10 Things Couples Need to Know About the Wedding Industry That the Media Will Never Tell You Pertaining to Your Gulf Coast Wedding

Couples are often shocked at the price tag attached to their wedding services.  “But I’m only hiring you for four hours!” is a common reaction.

What you don’t know is that we spend many hours outside your wedding day timeline on planning, communication, rehearsals, meetings, travel and all the logistics necessary to make that “four hours” look easy.  This doesn’t even take into account the necessary time investment in training and education to keep our skills sharp.

Let’s take photographers as an example.  According to this recent survey, the average photographer spends 65 hours invested in each wedding; when all the hours invested in a wedding are factored in, a typical wedding photographer makes an hourly wage only $37 per hour before expenses!  DJs, florists, officiants, planners and other pros are in a similar situation.

Most wedding professionals are not living large on “wedding ripoffs,” a charge often lodged by the media.  While the average wedding in the US costs around $25,000, a recent survey of our wedding professional audience revealed that 48% of wedding businesses make less than $25,000 in an entire YEAR.

2.  If you hire an amateur for your wedding, expect an amateur result.

Wedding professionals are not a commodity item.  You’re hiring a unique personality, talent and experience set.  We charge more because we are worth it.

Those amateurs you can hire for a dime a dozen?  They’re worth the price you pay, too.

Sure, you might luck out and find the next undiscovered Preston Bailey for your wedding, but you’re much more likely to get sub-par performance along with that bargain price.

3.  You pay more for wedding services because you get more.

Much has been made of the so-called “wedding markup,” a phenomenon that occurs when secret shoppers get quoted a higher price for identical services when they are booked for a wedding as opposed to another type of event.  While this certainly can occur, journalists neglect to address the very real reasons WHY this happens.

Providing any service for a wedding is far more involved than a similar, non-wedding event.  Wedding pros make themselves available for planning meetings, calls and consultations, and may well send hundreds of emails back and forth with a single client in the year or more of planning up to the wedding.

This type of time and attention isn’t expected or required for most non-wedding events; the time investment alone is enough to justify a higher price.  The quality of wedding services often requires a greater degree of skill and specialization, not to mention the stress and risk involved should something go wrong.

4. We stay up at night worrying about your wedding, too.

We may participate in dozens or even hundreds of weddings per year, but yours really IS important to us.

Each and every wedding can make or break our reputation.  We worry about what can go wrong and we sweat the details because it’s our responsibility.  If we mess something up, we know that in the age of viral sharing on the internet, it may very well destroy our business.

5.  Listening to our advice will save you time, money and stress.

We love your ideas and your enthusiasm.  Please know that when we suggest changes to your dream wedding scenario it’s not because we want to take over your wedding; it’s because we have your best interests at heart.

We probably made a lot of mistakes when planning our own wedding, and it’s inspired us to ensure that pain NEVER happens to you.

We’re wedding experts.  If you take advantage of our knowledge and experience, we will save you time, help you avoid mistakes and make your wedding even better.  But only if you let us.

6.  If you only have $10,000 to spend on your wedding, we can’t make it look like you spent $100,000 no matter what we do.

Weddings can be expensive, and you certainly don’t have to spend a lot of money.  But if you’re going to trim your budget, please don’t expect it to be a carbon copy of the Royal wedding.

It’s not because we don’t want to do it for you…it’s just impossible.

7.  We love what we do, but that doesn’t mean we want to do it 24 hours a day.

Working in the wedding industry is HARD.  It’s stressful.  There are deadlines, timelines and lots of pressure to make sure everything goes perfectly.

You know that anxiety that’s giving you nightmares?  We get them, too, and sometimes we need to take a break.

Yes, your wedding is important, but we can’t be available for you 24 hours a day 7 days a week without losing our sanity.  Remember that the next time you’re tempted to call your planner at 2am or before freaking out when s/he doesn’t answer your text immediately.

8.  It takes WAY more time and money to imitate those DIY projects and wedding inspiration shoots than you think.

We love that wedding porn as much as you do, but it sets up unrealistic expectations.  Wedding blogs and wedding reality TV misrepresent the details of what’s actually possible for a typical wedding with an average budget…one that doesn’t have a team of expert designers and planners working magic behind the scenes.

