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Procrastinating about wedding planning?
True confession. This week I started to research a blog post about procrastination, but found myself so quickly overwhelmed that I wanted to procrastinate.
Okay, most of us procrastinate over something, myself included. The last thing I need is to get stuck writing on the topic of not getting stuck. Ironic. So, I have redirected to what was really my main point anyway. Planning a wedding is a lot of work. I mean, whether you are just getting started, or in the thick of it, planning a wedding is a major project, right? I have yet to meet a couple that is not already busy BEFORE they started planning their wedding.
Last year, I booked a couple just ten weeks prior to their wedding date. (And no, there was no shotgun involved.) I gave them a list of things to do right away, and when I met with them a month later, at six weeks prior to their wedding, they were completely on point and caught up. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed. I am always amazed at how much we can get done when there is truly no time to spare. With that said, here are my best kick-starter suggestions for you.
- Keep this in mind. People like to say they work best at the 11th hour. No, they get it done at the 11th hour because they have to. But, had they started earlier, had time to work without pressure, had a chance to revisit and improve on their work, then they would be doing their best work. I know you want to have an amazing wedding. Give yourself the time you need to actively, intentionally, thoughtfully plan it. Whether that is ten weeks, or ten months.
- Make a list. I don’t know why I fight this step myself sometimes. I am not doing myself any favors. Until I get my tasks on paper, I am walking through life with a brain that feels like there is an asteroid shower going on inside. My To Do’s are dangerously floating in my head, crashing into each other, with no apparent logical direction. Once my thoughts are on paper I am free.
- Find a way to make the planning pleasant. Make a date to get started. If you don’t want to do it alone, or having someone else there to help you focus on making your list is helpful, get your significant other or a good friend in on this. Go somewhere you won’t be tempted to do anything other than plan. Your favorite coffee shop? A park? The library? Someone else's kitchen table? Find a happy spot.
- Break it down. Go ahead, make your big ‘ol hairy list of everything you can think of. But, don’t go home and post THAT on the frig. NO WAY! That sounds like the perfect recipe for procrastination. Instead, decide a due date for each task. You can break it down by month, or go further and break it down by week. Make your own wedding planning calendar. Post one month at a time on your frig at the most. But, whatever you do, plan to have it all done a month before your wedding. Most couples don’t do this. But, if you do, you will thank me for it. I promise. I hear it all the time. The last month will kick your butt in the stress department. Interestingly, I hear this most from the grooms.
- Get ‘er done! For some people, a check mark on a list is the best reward. But, for most of us, we need something a little more tangible. You know what floats your boat, so sprinkle some rewards in there. Go ahead. Be generous. You are going to earn it. And, when you do, you will deserve it! Maybe you need to set up some accountability? Find someone to check your list weekly. Pick someone that also has some skills of encouragement and will celebrate your victories along the way.
- Remember this. The longer you wait to book your favorite and most spectacular venue/DJ/photographer/florist/videographer/officiate/baker/musicians/photo booth/beauty, someone else may be booking them for the day you need them. What? You say I am pushing you too fast already? It’s okay. You can take your time. Take months if you want. I am just telling you that you may end up with your 2nd or 3rd choice vendor, but I am certain someone will be available to work your wedding. This industry is not short of vendors. I guess my question is always the same. If you find someone you really like, why wait and let them slip away? I get emails months after a tour telling me they have decided to book, but when they ask of our availability, the calendar looks different than it did before. At some point, we even sell out.
- Finally, don’t stress. You got this. If two busy professionals who don’t plan events for a living can plan a wedding in ten weeks, AND have time to learn to dance, you can do it too. Besides, planning it all out is what is going to eliminate/annihilate/destroy the pressure and stress. I believe in you. You can do it! Follow these steps (please feel free to tweak them to fit you), and you will not only have a wonderful wedding, but you will enjoy the time leading up to it.
Oh. And, if you want to chew a little on some thoughts about procrastination and avoiding it, check out these tips from Unstuck.com and this short video called Eat That Frog. Strangely, after viewing both of these references I experienced a day that was twice as productive. It was like magic.
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This is how every wedding should end, don’t you think?
At the end of one of the best days of your life, you want our loved ones gathered around, singing and dancing their hearts out.
I spoke to Chris Mortillaro of Elegant Event Entertainment this week, who happened to be the DJ at this particular wedding. My goal was to pick his brain about last dances. Obviously, the guy is doing something right. While this is what you consistently get when you hire EEE for your wedding or special event, Chris is generous enough to want every DJ out there to be able to give their couples an unforgettable end to their wedding. With that said, grab your dancing shoes! I am going to share his recipe for a last dance that sends you off with a bang.
1. Picking the Song
It isn't a hard rule, but in general you want to pick a fun, upbeat song everyone knows. This gives your guests the opportunity to join in and make a memory. When I saw this photo I knew the song had to be Don’t Stop Believ’in by Journey. It is hands down the most popular last dance song, and has been now for years. But, there are so many fantastic songs to select, and one that may be more personal to you. I have seen New York, New York bring down the house at a wedding filled with New Yorkers, performing leg kicks that would make The Rockettes proud.
