Making the Most of Wedding Shows and Expos in the Hudson Valley

Whether you are recently engaged and just starting your wedding planning, or you have set a date and are looking for professional vendors to make your Hudson Valley wedding truly unique, a high quality wedding show can be an important–and fun–part of the wedding planning process.

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Surprise Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Surprise Photography

As the owner of Spinning with Style, your professional wedding DJ service in the Hudson Valley, I, DJ Bri Swatek, have participated in a number of wedding expos over the years.  I would offer the following tips to brides and grooms planning to spend a few hours taking it all in at their next local wedding show:

Bring Your Wedding Team!

Wedding shows can be very overwhelming, as you will meet a variety of vendors offering many different services in different ways.  Bring along friends and / or family members who you know will enjoy the experience with you and be helpful to you throughout the show.

Take Notes.

Assign one of your Wedding Team members to take notes for you, especially if you are already keeping a wedding journal or notebook of some kind.  Spend your time as a bride or groom talking with vendors directly, and ask your family and friends to write down responses that you found interesting, so that you can review these notes later when visiting vendors’ websites or setting up meetings.

Hudson Valley Wedding Cake Cutting at the Links at Union Vale Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios

Hudson Valley Wedding Cake Cutting at the Links at Union Vale Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl’s Eye Studios

Protect Your Privacy.

Most wedding shows will ask you to register in order to win a prize.  In addition, many of the vendors at the wedding expo will also ask you to register at their booths for their individual prizes.  Decide in advance what phone number, address, and / or email address you want to provide, as vendors will be contacting you after the show to discuss your wedding plans further.  Many brides and grooms set up a unique email address just for their wedding planning process, to keep emails with vendors separate from their work-related or personal messages.

Stickers Save Time.

Bring two types of stickers to wedding shows.  First, prepare labels in advance so that you do not have to fill out vendors’ cards for further information and / or prize giveaways.  Be sure to provide information on these labels that directs vendors as to how you want to be contacted.  If you prefer a certain email address or phone number be used, make sure to include it.  Second, bring along a fun or silly sticker (such as a gold star or smiley face) to note which vendors you felt you connected with when discussing your wedding.  After visiting with a vendor that you particularly liked, ask one of your Wedding Team members to place a sticker on the vendor’s brochure, business card, or other provided information.  This note to yourself about your first impressions will be invaluable in the weeks to come when you are deciding which vendors from the show you want to speak with further.

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of EID Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of EID Photography

Ask Questions.

Most wedding vendors are prepared at a wedding expo to answer your questions about pricing, packages or options, and the availability of their services for your wedding date.  However, one of the most important questions you can ask a vendor at a wedding show is “who will I be working with on my wedding day?”  If the sales representative at the booth is not the actual wedding professional you would be working with, find out how and when you would be able to meet that person prior to your wedding day.  As always, insist on the best for yourself—hire and work with full-time wedding professionals who will provide personal attention to you throughout the wedding process.

Buyer Beware.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If a price is too low, find out what is (or isn’t) included.  Don’t feel rushed into making a decision simply due to a special offer or prize.  Don’t be afraid to ask if the vendor is a full-time wedding professional.  Don’t be afraid to ask for references from a vendor’s previous customers.

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Vivian Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Vivian Photography

Enjoy the Show!

Most wedding expos provide food samples and a fashion show.  Make sure to see and experience what you want that day, and make sure to have fun!

In the Hudson Valley, the many venues offer excellent wedding shows throughout the year.  Check out the following venues’ websites on a regular basis to get the latest on their upcoming wedding expos:

Anthony’s Pier 9

The Garrison and Highlands Country Club

The Grandview

The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel

The Links at Union Vale

West Hills Country Club

In addition, “DJ Bri’s Blog:  Your Unique Hudson Valley Wedding,” features links to highly recommended Hudson Valley wedding venues, caterers, photographers, videographers, florists, transportation, and more.  All of the vendors recommended on my blog are professionals that I have worked with closely over the years, who I know will provide the very best in service for your wedding day.

