Wedding Outline For Couples
Thank you for having me! - I appreciate it very much and I will do all I can to personalize your wedding to your tastes – to hopefully maximize your fun and hopefully help minimize any issues!
The Goal - For most people, their wedding day this one of the biggest days in their lives and for most people this is the most time and effort they will ever spend planning an event!
My main goal is to do all I can to help you have the best wedding it can be! The goal of this outline is to use my experience to help you, not only in your planning, but also give you some things to consider the night of your wedding. Yes, sorry this a long outline, but I wouldn't put have this together if I didn't think some / all of this information can help you on many levels!
Please use this as guide as you prepare for your night. This outline meant to help you save time, help in your planning, and work on getting as much done ahead of time so you can better enjoy your night. The night goes by fast, but we can "slow it down" by taking care of important details ahead of time. A few minutes to read this over could save you a ton of time and really help you in preparing for your wedding!
Why This Outline? - I used to discuss all / some of this over the phone or at our meeting, but it was very time consuming and I have found recently that having this outline has been incredibly helpful as it allowed for even more time to further personalize your night to your likes and tastes. The feedback from couples from this information has been great. Many couples discuss some aspect of this outline after their wedding and have thanked me after the fact - this is one of the main reason why I put this together.
To most couples, the music and the other details I am involved with are all very important. While I personalize every wedding I do, there are some things I have learned in almost 20 years of performing for hundreds weddings - just about every type, shape, size you can think of! I have also been going to weddings all my life as I have a big family and been to a lot of friends weddings as well. I've learned over the years that there are a lot of little things that can add up for the night. Discussing and addressing some of these things now it can make a big difference!
Some of this may or may not be important to you. Please ignore the things that don't pertain to you or that are not important to you. Please let me know if the things that are important to you!
Please utilize this information to help you as you plan. I think you will find these few minutes spent reviewing and working through these thing now will be very valuable in the long run! You can always tell when the bride / groom and the DJ or the band are not on the same page and haven't discussed a lot (or any) details ahead of time. If you can imagine having to deal with some of these details the night of your wedding - you would take precious time away from your family and friends (and your fun!) dealing with some of these issues! I want to go into your wedding confident that we are all on the same page so you can relax and enjoy your night!
Why Explain? - Why is it that some weddings are great while others aren't? There definitely are a number of factors and distinctions that affect the overall success of weddings! I have listed many of them below. Some/all of these factors can be the difference in making your wedding great!
This has been an ongoing study of mine as I take this serious in the guise of making every event a party. This is my full-time career, how I support my wife and my 3 children, so I appreciate every event and the success of every event is important to me and my future! The success of your wedding means a lot to me and I appreciate the trust you have given me on your big day! There are some things I can control and some things I can't control and going over these details now can have a huge impact on your night. I can't predict if your wedding will be great or not. But I will do all I can on my end to help you get what you want!
One Example - From the years of feedback from couples I work with, friends, family, etc..it seems we have all been to great weddings and we have been to wedding that just weren't much fun. We've been to weddings where it's a - fun party celebration with family and friends - and we've been to the - "show-off" circus-type - weddings. What might help is to think about what is really the most important things to both of you, your families, and friends and focus on those.
There is a couple from Williamsville that I did all three of their daughters receptions, each with a few years of each other. Each were fun but VERY different. Each were at a different location, each were higher-end classy weddings, but not over the top. Each were a fun party, even though each had different music tastes and requests. The one thing that they all had in common is the brides were prepared. They took the details serious but weren't over the top, and they each wanted everyone to have a good time. Each bride took the time to talk through these details, discuss the things that were important to them ahead of time, filled out all the online info etc., got all music to me ahead of time, we personalized their night and outline, and each wedding went very smooth. At each wedding, you could tell that the couple really cared for each other and everyone there was happy for them. They were more relaxed and having fun and that had a big impact on the success of the night. Their planning revolved around celebrating and togetherness. What was common theme was each wedding was about the couple and enjoying family and friends and making sure all were relaxed and having a good time…any extra stuff and special plans revolved around this theme. They weren't big dancers but each couple were on the dance floor most of the night and they were able to enjoy each and have fun with their families and friends. People were out there with them, enjoying the night and the dance floor was packed all night for all 3 weddings! If all this is your focus, you have a much better chance of everyone having a great time.