2. Gathering The Guests
It is Jason Jones, Chris' business partner and co-founder of EEE, who gets the credit for creating their approach to a last dance. It begins by foreshadowing the last dance by a quick announcement as the second to the last song begins. That is a good time to let the guests know the last dance is coming, and to stay near so they don’t miss it. This builds anticipation for the event. The announcement will also prepare the couple and vendors, making sure everyone is on the same page and ready. As the last song starts playing, the DJ should ask all the guests to join the couple on the dance floor, forming a circle around the couple. Sometimes, this takes a little coaxing. The DJ will let the guests know the couple needs their participation for this last amazing event of the night and they want them to be a part of it. The DJ may have to interrupt some conversations happening off the dance floor, but guests will soon realize cutting a conversation short was worth it. While the dance begins in a circle, showcasing the couple one last time, it isn't long that the circle should be broken up so everyone can just let go and dance their butts off. This is a celebration, people!
3. Save The Details
Did you notice that I called it an "event”? A last dance can be big. Epic even, if it is played right. That means you don’t want a DJ to announce anything before the last dance about the impending exit procedures. Nooooo. When a DJ does that, it is all guests hear. They are obedient, so they will start gathering their things and head out the door if he tells them to. Early exit announcements will decimate the population of your dance floor every time, as well as create some confusion. The last dance should be an event, just as important as toasts or the couple’s thank you to all the guests at the end of the night. No one should miss it, and it shouldn’t be downgraded to an exit procedure. In fact, Chris mentioned something I have also been noticing also last year. More couples are starting to forego some traditions that have been important for decades. They are skipping things like the bouquet toss, garter toss, and a cake cutting. One reason is that they don’t want to interrupt the momentum on the dance floor. Another reason is that it can be embarrassing for single women to be called out, especially over a certain age. And, many brides just don’t want to be the focus of attention for all her guests as her groom goes up her skirt to remove the garter with his teeth. Awkward! But, whatever the excuse, all the more reason to create a big show with the last dance. And, as the song is winding down, at the very end of it, that is the moment for a DJ to shout out the couple’s names, thank all for coming on behalf of all the vendors (name them because we all worked hard together to make the day wonderful), and then, finally, give the exit instructions and call it a night. Put all this together and you will have a seamless, personal, polished last dance and end to your wedding.
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“Can I bring my own caterer?”
As I receive inquiries from couples, I am often asked the same question. “Can I bring my own caterer?” I contacted Robert, our catering manager, to learn more about the different options available when it comes to pairing a venue with a caterer.
BYOC (bring your own caterer)
Some venues allow you to hire the caterer of your choice. This is a desirable option for couples with specific ethnic, religious, or personal needs. Perhaps they require a kosher meal, authentic Indian food, or they are vegan. Maybe they have a favorite caterer, relative, or friend who will cut them a great deal or who already knows exactly what they like. Sometimes, a caterer may be found who has less experience and will do the job at a discount, helping out couples hoping to find a less expensive option. Venues allowing any caterer, often ones they don’t know, to work at their site are either typically on the lower end of venues, or they are inexperienced. They welcome any caterer, reputable or not, to set up shop for the day. This is the hard way for an inexperienced venue to gain experience quickly. Couples may bring wonderful caterers to the venue, but they also may bring terrible caterers with poor food, sloppy service, and who leave the venue a mess.
Using a List
Nicer venues tend to have an exclusive or very limited list of caterers for hire. This gives their couples more flexibility. The venues still have to monitor the different caterers to make sure they know who, if anyone, is breaking the rules. But, at least these caterers know the rules. The advantage is that the venue has screened the caterers for you. It is also a good option for a busy venue that books many events year round.
Choosing to Use an Exclusive Caterer
For us, having an exclusive caterer was an easy decision made years ago. It gives us the confidence to know exactly what is going on. In the beginning, knowing we would someday be executing 60 weddings in 6.5 months each year gave my parents the motivation to find a caterer who was like-minded. When you are sharing clients with another company for every event, it quickly becomes a partnership. In Command Performance Catering, we found a company that was willing to do what it took to give our clients a wonderful experience, from the food to the service. One thing I love is that they are always excited to try new things. When I came on the scene four years ago, I quickly noticed they liked to say “yes” when couples would make unusual requests. At the same time, if the idea was sure to fail, they were quick to find either an alternative option, or help the couple understand not every idea is a winner. Not only is this a valuable trait to have in an industry constantly pushed and pulled by trends, it is just plain nice!
Being a venue that operates under a Conditional Use Permit through Ventura County means we have a seemingly endless list of rules and conditions of operation. We needed to be sure we had a caterer who was ready, willing, and able to take into consideration the rules set in place by Ventura County. Our existence depends on it. We can’t afford to make mistakes, and we needed to partner with a caterer who had the same goal in mind. Having a Conditional Use Permit isn’t an easy, or even practical way to operate a business, but the rewards certainly make it worth the extra effort.
Finally, when your venue is located on the same property you live at, you want it well cared for. This is home. When a caterer becomes exclusive, over time it becomes their home too. We are told by the employees of CPC they refer to our venue as “catering heaven”. Being familiar with the site, we took their ideas for site upgrades into consideration. The years have given us time to become good friends, highly organized partners, and the opportunity to share in the pleasure of creating repeatedly successful weddings and events. It works for us, and our couples. In fact, our couples often tell us how grateful they are that they didn’t have to search out a fantastic caterer because we took care of that for them.