Believe it or not, planing a special event can be a daunting and challenging task. In fact, most people only plan two or three special events in their entire lifetime.
Most of us have been to very fun, successful events, and we’ve also been to events that are dreary and boring, poorly attended, or just plain flops. At Everything Entertainment through the years we’ve planned, coordinated and performed at literally thousands of special events.
Please give us a call at (800) 311-MY DJ or fill out our contact form with any additional questions you may have. We have access to professional event planners that can help guide you ceate a successful and memorable event.
Event Planning Tips
Through it all, the most successful and non-successful events all share common characteristics, and the collection of tips below are the culmination of decades of experiences working within the DJ and entertainment events industry, and what we’ve learned from them all. While we could easily write a separate web page containing the nuances with for every event type that we cater to (and we probably will at some point), we hope that this information can provide you with some great general advice and ideas on how to make your next event a huge success!
It’s all about the Venue
Reserve a great venue that is the right size. A top notch venue to hold your event should be a top priority. You can expect to pay from $1000 to $3500 for a banquet room rental at a resort, hotel or banquet facility. If you use their in-house catering, the room price is often “comped” at a discount or is given to you completely for free.
The best room for an event is a single large room (as opposed to a multi-room facility) that has the bar and the dance floor integrated inside the room. The room needs to be the right size for your event . . . not so large that it is cavernous, nor too small where your guests are stacked on top of each other. The room should be genuinely beautiful, requiring little decoration. Most importantly, the facility needs to be in an appealing location that is more attractive and beautiful than where your guests live. What guest would like to leave their breezy, scenic waterfront home to come spend an afternoon with you in a dark, muggy basement of a church or community center?
Choose a room that is warm and impresses as you enter; indoor/outdoor venues with patios or verandas with views are always pleasing.
The day of the week matters too..
Unless this is an educational or mid-week corporate event, it generally makes sense to have your event on a Saturday night. You will have to pay more for your room rental, but it is worth it. If your food and beverage budget is high enough, the room will be comped for free anyway. If not a Saturday night, have it (in order) on a Friday night, a Sunday night, a Saturday afternoon and finally a Sunday afternoon. If you have an event on Saturday night, your guests should have plenty of time to prepare for your event, arrive on time and they usually plan to spend their entire evening with you. We would recommend a ceremony start time of 5pm or 6pm, with your event to follow. This allows your ceremony to be outside (or inside) during daylight hours, yet it will be dark when dancing starts later in the evening.
For Friday night events, plan for a late start to your ceremony, as your guests may have difficulty arriving on time due to horrendous Friday rush hour traffic, especially for events in Washington DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Baltimore areas. Sunday night events, in spite of popular misconceptions, are very well attended and guests tend to stay late (they would much rather dance and party than think about going to work on Monday).
All afternoon events are much more low key, as guests do not usually party much, rarely dance (usually because of the bright daylight and time of day) and often leave early to go and do other things that night.
Make sure your venue offers plenty of free parking for your guests, as they may resent having to walk long distances or paying for valet parking. At the most elite venues, valet parking is customary and is to be expected, but in any event it may be considered more polite to indicate the additional expense to your guests beforehand.
Hire a great caterer
It’s not unexpected to pay in the region of $35+ a person for each guest at your event and that should include their food (usually quoted at $18 to $26 a person), the service, gratuity (typically 18%) and the sales tax. Often all the linens, china, silverware, coffee and water service and decorations are included in this price. Having a top shelf caterer is priceless, as their food will most likely be outstanding, and their service will be great and memorable.
Depending on the type of event such as a fundraiser or charity event, one idea for gaining a better percentage of RSVP’s is to place the name of the venue and caterer on your invitations.
Another point to remember: if you cut corners on catering, you are not fooling anyone. If budget is of concern, hire a top shelf caterer and invite fewer guests.
Be considerate to your guests
Arrive to your event on time and stay there front and center. In our experience, arriving late irritates your guests who are waiting on you at your own event, especially if they have skipped lunch that day and are waiting for you to open the buffet!
Hire a professional event photographer.
There really is no substitute for experience and professionalism, and guess what? It costs money. A great wedding or event photographer has a fabulous portfolio, an easy to navigate online photo gallery, always dresses professionally and is able to work easily with your event staff and guests to get the best shots and visuals. If you can afford it pay them extra to hire them for the entire day. We have experienced things like bouquet tosses happen in the middle of formal sit down dinners and “faked” cake cuttings just because the photographer is off contract at 7pm. Some of the best shots come later at night as the event develops.
We have also unfortunately witnessed very formal events being shot by photographers in blue jeans and (ugly-looking) baseball caps. Embarrassing to say the least. Ask your photographer how they AND their assistant dress for formal events. Put the style of dress on their contract and let them know what you expect.
If you have a tight budget for photography, a good idea is to hire a great professional photographer for an all-day shoot, and purchase a smaller photo package up front. Everything Entertainment has worked with some of the top award-winning wedding and event photographers in Washington, DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Baltimore, and we’d be happy to make an introduction on your behalf.
Hire the best professional DJ company…
Llike Everything Entertainment! 🙂 A typical special event (like a wedding) is running you in total anywhere from $1000 to $5000 an hour, so why have your guests leave early because of sub-par entertainment? Hiring a quality professional DJ, MC entertainment company will help you plan and coordinate an event that moves at a good pace and so your guests are informed and involved in the formalities of the evening.
