Thursday, March 31, 2011

Step 34 - Decide on Dance Lessons before the Wedding

(6 Months to 9 Months before the Wedding) If time and budget allow, why not consider taking wedding dance lessons. Dancing has become quite popular in recent years due to the popularity of "Dancing with the Stars" on television. While a wedding dance is certainly not a requirement for getting married, you will look great and dazzle and impress your guests. You will also have acquired a special skill having the ability to dance with your partner for the rest of your lives.

We have all seen this at weddings, the first dance is announced, the bride and groom shuffle to the dance floor, looking embarrassed and leaning on one another as the music plays, looking like limp rags as they shuffle back and forth. It seems like forever and the guest's focus shifts to getting another martini.

The first dance should be a special highlight of the very special event. The first couple could liven up the audience with a grand entrance, show a well choreographed 2 to 3 minute wedding dance and end with a dramatic finish. You want to insure the musicians or disc jockeys are playing your song and the photographers and videographers know what you are up to. The guests will surely enjoy witnessing a "fun and special" tradition. The first dance will be one of the highlights they will always remember from this very special day.

Pick a song that has special meaning to the both of you, the music you heard the first time together, perhaps a song with meaningful lyrics, words that describe your true feelings for each other. If you don't have a special song, spend an evening listening to wedding music together and brainstorm ideas together. Find some wedding music websites off of the internet, you will both know you have the perfect song. A song that will be your song. A song that when you hear it, it will remind you of your partner and a song you will cherish forever.

You can search on dance studios in your area by searching on wedding and dance related websites. You can also search for studios in Google by putting in the city you are in followed by the words "dance instruction" or "wedding dance". Make sure you find a studio that focuses on wedding dance lessons. There are also DVD's available that you can put a tape in and get wedding dance lessons in your home. Make sure you order a lesson that teaches dance instruction for weddings.

Decide on a dancing style you both enjoy. Common dances you might want to learn is the "foxtrot" which is great for wedding couples. Other dances you may consider to learn is the "traditional waltz", "swing dancing", "salsa", "rumba", "tango", and "cha-cha".

After your wedding dance a few other traditional dances loom. After the first couple's dance is the father dancing with the bride, and the mother dancing with the groom. Then the dancing takes a break for a moment as the groom removes the garter from his bride and then you have the bridal bouquet toss to the single ladies and the garter toss to the single men. The gods say, which ever single young lady catches the bouquet and which ever young gentleman catches the garter, if the young gentleman places the garter on the thigh of the young lady, they both will fall on good fortune and be the next ones to marry.

There are a number of different ways you can approach dance lessons, you can recruit friends to join you and have your last hurrah in taking dance lessons with friends, you can take just the first lesson and learn the simple basics of the wedding dance, you can hire a private instructor and learn in your home, or you can get instructions from tape. What you might do, is you and your beau, take lessons in secret and really surprise all your wedding guests for an event always to remember!

The wedding dance instruction will also help to get you in shape in a fun way! Do things that make your wedding special, that's the message in deciding on dance lessons before the wedding. See you on the other side!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Step 33 - Interview and Book your Wedding Reception Musicians

(6 Months to 9 Months before the Wedding)
After the bride's wedding dress, the wedding cake, the meal, and the decor of the wedding reception hall, the music played at the reception is high on the list of what guests remember from the wedding too. If the music is good, it adds to the likelihood the event will be deemed a rousing success.

As you begin your search for your reception wedding music, just remember the best musicians get booked early, so if you are going with top notch performers, at least call to find out how far in advance must you book the performer. To find musicians, you might first check with relatives and friends, check with wedding related websites, and check in search engines. You want to put in the city you are in and put in the type of musician you are looking for, such as "musicians", "string quartets", "jazz band", "pianist", "violinist", "dance band", "bag piper", "harpist", "flutist", "guitarist", "big band", "vocalist", "singer", or other type on instrument you may be interested in performing at your wedding.

Another place you should find musicians is at Gigmasters, or you might try your local university's Music school. At the music school you might find an aspiring musician looking for their big break and would love to add performed at a wedding to pad their resume. You want to contact the head of the music department of the school and ask if they have any outstanding musicians who would like to perform at our wedding. You possibly might end up with a string quartet, violinist, or pianist, to play at your wedding and get them a lot cheaper than from a professional business. The stipulation is though, you want to hear them in person before making a booking decision and they dress in a suit or dress for the wedding. Another place to try is to look for top notch musicians for select cities, found elsewhere in this blog.

