Organizing Your Toastmasters Into Your Wedding Reception

There are a million right ways to execute a toast at a wedding reception. There is a time and place for everything and scheduling your toasts at the natural points in your wedding reception can personalize the evening beyond the abilities of the Master of Ceremonies. My first and most important guideline is do NOT force a person to toast. A nervous toastmaster will say something that doesn’t sound right or will be too nervous to be impactful. So offer to the respective people the opportunity weeks ahead of time, encouraging them to toast, but stopping short of forcing it.

The trend for some families is to toast at the rehearsal dinner and not the wedding reception. My take is, why not both. The wedding reception IS the super bowl of the event, so it makes sense that the traditional toast happen there maybe in a more formal and scaled back delivery style than the rehearsal dinner toasts.

Here are the traditional toastmasters and where they should occur 90% of the time:

  • Parents of the Couple (Preferably Father of the Bride): Leading into dinner as host, if this is the case, welcoming and thanking all in attendance. NOTE: I think it’s classy when the parent introduces any clergy that may be blessing the meal.
  • Best Man/Men and Maid/Matron of Honor(S): As Dinner is concluding.
  • Bride or Groom: A very classy move, to conclude the Best Man or Maid of Honor toast, thanking everyone for their support in the past, present, and future.
  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: Always have a toast ready to go just in the event you are asked to say something.
  • “Family Spokesperson”: We all have this person in our family, use your discretion, place them after the Best Man and Maid of Honor
  • Grandparents: Do Not hesitate if they ask to say something, get them a mic.
  • Kids, Cousin Eddie, Uncles, Aunts, Friends, and everyone else: Should  listen attentively to the guest who may be toasting. NOTE: I strongly discourage open mic situations at a wedding, but it can be a very cool thing with certain families and small groups.

I will try and cover what to say for each category in other posts. The trend is that guests at a wedding reception really don’t make long toasts. I think short and sweet is good, but have heard my fair share of well thought out toasts and they can be really creative and awesome! Never, NEVER forget to conclude a toast with “Please join me in raising your glass in a toast…”!!!

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Choosing Your Parent’s Dances For Your Wedding Reception

Knoxville DJ, Tennessee

DJ Dad already knows what he will be dancing with his daughter to!

Choosing parent’s dances can prove a challenging task for a couple planning their wedding. Chances are, if you are reading this, you have asked us and we have you referred you to this Blog. The fact is: A DJ Can NOT choose this song for you with accuracy. So Instead of giving you a list of songs that you can easily find on Google, I’m going to give you four easy steps to choosing these songs.

Choosing A Parent’s Dance (Father and Daughter/Mother Song)

  1. Ask the other parent. If you don’t think of a song right off, asking the other parent maintains a level of surprise for when the moment happens and the song plays. The more you incorporate the element of surprise, the better chance you have of knocking your father or mother’s socks off. For example, if you are choosing a song for your Father and Daughter dance, start by asking your mom secretly. She may say that you and your father had a song from when you were a child. If your mother doesn’t come up with anything, proceed to the next step!
  2. Ask THE Parent. If you have eliminated the element of surprise, then leave it up to the parent in question. So if you are choosing the Father and Daughter dance, then ask you Dad. He may have his heart set on dancing this moment with you to a song. As a father, I think about this moment daily, (more than my own daughter even), and I know what I would choose. Remember, this dance is in tribute and designed to honor that parent. So bringing them into the conversation ensures that the moment will honor them the way they want to be honored.
  3. If the first two steps turn up nothing, google it. “Father Daughter Dance or Mother Groom Dance” will yield a million lists of songs for the occasion, all sounding about the same. I STRONGLY encourage you to listen to each song on youtube to make sure that it isn’t cheesy. Too much sap can make things out of place.
  4. If these three steps yield nothing, then it’s time to make an impulse decision. Over thinking a detail for a wedding can sometimes be more toxic to the planning process than not thinking about it at all. You can drive everyone in your circle crazy by obsessing about things that in the grand scheme have nothing to do with your happiness. You can quickly suck the life out of what’s motivating your friends and family who want to  provide you a supreme day of happiness. My ‘go to’ song in a crunch for a parent’s dance is “What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. It’s a classic and unisex. MOST importantly, it’s 2 Minutes 15 Seconds long.
The Broome family means business when they are in a room with a dance floor

The Broome family means business when they are in a room with a dance floor

A DJ, or whatever musical entertainment that you choose, is not personally attached to you or your family in most cases. The Parent’s dance is an ultra-personal event that you must commit serious thought to. As with every detail decision YOU make with your wedding, if you are spending a huge amount of time on it, it’s just time to make a decision. You are taking time away from more important things that deserve your attention. Wedding day is all about the Bride and Groom, remember that you probably have parents who have been looking forward to this day, and your unending happiness, for around a quarter of century. Take it seriously and have fun with it!

