Posted: January 17, 2011 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: dance, first dance, introductions, pros and cons, wedding
For the last few years there has been a trend away from doing the big long introduction line at the start of wedding receptions. You know, the part where the band leader announces all of the bridal party, parents of the bride and groom, flower girls, ring bearers, third grade teachers etc. People have begun to ask me if they really need to do all of that. I say, if you have to ask, then probably not.
It’s one of those things that people do, because it’s tradition, but this is your wedding and it can be as traditional as you want it to be. If you need help deciding, here’s some pros and cons.
- The introductions can take a long time. That’s up to an extra 20 minutes between you and your first course!
- You have to get your entire bridal party lined up all over again. At this point they’ve probably had a couple of drinks, which makes them less like the responsible adults that you trusted to stand by your side on this most important day of your life, and more like unruly 6th graders… I’ve heard.
- No one remembers the order they were placed in for the ceremony.
- The bouquet bridge!
- There is no champagne in the staging area…
- Photo-ops a plenty.
- One more opportunity for everyone to see how masterfully you’ve outfitted your posse for the event.
- You won’t be totally alone out there when the first dance starts.
- You get a chance to show off your musical taste with another custom song selection.
- It’s a chance to break the ice and infuse a little fun into the room before the first dance.
Like I said, if you have questions about whether or not to do it, you may want to skip, just make sure you run it by your parents first, especially if they are footing the bill!
Posted: March 13, 2010 Filed under: Myths | Tags: black tie, maroon tuxedo, Quinceanera, rental, tux, Tuxedo, wedding
Not if it has to be back to the store by 11am the next day it’s not. One of the biggest problems with the tuxedo is that somewhere along the line someone decided it was something that should be available for rent. Someone came up with this idea that women should buy a new dress for every different occasion, but if a man needs dress up, to look sharp – he should do it in someone else’s pants. What’s the deal with that?
It’s not 1987. If you want to wear a tux, buy one. You have a better chance of wearing it again than the bridesmaids do. Just make sure the level of formality of your dress matches the level of formality of your event.
Yesterday I was discussing the tux rental issue with my husband. He told me that his disgust at the thought of a rented tux goes all the way back to his fifteenth year. He had been invited to the Quinceanera of an extremely cute classmate with whom he was smitten, until… She told him he needed to go to a specific tux rental shop and rent a specific maroon tuxedo, so that he could match the other escorts at the event. That did it, there was no way he was going to that party.
That being said, if you envision a full blown black tie event for your wedding, you’ll want to state it in the invitation. You’ll need to write “black tie”. If you write “black tie optional” most men will opt… out.
Posted: October 27, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: anecdotes, best man, best man speech, drunk, funny, microphone, props, soeech, tear-jerker, tips, wedding
In my seventeen years of weddings I’ve seen a lot of great speeches. They’ve run the gamut from tear-jerkers to pants-wetters and everything in between. This July a best man wrote his own blues tune and did a whole number (with props) while the band accompanied him. In August, I played a wedding where the best man was a stand-up comedian, I was laughing so hard I was crying by the time I had to get back up on the stage.
Unfortunately for every great speech I’ve witnessed there have been twice as many complete flops. I’ve seen drunk speeches, whispered speeches, mean speeches and embarrassing-beyond-the-realm-of-funny-speeches. You don’t have to have the oratory skills of Barack Obama to bring home a great wedding speech. You can do it, whether you’re the best man, the maid of honor, the bride, the groom or mom and dad.
You can be as straightforward and to the point as you want. If you have more experience talking in front of a large group, you can really wow the crowd with jokes, anecdotes, props and songs. Either way, knowing your limits is important.
Here are some tips for giving a great speech or toast:
- Don’t get drunk! I mean it. It’s not funny, it’s just sad.
- Speak directly into the microphone. This may seem like a no-brainer, but most people have no clue how to use a mic. You can’t hold it like a news correspondent. They have the added benefit of a lavalier mic. Check out the way they point it at the interviewee. They tilt it towards the person’s mouth. That’s what you should do, to yourself.
