It’s Summer Wedding Season: How to Be a Standout Guest

Marcello Pedalino, Celebrate Like Book, Summer Weddings, How To Be A Standout Guest, MMP EntertainmentIf you are dating, recently married, or a great friend in general, there’s a good chance that you’ll be invited to someone’s wedding reception in the near future. As a professional in the live events and entertainment production industry for twenty five years, I’ve seen just about everything you could imagine that would land a guest on Youtube for all the wrong reasons. Therefore, I am here to share with you the 9 Golden Rules of Wedding Guest Etiquette.

No matter what anyone says, etiquette is a learned art. In other words, simply putting cash in an envelope and showing up with a smile won’t cut it if you want to be a memorable guest. (Although that’s a very good start!) Follow this advice if you want to be a classy, chivalrous, and gracious guest the next time you’re invited to a milestone event. Before you know it, people will start talking and you’ll be known as the guest everyone can count on!

1) Be classy: Regardless of who paid for the reception, acknowledge both sets of parents or living patriarchs upon arrival and then again at the conclusion of the event.

2) Be punctual: In addition to RSVPing in a timely manner, arrive to the ceremony when asked to be there. Don’t be the guest  fumbling down the aisle searching for a seat seconds before the bride makes her entrance.  Unfortunately, “fashionably late” isn’t fashionable at all in this case.  As an early arrival you can also help set a positive tone and festive vibe for the rest of the reception. It’s also a great opportunity to take care of Tip #1!

3) Be quiet: Believe it or not, there are still times when a fairytale ceremony or the perfect reception toast is interrupted by a clueless guest who didn’t set their phone to vibrate or took too long to stop chatting it up at their table. Everyone notices (and shoots dagger eyes at) that person. To avoid those angry looks, simply turn it off.  If you absolutely need 24/7 access to your phone— utilize texting on mute, sit in the back of the pack during the ceremony, and/or quietly excuse yourself from the reception if you have to take a call.

Marcello Pedalino, Celebrate Life Book, Summer Weddings, How To Be A Standout Guest - MMP Entertainment4) Be proactive: If you are uncertain about the dress code, not sure if the menu will accommodate your food sensitivity, or wondering if you have been granted “plus 1” guest status, don’t unnecessarily distract the bride and groom the day of to see if you guessed correctly.

 5) Be helpful: Depending on the ceremony and reception location, there might be an Event Planner, Wedding Entertainment Director, or Maitre d’ on site to take care of all the little things.   However, making sure that grandma has a good seat for everything or that a little piece of trash gets picked up from the ceremony runner- is a nice way to lend a helping hand when needed.   **Note: This day is not about you. Don’t worry about getting credit for your good deeds.

6) Be present: When the dancing begins, help get the party started by putting your phone away and warming up the dance floor. You’d be surprised how many people will join in! Everyone is waiting for that one person to break the ice. You don’t need to have the moves like Jagger or a lot of Travolta swagger either… just put down the phone and live in the moment. There will be plenty of time to use that obnoxious selfie stick, update your Facebook status, and get in the way of the photographer later on.

7) Be considerate: Speaking of which… seriously, don’t ever get in the way of the photographer.

8) Be selfless: If you need to leave early, regardless of the reason, just leave.  No big announcement is necessary… especially when the guests of honor are trying to enjoy the final portion of their once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

9) Be responsible: The high school and college nonsense is over. No one wants to see a sloppy drunk on the dance floor. (Or anywhere for that matter) Despite how Wedding Crashers may have glorified sophomoric behavior, being the cool guest isn’t about getting hammered, initiating cringe-worthy situations, or making sure you hookup with the hottest guy /girl you see.

The reality is, an invitation by a friend or family member to be a guest at their wedding is an honor.  Have a blast and party on, but use common sense and remember to do your part to help make this one of the most fabulous days of their lives. Follow these Golden Rules and you can have the best of both worlds.

