The Amateur Incursion

I have been in the wedding business a long time and i have seen vendors come and go. What I find really disturbing is the number of amateur “professionals” that have been cropping up like weeds as of late and it is primarily because of sites like craigslist. Now don’t get me wrong craigslist is great if you are looking for someone to mow the lawn twice a month or fix that sink that just won’t stop dripping but do you really want to trust your wedding day to these “professionals”?

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Take photography for example. It seems like everyone that gets a Canon Rebel for Christmas suddenly thinks they can be a photographer at a wedding just because they shot their cousin’s wedding once and the pictures came out “great”. Do you really want to trust those precious once in a lifetime moments to someone that got lucky once because he or she knew everyone at the wedding? My nine year old can get “great” shots on my Nikon at a family get together because everyone is willing to pose for her.  Yes your friends have state of the art smart phones that can get really great pictures but will you even get them? Will they hashtag every shot and do you really want to go looking for those precious memories on 30  Instagram posts?

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I am in the DJ business and as a lark I went on craigslist to see what my “competition” was up to and I was appalled! I found so many DJs that while they may do well in a nightclub or frat party, had no business advertising themselves as a wedding DJ. I saw prices as low as 30 dollars an hour! That is awesome! Great deal right?

You get what you pay for and if all that matters is someone playing music that is not edited (i.e. non radio-friendly explicit versions that will make grandma have a heart attack and little 11 year old Susie twerk on the dance floor with her “fun” aunt) then that might be perfect for you but if you want a DJ that can announce and coordinate the party so it runs perfectly with appropriate music, then you may have to set your sights a bit higher. Your DJ needs to know when the first dance will happen and when the cake will be cut and he or she should have the professional courtesy to find the photographers and videographers and tell them that it will be happening iafter the next song. That comes with experience. Also your DJ should never ever drink on the job...Period!

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The modern smart phone can also capture amazing video! I have seen whole movies shot on an Iphone and it looked as good as many high end cinema cameras but don't be fooled. Those cinematographers have had years of training and use motorized gimbals and external microphones connected to a digital recorder. Your friends may post great videos on Facebook and YouTube but when it comes to the biggest day of your life you will want a pro who knows how to mic the event and get the shot the first time....the only time.

Even if you don’t hire me, please call me and at least let me give you the tools you need to pick the right vendors for the job. I will be glad to arm you with the right questions to ask any given vendor and may even be able to recommend a few I have worked with over the years because the amateur incursion is coming! Call me anytime at 252-320-3664. I am happy to help!

The Power Of Online Reviews

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In recent years online reviews have become a very powerful tool for people looking for products and/or services online. I am sure there are very few people left that shop online that haven't noticed that at the bottom of every product page on websites such as Amazon.com and the like there are almost always a long string of reviews for that product. It has become almost habit for me that before I buy anything I always take the time to read a few if not all of them.  The funny thing is that not all reviews are good and yet still I may buy that product. Why is that? I believe that subconsciously we all do the math and weigh the number of positive reviews versus the number of negative and we even factor into that the apparent credibility of the reviewer especially if it is negative.

For example: You are looking for a Whatchadoozie on Amazon. The price for the Whatchadoozie is good and the product description is compelling. You scroll down and the first review you see looks like this...

WOW!!! I love this Whatchadoozie! My friends all bought one but I was hesitant. I finally got my Whatchazoozie in the mail and the shipping was right on time. I opened the box and there it was. The box was a little scratched up but that didn't matter because as I said WOW! It does everything I need it to do and I highly recommend everyone get one!

That is a great review because it is positive but not all positive in that I mentioned the packaging wasn't perfect so you know it probably wasn't written by someone who works for Whatchadoozie LTD. just trying to bolster sales with fake reviews.

So....you read more of them and you find one with one star and it reads as follows.

DO NOT BUY A WHATCHADOOZIE THEY SUCK, THE COMPANY SUCKS, AND I HATE THEM!!!!

Obviously the writer has a grudge whether it be personal or professional. They give no information as to why Whatchadoozies suck, and more than likely have a friend or family member that works for Whatchamadoogles Inc. As the urban youth are fond of saying...Haters are gonna hate.

So what does this mean? Simply that you will read and absorb the information in the positive reviews, weigh the negative reviews that are product specific and discount the ones that aren't. If the number of positive well written and concise reviews outweigh the negative ones you will more than likely take the risk and buy that product.

This also applies to online reviews that are not on a specific vendor page but rather found on sites like YahooGoogle, and Yelp. Let's say you want to hire a Wedding DJ like myself to DJ your wedding in Atlantic Beach NC. The first thing you will do (unless I was recommended by a friend or family member that has already hired me before) is search for "Wedding DJ Atlantic Beach NC" You will then find a bunch of wedding DJ's to choose from. You will then click on sites, read a little and go on to the next. If you happen to find one that grabs you you may either fill out their Contact Form (if they have one) Email them directly, or call them. (Although more on calling the company later.)

