And Now, the Music

The music presentation ultimately sets the tone for a wedding celebration. Certainly, music comes in all styles. It can be casual or sophisticated; classical or rock; reggae or jazz; polka or pop; country or R&B, and everything in between. It can be loud or soft; fast or slow. Music appeals to young and old alike. It can make you feel lively or lethargic, calm or excited, or change the mood and morale instantly.

Music subtly augments a cocktail party and enhances dinner guests’ conversations, creating the mood for a celebration, and adding more joy to the experience. Then, if well read, planned and properly programmed by an experienced wedding DJ, it energizes a dance floor continuously for hours before dancing even begins.

Music is a common element for our everyday lives, but with your wedding celebration, the music should be, well… nothing less than extraordinary. That’s exactly what an experienced wedding DJ must be able to consistently do from the first song to the very last dance.

An experienced wedding DJ should play a wide variety of music styles as part of their music programming, to embellish the dancing portion of your special day and help make it a huge success. It is possible to seamlessly combine ethnic tunes, oldies, and today’s hottest hits masterfully and strategically into a cohesive presentation to allow your guests the opportunity to participate in your celebration and enjoy themselves on the dance floor.

How does this all work?

Music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting an environmental mood – dopamine. It produces a feel-good state in response to other certain positive tangible stimuli like food, lighting and more. A professional wedding DJ clearly understands that guests often express their identity through different types of music. It triggers certain emotions shared by guests, enabling them to connect with and convey their inner feelings, without needing to define them. The ideal soundtrack for a wedding affects emotions and behaviors and helps create a sense of belonging.

Something as simple as tempo has a big impact. The tempo (or the speed and pace) of specific music selections affect a guest’s perception of time. A slow tempo creates a sense of well being and makes guests want to stay longer, while a fast tempo increases emotional feedback and makes customers perceive waiting times to be shorter.

An experienced wedding DJ should understand this and know precisely which music selections will enhance the environmental flow to create the atmosphere and enrich something as simple as the cocktail and dining experience. It goes far beyond just playing Kenny G or Yanni for these two hours like many amateur DJs do. Proper music selections in the hands of a professional are just as important as using the right colors, lighting and temperature to create a festive atmosphere.

How to Handle Music Requests at your Wedding Reception

Wedding Reception Dancing - Doing the DipDo you want the DJ to take music requests from the guests at your wedding reception – or not? Some couples do, others prefer not to. There is no right or wrong answer; but please remember, when a guest requests a song, that it’s not possible for a DJ to have every possible song that might be requested – no matter how big a DJ brags his music repertoire is.

Challenges

There are other challenges that requests can present. Sometimes, guests may request songs that simply do not “fit-in” with the music programming, or a requested song may completely alter the mood or environment contrary to what you want. Playing heavy metal or gangsta’ rap, for example, will likely upset or displease some of your guests, especially the older ones. Certainly, songs containing objectionable, foul or sexually graphic language should not be played.

Wedding Reception - Danced So Much My Feet HurtIt’s just tacky to play any song with the “f-bomb” being dropped every fourth word at a wedding. Even though you may like a particular song, you’ll survive if you don’t hear it. Obviously, you don’t want to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable. Your wedding celebration won’t be hampered by a song that isn’t played, but could be significantly and instantly damaged by a song that is played.

An experienced wedding DJ will use their personal experience and professional judgment to know when it is acceptable to honor requests, while amateur DJs may be inclined to play any song that is requested.  (Remember, if inappropriate requests are played, these songs will make you look bad.)

Your Special Songs

You may have specific songs that you want to hear during your reception, dinner or dancing. That’s great, but there’s certainly no need to pick them all. That’s why you are hiring a truly polished professional wedding DJ. That person should know how to properly read a crowd, play the right tune at the right time, maintain music volume and seamlessly enhance the atmosphere.

In fact, outside of your special wedding dances (1st dance, father/bride dance, etc.), all you probably need to do is select a handful of songs you especially like to provide a flavor of what you wish to hear. Maybe it’s the first song you kissed to, or the very first song you danced to. If you would like supply an additional list or specific artists or songs beyond just a few, it’s often best to permit the experienced wedding DJ read the crowd and mix them in where and when appropriate.

