How to Choose Your Event Planner!

How to choose a great event planner 101? First you need to know what type of event are you holding a wedding reception event or a corporate event? Next you will need to ask family, friends and colleagues for names of people that they have used for help in planning an event. We have all been to events both wedding events and corporate events that have been very successful and we would like to have the same outcome. Just in-case you require an additional source, take a look at websites on the internet that that is located close to where you live or work. Don’t be to quick to rule out the well-rounded person who handles both corporate and wedding events. Their knowledge and skills at handling both types of functions can provide you with some suggestions that you may want to use in your function. Corporate event planners, work mainly with corporate clients to produce meetings, seminars, conventions, galas and fundraisers. Their clients will be Executive Assistants, Convention Planners, Government, Groups and Associations. Private event planners are producing private events; Weddings Ceremonies and Receptions, Non-Profit Fundraisers, Awards Banquets and other private events on a large scale that require a person or team of people in place to lead the event from start to finish.

Some of the things to remember is; check references this will provide you with peace of mind. What was the outcome of the function? An individual will share the high-lights and the low-lights, if everything was outstanding all the time then this is probably not the best choice. You want a person that has learned from mistakes and how they have put procedures in place to deal with any situation that may come up at the event. It is important to know how it was resolved? Do they have a personality that can deal with these quickly, calmly and in a professional manner? You want a person that can make suggestions on how to make the function better and lead you away from any misguided well intentioned ideas.

Great people are willing to give references and have testimonials on their websites that can be confirmed by the potential client. They act in a professional manner, show-up on time, chair meetings, help organize, plan, work with other providers, handle budgets and deadlines, lead the event on the day and finish with a post event analysis.

Words of caution: Event planners should not be your friends or family having them help out is fine but you really want them to have a good time and enjoy the function as much as you will. Family and friends have wonderful intentions although generally can not commit to the same level of service that you will require prior, during and after your function. The charges will range depending on how involved they are going to be in the event. Remember to get three quotes as this will best determine not only the price but the level of service that you will be paying for. Generally a quote will be broken down so that you can see what is included and what is not included in the price quoted. One last thing to remember is cheaper is not always better; experience, knowledge and connections can help make all the difference when planning the event. Following these tips will help you to choose the right event planner.

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Wedding DJs As Event Planners – Can They Fill Both Roles?

With money being tight these days, a popular question that often comes up is whether or not an event planner is necessary when a wedding DJ can often provide the same services and advice. Before the technological revolution, brides were not able to obtain the information necessary to plan a wedding without requesting advice from someone with experience. Today, internet search engines can solve most of the problems that brides and grooms faced in the past. By reviewing prices and customer feedback from the comfort of your own home, it seems like more of a hassle to hire a wedding planner than a luxury. Ultimately, the remaining tasks that wedding planners perform can easily be performed by a wedding disc jockey, which opens the question, is hiring a wedding DJ enough?

Arguably the most important job at a wedding is the wedding DJ. The DJ runs the music for the reception, and if the music or announcements were to stop, the reception would come to an awkward halt. The DJ guides the mood of the event and works with the schedules of all other vendors and staff at the event. He or she has ample experience working with reception hall managers and hosts as well as caterers and party supply vendors. With this experience, the DJ can guide you in the right direction when booking your reception hall, choosing a caterer, and purchasing party supplies. By looking to your disc jockey for advice instead of hiring a party planner, you’ll save yourself a lot of money and receive genuine recommendations for your wedding reception.

In addition, mobile DJs may have special connections with vendors. In today’s market, many DJ companies have partnered with photographers and video professionals. In fact, many DJ companies have expanded and become “entertainment and wedding service” companies, which means they can provide all-inclusive wedding packages, ultimately saving you money. If your DJ does not own and operate a business that can provide all inclusive services, it can still be very helpful to speak with the DJ about who and what he knows about the other services. Again, DJs hold connections with many different vendors they have worked with in the past. Asking for recommendations could still score you a significant discount on services for your wedding.