You should identify and listen to the work of a number if musicians before deciding which ones to book. The cost for musicians are all over the board, on the lower end of the music spectrum you can find vocalists, church organists, guitarists, and flutists can range anywhere from $100 to around $400. In the middle of the music spectrum, you can find pianists, violinists, and harpists from about $400 to around $700. On the high end are your stringed quartets, and brass, jazz, dance and rock bands can charge anywhere from $400 to $800 per person. Before booking anybody, be sure you have checked out the musician's background and you have listened and loved their music.

If you have really fallen in love with a dance band, you might find dollars to add to your budget. Maybe you had money for a ceremony site, but are having a less expensive church wedding, maybe you decided that you don't need hotel expenditures or are not renting much equipment such as tables and chairs and can move those expenditures over for high quality music. Be careful with some music groups too. They might sound great on tape but you find they hardly play, they play a couple of songs and then take a 45 minute break, they might play well but dress sloppy. Try to see any musicians at a gig and see them in action and also check them out on their website or on any video sites such as youtube or get a sample performance of them in action on DVD, CD, or MP3. Be sure to get references from other couples who had the musicians play at their weddings also.

Before you choose your musicians you need to find out if the reception facility has any restrictions or guidelines. The reception hall may have size limitations or might have an approved performer list. If you have a musician you would like to play at your wedding, it doesn't hurt to ask the venue, on how might your musician can get on their preferred list. Make sure you inform the musicians on the date and time of your reception, to be sure they are available and be sure to inform them on the amount of guests you are expecting.

Decisions, decisions, what type of music should you have for your event? Remember, this is your wedding, you should choose the music that you enjoy and is within your budget. Some suggestions, if you are looking for music for a formal atmosphere, you might think of having a singer, a singing group, a string quartet, a jazz band, guitars, classical ensemble, or a harp. If you want a fun and loud atmosphere you might consider a rock band, swing live band, popular music or dance band, also ethnic bands including latin, klezmer, polska, irish, mariachi, or a bag piper.

If you want a sophisticated atmosphere, maybe you should hire a jazz band, a classical ensemble, a harpist, a pianist, or a pianist & violinist. If you want background music, you can hire a string quartet, a jazz band, a pianist, a pianist & violinist, or a pianist and a saxophonist, a classical ensemble, a solo singer, or a classical guitar.

You might have two different types of entertainment, have a string quartet playing for a pre-reception wedding party in which you serve beverages and hors d'oeuvres while the wedding party is out getting photos and have a big band music group after the formal wedding reception. If you have a large wedding you might consider two music groups, one geared to the older crowd and one geared to the younger crowd. If you have only one entertainment group geared to an older or younger crowd, you are better off starting the group later in the reception so that an older crowd would not be forced to listen say a rock group or a younger crowd would have to listen say to Tommy Dorsey music. You always want guests to leave on a high note, so the great event is not spoiled, the music is not of their generation. Most good music groups are cross generational.

Good musicians will work with the couple and review their repertoire and come up with music the wedding couple likes. The best musicians try to gear 40% of the music to the wedding couple, 30% to requested music from the guests, and 30% of music directly from the music group showcasing their best music.  If the music group can do it, they should show a catalog of music to share with guests of what music songs are their specialties to play. A good music group is good at keeping the excitement and entertainment going, making sure the dance floor is always occupied, if it ever be empty they can cut the song short and move on to play another arrangement of music.

As you meet up with musicians, try to get a business card for every musician in the group. Missed communications and opportunities are lost if you can't make contact with members of music groups. Maybe the guests are impressed with one musician and know a group that needs a violinist on occasion, maybe the musician and a guest were talking and both know an individual, or maybe the musician accidentally left their music sheets behind, or maybe the venue is being moved because of foul weather, or maybe just to check each individual's website out. Collect each musician's business card, just in case.

When you talk contracting with a music group, be sure the music group is not planning on advertising at your wedding. You want no banners, electronic signs or other visible advertising at your wedding. You don't want signs in front of your guests, or showing up in photography or videography. Groups try to promote themselves and that's fine at public events, just not at your wedding. Music groups might even offer a big discount for allowing them to advertise. Just say no! What you can do is midway through their performance, you can let them advertise a little. Guests can pick up the musician's business card, or sample CD, or buy their CD. Just make sure their business cards are kept neat in an index box, not spread over speakers. Two quick advertisements are fine one at mid break and one at the last break. You don't want to ruin the ambiance of the wedding with musicians advertising over and over again.

Make sure everything agreed to is in the contract, and you have review the contract with them thoroughly. Make sure everything is accounted for, how long is each gig, how long are the breaks, how is travel handled, and how is overtime handled? Get back from them, what is the last day they can be booked for your wedding day? Is there a three day cancellation clause? Are they insured? Do they have a backup plan if someone in their group gets disabled? What happens if we have to cancel? Are they expecting a meal? Be sure to see them in action before booking with them! If everything agreed to is not in the contract don't book with them! The contract is your protection against non performance.

