Category Archives: wedding planning tips

beautiful summer wedding with lighting and beautiful dance floor

9 Amazing Wedding Themes You’ll Love

Planning a wedding reception requires a good wedding planning guide and, in some cases, a wedding theme list. The latter is incredibly helpful if you’re a couple who wants to use a theme to start creating an atmosphere with details that are completely and entirely you.


We’d be remiss as Chicago wedding professionals if we didn’t include this nod to Chicago’s heritage on our wedding theme list. A jazz wedding theme can be as modern or as vintage as wanted. A more modern take may include record accents, unique lighting, and a jazzy playlist. For a more vintage wedding, consider reproducing the atmosphere of an old jazz club—even going as far as to recreate a speakeasy with card and poker tables.


A nautical or lakefront wedding theme is the perfect opportunity to enjoy all the perks of being on the lakefront. Picture a wedding at a popular lakefront venue, marina, or yacht club filled with an atmosphere in line with a day on the water. A nautical wedding theme is an opportunity plan the ultimate menu filled with your favorite local tastes and seafood dishes.


A retro or vintage wedding theme is a throwback event, complete with touches and a playlist reminiscent of a different era or time. This is a theme that can be as unique as the era you choose—especially when choosing your favorite touches from that period. Best yet, this wedding theme lends itself to a wedding dance filled with your favorite songs from that era. (Hire a wedding DJ or band that can make that happen.)


This is the perfect wedding theme for a Valentine’s Day wedding or for an intimate wedding reception. A romantic wedding theme can be as unique as the couple planning it: a neutral affair with upscale floral bouquets or late-night reception filled with roses and candles.

Fairy Tale

A fairy tale wedding brings the wonder of your fairy tale to life. This is your chance to make guests feel like they stepped into a vintage story book or a more modern version. In addition to wonderful décor, this is also a chance to incorporate the theme into the wedding dance with a royal wedding entrance and a fairy tale first wedding dance. (Your wedding DJ may have ideas as well, just ask.)


A rustic wedding can be as modern or as country, and as formal or casual, as you prefer. This wedding theme is filled with natural elements that exemplify the rustic atmosphere: wood, greenery, floral accents, and atmospheric lighting.


An urban wedding deserves a modern wedding venue with a completely urban feel. The planning should continue with every detail that lends to a feel of the wonder of the urban landscape.


A winter wedding includes the wonders of the season—what those wonders are is different for every couple. This is your chance to select your favorite parts of the season and incorporate it into a beautiful wedding atmosphere. The result can be a neutral affair that exudes a winter wonderland or a cozy setting with tones of the season.


A spring or summer wedding is an atmosphere with fresh details: floral, greenery, seasonal menu dishes, and all the beauty of the season. This is an occasion where fresh blooms and ingredients are expected and celebrated.

3 BIG New Years Resolution’s Every Bride & Groom-to-be MUST Make

engagement ringIf your holidays included one of those wonderful engagement stories we’ve been hearing about, it’s time to make a whole new New Year’s resolution: a wedding planning resolution.  (Or a whole set of wedding planning resolutions!)  Trust us: you’ll be glad you adopted one of these New Year’s resolutions when you’re enjoying the most important day of your life dancing the night away and loving every minute of it.

I will not procrastinate during wedding planning.

It’s so easy to see why this common wedding planning mistake happens: your wedding day seems far off, right? Don’t fall into the trap. Many a bride and groom has waited too long and missed out on booking their favorite DJ, caterer, or wedding venue.

How to fulfill this resolution: Don’t procrastinate when searching and hiring the wedding vendors that matter, such as the venue, DJ, caterer, and any other parts of your wedding that you really, really want (the best vendors’ calendars fill up fast!).  Once you have your ‘must haves’ booked, use a wedding planning calendar to make sure you get all your wedding planning tasks done on time.

I will think about those ‘what if’ wedding day situations.

We see this happen when couples book DJ’s: they hire that friend of a friend that’s going to give them a killer deal—without thinking about what’s going to happen if their friend gets sick.  The same thing can happen when they book an outdoor venue without a plan ‘B’ for the weather.  The list of possible disasters could go on and on if you don’t have a contingency plan (or hire a vendor with a plan).

How to fulfill this resolution: Be aware that things can go wrong, and think through possible contingency scenarios.  Have a plan B at your outdoor venue in case the weather goes bad.  Hire a wedding DJ service so you have a back-up DJ or equipment available just in case.  If you have any questions, ask your vendors about their plans for those ‘what if’ situations.

