/choir director is amazing and the combination would have been memorable.
  2. A large band with a horn section for the reception and an acoustic guitar or a jazz trio during the cocktail hour. We invited our ballroom dancing instructors to our wedding and they taught a quick swing lesson to all guests. (It was a blast and also the funniest thing I’ve ever seen) It would have been cool to have the band play a bunch of swing music afterwards! [Hubby’s comment: he would have kept the DJ]
  3. Late night snacks, like Dunkin Donuts chocolate glazed donut (yum!), because we had a fairly long reception. It would have been a nice thing for guests to take back to the hotel and for those of us that went drinking at Whitlows afterwards!
  4. A day-after event. We had a family dinner on Thursday night for my parents’ wedding anniversary and a welcome party at Continental Pool Lounge after the rehearsal dinner so we actually spent a lot of time with our friends and family already. However, I would have loved to have catered a late brunch/lunch/BBQ at our house on Sunday and spent more time with them.
  5. More flowers. Our reception was a cocktail party, an extension of the cocktail ‘hour’. So we had tons of cocktail and cabaret tables (and a few large rounds reserved for our relatives.) So I only ordered floral centerpieces for the large rounds. With a bigger budget, I would have gotten a ton of small, but all different arrangements for the cocktail tables.

Looking back, I actually would not have changed one single thing about our wedding. My husband and I really didn’t have to make any compromises.

What would you have done differently?