And the Average Cost of a Wedding Is... by Stanislav Nikolov

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Hot off the press! The latest numbers are in from The Knot Real Weddings Study 2017 and our big takeaway? Couples are spending more than ever on their guests -- an average of $268 per guest (that's up $23 per guest year over year, and up $74 per guest since 2009).

A little back story on The Knot Real Weddings 2017 Study. Every year for the past 11 years, The Knot has surveyed thousands of engaged and married couples to get a sense as to how they plan their weddings. Couples who take the survey have to have been married within the past year and this year's results are the culmination of nearly 13,000 couples surveyed. A few more of our top findings and insights from the study below!

Average national wedding spend: $33,391

Average guest list size: 136 (that's down 5 guests per wedding year over year)

Most Expensive Place to Marry in the US: New York City ($76,944)

Least Expensive Place to Marry in the US: New Mexico ($17,584)

Average Age of a Woman Getting Married: 29

Average Age of a Man Getting Married: 31

Average Number of Bridesmaids Per Wedding: 5

Average Number of Groomsmen Per Wedding: 5

Most Popular Month to Marry: December (16% of couples)

Average Length of Engagement: 14 months

Most Popular Months to Marry: September (16%), June (15%), October (14%)

Most Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/Champagne (37%), Dark Blue (32%), Gold (30%)

How To Pick the Right Band For Your Event by Stanislav Nikolov

In this video Claudio from Mod Society goes over the process of picking the right band for your event. He talks about what you should look for, what questions to ask bandleaders, and how to compare bands in different price brackets. 

Questions for bandleaders:
1. Do you offer different size configurations? 
2. Do you provide your own PA system? 
3. Do you have wireless microphones for speeches? 
4. Do you have backup equipment? 
5. Do you provide lighting for the band and dance floor?
6. Do you have a sound technician? 
7. Do you have a consistent lineup of musicians? Can we pick singers? 
8. Do you learn songs?
9. How long have you been playing together?
10. Do you have any upcoming showcases? 

Remember that not every band will be a good fit for you and your event, so if you find yourself asking a band to change too many things about their style, repertoire and/or pricing it’s probably a good sign that they are not for you. Professional bands are usually very well organized and highly rehearsed, so make sure you let them do what they are good at! 

8 Ways to Keep Your Wedding Guests Entertained at the Reception Table by Stanislav Nikolov

8 Ways to Keep Your Wedding Guests Entertained at the Reception Table

While you spend all that time planning the perfect wedding, from the color scheme to the venue, sometimes you forget that you are sharing your special day with the ones you love.  So, you want to spread the joy and think about their feelings.  Weddings can be long, and if you don’t plan ahead, your joyous event can turn into a snooze fest for your guests.  While you may be experiencing the best night of your life, you want your guests to have a good time too.  Therefore, try some of these tips to make sure your guests have a ball at your wedding.

1. Make introductions at the rehearsal.

A good way to ensure that your guests have a good time is to make everyone feel welcome.  It may be awkward for your work friends to interact with your personal friends.  So, ease the tension by having everyone introduce themselves.  You can have them say something about themselves as well so that they can have something to talk about at the reception.

2. Plan transportation.

You want your guests to let loose without them worrying about how they will get home.  They can knock back a few and not worry about staying sober to drive home.  This tactic can also reduce the chances of drunk driving.  Arrange transportation to and from your party, and watch how much more relaxed your guests will be.

3. Create a seating chart that can help facilitate interaction.

These are your people.  You know things about them.  Use your knowledge to put compatible people together.  Susan from marketing loves dogs, and your cousin Pete is a breeder; they are a match made in heaven.  Your seating chart is the first line of defense against an awkward and dull event.  Hey, maybe you can even do a little match-making for your single friends.

4. Bring your Cinderellas some slippers.

Heels are medieval torture devices, yet, women continue to wear them.  But, every woman hits that point in the night when they can no longer deal with these nuances.  However, not every woman thinks to bring a change of shoes.  Nobody wants to dance when their feet feel like they’ve been through hell.  To fix this issue, plan to provide cute slippers as party favors and keep the dancing going all night long.

5. Have your guests fill out advice cards.

Have your guests fill out cards about things dealing with your married life.  Have them answer questions such as “What should we name our kids?” or “Should we get a dog or a cat?”  People love to butt into other people’s lives, so why not make a game of it.  You can read some of the answers aloud, making your guests feel important and like they are a part of your life.  Hey, I’m sure your grandparents will appreciate feeling involved.