Make sure they agree to check back with you on the music selections, and touch base with them just as a reminder and to be sure everything is okay, about a week before the wedding. Make sure they are easy to communicate with and be sure to check them out with the better business bureau and other places to check if anybody has ever had any problems with them.

That's interviewing and booking your wedding reception musicians, see you on the other side!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Step 32 - Interview and Book Your Ceremony Musicians

(6 Month to 9 Months before the Wedding)
Like most brides and grooms, the music that will be played during the wedding ceremony has to be very special to the both of you, but you may not have a clue about which music to select. An important factor in choosing your music is the setting of the wedding ceremony. If your ceremony is not at a religious setting, you can choose almost any kind of music you like, as long as it is in good taste. On the other hand, if the ceremony is in a church, synagogue, or chapel, the music selected will need to stay within the guidelines set by the clergy person or the church.

Most religious denominations consider the wedding ceremony to be a form of worship service. For this reason, churches do not allow secular music (non-religious popular music) during a wedding. Some might allow secular music while guests are being seated. The music that is typically allowed in church weddings are songs that contain respectful references to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Music also allowed, not made specific to deity, are songs focusing on religious ideals and values relating to love and marriage such as faithfulness and mutual support.

Many weddings feature a vocal soloist singing from one to four selections during the ceremony, depending on the length of the ceremony. The soloist is often accompanied by an organist, pianist, acoustic guitarist, flutist, or a harp. Some churches do not allow recorded music in the wedding ceremony. Some wedding couples will hire a bagpiper or a stringed orchestra just outside the church which play wedding music prior to the wedding or directly after the wedding, as the wedding couple signs the wedding papers for the marriage and get in a receiving line getting well wishes from their guests.

There are a number of places in the wedding ceremony for the vocalists and church musicians to play. They can play during the time guests are being seated which can be about six or seven songs and could last about thirty minutes. They play two songs during the processional, one for when the bridesmaids enter and a more dramatic piece for the bride's walk up the aisle with her father or whomever is giving her away holding her arm. Music is played sometimes during the lighting of the candle and right before wedding vows are read aloud. Then finally you want exciting or dramatic music
as the couple leave the altar first time as husband and wife.

First place to start your search for your wedding ceremony is the ceremony site location itself. You need to consult with the church wedding coordinator to find out the musician guidelines for the church or venue. In some churches, the musicians are required to come from the church itself, or the fee charge from the lease of the church includes a musician. The wedding coordinator, also might have a list of musicians with contact information of musicians allowed to perform at their church. If there are no music requirements you then are authorized to look elsewhere, and you can find many musicians from wedding related websites. You can also Google musicians by putting in city and the type of musician you are looking for. Gigmasters also can provide you with a list of musicians and some musicians can even be found elsewhere in this blog.

You want to interview a few musicians before deciding on one or a couple, be sure not only to interview them but be sure to hear their music for yourselves. For what music one person hears and likes, another person may think the music is horrible, to be safe, make sure you hear the vocalist or live musicians in action. Also, try to pick the music as a couple, so you are sure the both of you like the music. You want to be sure you are comfortable with the person you hire, someone who will work with you on selecting the right music for your wedding and someone who will dress sharply for your wedding. On selecting the music, maybe you can have the musicians share their sheet music and pick music you like and have them play a little snippet for you.

In your hunt for music, you should find some in various types of music stores and even the music section of a library, looking for sheet music and songbooks and be sure to ask and browse in the wedding section. Look for printed music rather than recorded music so you can share the music with your various musicians. You can also find sheet music and songbooks from online websites, one which is called .

Another option is to hire a composer songwriter to write a special song for just the wedding couple at the ceremony. There are several websites that offer this service. You just need to allow the songwriter with enough advance time to complete the song.

Some music suggestions for your wedding ceremony;

Formal Atmosphere - A Vocalist, A String Quartet, A Harp, An Organ
Dramatic Atmosphere - A String Quartet, A Pipe Organ, Bagpipes, or A Choir
Traditional Atmosphere - A Vocalist, A String Quartet, An Organ, A Classical Guitar
Enchanting Atmosphere - A Vocalist, A Harp, A Harp and a Flute
Uplifting Atmosphere - A String Quartet, A Guitar and Flute, A Piano, A Piano and Violin
Background Music - A String Quartet, A Piano, A Piano and Violin, A Piano and Saxophone

If you are allowed to and are deciding to use recorded music, there are a number of wedding music related websites you can download samples and music from. Some websites charge a small fee. Some ideas, for the Processional you can use Wagner's "Here comes the Bride" or "Pachelbel's Canon in D". For the ceremony itself you want some softer music and you may decide on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and Paul Stokey's "The Wedding Song" and "Ave Maria". Then finally there's the Recessional when the bride and groom leave the altar as man and wife. You can play Mandelsohn's "Wedding March" or Harry Connick Jr's "It Had To Be You". Just be sure to pick wedding music that has meaning to you, the ceremony music should be music that the wedding couple love and who want to share it with your guests. The wedding music should not be geared to the guests but to the wedding couple.