- If you’re worried about what to say, short and to the point usually gets it done.
- Personal stories are great, but make sure they make sense and are universally relatable.
- Stop saying um… um, ok?
- Don’t get drunk!
- If you plan on using props, keep them simple. Ask if you can stash them on the stage or bandstand before you have to get up. Oh, and don’t use the giant roll of paper trick. It’s way overdone. Not funny anymore.
- If you’re too shy to speak, ask to be let off the hook. Seriously, it’s not mandatory. I’ve seen people shake with fear up there. I’m sure everyone would rather you be comfortable than terrified, there’s always someone else in the crowd that could do it.
- Stand still. Try not to sway, shift or walk around too much. It makes people seasick, and it takes away from what you’re saying.
- Only open with a joke if it’s funny, and I mean funny when you’re sober.
- Don’t get drunk! Seriously, I didn’t write this three times by accident.
- Don’t over rehearse. If you speak from the heart it is usually best. Unless there’s a song involved, then – rehearse.
- Don’t curse. If you’re following tips 1, 6 & 10 you probably won’t, but really now, cursing is f***ed up.
- Bring your champagne with you if you intend to ask everyone to raise a glass. It looks weird if you’re the only one without one.
- Don’t run away with the microphone. When you’re done, turn around and hand it back to the person that gave it to you. We hate having to chase people.
Following these steps, planning ahead and staying focussed will help you master almost any speeching situation. Remember, everyone is on your side – and once you’re through it, you can go have a drink… but don’t get drunk!
Posted: July 28, 2009 Filed under: Myths | Tags: black, bridesmaids dresses, closet, dress, dye, entrances, occasion, project runway, sentimental, wedding
Wedding Myth #1: You can totally wear that again!
No, you can’t. Sorry, unless you’re one of those Project Runway kids the chances of you “cutting it short” and “dying it black” are very slim. So what you’re left with is that dress you bought to be in your friend’s wedding. You will most likely shove it in the back of your closet and forget about it. If you’re like me you’re too sentimental to ditch it, but wearing it again poses a problem. You have no occasion, except maybe – another wedding.
I’m not saying all bridesmaid’s dresses are ugly (that’s a myth too) but they are bridesmaid’s dresses, and they look like it. I’ve seen a lot of it. You figure it’s a nice enough dress, you can sneak another wearing out of it, but you’re really not fooling anyone. You will look like you’re at the wrong wedding, like somewhere down the hall they’re trying to find you to line up for entrances…
Posted: June 10, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice, True Stories | Tags: bar, Bridezilla, ceremony, cocktail hour, dendrobium orchids, floral arrangements, Flowers, party, PNS, Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, RDD, reception, Reception Dysmorphic Disorder, wedding, wedding reception
Those of you who have been with me since the beginning know a thing or two about the symptoms of and treatments for Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, or PNS (see Surviving PNS: Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, 2/24/09). Some might refer to those that suffer from this disorder as “Bridezilla”, “Bride From Hell” or just plain “Bitch!”, but I say these women are afflicted! PNS can so permeate the soul of a good and decent woman that she becomes unrecognizable to those around her. Stress kills, but PNS? That’s a horse of a different color. It’s stress drunk with power!
As an example, I will use a case study. A bride I knew back in 2004, a sweet woman on a mission – to have the most perfect wedding… EVER! DAMN IT!! We’ll call her Jody, because I don’t know anyone named Jody. Everything started out normal. Jody was like any other bride, excited, determined, thrilled at the prospect of celebrating her big day and starting her life together with her new husband. Let’s call him… poor bastard? I mean Jeff. Jody went through all of the usual steps of wedding planning. Chose the venue, chose the band (in my opinion, she chose the best one), picked out flowers, a dress, cake, champagne – all of it. Now, let me say, I’m not exactly sure what triggered Jody’s PNS. It could’ve been anything. Invitations, favors, anything. Until the day I saw her in action though, I thought PNS was abruptly cut off by, well – the wedding! Not necessarily.