6. Come up with conversation starters for each table.

As corny as this sounds, they actually are a great way to break the tension.  You can make this as fun and as goofy as you want.  Be creative.  If you are having trouble coming up with something, turn it into a game of “Would You Rather” and have them explain why they chose the way they did.  Sometimes all people need is a little push in order to open up.  If you’ve thought ahead and formulated your seating chart to put people of similar interests together, you can use that information to come up with a starter.  Elect a more loquacious and outgoing guest from each table to facilitate said starters.

7. Create a scavenger hunt.

A great way to make your wedding more entertaining is to set up a little scavenger hunt or “I spy” wedding game.  Give your guests a list of things they have to find (or photograph) throughout the night.  For example, one item could be, “Find someone who is fluent in Russian and have them write their name in the Cyrillic alphabet” or “Take a picture of the groom gazing lovingly at his bride.”  You can also up the ante and getting more people interested in the game by offering a small prize.  Let’s say that for every five items your guests find (or check off), they get a free drink coupon.  At least it will give your guests something to do, and if you incorporate photography into it, you may have some wonderful mementos.  Another fun item that can bring people together could be something like, “Take a picture of you kissing a stranger.”

8. Arm your tables with playful party favors or centerpieces.

Adult (or children’s) coloring books, Rubik’s cubes, Battleship, Tic-tac-toe, Hangman, or other fun little games or activities can be a great addition to your Wedding.  Your invitees can have something to do in between their favorite songs and meals, and the games can give your guests a chance to interact.  Plus, we all know the dangers of idle hands.  Another alternative could be something they can create and bring home with them such as a DIY mug that they can decorate or something similar.  

Does My Wedding Ceremony Need a Sound System? by Stanislav Nikolov

Does My Wedding Ceremony Need a Sound System

No matter how perfect the setting, your wedding ceremony won't be much fun for your family and friends if they can't hear what is going on. If you are planning a small ceremony — under 50 people — a sound system may not be necessary. In the wide majority of cases, the benefits provided by a dedicated ceremony sound system and a qualified operator far outweigh the costs. A PA system is especially significant if you are having an outdoor ceremony. 

  1. Noise & Wind 

Even for someone whose voice carries well in an indoor setting like a church or courtroom, moving outdoors is an entirely different ballgame:

  • Is your ceremony setting near a roadway? You now have traffic noise to compete with.
  • Are there any trees or shrubs? If there is any wind whatsoever, rustling leaves can be loud.
  • There are no walls to hold the sound and reflect it back inward. Even if your wedding is in the middle of the desert and there is zero wind, voices won't carry as well as they do indoors.
  1. Volume Consistency

Ok, let's say your wedding is going to be somewhere where you are 100% positive there will be no wind, and your officiant has a great and loud voice. 

The officiant won't be the only person talking at your reception. You're going to repeat your vows, you might have a scripture or poetry reading, there may be a vocalist, etc. In the case of your vows, you're most likely going to be facing each other — so your voice isn't pointed toward the crowd — and you probably don't want to be screaming in your partner's ear anyway.

Ideally, you want your guests to be able to hear and enjoy everything in its entirety--including your vows. This is much easier to accomplish when microphones are used, as the operator can adjust the volume to ensure each person has heard appropriately. 

  1. Musical Flexibility 

Are you planning to have live musicians provide the music for your wedding ceremony prelude, processional, and recessional? If so, you may think that reduces the need for a PA system. However, most instruments suffer the same effects of the wind and ambient noise as speech--and while you can ask them to play louder, there is a limitation on how loud is possible.

Having an appropriate ceremony sound system helps overcome these issues. In the cases of electronic instruments like a keyboard, the musician can feed their signal directly into our speakers--which are positioned for optimum coverage of your entire audience. For string and wind instruments, microphones are placed appropriately to amplify the sound — which allows for greater total volume, far better control over volume, and more even coverage of your guests. 

If you aren't having live musicians — or only have live music planned for individual components of your ceremony--we can play recorded music through our system with no hassle whatsoever. 

  1. Skilled & Experienced Operator

Perhaps you could rent or borrow or equipment at a lower cost than using our full-service wedding ceremony PA coverage. You may even know someone with a little bit of experience making a live sound for their band or church of running it for you. But there are significant disadvantages. 

Microphones are only live when they're in use. The microphone sitting on a stand off to the side for the poetry reading won't be picking up wind noise or snickers from the groomsmen. Your officiant can help direct the flower girl and ring bearer where to go as they come to the front without your guests hearing him. Your musicians can switch their sheet music without everyone hearing the pages rustle through the speakers. Don't risk an offhand comment being heard by every one of your guests — get a full-service package with an operator specifically experienced with providing wedding ceremony sound.

There is nothing more frustrating for your guests than not being able to hear your most important words. Be prepared for your wedding, and make that special day be known and heard by all of your loved ones. Do your research before selecting a sound system for the ceremony.