I received great feedback from them for these weddings (Tom & Cathy Friedman - on my website under testimonials). While I did play an important part of the success of these weddings, it was also the result of the extra planning we did with each couple and the general preparation, details, and vibe of each couple, not only before their wedding, but night of as well.
These three weddings were an example of the number of fun weddings I've performed and / or been at. Of course, it's not their wedding, it's yours. What you want is really up to you! I'm just giving a few general thoughts that might help as you plan.
Here's an outline of some suggstions and some things to consider to help you save time and help you have a better wedding!
1. Call all of your vendors and event professionals to re-confirm! Month before and Week Before! - So much can happen in a year or more from the time you book something until now... call every business you are working with and confirm details. When my wife and I got married we called / e-mailed all to confirm all a month before and the week of… The company that we had booked for our trellis for the ceremony over a year previous, we called a month before and all was good and then I called the week of as I did with our vendors… they said "we're so glad you called, we actually can't do that for you anymore!"… "WHAT???" - luckily I had a few days to scramble to find another one but had I not called it was likely we not have had one for our ceremony. This is, of course up to you, just a friendly reminder and something I suggest to all couples.
2. Online Planning Area - You should have received a password for the online planning area. You can find the Log In area on my website under "About" – here's the direct link. http://www.kevinsmccarthy.com/login.html. Please fill in as much as you can. Leave blank anything you don't know right now or want to wait until meet to finalize it. Remember when you make changes to SAVE your updates!
3. Due Date For Music Online & Planning - Please get all music, music requests, and complete and finalize the planning form as soon as you can….and it needs to be completed at least 7 days before your wedding… I can't guarantee I will have things ready if I get it after that. Finalizing your wedding and personalizing and preparing all of you music, your outline, etc… can be very time consuming and have found that 7 days works best. It not my policy to accept music in any form the night of your wedding for a number of reasons.
4. Meeting or Phone To Finalize Your Outline - Please contact me about a month prior to your wedding to set up a time to meet – either in person or by phone, whichever works best for you. Please have the outline as completed as possible before we finalize your night. Please make any notes you'd like to discuss with me before then as well. I completely understand if you would like to discuss some things before making a decision and we can discuss those and make decisions at that time.
5. Youtube Links - Please provide Youtube links for songs I don't have and/or requests and important songs that I may have so I can make sure I have the correct version. There are many different versions of songs and this is a way to make sure I have the one you want. You can also e-mail me an MP3 as an attachment of easier or send a link to a "Dropbox" type of service if you use that type of service.
6. Equipment, Stage Area, Table, Seating Charts, Dinner, Power –
a. 18' by 10' Minimum Area - Because I do a lot of high-end events, I use very high-end equipment and bring about 3 - 4x the cost of what a normal DJ brings. I use two fo the latest Bose towers and subs which need to be 18 feet across to avoid possible noise canceling….and I need at least about 10ft deep. The tower are surprising thin and sound amazing. If space is an issue, please discuss this with me ahead of tie to help avoid problems.
b. Wall Power - The equipment I have is high-tech and doesn't draw as much power as traditional equipment. However, it does require one wall plug on a separate line – in other words, nothing else plugged into that line (lights, coffee make, heater, etc… any of those can cause a draw of power and/or hum)…. I bring everything else I need for the night! I can't be more than 50ft away from the wall power.
c. Stage Area - First, I should specify I don't need a stage! :o) Just using this word "stage" to explain the area where my equipment will be – if there is a stage, that is fine, too! Please put the stage area at the edge (or corner if needed) of dance floor which would allow the speaker to be 18 ft apart and right on the edge of the dance floor with no tables in between speakers and the dance floor. I completely understand if there are table issues and this can't be done at least for dinner but would strongly suggest that tables be moved after dinner in order for the there to be proper sound and feel on the dance floor. People are usually fine once they are totally done with dinner and understand tables need to be moved. This is something you may want to discuss with you venue ahead of time you feel this will be an issue. The can be more of an issue if the stage area is at the corner of the dance floor.