Congratulations,

Bri

__________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email:   briswatek@gmail.com
Phone:  845.235.0080
Online:   www.djbriswatek.com

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Advice on Avoiding Family “Drama” on Your Wedding Day

Worried about family “drama” on your wedding day?  Here’s some great advice (as always) courtesy of Judy Lewis from www.HudsonValleyWeddings.com.  In her latest Hudson Valley Magazine article as “The Wedding Guru” Judy addresses this very concern:

http://www.hvmag.com/Blogs/The-Wedding-Guru/March-2010/Mallory-in-the-Middle/index.php

While the specific issue in Judy’s article is about divorced parents, her advice about planning and communication could apply to any family concern that a bride and groom are worried about leading up to their wedding day. 

As the owner of Spinning with Style, I, DJ Bri Swatek, am sometimes faced with a very similar situation before announcing the Grand Entrance introductions into the Reception.  I always recommend that my brides and grooms create a well thought-out plan in advance of the wedding and that they keep the lines of communication open with their family about these plans.  Your family members may not always be able to agree on every aspect of your wedding plans, and–especially in a divorce or separation situation–they may not always be happy with one another, but given planning and communication, everyone should be able to be happy for the bride and groom on their big day!

________________________________________________________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your Professional Disc Jockey and MC Service
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email:   briswatek@aol.com
Phone:   845.235.0080
Online:   www.djbriswatek.com

What Is “Typical” Wedding Music? (What to ask for or avoid in planning your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists!)

What is “typical” wedding music?

What music should you either ask for or avoid when creating your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists?

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Spinning with Style Sarah Immel Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek Spinning with Style Courtesy of Sarah Immel Photography

Music Sets the Tone

As the owner of DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style, I know that choosing music for a wedding is a matter of personal taste.  In choosing songs for your wedding day, you want to find titles and artists that reflect your own personal style as a couple.  From the grand entrance to the last dance, the music you choose (or choose to avoid) sets the tone for your event as much as the venue, the food, the flowers, etc.

Most of us know what we like in terms of music.  How does the playlist on our iPod fit into a wedding?  Also, what other lists of songs should a couple consider when planning music for their wedding day?

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding First Dance at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl’s Eye Studios Photography

Must Play and Do Not Play Lists

When you put in the time and effort to plan a truly unique wedding that actively involves your friends and family throughout the festivities, filling the dance floor will be a natural part of your wedding day.  Your friends and family want to celebrate your marriage, and getting up and dancing is one of the best ways to do so!

We all have music that we personally love–and music we can’t stand to hear.  Our iPods, computers, and phones are full of our favorite songs that we like to “listen” to.  But how does this music translate to “dancing” at a wedding?

One question I often encourage my couples to ask is, “who are all these other people at our wedding, besides the two of us?”  What about your family and friends?  It may seem like an obvious question, but when you begin to make your Must Play and Do Not Play Lists, it’s easy to lose sight of your friends and family.  What music do you think that they will get up and dance to?

As a professional wedding DJ in the Hudson Valley, NY, over the year it has been my experience that a short, specific list of 10-15 songs is a good length for a “Must Play” List.  A 10 or 15 song “Must Play” List leaves room for a professional DJ to read the crowd and take guest requests at your wedding reception.  Your “Do Not Play” List should also be no longer than 10-15 songs — just long enough to acknowledge the types of music or specific songs you would like to avoid on your big day.

It’s important to strike a balance between the songs you love the most and songs that will give your guests an opportunity to dance to the music they know and love as well.  If your Must Play List is full of music only you know (and your guests are not familiar with or don’t like), they won’t have the opportunity to help you celebrate on your wedding day by dancing.  Similarly, if you fill your Do Not Play List with all of the most requested, most popular songs that people expect to hear at a wedding, your guests might be disappointed at your event.  No one wants an empty dance floor at their wedding!

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl's Eye Studios Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at the Grandview Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Owl’s Eye Studios Photography

“Listening” vs. “Dancing” Music

For titles and artists you truly love, but can’t see anyone dancing to on your big day, consider times such as cocktail hour, your entrances, dinner, and cake cutting to share your favorite “listening” music with your family and friends.  Also, if you know that a unique “dancing” selection is important to a particular person or group, indicate that on your wedding planning paperwork, so the song can be played at the right moment with the right people there to enjoy it.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Party Classics

Oftentimes, my couples will ask me for the same list of songs for two very different reasons:  they want to make sure that their family and friends can enjoy certain songs that they know and love, but at the same time, they want to avoid titles or artists that they personally dislike.  Phrases such as “typical,” “usual,” “cheesy,” “non-cheesy,” “party classics,” “fun,” and “wedding music” can all be used positively or negatively for this very same list of songs, depending on your point of view!