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Plan for Rain, PLEASE

Knoxville Wedding Design

I love this beautiful couple! Please look them up for your wedding design!

The Summer of 2013 will be remembered for amazing weddings in and outdoors! Congrats to all couples who started their journey! 2013 will also be remembered as a very wet summer for many outdoor weddings, because it basically rained every weekend. When treated with respect , rain can be “no big deal’. When ignored, rain will devastate your outdoor wedding or ANY outdoor event. If you do not “Plan for Rain’ you are placing the success of your event and the safety of your event in harms way. So, if you are planning a beautiful outdoor wedding, please make sure that you are proficient in these steps:

  • Get the “Weather.com” app on your mobile device and learn how to interpret it’s moving map. The number one problem I see is people not knowing how to understand what a storm is going to do. This is inexcusable.
  • Have a Tent. This will also help your guests and vendors deal with all elements including blazing direct Sun light. Our Knoxville DJ company is placed in direct sunlight often and our equipment and staff basically melt.
  • Take every umbrella your immediately family owns. If you take an umbrella it won’t rain, if you leave it at home expect to get wet. Having 20 or so umbrellas on hand helps your ushers with the elderly and any group that may be caught out in a storm. Grab a couple of boxes of over sized garbage bags, these will become waterproofing for everything. Get the largest size that you can find!
  • Have an understanding that you must evaluate severe weather as well and move your group in doors. Rain is one thing when raindrops are pouring on your guests as they scramble for shelter, imagine those raindrops as golf ball sized hail. This would create a horrible situation if these guests are left defenseless in the path of a storm.
  • Consider purchasing a Special Event Insurance policy.
  • Dedicate a member of your immediate family to keep an eye on the radar. As your DJ, we watch closely the radar as  A. We don’t want your wedding ruined and B. Selfishly we have several thousand dollars worth of electrical equipment that is ruined by even a drop.

Do NOT let a 15 minute rain shower effect the rest of the evening. I have seen Brides and Party planners panic at the sight of rain and try and “beat” it by moving the ceremony up 10 minutes, only to have everyone monsooned on and a very upset group of people. What if instead of the above scenario scenario, everyone came inside, let the shower move through, wipe down the chairs, everyone has a seat, the ceremony begins with a big rainbow above. Which of these sounds best to you???

I hope this helps some of you planning outdoor events. I do not want to scare you, I want to prepare you. Believe me, my experience with rain disasters is a very scary thing that you do not want to see! No matter what happens, do NOT stop smiling! ;-)

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Knoxville Wedding DJ Ceremony Music

There are generally three events in a Knoxville wedding Processional, marked by three songs…..but all bets are off! Choose what you want for everything! For the processional (The Seating of the Mother’s and Grandmothers, The Bridal Party processional, The Bride’s Processional), these three songs/functions of the processional can be consolidated in any way.  Sometimes, our clients will combine the seating of the mothers and the Bridal Party Processional    or    the bridal Party processional and bride’s processional. A Bride should do whatever she wants with this. I certainly recommend having three separate songs as each event is special and different, ESPECIALLY the Bride’s processional, it deserves to stand alone, in my personal opinion. (Consider some elegant lighting for your ceremony…Please excuse this commercial)
Knoxville wedding venue-Club Leconte-downtown-jim ogle dj

Don’t forget that your Knoxville Wedding dj is capable of giving you an entry tunnel with some BANG!

Four Traditional Ceremony Events/Songs are:
  • Seating of the Mother’s: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Ave Maria
  • Bridal Party Processional: Canon in D by Pachebel
  • Bridal Processional: Bridal Chorus by Wagner
  • Recessional: Mendelssohn!
Don’t forget to think outside of the box and find any instrumental music or other music for these events, especially if you are not in a church format. Look into Vitamin String Quartet, they remake more secular songs from the Beatles all the way to Kanye West in a string format, and you may be able to find something that you really like that fits with the traditional songs you like, or take traditional out all together. (NOTE: If you are hiring a knoxville string group  to recreate this, it can only be a quartet!).
For example, your Bridesmaids may love the song “Don’t stop Believing” by journey, Vitamin String Quartet remakes it and it totally fits in between Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and The Bridal Chorus. Ultimately, it comes down to what The Bride and Groom like and no one else!! ;-)
If you are considering a unity candle, a song may be needed, maybe the first 1:30 of the song. This usually is the case as you may feel awkward standing there for too long. Unity sand will not require a song.
THEN, there is the recessional. I strongly encourage you to think outside of the box. We have clients who use this as an oppurtunity to make their congregation laugh and it’s a great ice breaker. The Traditional song for this is Mendhelsson’s Recessional. We have client’s that use ANY and EVERYTHING and it ALL works. Here are a few selections to illustrate this point. These are songs that I have seen other couples use:
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
  • Rocky Top
  • Another one Bites the Dust By Queen
  • I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
  • Forever by Chris Brown
  • I Got you babe by Sonny and Cher
  • This will be and everlasting love by  Natalie Cole (For all of you eHarmony couples!)
Knoxville wedding venue-Club Leconte-jim ogle dj-Lighting

Here is another shot of some awesome flowers, Knoxville Draping by All Occasions Party Rentals, and Ogle Entertainment! Please feel free to add our enhanced lighting package!

