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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Wedding in Santa Barbara

If you are planning a destination wedding, Santa Barbara can be a great location. An affluent area, there are countless shops and restaurants to keep you and your guests entertained as well as scenic beaches and lush wine country territories.

With all this, it is no wonder why Santa Barbara is called the American Riviera.

The region is also home to countless celebrities and has been the site for many high-end weddings. Find out how you can join the A-list by hosting your wedding in Santa Barbara.

Getting Around in Santa Barbara

If guests are flying in from out of town, the most convenient airport is the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), with LAX being the next closest; about a 90-minute drive away.

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner is another suggestion for guests traveling in. The train provides a more scenic route and travels along the coast that connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego.

Once you are in Santa Barbara, you will be able to walk to most destinations but there are plenty of public transportation options available as well.


Santa Barbara weather is pretty mild year-round. Temperatures generally average around 75 degrees although this average can dip to around 65 degrees in the winter.

Rain is most common during the winter, but even then, the amount of precipitation is not very significant. While this can be good news when planning a wedding in the area, couples should also be aware that the lack of rain makes droughts and wildfires likely, especially during fall months when Santa Ana winds can fuel the fires.

During the winter, wildfire season and heavy rainfall can also increase the chances of mudslides.

Wedding Venues

As home to some of the most high-profile celebrity weddings, you can bet Santa Barbara has plenty of elegant and unique choices when it comes to wedding venues, vendors, musical entertainment and more. Here are some options to consider when finding a wedding venue that suits you.

  • Ocean Front:
    With so many beaches in the area, it is not hard to find venues that have a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Beach:
    If you’d like to be even closer to the water, you can marry right on the beach. East Beach, Arroyo Burro and Leadbetter are just some of the magnificent beaches you can choose from.
  • Estates:
    There are plenty of Santa Barbara private estates and mansions that can provide a sense of luxury and privacy for your wedding.
  • Outdoor:
    Beyond the beach, other outdoor settings include rustic ranches, Tuscan inspired villas and more.
  • Vineyard and Winery:
    Santa Barbara’s lush wine country regions provide plenty of scenic venues which make the perfect background for you to say your ‘I do’s.

Is a Santa Barbara Wedding Affordable?

Being that Santa Barbara has hosted so many big-name weddings, couples can definitely pay a pretty penny when tying the knot in the area. However, there are several affordable options as well. Research carefully and you are sure to find one that suits your budget.

Marriage Requirements

In all the excitement of planning your wedding, don’t forget about the marriage license!

In order to get a marriage license in the state of California, both parties must be 18 years of age or above without parental consent, but they do not need to be a resident of the state. A witness must be present and both parties must have a valid form of ID.

The license will expire after 90 days.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

While in Santa Barbara, there will be plenty of activities for you and your guests to enjoy. Here are some suggestions.

  • Outdoor Activities:
    Because there are many beaches in Santa Barbara, water activities are a favorite. Surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing are all perfect for adventure lovers. Those that aren’t as daring may enjoy golfing, tennis, fishing, whale washing or taking a bicycle built for two out to the boardwalk.
  • Live Entertainment:
    Music and theater fans will want to find out who’s playing the Santa Barbara Bowl and what shows are coming through the Granada Theater while they are in town.
  • Museums:
    Culture buffs will want to check out Santa Barbara destinations like the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
  • Shopping:
    Santa Barbara is full of high-end shopping outlets, smaller boutiques and outdoor malls. It’s enough to satisfy any shopaholic’s sweet tooth.

If you are planning a destination wedding, Santa Barbara can be the perfect choice. With a wide range of venues, plenty of things to do and beautiful scenery, it is the great town for saying your ‘I do’s’. We wish you luck finding the best location for starting this new chapter of your life.

All You Need to Know About Planning a Los Angeles Wedding

Los Angeles Wedding

If you are looking to have a big city wedding, Los Angeles is the perfect choice. It is filled with old Hollywood glamour, historical landmarks, exciting and unique venues and you can go from sunbaked beaches to snowy mountaintops all in one day. The weather is enjoyable for the most part and there are plenty of things for you and your guests to do while in town.

If you are thinking of hosting your wedding in Los Angeles, here are some things you should know in advance that will make your planning experience as stress-free as possible.

How Much Will a Los Angeles Wedding Cost?

The average cost of a Los Angeles wedding is $33,000 which is a bit higher than the national average of $28,000. However, with so many options to choose from, with a bit of research and planning it shouldn’t be too difficult to plan a L.A. wedding that comes in at budget.

Transportation in Los Angeles

If you are having guests fly in, there are plenty of airports in the area. LAX is the most popular but Bob Hope airport is a lesser known option that tends to have minimal crowds and is easier to navigate. Ontario International and John Wayne Airport are also nearby.

Once you are in L.A., driving will be your best transportation option since the city is so spread out. However, there is plenty of public transportation available if that is your preference.

What is the Weather Like in Los Angeles?

Despite what people think, it does get chilly in Los Angeles. December, January and February are the coldest months. Highs average 60 degrees during this time. These are also the months when it is most likely to rain.

Spring months are warmer, but it can be cloudy in the morning and not clear up until later in the afternoon. This is due to clouds that come in from by the beaches. This is a phenomenon that is known as May Gray and June Gloom.

Wedding Venues

Los Angles is full of hot spots, great scenery and more. Couples who choose to wed in the city of angels can say their ‘I do’s’ on top of a snowy mountain, on a Malibu beach, in a trendy resort or restaurant…and the list goes on.