The media accuses the wedding industry of encouraging these unrealistic expectations so that you spend more more money.  The truth is that we hate it as much as you do!

It makes our job more difficult, and it puts us in the uncomfortable position of telling you, “No,” when it can’t be done on your budget.

9.  DIY projects are NOT a bargain.

Think you’re going to save money by having the wedding in your backyard?  When you add up the cost of the tent, rentals, food, booze and silverware, you end up spending MORE than you would hosting it in a traditional wedding hall.

The same thing goes for your favors, centerpieces and flowers.  It’s going to take you 10x longer and cost twice as much in reworks and mistakes than you think—especially if you’re a perfectionist.

Please don’t choose to DIY your wedding for the savings; make sure you actually like being crafty, and that you can adjust your expectations to accommodate less than perfection.

10.  Your wedding day will not be perfect, but we’ll be there to make sure it’s as close as possible.

I haven’t seen a single wedding where at least one thing didn’t go wrong.  Your bridal party will be late, the weather won’t cooperate, or the guests will forget to take home those favors you agonized over.  There are simply too many details and too tight of a timeline for everything to be completely perfect.

But when something goes wrong, we’ll be there to help you make it right.

Reprinted with permission from Stephanie Padovani


Gulf Coast Wedding DJ presents unique First Dance selections

Have you selected your First Dance for your Mississippi Gulf Coast wedding? Can’t decide? Looking for the perfect lyrics or just don’t want the same-ole-same-ole?

I found a great article on Wedding Wire that researched some great and unique First Dance songs that couples are picking for their wedding….here are just a few….

“I will be there” by Odessa

“Grow old with me” by The Postal Service

“You can rely on me” by Jason Mraz

“Lay me down” by Sam Smith

Want to listen to these and more? Check them out:

and more here!!!

Happy planning!



Vendor spotlight: Pass Christian Florist: Pine Hills Floral interview with Rachel Bond

I love the opportunity to spotlight professional wedding vendors along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Rachel Bond with Pine Hills Floral located in Pass Christian always stands out!

Rachel is the owner and florist and I had the chance to speak with her recently during her busy schedule to talk a little bit about her floral business and how important it is to choose wisely when shopping and interviewing floral prospects.

Trending for 2016 is a hot topic when it comes to the look and feel for your special day. I asked Rachel her thoughts on upcoming color trends and arrangements for this year. “The natural, garden style look is definitely in.” Rachel explained. “Lots of loose greenery and filler with large, full blooms such as peonies, garden roses and dahlias is a beautiful look. We’re seeing a lot of neutral tones with pops of pale pink and blue accents.”

Many times brides and grooms ask me (as their Master of Ceremonies) the most important items to look for when shopping for a florist. I posed this question to Rachel and she responded, “Certainly go with someone whom you feel comfortable with and find it easy to communicate. A reliable florist will be able to answer your questions regarding flower availability, colors, style, etc. Also, make sure they can show you examples of their work either with fresh flowers or quality pictures of events they’ve done.”

And now, for the most important question every bride and groom should ask any florist or any other type of wedding vendor is: WHY should I hire <insert company here>. I love asking this question when meeting new wedding vendors along the coast and Rachel gladly told me, “You should hire us because we are very knowledgeable and up-to-date on flowers and designs. We only do fresh flowers for weddings and events, so we focus all of our attention on this one aspect of your wedding. Also, I am a recent bride and have a degree in Floral Management, so flowers have always been my focus.”

There you have it!!! Rachel also recommended booking your florist sooner than later since Pine Hills Floral book weddings quickly. I also included a few photos of Rachel’s creations. Their shop is located in beautiful Pass Christian, MS.

You can visit their website for more info and for setting up a consultation. You can reach them at www.PineHillsFloral.com

Happy Planning!

Jim Horn


2016 Wedding Wire Couples’ Choice Awards 2016

We Won!!CCA16-Google-Profile

It is indeed an honor to have been selected again as Wedding Wire’s Couples’ Choice Award. This is given to the top 5% of wedding vendors in the country based on their service quality and client experience and reviews.

Thank you to all who have given their reviews of my services and for your continued support!


Mississippi Gulf Coast Wedding DJ: TOP 10 WEDDING PLANNING TIPS FROM A PRO


1. Get real on the budget

Let’s face it. We would all love to have four foot-tall centerpieces, awesome entertainment, a five-course dinner and a luxury vehicle to ride away in. The reality is that you may not have enough in your budget to have everything you want.