Whatever you and your Fiance identify with, use it! This is a great opportunity to have a high impact statement ahead of the reception that says ‘We are here to celebrate!”

The prelude is easy, remember that most guests are not really listening (They are socializing, HOPEFULLY, whispering to each other). Your DJ or other musician can certainly manufacture this prelude for you, but if you want to identify the songs for this, I would encourage you to find about 45 minutes worth (Most Prelude’s are a standard 30 minutes). Again, we can take care of this for you if needed and I would say that it will be the least listened to music in the evening as people will be socializing.
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Smile…It’s Your Wedding Day!

Mcdonald-JoPhoto-Dara's Garden-Mikki Duncan-Don Samples-Ogle Entertainment-Ambiance Light Design-Special Notes

This blOgle was going to be on song selection for an event, mainly a wedding, UNTIL I saw my Bride’s smile Friday night (Day after Valentine’s Day). A smile is a simple thing and I’m sure if she reads this, she would wonder why I am being so weird about it. A smile on a bride is way more important than her dress. It is contagious, and spreads throughout the group! Don’t stop reading, this isn’t going to continue in to “cliche-ville”.

I am constantly asking my staff to constantly smile, while working on this myself, even if it’s fake. When I see anyone not smiling at an Event, especially a wedding, it makes me wonder what’s going on. In our busy lives it seems weird that so many people grumble around with a frown as a the default way of wearing their face.  I’m sure there is some psychology behind this, but people who smile get way more out of the people around them!

It chose to rain slightly on ‘our’ outdoor ceremony Friday night, the guests seemed a bit awkward standing around under umbrellas, almost uneasy in their own skin. The videographer and I tried to get them to loosen up to no avail. Then that gorgeous bride confidently stepped out with a huge smile on her face, and it was if we were all standing there on a dry day in July. From that point on the night was set and we celebrated the union of an amazing couple! For all I know, she hated my guts and every song I played, but that smile put everyone at ease and kept friends and family mixing and mingling.

Another Amazing day at Dara's Garden! I love Valentine's Weddings!

Another Amazing day at Dara’s Garden! I love Valentine’s Weddings!

Weddings and Events generally build energy in a ‘Snow Ball’ effect, in a Positive direction or Negative. When involved with said events, in whatever role, remember to build that direction positively and a smile a ton. I mean this lovingly, if you can’t smile at someone’s wedding… stay home!

:-)

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Now What?

Chances are most of you are 4-6 Months out from you wedding. I want to help you get a grip on what is to come and give you some pointers on how to navigate this period. The Month of January is generally spent assembling your vendors. February is spent at open houses. Then you are off to the races! Here is a guideline to help improve your psyche over the next few months, improving your experience and everyone around you making it enjoyable for all!

Hunter Valley Farm, Knoxville TN, 5ringsphoto,

Hunter Valley Farm, Knoxville TN, 5ringsphoto,

1. Given you are 4 months out, the month of February should be spent at open houses and gathering ideas. These open houses will help you to get in an environment with vendors who are relaxed and not under a ton of wedding day pressure. If your vendors aren’t participating in these events, it’s not the end of the world. If your vendor invites you, that means you should go. This next month is for you to gather OPTIONS meaning BRIDE:(I can set this table A,B,C,D,E,F,G ways)(I am going to narrow this to A,C,D,G). You have to cut out what you don’t like during this period and get out of that line of thinking, because you need to focus on and communicating what you DO like. This will create a more positive environment for all. I sometimes get ‘Do Not Play’ Song lists that are longer than my ‘Play Lists’. While this is fine and nothing I can’t over come, shouldn’t the mode be “I want to give this vendor a list of what to do, and NOT what not to do.”? All preliminary meetings on vendor’s capabilities should be wrapped up now.Pinterest is obviously an awesome concept builder and gatherer for you to visualize things:

NOTE: A random photograph on Pinterest is the product of about 3500+ pics from that day, that photographer, that light, that venue, that budget, etc….That is the ONE “magazine-shot” that person used to represent. Make sure when you are showing a Pinterest board, or even first mention a Pinterest board, to your photographer or design professional that you put a disclaimer on your conversation that you understand the above. DO NOT put that pressure on your Professionals because A. They are artists and creators, do not have them meticulously imitate something else and B. Your own expectations are out of whack as every photo cannot be cover worthy, it’s impossible. Besides, there is only one cover of a magazine for a reason, so you have something to open up and flip through.

