Vendor Spotlight: Simply Music

brian prescott,adante mayo,greg beck,simply music,wedding dj

photos courtesy of Simply Music

I’ve heard it before, and witnessed it a dozen times: a planner’s best friend is the DJ. They’re a planner’s voice during the party, and that’s why today’s vendor spotlight is all about one of our favorites: Simply Music Events. DJ Brian Prescott was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Read on to find out more about him, and check out their site at simplymusicevents.com!

What led you to this specific part of the wedding industry?

Actually, I fell into my career path as a DJ. I grew up and traveled all over the country as a performer (singer/actor/dancer). I already did a lot of work for several entertainment companies around DFW as a performer doing corporate events, etc. When the idea to start a DJ company popped in my head, I already had base to work from with company parties. Starting that way really helped me become a better “Wedding DJ” by developing my skills in being able to read crowds of different ages and backgrounds. Once I moved into the wedding industry, I haven’t looked back. I enjoy every facet of a wedding (song choices, floral arrangements, wedding planners, lighting, ceremonies…). I love being a part of a day in one couple’s life they’ll never forget. I feel truly blessed!

What do you love most about being a wedding DJ?

What I love most of all is the relationships I have with all my brides, grooms and fellow vendors. I love being a part of their day and a memory they’ll never forget. I like creating the song list based around what the bride and groom like as well as their guest’s. My favorite is when a bride says to me, “I can’t believe everyone danced all night!” or “It was better and more amazing than I could’ve ever imagined!”

What are your favorite wedding trends right now?

One of my favorite trends right now is brides and grooms recognizing the importance of a wedding planner [Good answer, Brian! - EED staff]. It seems like over the past few years, more and more people are having wedding planners for their weddings. I tell all my brides and grooms… never underestimate the value and expertise of a good wedding planner.

Another trend I’m very fond of is specialty lighting. It’s been a trend for a while, but people are really recognizing the importance of lighting and what it can do. It’s amazing how a few up lights and pin spots can transform a room.

How long have you been in the industry?

This is very hard to admit, but almost 17 years!

What makes you unique from other wedding DJs?

I think what makes me and my DJs different is our level of service and comfort we give to a couple. I think after they meet with us, they know we’re not going to be some “Cheesy DJ” that’s going to take over the focus of their wedding. We can be entertaining and emcee the evening without stepping over the line. They know we are professional DJs with integrity, class and elegance.

Tell us about your most memorable and fun wedding/event.

OHHHH! Some of the memorable ones I can’t talk about because I would have to change the names for their protection. I’ve had so many fun weddings; it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Some of my favorite weddings are the ones where I’ve been the DJ for several of their family members or I’ve been the DJ at most of their friend’s weddings. I feel as though I’m a part of the family.

Tell us one thing we might not otherwise know about you.

I was Rupert Morris of the Morris Brothers from the FOX Kids Club. We used to have a show on Fox locally then WB33. For many years I dressed as a “Nerd/Superhero” and perform for elementary students doing counseling related programs on: Anti-Bullying, Drug Prevention, Safety and Test Taking Strategies. The overall message being: It’s not what you look like on the outside, but how you feel about yourself on the inside that truly matters. I’ve performed for almost 1,000,000 students around the country.

Do you have any special discounts or offers for Simply Music at this time?

We discount any specialty lighting if you use us as your DJ.

Venue Love: Five Faves in McKinney

Oh, McKinney, how we love thee. Let us count the ways. Well, at least five ways. That is to say, we’ll be counting out five of our numerous favorite venues in the fair town, in no particular order.

~ Bella Donna Chapel ~

bella donna chapel,wedding ceremony

photo credit: David Cheney Photography

This petite stunner is situated in the Adriatica Village in Stonebridge Ranch, and boasts gorgeous architectural and decorative detail, from stained glass to arched doorways to colonnades to iconography. The chapel holds up to 155 comfortably, on the floor level and a small balcony, and has changing rooms for both the bride and the groom.

~ Gather ~

Gather,long table,brick wall,chandeliers,reception,rehearsal dinner

photo courtesy of Gather; credit: Texas Red Photography

One word: charming. For small, intimate weddings and celebrations, look no further than the sometimes-restaurant right off the square, Gather. We’re talking brick walls, tin ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and more personality than you could shake a stick at. Get a peak at their menu by dropping in for lunch one day – you will not be disappointed.

