Tip #1 Book Your Favorite Wedding Vendors As Soon As Possible– There are many Pittsburgh Brides that are already booking up their vendors for 2014. Don’t get stuck with your second choice for such an important day.
Tip #2 Book a Friday or Sunday Wedding To Save On Costs– Many vendors and venues are more likely to give you a discount on price if you are getting married on an “off” day, plus you have a better chance of your venue being available!
Tip #3 Talk To Each Vendor On The Phone (Before Laying Down Your Deposit)– I know in the age of technology it’s easy to just email away, and although that is a great and quick way of sending messages it doesn’t always give you an idea of who you are actually dealing with. If you talk to someone on the phone you can pretty much get the feeling of how all of your correspondence will go. Do you like the person on the other line?Weddings can be stressful for families- so make sure you have vendors that make you feel at ease. And NEVER hire a vendor who speaks negatively of other vendors- the best vendors in the country do not do this!
I stand on stage, week after week, feeling privileged to be part of someone’s wedding. It really never gets old. From that unique vantage point I’ve seen many beautiful moments. I’ve also been witness to a shocking number of cringe inducing speeches that should never have happened. Here’s how to avoid giving the worst toast ever.
What not to do (I’m not just making this up. I’ve seen all these mistakes happen).
- Don’t “wing-it”. If Clint Eastwood couldn’t pull it off then neither can you. Hoping that the right words will come or you will suddenly be inspired is a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t talk about the bride or grooms past romances. This happens more often than you would think. The couple is probably meeting most of their new family for the first time. Having your best friend recite the litany of all your past failed relationships only makes everyone feel uncomfortable.
- Don’t think this is the time to recollect their entire history together. Boooring!
- Don’t “zing” or slight other family members or people you don’t get along with. A toast can be an opportunity to build bridges, but whatever the source of your dislike for someone, this is not the time to assert yourself or your opinions. Be the bigger person.
- Don’t go off topic. I once saw a best man speech veer so far astray that he actually started railing against US immigration policy. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.
- Don’t be drunk. People will be filming. They will not forget. Even a sincere and well-written speech will come across like crap if you are slurring your words.
- Don’t make inside jokes. You are probably speaking to over 100 people. If only 3 or 4 other people “get it”, then 97 people won’t.
- Don’t over complicate things. If you find yourself writing performance art or creating ‘tableau vivant’, you might want to reconsider. (Yes, I’ve really seen that).
- Don’t be negative. If you don’t have something nice to say than decline the invitation to speak. I was at a friends wedding once where every speech was basically, “Can’t imagine how this is going to work, but good luck anyway”.
- Don’t use dirty words. There will be kids in the audience.
- Don’t wimp out. “Here’s to you” is not a toast. (Yes that was the entire text of a speech I saw).
- Don’t take 20 minutes. Write it down and time yourself giving the speech. Add 100%. That’s how long it will take. Someone is paying an arm and a leg for the room, the band, the caterer, the limos and everything else. Your 20-minute speech just cost the father of the bride like $400. If you can’t say it in 5 minutes, then write them a letter.
How to prepare
There are plenty of on-line guides to toast writing. Read a few. They’re all good. Here’s my contribution.
- The best advice I ever heard was to start at the end. How do you want people to feel at the end of your speech? Love for the couple? Gratitude? Joy? Appreciation? Hope for the future? Pray for that end result. Seriously, pray, or meditate or commune, or whatever you need to do to be in the right frame of mind because what you feel when you speak is just as important as what you say. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember that last sentence, (and the bit about Clint Eastwood. That was funny).
- Write an outline. For some people, an outline is sufficient and they can come up with the words on the spot as long as they know what important points they want to make. Remember though, you will be nervous. Speaking into a PA system is distracting if you’re not used to it and there will be all manor of other distractions as well, (crying babies, lighting, waiters, cake, etc).
- A joke or funny story is great as long as it’s relevant, good-natured and not embarrassing to anyone.
- Visualize yourself giving the speech in every detail. I did this nightly before I was best man at my brothers wedding, and it helped me write, rehearse and re-write my toast, (which became legendary in family history).
- Once it’s written down and you are happy with what you want to say, go through the above “Don’t” list again and make sure you are not violating any of those principles.
- The best toasts I’ve seen usually involve something personal about how the couple met or your friendship or the outstanding qualities you see in the bride or groom. You’ve been invited to share this joyous moment. Speak from the heart about what you love about them and why you are happy about this union.
- Breath. No kidding. People don’t breath properly when they are nervous. Take several deep breaths before you speech and during if you need to. It will help.
Most importantly, be yourself and be sincere. Whatever you say, however you say it, if it’s said with love, it will be great.
Elite Show Band
Elite Show Band
I’m just going to come out and say it: Bands are better! Bet you didn’t see that coming…
To be fair, a great DJ can smoke a mediocre band. But the best DJ can’t touch a great band. (I should point out that I’m talking about people you might get to play at your wedding or event. If you want DJ Tiesto to play electronic dance music, it’s going to cost you a cool $250,000, and he’s not going to play anything your parents will want to dance to).
How can I justify such a bold statement? What about all those articles that say bands are more expensive, bands have a smaller repertoire, bands are loud, musicians can’t MC and they’re crazy? To them I say yes, maybe, not necessarily, nonsense and so are DJs. Here’s what I mean:
Bands are more expensive.
YES: Obviously, hiring 4, 8, 10 or 20 highly trained and seasoned musicians is more expensive than hiring one DJ. I concede that point. DJs are less expensive. If you don’t have the budget for a live band than take my advice. When shopping for a DJ, hire the personality. Anyone can stand there and play records. You need someone who can MC. The MC will set the tone for the night. (See more on MCs in Part 2).
Bands have a smaller repertoire.
MAYBE: The reality is, there may only be time for a band or DJ to play about 50 songs. A band will choose from a list of hopefully a couple hundred songs. A DJ might have access to 1000 songs or more, but so what. He’s not going to play more than about 50. Bands do have a smaller repertoire, BUT a great variety band will know the most successful/popular songs in each genre.
Also, some people seem to think that during band breaks, nothing will be happening. This is not usually the case. My band for instance plays a continuous mix of popular songs, just like a DJ would. We also use this time to play special songs you must have that are not on the bands song list. In the past I’ve fulfilled requests for traditional Irish music, Polkas and University fight songs making sure the band breaks are not wasted time. It’s really the best of both worlds for the family.
Bands are loud.
NOT NECESSARILY: Some are, some aren’t. Some DJs are loud and some aren’t. My band chooses not to be so loud we offend your grand parents, but still loud enough that the dance floor feels the groove. We do that by using an acoustic shield around the drums, limiting our stage volume and keeping close tabs on the overall PA volume throughout the night. It’s not that hard. More often than not I hear DJ’s playing much louder than we would choose to, and I’ve had many venue managers compliment us on our volume control. So, as far as volume goes, it’s really not a choice between band or DJ. You should feel free to discuss any concerns before hand with whom ever you hire.
continued on Part 2…