d. Seating Charts - I completely understand that seating charts can be incredibly difficult! This is why I am very flexible with this! Whatever works for you is fine. If possible, I would like to be close to my equipment for dinner. I keep music going for dinner and like to be close to keep an eye on it and I usually check occasionally as well. If finding a place is tough, I am happy to eat my "DJ table". I would having younger party crowd closer to the dance floor and those you may not be as into the music away from the dance floor.
e. Dinner - If possible, would like to be able to eat early in dinner so I can be sure to be ready once dinner is finished. You may want to have all of your vendors that are also eating dinner eat early for the same reason. You may want your photographer to catch some pictures when you are done with dinner as you will likely be served and finish eating first. To make sure all your vendors are ready for dancing, I would suggest mentioning this to your venue as a preference if possible. Many places feed vendors last which in a way makes sense, but I think you will be happy if they don't wait for them until the end. Of course, I understand this always can't be done, too! Just a suggestion.
f. DJ Table - Most venues offer some kind of standard "DJ Table". I do like to have one as it is a place to hide my extra stuff, cases, bags etc…if space is a big issue, I can go without one if I have to, however, there might not be a place to hide stuff…if this is the case I will make it look a good as I can.
g. Time Outline - Many couples are doing a rough time line of the day for all vendors and all bridal party and parents. This does seem help things to run smoother than without. You can get as specific as you want – what time should they arrive, time for pictures, when they will be introduced, etc…. Having a good plan and yet being a little flexible day of in case there are snags is a solid approach.
h. Order - Ceremony, Cocktail, Introductions, right into Cut Cake, right into Speeches, right into Blessing, then Dinner, First Dances after dinner, Dancing – this is the general order I suggest - each for various reasons. I am happy to explain some of the reason why this is the order and flow that I have seen work the best. If you have questions or would like to discuss a different order, please let me know.
i. Wedding Coordinators or others Assigned To Help - I have no problem working with a wedding coordinator or someone else you may have assigned to help you. I completely understand and for almost all things I may have a question about this is fine. However, there are a few things that I will need to be able to talk to you about the night of the wedding. It's very rare but I have had a couple of people send me to a wedding coordinator / helper if I had a question when the question could have been answered on the spot. There are a few specific things that might come up that I need to talk to the bride and/or groom about that is very important and will need that access. With all that we do up front my goal is to talk to you as little as possible (unless you want to! :o).
j. A couple of important examples - I will only discuss overtime with bride / groom. I will not discuss or make this decision with anyone else. Also, I will only discuss music decisions with bride / groom. I don't mind taking requests, but major and general overall decisions as far as music goes will only be with bride / groom. If this is an issue, I can explain this further.
a. Your Song Requests - I will play as many of your request as possible. Most couples give an average of 10 -20 requests which is fine. However, please give me the top 10 most important fast dance songs and 5 most important slow dance songs. Also, there are ways to personalize your night to what you both like for music in cocktails, dinner, late dinner, first dances, dance floor…so please include a few bands you like as well. Late dinner is a great way to get to songs / bands you really like / mean a lot to you as a couple, but can't seem to fit them into the dancing portion of the night. I usually bring up the vibe later dinner with some cool stuff that is personalized to your tastes. This can further relax you as you are talking to tables and/ or up and about.
b. Your Requests vs "What Works" - This has come up a few times over the last few years especially. As already mentioned, I personalize every wedding and look to get to as many request as possible. What gets difficult is what to do if your requests aren't "working". I have had many couples give me lists of cool, different, fun but not as well known songs they want to dance to only to realize night of that most people they invited don't know the songs or can't / don't want to dance to those songs. Sometimes they are fine with that and want those songs played regardless of whether or not people are dancing and sometimes they realize that is not working and they "scrap the list" and give me the green light to read the crowd and make decisions. Either is fine, however, it would be better to know ahead of time how you feel about this so I can be more prepared if at all possible.