So, how do you figure out what to do about the budget?

It all starts with an honest conversation with your families as soon as possible after the engagement to find out what amount, if any, they are willing to contribute to the wedding.

Then, make a list of all your wishes for your wedding day in order of importance. Keep in mind that you most likely won’t get everything on your list. The items listed last may have to be cut if the budget doesn’t support them, and that is OK.

2. Enlist HELP!

Get help from friends, family members or a wedding planner. Planning a wedding can be fun, but it is also a lot of work. It takes an average of 400 hours to plan a wedding, and with today’s hectic lifestyles, you may not have time to do everything by yourselves. Many people may be delighted to help you find a DJ, attend to the guestbook or help you assemble favors.

Professional help such as a wedding planner will save you time, money and frustration and are more affordable than you may think.

One of our favorite wedding planners is Jean from After The Proposal.

3. Define your vision

It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the ideas you can find on the Internet and at bridal shows. There are a lot of ideas out there.

So, as to not get derailed and risk having your wedding not look cohesive, sit down and discuss your vision for your day early.

Do you like sparkle? Are you a romantic at heart? Do you love nature? Your day should reflect your interests, personality and style. Don’t worry about what it trendy or hot right now. Write down what you would like your day to look like, and as you are planning or when you see a cool idea on Pinterest, refer back to your vision and ask yourself if this idea fits in.

4. Learn the art of compromise

There will be literally hundreds of decisions you will have to make during the wedding planning process. With that many decisions, there are bound to be some disagreements.

These are the first tests of your life together on how well you can compromise.

He may get to choose his tux color, and in exchange you get to choose the flowers. He wants steak. You want shrimp. You compromise and serve chicken, which you both like.

Try to find the middle ground that will make you both happy.

5. You can’t make everyone happy

Wedding planning can be a time of joy, but sometimes trying to make everyone happy can cause a lot of stress. It seems everyone has come out of the woodwork to tell you their opinions on what you should do on your day.

If you don’t like their ideas or suggestions, tactfully explain that you and your fiancé would like to do this on your own. Be firm, but polite. This is your day – not theirs. They had or will have their own turn on their wedding day to make their own decisions.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

During everyone’s planning process, things will inevitably change. Don’t panic! It won’t be the end of the world if your envelopes came in white instead of ivory.

See if the problem can be fixed or changed, and if not, it will probably be OK. No one will notice, and if you have a real emergency, call me!

7. Don’t drag your fiancé around

They may want to be involved or not at all. Don’t feel like you have to drag them to every appointment. They may only want to attend meetings on things they like, such as the food and cake tastings or the DJ meetings.

That is OK.

For the appointments they may not want to go to, ask someone else such as your mother, sister, aunt or even your future mother-in-law. Chances are someone else would be honored that you asked them to be involved.


Make sure during this busy time to relax and enjoy yourself. Read a book by an author you like, see a funny movie with a friend or get a facial. Remember you are working hard and deserve to treat yourself every now and then.

9. Schedule non-wedding related time with your fiancé

Every now and then, you both will need a break. Make time to do something relaxing with your fiancé such as a couple’s massage. Have a date night where you both promise not to talk about the wedding for an entire night!

10. Take time to smell the roses

Remember why you are doing all this planning in the first place. It’s not to have the best wedding you have ever seen and that all your friends will be envious of. It’s to start your married lives together with a beautiful day that is a reflection of your love.

-Angela Clark

Happy Planning!

Jim Horn
Jim Horn Entertainment



tent6 tent5 tent4 Tent1 tent3

Pitching a tent

Whether you’re going for formal or casual, tents come in all shapes, sizes and materials. Work with your local rental company to figure out what style fits your vision (and the venue’s spatial constraints). And make sure you choose a tent that works on your surface—pavement, grass, sand and so on.
Remember to:Weatherproof your tent. For a summer wedding, bring in fans and portable air conditioning units, and keep guests warm in chillier months with tall patio or propane heaters. You may also want to add floor surfaces (to correct uneven ground) and wall panels (to protect against wind or rain).
Bonus tip: Don’t rely solely on your tent. Even the sturdiest tents can’t withstand heavy rains and fierce winds. Your best bet is to have an indoor backup plan at a nearby reception space or restaurant. And if your area is known for having inconsistent weather, make sure your wedding insurance package covers rain, which could help you recover at least a portion of the fees if your event has to be postponed.

