Resources for special events.
Where should the dance floor go?
One of the most common mistakes at any event is placing the DJ away from the dance floor. There are two reasons this is a horrible, no good, very bad idea. For starters you want to have loudest area in the room be the dance floor not the area where guests are seated. Placing the DJ and speakers at the edge of the dance floor ensures that this happens. Additionally, for a DJ to properly read the crowd they have to keep an eye on the dancers and an ear on the volume. Again this is best done from the edge of the dance floor.
Make a check list with all of the following to avoid surprises at your event!
- Have a plan and stick with it. Events are highly choreographed behind the scenes. Lots of people are working together to make them flawless. The best time for changing details is in the months, weeks and days ahead of time not in the seconds before hand.
- Use Google Docs for planning and working with all vendors. With a shared timeline and other vital details everyone can stay on the same page, quite literally. With everyone using a shared document you can cut down on unnecessary emails and for once the photographers can have the timeline ahead of time.
- Avoid "Dance Sets" with a DJ. These only make sense with live bands that need to take breaks. Let the DJ build up the energy and take people on a seamless musical journey - that's what they do.
- Whose wedding is it anyway? To put it another way, too many chefs spoil the broth, a camel is a horse designed by committee, three's a crowd... If you are not saying I DO then chances are it’s not your wedding and the music should reflect that.
- Break events into simple logical blocks such as: drinking, followed by eating, followed by toasts, followed by dancing. The more complicated the event the less likely it will work as planned. Keep in mind that each time you start or stop a large group of people from doing anything it can add 5 to 15 chaotic minutes to the timeline and zaps momentum.
- Food is the anchor of the timeline. Food is hot when it's hot and it takes a certain amount of time to feed people and for them to eat. If you don't leave a little wiggle room for dinner in the timeline you run the risk of cold food and rushing what should be a relaxed portion of the event.
- Some venues look good and some sound good. Rooms made with marble, glass, stone, square shapes, domed ceilings, low ceilings and without any absorbing material often sound bad when you add large numbers of people and music. If you are using a space that fits this description add absorbing materials like heavy drapes or thicker table cloths to help the room from sounding shrill.
- Can you control the lighting? Are there dimmers or light switches you are allowed to turn on and off?
- Sparklers & fog machines are usually not allowed and often set off fire alarms or even the sprinkler systems! Find out ahead of time.
- How loud can your event be? Establish how loud your event can be and what time the music needs to be cut off. Some venues have shockingly restrictive rules about this.
- Which areas can you use and which are open to the public?
- Do all vendors have the same floor plan and timeline?
- Is there an electrical outlet where you need it? Does it work?
- What is the rain plan?
- Avoid having guests sitting or standing outdoors in the hot sun, trust me. People fainting during ceremonies in the hot sun is not as uncommon as you might think.
- If you don't have enough seating for all of your guests, have enough tall tables for everyone to stand and eat at.
- Is someone from the venue there to help if something goes wrong?
- Is there parking for vendors and guests who can't move their vehicle?
Planners who get it:
DC Day Of DCdayOf (at) gmail.com (Chelsea is a day of coordinator who really gets it - don't let the lack of a website fool you)
Photographers you want to work with:
Videographers to capture it all:
Florists who will amaze you:
Production companies for events:
Event furniture & necessities:
Wedding Venues I love (guest capacity):
Airlie - Warrenton, VA (180 capacity).
American Visionary Art Museum - Baltimore, MD. (400 dinner & dancing).
Arts Club of Washington - Washington, DC (180 seated).
Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA (230 seated, 300 standing).
Baltimore Museum of Art - Baltimore, MD (200 capacity).
Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville, MD (350 capacity).
Clarendon Ballroom - Clarendon, VA (220 capacity).
Comet Ping Pong - Washington, DC (Recommended Vendor) (150 or 200 in multiple rooms).
Decatur House on Lafayette Square - Washington, DC (400 capacity).
Eastern Market's North Hall - Washington, DC (Recommended Vendor) (400 standing reception. 230 seated at 6ft rounds of ten without a dance floor, 190 at 6ft rounds of ten with a dance floor).
Evergreen Museum & Library - Baltimore, MD (320 Tented Patio & Carriage Room no dance floor, 220 Tented Patio & Carriage Room with dance floor).
Ghibellina - Washington, DC. (Recommended Vendor) (86 in private diningroom).
Glen Echo Park - Glen Echo, MD (Recommended Vendor) (800 Spanish Ballroom dancing, 450 dinner & dancing, 350 Bumper Car Pavilion theater seating, 200 dinner & dancing).
Josephine Butler Parks Center - Washington, DC (Recommended Vendor) (300 standing, 150 dinner & dancing).
Khimaira Farm - Luray, VA (250 capacity).
Long View Gallery - Washington, DC (200 dinner & dancing).
Oxon Hill Manor, Oxon Hill, MD (300 standing, 210 seated, 170 seated with dancing).
Riverside On The Potomac - Leesburg, VA (260 capacity).
Strong Mansion - Dickerson, MD (150 capacity).
The Loft at 600 F - Washington, DC (Recommended Vendor) (150 capacity).
The Mayflower Hotel - Washington, DC (300 capacity).
The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown - Washington, DC (130 capacity).
Thorpewood - Thurmont, MD (150 capacity).
Torpedo Factory Art Center - Alexandria, VA (220 Main Hall seated, 350 theater style seating, 450 standing).
Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion - Chevy Case, MD (170 spring, summer and fall, 120 winter months).