Make your wedding ceremony extra special, the wedding ceremony message and music are all about you. That's the story of interviewing and booking your ceremony musicians. See you on the other side!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Step 31 - Interview and Book your Disc Jockey

(6 Months to 9 Months before the Wedding)
If music and dance is to be part or your wedding reception, you should really consider using the services of a wedding disc jockey. There are thousands and thousands of disc jockeys out there and about 75 percent of them are pretty good. The key is to find the right one for you, the one that plays the type of music you like and knows how to work weddings. Many of the wedding disc jockeys are entertainment specialists, they know how to work your guests, they are the life of the party, and they can double as your emcee too.

Top disc jockeys are serious about their business, are knowledgeable and keep on hand, the best sound equipment. They should have a music library of 5,000 to 10,000 music song selections covering a wide assortment of music. The best DJ's play songs using computerized equipment, use high quality speakers, use high quality headphones which can filter out background noise, which can handle a wide frequency of music. In addition, they also use a wireless state of the art microphone.

Before you hire a disc jockey for your wedding, research and identify about a half dozen DJ's that focuses on music that you like, that is part of their repertoire. There are a lot of good DJ's out there, but be sure they are experienced wedding disc jockeys. When you interview them, you want to ask them how many songs are in their music library? What equipment they use? How much experience they have, especially working as a wedding disc jockey? Are they comfortable acting as the emcee?

After the interview, research the equipment they have talked about. You also want to see them in action, either in person or off a video. Try to get your hands on video of their performance, either off their website, a youtube snippet, or from a CD, or MP3 sample. See that all points of being a great disc jockey are visable in their performance.
The nice thing about most DJ's do that live performers don't do, the good ones constantly entertain over a four hour period (except for a quick bathroom break). About at their midway performance, you should allow them to advertise briefly. Let the audience know they can stop by to pick up a business card, or pick up a sample CD or even buy their CD at the next break. You want to allow a brief advertisement, but not allow the announcement to be repeated over and over and disrupt the ambiance of your wedding.

If they have business cards, they are to be kept neatly by their station maybe in an index box. You don't want their space to get messy and cards splayed all over the speakers. Also very important, you absolutely want no signs or banners displayed at your wedding reception. You don't want ads showing up in front of your guests, or your wedding photography or your wedding videography, you want your wedding to be commercial free, even if they offer you a discount for doing so. For other parties it may be fine, but for your wedding, absolutely NOT! But remember, for many disc jockeys their survival is dependent on referrals. Let them advertise a little.

You can find disc jockeys in wedding related websites, in music magazines, also in Gig Master, or from a search engine, put in your city then either "DJ" or "disc jockey", and you can find a number of disc jockeys elsewhere in this blog. As you begin your interview with the disc jockeys, inform them of the date and time and place of your wedding reception. You might want to see if they have or can get their hands on a dance floor, especially if the reception place doesn't have a good dancing spot. Also ask about their lighting capabilities, do they add a light show with their entertainment and can they provide extra lighting if needed. As for the price DJ's charge, most of them can run anywhere from $400 to $1900 for their service.

When you interview all the DJ's make sure you get an understanding of their prices and the services offered. What is included and not included? Do they charge if overtime becomes involved? Do they use an assistant? Make sure they lay out all their fees and be sure everything is accounted for, make sure there are no hidden fees that crop up such as, oh we didn't include travel fees or we forgot the set up fees.

Make sure that a clear concise contract is drawn up with what is expected from the emcee. Do you want the DJ to be your emcee for the event? Do you want games for the event? Do they bring along a dance floor or bring along special lighting? Do they perform the entire time? Do they take breaks? Everything must be included in the contract and if anything discussed is not included in the contract you don't want to book with them! The contract is your means of protection should they not fulfill their obligations!

In your decision, of which disc jockey to choose, you want to make your decision based on does their style of music a style you enjoy, are they within your budget, and do you feel comfortable talking to and feel communicating with them. You want to be sure the DJ seeks out input from you on what music they should be playing. The general rule is the DJ should play 40 percent of music requested by the wedding couple, 30 percent of their music requested should come from the guests and the remaining 30 percent is music from the disc jockeys themselves select. Most great disc jockeys know to change a music selection if the dance floor is empty part way through a music song, this should be discussed at the interview.

