Friday, August 24, 2012

To DJ or not to DJ??

... That is the question. Whether it is worth the money and an risky amount of trust in someone you don't know to create the perfect ambiance for your reception and in the mean time take A LOT of work off your plate, OR to brave the task of coming up with hours of music and perfected playlists of your own, ensuring you have the music you like and pick someone you know to take on the duties of being MC....

When I first began planning my wedding I was on a soap box about how necessary it was to have a DJ for the wedding. Aaron ask why it wasn't possible for us to turn on an iPod and run the reception ourselves remembering to cut the cake and have our first dance. I laughed at his suggestion and thought that we DEFINITELY needed a DJ. Afterall a DJ can make or break your reception!! You need someone who will carry the ambiance of the reception and make sure people are dance, have the reception flow from one event into another without a moment of your guests sitting around being bored. It is up to the DJ to announce the bridal party, announce when they are cutting the cake, when the bouquet will be tossed, and when the toasts will be happening. You also need to make sure that this DJ isn't awkward and doesn't hog the spotlight, or make off color jokes to pass the time, and isn't timid with speaking up and making sure things happen.
Will all of this said,  in the recent weeks I have asked myself just how important all of that actually is, and here are my questions and alternative solutions:

1. Risky trust!
With all of the above responsibilities resting on the shoulders of one man, it is really uneasy knowing that I will have met this person once or twice before the big day and have probably never seen him actually DJ a wedding!! This is a big risk for me to take! With a photographer you can look through picture after picture... with a videographer you can see their video footage to get the gist of their portfolio. But with a DJ, you might have a 5 minute clip from one of their weddings and that is entirely based on the taste of that particular bride and groom... so how to you know if this DJ will pronounce your best man's name right, or won't be annoying and talk too much, or won't pick awful songs to dance to and alienate a chunk of your guests cause he plays too much rap or too much Journey (note, I want to stop believe Steve Perry, I really really do).
With the way our wedding is shaping up, we have all of our friends involved in all the details. It is truly a community effort. From the photographer, videographer to the minister and caterer, they are all people we know and love! It is amazing how generous our friends and family have been. So with hiring a DJ, he would be the ONLY person there that we don't know, and we is the most vocal throughout the reception.

2. Music Selection
I am a big music person! I have the soundtrack of my wedding in my head and have specific songs I want to have playing during dinner, and during dancing, and before and after the wedding. I also have a do not play list so long I can't even begin to remember every song I hate hearing at weddings, so if I forget to put it on the "do not playlist" and then it starts playing, I'm going to be thinking in the middle of my reception - oh jeez, now people are going to associate My Endless Love with my wedding (note that is an awesomely bad cheesy song that I love, but will not have at my wedding - sorry if any of you had your first dance to this song). So with all these preferences, how realistic is it of me to expect me be able to give my DJ a playlist and say "play this and only this" and deny him the creativity of what he does. And with this desire to have more control over the music selection, wouldn't it just be more affordable to do it all myself from the get-go.

3. There's an app for that
Surprise!! The iPhone has an actual wedding app with allows you to control your wedding's music from start to finish!! You basically put music on your iPod/iPhone/iPad and assign the playlists to the different sections of the wedding - Pre Ceremony playlist, cocktail hour playlist, and dancing playlist. You also can assign specific songs to - Group Processional, Bride Processional, Recessional, Father/Daughter dance... etc. It even knows with certain special songs that it needs to pause afterward to give plenty of time for someone to turn the app off during your ceremony. Plus we have a friend who has a TON of sound equipment we can use from microphones, sound boards, to dance floor lighting.

4. What type of wedding are we REALLY having?
As Aaron and I have been thinking through our reception and planning our wedding, we have realized we may not be having the traditional reception like everyone else. We are having a backyard style wedding, which means, we are having fire pits, lawn chairs, and the dance floor is under a covered patio in the corner of the yard. Also since Aaron and I have basically grown up together most of our friends and family already know each other... so this will very much feel like a huge hang out party in someone's backyard! And we like it like that :) We definitely want dancing, but more than that, we want people to feel comfortable and relaxed. A DJ constantly telling you to get on the floor won't lend to that atmosphere. Also the dance floor is off in the corner, so if no one is dancing, it is not like people will notice a huge void in the middle of the room.