Cheers,

Marcello Pedalino, MMP Entertainment, How To Be a Standout Wedding Guest, Celebrate Life Book, CelebrateLifeBook.com

 

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Marcello Pedalino, Author- Celebrate Life, www.CelebrateLIfe.com, 3-Time Recipient of The DJ TImes DJ of The Year AwardMarcello Pedalino is the Executive Director of MMP Entertainment & Event Production and author of the new inspirational book, “Celebrate Life: How to Live it Up, Discover Fulfillment, and Experience the Joy You Deserve.” (www.CelebrateLifeBook.com) A three-time national DJ Entertainer of the Year, Marcello and his company help clients have the time of their lives at Weddings, Bat Mitzvahs, and countless other milestone occasions.

 

How to Make Your Wedding ‘Something Special’: Michael and Caitlin Celebrate Their Love at The Meadow Wood Manor

Usher’s smooth r&b track, ‘Something Special,’ not only served as the perfect first dance song for Michael and Caitlin, but its title also perfectly described their wedding reception from start to finish.  The same could be said for the song that Caitlin chose to dance with her dad, The Best Day, by Taylor Swift.

I knew this wedding was going to be awesome from the first phone call.  I recognized Caitlin’s voice instantly.  She sang beautifully at another exceptional wedding ceremony that MMP had the honor to direct and entertain at a few years ago.  That wedding was for Michael’s mother, Patty, and my uncle, Lou Vetere.  As guests, Michael and Caitlin danced the night away along with their family and friends.  Since many of the guests would be attending this celebration and I knew I was working with a bride and groom who weren’t shy about literally ‘gettin’ jiggy with it,’ I knew an unforgettable evening was on the way.

Speaking of Will Smith, another dance he made famous called The Apache, from the Fresh Prince of Belle Air, turned out to be a nostalgic favorite of Michael and one of his groomsmen, Mike DiGiacomo.  During our final design session one month before the wedding, I found out that Michael used to host some of the best house parties in town and that he and Mike would crank up Apache out by the pool and perform the dance moves so all the party goers could watch and join in!  We incorporated Apache into one of the evening’s classic dance sets and the crowd loved it… Mike and Mike had the floor pumpin,’ jumpin,’ and smiling’ from ear to ear!   This is why we always encourage our clients to personalize their reception.  The more questions we ask, and the more information you give us, the more we can suggest how to make your reception a true reflection of your personality and style.

Michael and Caitlin also put a cool spin on one of the traditional feature dances of the night, the Mother-Son dance.  Since we knew from the design session that many of their friend’s moms would be there as guests, we arranged to have all the moms dance with their kids for the second half of the song, Hey Mama, by Kanye, after Michael and his mom enjoyed the spot light.  What a great way for your guests to feel like they are a part of your celebration, and not just at your celebration.

Another highlight of the evening came from Caitlin’s input during the design session.  First, she let me know that she and her friends were fans of Taylor Swift.  Then, she told me about the special relationship that she had with her grandfather, “Pop.”    Since we like to spread the love (spreading out the parent’s dances and special dedications throughout the evening instead of doing everything back to back to back) we carefully planned a feature set specifically for the post-dessert portion of the reception.  We always encourage our clients to empower us with ways to bring the focus back to the guests of honor and the dance floor area.

In this case, since the Meadow Wood hosts a delicious Viennese reception in an adjacent room after the cake cutting, we needed a way to tastefully and seamlessly guide the guests back into the ballroom when they were done enjoying all of their sweet delights.  (p.s.  Michael and Cailtlin chose the  vintage track, You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall and Oates for the cake pics… very cool!)   By simply playing Taylor Swift’s Love Song just loud enough for the right people to hear it, Caitlin and some of her closest friends excitedly made their back to the dance floor to put their arms around each other and sing their hearts out.  Then, after making sure that the V.I.Ps were back in the ballroom by personally notifying them, I played Caitlin’s request and dedication to her grandfather, Wind Beneath my Wings.  “Pop,” was a crowd favorite.  All of the girls from the Taylor Swift sing along starting to chant, “Pop, Pop, Pop!” like he was a rock star!  It was such a cool thing to watch and hear.

All of this positive commotion created an organic invitation for the rest of guests to return to the ballroom and enjoy the Kodak moment.   Sensing the participatory momentum that was brewing, I went right into another request from Michael and Caitlin’s play list, Adele’s gorgeous version of “To Make You Feel My Love,” to pack the dance floor with couples…  and then it was Party Rock Anthem time!  The energy was off the charts right up until the final song of the night, Save The Last Dance for Me by Michael Buble.