I will not just book the cheapest wedding vendors.

When your wedding budget is tight, it’s easy to feel that the cheapest is the best option.  However, you’re going to feel that on your wedding day when the cheapest vendors provide service that feels, well, cheap.

How to fulfill this resolution: If you have the budget to do so, don’t just automatically book the cheapest vendor.  Look for quality over cost.  That doesn’t mean you need to book the most expensive, but it does mean to do your research and book quality wedding vendors that can give you top-notch service.  If you want to save money on those quality vendors, use these tips to save money on wedding planning. In short, allocate more foods for the things that count: venue, entertainment, all the things that matter to you—and save money in other areas for a memorable night you’ll be glad you made a New Year’s resolution for!

5 Things You Shouldn’t Forget to Tell Your DJ

wedding guests dancing at great wedding reception after you gave all your information to the DJWe’ve seen a lot of wedding couples walk through the door in the Chicago area, and we have dealt with quite a few couples who came to our meeting ready to plan with documents and checklists.  While a good checklist of questions to ask your DJ never hurts, it doesn’t take a book the size of an novel to hire a good wedding DJ and get a wonderful wedding reception—as long as you give your DJ this vital information.

Contact info for your other vendors

A good wedding DJ is not a one-man (or woman) show; they are actually part of a team that makes your wedding reception a memorable occasion.  A good DJ works with your photographer, videographer, venue staff, and other key staff to make sure everyone is present for photographs and special moments.  If your wedding DJ doesn’t think this is part of their job, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and find a new, quality DJ.

What you don’t want to hear

It is perfectly okay to come to your planning meeting with your DJ with a ‘Do Not Play’ list—or to compile a list at the meeting.  Think of songs that bring back bad memories, songs you can’t stand, songs that your friends and family can’t stand, and any other songs that you don’t want to hear that night (it’s okay to not want to do the YMCA dance).  Your DJ should be happy to get the list, because it helps them prepare a customized list for your wedding dance (if they don’t put together a special play list for you, warning bells should go off). If you want to make your list extra special, give your DJ a second list with the special meaning behind songs on your ‘Do play’ list.

How to pronounce everyone’s names

Don’t make your DJ guess how to pronounce your name, or your parents, or the names of everyone in your bridal party.  Avoid any guffaws by giving your DJ a full list of special parties with pronunciations—even the names that should be easy to pronounce.

Volume restrictions

If there are restrictions on the volume of music or the length of your wedding dance, let your DJ know it.  Some wedding venues or communities have restrictions (and legal repercussions) on loud music, so it pays to do your homework and let everyone involved in your wedding reception know it.

Special requests

If you have a special request for your DJ, don’t wait until the night before your wedding reception to do it.  Mention any special requests at your initial consultation with your DJ, especially if they are above and beyond the “normal” DJ requests.  Not all DJ’s may be able to fulfill your request, and it’s better to find out earlier in your wedding planning than later so you can find a quality DJ that can make your wedding dance vision reality.

7 Money-Saving Wedding Hacks

wedding table with estomas flowers arrangement and candles how to save money during wedding planningWhen you’re crafting your wedding budget, the list of wedding expenses can get really, really long—and so can your desire to save money as you plan your wedding. It can be done, and done without your guests noticing if you’re smart about getting the most out of your wedding budget.

Prioritize your wedding budget.

What is really important to you and your fiance? Allocate the money in your wedding budget accordingly—and to areas that have the most impact. Your guests are most likely going to remember the setting, food, and fun they had at your wedding, so make those vendors your top priority. Your goal is to save money while still hosting a very special night, so make sure you don’t make price your only factor in choosing entertainment for your wedding reception. Your guests will thank you later—and you’ll avoid one of the top wedding regrets.

Ask about package deals.

When you contact your vendors, ask about package deals if you use one or more of their services. For example, if you want photo booths and a DJ at your reception, choose a DJ that offers both as a package deal. This not only consolidates your costs; it also consolidates your time researching and contacting vendors as you plan your wedding.

Schedule your wedding day off-season.

As long as you don’t schedule your wedding on a holiday, you’re likely to get cheaper rates for your venue and other vendors if you schedule your wedding during off season. Sorry, that means no June dates. Remember, even if you do plan your wedding during the less popular days of the year, make sure you book your vendors early to make sure you get the best wedding DJ, fantastic caterer, beautiful venue—all for a cheaper cost.