They should review the music that they are going to play at the reception with you from the grand entrance, to the introductions of the bridal party, to the wedding toasts, to the cutting of the cake, to the first dance, to the throwing of the bridal bouquet and the garter, to the last dance, and the announcement of the wedding couple is departing from the reception.

Make sure you feed your DJ! What you feed them depends on your budget, if the budget is a non issue, feed them one of the entrees of the wedding. If the budget is tight, see if the caterer can make them a sandwich, or have a family member drop them off a sandwich. Also, allow them one or two beverages, whether it may be a soda or a mixed drink from the bar. All the body heat in the area can cause one to sweat. Make sure the DJ and any other musicians are not situated near each other, microphones tend to screech if they are near one another.

If the budget is really tight, you might be able to get away with having a family member or friend act the part as a DJ. Music systems have made significant strides in recent years and with the use of burned CD's, computers, IPods, and MP3's you can put together a pretty good sound system. You want somebody that is responsible in running the system and can bump up to the next song if the dance floor is empty and you need to check out the sound system beforehand, and be sure equipment is working properly and set to the proper loudness. There is a lot of time needed to select music songs before, so plan on spending time going though and setting up music together long before the wedding day.

The wedding could be a big break for a relative or friend wanting to get into the industry, but you should strive to get the best wedding DJ for the best price you can get.

Remember, 75 percent of the DJ's are pretty good, but the 25 percent of DJ's that are bad can really ruin your wedding. You want a DJ who is into your style of music, puts you in the right mood, creates the right atmosphere for you, fits your budget, and is somebody you can work with. Find yourself a good DJ and make your wedding the best it can be!

See you on the other side!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Step 30 - Submit your Engagement Announcement to the Newspaper

(6 Months to 9 Months before the Wedding)
Time to announce your engagement to the world! You really want to begin by contacting the newspaper and checking their guidelines for specifics on how far in advance do the engagement submissions have to be in before the wedding. Large newspapers require submissions far in advance and before that even, you need a have a great photo, see the proofs and make prints of the loving couple.

Your photo shoot has to look good. Both of you want to have a good haircut a few days before the shoot and maybe even a dab of a little makeup before the shoot will do ya. Be sure to wear nice clothing for the shoot, your clothing doesn't have to perfectly match, but should complement each other, try not to wear clothing that would clash. Solid neutral color tones are highly recommended and keep the jewelry simple.

You want a great setting for your session. Make sure it's on a beautiful day or if indoors you want lots of lighting. It is preferred the photos be taken with a scenic or meaningful backdrop. The shoot could be at your home, a nearby arboretum, botanical gardens, downtown landmark, or other location important to you or at a nearby photographer's studio which provides clear or scenic backdrops.
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Some couple's have their wedding photographer also take the engagement photographs, it really is not important at the early stage, you only need a couple of photographs. A family member or friend can take a nice engagement photo, just as well, just make sure they are good at taking pictures. Be sure to get a good pose, centered in the photo, with a good background and under plenty of light. If they don't do a good job you can always use a photographer as a fall back, the photographer, for the engagement shoot, doesn't even have to be a wedding photographer.

Remember to show you are in love and get close in the photos. Do plan on some close up photos, hug, hold hands, swing your arms around his shoulders, a quick peck on the cheek. Some newspapers require close-up couple shots and ask that the couple posture their heads close together and that their eyebrows are on exactly the same level. Be sure of the newspaper's requirements before you make the photo shoot, or you may find yourselves remaking the photo shoot.

The engagement announcement in the newspaper is a wonderful way to share the news of your engagement to the surrounding community. It is a record of your engagement and will always be in the archives of the newspaper as a newsworthy fact for all eternity. It also announces your engagement to the community in which you live and notifies the many people you have met through your lifetime through your neighborhood, your school, your participant activities, and place where you have worked. People that are currently not in your inner circle, are notified that you are about to reach a milestone in your life.

The engagement announcement is a great keepsake that certain members of your family will want to put in their family albums and will ask for extra copies of the newspaper so they can have a copy for other friends and relatives, that their kids and grandkids are getting married. For the engaged couple too, you will want to keep a copy that will be a keepsake for your wedding album. Some newspapers don't require an engagement photo with the announcement, but it's surely wise to do so. Many couples regret not submitting their photo along with the engagement announcement, relatives are looking for the engaged couple's photo with the announcement, and become disappointed, and now it's too late to do anything about it, they sure wish they had.

The engagement announcement submitted to the newspaper could be written something like as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. "bride's parent's name" of "bride's parent's town" announce the engagement of their daughter "Miss bride's full name", to "Mr. groom's full name", son of "groom's parent's full name" of "groom's parent's town" a (month and year) wedding is planned.

