Part 2: Stirring The Pot

Disclaimer:  Ryan Bradshaw has been in the wedding industry for more than 15 years.  He’s the founder of RMF Entertainment, one of the most successful wedding DJ companies in the Northwest, and now represents himself in the wedding industry with Bradshaw Media.  Punctuation, grammar, and complete sentences aren’t the focus of these blogs.  Real content and honest information is the goal.  This blog is Ryan’s opinions and his opinions only.  These opinions are not the opinions of RMF Entertainment and solely Bradshaw Media.  If you disagree that is okay.  Authenticity is the end goal as this brand moves forward.

The Summary: 

In part 1 of these blogs I covered many topics that gave insight into what I thought would make the perfect wedding.  It was an overview of how you can pursue your wedding date with less stress, while also making it one of the best days of your life.  These days, families over complicate everything and try to continually mimic what they see others do and what they see online.  Part 1 could be summarized in one sentence:  Ditch the dumb shit and hire a skilled DJ/MC, a reputable photographer, have good food and drinks, and a venue that doesn’t cut you off before 11pm.

What the hell is this blog about?

It has taken me a while to finish this.  I’ve been writing, rewriting, writing some more, erasing, stopping, overthinking, writing…. you get the point.  This is part 2 and it’s piggy backing off the first blog I wrote, part 1.  I had a hard time narrowing in on what I was trying to get across.

It’s really funny when someone gives honest feedback they tend to come across as “bitchy” or always complaining.  

So I decided to include everything I missed in part 1 and be done with these subjects.  I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point.  I’ve been giving my opinions on the importance of a DJ for so long I’m afraid some of you might be getting sick of it.  I know that a lot of the stuff I write could rub people the wrong way, but at this point in my career I’m just not worried about that anymore.  I care more about getting authentic information out to the public than I do about what people are going to think of me.

My clients hire me because they want the best DJ experience possible, not because I’m the most “professional”.

So this blog is covering taboo topics that are always rearing their ugly head in the wedding industry, but they are harder topics to discuss because I’m going to upset people that I actually really like within this industry as well as maybe future brides that could disagree with me.  I’m trying to be my most honest, but I also don’t wanna try to hard to be different.  That’s why this blog has taken forever.  I just write things on this as they come to my mind, and I didn’t want it to be forced.

One cold hard truth about the growing wedding industry is that more and more vendors are forming cliques like high school girls.  It’s becoming like an episode of Valley Girl and people are now teaming up to make sure they get the best of everything all while talking down on others within the industry.  It never used to be that way.  In fact now you have vendors that literally won’t work a wedding unless other vendors they approve of are working the wedding also.  It puts brides and grooms in a tough predicament.

So many vendors are just kissing each other’s asses so that they can book the best weddings.

Look I get it. Why not do that?  I tip toed around this industry for years brown nosing and trying my hardest to please everyone.  As the industry has grown in Montana, so have the amount of vendors and the fact of the matter is this:  It’s not as close knit of a community as it used to be.  If you are getting married and looking for the best vendors it’s harder now then ever before to find them.

Longevity is key.  If you’re a bride reading this and want to know the 3 best ways to find a vendor that will fit your wedding needs please keep reading.  I’m going to give my candid advice and these are merely my opinions.  After I give this advice you will see below I tackled 6 topics more directed at brides about to get married that are topics most vendors have opinions on but hardly ever speak up about it.  But first…

The 3 most effective ways to determine if a vendor is who they say they are, OR you could say these 3 things are important in deciding if they are the right fit for most brides.

Are they easy to get a hold of

No question one of the sure fire ways to tell if a vendor is all in or not is how easy they are to get a hold of on an email.  Notice I said email.  The phone doesn’t prove much as we all have cell phones on the hip and answering a call can be deceiving.  You can call a vendor one time, they could pick up the phone and you think to yourself they care pretty responsive.  I disagree.  I get back to brides immediately.  I love new clients and love being a part of people’s wedding.  When an inquiry comes through my email I’m on it as soon as possible and 90% of the time that means within 24 hours max.

What is really crazy to me is I have a system on how to follow up with people.  Most of the time I follow up with a bride before the competitors have even emailed them an initial quote.  Brides will respond with “I’m still waiting to hear back from a couple more DJs in town”  I literally shake my head every time.. it chaps my ass so bad!  I understand wanting to get different pricing, but do you really want to work with someone that takes 5-7 days to send you an initial email when you are offering them a job???  Think about any other job.  If a company calls you back after a job interview and you wait 5-7 days to return the call I can almost guarantee you that you aren’t getting the job.