Marriage Laws

With all the planning that goes into a wedding, couples shouldn’t forget one of the most important details; the marriage license.

In order to get a marriage license in the state of California, you must have proper identification and be at least 18 years of age. You must also have a witness present.

Wedding Accommodations

There are plenty of hotels in Los Angeles but that doesn’t mean they don’t book up quickly. Hotels are likely to get filled during peak seasons and when there are events going on in town. Be sure to book well in advance, especially if you are doing a hotel room block. Then provide all relevant information on your wedding web site.

What is There to Do in Los Angeles

While you are in Los Angeles, there is plenty to do to keep you and your guests entertained. Here are just a few suggestions.

The Getty Center: There are many art museums in Los Angeles, but the Getty is one of the most impressive. It features artwork from all over the world, from medieval times to the present.

Rodeo Drive: If you want to experience all the glamor of Beverly Hills, the shopping strip at Rodeo Drive is the place to do it. Visit in person to see the high-end shops featured in Pretty Woman and various other films.

Santa Monica Beach: Los Angeles is full of beaches. Santa Monica is a great tourist destination because it includes an amusement park pier, but Malibu and Venice are just some of the other beaches worth checking out.

If you are planning a wedding, Los Angeles can be a great city to host it in. It is full of terrific sites, unique venues and there are plenty of things for you to do. Begin your married life in L.A. and find out why it truly is the city of angels.

How to Be Sure You Are Choosing the Right Planner for Your Wedding

Let’s see, you can run yourself ragged, obsessively fuss over every detail you may be missing, and pull your hair out (the stress has caused some of them to die and turn a mournful gray color anyway) with the stress of planning your wedding or you can sit on the plane sipping cocktails on the way to your bachelor/bachelorette weekend at some awesome location, having hardly a single care in the world. You have very wisely and eloquently said “hell-to-the-nah” to the first choice and choose the second option—you’ll have someone plan your wedding for you thank you very much.

But with any type of relationship, you need to feel comfortable, feel that spark, or feel the click with the person—wouldn’t you want the same with the person who is going to be an integral part of one of the biggest, if not the biggest day of your life? So how do you go about finding the wedding planner that is just right for working with you and your intended? Let us help you take the stress out of this decision, too while we talk about what you should look for when choosing a wedding planner.

Ask Around

There are plenty of ways to find any old wedding planner, but what you need is the recommendation of someone you can trust. Has anyone you know (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.) gotten married and used a wedding planner in the past few years? Would they recommend or even not recommend (weed out those baddies and narrow down your choices) the planner they used?

If possible, use people you know as your first resource. If you can find a trusted person to talk about their experience with their wedding planner, don’t just ask about the end result (even epic disasters can turn out nice without anyone else being the wiser), but ask about how the entire process went. How did they feel about their wedding planner as an individual (‘superhero, saved my wedding and my life’ or ‘eh, I could have just as easily had my 10 year-old niece plan the wedding with better style, less drama, and less money’)? How did they feel about the end result/style (‘celebrities pin my wedding on their dream wedding Pinterest board’ or ‘blind incontinent apes would have made this look like less of a crapfest’)? The people you know are the most likely to feel loyalty to tell you the honest truth—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Bonus tip: If you don’t know of anyone in your everyday life who a give you a recommendation. Throw it out there on social media. You might not have seen your sister’s middle school best friend in decades, but they could be the one to answer the call.

What are people saying online?

You know who else loves to tell you the honest truth? People who leave reviews on the internet. Ok, we can’t really keep a straight face knowing how many trolls live and work under the proverbial internet bridge, but what people say online can still have some value. Check out reviews on a planner’s website (will they be 100% unbiased with none of the bad reviews removed to make them look like angels sent from heaven? Maybe, maybe not but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look anyway).

Whether you’re looking at reviews on the planner’s own website, other wedding related sites, or social media pages, try to get a feel for the average of what people are saying. Take bad reviews with a huge old grain of salt (was the planner honestly terrible or was the bridezilla who wrote it the terrible one?). Are there only a few bad or mediocre reviews compared to many great ones? Does everyone think this planner is the best thing that happened since cupcake tiers?

Clients aren’t the only ones who might leave reviews for wedding planners. You might consider getting a more professional take on a planner through looking at vendor reviews as well. Check out reputable sites like WeddingWire and The Knot for reviews as well as their list of the top planners in your area.

Without a personal reference, reviews can be the next best way to get real (and in some cases real-ish?) information about a wedding planner. But it’s not the only way.

Bonus bonus tip: If you really want to dive in deep, use Instagram hashtags to search for city specific wedding planners and see what comments people are leaving.

What is the wedding planner’s online presence telling you?

You may or may not get the most unbiased opinions from online reviews, but you can also let a wedding planner’s work speak for itself. Check out their website and body of work (including anything they posted on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Instagram). Do they seem to work with only one style, or do you see all different styles represented, showing that they are flexible and adept? Is there any video that can give a broader picture of weddings they’ve done (with less risk of creative editing or filters)?

Besides simply looking at their pictures or videos, take the time to check out what they have to say on their page and social media. Some things you might be looking for:

  • Do their values seem to line up with yours?
  • Do they seem like a person you would want to hand your money and the reins of your big day over to?
  • What do you think of their communication style?
  • Do you like their brand message?
  • Has any of their work been displayed or published in wedding magazines or on wedding websites (you might possibly see the all-important and highly coveted “As seen in” badge on their website to let you know)?
  • Do you like their aesthetics in general?