Miss (bride's last name) is a graduate from "name of school" and is currently working for "company name". Mr. (groom's last name) is a graduate from "name of school" and is currently working for "company name".

You can slightly change the announcement and use the words "bride-to-be" and can change the parent's status in the event they are divorced or deceased. The common practice is for the bride's family put out the announcement first in their local newspapers, they would inform the groom's family about the announcement and the grooms' family could put an announcement a couple of weeks later if the groom's family lives in another community. The wording could be exactly the same, or the groom's family could change the announcement from their perspective. If they both grew up in the same community just the one engagement announcement would suffice.

It is important to get the engagement announcement far in advance to the newspaper, but newspapers each have their own criteria of when to put the announcement out, some try to put the announcements out a few months before the wedding and others may put the announcement out three weeks before the wedding. Check with the local newspaper of their policy.

You have just announced your engagement to the world, that's the story of submitting your engagement to your local newspaper. See you on the other side!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Step 29 -Interview and Book your Videographer

(9 Months to 24 Months Before your Wedding)
Wedding Videography has come a long ways in recent years. The prices have become a lot more affordable and there has been remarkable advancements in technology. The couple's wedding day activities are starting to show up on their webpage, Facebook, youtube and blogs allowing cross country relatives and friends view the wedding very quickly, after the event, especially with advent of youtube. Even simulcast TV of the wedding can be cabled in to the home so your frail grandparents, aunts and uncles can see the event live.

Only the video, brings back the voices, the laughter, and the music capturing not just how the bride and groom looked, but how they were. It presents a special moment in time, moments that can be relived of that wonderful event, with memories shared with people who were not there and even with people not born yet. Sharing your wedding day with children and grandchildren, a special keepsake for couples remembering their wedding day, of an event to be cherished for the rest of their lives.

Yes, let family and friends in on the action too, you can strategically place camcorders out on the banquet tables or share video phones with the guests too, to allow excitement to unfold and do some interviews with some of the guests. A lot of the excitement to be downloaded and uploaded to youtube for the world to see.

Even with the new video revolution, you still want a professional videographer to videotape your wedding. To capture exceptional videography, have the angles of the shooting just right, to capture the voices distinctly, to show the beautiful background, to have the video centered properly showing the subject on the lens, to capture good close range shots and far distance shots, and to method logistically put the wedding day story together you need a professional videographer.

You can find professional videographers on wedding related websites or just go to your search engine type in the city you want then type "videographers" or "videography". You can also go to your magazine store or book stores that sell magazines and look for bride, photography, and geography type magazines, and some will have yellow pages and look for videographers there. Some videographers show up elsewhere in this blog.

You want to interview a few videographers and review their style of shooting, pricing, and you want to measure how comfortable you are in communicating with them. Not all videographers have the same shooting/editing style. Check out the videographers on their personal website. Most have streaming video samples on their website enabling you to evaluate styles you like. Not only view their work but sure to interview them fully in addition. How do they operate? What packages do they offer? How much experience do they have? What equipment do they use? How are their shoots set up? How do they operate if there's inclement weather? What is their pricing? Also, ask if they have a sample DVD or video CD?

A recent study of married women asks, if you had an opportunity to do your wedding all over again, what would you do differently. Most respondents surveyed said they wish they videotaped their wedding. For many, that special moment is only seen in photos and feels it's the ancient past. If the event is videotaped, the wedding moment can be relived over and over again as if you were there. For many couples, the replaying of their wedding has become a part of their anniversary tradition. First they play their wedding video, they exchange their anniversary gift and they go out to dinner for a romantic evening.

After interviewing the wedding videographer and hearing about different wedding packages they have to offer, try to describe exactly what you would like to see in your wedding video. Do you want the video shown as the event it is, or do you want to make the event into a story? Can the videographer capture what you want to see? Some videographers can even capture vignettes in addition to the wedding, which is a story based on the couple's past and how their romance blossomed. Vignettes are often shown at the rehearsal dinner or at the cocktail hour prior to the wedding reception or when families gather to watch the couple open their wedding gifts.

Almost every videographer has their fee structure set up differently. There is no set standard. Some use a set fee, some charge by the hour footage, some charge by the montage, and some charge for the amount of shootings and add additional charges for the editing. It's important to have a full understanding of the cost breakdowns, be sure to review the budget you have to work with and you can't go over the specified amount. Be sure to have everything laid out in the contact, everything discussed is in the contact and even have stated in the contract, the videotaping won't go over a specified limit. You want no hidden fees or surprises.

A couple of things to note, it's important not to be in a hurry for the finished product. As a general rule, it requires about one hour of editing, maybe a little more than that to generate one minute of finished video. There are many hours of behind the scenes work that creates a life long memory for the couple. On average it takes 4 to 6 months after the wedding to get the final wedding videography product. Couples often can't wait to get the videography back from their wedding day and apply pressure to get the product back quickly. The less pressure applied to rush the wedding video, the better the finished product will be!