I want to make it clear I am happy to play what you want, even if it means less people dancing - if you are OK with that, I am, too. I enjoy playing different stuff and I look to play less / none of the traditionally over-played tired songs!….It can be great to have a couple of songs that really mean something to you as a couple, even if other people don't "get it". :o) However, for number of reasons, each song played is very important and a couple of songs can make the difference between an OK night and a great night. This is something to think about as you are putting down some of your requests.
The best combination – a mix of your requests and using my experience and ability to read crowds - seems to work the best. Some couples give no requests and some tell me every song they want and more! What works best seems to be a combination of both your requests and my experience. Every single wedding is different, every crowd is different. What works one week won't work the next week. What works for one family wedding may not work for another! While I'm not perfect, I have learned some things over the years to help me gage the vibe and feel of the crowd and the night. With each song I am making the best decision I can on the next song I will play and also planning the next set of songs depending on how things are going. Unlike most DJs/wedding bands, I don't rely on "the chicken dance" - and other typical overplayed "dance floor filler" type of songs (unless that is what you want!). I rely on playing great songs in a way that encourages a great vibe and that can be enjoyed by all-ages and fits with what you are looking for.
c. Dancing - Keeping people dancing the whole time the dance floor is open is not easy but it is my goal! Not every crowd is a dancing / party crowd, but I will do my very best to make it happen and focus on all the things I can control. While it's impossible to gage prior how much people will dance, there are little "tricks" I have learned over the years that help the vibe and have number of relatively small distinctions to draw on that can make a big difference. With every song I am making a decision of what the next song will be and where I should take the night. The flow and the vibe of the night can be affected by many things. I take pride in reading crowds and work hard to play the right songs at the right time and keep the "flow" of the night as there are many little things that can effect the night. However, there are many things that will affect dancing that I can't control.
The reason I am explaining all of this is because being aware of these factors can have a huge impact on the over wedding. Many couples have thanked me after the fact for one or many distinctions that I have pointed out which helped them better enjoy. Hopefully some of these things will help you as well. Of the things I can't control that affect the over all vibe of a wedding
1. Bride and Groom Dancing - (and / or involved on the dance floor) -Yes this is number one by far! Of all the things that effect the vibe of the night as far as how "fun" a wedding is during the dancing portion – the amount the bride and groom are dancing and involved on the dance floor - is the biggest factor of the things I can't control! This can be difficult as you will be pulled in many directions and many people will want to have some time with you, however, no one will be upset if you are out enjoying your wedding dancing! Of course, you don't have to dance the whole time, although, yes, some just about never leave the floor! But even if you aren't into dancing, just the fact of being out there is huge if you want your bring your wedding up a notch – from good to great or even great to over-the-top! I do weddings where bride is gone for most all of it and groom is no where to be found and the couple isn't together on the dance floor at all once first dance is over. People can still have fun if this is the case and, of course, what you decide to do is up to you. I just thought it would help explaining this to you so you are aware of one the biggest factors, of the things I can't control as to the over all vibe of great weddings.
Even if neither of you like to dance, being out there, as much as you can, together at times, enjoying your night with your families and friends will have a big impact on the success of the night. Of the things that couples thank me about after the fact, this is the biggest. Please keep this in mind as you are preparing for your night.
2. Is the dance floor too big for your group? - If so and you can't physically make it smaller, then you can put a few tall tables toward the back… a huge dance floor can be nice for elbow room, but may keep people from going out. Having tables on the dance floor at the back give people a place to hang out, keeps them close to the dance floor and makes the dance floor smaller and less intimidating and more intimate.
3. Is the main bar in another room? - If possible, make a smaller satellite bar close to the dance floor. It may not be possible, but if people dancing is important to you having the bar in another room / outside of dancing room can really affect the dance floor.