You might not get the answers (or in-depth answers) to all these questions just from looking around on their website and social medial. We mean you haven’t even gotten to the first date; this is just light internet/social media stalking before the face-to-face meet up. That’s when things will really heat up.

The in-person meeting

Just like on that dating app you were on before you committed to the love of your life, someone may look good on paper (or computer screen), making their pictures look Ah-mazing and telling you everything you want to hear. You might get a good idea of who is a good match for you this way, but it’s when you finally meet in real life that you can get the true picture of who you’ve been talking to.

As much research as you do for a wedding planner online, you still won’t know if it’s just a fantasy or if you have real magic until you meet. Meeting or getting information on a wedding planner online is a great place to start and give you a good idea if you want to continue getting to know this planner,  but in person you can get a better sense of who they are, whether your personalities mesh, and whether they might be the right person to work with you in planning your wedding.

Of course, just getting a sense of who they are in person is not enough to know whether a certain planner is right for you. There are so many more important things you need to know.

Asking the right questions

You can think of it as a sort of job interview (and it sort of is since you are trying to decide whether you want to hire them) where you are trying to get the best and most detailed information you can to help you make a decision. If you didn’t prepare, you might end up asking annoying and completely useless questions like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “If you were an office supply, what would you be”? So why haven’t you prepared the questions for interviewing your wedding planner?

  • You’ll want to find out about:
  • their professional career, qualifications, and background (how long have they been planning, education, etc.)
  • whether they’ve ever worked at the venue you’ve chosen
  • their experience with and how they work with other vendors (maybe most importantly, can they score you some discounts?)
  • what are they including with their services and the scope of their work?
  • contracts and deposits
  • And dramatic drumroll for the big one
  • can they work within your budget?

This is just an idea of the types of questions you should be asking. For a more detailed and comprehensive list of questions, check out the link we posted for you right above.

Did you feel heard?

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There may have been a lot of talking, especially from the wedding planner as they answered your questions and did their best to sell themselves, but were they listening? How else will they know what you want and if they are able to provide it for you? How will you know?

During the meet up with your potential wedding planner, did you feel like they heard you—that they were truly listening to what you wanted? Were they promoting their dream for your wedding or yours? Even if they are up on the most fab celeb wedding trends and can give you a wedding that would make the Duchess of Cambridge jealous, if it’s not your style, it doesn’t really matter how trend tastic they are.

This may have been the most important part of the interview and the most telling in terms of whether they are the right wedding planner for you. If you don’t feel like they can deliver your dreams to you (within reason, let’s not be one of those), don’t be afraid to walk away and look for someone who can listen closely and deliver.

In the end, you want your wedding day to be super fun and enjoyable, not just for your guests, but for you as well! The right planner can help you throw the wedding you dream about or the wedding that everyone will be talking about for weeks. Yes, we know, a wedding planner is an extra cost (especially daunting if you already have a tight budget) but the right planner may help you save money in the long run, or the very least save your sanity (can you really put a price tag on that?). Happy planning and we hope that you are able to find the one (we mean wedding planner, obviously).

How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost

If you are planning an elaborate wedding, you may wonder if it would be helpful to hire a wedding planner.

Ideally, any couple in their right mind would want to hire a wedding planner. They can help your wedding run more smoothly and take a lot of the stress off your shoulders.

But for many couples, the biggest deterrent in hiring a wedding planner is that it is an added expense.

If you are thinking of hiring a wedding planner but are wondering if it will be worth it, read on to find out more about wedding planner’s costs and what is included in their services.

How Much Does A Wedding Planner Cost?

The amount you pay a wedding planner will vary according to what’s included in their packages, their level of expertise, the city they are located in and more. However, most planners will charge between $1000 and $2500.

Couples who bargain shop can pay $400 or less and those who spare no expense may pay $4500 or more.

What’s Included in a Wedding Planner’s Costs?

Wedding planners can have different packages available but for the most part, here is what will be included in their costs.

  • Correspondence: A good deal of your planner’s job will include communicating with vendors to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Venue and Vendor Selection: You planner is likely to know a lot of people in the industry. He or she will be able to find you the best venues and vendors, possibly even at discount prices. They may even accompany you to interviews and meetings with these vendors.
  • Paperwork: Your planner will keep track of all the necessary paperwork to make sure you are coming in under budget and that all contracts are easily accessible.
  • Wedding Prep: There are a lot of things that go into the planning of the wedding from the day you start your planning all the way to the day of the wedding. Your planner will assist you with all the necessary tasks, big and small.
  • Post Wedding Tasks: After the wedding is over, there are still tasks that need to be seen to. Your planner will be there to help with clean up, break down and making sure everyone receives a tip.

Different Types of Wedding Planners

There are different types of wedding planners that can help you with different aspects of the wedding. While some couples will go for all-inclusive packages, others can save money by only hiring planners for services they absolutely need.

Here are the different types of planners and what you can expect to pay for their services.

  • Day-Of Wedding Planner: A day-of wedding planner will be brought in closer to the day of the wedding to make sure everything runs smoothly on that special day. Day-of wedding planners charge on average of $800 but higher end planners can cost anywhere from $1250 to $3395.
  • Partial Wedding Planners: A partial wedding planner will be brought in a month or so before the wedding…when it’s crunch time. He or she will help with last minute tasks as well as any day-of prep. The cost of a partial wedding planner is usually $1250 but it can go as high as $6000.

What is the Hourly Rate of a Wedding Planner?

