{Monday Memoirs} The DJ Not Even Your Wedding Planner Can Warn You About

Photo By June Cochran

Photo By June Cochran

We are starting a new series of blog posts, here at Pink Champagne Events, to help inspire couples and vendors alike to raise the bar in quality across the wedding industry. The new series titled Monday Memoirs will provide a realistic, behind the scenes glimpse of what can truly happen on THE big day. Some memoirs will be comical, some will be gross, some will even be heartbreaking and scary, but we promise that after every post, you'll walk away with a new found appreciation for the fires a planner can stifle at any given moment.

First on the long list of bad experiences, Pink Champagne Events Bride, “Kate”, hired DJ XYZ Company for her upscale hotel ballroom wedding.  After numerous “six” attempts to confirm the details of his service, the DJ finally got in touch with us five days before the wedding. Aside from his lackadaisical attitude toward the event, all of our questions and concerns were laid to rest for the time being.

To give you some background information, he was responsible for providing lapel micsfor the officiant and groom, microphones and amplification system for the live musicians, hand held microphones for the readers, prelude and recessional music. In addition, he was to play music for cocktail hour, set up a photo booth and props, reception up lighting , standard reception entertainment and late night karaoke. 

Fast forward to the wedding day, it’s one hour before the ceremony and there is still no DJ. When attempting to call and confirm his where abouts, he walked off the elevator with the first guests arriving. That’s bad enough but doesn’t make the story worthwhile. He proceeded to return to the elevator and his vehicle to retrieve the other half of his equipment. His second trip up the elevator he coincided with another wave of guests arriving.

At the time this “professional” was scheduled to be dressed and playing music he was just beginning to set up. To add to the fun, instead of having his assistant set up the ancillary locations while he worked on the ceremony, he decided to unload and store ALL of his equipment at the back of the aisle. That was also the location for guests to enter for the ceremony. Not only was all of his unattractive equipment on display in full view, but he himself was still wearing dirty jeans, a tee shirt with holes, and tennis shoes. After our initial shock at his unprofessionalism, we jumped into high gear to hide the lack of organization from guests and the bride and groom. We wish we could say the story ended there.

 During cocktail hour, the DJ was finally able to set the reception room with lights and his main sound system.  At that point we thought we had seen the worst of it. Wrong! While waiting to be announced, the bride and groom heard the DJ playing the song for the father daughter dance. From there, the mistakes ranged from not having proper equipment (skipping music), to not playing the right first dance song. He never used the bride and grooms names, he introduced speakers by their formal titles not personally, and played several songs more than once.

 To wrap up the first ever Monday’s memoire, listen to your gut. If a vendor isn’t striking confidence with you after the first, second or third meeting, you might want to reconsider having them be apart of your big day.  Don’t be a victim of the above situation.   

Until next time,

 Cheers!

8 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Selecting a venue for your big day is one of the first, of many, steps to planning your wedding. There are many different aspects that play a pivotal role when choosing the perfect host for your soiree. From budgeting to parking to vendor selection, you want to know what to look for. The following eight tips are the most important aspects to consider when assessing your options.

1.  Availability  

As you know, this is a critical factor when picking out your wedding venue!  Are they available on the day that you set? Venues book fast (up to two years in advance), so when you find THE ONE, you want to secure the spot as soon as possible. If your preferred venue isn't available on the date you set, is your date flexible? If it is, you can have the venue of your dreams just on a different day.  If it's not, time to keep shopping!

2. Price

Does your preferred venue fit within the budget you've set? On average, venues that do not provide food and beverage on site can cost up to thirty-five percent of your total budget. Those venue that do provide food and beverage on site, such as hotels, resorts, and country clubs, can run up to sixty percent of your budget or more. As a planner, I've seen too many couples misallocate much of their budget to a venue and leave themselves with no funds for the rest of the wedding. Those couples are what we call "venue poor". 

3. Capacity

When you find a venue, the next essential factor is the capacity. You want to ask the on site contact what the maximum occupancy is for your desired service style (ie cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, etc.) Having this information can guide you in creating your guest list. You don’t want guests to be squished or crowded.  A good rule of thumb is to never invite more people than the maximum capacity allows. 