Ambiance Light Design Knoxville,TN

Ambiance Light Design Knoxville,TN

2. Given you are two months out, you must pick and choose, then assemble these ideas into a written ‘script’. Nothing is ever really final, but start working to final. Have fun with it. I personally do most of my thinking in bed at night. My thoughts and to-dos get committed to long term memory a bit better this way. So if this is when you do your ‘Thinking” take your time and visualize how all of this goes together. If you need coaching, don’t ask your family and friends, they don’t have a clue. Ask your vendor THEN ask your friends and family. After all, they know you personally! If you spend more than an hour on something small, like what your party favor should be, you are not allocating your time wisely.

3. At ‘A”Month’ out, you should be 95% Finalized barring any subtle changes to the ‘Script’. This Script should be emailed and CCed to all vendors so they all have an avenue to connect and communicate with each other.

TIP: An itinerary should have contact information for each vendor on the first page, along with their estimated arrival time ‘day of’. This will help the vendors to look out for each other!

4. Two weeks out, plan on taking 20 minutes or so to let the vendor ‘read through’ the script over the phone with you so any small changes can be made. Remember the last week leading up to your wedding is chaos, family and friends coming to town and unforeseen things cropping up here and there. Your time two weeks out is spent getting ready for the main event! Do something that you enjoy that is relaxing, get a massage, send your groom a sweet note, send a pleasant ‘Thank You’ message to your vendors by email. This will help your stress level while helping to relax the people on your team.

5. The week leading up, another 20 minute or so phone call read though can be done early in the week to get everything completely nailed down. Be quick and efficient with your time and DO NOT be driving around town hysterically texting, if you have an issue crop up, go to your vendors with it first for their guidance if they are available, but relax and be safe. It is impossible to have a wedding without a bride, believe me I know from experience. This applies to your psyche as well. You are no good to this process as basket case or lunatic, so make sure all to-do lists are complete and you are packed for your honeymoon the week before. Your schedule should be wide open. If you have work as so many do, your boss or employees should know that week is going to be rough and their wedding gift to you is taking care of things around the office.

Keep smiling, put people at ease. With vendors, don’t over state where they mess up, over state where they make you happy and encourage them. With Family, let them know what they mean to you and be emotional in a happy way. This is a time to reflect on the past and look to the future with optimism. If you make this about everyone, they will respond by making it all about you!!!

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Customize???

We live in a world where consumers want everything to be about them! Their iPhone case has to match there background on their ipad has to match the interior on their car. We all know that we are a self-centered culture and this is especially true when planning an event with a Guest of Honor. Most of the time this Guest of Honor is a bride (and groom:side note lol!) so I will speak about it in that context.

BRIDES: Please lead the charge!

A wedding to a girl is a very sentimental and important thing. They think about it most of their life and spend a chunk of their life paying for it. So it has to be right and it has to be CUSTOM more than ever. I, of course, am here to help. I spend a great deal of time educating myself on the latest in customization and then I spend a great deal of time matching the perfect trend up with the perfect client. Customization is super easy when discussing decor. Many elements within a set-up can be tweaked to customize an event for a couple. This is especially true when our clients add our enhanced lighting package, lighting really gets a bride’s heart racing! (I apologize for the commercial).

Then, there is entertainment…

Entertainment is difficult to customize as it is meant for everyone to enjoy at an event. While I certainly understand the importance of the Guest of Honor to be pleased with the format of the music, what about the 200 or so guests who also are listening? What really makes the entertainment work is it’s ability to please the GROUP, not an individual. If one person in a room of 200 that we are DJing for is pleased, that means 199 other people think we did a poor job. We generally do not care as long as that one person is the Bride, that is our mission when we wake up that morning. I do not feel like this is good policy for the success of the event. I personally feel like our Brides want their guests to have a great time and dance the night away, because at the end of the day that Bride wants everyone telling her how fun her wedding was.

Sure you can add a lot of gimmicky  tricks to a DJ or Band’s presentation, but too much forced entertainment can work in the opposite direction. The last thing anyone wants is to attend a wedding, sit down at their table, and have some guy cramming a microphone in their face and making a big spectacle of them. Some groups really enjoy this interaction though. It just comes down to one thing, a Bride must determine:

1. What are her needs and how does the music symbolize her and her new husband?

2. How do these needs fit with her guests?

3. Unknown, what if something happens and the guests aren’t responding to the selected format. How do you deviate from the game plan?

The third point is most important because no one except God knows what party guests are going to respond to on that particular day in the future. At Ogle Entertainment, we relish it when a bride comes to us and asks how things are going, and gives us carte blanche to change with the group. After all, it is her responsibility to spend time with her family and friends, it is ours to make her family and friends groove.

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