Interviewing the DJ

I mentioned last week that our DJ search was at a minor stand-still. One of the problems I was running into was that each time I did a Google search, the top results were often the most popular results. They were usually the most popular because they were large, had a lot of DJs, and sometimes even had more than one location.

But that's not really the type of DJ we want.

We want a DJ that's a little smaller, younger, fresher. Someone who shares our taste in music and our philosophy on DJing (play good music, keep your mouth shut).

I found a DJ through my photographer's blog, and after extensively scouring their website, I decided to contact them.

Tonight, Ryan and I will hold our initial consultation over the phone (they usually do them in Chicago, but it might be a while before we're back in that area). Here is a list of questions I've compiled that one should ask a prospective DJ...
  • Will we be able to meet with our chosen DJ before the wedding?
  • How long has your company been in business?
  • Have you played at our reception site before?
  • Does your company focus primarily on weddings?
  • How would you describe your M.C. style?
  • Do you have flashy lights or disco balls?
  • What happens if our DJ is sick?
  • Does the cocktail hour cost extra?
  • May we provide our DJ with a "play" and "do not play" list?
  • Is set-up and tear-down time included in the cost?
  • Do you bring backup equipment with you to the reception?
  • Does the DJ require a meal?
  • Will the DJ self-promote with banners or business cards?
Some of these are total "givens" and some of these are preferences, but it's a good start to figuring out if the DJ you're interviewing will mesh well with the event you're planning.

Or else you run the risk of ending up with this guy...


Meals, Money, and Confusion

Ryan and I sat down and went through our budget yesterday. He wanted to calculate the cost of food and alcohol, because he thought my estimate was too high.


So I went through the menus and read him the prices...
$5.25 pp - three hors dourves per person
$3.00 pp - giving our guests a choice in meal
$55.00 pp - chicken or steak
$31.00 pp - basic open bar
$5.00 pp - cake

All that for our required 200 guests = a lot of money.

But then came our debate. I told Ryan that it didn't matter what meal people chose... we would be charged for the most expensive of the two options. (For example, if 50% of the guests chose chicken, and 50% chose steak, we would still be charged for 100% steak.)

Ryan asked "why?" I said, "that's just how receptions work."

But he didn't believe me. And when I tried to find proof amongst our contracts and information packets, I couldn't.

Did I just make that up? He made me start to question this little thought that had been ingrained in my brain all along.

Sure, it would be greeeeat if we actually got to pay for what people ate. That would save us over $500. But I somehow doubt that I just fabricated this idea all on my own.


Now Accepting Applications

How on earth is a person supposed to choose a DJ?

This seems to be the most difficult decision I've faced thus far in planning.

They all sound the same! Why is that? Oh, yes... because they are all playing the same music.

I mean, how hard is this? Show up, set up, introduce us, play what I tell you to play, don't play what I tell you not to play, get paid. Sounds simple.

I don't know anyone who has gotten married in the Chicago suburbs, so I don't have anyone to get recommendations from. Whenever I do a Google search or look at the DJs on the Knot, I just end up confused.

I think I should just put out there what I want and how much I want to pay for it. And all the area DJs should have a bidding war over us (because, seriously... our wedding is going to rock. I'm pretty sure everyone will want to be a part of it).

Once upon a time, I thought this decision would be easy. I found a DJ company that shall go unnamed, and immediately fell in love with their philosophy and playlists. But when I contacted them, they said my date was already completely booked up.

What. Seriously?! I guess I have to put them out of my mind.

I emailed our photographer this morning asking if he had any suggestions. When I received a reply a couple hours later, I was excited. It's pretty much a guarantee that whoever he suggests will automatically be a finalist.

Well... guess who he recommended.

That's right... the exact same company I was trying to forget.



My Gocco Arrived!

The last time I talked about Gocco, I was trying to decide whether or not to buy one. My mom thought I was crazy. "How much money will this really save?" she asked.

But then she uttered that one little phrase that make it all better: "It's your wedding. Do what you want."

So I bought it!

Sure, I could probably design something and have it printed at Kinkos, but then it wouldn't look as cool. And, sure, I could probably design something and have someone else print it, but then it would be expensive. So I see this as a happy medium.

The moment it arrived on my front door, I wanted to bust that sucker open and start printing! Too bad I don't have anything designed yet. We don't even have our colors finalized yet.

So my pretty little Gocco will just sit in the corner until I can convince Ryan it is not too early to start making Save-the-Dates. (It's really not!)


Second-Guessing our Colors

Even though Ryan and I never officially decided on our colors, I was maybe kinda sorta walking around telling everyone they were navy blue, yellow, and gray. Like... bridesmaids, family members, dress consultants, complete strangers...

What? So sue me!

But last week, I had a change of heart.

I was organizing my wedding binder and I found a bunch of magazine clippings featuring centerpieces and bouquets I thought were pretty. Almost every single photo had pink flowers in it. I imagined holding a yellow bouquet against my ivory dress. I imagined our yellow centerpieces against the ivory tablecloths and white walls at our reception venue. And it all just felt so blah.

