You'll notice that these FAQs are not strictly related to music. We list these first, because choices you make in other areas will have an impact on your reception...we want to help you be sure that the impact you create is positive and not negative.
Although one can be forgiven for not knowing which questions to ask, this one should not be a priority. In fact, it should probably be last on the list. A vendor who causes your event to be a failure is not a bargain no matter how cheap he/she is! Think of it this way. It would be similar to calling an auto dealership and asking them, "How much is a car?" Doesn't make sense does it? New/used, 2 door/4 door, mini-van/coupe/sedan? What is the intended purpose? What results do you expect? And, this doesn't even touch the surface. There are dozens of questions that need to be answered, not to mention options once you start to narrow things down.
When planning our event, when should we schedule a time to see you?
We have been in business for many, many years and are very familiar with the vast majority of other wedding professionals ...photographers, videographers, caterers, florists, facilities, etc. Therefore, we highly encourage you to contact us in the very beginning of your planning process as we can be extremely helpful by making recommendations that will save you time and frustration. We don't receive any form of compensation for recommending these professionals, so you can be assured that you are receiving an unbiased opinion that is based on working with them during many successful events.
Should we hire local professionals, or vendors from where we live?
This may take some consideration on your part, as it may initially seem more convenient to meet with vendors near your home. However, the day of the event, those vendors won't necessarily have the knowledge necessary to make the day flow smoothly. For example, you want photos, but you don't want to take a lot of time after the ceremony finishing up. A local photographer will be intimately familiar with close-by locations and won't have to spend time walking around the facility or driving around trying to determine what would be a good setting. The same concept is true for other professionals such as the DJ...knowing the staff of the local facility and working well together is crucial to the success of your event. Another consideration is what happens if there is an emergency? AMS "bails out" other companies and part time DJ's on a regular basis when they don't show up for an event. Our backup staff is only minutes away from your event compared to other DJ's who have no staff at all or are located 1-2 hours away.
Are there priorities that I should consider when planning my special event?
During wedding planning, Brides say their highest priority is their attire, followed by the reception site and caterer - reception entertainment is among the least of their concerns.
*These statistics were published in St. Louis Bride & Groom Magazine in 2003. Sources include: Simmons, 2001; USA Today, 2002; National Bridal Service, 2001; The Knot, 2002; Brides Magazine, 2001.
Isn’t it true though that I can’t have an event without a location?
Of course, you have to have a destination. However, our experience has shown us (and the statistics above bear this out), that excessive significance is placed on the location and food…many people tend to fall in love with beautiful/historic architecture, gorgeous landscaping, extensive menu selections, etc. but forget that it is not the setting, but rather what happens at the site that makes a difference. Special events are by definition social gatherings defined by what we do together. As any college freshman can tell you from Psychology 101, food and shelter are among the most basic of human needs, and once those needs are met in even the most mundane way people want to spend their time on more important things…like having fun with each other!
So, does this mean that food is not important?
Not at all. However, we are suggesting that you not exhaust your budget before you ever get to the rest of your list. We’ve known multiple brides who have been lured into so-called “package” deals consisting of the location and food, only to realize many thousands of dollars (and a blown budget) later that those 2 items are not even near the top of the list of what most people find most memorable. To further illustrate, we have a question for you. Does it really make sense to spend a large portion of your budget on cheese or fruit platters, hors d’oeuvres or ice sculptures (things that people don't remember in great detail) and then settle for a second rate DJ or Band?
How much seating should we have? Should we provide chairs for all of our guests?
Think back to the events you’ve attended. Were you fortunate enough to have a place to sit? Some suggest that at a buffet style event, seating is not necessary for all of the guests. Our advice: Unless your intent is to purposely cause people to want to leave, then we highly recommend providing seating for all of your guests. This may seem like common sense, but the (faulty) logic is that people will grab some food, sit for awhile and then give up their seat to someone else…very rarely does this occur. What is the first thing that happens when a guest approaches a table…that’s right, the guys hang their jacket on the back of a chair and the ladies place their personal items on the seat or under the chair. At the very least, they “tilt” the chairs forward and that becomes their seat for the rest of the event…leaving everybody else to try to balance drinks, plates, utensils…you get the picture. Don’t skimp on the chairs. If the facility or caterer you're considering says otherwise…find another one, and fast!
How should the seating be placed?
As far as specific guests, you’ll have to deal with the family politics! However, a huge “no-no” is to place any seating/tables between the entertainment and the dance floor. The reason? In order to get adequate sound to the dance floor the DJ or band is going to have to turn their volume up to an uncomfortable level for those seated in front. This includes background music as well. Your guests in the back will wonder why the volume is so low while those in front won’t be able to have a pleasant conversation! The best set up is to have the DJ or band against a wall with the dance floor located directly in front of them. Tables can then be located around the room or in a horseshoe shape around the dance floor. And, be sure to tell the rental company to not place the dance floor directly up to the edge of the wall or tent. If they do, then the DJ/band will be forced to set up on top of it, thereby wasting a good portion of that dance space that you paid for!
How many buffet “lines” should we have?
If you want a sure fire way to ruin an event, here’s one. Try to feed 150 people (or more) at a one sided buffet. Sure, everyone will get food…eventually, but by the time the last half of the line actually gets their plate, the first half is finishing up their meal and boredom is setting in. So, now you’ve got two major event killers…boredom and crankiness (from lack of food). But, the solution is simple! Our professional catering friends tell us that you should plan on no more than about 75 guests per side. One set of tables can provide two lines (front and back), and as long as you have two sets of utensils per dish…bingo! You just cut your serving time in half. Please, don’t let someone tell you that you can “get by,” or that they will space out different “stations.” Invariably, there is one popular station and the problem is just as bad. We were at the 1996 Olympics and entertained approximately 3,500 people at a particular lunch-time event. Every one of those people had their plates and were seated in get this…30 minutes!! It can be done so insist that your potential caterer cooperate…or find one who will.
For a wedding, should we hire a professional wedding photographer?
We can not stress this enough…yes, yes, and yes! Your photographer is one of the most important people at your wedding and picture quality is not the only consideration. This may sound odd, but realize that this is one of those areas that can severely impact your event. A true wedding photographer (i.e. one with extensive wedding experience) understands the flow of a ceremony and reception and will do his or her best to not adversely impact that flow. One of our biggest concerns is photographers who do not stay for the entire reception. We question the logic of selling a package based on a fixed number of hours. This might be fine as long as the number of hours matches the intended length of the reception. However, we have had a few unfortunate experiences where the photographer either simply walked out at the end of his timeframe or gave the bride an unpleasant ultimatum…either rush through everything right now or miss out on those pictures. This is very disruptive to your event and we highly recommend that you either book enough hours to cover your entire timeframe or simply look for a photographer who sells a complete event package. Don’t fall for a line such as “you can have a fake departure,” then everybody can go right back to dancing. Experience has taught us that psychologically speaking this is like slamming on the brakes on a large and fast moving train. It’s going to waste a lot of your very valuable time getting back up to speed, and some of your guests are simply going to jump off (i.e. leave). Other things to watch out for include asking the photographer the following:
Q: How much time will he/she use after the ceremony finishing up photos?
Q: Will the photographer take “action” photos at the reception?
Q: Does the bride and groom share some responsibility for photographs?