Most likely if they have this habit in the beginning, you will also be dealing with it the entire time you are planning your wedding.   Go with the vendor that is the most responsive.  It’s worth it every single time.  Promise!

Google and WeddingWire

These are still two of the best places on the planet to look for reviews.  The reason is both are the hardest to falsify.  WeddingWire does a good job with their review system and to leave a review on Google you have to have a Gmail account with them so it’s less likely people are going to just get on and leave false positive reviews.  It can still happen and these days it’s hard to say if all reviews are accurate.  However, these two are still the best you can get when going off other people’s opinions.

Preferred lists and references

One thing that venues are starting to do more of is create a list of preferred vendors that they enjoy working with.  Now I know you might be thinking I’m a walking contradiction because I stated earlier that vendors are forming fun little cliques here and there but this is different.   Venues quietly will make a list of the vendors they enjoy working with the most.  They will offer these lists to potential brides upon booking their place and brides are able to get an idea of some good vendors to contact.  If you shop around to 3 or more venues and the vendors you are looking at show up on all the the venue’s preferred lists, you probable are safe in hiring that vendor if you like them.  It’s honestly a sure thing most of the time as venues usually don’t have any reason to play favorites.

Keep in mind that there are some companies that will try to pay their way to be on these lists.  I call those companies scrubs.  That’s why it’s important to get honest information from the venue itself.  

Stirring the Pot

When getting married it’s really hard to navigate through the countless people and possibilities to hire.  In fact it can get so overwhelming that couples tend to shut down and even decide to elope.  It’s the pressures that one receives from family, friends, and social media sources that make it hard to decide what’s a good fit for your wedding.  I think the most important thing to do when you first get engaged is to do nothing at all and just let yourself enjoy the moment.  So many brides and couples rush to figure out details that they barely even enjoy the moment itself.  There are so many “know it alls” too that can add to the pressures of getting things right.

Relax and enjoy yourself.  You only get to do this once… hopefully… and there’s literally no reason to stress yourself out.  You will realize when your wedding is over that all the stress was for absolutely NOTHING and most people in hindsight regret so many of the pressures they put on themselves.

Side note:  The wedding industry is a 6 billion dollar a year industry now.  It’s big business for most people including me.  I won’t deny that I make good money in this industry.  But money is the driving force behind all these decisions that some vendors will make you think you need to do.

Let’s ruffle some feathers and stir the pot quick.  I’m just gonna jump right into these.  Here’s a few things that need to be out in the open that in my opinion will help reduce stress and help you enjoy your wedding.  Keep in mind I’m in Montana and 90% of my weddings are in this state so if you are out of state some of these might not apply to you as much.  Here’s the topics we will discuss:

Ruffling Feathers: 

  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 1:   Don’t listen to your friends that have never been married.
  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 2:  Don’t pick a holiday to get married on.
  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 3:  Don’t make your guests buy their own drinks all night.
  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 4:  Don’t get married outside in the winter.
  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 5:  Don’t forget to feed your vendors.  (Please don’t forget)
  • RUFFLE MOMENT number 6:  Flowers.  The cost of flowers.

RUFFLE MOMENT 1:

This concept can apply to anyone at any time.  Think of those friends you have that are lazy asses that have accomplished nothing in life, yet they are the first ones to tell you that a business idea is horrible and that you’ll never succeed.  “Yeah okay Karen… shut your face and go sit on your couch.”   It always amazes me when people take stock in what others say.   Would you listen to a fat ass tell you how to get in shape?  No!

So why would you ever listen to a friend’s advice that’s never been married?  I see this a lot.  I’ve worked with hundreds of brides and I would say 3 out of 10 always have a maid of honor/bridesmaids that add so much stress to the planning because they think they know everything, yet they’ve never even experienced their own wedding.  I had a bride recently, well in 2018, that was bringing her maid of honor to every meeting.  This MOH meant well.  She really did, but was taking over every meeting I was involved with.  I could tell it was bothering the bride, so I asked her to call me when she had the chance so we could plan a few things out.  Once we got on the phone and I was able to get her to open up, she was relived beyond measure.  I told her 3 things that can help and deal with her best friends during this:

  • You give a difficult, controlling friend boundaries.  You tell them what they are in charge of and put your foot down.  Tell them you really enjoy handing some of the details and that it’s better for them to focus on the tasks you give them.
  • You don’t bring them to every meeting you do.  Leave them home sometimes.
  • The best thing is to be upfront though.  Communication is always key and will save your sanity.  Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed because you have a friend that thinks they know best on every little detail.  At the end of the day remind them it’s your wedding and not theirs.

