Tyler & Jen Friday, April 30, 2010

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How long should my party be ?

The formula for most parties is:  4 hours.  First hour is Cocktails.  Second hour is food.  At the end of the second hour we transition into the third with possibly  some interaction.  Then hours three and four are for dancing.  There are exceptions of course, but this is the norm most of the time.   For questions and more info e-mail me at Curtis@CurtisKnight.com.

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Curtis Knight Entertainment: Q&A

Please feel free to comment and/or ask additional questions!

Question:
I’ve heard that I should make a list of all the songs I want the DJ to play. Is that true?

Curtis Knight:
Yes and no. More No than Yes.

Nobody, and I mean Nobody, can predict what will make a crowd dance before the party happens. The best DJs on the planet will all tell you the same thing: You have to read the crowd and you have to “feel the vibe” or feel the electricity and figure out which way the mood is going as it changes all night.

The crowd may like a few disco songs…and really like them, then enough is enough and they are ready for something new. If the DJ does not “feel” this change in mood, then the crowd sits down and the dancing is over – possibly for the rest of the event.

Young DJ’s ask the seasoned pros if they have a secret “hit list” that they use at every event. The answer is always the same. The seasoned DJ will be friendly and explain that you never know what you are going to play until you size-up the crowd and feel their mood.

Many Brides and Grooms believe that they are supposed to pick the music for their reception. Most DJ companies will simply oblige and dutifully play what they have been told to play… but this usually means that there will be very little packed-dance-floor happening.

We coined a phrase years ago, and when it is appropriate I will use it in a meeting with a bride and groom: “If you pick your music in advance your friends and family will not dance.” It’s almost always true.

You might be able to hit the nail on the head and provide the perfect set list that will pack your floor all night. But the odds are against you. In most cases, it is best to give your DJ a list of songs that you would love to hear and tell him / her that you would love to hear them IF the DJ thinks they will work…and maybe add a small list of ones that you just gotta hear.

That’s fine ; )

Curtis Knight
Curtis Knight Entertainment
http://www.curtisknight.com


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The Timing of Your Wedding Day (“Throw Them Out!”)

I have seen trends in the wedding business change over the past 25 years.  One of the newer developments comes from magazines and hotels telling brides what the precise time allotment for their wedding day should be.

What is specifically alarming to me is that they frequently recommend a 6-hour package for wedding receptions – only – not including the wedding ceremony.  It is alarming – because it is crucial to end your wedding celebration … before everyone stops celebrating.   -)

A “wedding reception” is currently defined as your cocktail hour, dinner and dancing combined.  An example of the most popular timing for weddings, until recent years, has been to have your wedding ceremony at 5:30 ( at the church )  and your reception to follow from 7:00 – midnight.  This happened because the ceremony was always at the church.  And I do I mean always.

In the mid-1990’s brides began to have their ceremony “on site” – which means at their reception venue.  Wedding industry professionals have not yet come together and let people know the best timing solution for a ceremony on site.

The format I like to see is a total of 6 hours for an on-site wedding ceremony and wedding reception.  It works well like this:  The first 30 minutes are for music to be played while friends and family are arriving.  Pre-ceremony music is very important.  Don’t just dive in without it.

The next 30 minutes are for your wedding ceremony.

The following hour is for cocktails, while you are off doing pictures.  At the end of cocktails, is your grand entrance, first dance, blessing, toast, and dinner.  Ending at 6 hours from when your pre-ceremony music began will almost always time out perfectly.

It is of excruciating importance that you end your celebration before it begins to go south.  Every celebration, including yours, comes to a point where the energy has reached the top of the plateau, and begins to teeter over the edge … and head down the other side of mount happiness.  At this point, the dancing slows to a trickle with just a few couples, or even worse … nobody on the dance floor.

This coincides with the slow and steady mass exodus from your celebration.  Two by two, they keep waiting for their chance when there is no one actively saying goodbye to you.  They seize the moment, leaping from their chairs to try and get to you before any one of the other pooped and droopy couples do.

Sometimes, while this is happening a tipsy newlywed couple will come to me and ask “how much for another hour?”  Instead of asking where they have been for the past hour, I gently inform them, that now is the time to say good night and release their guests.  These guests had great food, great drinks, great dancing, great everything.  Now, they are exhausted and fatigue is threatening to force them off the road on the way home.  It’s important to end your wedding day – before – your guests get to that point … before they are sneaking out, or passing out … before …

Plan that your reception will end while your guests are still dancing and having a great time- because that is how they will remember your wedding day.

Here are three very important words – a mantra that I repeat over and over to brides and grooms while planning their celebration, “THROW THEM OUT!”  Before the party has a chance to go the other way – throw them out – and they will remember your celebration as one of the great ones!!