4. Pictures & Photobooths & Fireshows - If at all possible, I would strongly suggest to get as many, if not all family, group, or cousins, pictures out of the way before opening the dance floor… it can greatly affect the vibe of the dance floor when most people are pulled off for a number of pictures…it can be tougher to get people back on if there is music playing and an empty dance floor even if it's because of pictures and not the songs! :o) I would also suggest opening the photo booth as early as possible way before dancing starts and announcing it is open early… then less people will be pulled off the dance floor for it. The photo booth line can get backed up if opening late and now you have no one dancing and a line for your photobooth if it opens after the dance floor opens. If you have a fire show or any thing else that might take people from the dancing area, I strongly suggest you do this before opening the dance floor. I see more weddings adding thing like this which is great, but if you do it during dancing you can cut into to your dance portion of the night and make it difficult to get the dance floor going again.
5. Is it too bright? - I would suggest lower light (or unplugging some tent lights if outside) to give a little more of a dancing atmosphere, I have lights to fill up the dance floor but not over the top (unless you want a light show which you have paid extra for)… most couples just want some dance lights to enhance the vibe and this what I usually use.
6. Did you invite a fun, dancing crowd? - Age doesn't seem to matter as much. The last wedding I played, it was an older crowd that I didn't expect to dance and they danced all night even to the "younger" music. Take a look at your family and friends on both sides. Is this a dancing crowd. I have had couples who want a dancing, fun party like they have seen me at other weddings and yet don't have those types of people on their invite list!
7. Benefits of My Live & DJ Show & Dancing In General - If you are reading this, you likely have already hired me, but I still think it will help to discuss my approach and how it related to dancing so you get a feel as why it's beneficial and you can further understand the thought process behind the decisions i will be making the night of the wedding. It can be difficult to explain why what I do can be more beneficial than having a band or a DJ but I will try. If you have questions, please let me know.
At almost all my weddings, when I perform live gives a much bigger vibe, is much more more fun, and more of party then when I DJ. There are a number of reason for this. Playing live gives the me the excitement and interactions of a live performance of a band, but the volume control, less space, bigger variety of a DJ. It actually can offer more than a band /DJ. It allows me to "get people into it" with out having to play the overplayed "cheese" songs that most DJ only have to rely on to fill the dance floor. My performance is very different than what happens at most weddings. This makes that more memorable and can create a level of an excitement and fun where people are more apt to dance / be on the dance floor where otherwise they may not for various reasons. There are a lot of people who normally don't dance but do when I play and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that don't feel as intimidated. They may not dance much or not at all at weddings. But with my show they are likley less pressured in to dancing and feel more "involved" singing-along, playing a tambourine (I usually bring a couple to add to the vibe!), and "partying" with my show on the dance floor.They otherwise would likely not be on the dance floor if a DJ was playing. Adding the people that don't normally dance at a wedding to the people who do and playing the songs in a way that make sense for the vibe you want and now you have taken the wedding to the next level! I look to perform songs that a variety of ages like, most have a sing-along component, and people know but aren't played as much. They are very danceable, you can sing-along to, and also throw a few surprises (songs people are excited to hear they don't hear as much) in there as well to keep the excitement level high! I also work hard to play the right songs at the right times. I usually DJ in between sets and doing both give me a ton flexibility as the night goes.
The biggest compliment I get is "I don't normally dance at weddings but you had me out there the whole time". The distinctions I have learned about how my life performance and DJing fit together and what my live performance brings to the table are just a few of the many reason why I do so many weddings.
This all said, the goal is "whatever works for the night" so having the ability to play live and DJ throughout the night and do it seamlessly give me a ton of flexibility!
Again, it is likely you have already hired me, but I think it can be really helpful to know some of this in general, especially if it's important to you and / or you are not as familiar with what I do or haven't seen me at a wedding. I can explain all of this further if you have questions.