Most wedding planners will offer package deals, but some will charge an hourly rate. The average hourly rate for a planner is $75 but some charge as much as $275 an hour.

Does a Wedding Planner Save You Money?

Yes. A wedding planner is an added expense, but they could help you save money in the long run.

It is part of a wedding planner’s job to make sure you are staying within your budget and prevent you from overspending. A planner may also get you deals on vendors, venues, musical entertainment and other services you will need.

Do You Have to Tip a Wedding Planner?

No. It is not customary for couples to tip their wedding planners, but they may do so if they feel he or she provided exceptional service.

If you are planning a wedding, springing for a planner may be the best decision you can make. They will help you avoid stress and create the wedding of your dreams. Will you be adding the hiring of a planner to your wedding list ‘to-do’s?

The Step by Step Process to Planning the Perfect Wedding

If you are planning an elaborate wedding the process can get overwhelming. To avoid undue stress, it’s a good idea to start with an outline of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by.

But even planning a checklist can be more than some can bear. With so much to do, it can be hard to figure out where to start.

Well, never fear. Here is a step by step guide on how to plan a wedding that goes off without a hitch.

Set a Budget

This is a good first step because it lets you know how much you can spend on vendors, venues, etc. before proceeding with the selection process. When planning a budget there’s a lot to consider so you may want to sit down with parents and other contributors to come up with those magic numbers.

Decide on the Style of the Wedding

A lot of weddings have a theme. A theme can be something as all-encompassing as having the wedding party dress up as characters in your favorite sci-fi television show or it can be dictated by a color scheme or décor trend. But big or small, the style you decide on will come into play in other decision-making processes so this is another step you will want to take early on.

Figure Out Your Guest List and Your Wedding Party

The size of your wedding will also play a major role in the venue and vendors you select, the amount of food you serve and more. That’s why it’s best to start thinking about your guest list before moving on to other things.

Decide on a Date

Before finding a venue, you should have some idea of when you would like to host the wedding. Couples must have a bit of flexibility starting with a few dates to choose from. That way, it won’t be a deal breaker if the venue doesn’t have a certain date available.

When choosing a date, couples should think about what will work best for themselves and their guests keeping work schedules, holidays and family obligations in mind. And while spring weddings are popular, couples may want to stick to off seasons as these may be the best times to get low prices and have their choice of vendors and venues.

Choose a Venue

Now that you have decided on the style and size of your wedding and narrowed down some dates, you can feel confident in finding a venue that will work for you.

Read online reviews of venues to make sure they have the accommodations necessary to work for your wedding. An in-person visit will also help you get a good idea of what to expect.

Most venues will require that you sign a contract before confirming your date. Read all the fine print to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.

Start Your Registry

Once relatives hear you are getting married, they may want to buy you gifts early on or they may want to purchase engagement gifts. Starting a registry early on will ensure you get gifts you are happy with.

Create a Wedding Website

A website will help keep guests in the loop about everything that’s happening regarding your wedding including the date, location, travel, accommodations, and more. Creating a wedding website early on will minimize the number of questions you get from friends and relatives that are planning to attend eliminating some of the pre-wedding stress.

Book Vendors

There are many vendors included in the wedding planning process including caterers, musical entertainment and more. Couples should hire vendors early on so they can be sure to get their first choice.

Finalize the Guest List

You already have a good idea of who to invite. Now it’s time to review the list with those who are contributing financially to make sure everyone they want to invite is included and that the wedding doesn’t go over budget.

Send Save the Dates

If you send out invitations at this point, guests might forget about your wedding by the time the big day comes. On the other hand, if you send out invitations too late, they might already have other plans.

A save-the-date is the perfect compromise because it lets guests know to keep the date clear, but it also gives you the option of sending actual invitations to serve as reminders as the date gets closer.

Purchase Wedding Attire

In order to find the perfect piece and have it properly fitted; you will want to purchase wedding attire well in advance.

Plan the Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is usually planned by the groom’s family but it’s not a good idea to hope they take care of this task and forget about it completely. Review all plans with them to make sure the venue is booked and take care of any other arrangements that need to be seen.

Plan the Honeymoon

You may be caught up in the planning of your wedding, but don’t forget about the honeymoon. Now is a good time to make all the necessary travel arrangements to ensure your trip is perfect.

Plan Prewedding Events

If you are planning on having bachelor and bachelorette parties, an engagement party, or any type of shower now is a good time to start planning those.

Send Invitations

Wedding invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the wedding with an RSVP set two to three weeks before the big day.

Buy Wedding Bands

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Wedding bands should be bought a couple of months before the wedding. That way the bride and groom can shop around to find something that fits their personal style. They will also have time to get the bands fitted if necessary.

Create a Seating Chart

Your wedding party will be much more organized if everyone knows where they will be seated. Keep relationships and family dynamics in mind to make a seating chart that will be conducive to a wedding with a great flow and energy.

Obtain a Wedding License

Don’t forget this essential step! Every state has different laws regarding wedding licenses so be sure to research beforehand so that everything will be in order when the big day comes.

Confirm Details with Vendors

A week or so before the wedding, reach out to all your vendors to make sure they know where to be when and to tie up any loose ends.

Get Married

Once your wedding day comes, relax and have as much fun as possible. There may be some slight hiccups, but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying your special day. Just breathe, relax and look forward to spending the rest of your life with that special someone.

How Much Space Will You Need for Your Wedding?