Three Critical Facts You Should Know Before Hiring a Professional DJ Entertainer

Fact #1: When Brides are asked what they want to remember about their wedding day five years from now, the typical response is: “that everyone had a great time,” “people danced,” etc. Why? Simple. Because no matter how perfect everything else is, people will always remember if they had a good time – or not.

 Fact #2: Over the last several years, Amore’ DJ Entertainment has specifically asked our brides, “what significance did the professional DJ you hired have in making your reception a total success?” The typical response has been: “Amore DJ Entertainment had at least an 80% responsibility” as to why the reception was a total success above and beyond anything else! (In fact, most of surveys state 100%)

 Fact #3: According to The Knot (2011), the average U.S. bride spent $27,800 for her wedding. At 6 hours for the ceremony and reception, that’s $4,633 per hour! Fortunately, it’s a little less here locally in Colorado, but surprisingly, not by much. The average 2011 bride spends between $19k and $21k for her wedding in Colorado. Most quoted “Wedding Experts” suggest that a practical bride should expect to spend from 5% (as an absolute minimum) to up to 10% of her budget for QUALITY reception entertainment for her wedding. So, broken down based on that methodology, here’s a range to expect for QUALITY entertainment for the reception:

  • 5% of $19,000 = $950
  • 6% = $1,140
  • 7% = $1,330
  • 8% = $1,520
  • 9% = $1,710
  • 10% = $1,800

(*Add in an average of $300 to $500 for QUALITY ceremony music, musicians, and/or ceremony sound support for the ceremony.)

Most importantly, “The amount of money a couple spends on their reception entertainment is in direct proportion to the quality of entertainment they will receive…and ultimately, the sole impact on the total overall success of the wedding reception.”

 Simply put, a mere 5 to 10 percent of the average bride’s total budget is responsible for 80% of the wedding reception’s total success, and…as the old adage states, you get what you pay for.

How to DJ Your Own Wedding in 15 Easy Steps – Part 2

DIY Wedding DJAs the economy has been a bit tight lately, many brides are looking for ways to stretch their wedding budget. So, if it’s just music you want, then you could try to take a couple of iPods, ask Uncle Bob to run them, and take your chances. (For steps one through nine, please see previous article.)

Step ten: Find somebody to professionally introduce and properly emcee all the key wedding events using proper mic handling techniques, enthusiasm, articulation, intonation, breathing and inflection, along with the public speaking skills to effectively communicate in order to capture, maintain, then tastefully energize a seamless sequence of events and keep the flow moving – again, without any dead air.

Step eleven: Find somebody to coordinate with all the other wedding professionals involved in the festivities to seamlessly coordinate the hundreds of small things behind the scenes that have to be continually done so you don’t have to worry about it. (Like making sure the photographer is in the room and ready to go, Uncle Bob has the bouquet on hand, and that you are ready for the bouquet toss prior to Uncle Bob’s announcement that it’s time for the bouquet toss so there is no dead air, awkward moments, or lost dancing time looking for the bouquet, you or other wedding professionals, etc.)

Step twelve: Find somebody that has the creativity and experience to take your wedding ideas, wants and desires and bring it all together to fit your vision and make it classy, tasteful, unique and customized to reflect the two of you.

Step thirteen: Bring all these people together. Coordinate. Practice together. Deliver worry free. Ensure it goes smoothly.

Step fourteen: Tear down gear, load out, return gear to rental company.

Step fifteen: Somewhere between each step, find about twenty hours for Uncle Bob to practice (with the rented gear and legal music library before wedding), focusing on music and dance theory. Practice. Rehearse. Practice over and over. Repeat with person designated as “Master of Ceremonies” for smooth flow.

Sounds simple…and could save you a little money.

However, according to national publications and wedding industry magazines:

AFTER THE VOWS: “almost 100% of Brides say they would have spent more of their budget on the entertainment.”

and

WITHIN ONE WEEK AFTER THE RECEPTION: “78% of all Brides say they would have made the entertainment their highest priority!” Most importantly, “when asked, 81% of guests say the one thing they remember most about a wedding is the entertainment above anything else.