In the end, it is quite apparent that wedding event planners are on the road to becoming obsolete. The internet, along with your wedding DJ, can provide the same services that a wedding event planning normally provides without having to cough up extra money to get information. In addition to saving money by not having to hire a wedding planner, you can also save a significant amount of money by using your wedding DJ’s connections and saving a significant amount of money on other services you may desire for your wedding. Ultimately, the importance and necessity of wedding event planners is nearly obsolete. In this economy, it isn’t worth spending a significant amount of extra money on event planners. Plan your resources wisely and get the quality services you expect without paying for someone to find them for you.

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Wedding DJ Vs Event Planners

To understand the question “Can a DJ be an event planner?” you must first understand the overall theme of a wedding. The overall theme is to plan a perfect wedding. In the 1950’s the brides didn’t work, they didn’t have a Facebook, MySpace account or better yet even a computer. Your typical bride was lucky to have a television that worked. All she did was cook and clean the house for her working husband. She can cook and clean the entire house in 4 hours max and still plan the perfect wedding and honeymoon for herself.

In the 1980’s we experienced what some call the Reagan era. Televisions were common in everyone’s household. Some households had 2 or 3 televisions. Inflation raised our economy and forced our men and women to work to cover the expenses of the booming technology. The 1980’s was considered party years. Some compared the 80’s to the Roaring 20’s which is remembered as the best party era of all times. Along with the parties came sex, drugs and Rock n Roll. Then it became common for brides and grooms to already have kids before they get married which was contradictory to the brides and grooms in the 50s that waited to be married before they had children. Now we have a bride that has a full-time job, is addicted soap operas and TV shows and has to make sure she cooks and cleans the house. She has to make sure the kids eat, shower and gets to and from school while she helps pay all the bills.

Nowadays, the brides are just as busy if not busier than the men. They do not have the time to plan a wedding ceremony, reception more less her evening. If she does try to plan her wedding it wont be perfect like she planned since a little girl because here mind is exhausted from planning the household facilities. So to play a little part she plans which check she can use from her job to hire an event planner that can only concentrate on her wedding because she is too busy. Here is the problem. The event planner is usually a women that has the same responsibilities as the bride so how can the event planner concentrate only on the brides wedding. She can’t!!! What she can do is use her knowledge and experience to take a few months to gather all the bride and grooms needs and make sure all the vendors are in place and able to deliver. This usually works for the most part. The event planner roams back and forth from vendor to vendor as a supervisor. She positions herself behind the DJ booth and reminds the DJ what announcement to make, what songs to play and when using the same written timeline that the DJ already has in his back pocket. You ask yourself. Is an event planner really necessary? I don’t know. Maybe just professional vendors on the same page.

In 2010, what was once a theme “The Perfect Wedding”, is now an art and happens to be a huge business filled with professionals survive off of producing perfect weddings for brides every weekend. Since 2000 couples get married every weekend in California, you can see how such business can be lucrative. I have another question for you. Is a wedding ever perfect? No, never, no wedding is ever perfect but a professional makes sure that when things do go wrong nobody either notices or cares. Present brides do have Facebook, MySpace, Reality Shows and cell phone habits that doesn’t even leave them enough time to take a chance on an event planner. Our brides today are planning the wedding themselves, taking the time out of there busy schedule to meet each vendor in person to interview and see who is the best fit for there wedding.

Today this is how it works. In a wedding there are several wedding vendors. A photographer, make up artist, DJ, Florist, Cake and Caters etc. Every vendor has a certain job. The most important job is the Wedding DJ. He runs the music for the ceremony and the reception. When the music or announcement stops then the reception stops. All the other vendors work within the DJ to dot the I’s and cross the T’s of the event at hand. Although the Caters are important because everyone must eat. The Wedding DJ is working for the bride and groom every second of the wedding from beginning to end.