Jody’s ceremony was at 5:30pm, with a cocktail hour to follow at 6pm and dinner and dancing from 7 – 11. It was at about 5:57pm that I witnessed one of the most perplexing and horrifying displays of PNS craziness that I’ve seen in over fifteen years in the wedding business. The ceremony had just finished. It was a beautiful afternoon on the water at undisclosed location in New Jersey facing the Manhattan skyline. The hard part was over, right? The fun was supposed to start. (You all know how I feel about the cocktail hour.) As the band was setting up in the main room of the venue, the cocktail hour was going on outside on the deck and in the bar area. Jody entered the main room, where the tables had been set and the flowers had been placed a few hours earlier. The centerpieces were a well put together mix of roses and lilies with sprays of dendrobium orchids. I never got a chance to ask Jody what the orchids had done to so upset her, but before anyone could stop her, she was attacking! The dendrobiums were her target. Jody proceeded to rip every orchid from its happy home amidst the other happy flowers there to make her day special and beautiful. The orchids ended up in the trash and Jody ended up missing about 25 minutes of cocktail hour. The photographer had been looking for her, Jeff thought she was fixing her makeup, her mother had given up on trying to stop the madness and all I could do was wonder why at that moment she would care about those bloody orchids.
It was PNS, but it carried through the actual nuptials to become something more complex, something more sinister in it’s effects on the bridal brain – RDD: Reception Dysmorphic Disorder. Jody was probably unclear with her florist about her extreme hatred of all things dendrobium. It’s possible the orchids were never discussed at all, and the florist took a little creative license, which would have been fine… any other day. Unfortunately, what looked like a stunningly decorated room to everyone else, looked like a giant crap-fest to Jody. She couldn’t help it. She had built everything up so much in her mind, that was the only thing it could look like. It’s like perfectly normal sized women that think their jeans make their asses look fat. The problem is, at that point in your wedding day, if you haven’t stopped yet to realize there’s something bigger going on than a party – no one can help you. Except maybe the bartender. Jody chose a time at which most of us would say “let’s party” or “whatever, I’m married now… champagne for everyone” to freak out. She was still in planning mode, and at that moment – the planning is over. Let go and let party, ladies.
By the end of the first dance Jody was fine. She was smiling, laughing, dancing and having a great time. The crisis had passed. She enjoyed the food, the music and her guests all night. The evening ended with hugs and best wishes, just as it should. So how can you avoid a floral massacre or ice sculpture decapitation or bridesmaids’ jewelry meltdown of your own? Keep the points below in mind, and they should help talk you down.
- Put the elements together in advance and be specific.
- Make sure you discuss your dislikes as freely as you discuss your favorite things with all of your vendors. This will help you avoid discovering something you find hideous (like Jody’s dendrobiums) at your reception.
- Remember the difference is in the details, but your guests are nowhere near as picky as you are. Once you’re in it, it’s probably best to let it go and focus on the positive.
- Your wedding should at least be as much about your marriage as it is about your menu.
- Surround yourself with people that calm you, especially if you are a Type A person to begin with.
- Hire people you trust. Find a wedding coordinator that you can communicate well with and let her handle it… you’ve got a party to get to!
Posted: April 16, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: amuse bouche, buffalo wings, cocktail hour, drink, eating, fondue, food, Frank Sinatra, hot dog cart, Las Vegas, lobster roll, martini, NYC, open bar, paparazzi, photographer, pigs in a blanket, pinstripes, sushi, wedding, Yankees
Don’t underestimate the power of a good cocktail hour to set the tone for an amazing reception. So often this wonderful little section of the event gets forgotten in the planning process. It can be thought of as an add on: passed apps, fondue fountain, martini bar bla bla bla. Worse yet, the guests of honor sometimes miss it completely in favor of photo ops. This is the golden hour when guests get to mingle regardless of seat assignment or family affiliation. The open bar has just opened. There are apps and snacks everywhere. It’s your first chance to party as a married couple! There are no real traditions to uphold during the cocktail hour, except cocktails. Which, after all, is one of everyone’s favorites.