It makes sense when you think about it. Look back on a wedding you’ve been to in the last couple of years. You probably don’t remember much about the food, the color of the flowers, the style of the dress, the flavor of the cake or the veggie platter, but… you DO probably remember whether you had a good time – right? Dancing and music is only a small fraction of why a bride needs a proven, professional and experienced wedding MC/DJ.

How to DJ Your Own Wedding in 15 Easy Steps – Part 1

As the economy has been a bit tight lately, many brides are looking for ways to stretch their wedding budget. So, if it’s just music you want, then you could try to take a couple of iPods, ask Uncle Bob to man them, and take your chances. Here’s what to do…

Step one: Find and rent an amateur-grade sound system (hoping it works), then figure out how to run it.

Step two: Find and acquire appropriate liability insurance (as more and more venues require proof of insurance prior to set up). It will cost you $300 to $500 for the annual policy since it’s not available for a single day’s use.

Step three: Figure out where to legally purchase the appropriate music across multiple genres (big band, top 30, rap, alternative, country, etc.) for a wide variety of tastes based on the range in ages of your guests.

Step four: Find somebody to program the music in a logical dance flow.

Step five: Find somebody to transport all the gear. Once there, determine the appropriate electrical power load and where to set up based on sound configuration, dance theory and event flow. Set up the gear.

Step six: Find somebody with the experience to “read” a wedding crowd (based on the 11 critical crowd reading reception criteria) to play the right song at the right time for the right reasons. They need to know how to read and then lead your audience in the right sequence, at the right time through the application of proper wedding knowledge and extensive wedding experience by using multiple music genres, tempo, styles, and trends to create or change the energy in a room.

Step seven: Find somebody to take, maintain, and then play song requests, hoping you have all the requested music with you.

Step eight: Find somebody to smoothly transition the music from song to song without any dead air, while seamlessly enhancing key wedding events with music, exactly on cue.

Step nine: Find somebody to tastefully interact with guests, maintain audience participation and crowd interconnection.

For steps ten through fifteen, and interesting statistics from national publications, be sure to read part two.

Five Emerging Luxury Wedding Trends for Colorado Destination Weddings

The wedding celebration is a chance to express yourself! Brides and Grooms are now using their wedding day to make a statement, present a focus or create a sense of elegance that is important to them. The festivities may even involve be a cause they support, like a recent wedding I did at a country club. The couple wanted to fund the drilling of drinking water wells in South Africa. Instead of gifts from guests, they simply asked guests to anonymously donate to this cause. It was tasteful, and well done.

Each and every wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event! It’s not a simple “party” where you call a few friends over, have a drink and watch the “big game.” This IS an event! Something that takes meticulous planning and preparation to ensure that all the pieces come together perfectly, by design. Each key element is then delivered flawlessly at the right time and tempo, in a manner that reflects you and your personalities. Couples are now using their luxury Colorado wedding to make their signature event (yes, event) a cornerstone of their family legacy more than ever.

When you consider that there are 85,000 weddings a year in the U.S., Colorado luxury destination weddings seem to be blazing the trail for others to follow. What are the emerging luxury wedding trends being seen at Colorado destination weddings?

  1. Black tie is back – formal, with the desire for everyone to be dressed up; more of a “vintage” feel that focuses on lavishness and luxury.
  2. A White Tie Affair – White palettes reign, into ivory, with a luxurious, rich feel that whispers class and elegance. Yes, it’s now proper to have a wedding party dressed in all white, and trend that began with Chelsea Clinton and the royal wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton. White flowers are in, but formal events can still have personality with a splash of color. Brides are also choosing a theme to express themselves too!
  3. Elegance AND Fun – Couples want elegance, but then want it to end, moving on to absolute exuberance (fun). The night does not end with the reception. The ceremony is on site; followed by a formal cocktail hour; then dinner; dancing (for the older guests) and it ends.  Sort of.  Then, you guessed it – the younger folks continue at an “after party” off-site; and yes, they often take Matt from Amoré DJ Entertainment to the “after party” as their DJ to continue the celebration off-site.
  4. Surprise!!! – It’s all about the moment of surprise! Luxury brides want a tasteful surprise. Tasteful and modest, yet lavish. Grooms are now jumping on board and welcome the idea of a surprise, too. Most of all, newlyweds want to really “WOW!” their guests. They don’t want this to be just another wedding. The “WOW!” goes far beyond cheesy DJ LED uplighting done in pink, turquoise or purple; and certainly not another choreographed dance, but I mean really “WOW!” guests with something new, fresh, creative and reflective of them! (Things like fireworks; dancers; special audio or video tributes; celebrity guest appearances and more.)
  5. The “A” list – with many Colorado destination weddings, luxury brides are narrowing their guest list to an “A” list of “must have” attendees, a “B” list of semi-close friends and family, and a “C” list that includes everyone under the sun. The smaller, more intimate “A” list is definitely in for the luxury bride wanting a Colorado destination wedding. She’s going to take excellent care of her guests with a multi-course gourmet meal and pamper them in utter opulence! Some brides even splurge, putting up their “A” guests in a swank cabin, cottage or lodge for the night at a place like the Aspen Lodge, or the Della Terra Chateau in Estes Park. As guests retire for the evening, muffins or breakfast foods are set out for them to take back to their rooms for the next morning. Nice touch!