The bride of today take ample time to select the right DJ organization. She interviews and hires a professional DJ that can not only play music and make announcements but is knowledgeable and has a lot of experience in DJing. A professional that has had success DJing weddings for years. That person becomes the DJ and Event Planner of the entire Wedding. That is how how brides and grooms are saving money on there weddings in this tough economy. Not everybody who is a good wedding DJ can act as a DJ and an event planner. It takes professional DJ’s who have been trained by successful organizations to run events, plan them and correct any technicality that my occur in every area of the actual wedding.

A good example of a Wedding DJ company that houses great DJ’s that are also used as event planners is Extreeme Entertainment (extreemeentertainment.com). This company has been running for 15 years and has so much business and reoccurring business from happy brides that they are able to provide the best wedding entertainment on the West Coast at prices that are so low they look like a misprint. These company sends out the best wedding DJ’s you will see for an average of around $600. These DJ gives the most elaborate announcements, keeps the dance floor busy and plans all the activities in the same show.

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Your Disc Jockey Acts As A Wedding Event Planner

Give disc jockey’s credit. Many of them have endured so much criticism. The banquet managers sometimes won’t acknowledge their existence or tries to dictate what they have to do and when. They am forced to haul their $15,000 worth of sound equipment through a greasy kitchen or up a rickety flight of stairs because they don’t want them to be seen loading in the nice ramp in front. Wedding professionals need to work together because they should all have the same goal – please the customer (the bride and groom). So many times other professionals forget that fact too easily.

Let’s look at the basic facts. The disc jockey relies on the banquet facility to provide the meals and drinks in a timely fashion for the guests. The banquet facility will help coordinate timing to line up with meal service. Some facilities even go as far as supporting the disc jockey during introductions by directing the wedding party and collecting their flowers. For the most part, once the meal is done – you won’t see the staff until it’s time to clean up. They will walk away from your event and leave everything in the hands of the entertainment.

Without entertainment, people will just leave after the meal. It’s up to the disc jockey to entertain your guests for the next three hours. If you took them to a 2-hour movie, you’d pay $9.75 per person to entertain them. You probably just paid $75 per person to feed them (before the 18% gratuity). The $500 ice sculpture, $300 printed napkins and the $3 per person champagne toast pretty much go unnoticed and unappreciated. It is so easy to get caught up in the wedding planning that you just think that you “have” to have it. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture. A wedding reception is an “entertainment” function. Your entertainment choice will clearly make or break your event.

If a party is a flop – the DJ is blamed. Never do you hear the guests complain that the meal was dragged out over 2 hours and that it killed the party. People don’t realize that by having a photographer pull a couple out of the festivities for 45 minutes can drain the energy from a wedding reception just as quickly as having the banquet manager turn the lights on full or strip clear the tables to push guests towards leaving.

With that said – your professional disc jockey does more than play music and make a few announcements. They are your event coordinator for the day. They will guide you every step of the way – from telling you where to stand while waiting for the start of parental dances to guiding you to return to the room when you’ve been out too long. They will make your party come alive with excitement while still maintaining a professional demeanor and not rely on cheesy antics and props. Your disc jockey will advise you when it is time to get the party started after dinner or if the meal is slow, they might suggest that you do some dancing between courses to mask the fact that the banquet staff is behind.

Your disc jockey will play the music you want and avoid the songs that you have placed on your no-play list. They will make sure things go as planned. If your uncle comes up and says he wants to sing you a song in the middle of your reception – they’ll stop him until they’ve cleared it with you first. There will be no surprises with a professional disc jockey.

The fact that your disc jockey mimics so many of the duties of a professional wedding planner during the wedding reception are not by accident. It is what they do. Some disc jockeys have even gone as far as to now provide pre-wedding coordination and planning duties (including menu review, vendor contract negotiations, vendor approval, invitation wording, wine pairing and so much more) through an in-house dedicated wedding planner. This way your wedding planner and your entertainment are working together in harmony with your plans.