For a wedding reception with no ceremony on site, the best duration is 5 hours.  When the ceremony is on site, 6 hours (with the first 30 minutes filled with pre-ceremony music) is ample time.

If, when it is time for your final dance of the celebration, no one has left and you can feel the electricity in the room, then okay, you may want to dare to try another 30 minutes at a time and see how your guests are holding up.  But do not take the advice of the hotels and magazines that have you start with a 6-hour package for your reception only.  It will most likely end your celebration on a low note.  Tell them you want 5 hours and will let them know on the “day of” if you think it’s best to add more time.

Curtis Knight
Curtis Knight Entertainment
http://www.curtisknight.com

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, check out our FAQ section at:

http://www.curtisknight.com/faqs.html

Kids at Your Wedding

In the years that I have performed at weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, I have come to realize that an important factor in determining the success of an event is often overlooked – or, at least, not given the attention that it deserves: the age of the guests.  Should there be an age minimum at your wedding?

This is an important decision when planning your celebration, so take a moment to consider the implications carefully.

If you want unbridled, reckless abandon from your wild, sweaty guests on the dance floor … perhaps, it’s not the right event for children to attend.

There are great kids out there, and there are some great parents that get along really well with them; however, the odds that all of the families you invite to your celebration will have that kind of bond are … probably not too good.

There is a time and place for a family-oriented celebration. Usually, this is outdoors with lots of different things going on at once: like swimming, horse-shoes, badminton, volleyball, face-painting, etc.  If this is the case, then bring the kids, and everyone can have a blast together.

At the vast majority of weddings, however, the kids tend to run around the room trying to unload some of their large reservoirs of energy.  Also (and you need to know this), they are likely to beg your DJ – relentlessly – to play the terrible music, with the horrific lyrics and demonic content – from the very beginning of your cocktail hour, all the way through dinner – thus derailing your seasoned professional and taking him / her out of “the zone.”  That zone is defined as being completely focused on the bride and groom, and trying to pick up the vibe in the room, so as to pack the dance floor.

From the DJ’s perspective, when we arrive at a wedding … and we see children beginning to arrive as well … we won’t run and hide until the wedding is over, but we do know that your wedding day may not be all that you had imagined.

We already know there will not be a jam-packed dance floor.  There will be no frenzied wild time – with a sea of bodies moving up and down as one – everyone screaming at the top of their lungs; and we know that some families are likely to end up in so much conflict that the entire family will leave early.

To synopsize: if you want to provide your guests with a packed and wild dance floor, it may be best to leave the children with responsible babysitters – so that you and your guests are completely free to act like a bunch of crazy, wild, fun loving kids. 🙂

Curtis Knight
Curtis Knight Entertainment
http://www.curtisknight.com


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Should I book my DJ for extra time?

Curtis Knight Entertainment: Q&A

Please feel free to comment and/or ask additional questions!

Question:
Should I book my DJ for extra time – just in case?

Curtis Knight:

We think not. Shorter is almost always better than longer when it comes to the length of an event.

Our overtime ( $50 / half-hour per DJ – $100 / hour per DJ ) costs the same in advance as it does on the day of your event. So we recommend that you commit to an appropriate amount of time, and then add overtime in increments of a half-hour.

If you want the celebration to continue, we are happy to stay as long as you like (and we have often done events where they continue celebrating for as much as 4 hours of overtime).

Curtis Knight
Curtis Knight Entertainment
http://www.curtisknight.com


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Advice about working with DJs?

Curtis Knight Entertainment: Q&A

Please feel free to comment and/or ask additional questions!

Question:
Do you have any advice about working with DJs?

Curtis Knight:
The first time you meet your DJ you should feel a positive reaction, and find the DJ … likable.

The DJ should give you a sense of confidence that s/he is the right choice. If your first impulse is a negative one, be wary, and ask to meet another DJ if you can. If you have already hired a DJ, he or she should be a consummate pro, we hope.

Once the pleasantries are over, ask the DJ if s/he has a basic bullet-list of the event – a thumbnail sketch. This is where you may catch something that you like or dislike, and it is a great time to address it and change the direction to one that suits you better.

Sometimes just a basic run-through will add so much order and so much clarity to the event, that it is the difference between success and failure.

Most DJs are natural crowd pleasers. They want to make you happy. If you tell them exactly what you thinking about, then ask their opinion, they will tell you. This exchange of ideas is crucial. You and the DJ are a team of two, that has one mission: Please the group that will attend your event! If the flow of two sets of ideas is embraced, it is likely to produce an enjoyable event.

Curtis Knight
Curtis Knight Entertainment
http://www.curtisknight.com


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