Get married on a Friday.

bride and guests having fun at wedding after enjoying planning wedding dayActually, you can get cheaper vendor rates for getting married any time between Sunday and Friday. Think of hosting a Friday evening wedding, a Saturday luncheon, a Sunday brunch, or weeknight fun to get discounted rates from your DJ, venue, and other wedding vendors.

Save on décor.

If you want to cut your church or reception décor costs, choose venues that don’t need a lot of décor. Consider venues with a fantastic view or beautiful atmosphere. Another tip for saving money on your décor is to select one venue for both your ceremony and reception so you can use the décor for both parts of your big day. Holding your wedding at one venue also eliminates transportation costs.

Be creative with your cake—by not having one.

If you haven’t been dreaming about your wedding cake all your life, or you really don’t care for cake, ask your fiance about alternative ideas for a wedding desert. For a brunch style wedding, order a pancake-layered cake or donuts that you can make into a beautiful display. Hosting a summer picnic? Simplify with a selection of summer pies, or pumpkin pies for a fall wedding. Macaroons and cake pops can also make a sweet impact on your guests. We’ve even seen pictures of cookies, truffles, and candies that looked absolutely sweet. One couple even had their guests bring deserts for a pot luck effect; the guests were exchanging recipes and sweets. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you actually save money on your non-cake alternative.

Don’t go nuts on the wedding favors.

Wedding favors are a sweet gesture, but make sure that you’re reasonable when placing your order. Not all of your guests are going to take your wedding favors, so don’t order an extreme amount of wedding favors for the occasion. To save more money, keep your choice of favors simple to keep the cost of your wedding favors low.

4 Wedding Planning Tips for a Less-Stress New Year

bride and guests having fun at wedding after enjoying planning wedding dayThe excitement of getting engaged shouldn’t end when wedding planning begins. After all, your wedding shouldn’t be a stressful day, and neither should the wedding planning leading up to it. After you’re done making New Year’s resolutions about your health and finances, make a resolution to enjoy your wedding planning—that’s right, enjoy (gasp!)—and go through the planning process without all the stress and drama traditionally associated with wedding planning.

We will not go all “bride-zilla.”

It’s okay to be excited about getting married (especially if you’re excited about who you are marrying!), but try not to go over the top. Gushing to friends and family ALL the time, either in person or on social media, can get to be too much.

Then there’s the other side of the bride-zilla coin: the transformation into a bossy, this is my day, do what I say bride or groom (yes, this can happen to grooms as well). Try to keep it in check. Yes, this is your day. Yes, everyone knows that you want it to be perfect. The key is to remember that you still need friends and family members to like you after your wedding day is over.

We will not procrastinate.

The best vendors’ calendars fill up quickly: caterers, venues, DJ’s, entertainers, photographers, videographers. You don’t have to frequent every bridal fair (though it’s not a bad idea to get ideas and make contacts!), but you should make it a point to start making calls, sending emails or contacting vendors via social media. Try to confirm as many of the major details you need as soon as possible, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute and settling for mediocre vendors.

We will take breaks from wedding planning.

It’s easy to get caught up in wedding planning, and even easier to get overwhelmed by the long list of to-do’s that need to be done before your big day. Try to schedule time away from wedding planning so you can tackle your wedding planning checklist with a fresh and new perspective.

We will keep the lines of communication open.

Even though one of you may have been planning every detail of your wedding day since you were five, remember that your wedding day is about who you are as a couple. Have a discussion about each of your ‘must haves’ before you confirm your wedding venue, or start any of your wedding planning. Set your budget, date (could be just month and year), and location (in the city you live, destination wedding, or a hometown); these factors dictate nearly every wedding detail for your big day.

Keep your lines of communication open—with your fiance, family and friends—by sharing schedules and discussing your wishes with everyone. Don’t rely on social media or hearsay to spread the word. Those two tactics can backfire, leaving you with a beautiful wedding day and unhappy guests to ruin the occasion.

We will listen to our friends and family.

This doesn’t mean you have to listen to your crazy aunt and buy that really, REALLY ugly wedding dress. And you don’t have to stock stogies at your wedding because your dad wants it. What this resolution does mean is that you listen to valuable advice, such as testimonials about caterers they really liked or a DJ who did an excellent job at a wedding they attended. You can even take the latter advice a step farther, and ask for their input about a song they want to hear at the reception. All you have to do is add a line to the wedding invitations that asks for their song requests. A good DJ (note, a good DJ) can honor many of those requests when they ask for your input, and personalizes the play list for your wedding. (Find out how to craft the perfect playlist here.) The result is a memorable wedding night, and—hopefully—a great time putting all the pieces of your wedding day together.