Networking Groups vs. Consumer Resources

In today’s DJ wedding market, many DJ companies boast of all their ‘professional affiliations’ as a way to establish credibility within the marketplace. As an engaged couple, determining which affiliations warrant respect is a difficult task. In this blog, we will simplify your DJ selection process by helping you sort through and understand the difference between a ‘Networking Group’ and a real ‘Consumer Resource’.

Groups Defined

As you search for your DJ, you will notice that many DJs have logos on their website that represent all of their affiliations. Each affiliation can be sorted into two main groups; Networking Groups and Consumer Resources.

Networking Groups

Networking groups (trade associations) are simply a group of wedding vendors that have scheduled meetings to discuss, learn, and collaborate with each other. There are no ‘standards’ or barriers to entry. Being a member does not guarantee the customer anything at all. When wedding vendors advertise that they are a member, customers may feel the company has more credibility because more than one vendor displays a logo on a website. Eventually, potential customers feel a sense of comfort when they see the logo.

For example, The ADJA (American Disc Jockey Association) is a networking group that thousands of DJs have embraced. Many DJ companies proudly advertise the ADJA logo on their websites because many customers like to see professional affiliations. Yet, the organization itself does not have any credible standards for membership. To become a member, all you have to do is pay their membership fee. The ADJA is not a credible resource for an engaged couple to distinguish the quality of one DJ from another. It is only a resource for the customer to learn what questions to ask and the DJ to learn about new products and marketing techniques. The ADJA does not have any credible membership standards or barriers to entry. We actually know of two existing members of the ADJA that are banned from local area banquet facilities for inappropriate behavior. A reputable affiliation or ‘consumer resource’ will either dismiss members that are not ‘up to par’ or grade members based on some type of scale. The ADJA does nothing to guarantee the quality of members to potential bride and grooms.

For dedicated members of networking groups, their overall awareness and customer service should improve over time. Many members of networking groups do receive high levels of customer satisfaction. However, it is important to be aware that being a member of a networking group does not distinguish the quality of one member from another.

Other well known networking groups include: N.A.M.E. (The National Association of Mobile Entertainers); N.A.C.E. (National Association of Catering Executives); ISES (International Special Events Society).

Consumer Resources

A consumer resource is an organization that exists to protect and inform consumers about the legitimacy/professionalism of a business. Ratings and customer feedback are generally the platform used to evaluate each business. Engaged couples can learn a lot about wedding vendors from an organization like the BBB (Better Business Bureau). It is not that easy to become a member and their system of ‘reliability reports’ is very effective. The BBB assigns grades from A to F with pluses and minuses. A+ is the highest grade and F is the lowest. The grade represents BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns filed with BBB. They also have a platform to investigate customer complaints and post those issues online for the general public.

Other well known consumer resources include: The Bureau of Consumer Protection and The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

In addition, searching for online reviews is a great way to view the legitimacy/quality of your wedding vendors. Wedding Wire and The Knot are two great resources for online testimonials.

Cash Saving Tips For Your Ceremony

Great Ways to Save on Your Wedding Ceremony

Site Savings

Two in One
Many reception venues also host on-site ceremonies. The ceremony fee may be built into the cost of the reception or tack on a minimal expense.  Hosting both events in the same location will also save on transportation expenses.
Honor Your Faith

If you have a strong religious affiliation, your house of worship will likely host your wedding ceremony. This is good news for your budget, since members of the organization can usually rent the space free-of-cost (although a donation is a nice gesture).

Décor Deductions

Something Borrowed
Plan your wedding near a major religious holiday when your place of worship is decked with festive décor. “Borrowing” your ceremony décor means one less detail to plan – and one less item to purchase.

Simplfy Your Site
Overdone decorations are unnecessary for a brief ceremony. Keep décor elements simple (and cost-effective), and save the pricey arrangements for the reception – as this is where your guests will spend the majority of time. For example, strategically placed candles set a romantic ambiance and cost considerably less than flowers.

Go Natural
Cut décor costs further by exchanging vows in a naturally beautiful location. A garden wedding hardly needs additional floral arrangements, while an ornate church may be breathtaking on its own

Music Markdowns

Alternatives
Ceremony musicians can tack on an extra $500-$1000 if you’re not careful. Consider some alternatives and pocket the extra cash for your reception entertainment.