Renting the extras

Since tents are virtually a blank canvas, you’ll probably need some extra things to finish the look. Luckily, there are tons of rental options available—textured curtains and tiebacks, funky chandeliers and colorful cushions. Decide what elements are most important to you and then figure out how to fit the items at the top of your list into your budget.
Remember to:Find out the return policy for each rental vendor you work with. For example, companies sometimes require that votives and glassware be cleaned and boxed before being taken back (fines can be added if directions aren’t followed). Make an organized plan with your wedding coordinator (a key reason to have a planner!) or maid of honor to decide who will be responsible for taking care of this—then be sure to work it into the day’s schedule.
Bonus tip: Reserve the site for your wedding day and the morning after. (Find out if the venue offers a package deal or how much each additional hour will cost.) With tent and rental setup, not to mention flowers and décor, your team of pros will need extra time to set up— and tear down—the site.

Keep bugs at bay

To control insects on your wedding day, think about having your site sprayed by an exterminator two days beforehand and placing citronella candles throughout the space.

Creating a relaxing space

Whether you’ve chosen a grand, grassy lawn or a small backyard, pick an area and make it more inviting with lounge furniture and lots of pillows. If you don’t have room to bring in couches and plush chairs, arrange your dining area with smaller 4—person reception tables instead of larger 8— or 10—person tables to create a more intimate look and feel.
Remember to:Decorate! Drape fabric from the tent’s ceiling to soften the space or to create sectioned off “rooms.” Hang pomanders from the frame’s cross sections, and add other details to welcome guests and enhance your wedding’s unique design.
Bonus tip: Don’t assume that your guests will find their way around. If your reception site will also be home to the ceremony and cocktail hour, make sure there’s a natural flow between the spaces. You may need to add signs directing guests from the ceremony to the reception and pointing out the restrooms.

Cozy it up

The more you bring into your tent, the warmer it will feel. Colored linens, vibrant up- lighting and quirky knickknacks set a great vibe.

Lighting your site

To set the mood (and help guests see each other), add paper lanterns, pinspot lighting, twinkling lights or stately chandeliers. Light up surrounding walkways for easy access to the bathrooms. Think luminaries and small up— lights along the paths and Mason jars with tea lights hanging from nearby tree branches.
Remember to:Have an electrician check out the space before lighting up your tent. Not only will he be able to make sure you pass all the proper inspection laws, but he should also be able to make recommendations as to whether you’ll need to rent an extra generator and how to safely secure your lighting fixtures.
Bonus tip: You may want to keep a lighting pro (who has wedding experience) on hand to ensure everything stays in place—and lit up—all evening.


If there aren’t any restrooms nearby (and even if there are a few), you should consider renting them. These days, you can find luxury portable restrooms with amenities like in—room music, granite countertops and air conditioning or heaters depending on the season.
Remember to:Give guests something to talk about with a few subtle extras like luxe soaps, fresh flowers and monogrammed towels.
Bonus tip: The general rule of thumb is to have one bathroom or stall for every 35 guests. This way, guests will spend less time standing in line and more time partying on the dance floor.

Choosing music

Let the outdoor setting guide your music choice. If you’re on the beach, you can’t go wrong with steel drums. For a backyard reception, you might go for a folk or bluegrass group.
Remember to:Make sure your DJ has enough power to supply their equipment. This may mean bringing in an extra generator so you don’t lose the lights in the middle of the party. They should be able to tell you what they’ll need to set up at your site. Also, figure out where the band or DJ and dance floor will be. (Hint: Make sure it’s not in the path from the kitchen to the tables.)
Bonus tip: Most city ordinances don’t allow outdoor music late into the evening; do your research and then commit to a time when the band or DJ will unplug.