RUFFLE MOMENT 2:

Okay… If you decide to get married on a holiday you’re a pain in the ass even though I still love ya if you were one of my brides in the past (Insert LOL).  Someone has to tell you so I will.  In fact it amazes me when people do this and expect their entire guest list to show up.  Have I DJ’d weddings on a holiday?  YES!  Most DJs have.  In fact we have had several DJs doing events on holidays and holiday weekends.

Here’s what always baffles me about people doing their wedding on a holiday.

  • They act like you’re crazy when the price is higher.  Yes, if you choose to get married on a holiday you’re going to be paying more then the average person.  You are taking vendors away from their families during a holiday and that sucks.  So yes, most vendors are going to higher their price because they would rather be at home with their families on those type of days.
  • Also something else to keep in mind in Montana.  Griz football games and hunting season are holidays.  I know most of you just rolled your eyes and you’re thinking well he’s a guy so that’s why he’s saying that, but I’m being serious here.  I’ve seen brides under a LOAD of stress planning a wedding on Griz football home openers or the first day of hunting season.  I would advise avoiding it.  Always keep in mind your fiance will agree with you on anything because he’s gonna bite his tongue to make you happy… Who won’t bite their tongues are your guests.  They will make your life miserable by giving you shit the entire time you are planning while trying to be excited.  I know this as I got married on September 19th…

RUFFLE MOMENT 3:

If you require your guests to fly in for your wedding, get a hotel, and buy you a gift then you better damn well be courteous enough for the evening to cover the cost of their drinks.  Especially if you make your guests do the dollar dance.  The dollar dance is possibly the worst formality in the history of weddings.  It used to be a fun way to get people on the dance floor and be fun and goofy with the bride and groom.

It quickly turned into a huge cash grab and people felt obligated to give $20 bills vs the standard $1.  At any rate if you are choosing to do these things it’s common courtesy to pay for your guest’s drinks.  Even if it’s just the beer and wine, at least you are covering something for them.

However be prepared to have very upset guests if they are spending all their money to get to your wedding only to arrive and be told they need cash for any drink they need.

Trust me on this one.

RUFFLE MOMENT 4:

This is one of those things that seem so obvious.  It’s like reading the warning labels on brand name products and thinking to yourself:  “who in the hell actually did that for this company to even warrant a label?”

Believe it or not this is happening more and more in Montana.  Obviously my blogs have a target audience of Montana or the northwest, so if you live in the south and it’s still 70 degrees in January this doesn’t apply to you.  BUT, in this great state why people are now deciding it’s a good idea to have outside ceremonies in the winter is beyond my ability to reason.  I would assume it’s to get good pictures because I can’t think of any other reason.

Here’s my top 5 reasons to not get married outside in the cold ass winter months of Montana:

  1. It’s really cold.  Colder then a well diggers ass in January cold.
  2. It’s COLD.  REALLY COLD.
  3. It’s uncomfortably cold.
  4. The wind will blow making it below zero wind chill cold.
  5. Freezing cold.

I think that about sums it up.  You will also lose about 10-20% of your guest list should you get married outside in January.  I was doing a wedding last year and the poor couple I was DJ’n for were so upset because one side of their chairs were empty.  We delayed the wedding about 10-15 minutes to allow for more people to show up, but it never happened.  It was 12 degrees outside that day.

Nobody wants to sit in 12 degree weather to hear 1st Corinthians cited for the 23493th time no matter what day it is.

RUFFLE MOMENT 5:

Disclaimer: This is more geared towards other vendors that stare at me when I eat like I have the damn Coronavirus and just coughed on people.  95% of all brides I’ve worked with in the past have been amazing about feeding their vendors.  However there are still a few out there that are completely forgetful when it comes to this.

I have a lot of vendors disagree with me on this one.  This is an issue I’m passionate about because vendors, while yes getting paid to do your wedding, should be fed.   Some view this as “unprofessional” but I think that’s a cliche and overused word anyways.  The fact is we are there on average 10 hours or more and like any other job you are getting paid to do, you should get a lunch break.   At a wedding we don’t get breaks.  When I do eat at a wedding I’m standing up eating at my table as fast as I can so I can get back to the action.