When you’re planning a wedding, you shouldn’t overlook the amount of space that you’ll have in the reception room. You want people to be able to mingle, have a good time and boogie down without getting hurt or knocking over the cake. Here are a few ways that you can ensure that you and your guests have plenty of room to enjoy your special day late into the night.

Draw Up a Floor Plan

Whenever you’re trying to accommodate a lot of people, you should have a good idea of the number of guests, and you should draw up a floor plan. In your reception hall, you’ll want plenty of space between tables so that guests can walk over and talk to friends and family. You’ll also need a separate area for the dance floor unless you plan on having staff remove the tables after dinner. You should also plan for a place to put the cake, registry book and the snacks and drinks you want to serve before, during or after the meal. Draw the floor plan to scale, taking into account the size of the tables and other furniture that you’ll need in the room.

Give Yourself a Little Extra Room

Even after you draw out your floor plan, make sure to give yourself some extra space to serve as a cushion. Whether the tables you rent are two inches longer than what you thought or the DJ needs some extra space so that they can get all of their equipment plugged in, there’s always some way that things can go wrong. It’s very rare that reception rooms are too big, and some extra room can prevent accidents since you don’t want anyone getting hurt. While it may seem like no big deal, slip and fall accidents are no joke and can make people seriously hurt, so add in a couple of extra feet in all zones of the reception area.

Ask the Venue Representative

If you’re still scratching your head on whether or not you have enough room, ask the representative from the venue that you’re thinking about using. They’ve probably hosted hundreds or even thousands of events, so they should have a pretty good idea of how many people, tables, decorations and side activities you can fit into their venue. They’ll probably have a good idea of which layouts work best for traffic flow, and you should have plenty of questions for them anyway.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work, but you can make sure that everything runs more smoothly by ensuring that you have enough space for everyone. Make sure that you account for the small things too, which can take up more space than you might anticipate.


For your perfect wedding, you’ll need an amazing band. Request a quote today!

4 Oft Forgotten Things in Wedding Planning

You’ve booked the caterer, bought the dress, ordered the invitations and picked out flowers. While it may be easy to remember the major elements of wedding planning, it is often the little overlooked details that can make or break your special day. Here are four commonly forgotten aspects of wedding planning that you do not want to miss.

Figure Out a Plan for Children

If you’re including children in your wedding festivities, it is important to think ahead and implement a plan to make sure that they’ll have a great time. A specially designed kids menu will ensure that even the pickiest eaters find something to eat. A designated kids’ activity table will give the younger guests at your reception a place to hang out. Giving the children kid-friendly party favors will also make them feel included and special.

, it is important to think ahead and implement a plan to make sure that they’ll have a great time. A specially designed kids menu will ensure that even the pickiest eaters find something to eat. A designated kids’ activity table will give the younger guests at your reception a place to hang out. Giving the children kid-friendly party favors will also make them feel included and special.

What Happens After the Honeymoon?

Even if you haven’t gotten a place yet, be sure to have a place to crash when you return from your honeymoon. The last thing that you want as you begin your new life together is unnecessary stress over where to stay. While the excitement of the wedding might overshadow this, it’s important to set expectations before moving in, such as considering combined budgets and cleaning duties.

Consider Outside Conditions

Even if your wedding is not being held outdoors, it is important to consider the weather and have a backup plan in case of inclement conditions. For example, be sure to have a contingency plan for rain or snow, such as having a tent or other type of cover for outdoor seating at the reception. Knowing the time of the day’s sunset will also help to get the best possible lighting for your photographs.

Designate a Point Person

Although most brides want to be in total control of planning in the time leading up to the wedding, it is a good idea to hand the reins over to somebody else when the big day finally arrives. Establishing a point person for all of your vendors will take the stress off you so that you can revel in the magic of the day and not be bogged down by making last-minute decisions.

By being intentional about the little details, you are sure to pull off a magical day that will exceed all of your expectations and get your marriage off to an exceptional start. Cheers to your future together!

Don’t forget the music for your reception! Listen to sample sounds by Brass Animals here.

Live Music At Your Wedding: 6 Reasons Why You’re Making the Right Decision

No doubt your wedding planning has been full of magical moments. There are also a fair amount of stress-inducing debates to be handled and among the most important is what to do about the music for your wedding ceremony and reception. Do you go with a DJ or should you have a live band? Do you go all out and have both, or have none and just let your karaoke-loving cousin serenade everyone?

You are going to see plenty of opinions about it on the internet (though across the board the karaoke cousin is a hard “nope”), and the debate may rage hot, causing you ever more confusion. Have no fear, we’re swooping in to save you from a relationship-crushing argument and sooth the stress of making the decision by giving you a firm answer. Yes, you should have a live band at your wedding. Here’s why it’s the right decision.

1. It sets the tone and the mood like nothing else

There is no denying that live music brings energy and emotion to a room that even DJs have admitted are beyond compare, whereas listening to canned DJ jams is little different than listening to the radio. If you want your wedding to have a certain feel to it, finding the right musicians can create the perfect atmosphere and truly be the so-to-speak cherry on top of your ceremony or celebration.

Live musicians can change to mood of a room as it is needed. They can bring a grand level of elegance and sophistication to your wedding, especially to the ceremony, cocktail hour, or during dinner. Depending on what you want, they can bring a little energy or a ton of energy to the dance floor at your reception, making even the wallflowery-est of the bunch tap their toes and get moving.