Creating the menu

Having an outdoor wedding gives you flexibility to get creative with your menu. Under a tent you might throw a New England clambake, a spicy Southern barbecue or even a Hawaiian pig roast. But you probably wouldn’t even consider those options for a ballroom affair. Regardless what food appears on your menu, plan to have plenty of cold water and refreshing nonalcoholic drinks on hand—especially if the weather is hot and humid. Lemonade and iced tea are good staples.
Remember to:Schedule a site visit for your caterer to make sure she’s well—equipped to handle the space. Also keep in mind that in most cases, your caterer will need a separate prepping tent. And don’t forget about the need for electricity and running water. Work with your caterer to draw up a detailed floorplan.
Bonus tip: Make sure your catering company has experience running tented events. They’ll not only provide all the right supplies (saving you the hassle of having to rent them) and set up and clean up, but they’ll also know to have enough waitstaff on hand to ensure that all of your guests are taken care of.

Types of tents

Traditional fame tent
Small versions of these tents are typically the type used on residential patios in the summer. There are no interior support poles to obstruct views or furniture layouts, but the frame tends to be visible from the inside of the tent.

Pole tent
These tents have mountain-like peaks in the center plus one or two rows of interior poles, creating that lofted shape (something to consider when mapping out tables and the dance floor). They’re often used for formal affairs and work well with vibrant ceiling up-lighting.

Gable end
A fancier version of a frame tent, this kind has fabric panels with a scalloped edge that caps each end, creating a formal entranceway.

Good for all types of affairs, the roofline on these tents peaks in the middle and supports sloped panels extending from either side. Clear fabric is a popular option and side panels are available to help protect diners from inclement weather.

These permanent structures offer a nice option for outdoor receptions. Though still open to the elements, a perimeter of pillars support overhead crossbeams, and an open lattice creates a feeling of shelter while offering a view of the sky and landscape.


For more details on tent rentals and more, check out Ace Party Rentals in Pascagoula, MS at http://www.ace-party-rentals.com or http://www.abcrental.com.

Happy planning!

Jim Horn Entertainment


A GROOM’S GUIDE TO PLANNING A WEDDING from Gulfport Wedding DJ: Jim Horn Entertainment

So what’s important — and what do you actually need to do? Between now and the big daay, stick to this game plan and you’ll be set.

Pitch In For The Big Three: You know the 80/20 rule, right? Basically, 80 percent of your wedding’s costs will come from 20 percent of the decisions. So the trick is to help your fiancee with the right 20 percent. That means pitching in on the Big Three: the guest list, the date and the venue. For these, you need to do more than just say, “Sure, honey, that sounds fine.” Here’s the drill: The guest list Deciding who’s in, who’s out and how to divvy up the spots with your families essentially requires you to rank everyone you’ve ever known in order of importance. She can’t do this without you. The fastest way to cut down the list with minimal tears? Adopt a policy of no kids, no coworkers and no dates (unless you know them). The date Be the voice of guy reason here: For the sake of your guests, don’t schedule the wedding during a hard holiday, March Madness, the World Series, the Super Bowl…or any NFL playoff weekend, really. The venue: This fancy term for party spot drives most of the costs. Ask if you can bring your own booze, use your own caterer and how they handle parking. Ask these three questions and — BOOM! — you’ll earn instant credibility with your fiancee, and you can doze off for the rest.

Draft and Manage Your Team: Choosing your groomsmen is like the ultimate fantasy football draft. You have a first-round pick (the best man), and then you fill out the roster with the rest of your best buds. A few guidelines: Even if you’re not close, include your brother (and hers — seriously). There’s no law that says you must have the same number of friends, as long as the final count isn’t you: 1; her: 12. When in doubt, friendship trumps etiquette. The latter is fungible; the former isn’t.

Pick the Music: This is an important one: The music can make or break the party, and if it’s bad, it can undo $30,000 worth of planning. Give Jim Horn a do-not-play list that includes “Like a Virgin,” “I Will Always Love You” and “Lady in Red.” Not only is that last one a cliché, but your bride won’t be in red. Awkward.

Salvage the Registry: Gravy boats. Teacups. Extra sets of towels. These will be your punishment if you neglect the registry. Your fiancee will (probably) want to register at the traditional shops like Pottery Barn, Macy’s and Useless Pewter — and that’s fine. But you can also register at places like Amazon.com or Target (where you can ask for aaaannnything), or for honeymoon funds.

Choose Your Ring: How much cash have you blown on TVs, watches, Doritos or laptops? Those items are perishable (well, the Doritos are questionable). Your wedding ring is not. Make it a good one.