And then I imagined this...

It's classy and fun, without being too girly. It has just the right amount of color to really stand out in our blank-canvas of a reception hall.

I'm thinking navy blue or gray bridesmaid dresses, gray tuxes, and pink flowers. Sounds perfect.

(Note: I just now realized that our original colors were the exact same as the IKEA colors. No wonder I was so attached to them!)


This is Way Too Easy

The ease of our wedding planning to date is making me extremely nervous.

There's no way it should be this easy.

Case in point...

Hair and Makeup
My mom was at her hair appointment with our long-time stylist, Amy. She asked if Amy would be available to do my hair for my wedding. Amy loved the idea, wrote it on her calendar, and offered to do hair and makeup for everyone!

Hotel Block
We drove past a hotel in my hometown this past weekend. We stopped in to check it out. It was large, secluded, and practically empty. My mom reserved the rooms this afternoon.

Wedding Dress and Veil
Picked out and ordered after one afternoon and two bridal shops.

Signed the contract after meeting him in person at our home in Indiana.

If the rest of our wedding planning goes this smoothly, I'm looking at an extremely laid-back 12 months.


The Dress Reveal

I showed you all the reject dresses from this weekend's shopping excursion.

I present you now with THE dress...

Justin Alexander 8349

You didn't think I would show you myself in the dress, did you? Ha! I don't think so. A) Ryan reads this blog, and I'm determined to keep it hidden from him as long as possible, and B) It's a bigger surprise for all of you when I finally reveal it on the big day (or... a couple days later...).

I didn't have one of those big giant "aha" moments where I cried or just knew it was THE dress. It was a careful process of elimination and deciding what I like. That said, I learned I'm a very decisive person about what I don't like. So that helped.

I think my mom, 3 aunts, and 2 cousins all agreed that it was the right dress for me. I couldn't be more thrilled with my purchase. It has the strapless drop-waist style I was looking for, and it fits like it was made for me. Plus, as an added surprise perk, we found it was way under budget. Score!

Plus! When I was trying on veils with the dress, I found one I really liked. The woman casually mentioned, "that veil is $99." What?! I've been reading horror stories from other blogs about $300 and $500 veils, and this gorgeous, silky, cathedral-length veil is only $99?! SOLD!

So thus ends my wedding dress shopping extravaganza. Now just 8 more months until I see the dress again (go faster, 8 months!).


Dress Shopping

This is the most exciting part of wedding planning, right?

I had dreams about dress shopping 3 days in a row last week. I went to 2 boutiques (2 of the only boutiques open during this holiday weekend!), and brought along my mom, 3 aunts, and 2 cousins.

So I'll cut right to the chase and present you with a ton of photos of rejected dresses...


Everyone loved this dress, but I insisted it made me look wide in all the wrong places. (The sales lady gave my cousin a tiara, which started a downward spiral into I-can't-wait-to-be-a-flower-girl-dom. It was adorable.)
(Kitty Chen)


This was our favorite from the first shop. I was seriously considering it when we left for our second appointment...
(Demetrios 3149)

The sales lady insisted I try on something that wasn't strapless. My family "Oooed" and "Ahhed", but I wasn't impressed...

This is just bad (you can tell by my face)...

The shape of this one looked really good on me, but it was just a little too average-looking...

This was a finalist (and my older cousin's absolute favorite). It was extremely elegant, and would have flattered anyone, but it was a little too plain...

And lastly, a close contender to the dress...

So did I find the dress? Yes! But more to come on that later...


They Said Yes!

I proposed to my bridesmaids via snail mail, so they all received their packages at different times.

Bridesmaid J got hers the morning of my birthday party, so when I saw her that night, she said yes. She followed it up with a "but I don't know what I'm doing" disclaimer. I told her no problem... I don't know what I'm doing either!

Maid of Honor C got hers a few days ago (she's been off jetsetting, so I had to mail it to her parents' house). I received a voicemail, "KELLLLYY! I got your package! Of course I'll be your Maid of..." "End of message. To repeat message, press 4." I laughed hard. She called me back the next morning and told me how she had teared up a little when she read the card. Awesome. Just the response I wanted!

Bridesmaid M hasn't gotten hers yet (that I know of). After her and her boyfriend broke up, I held off on sending the proposal package. It should have arrived a few days ago, but she doesn't have a mailing address... just a P.O. Box, so she may not have checked it yet. So now I just have to wait for that phone call.

I'm super excited to have 3 of my best friends there to celebrate this big day with me. I only wish that they were friends with eachother! Hopefully by the end of this process, they'll get to know one another better and they'll see what I love about each of them!

(Aren't these dresses super cute? Three bridesmaids in short, gray, non-matching dresses... this is totally the look I'll be going for!)

Edit: Only a couple hours after posting this, bridesmaid M left me an adorable voicemail telling me how much she loved me and of course she would be my bridesmaid. In case you're keeping count, that's 3 yeses.

Let the fun begin!
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