2. It’s an encompassing experience


Why do people go to concerts instead of staying home and listening to the radio in their bathrobes? Performance. People not only love listening to live music but also seeing and feeling it. A band makes music come to life and turns it into an experience for many senses, not just your ears.

Even those that can’t dance (like your Aunt Martha who just celebrated her 100th birthday—you go Aunt Martha!) can enjoy the experience of listening to and watching live musicians. A DJ just does not have the same showmanship or entertainment value as a live band.

3. Live music is a uniting factor

San Francisco brass band

Live music can bridge gaps and unite generations of people. A DJ may play dance music that is currently popular, or a list of typical songs played at every reception across America. You’re always going to have one or more generations that aren’t into what’s being played (“not my jam”, “music in my day was actual music!”, etc.) But live music seems to get everyone past their biases, even if the song is particular to a certain generation. The fun of watching and listening to musicians surpasses all that.

4. Live music is always a unique experience

Leading a Second Line Wedding Parade

You are going to get one first dance with your new spouse; do you want it to be exactly the same as thousands of other couples who have listened to the same exact pre-recorded song played in the same exact way for everyone? Or would you rather be able to say that is was something unique played just for the two of you?

Musicians are living, breathing people so there is going to be subtle variations in the way they play their instruments every time they play a song—even if they’ve played it a thousand times. Each band also has its own unique style and flavor that they add to their music. These elements combined make any song that is played totally unique to your wedding.

Songs that a DJ would use have been recorded for posterity and it will always sound exactly the same no matter how many times it is played (it has no autonomy, so it has no choice). It will sound exactly the same to your ears as to every other couple who has played it. With musicians you have an option that you don’t with pre-recorded music—you can ask for variations of style or tempo in the song and a great band will be better able to accommodate that request.

5. It creates a memorable experience for you and your guests

Holiday Party

Why are you going through all that trouble of planning your wedding down to the last gorgeous detail if not to make it an incredibly memorable event for you and everyone you love? If you’re fretting about how many leaves you want each baby’s breath stem to contain, you’d want to put even more care into something as big as the music and entertainment for your wedding, wouldn’t you? That’s why having a live band is such a great decision.

Do you remember the name of the DJ who spun at the last wedding you attended? Neither do we. Even though there are some great DJs out there, for the most part, they all start to blend together. Live bands have a memorable uniqueness to each of them. They not only make a great topic for conversation among strangers who are eating dinner at the same table, but it’s also an element that creates special memories to talk about later on.

6. Live musicians have flexibility

Billy Jo -- 9.24.17-0726

As far as being able to make adjustments on the fly, stop and restart without problems, or being able to react in the moment to anything the room throws at them—live musicians have the advantage. For instance, your young ring bearer starts walking down the aisle, freaks out when all eyes are on him and makes a run for it. The last thing you want to be worried about AV problems with stopping and starting the music. A live band can pause and restart exactly where they left off without an issue, and they will be more inclined to spot problems and adjust as soon as they start.

What the critics say and why they got it wrong

There’s not enough variety with live bands: Not true. Yes, it is true that a DJ can download a song you request if they don’t have it (though experience has taught that not all of them will bother doing it even when you ask). Live musicians need a little more lead time to learn a song. But at the same time, professional bands who play many different events have tons of music in their repertoire. In fact, they can often play many different genres of music from classical, to rock, to pop, to Latin, to current dance songs and more. If a particular band can’t produce the sound that you want, just move on to the next one who can.

Live music is too loud, especially for my elegant ceremony: Unless you are planning on hiring the local garage band that has one volume—obnoxious—this is also just not true. Many professional musicians are quite flexible and adept at controlling the volume of their music to meet the mood of the room. Bands who are experienced at playing ceremony or background music know how to avoid overpowering a room, whereas amps set up around the room by a DJ can be grating on those who sit near them.

Bands have to take breaks. Yup, that’s true. They are human and are prone to human needs. But should this be a deal-breaking issue? Bands don’t want to break up the flow of dancing or celebrating anymore than a DJ does. Find a band who has the means and know-how to play some recorded songs (songs you can pick out) during their downtime. That means no real break in dancing and the party can go on.

Live bands are more expensive. Like anything you pay for, it depends. They can be more expensive than some DJs or less expensive than others. If you find a band whose sound you love but their price is out of range for you, the bandleader or manager is likely open to discussing how they can make it an affordable option for you (like reducing the number of musicians that play).

The music is not as good as recorded songs. Wow, the critics were really off base with this one. Now we’ve all heard a favorite musician, singer, or and on the radio, but when we saw them live in concert thought “is this actually the same person? It sounds nothing like what I’ve heard!”. It’s not the same when it comes most professional musicians who play weddings and other events. In fact, many of them have had years of practice with degrees in musical arts. Even the ones without degrees have a passion for what they do and are excited to do what they love for people who appreciate it.

If you’ve listened to audio or video recordings of a band that you are considering but still have doubts, find out if there is a way to get a live sample of their music or speak to others who have heard them in person. In any case, it’s always a good idea to get a well-rounded idea of what any live band can do and how they’ve interacted with their clients and guests.

The band will upstage the bride and groom. Ridiculous. Once the bride starts walking down the aisle no one is thinking, “man, this band is the most gorgeous and amazing thing I’ve seen today!” All attention is on her and the band is just background to lead her down the aisle.

Of course, as mentioned, a band will bring that special, memorable element to the wedding–something that most couples want. The band leaders are not looking to steal the thunder from anyone’s special day and clearly communicating what you want or don’t want beforehand will prevent any unnecessary hiccups or distractions.