8. First Dances & Opening The Dance Floor - I strongly suggest doing your first dances after dinner. There are a number of reasons, please let me know if you'd like me to explain. One of the biggest is people just got done eating a big dinner. They also just watch your first dances and there is an "awwwe" factor going on, it gives your wedding some class from the start, you playing to oldest people first – that is a nice touch and creates a good vibe, couples aren't all sweaty, tie-on-the-head, so more likely to slow dance… they still look and smell pretty. Your photographer will get a lot of great pictures of couples slow dancing at your wedding early when they still look good – you will appreciate this. It may also give you a chance to slow dance with a close family member or friend or grandparent.
Another reason - this is a big one - it also gets people on the dance floor right away as most people will slow dance at this time. It is a way to get the party started with out forcing the vibe or playing super loud harsh current music to start. Yes, that might make the youngest people happy I suggest starting the first dances when most people are done with dessert. When I open the dance floor I normally start with DJ - classic slow dance songs. This goes against what most DJ / Bands do but I would say I do this 95% of the time!
The number of slow dance to start depends on how it is going. The reason most other DJs / Bands don't do it this way is that sometimes most people leave the dance floor after the slow dance as transfer from slow dance to the first fast dances for the night (I usually play a few oldies or swing tunes)… that is OK and normal… the key is they have been out there and are more likely to come back.
Then from there a couple of oldies, maybe a couple of swing tunes and then get more contemporary as the night goes on.
Day / Night of Your Wedding
1. Load In -Please make sure the venue knows that I will be loading in about 1.5 to 2 hours prior to your wedding. Please ask wh o the contact person will be in case I run into problems and make sure they will know where I need to set up and where the power is etc..
2. Night Order - I usually play live for cocktails, DJ music for dinner, and then DJ music and play live as the night goes on depending on your requests. The ability to do both give me a lot of flexibility
3. Overtime -This is listed on our agreement. Overtime must be agreed by both parties (myself and the bride & groom). Please let me know night of as soon as possible if you want to extend overtime – an hour or more time before would be perfect. Most times I am fine with staying, but I don't have to stay and won't push you as some DJs do. Sometimes staying means a bigger expense for you from venue and varies vendors. I only discuss this with the bride / groom and do not accept money from guests. While this is a nice gesture, the decision has to come from you. If you are going into the wedding thinking you may want to extend, please let me know upfront and also discuss this with the venue to see how flexible they are.
4. Requests - The joke is - I do take requests – I won't play them, but I take them! The truth is I will leave this part in general up to you… are you OK with me taking requests and playing them as long as they fit with what you are looking for? Are there songs that even if played you don't want? You can have a do NOT playlist as well and I take that just as serious as the requests. To some people what they don't want is more important than what they do want. I normally try to stay away from cheese song and line-dances anyway, unless that is something you want. That said, I always say a little "cheese" sprinkled on can be OK, depending on what you want.
5. Backups & Issues - To ease your mind a bit, I bring backups of everything and even my PA is a backup of itself as each tower could run on it's own if I had to. I bring backup laptop, cables, etc…As far as issues go, I can handle the guest(s) who may get upset because I won't play a song they want because it's on your do not play list. The real main issue is if someone tries to grab my stuff. I do my best to handle situations and be professional. However, I will turn off if someone has crossed the line or grabs, knocks into my stuff. I know this covered in our agreement and it's incredibly rare - 99.9% it doesn't happen! - but it is something that I wanted you to be aware of. If something happens I will look for you or have someone look for you while I deal with the situation and we can determine what to do from there.
6. Flexible - Sometime things happen and things get changed night of even with the best planning… as much as I am prepared for the night, I am happy to be as flexible as I can and work right along with to make decisions.
Enjoy your night! - Have fun and relax as much as you can on your wedding day. Life isn't perfect and a few things might be off or go wrong, but that is natural. Keep in mind that there are no enemies there – so there is little reason to be nervous! Everyone you have invited will be pulling for you and will be nothing but happy for you and will want you to have a great time. I have seen a few brides get so caught up in details and get so stressed, they can't enjoy themselves. Of all the plans you make, don't forget to plan to enjoy your night!
Thanks again for having me for your wedding! I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have anything I may be able to add to this to help you and future couples
Questions? Call or e-mail anytime - firstname.lastname@example.org (716) 472-7700.