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Helpful Articles from Professional Buffalo Prairie DJs
Ultimate Wedding Receptions: Part 1 Wedding General Party Tips
Welcome to the first of our 6-part series dedicated exclusively to planning your wedding reception. In this part, we will focus on the facility you choose for your reception and what impact it will have on your reception. All views expressed are my sole opinion based upon my 7 years of experience performing at receptions as a professional entertainer and entertainment consultant.
5 Key Considerations in Choosing a Banquet Facility
1. Capacity: Capacity of the venue should be one of your main considerations in choosing an appropriate facility for your reception. You will need to have a really good idea of how many guests are going to be at your reception before you chose the location (unless you really want to adjust the amount of guests to the facility). The right size facility will fit your crowd comfortably but not have an excessive amount of additional capacity. YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR RECEPTION TO LOOK EMPTY! On the other hand, you do not want your facility to be overcrowded. The maximum capacity a facility manager gives you is almost always uncomfortably full. Keep this in mind when making your decision. You do not want to be moving tables and having trouble walking to the bar throughout the evening. If you can perfect this balancing act between too big and too little your reception is on the right track.
2. Layout: You can choose the best possible facility for your event but if the layout is bad you event can suffer. The layout should be decided upon by you, the facility, the caterer, and the entertainer. First, you do not want tables on your dancefloor that need to be moved later in the evening. This is an inconvenience to your guests and can ruin the mood of your event. If this is a problem, your facility does not have an adequate capacity. The facility will most likely have a standard layout. This may or may not work for you but make sure you are familiar with it. If your food is going to be a buffet, then the location of the buffet is key. Make sure that your buffet is easily accessible from both sides for quick serving. I have even seen the food placed in a separate room, which seems to work well. I recommend putting the bar somewhere in the middle of the room along one side. When the bar is at the far end, guests often gather at the bar and avoid the entertainment. Your head table should be front and center. These people are the center of attention for the evening (a stage sometimes helps as well). I recommend, if possible, your entertainer be set up on one side of the head table(s) and your cake on the other side. Do not separate your entertainer from the dancefloor though. A final consideration is to make sure you have adequate walking room and aisles. Make sure that all guests will be able to get up from their seats without bumping the person behind them at the next table. Also, designate some obvious aisles for traffic to and from the buffet and bar.
3. Ambience / Décor: Do not accept a banquet facility as is unless it is breathtaking. Additional décor can be added at a minimal cost and the impact is amazing. Speak with your banquet facility, rental company, and entertainer about possible additions. Your florist is the first step in transforming the facility. A good florist can work wonders. Christmas lights can help if they are kept classy. Many entertainment companies can supply you with various ambience lighting. This includes color washes on walls and similar effects. My company can even put the bride & groom's name on a wall with light. You want your guests to feel like they are in a dream or a different atmosphere. If you can make them forget about the outside world for one evening, then everyone is in for a fun and memorable evening. Remember to keep it classy though, if done improperly décor can look very cheesy.
4. Staffing: Make sure your facility is going to be adequately staffed. You will want to be sure there is enough bar staff to serve all your guests. Find out who will be there and what their job for the evening will be. You will want to know who to turn to if you need something done on short notice.
5. Hours: A final consideration is how many hours you have the facility. Some of the décor can take several hours to set up. Most facilities have a definite close time (many use midnight). Make sure you know if this is the end of entertainment or the time everyone must be out the door. Also, check when last call for alcohol will be. You will need to double check all event times and also check to if early setup is available and what it will cost.
These are some of the main considerations in choosing your facility. The facility is your first major choice in planning a night to remember. If done properly, your facility will set the mood for the whole evening. If done poorly, your event will look cheesy and gaudy and your guests will feel uncomfortable.
Written by Master DJ & Visual Effects Inc. of Moline, IL
Ultimate Wedding Receptions: More Information Wedding General Party Tips
The 'Team': I chose to use the word 'team,' instead of the general term 'wedding vendors,' for a very important reason. What many people do not realize is that when they hire a caterer, photographer, banquet manager/facility, videographer, entertainer, cake company, and in some cases wedding planner is that these people have to work together as a team at your event. While each of these people must be able to do the job they were hired for, they must also be able to work in close proximity to and cooperatively with each other. When this is done properly, the positive outcome will be much more than you would ever expect. This concept of the wedding team, as far as I know, has never been published and is the focus of the rest of this article.
References: If you do not know where to start looking for quality vendors, then references are going to be your best friend. However, there are many different types of references and I am not referring to the common ones. The common method of obtaining references is to ask potential vendors to supply you with references. These are important sources of information. Make sure the references are recent and for the specific product or service you need. CALL THE REFERENCES! You must put some time into calling these people. Take note of their attitude and what they say. Obviously the vendor is not going to give you a bad reference, so pay close attention to what these people do not say. It can be just as important as their words. A better method of obtaining references is to ask vendors that you already trust for other vendor recommendations. Also, look for postings on chat boards like and The Knot.com. These are sources of information that the vendors have no control over. Be careful to make sure that the personal opinions expressed are justified. Once again, there is nobody controlling what is said. Use references as a main tool to find quality vendors.
Experience: Experience is extremely important for events that are extremely important. Make sure your vendors are experienced in what you are asking of them and find some sort of proof. Look for well-established companies that will still be in business when your event occurs. My entertainment company gets calls all the time from brides that had a vendor go out of business before their event. If your budget does not permit hiring an experienced company (that often charge more due to the costs of running such a business), then be extra-careful. If you need to hire an individual as opposed to a company, then just be sure that you trust the person and you have many ways to get in contact with them. Also make sure you have written contracts with all your vendors. You do not want to be searching around for a new vendor the month or week of your wedding.
Professionalism: How a company conducts business is just as important as what they do. Most of the time professionalism will go hand-in-hand with experience. You want to choose vendors that know how special your event is to you and that will take a personal interest in creating a spectacular event for you. Pay attention to how they are dressed, what they sound like when they answer the phone, if they have an office or not, and of course the appearance of all their paperwork. You want true professionals working with you on your event.
Personality: Personality is somewhat the same as professionalism. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your vendors enjoy what they are doing and are enthusiastic about it. Your vendors need to work well both with you and the rest of the 'team.' Is a bad attitude reason enough not to hire someone? YES! Choose people you like and will enjoy working with. This will make your experience much more pleasant.
The Compounding Effect: Here is the theory behind the 'wedding team' and the reason for implementation of the term. If you are able to successfully choose all professionals whom have positive attitudes, good personalities, and are experts at what they are going to be doing; then there will be a large compounding effect when they work together. What I mean by this is that each vendor will work together as a team to provide you with the best results possible at your reception. These results will almost always exceed what the individual companies can do on their own. An overly simple example of this is a DJ and Photographer working together. My entertainers know to check with the photographer to see what sort of lighting will be best for their pictures. They also make sure the photographer knows what is going to happen before it actually happens so that he/she will be ready to capture the moment. Simple teamwork like this, when it occurs between five or six vendors can yield amazing results. Put this effect to work for you!
The first step in getting your vendors to work together is to supply each one with a list of all the other vendors. On the list you should include the company names, contact person, phone number(s), & email. Good Luck!
Written by Master DJ & Visual Effects Inc. of Moline, IL
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