Flexible, skilled, and guaranteed to give a one-of-a-kind performance, live bands can add elegance to your affair or rock the party (even doing both in the same evening). You and your guests get the benefit of a private concert, so to speak, and create long lasting memories for everyone in attendance. And that is why hiring a live band for your wedding is the right decision.

How to Hire a Band for Your Wedding

Go ahead and give yourselves a big high five for making one of the smartest decisions when it comes to choosing your wedding entertainment—hiring a live band. Plenty of couples choose a DJ, and that might be fine for them, but you are choosing to “86” that played-out idea go exceptional. Even though you’ve made a great decision, there is more involved when it comes to choosing the right band. There is often little variation when it comes to DJs, but there is a lot more variety when it comes to living music. Often more detailed decision-making skills come into play when finding the right band. Wait, don’t leave! Don’t let that deter you. We’ve done some of the legwork for you. We’ll go over what to look for, what to ask about, and how to make the best choice for you and your event.

The tough questions

Before you even get on the phone or the internet, you have some choices to make. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of party are you going to have?
  • What is your favorite music to celebrate? (If you are having a tough time deciding what you want, the Gigmasters website can help give you ideas and information on a variety of bands).
  • What kind of music will be best for your guests?
  • Are you looking for some light background music or do you want a band that can emcee your party and knows how to turn up the party all night long? Or maybe a little of both?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help steer you toward the right band. If you are having an elegant affair, a band who proclaims that they will “rock the pants off your party” might not be the best match. On the other hand, a wedding with a lot of older guests might do well with a band that can play music from a wide variety of eras.

Your entertainment is a very important part of the celebration. The music is often closely linked to some of the best memories of the event (aside from the ceremony, of course). The band you choose will help create and reflect the vision you have for your reception. That being the case, some things you will want to know about a live band:

  • What is their style?
  • What genres of music do they play (you might want a mix across a wide spectrum of genres or maybe you want them to focus on one or two specialties)?
  • What do they typically wear when they play receptions and are they willing to reasonably fit the style of your event if necessary?
  • What is their track record/turnover rate with band members?

Once you’ve found some likely candidates that might be able to help you have the party you want, there are some questions you’ll want to ask or know about them. Important things like:

  • Does anyone in the band know how to emcee? Are they willing to do so?
  • Do they know how to turn a shy crowd into dance floor party animals?
  • Are you able to see them play live?
  • How long has the band been together and how often do they perform in a professional setting? (local   garage bands might be fun in theory—supporting your community talent—but a band that occasionally plays     the local bar scene might not have the equipment or ability to make the leap to such an event as a wedding).
  • If not, what kind of samples of their work are available (CDs, DVDs, videos posted on their website, or even better, client/guest videos uploaded to YouTube or other places online)? Are you able to get a solid idea of their skills and style through one of these means?
  • Does the band know the venue where your reception is being held? If not, are they able to check it out beforehand to make sure they will have what they need or make adjustments/arrangements beforehand so that all runs smoothly the day of? (If they are not willing to check out the venue beforehand, this could be a giant red flag and has the potential for wedding day disaster).
  •  What is the plan when a musician leaves the group or can’t perform on that date?
  • What is the bandleader like to work with? How well does he interact with his musicians? How well does he interact with guests?

How to Hire a Band for Your Wedding

This last question is not really one for the band, but rather for others who have worked with them. They can be your eyes and ears. Previous clients, professional party planners, event or sales managers at the venue, photographers, caterers, and entertainment agencies can all lend valuable interpersonal information that you won’t find on the band’s website.

Checking out a band’s website or other info online can give you added insight into the band’s personality.

Even if they play some of the same songs as other bands, each band had its own distinct style and character, and one if them is your perfect match.

The contract and pricing

The first question that is probably going to be on your mind is, “how much will this set back my budget?” Well, that depends on a lot of factors. The number of musicians, how long you want the band to play, travel costs, and even the day of the week can all have an effect on the price. These and many other things should be discussed and clarified in your contract.

Since it’s not realistic to have a freshly written-from-scratch contract for each client, most contracts are going to contain standard boilerplate terms and conditions. It’s important to read it through to make sure you know what you are signing up for and if the contract provides you with what you need. Does that mean you’re stuck with exactly what they give you or you can’t hire a band because the contract isn’t specific to your requirements? Most likely not. There is often room to negotiate, add, and amend certain aspects of the contract to give you exactly what you need. Some things you might want to be spelled out in the contract?

How to Hire a Band for Your Wedding

  • The members performing—who and how many? The who part might be a little tricky—a band can’t always guarantee that all current members at the time of the contract will be available a year or more later at the time of your event. What you can have in the contract is the number of instruments and singers you want.
  • Clearly outline the number of hours the band will play, the location, and when during the event the band will play (cocktail hour, reception, etc.). This is also the time to work out an overtime rate in case you just don’t want the party to end and you need the band to extend their playing time (it’s a dance floor buzzkill to have to negotiate it while the band is just about to pack up at the end of the night).
  • What are the band requirements (often known as a rider)? Are there meals to be provided for the band members? Production costs? If the band is from out of the area, are you paying airfare and hotel expenses? Riders can be negotiated to an extent, but think carefully about a band that has big and possibly unreasonable stipulations in their contract riders and won’t negotiate.
  • Will the band need to rent extra equipment or lighting and if so, will it be an extra cost to you?
  • Who will set up and break down the sound system (will they or do they expect you or  the venue to do it?)
  •  What is the cancellation policy?
  • Is there a backup plan in case of equipment malfunction or another issue?
  • Is the payment schedule outlined? How much and are deposits due? (It’s not uncommon for a band to ask for a 50% initial deposit).
  •  Does the band have liability insurance? (Many bands will have a Force Majeure in the contract which removes liability in case they can’t fulfill their contractual obligations because of natural or unavoidable catastrophes).
  • In the end, you want to make sure your wants and requirements are clearly spelled out as well as costs—extra costs on your wedding day are not surprises you want to have to deal with.