~ The Grand Hotel ~

brick wall,chandelier,grand hotel,mckinney,ceremony,wedding

photo credit: Peyronet Photography

Speaking of brick walls and chandeliers, how about western elegance at its finest? Accommodating up to 150 guests, The Grand Hotel Ballroom has charm and style, with ample ability to wow your guests as they walk through this restored hotel on their way to your celebration. The hotel also boasts several more intimate spaces, such as the Library, the Wine Room, and Rick’s 110, and is even connected via lounge to Rich’s Chophouse, next door. The food here is top-notch, so your menu tasting may become your instant favorite part of your entire planning process. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

~ TPC Craig Ranch ~

tpc craig ranch,exterior

photo credit: Littrell Photography

Did you know that TPC Craig Ranch offers its amenities to non-members, too? It does! So whether you’re a card-carrying member of this golf club or not, Tournament Players Club (that’s where the “TPC” comes from) can provide an immaculate backdrop for your wedding. In the clubhouse, two adjacent ballrooms can create either an intimate or spacious setting for you and your guests, with seating for up to 200, and a cocktail reception for up to 250. And on the links, TPC’s PGA golf course is everything you would expect from the #10 ranked course in the state!

~ The Cotton Mill ~

cotton mill wedding

photo credit: The Mamones

Historic spaces are a special draw for lots of reasons, and when as much love and care has been placed into restoration and modernization as has gone into the Cotton Mill, the results are spectacular! The look is a special mix of rustic and industrial, and has to be one of the most photographed sites in McKinney! Two spaces exist for event rental: the Event Hall, and the Indigo/Dye Room. Able to accommodate up to a staggering 450 guests, the Event Hall is a blank canvas, surrounded by original 1910 wood floors, beams, and ceiling, brick walls, and multi-paned windows. More information about the Event Hall can be found on their site: mckinneycottonmill.com.

The Cotton Mill also has a smaller, outdoor space available, perfect for ceremonies and cocktail hours (or even small receptions!): The Indigo/Dye Room. This was once the enclosed dying room for the denim produced at the mill. Now a gorgeous ruin of ivy-covered brick walls, this is one of few urban outdoor locations that’s easy to find and access (and even boasts a waterfall!). Their website has an FAQ page and even shows some common layouts/floor plans along with pictures from past events in those spaces. Check out the options on their website or contact Darla Lovett at 972-838-7558/cottonmill@tx.rr.com!

There are many more venues in and around McKinney we love. If you need help finding a venue, or would like more information about what we do and how we can help you, please contact us today.

Happy hunting!

Finding the Venue – Part Two

Ready to finish your list after working on the first part of our venue hunt tips?  Then read on!

#5 – Contact your 10-15 venues.  Don’t set up a tour yet.  Just reach out and see if they are available for your date (be generic if you’re flexible, like what dates do you have available for the month of March?).  Ask them to send you information on the venue, such as capacity (double-check they can fit your guest list) and an average cost for a wedding of your guest list size.  They are going to want you to come meet with them, resist!  This is about preserving your sanity and time, so try to get info by phone or email.  You want to get an idea of what clients there spend, not what their basic fees are.  This will help you stay on budget!  Once you get all the info, try to narrow your list down to less than 10.

Bella Donna Chapel captured by David Cheney Photography

#6 – Set up tours!  Yes, now you’ve finally reached that point.  Grab your list and start scheduling appointments.  We suggest setting aside a couple of weekdays and set up all your tours for those two days.  Make sure to include any key decision makers, such as you, your groom and parents that might be contributing.  (You are trying to avoid making all these tours multiple times.)  You’ll get the full attention of the staff, instead of being rushed through while they are setting up for an event.  You can always come back later to see what it looks like during an event.  For now though, you want the staff to help you understand how their venue will work best for your wedding.  We highly discourage you dropping by a venue without an appointment.  You can receive misleading information from staff that is not the sales person, plus it might be set up for an event that does not fit your style and turn you off.  We know it can be hard to fit the appointments in because of work, school, etc.  However, it really will be worth those two vacation days for everyone if that’s the only time you go, instead of losing lunch and weekend time to this hunt for a month or two.

#7 – Now that you’ve seen them, compare, compare, compare!  Break it down by listing the services and products you’ll get at each, and then try to average it out to how much you are spending per person (don’t forget to include tax and service charges).  Make sure to include items, like table and chair rentals, to compare your true costs from one venue that provides them to another that doesn’t.  If you have a tie, set another appointment to go look at each.  Maybe while a wedding is being set up so you can see it in action.  After you’ve looked at it all and compared, the final thing to do is just go with your gut.  If you love a venue, get it!  You don’t want to make a decision and regret it later on.