Write Your Vows: Do it only if she insists. Use basic words, speak honestly and focus on the four Fs: forever, fidelity, falling in love and freaking out (lol). Maybe it’s the three Fs….

Get Fit: You’ll be photographed more on this day than on every other day in your life combined. The next week, you’ll be naked more than any other time in your life. ’Nuff said.

Finda a Tux: Get a good tailor, opt for timeless over trendy, skip the cummerbund, go easy on the colors, avoid pleats, stick with a simple collar (turndown or spread) and think long and hard about whether you really want to wear a bow tie. As for your groomsmen? Your bride will have some thoughts on how to coordinate with the bridesmaids…defer to her.

Plan the Honeymoon: Take the lead on this job — it’s a winner. Unlike wedding planning, there’s no etiquette, no formalities, no nagging moms who bicker about appetizers. Book waaaaay in advance and consider a half ’n’ half (where half the trip is adventure and half’s on the beach).

Buy Groomsmen Gifts: No flasks. It’s cliché and they probably already have seven. Also avoid pens, shot glasses and money clips (it’s presumptuous to overhaul someone’s cash-storing methodology). Better bets: knives, cuff links, golf crap and — my personal pick — a nice weekend bag.


For both your sakes, dodge all the bride-y stuff. Highlights include:

The invitations: See George Costanza. When grooms get too involved with picking out the stationery, people die.

Coordinating the bridesmaid dresses and flowers: If you have an opinion on this, be sure to coordinate the flowers to your dress too.

Her dress: You should help her with her dress the day you let her draft your fantasy football team.

The cake: You’re the taster, not the decider. This is one of the all-time best deals that men have in life, right up there with not having to wear heels.

The flowers: Cymbidium orchid, peony, geranium, Chinese lantern and Japanese lantern — those mean nothing to you? Good. That means you’re a groom.

-The Knot

Now go get ’em guys…….Happy planning!

Jim Horn

Jim Horn Entertainment


Phone: 228-623-1383


When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, like that mermaid silhouettes are all the rage or that purple is making a comeback. Then, there are things you need to know — advice so essential that any bride who’s lucky enough to hear it thinks, “I’m so glad someone told me that!” If you’re wondering whether there’s something you may have missed (or even if you’ve got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets.

1. Guests Come First
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you’ll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there’s ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it’s not if you count the space you’ll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the entertainment, and the dance floor.

2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates
Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk, or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. There are lots of events along the Gulf Coast that may interfere with your wedding date. Do your research!

3. Listen to Mother Nature
Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to skip out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and improperly heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deerflies, and no-see-ums….welcome to the Coast…..) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest control tanks to alleviate the problem or including bug repellent in guests’ gift bags. And if you want a sunset ceremony, make sure you know when to say your vows by checking SunriseSunset.com.

4. Check Your Credit
Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it gives you airline miles or great shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate thousands of rewards points (which could be used for your honeymoon).

5. Pay It Forward
Let one vendor lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can tell you which florist’s blooms really pop, and your reception manager should know which entertainment company packs the dance floor.

6. Lighten Your List
The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it’s costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.

7. Ask and You Might Receive
Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on and turn you off. Later on, though, they may have less of a motive to meet you halfway.

8. Make a Meal Plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you’re not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You will have to let your wedding caterer know a couple of days before the wedding exactly how many vendors you need to feed and what you want them to serve.

9. Get Organizationally Focused
In a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone.

10. Tend to Your Bar
Typically, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you’re serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding an extra server designated to this task.

11. Leave Some Room in Your Wallet
Your wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 percent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 percent for invites; 2 to 3 percent for gifts; and 8 percent for miscellaneous items like a wedding coordinator. It’s essential to allocate an extra 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day, and ribbons for the wedding programs. Go to TheKnot.com/budgeter for an interactive budget allows you to add your own items.

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Your wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want — maybe it’s serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want. Their job will be to tell you what you can and can’t make work given your wedding budget.

13. Wait for a Date
Sometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Since most people book their wedding sites at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two months prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.

14. Manage the Mail
Of course you want the perfect stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, especially in large quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at USPS.com. And be sure to weigh your invitation and all the additional paper products before you send them out so you can attach the right amount of postage. Ask your stationer about the need for additional postage for odd-shaped envelopes.