All of my couples at DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style receive comprehensive song lists featuring “classic” wedding selections from the 1940s to today’s hits, as well as “current” music that is popular now.  The classic song list is continually updated based on notes I gather after each wedding I DJ, and is organized into a variety of categories to make wedding planning easy.  The current song list is updated regularly as well, based on the radio-edited pop, rock, hip hop, dance, Latin, and country music I receive each month from Promo Only, “The Industry’s Complete Source for Music.”

These lists are extremely comprehensive and offer a variety of ideas for wedding planning.  But what about something simpler?  What if you want to quickly identify the “typical” music that guests often hear and request at a wedding–either to add to your Must Play List or your Do Not Play List?

A great song list that I share with my couples comes courtesy of Mobile Beat magazine, an industry resource written by and for Mobile Entertainers, including Wedding DJs.  The list is called the “Mobile Beat 200,” and can be found online here at www.mobilebeat.com.

The “Mobile Beat 200” is based on all of the requests given to thousands of DJs by their customers in advance of their wedding, party, or event.  As such, it’s often described by my customers as a real “love it or hate it” list–because so many types of events around the country are represented on this list, any couple is sure to find at least a few songs for both their Must Play and Do Not Play Lists here, if not more.

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

Hudson Valley Wedding Dance Party at Dutchess Manor Set to Music by DJ Bri Swatek Courtesy of Allan E Levine Photography

“The Dance Floor Was Packed All Night Long!”

Every wedding is unique, and so is every group of friends and family.  Songs that work at one event may not work at another.  Must Play and Do Not Play Lists are incredibly important tools that you can use to tell your DJ in advance what types of music you think your friends and family will enjoy, and what songs you do not want to hear.  Finding a balance between showcasing your unique style as a couple and taking your guests’ taste in music into consideration will ensure that the dance floor will be packed all night long.  By considering your own personal tastes, as well as who is coming to your wedding and what music you think those family members and friends would love to hear (or avoid), you can create a wedding day that reflects your unique style as a couple–a celebration of your marriage set to a soundtrack of the music you love the most!

Congratulations,

Bri

__________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your DJ for Your Unique Style
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email:   briswatek@gmail.com
Phone:  845.235.0080
Online:   www.djbriswatek.com

Recommended Reading for Brides and Grooms

There are a lot of great guides out there to help brides and grooms plan their wedding.  In fact, a trip to the book store or an online search of the subject can be a little overwhelming! 

 

If you want to be both realistic and creative in planning your wedding, I highly recommend you read Peter Merry’s book, The Best Wedding Reception Ever!™

 

Peter Merry is a disc jockey and wedding entertainment industry innovator, based in California.  While Peter Merry does reflect on entertainment’s role at a wedding, the book is an overall guide to planning your entire wedding, from setting a date to hiring vendors to the big day itself.

 

As a full-time mobile DJ and MC, I feel that Peter Merry’s book provides brides and grooms with a chance to focus their vision in terms of planning their wedding event. It is possible to be both realistic and creative and to spend wisely without cutting corners. However, planning and research are essential in order to create an outstanding, memorable experience for your friends and family on your wedding day.

 

Peter Merry’s example weddings and lists of pros and cons provide brides and grooms with a number of realistic examples of how their planning might turn out given different choices you might make. His years of experience as a “Wedding Entertainment Director” allow him to address a variety of options, such as the daytime wedding vs. the evening wedding, scheduling a wedding at different times throughout the year, when and how to schedule photos, and what type of entertainment to hire.

 

With weddings costing tens of thousands of dollars and taking one to two years to plan, reading a few books and articles on how to invest your time and money only makes sense. I highly recommend you include The Best Wedding Reception Ever!™  by Peter Merry as one of these pieces of research. It’s certainly the kind of book that will get a bride and groom (and their family and friends) talking about their ideas for their wedding day.

 

The Best Wedding Reception Ever!™ by Peter Merry is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

 

________________________________________________________

DJ Bri Swatek, Spinning with Style
Your Professional Disc Jockey and MC Service
in the Hudson Valley of New York

Email: briswatek@aol.com
Phone: 845.235.0080
Online: www.djbriswatek.com