Hire your reception DJ to accompany your ceremony as well. Vendor pricing is much easier to negotiate when you purchase multiple services or package deals. Music By Design, Ltd. charges $100 for a ceremony ‘satellite sytem‘ – this compares to $300 to $500 per hour for a string trio.

source: elegala.com

5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

5 Tips That Could Save Your Honeymoon

All Inclusive Resorts May Not Be Your Best Bet

All inclusive resorts are a great idea of a lot of couples or families when traveling because they are extremely convenient and save you from the surprise you get upon check out when you have been charging cocktails and poolside snacks to your room the entire trip.  But, be sure to consider how much time you plan on being at the resort.  Do you plan on lounging in your bathing suit by the pool sipping frozen cocktails and visiting the resort’s restaurants, or are you the type of couple that plans on booking day long excursions (which may include a meal and drinks)?  If you like to explore and do not plan on spending a lot of time at the resort, perhaps an all inclusive is not the best bet.  If you do go the all inclusive route, research the food options available.  If you are paying for an all inclusive and have 7 days of fried food buffets, you may not be too happy.

Take Online Reviews With a Grain of Salt

Nowadays, we don’t buy anything or eat anywhere without reading a series of online reviews.  Websites posting consumer reviews are an invaluable resource, but should be taken with a grain of salt.  As you are researching your honeymoon, check out Tripadvisor.com, for example, for reviews on your resort/hotel, restaurants, and activities.  Don’t panic if you have booked something that has a negative review.  You never know what may have motivated that person’s review or what their expectations where.  I’m sure if you looked up your favorite restaurant in your home town, you are sure to find negative reviews.  When in doubt, consult a travel expert like viking travel.  While online reviews are helpful, they are not written by people staking their professional reputation on the outcome of your trip.

Money Matters

Find out if you need to exchange your money to the local currency before leaving.  Credit cards are usually the best bet, but it never hurts to have a little cash on hand for tips and shopping in the local markets.  You can visit your bank, which should exchange your currency for free, or you can always visit a currency exchange, which will likely charge a fee to exchange.  When it comes to your credit cards, call your credit card companies before you leave and let them know when and where you are traveling.  Most credit card companies scan for suspicious transactions and may inactivate your card if they assume it has been stolen.  Most cards are widely accepted in all areas, but it never hurts to check with your credit card company before leaving.  A couple recently told us that they traveled to Cancun Mexico assuming their Discover Card would be accepted, but it was not.  Don’t get stuck, call ahead.  NOTE: Your transactions will automatically be exchanged to US dollars, but your credit card company will charge you a fee.  Generally the fee is between 2 and 3%.

The Name Game

As an engaged bride to be, you plan for months, if not a year or more, for your wedding day and honeymoon.  If you are assuming your husband’s last name, be aware of the implications. When it comes to your travel plans, it’s best to wait just a little bit longer.  If you are leaving for your honeymoon immediately following your wedding, it is impossible to get a new driver’s license and/or passport to reflect your new last name.  The solution: book everything under your maiden name.  It’s no secret that airline security is tight and having an itinerary that does not match your ID can give you an unwelcome headache and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to travel.

Avoid The Allure of the Freebie

On your honeymoon you will encounter savvy salespeople that will offer you dinner, drinks, or a complimentary cruise in exchange for a moment of your time.  Beware: these people are trying to get you to come to timeshare presentation.  You may think, “Hey, we’ll claim our prize and sit through this, no big deal.”  Unless you want to spend hours of your precious honeymoon time wrapped up in a high pressure sales presentation, pass on these every time.  If any perk they are offering sounds that cool, book it yourself, it will be time and money well spent.

All About Wedding Flowers

Aside from the bouquet you spring for each Mother’s Day, chances are you’re a novice when it comes to flowers. However, now you are a bride–to–be planning your dream wedding, and suddenly you must make decisions on bouquets, boutonnieres, reception centerpieces and ceremony arrangements. Overwhelming? We know! Fortunately, we are here to guide you through this process so you can enjoy planning your wedding flowers without wilting from the stress. Read through these useful tips gathered from experts in the field.

Discover Your Style

Close your eyes and envision the perfect look to your wedding. Will it be formal or casual? Elaborate or simple? Bold or neutral colors? Are you a traditionalist in favor of roses or lilies, or do you favor a more contemporary floral theme incorporating grasses, fruits and herbs? Your wedding flowers are more than eye candy; they set the ambiance for the entire event. Knowing your wedding style is a start in the right direction, because you’ll want to choose blossoms that match the formality of your wedding day. Get tons of wedding flower ideas.