Your play & song lists and other announcements can be worked out in advance so your event flows smoothly and the tone and ambiance of your event is enhanced by the styles of music and specific selections as per your request.
If you go with a quality string ensemble for your event ceremony, or a live band to compliment your DJ, only the very best and highly-talented will do. Professional wedding and entertainment bands in Maryland, Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Baltimore typically start from around $2500 a night, and are worth every penny.
Everything Entertainment has event packages that includes DJs, dancers, motivators, live bands, string ensembles, jazz combos, rock string quartets, photographers, videographers, pro lighting, novelties & lots more!
Not to long, not too short.
Plan for a 3-5 hour event (adding an additional hour for wedding ceremony). Most weddings events in the region run between 4-6 hours total time.
A wedding ceremony typically is 30 minutes for the Prelude (seating music), 20 minutes for the ceremony and 10 minutes for the Postlude (after you walk back down the aisle).
A corporate event typically consists of a 30 to 60 minute cocktail hour, 90 minutes for dinner, 60 minutes for toasts, cake and formal dances, then one to two hours of dancing.
Why double-down? (Weddings)
For weddings, arrange for mobile flower arrangements that can be transported. Work with your favorite florist to develop floral arrangements that can be used at your ceremony, then easily moved to decorate your event site. There are many options for arrangements in stands and baskets.
This tip could save you a substantial amount of money not just on the cost of decorating two locations with flower arrangements, but can be applied to other event novelties and items as well.
Host beer and wine. (Adult-only events)
While it can be deemed expensive to host a full bar, and doing so also has the potential to encourage your guests to get more inebriated than desired for a comfortable for an elegant event, dry events are pretty rare and often result in guests leaving early, either out of boredom, or to go to a nearby bar to get their favorite alcoholic beverage.
Just be perfectly clear (disclaimer) — we aren’t here to encourage or discourage the use of alcohol — all we know is that statistically over the course of thousands of events, events that are dry or have a no-host bar often end 1-3 hours earlier than those with hosted beer and wine. We have seen dry events end as early as just 1 hour. Basically, if you are planning a dry event, arrange to leave early because your event WILL end early, EVERY TIME and without exception.
Eat first, then greet your guests. (Weddings & Ceremonies)
Instead of a receiving line that takes an enormous amount of time to chat with every guest individually, better to get things going. Arrange for a 30 minute to 60 minute cocktail hour, make your “Grand Entrance” half way through the cocktail hour, then open the buffet line with your wedding or event party. Since you are the first through the line, you will be the first done eating AND have a chance to eat in peace, as your guests will be waiting to get in line. Once you are finished with your dinner, walk around and great your beloved guests one table at a time! This allows you to potentially greet eight to ten people at once, while the event continues to move along at a good pace.
By speaking with your guests proactively, they won’t feel as inclined to seek you out later or as they leave for “one on one” interaction. If you have 250 guests and speak with each one for only one minute each, that takes up 4 hours of your event, which is completely impracticable.
Shots and Champagne. (Any event)
Only pour champagne for toasts, and shots featuring your favorite top shelf for guests drink them! We have witnessed hundreds of glasses of champagne and shots poured for toasts, only to see dozens of glasses left untouched on the tables and disposed of later in the night. Why?? A lot of people don’t like champagne (or shots) and will not drink it even if it’s FREE and placed directly in front of them.
It is better to have the bartender pour a few dozen glasses at the bar and the DJ or MC announce that the toast will be “With whatever drink you have in your hand.” The DJ can instruct your guests to go to the bar to freshen their beverage or pick up a glass of champagne or shot if they so wish. This little tip can save you hundred or more in wasted liquor, champagne and/or corkage fees.
Do your toast and your cake cutting together. (Weddings & Ceremonies)
Many professional photographers prefer to shoot the toasts at the cake table, as it’s a considered a very photogenic and decorated location. Once the last toast is completed, it is a good idea for the groom to greet the guests and thank them for traveling so far to spend your special day with you. As soon as that is done, the DJ can slide on a nice background song, and you can cut your event cake while you have everyone’s attention. It is good to then wait at least 20 minutes before your formal dances so the caterer can cut and serve the cake to your guests. The best time for your first dance is while everyone is sitting at their table eating your yummy special event cake!
Pre arrange help with clean up! (All event types)
Arrange for the caterer and family to wrap up the event. A good caterer will handle the venue clean up and a really good event planner will make arrangements for family members to clear out all the event presents, flowers and leftover food and beverage.
Many brides have been asked the question “What do you regret the most about your event day?” after their event was over and they had time to reflect. The most common answers are brides didn’t feel they had quiet time with their new husband to reflect on their event ceremony and that they didn’t have enough time to talk with their guests and enjoy their event. They were too busy running the show in pursuit of the “perfect event” — but what good is a perfect event if you don’t get to enjoy it?
Best wishes on your special day, we hope that the above tips for a great DJ event make a difference. And of course, don’t forget that Everything Entertainment is here to help you with all your DJ entertainment services in Washington, DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Baltimore.
Feel free to call us at (800) 311-MYDJ or fill out our contact form to get help with planning your next event today!