Most of the time I arrive to a wedding 2-3 hours before my contracted start time to set up.  I’ll then do a 8-9 hour wedding and have to tear down for another 30 mins to an hour.  At so many venues in Montana there aren’t places to eat after the wedding.  In fact, I’ve been at weddings where the venue location doesn’t even have a gas station near it or open after 10pm and there’s no where to get food until the next morning.

I’ve been told by vendors to bring snacks and “sneak off” and eat.  I can’t do that.  I stay at my DJ table as much as I can.  I hate going to the bathroom sometimes because the second I leave I feel someone always needs me to make an announcement.

If you think it’s unprofessional to eat in front of guests, but it’s okay to eat snacks in front of guests I implore you to ask yourself what the difference is?  I would even pay for a plate if that’s what’s needed.

In summary:  I need my energy to get through the night.  Feeding vendors is not unprofessional and is okay to do.  Other vendors that see me eat and don’t like it you can all kick rocks 🙂

You’re probably thinking to yourself how does this help myself as a bride plan a stress free wedding?  Designating someone to help take care of your vendors needs will definitely make your wedding day flow smoothly.  I for one, even when I don’t get food, will never bother the bride and groom about it on their wedding day.  That’s rare though, and it’s just better to have a plan for all of this before your wedding day even starts.

RUFFLE MOMENT 6:

I’m not going to make a lot of friends with Florists and cake makers on this opinion.  In fact these 2 things led me to raise my rates almost double in the year 2014.  For that I’m thankful!  I remember sitting there busting my ass at a wedding sweating through 3 layers of shirts.  It was 95 degrees out… I was sweating my ass off moving gear, setting up multiple mics and speakers all over the place so that sound could be perfect for a wedding of 400 plus guests.  They had me moving around everywhere, and I had music playing in 2 locations at the same time.

At one point in the evening the mother of the bride says to me:  “it’s so hot out here all our flowers are gonna die quicker.  We spent $4500 on these damn things”  I about shit myself on the spot.  This family had made such a big deal out of me charging $1150 for 6 hours.  (That was my rate at the time.)  If you follow my website, read my blogs, or anything I post on social media you know how I feel about the importance of a good DJ.

That said I couldn’t believe someone would shell out that kind of money for flowers that will die in 7-10 days or less all for the sake of decoration yet talk me down on my price acting like I was charging them 20% of their retirement.  They legitimately had me thinking they were having a hard time affording things.  I felt bad and dropped my rate to book the gig.  Bad move on my part really, but it hasn’t happened since this single incident back in 2014.

Maybe I shouldn’t single out flowers and just say decorations, but when you are planning a wedding don’t stress yourself out on spending too much money on shit like that UNLESS YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN AFFORD IT.   Otherwise it makes no sense and for some reason in the wedding industry the first vendor to start getting cut down budget wise is the DJ, whom I think is the most important.  I rarely hear anyone comment after the wedding is over about flowers or any decor.  That impresses old ladies.  After that people will see it, be in awe for 10 seconds, and then forget about it.

Brides spend astronomical amounts of money on flowers, and at the end of the night they are begging people to take them home.  They rarely leave the wedding with these flowers.  I’ll be packing up, usually the last one out in some cases, and I can look around at thousands of dollars of flowers left hanging in the venue only to be forgotten.

The one place that won’t forget the flowers is your wallet.  They can be extremely expensive.  Will this be an unpopular opinion?  Yes it will but it’s an honest one.  I have friends that are florists.  My opinion on this makes it risky to even put this out there but I’m standing by it.  Some florists might hate DJs… I dunno… But a DJ is never gonna cost you $4000 and you will remember if your DJ was really good or bad.  The flowers will die in a week and you will forget…

CONCLUSION

Thanks for sticking with the entire blog if you got this far.  I feel like I have good insight and a lot of my opinions from from hearing other people give theirs over the years.  Part 3 will be a lot different.  I have 4 parts that tie all these blogs together.  I hope anyone reading this gets value from it.  That’s the main goal.  If anyone has any questions or wants to rant back at me because they agree or disagree feel free to message me.  I love hearing from everyone.