Pick Your Palette

Your color scheme should flow directly from your desired style. Today’s floral trends embrace an anything goes mentality, from wedding flowers in traditional whites and pastels to modern and adventurous dark hues and citrus shades. Flowers in matching shades or cool contrasts are breathtaking, but make sure they coordinate with your overall wedding theme. Choose your wedding colors accordingly, and your wedding will express your spirit. If you are still not sure where to begin, bring a bridesmaid dress fabric swatch when you meet with your florist and choose coordinating shades.

Seasonal Wedding Flowers

You know your floral theme and you’ve chosen your color scheme. When deciding on the specific blooms your want in your arrangements, be sure to consider the season in which you are marrying. Consult the following seasonal flower guide for tips.

Hiring a Florist

Even the most creative and artistic bride will benefit from a florist’s professional capabilities. Your wedding day will be full of activity, and you won’t want to spend vital hours fumbling with the wiring of each bouquet. A florist is not necessarily a budget breaker; a good one should be able to work with any floral budget. Check out Town & Country Gardens in Geneva, IL.

Your Floral Budget

Let’s face it: Determining how much wedding flowers cost is probably not the aspect of your wedding you’ve been dreaming of since grade school. You may see your floral budget as the biggest nemesis between you and your wedding flowers. If you plan wisely, however, you should have enough money to create the floral theme of your desires. Expect to spend about 8-10% of your overall budget on wedding flowers.

source: Elegala.com



first three steps of wedding planning

First Three Steps of Wedding Planning

First Three Steps of Wedding Planning

Here’s the first three steps in your countdown to “I Do!” Get started now by tackling these first wedding planning tasks.

So he popped the question…now what?

Unfortunately, for most newly engaged women – the excitement of finally finding “the one” is dampened by a hard dose of stress and anxiety. Sure, you’ll find about a gazillion wedding planning checklists out there, but they all tend to overwhelm more than they help, and all essentially fail to address the fundamental question: “Where do I begin?”

We’re here to help. After you’ve announced the exciting news and taken some time to bask in your newly engaged glow, it’s time to get cracking. Here are the first three wedding planning tasks you absolutely must accomplish before anything else.

Cross these items off your wedding checklist – and you’re on your way.

First Steps of Wedding Planning:

Step 1: Determine Your Budget

Every decision stems from the wedding budget. Before you can plan anything, you must know how much you can spend and who plans to contribute. Your budget will determine the type of wedding you can have – from how many guests you invite, to where and when you host your wedding, right down to the specific blooms in your bouquet. And with the ever increasing cost of weddings, financing the event is often a group effort; the bride’s parents no longer need to take out a second mortgage just to fund the upcoming nuptials. You’ll need to talk to your families about who will pay for what, and arrive at a total wedding budget. This complete wedding budget tracker will walk you through the process.

Step 2: Tackle the Guest List

Some “checklists” suggest setting a date and commencing other wedding plans before this step, but Elegala considers the guest count is the most vital decision after the budget. Here’s why: Capacity is one of the most important criteria in finding a suitable wedding venue – more so even than style and vision – and you must secure your location before you can successfully plan anything else. Trust us, cramming 300 people into a venue that seats 150 will not go over well. You don’t need to have the list finalized just yet, but you’ll need an estimate from both sides of the family (and yourselves) right away to avert countless planning headaches down the road.  This complete wedding guest guide will help you get started.

Step 3: Set a Site and Date

Only once you have an estimated budget and guest count can you begin searching for a place to hold your event with any accuracy. Remember – many reception sites book over a year in advance, so you really can’t decide on a wedding date until you have officially booked your venue with a signed contract. Find as many reception sites that meet your budget, capacity and overall style quotient as you can. Use our wedding reception site search to find venues in your area, and narrow down your list. Then schedule appointments to tour each wedding venue and meet with the manager. After that—it’s decision making time.

