Wedding Planning Tips and Advice
Grand Rapids Wedding Planning
Here is our ever expanding list of wedding day and pre planning suggestions compiled from Life Love Shots, DJ Grand Rapids, & Fast Booth Photo Booth and our many combined years in the wedding industry.
Most wedding receptions take place in a 6 hour time frame. This rarely goes up. 2 or 3 events out of 100 will go long. It is also recommended to actually plan less time depending on a number of factors. Religious groups, older groups, smaller groups, and events that are in June or July. Keep in mind, wedding receptions usually break down into two halves. First half will hold cocktail hour, intros, toasts/prayer, dinner, cake, visiting/staff clearing time. Second half will be formal dances and open dancing, with bouquet in there shortly after the dance floor opens.
No 3pm ceremonies on location
If you are having your ceremony and reception on the same property or location we want to help you plan! Most ceremonies take 12 minutes. Please do not plan your ceremony too early. Just like all of your other vendors, we cannot take breaks. Your ceremony should be planned to be immediately before your scheduled reception time. DO Plan your ceremony at 430 with a 5-11 timeframe. DO NOT plan your ceremony at 3pm with a 5-11 time frame. DJ ceremony seating music should start 30 minutes before scheduled ceremony start.
No 2pm ceremonies off location
Your guests will go to the venue directly after the ceremony unless you are providing a shuttle to a far away place. Please plan your ceremony timing accordingly. Older guests arrive 30 minutes early no matter what.
Phones During Ceremony/Formals
PLEASE announce in some way, microphone, invitations, rsvp for guests to not use phones for ceremony or formal dance pictures. We don’t want everyone in the background with their phones up. We want them enjoying the moment.
Cake and visiting
One of the most important times on your night will be after dinner and before dancing. Please plan on time for guests to eat cake (or whatever you’re having.) Immediately after B & G are done eating they should cut the cake. Following this they should be visiting tables. During this time many things are happening. Guests are finishing dinner, getting dessert, getting back to the bar. Staff is clearing tables, making room for dance floor if needed. It’s also getting darker! You also want things to happen when they naturally happen, dinner then dessert.
Toasts/blessing should take place after introductions and before dinner. Some couples try and have toasts after everyone has had their meal served. Three things happen when this is tried. First, nobody really pays attention. Guests are eating and talking with their table. If guests do pay attention, they have to stop eating completely as silverware noise on plates is very loud once you turn off any background music. Third, all of your vendors cannot eat during this time. We have very long days and need to eat too.
If it isn’t going to get dark until nearly 10 or at 10 pm, everything should be shifted a little later to accommodate. Darkness is a HUGE factor in dancing. People do not want to be dancing when it is “day time.” If your event is from June 1-July 14, plan on it not getting dark until 930 or 10. Does your venue have windows? Is it outside? Does it have blinds that can be shut?
If you are thinking about having a large (More than 10) number of kids at your reception please be aware of a couple things. First, kids WILL run all over the dance floor chasing lights. Second, kids will either scare adults off of the dance floor, or, become the main focal point of the dance floor. Imagine a circle around the two year old dancing for the first time or the two 5 year old cousins slow dancing together. This is cute for a couple minutes but it is counter productive to the dance floor and party as a whole. We then have to build from zero again as people lose interest. Also plan on guests with young children leaving at or around 9pm.
Most of our clients choose to throw a bouquet. Most do not choose to remove/throw the garter. This is perfectly fine with us. We do not suggest playing any “games” for this.
No. Mood killer. If you must, some parents really push this as a tradition, we suggest have a charity in mind to donate the proceeds to.
Bar, Dance Floor, & Photo Booth should be as close together as possible. You don’t want one thing drawing everyone away from the main party area. Make sure all of your vendors know if you have separate areas for dancing, dinner, etc.
You want your DJ right on top of the dance floor, not far away. You want cake/desert and coffee near each other. Do not seat older guests near any speakers.
Do not have too large of a room for your number of guests. You don’t want the “airplane hangar” effect. With 50 guests, you should not have a room for more than 100. With 100 guests, you should not have a room for more than 200. With 150 guests, you should not have a room for more than 250.
Dance Floor Size
It is always better to have a smaller area for the dance floor rather than too large an area. You should stick to a 20% – 25% area. 200 guests equal a dance floor for 40-50 people max. You want the dance floor to feel “busy.”
Please no greeting guests in the buffet line. Greet them after dinner after you cut cake. This takes about 3 times as long as a normal buffet for your amount of guests. Food quality also suffers because of the extra time it takes guests to get through.
We love family photos. Large group photos should be completed before the bride and groom/ wedding party introductions. Once you start taking large groups away from the party, it is hard to build it back up.