To make your reception ‘something special,’ team up with an entertainment company and an event producer that are experts in preparation, personalization and pacing, as well as music programming and a Master of Ceremonies skill set.   As a certified Wedding Entertainment Director, I’m proud to provide all of these specialized services to my discerning clientele.

Best wishes to the new Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Caitlin Smith.  It was an honor to serve your family again.  We wish you a lifetime of health and happiness!

Special thanks to the Meadow Wood Manor for their hospitality and professionalism.  It’s always a pleasure when we have the opportunity to collaborate.  Special thank also to Tav Jinivisian, Michael & Caitlin’s photographer from Tav Images, for sharing his artistry from the festivities.

 

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Her Vision? “A 1950’s Supper Club” – Our Pleasure! YOUR Wedding, YOUR Way: Wendy and Roger Reunite at Perona Farms

When you can sing a love song as well as Barbara Streisand and you want your wedding to be one-of-a-kind, treat your husband to a concert-worthy vocal performance during the ceremony and then return to the spotlight later in the reception for an encore.     Not only was Wendy a beautiful bride on the inside and out, she had an equally striking voice.  And it turns out, so did half of the guest list.     Knowing this, Wendy came to MMP with a very clear vision…  she wanted her wedding to feel and sound like a 1950’s Supper Club.

If you go by the Wikipedia definition, a Supper Club wedding is one of our specialties when it comes to production-based events– and the venue Roger and Wendy chose, Perona Farms, was the ideal location.

A Supper Club, in general, refers to a dining establishment that also functions as a social club.  Supper Clubs tend to present themselves as having a high-class image, even if the price is affordable to all. These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas. They were traditionally thought of as a “destination” where patrons would go to spend the whole evening, from cocktail hour to enjoying night club style entertainment after dinner. They feature a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

Wendy’s vision and desired ambiance sure made for some refreshingly-sophisticated and elegantly-fun music programming.  I was able to spin some tracks that don’t normally make the play list.   Their requests included Shaynee Rainbolt‘s- Stuff Like That There, Peggy Lee‘s- That’s My Style, Ella Fitzgerald‘s- You Do Something To Me, Melinda Doolittle‘s- I’m A Woman, and the duet by Jamie Foxx and Beyoncé – When I First Saw You.

People ask me all the time, “we have a loved one that recently passed away and we’d like to recognize them during our wedding… what do you recommend?”   One of my favorite tributes is a butterfly release.    Unfortunately, Wendy and Roger had two special family members to honor.  Wendy’s brother and Roger’s father.  After the ceremony, we directed everyone outside to where the cocktail hour was taking place.   Pastor Hamlin said a few words about each honoree and then a short prayer.  The butterflies were released in their memory.  It was a very moving experience.   **FYI  The delivery, transport and release of live butterflies takes great care, coordination and attention to detail.  Please consider this and do your homework before you decide to include this at your special event.

When the budget permits, we always recommend live musicians to compliment the DJ Entertainment.  Wendy and Roger were fortunate to have their good friend, Robert, not only start off the ceremony with a cool acoustic version of Train’s Marry Me, but to perform an hour of some classic jazz standards during cocktails.  He even came back on after dinner with an awesome rendition of Paul McCartney’s My Love to re-open the dance floor.

Since I have a really solid relationship with my mom, and she happens to live 2 miles up the road, I always appreciate it when I see another son’s genuine love for his mother.  When Cameron, Wendy’s son, stepped up to the mic during the ceremony, most of the guests probably anticipated a few, quick, generically Hallmark-sounding sentiments to be delivered.  Instead, to everyone’s delight, including yours truly, Cameron offered up a genuine, heart-felt dedication to his mom that she and everyone else who heard it will never forget.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my dear friend, and fellow Wedding Entertainment Director from Virginia, Elisabeth Scott Daley.   Due to her busy event schedule, she was already booked when Roger and Wendy called her to provide the entertainment so she was kind enough to refer my services.   Not only is Elisabeth an in-demand wedding entertainment professional, she’s also a former Broadway performer who can swoon with the best of them.   During the reception, Daley belted out a studio quality rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of John Lennon’s smash hit, Grow Old With Me, and dedicated it to Wendy and Roger.