Certainly, brides wanting a luxury Colorado destination wedding can have the best of both worlds. Colorado is the place for destination weddings, offering brides options like no other place on the planet, including gorgeous venues (from cozy, to rustic, elegant or natural); great service; unique, secluded scenic spots for pictures; a fantastic seasonal climate for weddings with an ambiance for creating those family fun “vacations” that happen before (or after) for guests; lots of mountains; more than 300 days of sunshine; and, without a doubt, the best pool of wedding professionals anywhere, all working together to create a fun, unique and worry-free wedding! The possibilities are endless!

Wedding Reception Entertainment: Band or Disc Jockey?

Steven Weinmeister Firefall BandBeing a guest at wedding receptions over the years that featured both bands and a disc jockey leaves a lot to ponder. Some receptions had very good bands, some were mediocre, and many that were just plain terrible.

Certainly, modern brides seem to like the appeal of live entertainment at their special celebration because of the energy and excitement a band can bring. Some can play well and, from my experience, can be great at creating an atmosphere that ignites a crowd. They can also keep a dance floor going by extending a jam session.

But for brides seriously debating between the two, here are 15 critical questions to ask a band, from the book “The Best Wedding Reception…Ever!” by Peter Merry:

  1. How will you perform my special songs?
  2. How many songs and genres can you currently perform?
  3. How do you deal with special requests or dedications made at the reception?
  4. Who will be making the announcements at our reception?
  5. Can we see uncut video footage of wedding announcements you have made at weddings in the past?
  6. What training have you taken to develop your skills as a Master of Ceremonies to maintain the flow of the reception?
  7. What is your policy on taking breaks at our reception?
  8. Do you have extra band members available so that breaks can be rotated?
  9. What is your policy on meals? Do I have to feed everyone?
  10. Do you have a DJ on staff to play a mix of requested recorded music during breaks?
  11. How will you prevent “dead air” from occurring at my reception?
  12. What responsibility do you take for directing the pacing and flow of my reception’s agenda?
  13. How will you communicate with the other vendors about my agenda while you are performing?
  14. How do you measure the volume at the reception and can your volume levels be adjusted and turned down if requested?
  15. What can you tell me about your service and performance that sets you apart from all the rest?

On the DJ side, one thing to consider is that an experienced, professional wedding MC/DJ will often do much more than simply play music. Often, the wedding DJ becomes the one assumed to serve as the wedding Master of Ceremonies.

This is the person solely responsible for building and facilitating all the highlights at your reception in a seamless, smooth flow – while simultaneously keeping guests involved and entertained (all without a break.)

DJs play a much wider variety of music than a band, often encompassing the 1920s to the current era, with every imaginable genre. A DJ’s music will sound exactly how it was played and recorded by the original artist instead of the band’s rendition of a particular song. A trained, experienced wedding MC/DJ that has played in a variety of venues should measure the dance volume multiple times, and adjust and control it as necessary.

A DJ often takes far less space (and electric power) to perform – which can be a critical consideration, depending on the venue and guest count. Finally, in addition to the bottom-line cost, let’s face it: if you choose to feed the entertainer(s), with a band, that might require five meals (or more) versus just one for the DJ.

