Ask the Expert

Expert Advice About DJs, Destination Weddings, and More

The entertainment is very important for our upcoming wedding. How can we best work with our DJ to make sure that everyone is out on the dance floor?

The term ‘everyone’ can be misleading. What most brides and grooms are looking for is the feel of a packed dance floor. Realizing that not every guest will dance, and not every guest will dance at the same time, is crucial to creating a packed dance floor. First, create an intimate and centralized location for the dance floor to give the look and feel of a full dance floor throughout the reception. If your dance floor can accommodate all of your guests, it will never appear full. Ensure that your guests can still talk and socialize, even when the dance floor is packed. You will retain more guests, and it will work in your favor to create more energy at the reception. Also understand that you are hosting the reception for your friends and family—play music that not only you like, but focus on what you think your guests will respond to as well. Know the two main rules about dancing: no one likes to be the first one on the dance floor, and no one likes to dance unless ‘everyone’ else is dancing. Create an agenda that always invites your guests to join in (for example, one of the family dances).

—Andy Austin from Andy Austin Entertainment 

How do I decide where to allocate the money in my budget while still getting the wedding I envision?

There are undoubtedly an endless number of options from which to choose when you are in the planning phase. The first thing I ask of my clients before they even hire me is ‘What three elements of your wedding are most important to you?’ Knowing the answer will help you to prioritize the direction you should take when planning your wedding. It will allow you to be okay with cutting back in other areas that are not as important so that you don’t overextend your budget. Realistically, you should ask and answer this question before buying your dress or booking your venue and vendors so that you don’t overcommit from the very beginning and not have much left over to make the ‘important’ purchases that you just can’t live without or, worse yet, pay for the rest of your wedding. If your budget allows, hiring a knowledgeable wedding planner at the very beginning stages of planning will not only help you to keep your priorities in check; they will also keep your budget in line, come up with creative ways to get the look and feel you want without overspending, and they will be your advocate throughout the entire process so that you can enjoy your experience to the fullest.

—Lauren Schmidt from The Creative Touch Events by Lauren 

I am planning a destination wedding for my upcoming nuptials. How can I make sure my guests are comfortable in a city that is not their home?

It’s the thoughtful attention to detail—for example, welcome bags filled with local favorites in addition to essentials such as bottled water and snacks—that will help your guests feel as comfortable as possible while away from home. Compile an information packet with relevant information for your wedding weekend: the weekend’s itinerary; weather forecast; recommended attire for each event; a list of suggested activities like a golf outing for the guys or a spa day for the girls; and directions to the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, and any other planned events. Prearranged transportation and group discounts for nearby activities will make your guests feel like they’re being taken care of all weekend. Most important, remind your guests how happy and appreciative you are that they are there to share in your special day!

—Anna Leeker, director of catering at Barton Creek Resort & Spa  

We’d like a seated dinner at our wedding reception, but we still want to incorporate passed options throughout the night. Can we have both?

You can create the traditional feel of a seated dinner while modernizing it with a twist. Start the reception with passed hors d’oeuvres, then move into the dining room and have all your guests take their seats. Start with a first course served at the table, and during this time do all the formal toasts while everyone is seated and focused. Then kick off the dancing and get everyone up and socializing. Now start serving small plates, which are smaller servings of all your favorite things. The guests can choose to sit back at their tables to enjoy or stand and enjoy a few bites. After dinner, cut a smaller cake to keep with tradition, but then pass a variety of desserts, such as miniature whoopee pies and ice cream cones. The final way to incorporate passed items is with the late-night snack. I recommend incorporating what you and your friends typically crave when you have been out at night. Whatever your favorite late-night food is, is what you should serve. Your guests will appreciate it while they tear up the dance floor at your wedding.

—Wendy Timson, catering sales director for Wolfgang Puck Catering

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