One of my favorite racing expressions has always been, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that really counts.”    This philosophy transcends athletics and relates perfectly to event direction.  Wendy and Roger’s celebration got off to a great start, had a solid second act, and then thanks to the song… Day-O by Harry Belafonte, the Grand Finale was worthy of an encore.  I found out ahead of time that Wendy and Roger were going to Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea for their Honeymoon… so to get everybody in the mood for a piña colada on a gorgeous tropical island, we had the entire guest list on the dance floor smiling and singing their hearts out with the newlyweds.    “Daylight come and we wanna go home.”    I love my job.  🙂

Special thanks to Ron Francis, Banquet Manager from Perona Farms, for his hospitality and professionalism.   Ron was instrumental in making sure that the celebration had a smooth flow to it from start to finish.   He was also kind enough to let us keep all of the equipment that we brought in  for the ceremony rehearsal and microphone sound check set up at the venue.  This saved us several hours of labor the next day and we greatly appreciated it.

I also want to extend my gratitude to Eric Kazmirek and Elisabeth, who graciously shared their photos for this entry.  -mp

 

Liner Notes: Wendy and Roger met a long time ago but each decided to take a different exit on the highway of life.  Then, 31 years later, their mutual friend, Sheri Burton, who originally introduced them, put them back in touch with each other.  Sheri flew all the way from Tuscon, Arizona, to be a part of the big day and got special mention during the personalized grand entrance.

Classy Move:    At many weddings, brides and grooms will spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on a little trinket or some type of commemorative swag for their guests to take home.  In most cases, this stuff finds its way into the garbage or the bottom of a box in the basement somewhere.  Think about it for a second… do people really need another wallet-size photo frame or a few fancy chocolates?   In lieu of a gift for each of their guests, Wendy and Roger made a generous donation to the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.  Nice!!!

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Pure, Unadulterated Exuberance: The 2011 Wedding MBA Features Luxury, Greatness, and a 1.4 Billion Dollar Supermodel-Mogul

Wedding Painter, Sam Day, captures WMBA'11 on canvas

After presenting at last year’s Wedding MBA conference and seeing the amount of content and connections assembled under one roof, returning this year to the Las Vegas Convention Center as an attendee hungry for more was a no-brainer.   (Already bought my pass for 2012.)

The 2011 Wedding Merchant Business Academy, produced by the Hegarty family, once again featured the A-listers of the wedding professional community.

Seminars were presented and private events were hosted by industry notables like Carley Roney, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The KnotSonny Ganguly, SMO of WeddingWire; Tammy Elliot, President of The Perfect Wedding Guide, Sasha Souza, celebrity wedding planner and founder of Wish Upon A WeddingAmy Wilkens, publisher of Martha Stewart Weddings; Peter Merry, author of The Best Wedding Reception Ever and director of the The W.E.D Guild; Susan Southerland, celebrity wedding planner and author of The Susan Southerland Secret; Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Authority; Alan Berg, producer of the Wedding Industry Leaders Conference; and Kathy Ireland, CEO and chief designer from Weddings by 2be and Kathy Ireland Worldwide.

Carley Roney- Co-Founder & EIC of The Knot

Among the 10 new wedding trends that Carley Roney revealed was “a return to luxury and classic elegance.” She sees a lot more black-tie events on the horizon but was quick to add that “formal can still have personality.” Roney said that brides are seeking “pure, unadulterated exuberance” on their wedding day.  They want pleasant “surprises” and “ways to wow” their guests like a having bakery-styled food truck outside the venue so family and friends can enjoy a late-night snack on the way home from the reception or an early treat with the morning paper the next day. Another trend that Carley mentioned was something my wife and I did for our Wedding back in 2005.  For the non-traditional couples who don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony, Roney presented the option of taking your portraits and family photos before the ceremony.  This allows newlyweds to enjoy and not miss any of the cocktail hour festivities (typically one of the best parts of the entire celebration due the abundance of cuisine and mixology, visiting opportunities and relaxed atmosphere).  As a Wedding Entertainment Director and Event Producer, I can help facilitate the timing of this desirable alternative with the planner, executive chef, venue principal, photographer, cinematographer and of course, your preferred sources of entertainment.