In the end, the decision is up to the bride and groom and the atmosphere they desire; but if a bride wants a band, the best advice might be to hire a professional wedding MC/DJ to work with and do everything the band cannot do (fill in during breaks with a wide variety of music; build and maintain the seamless flow as the MC; properly make announcements; coordinate with other wedding professionals, etc.) We’re being asked to do this more and more, and have enjoyed working with some fantastic bands and singers, like Steven Weinmeister and Steve Manshel from the legendary band, Firefall.

5 Tips for Building a Wedding Reception That Reflects YOU! – PART 2

Your wedding reception is your chance to treat your guests to a celebration that is, well, YOU! It should reflect you – your style, culture, heritage, and traditions, including food, color, music, flowers and more. Now that you’ve carefully selected your location, as well as the degree of elegance you’d like, what should you consider next?

Be creative with your decor.

When it comes to décor, think of the space as a blank canvas on which you get to “paint” YOUR style. Look online or at magazine pictures for inspiration and ideas, then talk with wedding professionals to get ideas on how to use lighting, flowers, centerpieces, table settings and more.

You can ask the reception site coordinator about how to best maximize the room. To add an eye-catching contrast, pair bright contrasting colors, such as vibrant electric blue and salmon color, in lieu of the typical pastels.

This year, I performed at four weddings that featured “mad hatter” or “topsy turvy” cakes, iced with an array of bold colors, custom shapes, and intricate details (as shown in the picture taken at a wedding at Mount Vernon Country Club).

It’s very easy to take a bare room from drab to fab, and do it in a unique way, by hiring a wedding professional, decorator or lighting designer to accent architecture in the room and make best use of foliage, table linens, or centerpieces.

Don’t forget the food.

No reception is complete without food. Buffets, sit-down dinners and even food served in large bowls at the table for a “family style” meal are all options. Buffets are usually more economical and allow your guests to choose from a variety of food selections.

You should also consider placing different food stations around the room instead of having only one or two serving lines, which is more efficient than having guests stand in one long line, and it also gives them a reason to mix and explore different parts of the room.

Ethnic Food?

I’ve done weddings where each station features one ethnic style of food. For example, at a recent wedding, the Bride chose to do a Mediterranean theme for her food (one station featured Greek food; another station southern Italian food; a third had Middle Eastern Food and the final station was a “just in case” station for kids and picky eaters, with American food like sliders, ribs, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and wings). Amazingly, almost all the guests tried and enjoyed the Mediterranean food, and just the kiddos ate the American food.

Dessert Bar with Coffee, mmmmm…

For dessert, what really takes the cake now is a dessert bar and a coffee bar with a Barista. Instead of the multi-tiered wedding cake, try a spread of amazing desserts with mini-cheesecake squares, fresh-baked gourmet cookies, brownies, pastries, mini crème brulees and chocolate covered strawberries, or even small table cakes that serve eight to ten and double as the table’s centerpiece.

Whether you choose posh and swank, or simple and casual, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Just remember that YOUR reception should reflect YOU and YOUR style. Have fun, be creative, and be yourself!

5 Tips for Creating a Wedding Reception That Reflects YOU! – PART 1

Your wedding ceremony is over, and now it’s time for the celebration to begin. The reception is your chance to treat your guests to a celebration that is, well, YOU! It should reflect you – your style, culture, heritage, and traditions, including food, color, music, flowers and more.

 

If you’re looking for fun, creative and innovative ideas, we’ve got the scoop on how to make your celebration stand out, and leave your guests saying, “WOW – what a reception!” and “That was SO them!”

Location, location, location

The first step in planning your reception is to choose the right venue. This depends on the location of your ceremony, as well as your budget and the size of your reception.

If your ceremony and reception are going to be taking place at the same site (i.e., a hotel or lodge) like the Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland or the Hilton Fort Collins Hotel, you need to consider what, exactly, your guests will do in the transition time, especially when you and your new spouse are having photos taken.

Will there be entertainment, music and food?  If so, where?

For a more intimate gathering, consider an outdoor reception, like the Preserve at Bingham Hill or the Tapestry House in LaPorte; an elegant chateau like Della Terra in Estes Park; or a rustic setting like Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch or the Aspen Lodge.