Happy Hunting!

Bella Donna Chapel captured by David Cheney Photography

Finding the Perfect Venue – Part One

Room on Main Ballroom captured by Shelley Foster Photography

Finding your venue is one of the first things you’ll do in your wedding planning process.  It should be as it affects every aspect of your wedding, including your guest list, budget and overall design ideas.  It also affects how many other vendors you need to find simply based on how many services and products they offer you.  It’s a big decision, and approached in the wrong way, can quickly become the most overwhelming and tedious task.  Many times we’ve seen couples come to our doorstep exhausted by the number of tours they’ve taken and hours they’ve sunk into this search and they still don’t have a decision made.  So, let us give you some tips to hopefully help you avoid the tedium and actually enjoy your venue hunt!

#1 – Before you even get started, know how many guests you want to attend and how much you want to spend.  (Go here and here to see our blogs on starting your guest list.)  For setting how much to spend, here’s an easy rule of thumb.  Your venue, basic rentals (like tables and chairs), catering and alcohol costs should be 50% of your budget.  So, if you have a budget of $28,000 (reported average budget for our area), these costs should total NO MORE than $14,000.

#2 – Start googling and using websites like theknot.com and weddingwire.com to start compiling a list of venues that are in your area.  Be sure to check the websites of the venues to verify their location as sometimes these websites are misleading by showing you an ad for a venue that can be an hour or more away.  Put any venue on the list that at first glance appeals to you.  If you find one on these websites that has poor reviews, don’t add them.  You don’t want to get started on the wrong path with those who have a proven bad track record.

Notice we didn’t say choose the ones that match your design ideas or theme?  That’s because you might change your mind once you start looking at venues.  Don’t limit yourself yet.  This is just a first glance list and we don’t expect or want you to fall in love yet.  This is just to give you an idea on what’s out there.

#3 – Now that you have your list, go to the venue websites and see if you can get an idea of how many guests can fit in the venue and cost.  If it’s not on the website, DON’T contact them yet.  Remember, we don’t want to make this overwhelming.  We just want to start crossing off venues that are obviously not going to work.  Any that you find that do not hold as many guests as you need or the pricing doesn’t work for your established budget, cross them off, immediately!  We say this so you won’t fall in love with it and end up going over budget or inviting more guests that can fit.

#4 – Now that you’ve eliminated some of them, start looking at the venue websites, Facebook pages, Instagram and Pinterest sources.  These will all give you more photos to look at.  You can also do a google search with the venue name and you’ll probably find photographer blogs that will have photos of weddings at those venues.  Check them all out and see what you really like and the ones you don’t.  This will also help you start defining your design aesthetic because you’ll see pretty quickly what you’re attracted to.  At this point, start narrowing them down to 10-15 venues.  Keep going until you get it trimmed down to that many.

There’s still more to do, so check back with us and we’ll finish this list in just a couple of days!

Room on Main Ballroom captured by Shelley Foster Photography

Budgets: Where to Start?

In a previous post, Wendy Kidd (Certified Master Wedding Planner, AACWP, and owner of Each & Every Detail) created this intro for any couple who is sitting down to create their wedding budget and doesn’t know where to start. If that describes you and your significant other, read on!

One of the most popular questions I get asked is how much does a wedding cost?  Many people answer this as a statistic.  For me, I ask in return, what have you budgeted?  Obviously, weddings can be and are expensive.  However, if you plan for an amount that you can afford, any wedding can be made special and unique. 

Need help deciding how much to spend?  The best advice I can give you is to know that the facility and food costs will take up approximately 50-60% of your budget.  From this, you can either work backwards from the budget you’ve prepared (your budget is $30,000, so your budget for food/facility is $15,000), or you can work forward from the amounts you’ve already committed to this category (your food/facility cost is $17,000, so your total budget should be around $34,000).  This helps you to judge how much you have left to spend on all other vendors, such as photographer, DJ, wedding planner, etc.  Remember to prioritize your interests too, so you can spend more on what is important to you.

Designing Your Wedding: Location

bride and groom kissing in front of perot museum wedding with vintage car at night

As the final entry in this serial overview of ways to begin to design your wedding, consider this approach:

Location

As the song goes, “I do love to be beside the sea side…” If you do, too, you could have all the design inspiration you need right in front of you. Deciding on an evocative location first can complete half your design work for you. Use your location’s inherent color scheme to choose similar or complimentary colors for your wedding. Choose one element from your locale to become a recurring motif on all of your stationery or favors. Did you find an amazing hacienda, or botanical garden, or Rococo ballroom? Congratulations! You’ve found a theme, as well! Even using location in the larger sense – such as the city where you’ve chosen to be married, or from which you both hail – can dictate floral, food, and style choices.