Andy Ebon, in his usual forthright-reality check-way reminded everyone that “just because you are unique, it doesn’t mean that you are useful.” And, “Don’t idolize, become inspired.”  And,  “You need to have 360 degree awareness.” He also reminded business owners that in a complimentary fashion to facebook and twitter, “blogging is still one of the most important things you can do for your business” to allow clients to discover the ‘online soul’ of your product or service.   Ebon, who helped me create the MMP Blog back in 2008, featured  photographer Jazmine Star and Marilla Cupcakes as stellar blogs.  He subscribes to the same philosophy of Sonny Ganguly who said that “social media allows you to humanize your business.” Speaking of Sonny, I really loved what he had to say in reference to Wayne Gretsky’s famous quote about being “where the puck is.” He said, “I’m not a huge fan of hockey, but I am a huge fan of greatness.” Well said, sir.  As always, the Wedding Wire guys entertained the crowd and encouraged us to go further with mobile technology.  They even offered a free QR code for their clients.

The Susan Sutherland Secret

Susan Southerland, who is one of the most dialed-in wedding professionals I know, shared her knowledge about how to manage client expectations of the personality-driven bride and how to deliver an experience that goes above and beyond simply helping a couple’s fairytale come true.  After interviewing numerous brides and asking how things went before their big day, Susan determined that wedding professionals who were great listeners, solution-oriented, respectful, humble and genuinely excited about their client’s celebration were swiftly chosen over their equally qualified  contemporary.  The classic staples like work quality and professionalism were mentioned as well.

Southerland is the Wedding Expert for Tammy Elliot’s firm, The Perfect Wedding Guide. Tammy did a great job of making all the attendees identify their current strengths and weaknesses as well as future opportunities.  Elliot also discussed the goal of being “consciously competent,” being able to duplicate your success at will. It was pretty deep and definitely made the gears start spinning.

The Knot offered up a few tech and social nuggets that had people checking their Klout score, looking into Qwiki and Uber– and then considering a Facebook business page view upgrade with Flipboard… which was just mentioned in Vanity Fair magazine.    The Knot also recognized a few companies in their annual “Best Of” awards which recognizes excellence in marketing, branding and social media.  The honorees included; Amy Zaroff, Michael Will Photography, The McNamara Alumni Center and Desiree Spinner. (I love her little messages: laugh. play. celebrate and dream. love. wed.)

Marcello Pedalino and Kathy Ireland, Wedding MBA 2011

Like many high school kids back in the day, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was a highly anticipated annual highlight.   One of my favorite supermodels was Kathy Ireland.  Over the years, as my company progressed and I kept tabs on anyone who had a contagious entrepreneurial spirit, Ireland always stayed on my professional radar because the ability to utilize her brains and spirited work ethic as well as her stunning beauty became more and more apparent. Fast forward to 2011 at the Wedding MBA in Las Vegas… Ireland took a few hours out of her busy schedule to make a special guest appearance and share her journey from running a paper route as a little girl to running a 1.4 billion dollar enterprise. The 2000+ attendees, among whom included business owners from all over the U.S, Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand, were treated to personal stories of character building, photos of recently-launched Kathy Ireland 2be designs, (check out the gorgeous shots below) and some impressive video clips of her philanthropic efforts.

When I had the chance to chat with Kathy after her presentation, I told her that she had some of the most tweet-worthy moments of the conference yet when she said things like, “Its never been done- doesn’t mean it can’t be done” and “I never had a family business, but now I have a business family,” and “When it comes to someone’s wedding day, it’s got to be the best… you can’t mess it up.” That last one really hit home because it accurately describes the tremendous pressure we experience every time we’re given the honor and responsibility of playing a major role in someone’s wedding day.