4. Parking

Experiences in Colorado have taught that there are several venues that don't have ample on-site parking. Therefore, couples are forced to provide transportation for their guests to and from the venue.  If you procure a venue that does not provide an adequate parking solution for your guests, this will have a significant impact on your budget.  If there is parking available, you need to ensure there are a sufficient number of spots for everyone or inform your guests where overflow parking is located.  

5.  Preferred Vendors

It is important to know what vendors are recommended or even allowed at your chosen venue. Many places have a preferred list of professional vendors with whom they have worked and built relationships with. Some of those vendors are exclusive to the venue (you have to use that vendor).  A venue's preferred vendor list is generally well vetted but you need to make sure those listed fit within your budget. If you already found vendors, but they are not on the venue's preferred list, you should still be able to use them as long as they don't violate a relationship with an exclusive vendor. 

6. Plan B

Very important! It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a backup plan for your special day - especially in Colorado. When you are touring different venues, make sure their backup plan can accommodate ALL of your guests for unforeseen circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions. Whether it means setting up a tent for an outdoor ceremony or moving the ceremony inside to the reception room, it is vital to have worst-case scenario plans in place. You don’t want your festivities to be ruined due to poor planning. 

7.  Cancellation Policy

You may not think to ask your venue about their cancellation policy, but you can never be too sure! Knowing what the cancellation policy is for your venue and your vendors is essential. If the wedding has to be canceled due to environmental or personal circumstances, you want and need to be well informed of the venues policies. 

8. Special Provisions

Most Colorado venues have special provisions listed in their contracts regarding the dos and don'ts of your celebration. These can range from requiring a day of coordinator, to private event and vendor insurance, to flameless candles. Some venues even restrict flower petals down the aisle and the throwing of confetti or rice at the ceremony or grand exit. It's important to ask about any special provisions, for each specific venue, during your initial site visit.  

While the above tips are great to reference when selecting a venue you can never ask too many questions or be too thorough. Each wedding and couple is unique and it's important that your selected venue is the perfect fit for your celebration.   

Until next time,

Cheers!

5 Tips for Avoiding a "Catfish" Vendor

Congratulations, you're engaged! After the date has been set comes the tedious task of choosing which vendors you want to be present on your special day. While this is an exciting and happy time for you and your fiance, it is an opportunity for some to take advantage of your...lack of experience, if you will. As with any other profession, there are some "bad eggs" and "scammers" in the wedding & event industry. And let's be honest, most of your vendor research will be done online, giving those scammers a perfect veil to their true nature. While you can't avoid all of the catfish vendors out there, below are 5 tips to increase your chances!

Laura Murray Photography

Laura Murray Photography

1. Do they have references you can contact?

This is a HUGE one! Throughout my planning career, I've been asked on several occasions to produce references that would be willing to speak with potential clients about me and my services. As a professional, I don't mind doing that at all! In fact, I almost welcome it and I know that other professionals appreciate it as well. Why do we welcome requests for references you ask? Because it proves that we have tried and true clients, as opposed to personal friends or family, that will speak to the value of our products/services and how our professionalism played a part in their big day.

2. What is their reputation within the industry?

Another big one! Ask other vendors what their opinion is of the vendor you're considering. Have they heard of them? Worked with them? What was their experience? Good? Bad? Would they recommend that vendor to another couple? Would they enjoy working with that vendor again? What was the mutual client's feedback about the vendor? Based on the responses you receive, you'll have a good indication of whether or not you should hire and work with that person/company.

3. Do they have insurance?

Again, as a professional, I carry a $1 million liability insurance policy. Most, if not all, reputable vendors will carry at least liability insurance on their businesses. It shows potential clients that the company isn't a fly-by-night venture because we're bored. Time was taken to protect the business and clients of said business. Now - if a vendor doesn't have an insurance policy, it doesn't necessarily mean they're not professional. They may be filling a niche where liability for their services is at a minimum (i.e. ceremony guitarist, stationer, etc...) or they don't feel it's necessary for their specific product/service. That being said, the most reputable venues, transportation companies, photographers, planners, photo booths, etc...all have some sort of insurance protecting them, you, and their investment in your day.