Pro Tip: Since choosing a location can lead you to other design choices, and using any of the other approaches can lead you to finding the perfect location, it really is a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. This is the best approach when you really feel a connection to a place.

That’s it for this overview of way to begin designing your wedding! Check back soon for a more in-depth look at each of these options individually.

We love hearing from you! How did you design your wedding? What design elements did you use? Let us know in the comments!

The Silent Budget, Revisited

“Budget” is the hardest conversation to have for most couples planning their wedding, and also the most important. Every decision made while planning is affected by the budget chosen. Each & Every Detail previously outlined a series of planning issues that crop up, and we’re revisiting the piece on budget. Read on to see why ignoring this particularly crucial element of wedding planning can come back to haunt you:

This is the fourth installment in our series of posts about the top 5 planning mistakes we’ve seen couples make in the past.  In case you missed them, check out our first three posts: #5 – Assuming Your Vendors Communicate, #4 – Ignoring the Setting Sun, #3 – Inviting Too Many Guests.

Wedding ceremony at Ashton GardensMoney is never easy to talk about, but keeping silent is the number one reason people go over budget.  Creating your budget – and deciding on its points of flexibility – sets the tone for relationships during the wedding planning process.  You have to juggle your priorities with your partner’s, your parent’s, and your soon-to-be in-law’s wishes and traditions.  Attacking these problems early on in the process can prevent emotional breakdowns when the bills come due and keep everyone’s stress levels down.

Problems resulting from insufficient, incomplete, or conflicted budgeting can lead to a whole plethora of problems.  We have seen couples book venues with a predicted cost of $20,000 who are heartbroken when they later determine their total wedding budget is $25,000.  Another problem we see stems from a lack of communication between the couple, leading the bride to keep the groom in the dark as to vendor commitments that are breaking the bank.  Budgeting for a wedding is really difficult, because it’s not a skill we are often taught.  Some brides rely on friends with budgeting experience, like CPAs or project managers, to help them through the process, but wedding prices and categories are totally different from those dealt with in their line of work.

So, what’s the best way to avert budget disaster?  Talk, talk, talk.  Talk with the key players, including all of the parents, to prioritize expense categories, determine contributions and the overall bottom line, and finalize what will be covered by this budget.  Does it include the honeymoon?  What about the rehearsal dinner?  Is everyone’s attire included, or just the bride’s dress?  Be specific.  Prioritization is very important in this process.  It’s invaluable to know ahead of time that it’s really important to your mom that you get married at the church you grew up in, or that the groom’s mom would like you to wear her veil, or that your dad is totally passionate about the need for a wedding video, or even that the groom loathes chair covers.  Not only can these issues cause problems later, but also they affect the amount of money you will spend and your ability to cover a variety of categories.  Clearly define your budget categories, pick your priorities, and allocate your money accordingly.  Be respectful during this process, and remain mindful not only of the dollars and cents involved, but others’ priorities and emotions.  A wedding planner can lend a hand in this process if necessary, but to some degree, you know your family best and can negotiate the riptides of tradition and emotion.

Something to keep in mind is that a budget is not set in stone.  As you do market research, the costs you allocated to various categories may change.  That’s okay, but try to balance the changes out across the different categories, so that your overall budget doesn’t zoom up.  Maybe you find out that you’re willing to give up that vintage car in order to get the photographer you want.  Just be sure to subtract or tone down low priority categories if you decide to add costs to high priority items.  A planner can be very helpful here, as long as he or she is aware early in the process that you need help keeping costs in line and what your priorities are.

 

Hidden Springs Open House

hidden springs open house aubrey texas wedding venue

Brides & Grooms (past and present), Families, Friends! Come One! Come All!

Hidden Springs Special Event Venue invites you to their first open house on September 25th!

If you’re still looking for a venue or vendors for your wedding, stop by. There will be games, tastings, music, gowns, flowers, and a lot more.

Each & Every Detail will be there, and we would love to see you!

The more, the marrier…whoops…”merrier”!

RSVP via email to kathy@thespringsevents.com.

You can also check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HiddenSpringsEvents or their website at www.thespringsevents.com.

We hope to see you there!