In order to facilitate better events, our company has started to email clients a week before to give them every opportunity to have the best event possible. Here are some of the hints that we provide:

Hello, it’s your DJ. Your wedding is about a week away and I just wanted to email you and let you know a few things that you can do to help make your event run smoothly and get the most out of your time at the reception. Please circulate this email to your parents and everyone in your wedding party. The more people that are in tune with what to do that day – the better your event will be.

1. If there are any last minute changes to your itinerary – LET US KNOW AHEAD OF TIME. We need to be prepared and can help you orchestrate things much smoother only if we know about them before it’s too late. We can help guide you as to the best way to flow from one event to the next. Call or email us with those changes immediately. Thank you.

2. All formal photos should be completed by the end of dinner. That means – if you need to get a group photo of your college friends, grandmother or whomever – by the time they clear the main entrĂ©e away – that photo needs to happen. If you pull people (and yourselves) out of the party for a group photo – you lose about 25 minutes of dance time. Yes, the photo only takes 5 minutes, but it takes 10 minutes to gather everyone up. It takes you about 10 minutes to walk back into the room as you will keep getting stopped by friends and family. It’s never just a quick shot.

3. If you need to socialize with your guests – do as much of it between courses as you can. Get up, visit a few tables and then go sit back down and eat the next course. If you wait until after dinner to start walking around – you will lose valuable dance time. Be careful not to get behind in the meal. If your guests finish before the two of you, that is not good either. When the next course is set for you, go and eat. You can always finish talking to people later – or better yet – meet them on the dance floor.

4. The end of the meal is critical – both you, your parents and the wedding party need to be in the room. Once you start seeing the wait staff clearing plates – you should STAY IN THE ROOM. We could delay the start of dancing by 10-15 minutes trying to get the key players back in the room. The longer we wait to start – the harder it is to get people focused on the party. We will give you and your parents a 10 minute warning before activities are about to get started – use the bathroom, freshen up, take your smoke break or whatever you need to do – BUT BE BACK IN THE ROOM AND READY TO GO.

5. Once we open dancing up – the more people that come out – the quicker we can get the party on the way. If you really want to help prime the party, both you, your parents and the entire bridal party (and their partners) should spend the first 15 minutes (~3 songs) on the dance floor. Everyone is looking to you to set the tone of the event – if you are out dancing – your guests will follow.

6. If you have to leave the room (and you should really leave the room separately (never together) – leaving one of you in the room to play host for your guests at all times), make sure you quickly go and do what you have to do and return. The longer you are out of the room – the more energy is drained from the party. Also, if you are standing talking with guests be aware of WHERE you stand. If you position yourself next to the exit – you will draw people to you and out of the party. Always position yourself so you pull people away from the exits and near to the dance floor.

7. We will be able to play more of the music that you’ve selected if you dance. If people are not dancing – our first concern is to get people involved before they decide to leave instead. Once we have a good dancing crowd – it’s much easier to fit in more of your & your guests’ requests.

8. Have fun. If you are not having fun – how can you expect your guests to be? Be part of the festivities. Socialize, dance and have the time of your life. Your DJ will be there to guide you every step of the way. If you are unsure as to what to do next – we can help. We will be touching base with you over the course of the event and will let you know if you have been out of the room too long or if we need you to help us refocus attention on the dance floor.

Whether it is a low-key event or a “dance-on-the-tables” feel that you want for your wedding; your professional mobile disc jockey should be able to paint the scene for you. Discuss your needs. Tell them what you’ve seen before – both what you liked and what you hated at other weddings. But most of all, come and have the time of your life at your wedding! Remember, if you remember the music, you’ll never forget the times.

Rob Alberti is owner of After Hours DJ Service based out of Westfield, MA and serves the MA/CT/RI areas since 1983. Michelle Scagliarini has years of experience in both banquet hall, catering and in the entertainment field. Michelle has worked with hundreds of brides, celebrities in the music and entertainment industries as well as corporate clients and has a unique background with After Hours DJ, giving her a well-rounded approach to event planning.

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