4. What is their experience?

Coming from a food & beverage background, I gained a ton of experience with weddings & events on the floor serving at banquets & fine dining restaurants and working with chefs to prepare tasting menus and suggesting wines. In addition to my work experience, I also have a college degree that required me to study the ins and outs of producing small & large scale events. Take both of those elements and combine them with my wedding experience (6 years and almost 150 couples) and you can bet that I have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about. The same goes for all other professionals.  They have invested time, money, and energy into perfecting their trade and continue to do so by attending networking events, conferences, trade shows and the like. In most instances, wedding vendors didn't just wake up and decide to take up photography or catering or wedding planning. Also keep in mind that professionals had to get their start somewhere. But, it wasn't jumping full board into the industry without prior knowledge of what the job would entail.

5. Beware of price.

As noted above, all professionals got their start in the wedding & event world somehow. For me and Pink Champagne Events, it took a few bold & trusting clients (BIG thank you to Kellie + Austin, Emily + Peter, and Amanda + Tom) and a reduction in price for my services. That being said, beware of prices that are too low. If a vendor's quote is coming in at a shocking, "too good to be true" price, it is. As a beginner, I did my research and priced myself according to the current marketplace and my qualifications. By doing that, I was a bit lower priced, but not to the point where I raised eyebrows from my colleagues. If a vendor's price is coming in WAY lower than any other proposal, I refer you back to numbers 1 and 2.

Of course, there are still those vendors who appear as professional as they come, that can ruin your day. One of the most important things I tell my clients is to listen to their gut. If something seems even slightly askew with a potential vendor, trust yourself! Don't get trapped in a contract or commitment with a vendor that you don't have 100% confidence with.

Until next time,

Cheers!

8 Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Wedding Day Coordinator

As a wedding day planner, I get asked all the time, "what do you need from me to get started?" While there are items that we'll work on together (floor plan, timeline, final rental order, etc...) below is a list of common things that you can have prepared. In doing so, you'll feel much better about handing over your big day and I'll be oh-so-happy and confident in executing your vision, perfectly!

Photo by Haley Sheffield

1. Make a list of everything!

On that list, separate the personal items, that you're handing over to me, based on where you envision them being placed (i.e. ceremony, photo booth, guest tables, cocktail hour, etc...) If you have pictures showing this, it's even better! Also, make sure that I'm aware of what needs to go with you at the end of the night. Showing me which bag(s), shoes, and purse are yours, allows me to load items into the limo, while you're spending those last, oh-so-precious moments with family and friends.

2. Be prepared to hand over all vendor contracts.

As a coordinator/planner/designer/stylist, I know how much you're paying for your wedding. I don't want your contracts for that purpose.  I'm going to comb through them and make sure I'm aware of any special circumstances with vendors (i.e. a DJ needing a 4ft. table vs. the standard 6ft. or a photographer who requests that vendors refrain from social media postings until his/her photos have been released). All of which should be spelled out in your agreement with the hired professional.

3. Please, please tell me (and your photographer) about your family dynamics!

As minor as an issue may seem, emotions are running high on the wedding day and may make even the smallest of issues turn explosive. Especially, when alcohol is involved. Generally family members and guests are well behaved and respectful, but chaos has been known to break out. I'm here to help you mitigate situations and ensure that everyone has a great and stress-free time. But - you've got to warn me about crazy Aunt Mae, or touchy-feely Uncle Rob!

4. Have special tasks assigned to family members/friends/bridesmaids?

If you have a good friend bringing a special "something blue" to you on the wedding day, I need to know that.  Not because "I'm in control," but because I don't want to upset that friend by directing her to the ceremony, instead of your getting ready area. If I know to anticipate her arrival, I can greet with her a smile and say, "I've been expecting you!" I can't tell you the number of times something similar to this has happened, when I wasn't made aware, and a family member or guest was upset about it.