To sum up, find yourself a videographer that matches your style and you are comfortable working with. Make sure everything you agreed to is covered in the contract and make sure you review it thoroughly. The best videographers do get booked early so if you want a really good one, get one booked far in advance and is available for your wedding day. If the videographer is excellent, offer to give him a referral and put a good review in his/her website and be willing to let him tape the referral if he/she so asks. He will really appreciate that you have helped him/her in promoting their business.

That's the story of interviewing and booking your videographer! See you on the other side!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Step 28 - Interview and Book your Photographer

(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
To insure that your wedding memories are beautiful and preserved, you will need a skilled photographer to capture the special moments of your wedding day. There are an abundance of wedding photographers in your area. However, to find a really good wedding photographer takes a lot of hard work. Almost anyone can take pictures with a digital camera. The great photographer insures you really get a good picture, insures the right lighting, captures a lovely view in the background, insures the subjects have the proper attention span, captures the right pose, picks up the smiles and the laughter and has editing equipment to improve the cropping and enhance the lighting.

To find a great wedding photographer, you can start by checking out wedding related websites, even check wedding vendors and see who they recommend. Even go to Google or a search engine you use, then input the city the wedding is to be and put in "wedding photography", "wedding photographer", and :wedding". You can go to magazine stores or book store with magazine sections and look for magazines about weddings, planning, and photography and some of them even have yellow pages for wedding photographers. You can go to a free classified site such as "craigslist" or find another high volume free classified site and put in an ad "looking for a fabulous wedding photographer to shoot our wedding". In addition, you can find excellent wedding photographers found elsewhere in this blog.

Some photographers have studios and many work out of their homes, some work full time and some part time. Your goal is to identify about a half dozen of them that fit your style and then choose one that best meets your criteria, and you are comfortable in conversation with. You should meet with them in their studio if they have one or meet with them in a central location. Maybe you can arrange with back to back to back appointments, target how much time you need for the interview and stick to the appointed time.

You can meet with them at a table at a bar, the quiet time of a restaurant or reception hall, the eatery of a golf or tennis club, or even at a coffee shop when they are not too busy. Just be sure to find a place that's not too crowded or noisy where you can talk and can get a little space. Don't let your appointment overlap with another appointment, if your first impression is good you can always reconnect. Don't get coerced into a contract until you are finished interviewing.

Often photographer's apply a sales pitch, the discount holds true for today only. If later, you agree to book the photographer, stipulate, you will only book the deal with the original discount offered. Brag, (make him/her feel good), we interviewed six wedding photographers and we decided to choose you. Remember, it's your special day, there are a ton of wedding photographers around, you have the upper hand, you want the best for your wedding.
You should review each photographer's website before interviewing them. As you begin your interview with the wedding photographer, provide him/her with the date and time of the wedding ceremony and reception. Know what your budget is for the wedding (don't divulge the amount at the onset of the interview) and let the photographer know the amount of wedding guests you are planning to invite.

Let the photographer tell you about how he/she operates, does he specialize in traditional format or are his pictures more of photojournalism. (Traditional is more off a wedding checklist whereas Photojournalism tends to be shots that are created with the input from the couple to tell a story). With photojournalism sometimes the shots are done outside of the wedding day, and may include shoots with the wedding party doing action shots such as jumping for joy.

You want the photographer that can work with you, becomes familiar with each person's family structure. Tell him/her about what you are looking for in your wedding planning, what style of  wedding photography that you are seeking. You should be asking him a bunch of questions in your interview such as equipment he uses, how does he operate, does he have any assistants, does he meet with you at each wedding shoot, and does he offer select photography packages.

You will have decisions to make on what pictures you want. You will want pictures for your wedding album, large pictures for framing for yourselves and family members, you might want wallet size photos to share with family and guests and you want proofs as well. A professional wedding photographer can cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000 with a typical package running around $1500.

For your wedding, it's the one time in your life you must get yourself a great wedding photographer, don't even think of having your wedding done by an amateur. You only get married once, these photos are a keepsake and a treasure. The setting has to be right, the lighting has to be right, the subjects need to be centered, the expressions have to be right, proper editing techniques might have to be applied such as cropping, ridding red eye and lighting enhancements.

The photographer will often try to convince you to upgrade and will try to talk you into getting anything and everything. For your wedding, you do want a good selection of photos, listen to hear about the packages that the photographer is offering but in the end (unless you have plenty of budgeted money) tell the wedding photographer exactly the photos you want and how much would the photography cost for just those photos. Remember, there are a lot of other wedding photographers that would love to do your wedding. You have the upper hand.