5. But how are you gonna make sure that people DO keep dancing?
Good question, I'm glad you asked :) The secret is.... DON'T PLAY SLOW SONGS!! Here is what happens with slow songs... people either take the opportunity to leave the dance floor to get a beverage or go to the bathroom or end up leaving to talk to people. OR they are single and it is awkward as heck to be standing in the middle of the dance floor after just having had a blast rocking out to Michael Jackson, now watching all your friends pair off and oh yeah, you're reminded that you don't have anyone to slow dance with - WORST PART OF A WEDDING RECEPTION!!! Believe me, I have been that sad person. So either way when a slow song hits 50% of the dance floor makes a pilgrimage off the dance floor and so when the next fast song comes on, you have a hard time getting people back out there. The answer is to keep the tempo fast and fun! People will leave for sure when they need to, but more people will join in as soon as their "jam" comes on! My friend Kendra just did this at her reception and it worked like a charm! People were dancing the whole time!
The no slow song rule of course does not include the first dance, father/daughter dance, and mother/son dance... all of which will be slow, but will happen before the fun dancing starts!

 I don't think I need to offer anymore of a case for my decision... and please hear me when I say that a DJ is invaluable if you decide to go with one. My advice is to definitely take the time to research and give yourself enough time before your decision needs to be made in order to meet with a few different DJs to make sure it is the right fit. If you have even more time, see if you can crash a wedding the DJ is playing at and so you can see him in action. Also decide what atmosphere you want to have at your reception. Do you want a dance party? or do you want dancing to be an option, but not the focus? This will help you decide if a DJ is necessary.

Sorry for the no post... to make up for it... here are some pictures of my inspiration for Centerpieces: 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


As much as I love planning my wedding, after the rush of the first few weeks - booking a venue, minister, photographer, getting a dress, organizing our wedding party, and spending hours and hours pouring over google docs (the best invention man has ever seen) filled with budgets, wedding timelines, check lists, and guest lists... I was kind of spent.
Now don't get me wrong, I still thought all about my wedding and added ideas to pinterest and dreamed of bridesmaids dresses, wedding shoes, paper straws, mason jars, and table linens, but Aaron and I quickly turned our attention to THE HONEYMOON!!!

Seriously, a wedding is one day and it will be captured by tons of pictures and talked about for years and hopefully one day my daughter will sit on the floor in front of my TV and ask to watch the video where I am a princess and marry her daddy, but don't underestimate the power of a well planned honeymoon!
The honeymoon is where my husband and I, for the first time EVER, will spend a full 24 hours entirely together - just the two of us!!  As someone who loves travel (I mean I became a Travel Agent for a reason), I am super excited about our first travel adventure!!

Aaron and I had a few parameters to follow for our honeymoon planning (in no particular order)

1. We did not want to go on our honeymoon right away...
We have heard many stories of couples sleeping through their first several days having full on exhaustion from the marathon of wedding events right before their trip away. We wanted to give ourselves time to relax and enjoy the vacation and feel like we were able to take full advantage of our trip! Because our wedding is the beginning of November and soon after that we will have Thanksgiving, my birthday, my dad's annual Christmas concert, we decided to make our honeymoon from December 8th - 15th... a full month after our wedding.