My first bit of advice is try not to miss it. Your photographer will probably want to get a lot of pictures taken during this time, but make sure you get to enjoy at least half of the cocktail hour. I’m all for great photos, but you need to unwind after all the “I Do’s” and whatnot. How about having your photographer follow you around paparazzi style? When you stop to chat with a group of friends or family she can just ask you to pose for a brief moment, then you can all go right on chatting, drinking, mingling and most importantly – eating.
Don’t forget to eat at your wedding, it’s key. You’ll need your strength. You don’t realize what a long day it is until you are in the midst of it. You can get a lot of this eating in at the cocktail hour, without having to slow down your interaction with all of your guests. Everyone will want a chance to talk to you and congratulate you. With one-bite passed apps and amuse bouche platters you can have practically a whole meal and you won’t have to stop the conversation. Which is good, because you probably didn’t get to eat lunch!
The cocktail hour is also an opportunity to show a little of your personal style in the food/drink department. My husband and I knew we had to have sushi at our cocktail hour. We went out for sushi on our first date, we both love it and it was a great story to tell our guests as we mingled. Everyone thought it was cute – people love a good tie in like that. It doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe you met in Buffalo – so you have wings. You beat him in a hot dog eating contest? Pigs in a blanket on a NYC style hot dog cart. Is your man from Maine? Mini lobster rolls. It works for drinks too. If you are going to Paris on your honeymoon – feature all French wines. Yankees fans? Beer bar with commemorative pinstripe cups. Big Sinatra lovers? Martini time! Really, I could go on all day. Take something special about the two of you and incorporate it. It will make the whole event more personal, and maybe some of your guests will learn something about you and your new spouse that they never knew before. Don’t be afraid to ask your caterer if they can provide something that isn’t on their standard menu, but make sure you discuss price – there may be some additional charge.
The same idea goes for music. It’s best to keep it low key, but low key doesn’t have to be boring. Turn the tables on tradition. Tie the music in with your food and drink selections, or ask the musicians to play your favorite genre of music only. Quesadillas? Mariachi. Champagne and Caviar? Strolling violins. Tandoori? Sitar. From steel drums to jazz duos I’ve seen it all. How about a string quartet that plays classic rock or a solo pianist playing all Broadway love songs? It really is up to you. For the most part the music at the cocktail hour is background, but when people stop to listen, it should be something worth listening to.
The cocktail hour is my favorite part of any event. What can I say? I love tiny food. Variety is great, but it doesn’t make up for putting real thought into it. Instead of having the endless buffet of everything you can imagine (unless of course, you met in Vegas) try focusing on a few items that will really tell your story. Tie in the music and choose a signature cocktail and you’re good to go. Think outside the box and you’ll have an hour of ice-breaking, party-kick-starting fabulousness!
I’ll look for my invite in the mail.
Posted: March 26, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice, True Stories | Tags: allergy season, bobby pins, Christmas party, clear nail polish, courtesy basket, deodorant, emery boards, feminine products, gum, hairspray, Jergen's, ladies room, lotion, mouthwash, q-tips, reception, Rolaids, sewing kit, static cling, stocking, tampons, Tic Tacs, tissues, Tums, tylenol, wedding, wedding months, wedding reception
This week, a brief musing on one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. The wedding restroom courtesy basket. It’s far better than an actual restroom attendant, which always sort of freaks me out. I feel like I need to make a point of bringing a dollar with me to the ladies room every time, and how about the ones that don’t really do anything but sit there? I digress. The courtesy basket is like your favorite grandma’s giant purse that always has exactly what you need.
Gum? Why yes. What goes better with an open bar than *Trident?
Bobby pin? Sure thing. I thought I felt a hair out of place.
Tylenol? You betcha. Why not get started beating that hangover early?