Cutting your Guest List

Peaches on Par Wedding InvitationIn an earlier post, we outlined some guidelines for developing an initial guest list.  In this post, we’d like to look a little more closely at three issues that tend to create problems during wedding guest list creation: bringing a guest, the B-list, and whether or not to include children.

Many assume that for etiquette purposes, you always allow a single person to bring a guest.  Thus, the “and guest”  on the inner envelope.  Not true!  Those you must include are the spouse, fiance(e) or live-in partner of each invited guest.  There is no requirement for singles to be allowed to bring a date.  This is solely at your discretion.  Most people tend to add an “and guest” for friends who are in a committed relationship of some duration.  Brothers and sisters can be allotted an escort.  Wedding party members who are single may want to bring a guest.  It’s up to you.

Keep a few things in mind when deciding on who will be given an “and guest”.  First, if your friend is in a long-term relationship with someone you absolutely don’t want at your wedding, do not feel committed to allotting your friend a guest.  Be prepared to talk about it, but stick to your guns if you feel strongly.  Additionally, if you know that giving your sister an “and guest” will stress her out about finding a date, don’t put her under pressure to produce a someone for the wedding.  Second, remember that you can always fall back on your rule about not inviting people the bride and/or groom have never met.  Third, make sure your additional guests do not expand your total list to an unacceptable number.  It is not worth redoing your entire wedding budget if the “and guest” can be cut!  Finally, check your list to ensure that the added guests do not skew the overall guest division between the bride, groom, and two sets of parents.  Everyone should have an approximately equal number of expected attendees.

Many a magazine has advised creating a “B-list”.  In essence, they direct couples to make an A-list of people that must be invited, then create a B-list of people to be invited if guests from the A-list cannot attend. We do not recommend this method.  Your “B-list” friends and family could be very hurt by finding out they are on this list, which is easy for them to do if an “A-list” guest speaks to someone or posts on Facebook that they received their invitation and a “B-list” guest doesn’t receive theirs until weeks later.  Also, you would need to print response cards with a different response deadline for the “B-list”, making it an additional expense.

Children can be a big factor in guest list cuts as well.  Don’t feel obligated to invite children if you do not want them there!  If you prefer that children not attend, add a line to your response cards that indicates that you prefer “an adults-only evening”.  Add it to your website as well.  Be sure to emphasize with both sets of parents that guests who call and request additional seats for their children should be politely told that unfortunately, that won’t be possible.  Additionally, consider carefully how your family and friends define ‘adult’.  We’ve seen guests bring additional guests as young as 10, even when children are not included in the invitation.  Be gentle, but firm, when defining the boundaries.  If it’s a big problem for your guests, consider providing childcare back at the hotel so that your friends can enjoy the party without worrying about the kids.

If your guest list gets out of control, consider making the following cuts.  Anyone who will be more excited about the open bar than the ceremony can be cut.  You want people at your wedding who are excited for you and the step you are taking together.  Don’t feel shy about cutting people you don’t know, or that you haven’t seen since graduating a decade ago, or that guy in payroll who helped you straighten out your vacation time.  Unfortunately, some guests try to bully their way on to your guest list, or try to bully you into allowing them to bring someone not invited.  Stand your ground!  Their rudeness should not affect your carefully considered decisions.  Above all, make sure that your guest list reflects the community you want to support you on your wedding day.

Photo by Celina Gomez Photography

Designing Your Wedding: Theme

chemistry of love theme wedding invitation

photo credit: Hiram Trillo Photography

Second in a three part series on where to begin when designing your wedding, here is an overview of another place to start:

Theme

Do you have a penchant for French food and fashion? Perhaps a Marie Antoinette-inspired fete is the best match for you. Are you just a couple of giant kids playing your way down the Midway of Life? Let a carnival theme set the tone. Can the two of you quote the old classics endlessly? A night of old Hollywood glamour would be just the thing to usher in your new life together. As long as the theme you choose fits who the two of you are, it will feel exactly right to you and your guests.

Pro Tip: Choosing a theme for your wedding day presents the broadest opportunity for interpretation for you, and for your vendors. That can be a pro and a con. If you have any specific ideas about what parts of your theme you love most, bring examples or lists to discuss with vendors making design decisions. If you have an open mind, your vendors can bring a lot to the table you may not have thought about, but if there are any details you don’t want, like you’re not sweet on cotton-candy pink, speak up!

Check back next week to see the final overview entry on where to begin when designing your wedding.

We love hearing from you! How did you design your wedding? What design elements did you use? Let us know in the comments!