5. Wedding Party order and names.

In prepping for the rehearsal, I will request the order in which the wedding party will process. It's no secret that someone has to be the "first" to walk and the "farthest" away. By telling me the names of each of your wedding party members and the order in which they're walking, it allows me to make the rehearsal more personal and super efficient. The same goes for family members that are involved - first and last names are crucial!

6. Know and share your table counts, if you have assigned seating (which I HIGHLY recommend and prefer).

Knowing the accurate number of guests seated at each table makes setup on the wedding day, for both myself and your catering staff, a breeze. Going a step further, if you are providing a plated dinner, complete with entree selections, provide the breakdown of entree counts for each table.  For example: Table #8 has (9) guests - (3) chicken, (3) beef, (2) fish and, (1) vegetarian. Trust me, your pre-planning strategies will be greatly appreciated on behalf of your entire vendor team!

7. Alphabetize those escort cards.

You've decided that it's a great idea to assign guests to tables - THANK YOU! When the reception doors open and guests enter for the first time, the last thing you want them to do is stand in a line to find what table you've placed them at. Make it easy on them and alphabetize the cards by last name.  You can also save me, your day-of planner, a huge headache on the wedding day, if you do this ahead of time!

8. End-of-the-night-madness management.

I know it's hard to think ahead to the end of your magical day.  But, believe me, you will be SO SO happy that you did. You know all those gifts, extra favors + escort cards, personal toasting flutes, cake knife and server, guest book, photo booth props + USB drive, left-over food + cake + alcohol, flowers, etc...? Yeah...those all need to go somewhere at the end of the night. And, as much as I'd love to help, my insurance company doesn't allow me to "hold on" to those items. My recommendation? Assign 3-4 people that you can rely on at the end of the night (that have not been drinking) to take any/all personal items. Your vendor team will help clean, pack up, and load items, we just need to know who's taking them.

The very minor details above can make a HUGE difference during the setup and tear down of your big day. By being prepared and allowing me to be fully informed, you've opened up my capabilities as your planner. You have also prepared me to handle any additional, unforeseen occurrences that may arise (i.e. weather + traffic delays, lost vendors, setup snafus, etc...).

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

{Married} Amy + Brian | Littleton, CO Wedding

With lovely linens, a gorgeous venue, and lush, garden-inspired flowers, Amy + Brian's fabulous soiree was one for the books! On a very rainy day (believe it or not!) in June, these two tied the knot in front of their closest friends and family, underneath a handheld chuppah. Not having a wedding party meant I was able to focus on this super fun and oh-so-true-to-themselves couple to really make this fete the soft and romantic day they both envisioned. Take a look and leave your comments below!

Venue: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Planning + Design: Pink Champagne Events

Photographer: Casey Wigotow with Two One Photography

Flowers: Kristi Pohly with Fleur Decor

Hair + Makeup: Matthew Morris Salon

Dress: The Bridal Collection

Catering: Occasions Catering Denver

Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen

Pies: Humble Pie Store

DJ: Dwight Houser with DanceTraxx

Other Event Rentals: Event Rents

Transportation: Banjo Billy Bus Tours

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center

 

 

Coming Soon...

Wedding season has definitely been in full swing around here! And because of that, the blog activity has suffered - boo! In an effort to get back on track, here's a sneak peek from one of many lovely affairs coming soon! Enjoy :)

Image by Casey Wigotow with Two One Photography

Image by Casey Wigotow with Two One Photography

{Published} Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine Blog

I'm so honored to announce that Christina + Jason had their lovely Estes Park wedding published on Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine's Blog! Happy (early) 1st Anniversary, you two! :) To see the full feature on RMB click here. For an extended look into their wedding, you can view their gallery here.

Image by Caroline of Pippins Pictures Photography

{Published} Wedding Chicks Happy Hour

A fab image, captured by Haley Sheffield, from Joy + Cody's fabulous late-August wedding was the spotlight of the Wedding Chicks Happy Hour, yesterday!  While the showcased image is below, you can check out even more images of their extremely detailed and lovely affair here.