Band breaks

Well, they are only human after all, so it’s natural that musicians will need some breaks from playing. It’s important to know what to expect beforehand and to go over if and when you want the band to play and when is a reasonable time to break.

  •         Outline when you absolutely want the band to play. Some prefer that the band take a full break when the entrée is served or during a formally served dessert course.
  •         When do you want to dance? Between courses? After the meal only?
  •         If you want the music to be continuous, find out if the band can rotate musicians or if they have any pre-recorded music they can play during their downtime.
  •         It’s common practice to provide band members with a vendor meal (same as guests) and water. This should be included in the contract/rider

Choosing the music

Picking your favorite party music can be a fun detail, but with a live band, you get the added bonus of being able to choose which type of musicians you want playing. How many musicians play can be regulated by what your budget allows, but the more musicians playing, the fuller the sound. There are 4 main sections that can be incorporated in a band: brass (trumpet, trombone, sax); rhythm (drummer and percussionist); harmony (keyboard, guitar, bass); and vocals (the singers). Not every band may contain all sections, but you definitely want to find out which options are available.

When it comes to picking the music, some couples like to leave it up to the band leader—trusting that he will play the appropriate music at the appropriate time, keeping a good flow going throughout the night. Others like a more hands-on approach, choosing specific songs and genres they want to be played. Some things you will want to discuss with the bandleader:

  •         Do they have any specialties? They could have some great songs that you haven’t thought of or knew about that they play well or know to be 100% certain crowd pleasers.
  •         If you have any special songs to request or a specific playlist, give the band plenty of advanced notice in case they need time to learn to play them.
  •         What kind of background music do you want (if you are choosing to have background music)?
  •         Will you walk down the aisle to live music and if so, which song? Will you walk into the reception to live music and if so, which song?
  •         Which song do you want to be played for the first dance, mother/son dance, and father/daughter dance?

Even though the task of finding a wedding band might seem a bit overwhelming, it’s good to know you don’t have to make a blind decision and hope for the best. The internet—such a marvelous invention—is full of people who have plenty to say (good or bad) about the wedding bands you are looking at. Don’t be afraid to read some solid reviews and get an overall picture of the band (you can’t just take one person’s word for it).

You can also ask for referrals and reviews from friends, family, colleagues, and event professionals who have worked with the band or seen them perform.  Check to see if a band has won any awards (Ok, not necessarily a Grammy but awards like Wedding Wire’s Couple’s Choice or other local and national awards). This can be an excellent indicator of a great band. Despite all the factors that need to be considered, the one thing you should know is that you made a good decision going with live music.

The Busy Bride’s Guide to Wedding Transportation

Although it is not as exciting or glamorous as picking out the wedding dress or choosing the food for the reception, the logistics of wedding day transportation can’t be overlooked when planning your big day. Here are four things to consider when deciding how you are going to ferry around yourself, your wedding party and guests:

Consider Your Wedding Theme

In addition to practical considerations, you should consider the theme of your wedding when choosing wedding transportation. For example, a horse-drawn carriage is a perfect complement to a fairytale theme wedding. Maybe you want a unique, whimsical wedding and would consider a wedding parade? Or consider a regal Bentley as an ideal choice for an extravagant celebration in the middle of a city. Once you choose the theme for the big day, the other pieces such as wedding transportation might fall more easily into place. Incorporating your theme into the transportation choice can also help to carry over the feel of the ceremony into the reception.

Think Locally

When choosing your wedding transportation, it is advised to think locally. An urban setting will naturally lend itself to a trolley car mode of transport while a more rural setting will be accentuated with something more rustic, such as a vintage truck. If you choose a tropical destination wedding, incorporating a boat or ferry into the transportation will add to the ambiance and make your event a memorable one for all in attendance.

Keep Your Guests Informed

This is more crucial f you have a lot of out-of-town guests, but it is essential to help your guests with their own wedding day transportation logistics. If the reception is at a different venue than the ceremony, it is an excellent idea to provide guests with specific directions, or even with the transportation itself. While you and your new spouse might want to stop somewhere for pictures before heading to reception and can’t coordinate transportation at the same time as the guests, it doesn’t mean that you can’t provide an alternate. From a prepaid bus to shuttles, you might want to consider these options for your out-of-town guests. Do not just assume that everyone will know where they are going, or that they have the means to get there. As the host of this event, it is up to you to make it as easy as possible for your guests.

And What About the Wedding Party?

The wedding party has a strange at weddings, not quite regular guests but not the bride and the groom either. They are usually crucial to planning so if you’re moving from ceremony location to a different reception location, they’re probably going to be essential to making sure everything is set up right (such as music and sound, for example). What you’re going to want to do here is keep them together throughout the festivities. Whether you plan transportation for them or give them directions to stick together, be sure the wedding party knows where they’re going and what they’re supposed to do when they arrive.

With a little research and thinking outside of the box, you can turn the ordinarily dull concept of wedding transportation into one of the most creative and fun elements of your big day.