15. Prepare for Rejection
Know that as a rule, about 30 percent of the people you invite won’t attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday or summer plans). On the other hand, everyone could accept — knowing your wedding will be the can’t-miss party of the year!

16. Make a Uniform Kids Policy
You have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an “adults only” wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to provide day care either at the reception space, in a hotel room, or in a family member’s home. To prevent hurt feelings, it’s wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).

17. Prioritize Your People
Pare down your guest list with the “tiers of priority” trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party, and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends you couldn’t imagine not being there. Under that, list your parents’ friends, neighbors, coworkers, and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom until you reach your ideal number. I have a quick and easy spreadsheet that I’ve created to help with this. Send me an email and I’ll send it to you right away! It’s very handy!

18. Take It One Step at a Time
Put together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical order, so you don’t take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don’t hire any vendors before you’ve confirmed your date; don’t design your cake before you’ve envisioned your flowers; and don’t book your entertainment before you’ve settled on a space.

19. No Ring, No Bring
If your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine whom your single pal would sit with. If it’s a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you’re all set. If it’s a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it’s a table of singles where she won’t know anyone, consider bending the rules. If asked why you’re not allowing single friends to bring guests, size constraints or your parents’ never-ending guest list are always good fallback white lies.

20. Release Rooms
As soon as you have picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no — you don’t want to be responsible for rooms you can’t fill.

21. Provide Accurate Driving Directions
Make sure guests know where they’re going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the directions are wrong — or there’s a quicker, less traffic-prone route to take. Ask your ceremony and reception sites for printouts of recommended driving directions, which they often keep in stock for weddings and will give to you for free, and test out the routes yourself.

22. Keep a Paper Trail
Get any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, “Hello, just confirming that you’ll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight.” Don’t take anyone on his word — by the time the big day rolls around, your contact may no longer be working there to vouch for you.

23. Schedule the Setup
You must make sure there’s ample time for setup. If you’re renting a venue and bringing in outside help, ask, “What time can people come in to set things up?” Preston Bailey, author of Preston Bailey’s Fantasy Weddings, recommends seeing if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.

24. Learn About Marriage Licenses
You can check your state’s license requirements online, but confirm with a call to the county clerk’s office to see when they’re open. Even if it’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they may issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mom or your maid of honor (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).

25. Go Over Ground Rules
Be prepared! Ask the manager of the house of worship or site where you’ll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). For instance, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you’re exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is often a no-no)?

26. Classify Your Cash
Wedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a list of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers, and the photographer, and assign a number to each — one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can’t fall into the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.

27. Help Guests Pay Attention
Make sure your guests can see — and hear. If people are seated farther than 15 rows back from your ceremony altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. You’ll need to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony space, so put your wedding planner or best man in charge of this task.

28. Write Down Your Digits
Carry an emergency contact sheet on your wedding day. Keep the paper with names and phone numbers of all your vendors in your purse — it may come in handy in case your limo driver gets lost or you decide you’d like your photographer to take some behind-the-scenes shots.

29. Call the Fashion Police
Don’t go dress shopping on your own — all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it will be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do bring. If your mom or sibling can’t make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.

30. Be Realistic With Your Time
When it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you’re particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three things. Not crucial things that you just don’t feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting “Just Married” signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Make a pledge to not think about them ever again.

— The Knot

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Happy planning!!

Jim Horn


New Orleans Wedding DJ Jim Horn presents: 9 Tips for choosing your Wedding Party


1. Think twice before you ask.

Once you’ve asked someone to be in your wedding party, you can’t go back. So while it may be tempting to ask all of your favorite friends to be in your wedding party the minute you get engaged, don’t. Take your time. Give yourself at least a month, if you can, to mull over the options. And pose this question to yourself: Do you imagine you’ll be just as close to this person in five years as you are now?
Tip for the taking: If you’re on the fence about asking someone to be in your wedding party, consider how they’d fit in with the rest of your attendants. If you don’t think they’d mesh with your crew, leave them off the list.

2. Set honest expectations.   

What sort of a role do you want your wedding party to play? Is it important to you that they help to address wedding invites, dress shop with you and attend all of the pre-wedding parties? Or will it be enough for them to wear what you chose and show up the day of? If it’s the former, think twice about asking friends or family who live far away or have extremely hectic schedules. The worst thing you could do is set yourself up for disappointment.