DJ Grand Rapids does your day of coordinating for you.
We are hoping to find a wedding planner we are comfortable working with. We have to correct mistakes and “ideas” all throughout the planning process and day of events. For example, a 9 tier wedding cake will NEED to be cut immediately. It will need to be cut even faster at an outdoor reception on lake Michigan. On June 14 2014 the wedding planner planned on cutting the 9 tier cake at 930pm. Exactly what we planned on happened, the cake started falling, so we had to cut the cake when the bride and groom arrived, much earlier than she planned.
On July 11 2014 our wedding planner was so focused on being “on time” 13 cars full of guests drove through the ceremony area while the bride was walking down the isle. Guests were actually walking behind the bride. We had politely explained the venue is hard to find and there were many empty seats but were struck down by the planner, not the bride. Also on July 11 the wedding planner submitted a final timeline that included a last song at 9pm! The bride called us crying as she planned on ending the night at 11pm. The planners reasoning was she wanted some extra time to clean up.
On September 26 2014 the wedding planner instructed the catering staff to break down tables during our formal dances.
June 20 2015 the wedding planner didn’t cue us on the bridal march or space out the bride during the ceremony. She also did not order enough food or have a food option for any of the Jewish guests in attendance other than a potato.
If you would like more examples, we are happy to share them.
If you don’t trust your vendors to do their job, hire other vendors, not a wedding planner.
Depending on the time these can look awesome and work great. Sunset photos should be for the bride and groom only. If you gives guests a chance to be outside, they might not go back in.
To Veil or not to Veil
All of our brides who wear a veil regret it afterward because it is either blowing around in their face, or while getting hugs everyone pulls on it and messes up your hair. You don’t get many pictures with it on anyway. Bird cage is the exception.
Please do not use plastic hangers for your wedding dress or any bridesmaid dresses! Plastic hangers are not flattering. If you do not want something special or custom, please use wood or another better looking option.
Keep in mind most wedding receptions will play about 100-120 songs. Please do not ask guests for requests on your invitations. Most guests will request songs as a joke (five finger death punch, the string cheese incident, butthole surfers, etc) and we will end up searching for and buying 100-200 songs that will never be used.
When the dance floor is opened, we like to play music mostly in chronological order. Starting in the 60s and working our way up to current.
You need to make a conscious decision who you want to play for. Does is make sense to play music for the older guests most of the night knowing they will most likely leave at 9-930. We like a gradual increase to current.
Outdoor events in the state of Michigan must be done at 11pm per state law and most local noise ordinances. We cannot play music after 11pm as we would be the ones getting a ticket.
Photo Booths Outdoors
Bugs! Plan on your photo booth ending at dusk when bugs will start landing on the touch screen which sets off the booth and annoying/biting your guests in the booth. They are attracted to the light from the photo booth and even with a push button booth, bugs will be in the enclosure and ruining pictures.
Early Set Up
If your vendors are required (or nice enough) to be setting up earlier than 30 minutes ahead of time, please make sure they have a contact person for the venue and their mobile phone number. It is a bad situation when you get to a place to set up early and nobody is there or answering the phone.
Make sure your vendors have an emergency contact other than the bride! You will be much too busy to be dealing with any issues that might come up. We prefer a set of parents.
We usually do not go to the salon until after makeup is applied. The majority of brides do not want pictures with zero makeup on!
Many couple are providing a late night snack. Be aware that this will take people away from dancing and depending on what food it is, might be a very big distraction.
Please have an actual arrival time on your invitations. Also know older guests arrive 30 minutes early as “on time.”
Please be careful with any tanning or tanning alternatives. We don’t want you to be orange in your pictures.
If you would like any pictures with your hands (holding, rings, etc,) we recommend having your nails well manicured by a professional.
Make sure you are choosing a time or location that will be relatively free of onlookers and spectators.
Family Portraits/Posed Pictures
These should all be completed before open dancing starts. Nobody uses or wants sweaty pictures.
We see lots of bad photo booths out there. Your photo booth should be a carefully planned part of the night like everything else. If you are hiring a photo booth make sure you are hiring a booth that prints in 10 seconds or under, photo strips come out cut, and take three pictures with an area to customize underneath. These are all huge time wasters (and ways for the photo booth to print less and make more money) and keep people away from the dance floor for long periods of time. Most photo booths are designed to make money for the operator, not be a benefit to your event.
Do you have a number of Jewish, gluten free, or other guests with special dietary needs? Make sure all of your guests have an option for dinner.
Tipping is never expected but always appreciated. We receive tips on a regular basis although not 100% of the time. If you feel your vendor(s) did an exemplary job, or went over & above, a tip is definitely something that shows your appreciation.