2. We did not want to be jet lagged...
 I love traveling to far off places and new cultures and discover new things, but for my honeymoon, there was one thing I didn't want to experience - jet lag. This goes along with not wanting to sleep through our honeymoon. The other thing is Aaron has never been out of the country where we needs a passport, so we decided to start with something doable for both of us. We decided on the Maya Riveria! We will be staying at a beautiful condo in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!! The beaches are beautiful, the water is clear Caribbean blue, the food is yummy :) Aaron found an INSANE deal on Trip Advisor for flights and a condo penthouse on the beach... seriously it was a steal!
The Maya Riviera Coast
view from our balcony - yes, that is a hot tub and private loungers... and what you don't see if a grill too!
3. We wanted the perfect combo of relaxation and the must see sites and activities...
Aaron and I both enjoy the idea of sitting on the beach or on our private condo balcony overlooking the ocean for hours and hours on end. We would interrupt this relaxation for the occasional nap, movie watching, and maybe napping while watching a movie. However, I refuse to miss out of the once in a lifetime experiences that the Maya Riviera has to offer! Just two hours away is the world famous wonder of the world Chichen Itza! Just 1 hour down the coast is the city of Tulum and their ocean side Mayan ruins! Just a short drive away is a perfect spot to snorkel with sea turtles! Also across the water, just a short ferry ride away is Cozumel.
One of the 7 ancient wonders of the world - Chichen Itza
The ocean ruins of Tulum
The Playa Del Carmen sea turtles! They're RED!
We actually planned our trip to Chichen Itza just 10 days before the Mayans predicted the end of the world! We'll be in the center of all the action :)

4. We wanted to go to Disneyland!!!
Ok I know what you're thinking... there is no Disneyland in Playa Del Carmen... and you would be right, BUT we have a whole month before our big get away and in that time Aaron and I were keen to make it out to Disneyland!!! We planned it for the weekend after our wedding :) We will get married, go back to work the next week and then for the the Friday - Monday the next weekend, we will be in the happiest place on earth!!! I don't actually know which trip I am more excited about right now! Aaron and I both love Disneyland and are so excited to see the new Carsland, eat at the Blue Bayou for the first time, see the Christmas decorations that will be up at that time, and just be the two of us. Aaron particularly wants to go on the littler less popular rides we missed while we were there in February. We also are going to spring for annual passes so for our first year of marriage, we can take as many trips as we want!
Disneyland at Christmas is my favorite Disneyland
I even have my Bride Minnie ears ready! They were a gift from my sweet friend Katie!

So throughout all the stress, excitement, and overwhelming moments of wedding planning, I have two, count them TWO honeymoons to look forward to by the end of the year :)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Engagement Photos by Pinkerton Photography

Have I told you how much fun planning my wedding has been? My favorite part is getting to do all this planning with my best friend! Seriously Aaron has been a champ throughout this whole process thus far. He constantly asks me what he can be doing to help or what planning elements he can take off my plate. He has opinions about certain things (which are for the most part the same as mine anyway), but he has allowed me to share my vision and dreams for our special day and then is instantly on board! I love that he cares, but also allows the little girl who has always dreamed of her wedding to come out and get excited about all the things I have always wanted to do. Because of this lovely balance we are creating such a wonderful day full of beauty, class, fun, and the laid back charm we are both envisioning.

All of this to say, I am incredibly thankful for my amazing fiance! Aaron is playful, kind, encouraging, thoughtful, funny, smart, witty, and makes me laugh all the time. I am so excited to be his wife and get to do life with him for forever. This last weekend, we have the joy of getting to capture some sweet moments during our engagement photo shoot!!

Now I have been friends with Kelsie Pinkerton for nearly 10 years! I knew her before she even fully considered using her amazing talent as a wedding photographer. She is literally one of the most talented wedding photographers I have every seen! But not only does she take amazing photos and capture amazing moments through the lens of her camera, she is also one of the kindest, sweetest people you will ever meet. All of the brides she works with can attest to her kind spirit and ability to instantly put a couple at ease! She is just so much fun!!

Please go check out her other amazing work on her website: and her blog

In the mean time, check out some of our beautiful engagement photos!!!

We woke up at the crack of dawn... actually we woke up earlier than that because we arrived Downtown Phoenix at the crack of dawn! Phoenix summers are unbearable to be outside, so we had to start at 5:30a (when the sun rises) to be able to be done by the time the temps rise. Even with that, we were still sweating like crazy by the end of the shoot.

I love old buildings and red brick and architecture! Aaron LOVES downtown Phoenix, so we decided it would make the perfect place for our pictures. Our wedding is going to be very country and backyard feeling, so an urban backdrop for engagement photos was really fun!

Thank you Kelsie!!! Check out our slide show (turn up the volume for the music)!