Thank you and as always I appreciate everyone that hires me and trusts me to do their wedding.

http://www.ryanbradshawmedia.com
bradshawmedia24@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Wedding DJ’s & Their Importance

I have written numerous blogs regarding this subject over the years and my conviction on this subject is stronger now than it’s ever been.  Weddings are the most important day of most people’s lives minus having their first born child, yet so many people are still stuck on the idea that they can spend less than $1000 on their DJ and have a good wedding.  While that can be true, I have seen countless Montana wedding DJs cancel on their brides last minute because they treat “Dj’n” as a side job.

You will only remember if you had fun.

The average cost of a wedding nationwide according to statistics in The Knot magazine is $35,329.  In Montana we are below the national average and come in around $14,545 on average.  That is still a lot of money to invest in a wedding.  Most people only want to put $750 of that budget towards the most important vendor at a wedding:  The DJ.

If you are spending that kind of money and spending a year planning the most important day of your life why would you want to risk it all over $500-$1000?  The notion of “let me do my own music” to save money on the wedding budget is as insane to me as letting your siblings with no experience do all the cooking for the food.

Yet…people sadly do this all the time.  They will spend $1000 on a wedding cake and not think twice.  Drop over $3,000 on decorations and flowers and not even care.  Spend more than 3-5k on a photographer.  Drop copious amounts of money on food, drinks, invitations, rehearsal dinners, tuxes, dresses, tents, lighting, and more.  Then it’s time for them to get their DJ and they have $650 left in their budget.  They look for bargains and hope that good ole Uncle Larry can do the sound.  They have a friend of a friend who “DJ’d” once in college and has some speakers.  That should do the trick right?

Before I go any further I will say that some people can get away with cheap DJs and doing the music themselves. Obviously everyone is different and has different expectations, but 9 out of 10 times this will end in a disaster and it’s the ONLY thing people will remember about your wedding.

The number one thing brides and grooms regret the most according to The Knot magazine is not taking the hiring of their DJ more seriously.  I can promise the DJ will make or break your night about every time.

The DJ is the Most Important Vendor You Will Book

Most brides don’t realize this until it’s too late and their wedding is over.  When people leave your wedding there is only one thing they are going to talk about:  How much fun it was and how great it was to see people.  They won’t care about your thousands in decorating.  They won’t care about fancy seats and chair covers.  They aren’t going to remember how great dresses and tuxes looked.  They won’t even remember half the time how fancy the venue was.  They are only going to remember how good the food was and if they had a damn good time at your wedding.  That is it.

A professional DJ does so much more than playing music.  They make proper announcements, coordinate, and organize your wedding with you.  They keep track of the timelines created and make sure that all the other vendors are ready for each specific formality such as the first dance and so on.

Part 1: The Pursuit of the Perfect Wedding

This is Part 1 of 4.  This blog was scary to write.  I unloaded all my thoughts with complete honesty.  I have spent years in this industry worried about being “too professional” and scared if I say the wrong thing I might scare someone off from hiring me.  I’m not scared anymore.  Over the course of this year I am releasing all information and not holding back.  I’m an outspoken, honest man that has been around more than 2,000 brides in his career and personally DJ’d/MC’d at more than 500 weddings.  RMF Entertainment under my wing was a part of 2,040 weddings. I have truly seen it all and I wanted to offer up my insight in an authentic way instead of a “professional” one.

You will learn a lot and I hope you take some of what’s said and think of how or if it might apply to you.

(Keep in mind I write how I feel, not for a grade on an English test.  I don’t care about grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.  This is like a journal not a thesis paper.)[/mk_mini_callout][mk_fancy_title strip_tags=”true” color=”#082d48″ size=”24″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”uppercase” margin_top=”024″ margin_bottom=”16″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]In The Beginning[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554329388350{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]I have written several blogs during my time in the wedding industry.  Most of them are on the RMF Entertainment website.  It all began in 2002 for me when I wanted to make extra money in college.  Me and my roommate at the time decided to max out a credit card and buy some gear.  Back then it was a way different game.  People respected the fact that you might not have a song because we had to play everything off CD changers with external amps hooked to the speakers.  Using CDs alone was a challenge.   We tried getting as much music as we could, and every gig we would walk in with huge books of CD cases hoping we had everything we needed for a great party.  My first wedding ever was at the Elks Lodge in Missoula.  We charged $200 for the entire evening.  (Insert the eye roll).  There we were getting bossed around nonstop by people wanting the perfect day.  $200 at the time seemed amazing, hell my apartment rent back then was only $250 for my portion so it felt like I was rich.  We tried booking as many gigs as we could, but never took it that serious.  We were more interested in DJ’n sorority parties and being young adults, but it was a start.  A start to something that got bigger then I could have ever imagined.