Many hotels also have beautiful patios, grassy areas, or verandas, making it easy to coordinate and transition from ceremony to reception. If you’re looking for contemporary flair, rent out a room in an art museum, hit the zoo, live it up at an amusement park, hop on a boat, or dance under the stars on a city rooftop like the Lincoln Center Rooftop Deck in Fort Collins.

After you’ve made your decision, use the location as the foundation for the remaining elements of your party.

Elegance and Charm

Some couples spend a lot of their budget to make their reception exude elegance, with exquisite floral arrangements, centerpieces, custom lighting, and more. For an up-scale reception in a hotel ballroom or country club, the formal black-tie affair is now back, complete with a four- or five-course meal.

The focus is on the food service complete with white-gloved waiters and dishes crafted to appeal to the eye as much as the palate. If you’re on a tight budget, but still want a classy reception, consider a morning ceremony followed by a champagne brunch and coffee bar with a Barista.

Themed Reception

Another trend now is a themed reception. This year, I performed at a Mardi Gras-themed wedding; two Russian weddings, complete with appropriate music, food, traditions and activities; a Vietnamese wedding; a Chinese wedding; a 1920s authentic themed wedding (with authentic music – not just big band 1940s tunes, but authentic 1920s selections); and a Hawaiian luau, and more.

I even had a “princess fairy-tale wedding” where the Bride had an amazing wedding cake that is every girl’s dream, and she named each table for a Disney princess, accented with princess movie theme music for her ceremony. It was exactly what she wanted for her “Princess Theme” wedding.

For something a little more casual and simple, try a Hawaiian luau. You can hand out plastic leis to the guests, play Hawaiian music, and serve traditional island food like roast pig, cocktails and tropical fruits. Other hit themes I’m seeing a lot of include: Victorian, Roaring 20s, 30s or 40s and even retro 80s themes – complete with narrow ties, crazy hair and hot pink!

There are no rules, just what you want based on what you like and what your vision is of a fun, memorable event.

Buffets Aren’t Just for Dinner

Candy, espresso, muffins, desserts and more for your wedding!

A fun trend I’m seeing a lot more at weddings lately is the “Candy Buffet.”  It’s almost like giving your guests a cavity as a party favor in a joking way I suppose, but they add fun and color to any wedding.

Candy Buffet

All it takes is a table with some old-fashioned glass candy jars. Or put your own creative spin on it – at a the wedding we did, they had giant martini, brandy and margarita glasses like you’ll find at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. Fill them with an amazing variety of old-fashioned bulk candy, or your modern favorites. Provide some small paper bags coordinated with your color scheme and a couple of scoops.

It was cool, creative, different and fun!  (Caution: if you are going to have 40 kids under the age of 8 attending, really think about what might happen when you combine sugar + 40 kids in a confined space before dinner.)

Dessert Buffet

As an alternative to a wedding cake, many couples are opting for a dessert buffet with an array of cakes, pies, warm cookies, cake pops, truffles, mini-cheese cake squares, brownies, pastries, and even ice cream (complete with every topping you can think of).

Espresso Bar

Another trend is to have an espresso bar, complete with a Barista who whips up made-to-order coffee and hot drinks.  Would you ever imagine that a hot cup of Joe would be more popular than beer, wine or a mixed drink at a wedding?  I’m seeing it more and more…and love the idea!

Having an espresso bar is one of the hottest services you can offer at your wedding.  Your guests can mosey on up to the counter with the option of ordering a “double, half-decaf, non-fat, cappuccino with a vanilla shot, hold the whip!”

Muffin Buffet

At another recent wedding, the Bride and Groom offered an amazing spread of just about every muffin variety you could imagine from a local bakery, pre-wrapped and ready for guests to take home and enjoy the next morning at the gorgeous Estes Park wedding venue, Della Terra. Another couple opted for a variety of dessert wines, each specifically paired with selected fine chocolates. The guests loved it!

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, you can be creative and share the things that you enjoy.  So, my advice is:  have fun, be creative, and be yourself!  Let your wedding celebration reflect the two of you…from your colors, to the food, and the flavors and flair you choose to make this a memorable occasion for your guests!