Some tidbits about photographers, many photographers limit or restrict guests from taking pictures. Different photographers have different policies regarding this. The reason why photographers do this is, during the bridal and family photographs, with guests taking photos at the same time, some of the subjects may look at someone with a camera other than the photographer, so in the shoot, you end up with family and bridal portraits having some of the people looking in different directions.

Also, you can get flashes from other cameras occurring at the same time the photographer is taking his shot and a lighting disturbance is seen in the shot. Sometimes the photographer is restricted in the church, for a good shot, three guests with cellphone cameras jump up and get in the way of your professional wedding photographer.

Most wedding photographers are trying their best to produce the best images they can for their client. Many bride's hear complaints from their guests of not being able to get good photos for themselves at the wedding and the bride ends up being upset with the photographer. In your interview with the photographers, ask how they handle the situation when the conflict arises. You want a win/win situation. Talk over the photo shoots with the photographer, have him announce that he will take a photo first and then the guests can take a photo. Try to talk to the officiant and the wedding coordinator of the venue and try to help the photographer get good locations, instead of restrictive locations. Tell the DJ's and musicians announce, let the photographer get his shot off first and guests can get their photo. After all, you are paying good money and want outstanding photography so you need to understand a little about the photographer's world and create a winning situation for all.

You may think you are overpaying a photographer but there are many things to consider. The photographer on average spends a little bit over 40 hours on a typical wedding shoot. The photographer might spend 3 hours on your engagement shoot, spends the full day at your wedding shoot (bride's house, arriving at the church, entering the church, the wedding ceremony, exiting the church, signing the registry, photo shoots with the bridal party, then many photos at the reception). He/she spends 10 hours to process the images (moving images from camera to computer and film, cropping, adjusting for red eye, touching up photos, get proofs printed), he/she spends 10 hours in production, designing, and producing the wedding album, and 5 hours in meetings, phone calls, corresponding in emails, planning sessions, and trips to the photo lab. There's a lot of behind the scenes work.

The photographer has a lot of expense outlays, in addition, besides office overheads, they have got to purchase all sorts of camera equipment and some on lighting, have to purchase computers, have to purchase wedding albums, cover insurance, pay for assistant help, cover studio rent or mortgage, proof prints, proof albums, get DVDs, get CDs, purchase camera software and computer software, plus that's not mentioning all the furniture and storage needs of the office. They spend a lot of time covering phone calls and many of their interviews end up in no sales. The average income of many great wedding photographers are $28,000, wedding opportunities much of the time only happens on Saturdays.

What makes a great wedding photographer? The best photographers have these attributes. They have character, are highly recommended, they're sincere, highly personable, perfectionists, attention to detail, have creativity, and have excellent sales skills. When you conduct an interview with the photographer you want to look for one with these attributes. You want a photographer that would make a great guest at your wedding reception. You don;t want a photographer that is rude, authoritarian, lazy, distracting, sloppy, or unprofessional. Don't just pick one out of a book!

Your wedding photographer should be someone who you are comfortable dealing with, is friendly with your guests, but when they're in session taking photos, they take charge, assertive, efficient, and well organized. The great photographer meets with you, your parents, the vendors, know the ceremony and wedding reception schedules, gets details of both family structures and has a list of the "most wanted" photographs and becomes familiar with the photo shoot locations before the wedding day.

It's one less headache when you have booked with a great photographer, you know your photos are in good hands and is one less worry on your wedding day. After they do a good job for you, write them a good review and inform them you would be more than happy to be a good referral for them if they ever should need one, often how well they do depends on referrals and they can use some help.

You might consider leaving disposable cameras as a wedding gift favors, so guests can take candid shots. You also might mention to the photographer, that later in the reception, you would not mind if the photographer take professional shots of any guests that would like them. It may be a great time for some guests to get family photos, they are dressed for the occasion dressed in their best clothes and this allows the photographer to make a little extra money on the side. This may enable you to get additional photo shoots for your album or get extra discounts from the photographer. Make sure any photo shoots are after the formal part of the wedding reception and there is a place for photographing.

Make sure the contract include everything agreed to, there is no surprises, no hidden fees! Usually you will have a down payment, and a final payment at a specified date. Have the best man of maid-of-honor drop off an envelope with a cash tip around the last half hour, usually at the wedding reception, of their photo shoot. You should expect the photos to take two to three weeks until they are ready, it is wise not to apply pressure to make sure there is ample time to get a great product from your photographer. The most important thing of all, if everything agreed to is not written down or there is no written contract, there is NO contract! You need to protect yourself!

You may think about the photographer manning or monitoring a Photo Booth. So that's all things considered when you interview and book your photographer. See you on the other side!

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