The problem is that you missed a step. After you find one that you like, you should then go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of the company followed by reviews. Then you will pull up any and all reviews that have been posted about them by past clients. This can do one of two things. Either it will make you a little more at ease when you listen to the sales pitch from the person you talk to, or completely dissuade you from even contacting them and make you continue searching for a better fit.

So let's say you find a vendor that has good reviews, you like the website content, the price is right and you are ready to do business. The best thing to do is either fill out the content form, or email but DO NOT call them unless you need immediate service. Why? Because this is a very important test of customer service. If a company want's your business they should make the effort to contact you within a reasonable amount of time. (Generally within 24 hours) A company that has poor customer service and doesn't check emails, and doesn't make the effort to win you over within 24 hours of getting your email is not a company you want to do business with and you will have communication problems down the line. (Now obviously if you are looking for a wedding vendor and you email them on a Friday night you may not hear from them till Monday or Tuesday especially if it is during peak wedding season so there are exceptions and common sense applies. Generally speaking initially emailing a company on a Tuesday is a pretty safe margin of error because most if not all business are open on a Tuesday and should get back to you no later than the close of business the same day.)

Taking that power to the next level.

Let's say you have emailed them and they emailed or called you back within a few hours and you have a  great follow up conversation. You are excited to hire them and they are equally excited to have you as a client. So that it right? Done deal! Not really no. To make the power of online reviews truly powerful towards the end of the conversation you need to emphasize the following statement...

"Ok well I am excited. Lets get the ball rolling.  Oh and I will be reviewing you online when all is said and done because that's what I do."

By saying that you grant yourself  power over that vendor. You almost guarantee that you get great customer service and his or her undivided attention. They will now bring their A game. Think of it like a restaurant or a Broadway Production where they know that there is a critic in attendance. They will snap into action and make sure everything is perfect. YOU are that critic and you have ALL the power and trust me when I say that they will do everything in their power to get that great review from you because at the end of the day the power of the online review is...well...powerful!

Wine Candles or Sand

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We have all heard or seen the candle lighting ceremony where the bride and groom light a Unity Candle from two individual candles representing their individual lives and families becoming one. The same goes for the Sand Ceremony. It is much the same concept where two different colors of sand are poured into a third ntainer symbolizing the same.

But are there other options?

Of course there are!

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Hand Fasting -  The bride and groom’s hands are joined together, usually holding hands so the wrists and pulses are touching, with a ribbon or symbolic material looped over the bride and groom’s wrists by the wedding officiant. 

Marriages held in Great Britain and Ireland from the 12th century onward have been influenced by religious and traditional practices. These practices included hand-fasting. During hand-fasting the two getting married in turn would take the other by the right hand and declare aloud that they there and then accepted each other as man and wife. The words might vary but traditionally consisted of a simple formula such as “I (Name) take thee (Name) to my wedded husband/wife, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth”. (It is the root word of Bethrothed "Betrothed") Because of this, hand-fasting was also known in England as “troth-plight”. Gifts were often exchanged, especially rings: a gold coin broken in half between the couple was also common. Other tokens recorded include gloves, a crimson ribbon tied in a knot, and even a silver toothpick. 

Hand-fasting might take place anywhere, indoors or out. It was frequently in the home of the bride, but according to records hand-fastings also took place in taverns, in an orchard and even on horseback. The presence of a credible witness or witnesses was common. Nowadays we practice this ritual as a novel way of blending the old ways with the new. 

It is where we get the term "Tying the knot".

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Wine Ceremony - This ceremony is represented by a different type of wine. (Usually a favorite of the Mothers of the bride and groom.) The wine from each represented side of the family is poured into individual glasses, and the couple pours it into the central glass during the ceremony. After a few words from the officiant  the bride and groom take a sip from the newly formed drink symbolizing the mingling of the two families in much the way the sand ceremony does.

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The Wine Box - Both the bride and groom privately write love letters to each other and seal them in an envelope. These letters are given to the Maid Of Honor and Best Man respectively. A bottle of wine (or favorite liquor such as whiskey, Scotch or the like which incidentally will keep better with age whereas wine can "Turn") is placed next to a Wine box This can be hand crafted or purchased at various stores or online. (Click here for an example) At a specific point in the ceremony the officiant will say some words explaining how it works and commemorating the ceremony. The Maid of Honor and Best Man will then hand the envelopes to the couple and the wine (Liquor) is placed by the couple into the box. If the couple ever has a big misunderstanding the box can be opened and the letter read to each other with a ceremonial drink to remind them of their love for each other. If there is no such misunderstand warranting the opening of the box, the couple then opens it and does the same thing on their 5th anniversary. After the letters are read and the drink consumed, new letters can be written (preferably the following day after the "effects" have worn off lol) and a new bottle placed into the box for their 10th anniversary and so on.

I am sure with a little research you can find many other ideas to make your wedding a little outside the box (pun intended)