Tip for the taking: For friends who can’t commit for whatever reason (they live out of town or are busy at work), let them in on just a few wedding prep activities, like an invitation stuffing party complete with wine and junk food.

3. Include your brothers and sisters.

Not to sound like mom, but think about it: Even if you’re not particularly close to his sister or her brother, siblings are going to be around well past your 10-year anniversary, and chances are, you’ll become closer over the years. If you come from a big family and you can’t possibly include everyone, draw the line at teenagers. Instead, make them a part of the ceremony by asking them to pass out programs or seat guests.
Tip for the taking: Traditionally, it’s ladies on one side and guys on the other, but feel free to break that rule and have them stand on either side of the aisle.

4. Consider the size of your wedding.

You can have as many (or few) bridesmaids and groomsmen as you like. The average wedding party size is eight – four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. Use that as a guide when you decide. Depending on formality, go larger or smaller. For a smaller wedding with around 50 to 60 guests, have no more than four, but for a larger wedding of, say, 150, you could go up to 12 if you really wanted to. Just keep this in mind: More isn’t always merrier. The more bridesmaids or groomsmen you have, the more people to coordinate with, find a flattering tux or dress for, and work around schedules with (can you imagine trying to find a free weekend for a bachelorette party with 12 bridesmaids?).
Tip for the taking: If there are a lot of people you want to include in your wedding party but just can’t, give them other roles, like usher, ceremony reader or candlelighter.

5. Call him the man of honor and her the best woman.

Guys can stand with the bridesmaids and women can stand with the groomsmen. It’s really up to you — what’s most important is that you include your favorite people, women and men.

Tip for the taking: There are no hard and fast rules about how to dress them. You can dress your groomswomen in tuxedos or dresses (or even rompers!), and your bridesmen can look just like the groomsmen or they can match their suits to the bridesmaid dresses. Just make sure they’re comfortable with whatever you want them to wear.

6. Choose responsible honor attendants.Choosing your best man and maid of honor might not be an easy task. The best honor attendants are friends who are responsible (since you’re going to rely on them for some big wedding planning tasks and to hold on to your expensive rings) and friends who are good at providing emotional support, because there just might be a few prewedding meltdowns. (It also helps if they’re super-fun, since they’ll be planning the bachelor and bachelorette parties!).

Tip for the taking: If your best friend isn’t always the most dependable person, it’s perfectly okay to have two best men or maids of honor. Pick your unpredictable BFF and another friend you can rely on for the big, important duties

7. Don’t ask someone just because they asked you.

Weddings are no time for quid pro quo. You don’t need to ask someone to be in your wedding because they asked you to be in their wedding. Don’t ask the college roommate you haven’t spoken to in five years just to return the favor.

Tip for the taking: If they want to talk to you about why they aren’t in your wedding, be completely honest. Explain that it was a tough decision but you really felt like you should have the people you feel closest to at this point in your life standing up for you, and there are so many of those people (including her) that you had to leave out some very special ones.

8. Research other roles.

You might need ushers to lead the guests to their seats at the ceremony, plus a couple candlelighters and program distributors. But there are a lot of other options as well than just bridesmaid and groomsman. Maybe you have a musically inclined friend who would love to play something at the reception. Or what about that friend who is an amazing writer? Have them write up something to read at your ceremony.

Tip for the taking: Think twice before offering your friends obscure, not-so-needed positions, like “guest-book watcher.” (Would you want to do that?) Most people would be happier with a VIP corsage and a reserved seat at the ceremony.

9. Kids aren’t required.

If there are no children you two feel particularly close to, you don’t need a flower girl and/or ring bearer. And if you have many children you want to include, feel free. Have three little flower girls instead of one and give them each their own basket of flower petals. Or have your two little guy cousins walk down the aisle as pages. They can bear the ring, hold a keepsake or carry a “Here Comes the Bride” sign.

Tip for the taking: Having an adults-only wedding? You can still have kids play their roles at the ceremony and not allow them at the reception – maybe even set up a room with a babysitter during the reception with some fun, kid-friendly activities.

-The Knot

Happy Planning!


**For couples who DON’T want their wedding to be like anyone elses, call Jim**