There is one wedding planning truism that we hold dear. As you may have heard it said, once you find your wedding venue, everything else falls into place. Once you have accomplished these steps, you will find the rest of your planning task list a piece of, ahem, wedding cake.

source: elegala.com

 

Wedding Flowers By Season

SpringWedding Flowers In Season

Apple or cherry blossoms
Daffodils
Dogwoods
Forsythia branches
Hyacinth
Iris
Larkspur
Lilies
Lilacs
Lily of the Valley
Pansies
Peonies
Sweet Peas
Tulips

Summer Wedding Flowers In Season

Asters
Calla Lilies
Dahlias
Daisies
Delphinium
Geraniums
Hydrangeas
Iris
Jacobs Ladder
Larkspur
Queen Anne’s Lace
Roses
Shasta daises
Stock
Sunflower
Zinnias

Fall Wedding Flowers In Season

Asters
Chrysanthemums
Zinnias
Gerbera daisies
Marigolds
Roses
Sunflowers

Winter Wedding Flowers In Season

maryllis
Camellias
Forget-me-nots
Jasmine
Orchids
Poinsettias
Holly

sources: elegala.com / wikipedia.com

trash the dress

Trash The Dress

trash the dress
Trash The Dress…Looking for a way to put your wedding stress and anxiety behind you now that the big day is over? Photographer John Michael Cooper has an unlikely remedy: trash your wedding dress. The modern photographer created a concept that’s become a nationwide trend and is stirring up a bit of controversy.

John Michael Cooper’s ” trash the dress ” idea is exactly what it sounds like. Sometime after the wedding day is over, brides meet up with their photographer or videographer for an edgy, symbolic, or disturbing film session where they literally destroy their wedding gown. Many brides who participate in the new tradition say that the destruction of their dress signifies their freedom from the stress and anxiety of planning a wedding.

Each woman’s “trash the dress” day is unique and different. Some women choose water as their source of destruction, having their photographer snap pictures as they climb into a city fountain, roll on a sandy beach, or even wade into a dirty swamp. Others choose to have their new husbands help in the destruction, opting to be cut out of the dress with scissors or a knife or, in some extreme cases, set the garment on fire. Still others have chosen to rely on nature to ruin the gown by rolling in mud, sitting in dirt, or even hiking a dusty trail.

While it’s an unconventional method to overcome wedding-related stress, many brides find the “trash the dress” festivity to be cathartic and therapeutic. They also enjoy having a unique photo or video to remember their dress rather than preserving it in a box in their attics or closets. Not surprisingly, critics find the act offensive and irresponsible arguing that if brides no longer want their dress, they should donate them to charities or less-fortunate individuals. Here is a great place to donate your dress – White Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style Me Pretty – Little Black Book

January  10, 2011

Music By Design was selected to be a member of Style Me Pretty’s exclusive 2011  Little Black Book.

What is the Little Black Book?

Our Little Black Book is a thoughtfully edited listing of only top quality vendors. Because our style-savvy, sophisticated readers deserve a chic resource they can trust, our book is created with them in mind. Our Little Black Book offers our readers a worry-free browsing experience while our Very Important Vendors enjoy a showcase in keeping with our firm commitment to quality vs. quantity. More than simply enjoying elite advertising space, our members are a handpicked community of artistic experts. In an industry saturated with long lists of anybody & everybody, our book is the most thoughtfully edited resource on the planet: a refreshingly couture idea.

How do you choose the vendors for your Little Black Book?

The process to become a Little Black Book member is actually quite extensive.

First, they need to have been recommended by an SMP reader, a recent bride or an industry professional. We don’t simply look for a referral but rather for a passionate reason as to why a particular vendor deserves to be in the book. Perhaps the designer worked with a reader’s best friend when she was getting married, perhaps they have already designed the world’s most beautiful invitations for a particular bride and groom, perhaps an event planner that we know shares with us the one photographer that she will work with. Whatever the connection, it must be strong and based on a real knowledge of the vendor’s work.

Second, we dive head first into the vendor’s business. Their portfolio, their experience, their time in the industry. We look at press that they’ve received, we chat with their industry neighbors, we get to know who they are and why they are good at what they do. We spend hours on the phone with each vendor, getting to know them, figuring out if they are honest, have a high level of integrity and are truly devoted to their craft. For highly competitive industries, like photography, we also have vetting teams. An unbiased group of style savvy vendors who can fairly, objectively, and accurately evaluate other’s work.

And finally, after feeling completely confident that a particular vendor is fabulous, we invite them to be a part of our book! It’s an invitation only book that truly prides itself on it’s commitment to quality above all else.