I think my favorite courtesy basket item is the Tums or Rolaids they always put in there. Does this say more about the food or about our ability to control ourselves in an all-you-can-eat cocktail hour buffet situation? I’ve never needed antacid at an event myself, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
On the subject of courtesy baskets, I’m all pro. Really, I can’t think of a single con. I mean seriously, free tampons? Especially if the venue you’ve chosen provides one for you. If they don’t, definitely put one together. It’s a good job to give one of your bridesmaids, maybe the one that just missed out on the coveted maid-of-honor position. It makes your guests feel welcome and that you care about their needs during the course of your wedding. It’s a long day for everyone, and chances are at around 9:00pm or so, someone’s going to need some hand lotion or hairspray. I once saw a woman beat a wicked case of static cling at a Christmas party with just a bit of Jergen’s on the stockings – it was amazing.
Some of the most popular items to put in the basket… these will be specific to the ladies room. For the men’s I’m guessing, some Zantac, aspirin and the latest issue of Playboy, I don’t know.
- Emery boards – a snaggy broken nail can kill an evening.
- Hairspray – not just for hair, can also stop stocking runs.
- Feminine products – go for a variety pack on this one…
- Pain killers – OTC products only please!
- Deodorant – I never really understood this one. How smelly are you going to get? Opt for the spray kind, it’s a little less gross.
- Breath mints, gum or mouthwash – I say skip the mouthwash, unless you plan on putting a bunch of dixie cups in there. Tic Tacs work the best.
- Clear nail polish – again, for stockings. I don’t think anyone is giving themselves a manicure during your reception, and if they are… you hired the wrong band!
- Hand lotion – moisture is our friend.
- Tissues – sometimes people cry, but also the most popular wedding months are smack in the middle of allergy season.
- Q-Tips – again, I’m not sure. I’m going to say makeup application.
- Band-Aids – For buffet table mishaps and carving board slip ups.
- Sewing kit – some people care when a button falls off. For me, if nothing’s hanging out, I’m waiting until Monday to take care of that one.
You can be as creative as you want with this little tidbit of planning. You know your guests better than I do. Also, you know what you would want to have on hand, but don’t expect to get any of these items back at the end of the party (except maybe the deodorant). It’s free stuff. You put it out there, and people will take it. The upside is, they will think you are extra cool and classy for having given them the opportunity to do so.
*any mention of specific products does not constitute an endorsement of said products by SingerAimNYC… except for Tic Tacs.
Posted: March 3, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: alternative, budget, cash, DJ, entertainment, event, excitement, hip hop, live band, live instruments, motown, party, techno, wedding
So, you may think that for me this would be a cut and dry case of band band band. Since I am a wedding singer myself most people probably wouldn’t even ask me this question, but there is no answer that’s right for everyone. There are several factors to consider before deciding on the answer to that age old question, band or DJ?
OK, maybe it’s not an age old question, but is one that can define the tone of your wedding. Entertainment can make or break a party.
A live band brings an air of excitement to any event. There is something about watching and listening to real people making music right in front of you that takes the whole experience up a notch, and your wedding is a once in a lifetime event. A professional band should be able to cover all types of music, but this is an especially great choice if you are into rock, swing, Motown, alternative, and genres generally utilizing live instruments to create their sound. If your fiance proposed to you at a Bruce Springsteen concert, trust me, you’re band people.
However, if you are into electronic music, hip hop or techno, or you and your fiance never miss a Saturday night out at the club, then a DJ might be a better fit for you. A great DJ can play his or her turntables like an instrument, and this way you will know exactly what the songs are going to sound like. If you practiced your first dance to the CD for all those months, you can dance it exactly the same way that night.
Of course, I have to address the elephant in the room, cost. Bands cost more than DJs. That’s just a fact. There’ no way around it. Even with all of the equipment a DJ has to invest in, there is still less overhead for them than for a band, and less people to pay. So, if cost is the number one factor in your decision making process, you may want to hire a DJ. Determine your budget before you start your research, and be upfront about it with potential vendors. You might end up getting a great deal.
If you have the cash there is always the option of both, to give the evening two distinct flavors. You can alternate between the two, or start the evening out with one and end with the other. Also, many bands have the capability to DJ a portion of your event, and there are DJs who perform with singers or musicians to fill out their sound. Really, your wedding should be a reflection of your personal style, and you should have a great time at it. Decide which musical backdrop will facilitate a good time for you and your guests and go for it!