Editor’s Note: I’m sure you can tell from the photo that, yes,… Ireland is still stunning*One of the funniest moments of the conference was when Ireland gave out her phone number so attendees could contact her for professional guidance, inspiration or business collaboration opportunities.  I’ve never seen men find a pen and paper so quickly to write something down!  Including me….  ‘cuz I don’t know about you, but having a supermodel giving out her number isn’t exactly a common occurrence. 🙂

Having breakfast for dinner with friends at the Blueberry Diner in Las Vegas. Life is Good.

It was a pleasure connecting with fabulous professionals and making some new friends this year:  Jane & Patrick Kelly from iDoAppointments, Keri Macana from TPC Las Vegas, Jennifer Fox from Perfect Planning, Gabrielle Lennartz from Black Swan, Charese Feliciano from CFD Floral, Chandra, Dawn and Bea from Mira Bridal Couture Christy Schimpf from Bride and Groom Planner, Barbie Howard from Rocky Mountain Bridal Show, Sheila Dunn from Wedding Guide Bridal Extravaganza, artist extraordinaire- Sam Day & my mate from New Zealand, Nick Logan.

Special thanks to Jodi Harris and her husband Pat, from Sight and Sound, for always making me feel so welcome when I’m in Vegas.  On the last night before returning home, they took me and my good friend, Ron Brown, to the Blueberry Hill Diner for what they said were the best pancakes in the country. I won’t argue that.  They were pretty awesome.  I’ll keep working out just so I can treat myself to meals like this every now and then.

See you next year!  -mp

“Facilitators and Resources” – Event Solutions Magazine Endorses the Wedding Entertainment Director

Event Solutions Magazine, Fall 2011 issue

In their September issue that features the likes of Preston Bailey and David Tutera, Event Solutions Magazine spotlights Wedding Entertainment Directors in their “Emerging Trends ” portfolio.

My good friend, and fellow Entertainment Director from Minnesota, Bill Hermann, was interviewed for the piece and did a stellar job speaking  on behalf of the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild.    Having my application accepted back in 2007 was a career highlight and still being the only member from the tri-state area to qualify continues to be a significant way for MMP’s clients to differentiate my offerings from other qualified talent they may be considering.

If you or someone you know is getting married and needs help producing a Wedding celebration that is a true reflection of your personality and style, if you like the concept of entertainment with elegance, and if you are willing to invest accordingly, contact us at 973-366-9776 or mmp@mmpentertainment.com to schedule a design session.  I’m at your service, -mp.

Below is a text reprint from the Event Solutions Magazine article.

"Emerging Trends" article from Event Solutions Magazine, Fall 2011

“DJs have pretty much taken over the wedding reception as the primary entertainment of the event for the past 25 years. But there’s a new trend just emerging that takes the DJ concept to a higher—and classier—level.

It’s a phenomena known as the wedding entertainment director. There are only 20 or so of these professionals currently working in the fledgling industry, and they appear to be keeping pretty busy.

More than just DJs, most of these folks have roots in the entertainment industry and they are experts in engaging audiences of all ages, creating an interactive event that puts the couple at the center and in the spotlight. “My goal is to make sure the guests know more about the couple than when they came to the wedding,” says Bill Hermann, who entertains at weddings all over the United States “The objective is to touch, move and inspire by using storytelling and music to engage everyone from the flower girl to Grandma, and everyone in between.”

 

Part of the problem with traditional DJs, according to Mark Ferrell, a consultant who provides workshops to aspiring wedding emcees and entertainers, is that a “bad” DJ can essentially ruin an event that has taken sometimes-years to plan and save for. Often caught up in their own performance, and ignorant of how to pull in a diverse audience, they often are a reason “…everyone leaves after the cake is cut,” says Ferrell.

Wedding Entertainment Director's Guild Logo

The wedding entertainment director is trained to perform various functions. First he or she serves as an emcee for the event, helping the wedding planner to keep things on track, guiding the wedding party and guests through the experience and making sure the couple is the center of attention. The director typically spends hours getting to know the couple and other key members of the wedding party through questionnaires and meetings. “We have to like each other for it to work,” says Hermann.

 

The wedding entertainment director can also advise and facilitate other types of entertainment, depending on the couple. This can involve creative involvement, music programming, and providing sound systems for the event. “They are essentially facilitators and resources,” explains Ferrell.

The Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild is an organization for many of these professionals.”

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