Thanksgiving Wedding Ideas

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for an elegant yet relaxed celebration, as the autumn holiday lends itself to natural settings, simple decor and comfort food. And while the general rule of thumb is to avoid having your wedding around a holiday, Thanksgiving presents an entirely different set of circumstances.  While you probably don’t want to hold it on Thanksgiving Day, the Friday or Saturday after can be a great option. Most friends and family will either already be in town or planning on traveling anyway – so making the trip to your wedding may not be a burden.  Plus, most of your guests will already have the day off. Need more convincing?  Here are some creative ways to plan your Thanksgiving wedding in style…

Ideas for a Thanksgiving Theme Weddings

Invitations and Stationery

  • Send out save the date cards as soon as possible since your wedding will fall on a holiday weekend.
  • Dress up ordinary wedding invitations and wedding with inexpensive silk fall leaves included in each mailing.

Wedding Flowers and Decor

  • Instead of gaudy arrangements featuring pricey blooms – keep your decor a simple enhancement to mother nature’s natural bounty. Use the autumn harvest for inspiration; think gourds, pumpkins, squash, gold dipped fall leaves…you get the idea.
  • Use hollowed out pumpkins or cornucopias for centerpiece holders.
  • You’re not confined to rustic and casual for Thanksgiving.  Create a posh Thanksgiving ambiance, and drape lush velvet in a rich chocolate brown or gold throughout your party space. Accent the scene with antique broaches, crystal candelabras and stemware.

Menu and Catering

  • The food is the main attraction for this party. You cannot go wrong with traditional favorites: turkey, red potatoes, corn bread dressing, green beans, and honey glazed carrots.
  • Consider incorporating your family recipes into your wedding menu and serving the meal family style (if your guest list is small).
  • Serve traditional fare in sophisticated, creative ways.  For instance, present soup or veggie puree in mini shot glasses or hallowed out gourds, or warm apple cider in glass mugs with cinnamon sticks.

Wedding Cake

  • To round out the thanksgiving feast – serve a pumpkin cake or even a tiered pumkin pie!
  • Favors

    • Make it – homemade goodies like fudge, candy apples, or jams presented in festive packaging always go over well
    • Bag it – fill mini burlap bags with coffee beans, bulbs, or any treat you desire, and tie a label with your monogram or wedding date to the top
    • Pour it – miniature bottles of maple syrup are a sweet treat
    • Fill it – miniature wood crates lined with straw and filled with goodies are a rustic touch

    Source: Elegala.com

    Wedding Menu for Every Season

    Wedding Menu Ideas for Every Season

    Let your wedding catering take a cue from the seasons with menu ideas for every season…

    Spring Wedding Menu Ideas

    Summon the taste of spring with light flavors and delicate textures…

    • In Season – serve a main dish featuring ham or lamb
    • Fresh produce – round out the meal with a bounty of fresh fruits and young vegetables like baby carrots, baby asparagus and new potatoes
    • Elegant sides – serve mini quiches or update traditional deviled eggs by adding salmon or crabmeat
    • Bar favorites – a spring menu seems to call for champagne.  Mix up a batch of mimosas for a morning wedding, or create a festive champagne cocktail.

    Summer Wedding Menu Ideas

    Use your summer menu to invoke warmth, sunshine and fun…

    • Serve lighter fare – think fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables like berries, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, and corn, seafood and lean poultry like chicken.  Between courses, serve a light sorbet.
    • Spark up the grill – serve traditional picnic and grill fare like barbeque, burgers and potato salad
    • Head to the tropics – feature tropical signature cocktails like margaritas, sangria, or mojitos.

    Fall Wedding Menu Ideas

    Bring out the rich and comforting tastes of autumn…

    • Traditional favorites – you cannot go wrong with seasonal standbys: turkey, red potatoes, corn bread dressing, green beans, and honey glazed carrots.
    • Family style – re-create a traditional thanksgiving feast by incorporating your family recipes into your wedding menu and serving the meal family style (if your guest list is small).
    • Hearty proteins – Choose a hearty meat that will pair with heavier side dishes – turkey, roasted quail, rib roast
    • Keep it elegant – you can serve traditional fare in sophisticated, creative ways – present soup or veggie puree in mini shot classes or hallowed out gourds, or warm apple cider in glass mugs with cinnamon sticks.

    Winter Wedding Menu Ideas

    Warm up to a decadent winter menu with these cool ideas to reflect the season…

    • Hearty dishes – serve heartier fare in sophisticated, creative ways – such as colorful butternut squash puree or warm pumpkin soup in ramekins or shot glasses.
    • Wintery beverages – warm guests with eggnog, spiced wine or mixed coffee drinks.

    source: elegala.com