In 2004, I was one of the most well-known hip hop artists in the state of Montana.  I traveled around opening shows for the likes of Tech N9NE, 50 Cent, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and more.  I always thought I was gonna make it big and be a rap star (insert another eye roll).  I graduated college the same year, and never wanted to work for anyone else.  I bounced around odd jobs from about 2004 to 2006 and when I lost my job at the beginning of 2007 is when I found myself in a strange place in life. I was 27 years old, broke, and my budding hip hop career was dust in the wind.

It just so happened at the same time, my best friend from college was moving back to Missoula because he was tired of the corporate life and working 9am-9pm 5-6 days a week.  We looked at each other at that point and RMF Entertainment was officially born in the spring of 2007.  Our goal at the time was to simply create a life where we wouldn’t have to work for the “man” anymore.[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title strip_tags=”true” color=”#082d48″ size=”24″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”uppercase” margin_top=”024″ margin_bottom=”16″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]Fun, Fun, Fun[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554329483496{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]In the beginning we were having a blast.  Creating the brand, website, spreading the word, booking the first few weddings.  It was all new and it was exciting.  Similar to when you first meet that special someone.  The honeymoon phase of a relationship is no different than the beginning stages of building a business.  Sure there are challenges but I was so eager to be the best in the business that nothing could get in my way.  Weddings were so much fun back then too.  People were hiring us off word of mouth and we were working with brides that were laid back with lower expectations.  Both me and my business partner had a great circle of influence in the Missoula area so we took advantage of that when it came to growing our business.  People definitely had their doubts about us being a “DJ” for a living.  Especially when it came to my pain the ass mother in law questioning me why I would try and support her daughter off playing music (I can’t insert a big enough eye roll here).  That’s a story for a whole different blog, but we were motivated and began making connections with the right vendors, brides, and networkers.  Before we knew it by 2008 we had one guy hired, and we were doing 2 weddings on the same day for most of that year.

Weddings were nothing but FUN in the beginning.  Have I mentioned that yet?  I attribute that to the fact that brides and grooms expectations of us back then were low.  I started out only charging $500 for an 8 hour wedding (My prices start at $1500 for 5 hours now.)  I also credit the fact that I was in my late 20s and being younger at a wedding allows for you to vibe more with the younger adults and wedding parties.  These days I get hit on more by the bride’s mom or aunts then I do a bridesmaid.   Yes I’m a little older, but hey I’m damn good at what I do and with time comes incredible experience so at least I have that going for me.

Any who, anyways!  Weddings were a lot more enjoyable back then because of those reasons above and here’s where I want to share my opinions and insight.  As you read, keep in mind that not everyone falls into these categories.  This is merely my experience and speculation over the years and when you’ve been in the industry as long as myself you have a pretty big sample size to go off of.

My goal with the rest of this blog, which turned out to be long as hell by the way, is to give advice, insight, and offer my thoughts on the wedding industry now.

First I want to share with you 3 major reasons why most weddings have went from FUN to a really uptight and stressful experience.  To those that disagree with me, especially those vendors in the industry, I’ll buy you a beer later and we can hash it out. 😉 I guess as long as you’re buying that is…[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554329794770{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]1. Social Media was still nonexistent.  In fact we were still using MySpace at the time we started RMF Entertainment.  Facebook was still a college kid only app.  Snap Chat, Instagram, Pinterest, and the likes didn’t even exist.  When people were at a wedding 10 years ago they didn’t worry about their damn phones, taking 1,023,829 selfies, recording themselves, likes, shares, posts, or any of it.  I could write a completely different blog about how Pinterest has ruined weddings but I’ll save that.  Well kinda save that… Let’s talk Pinterest for a second.  That site is bogus to me!   Most women love it, but what happens is brides and mothers of the bride get on there and the worst thing you can do starts happening:  COMPARING!  What you all see on there comes from 100k budgets in some cases.  Brides see all these fancy set ups, flower arrangements, decorations, decorative lighting, and more thinking “hey I want my wedding to be just like that.”  The average cost of a wedding in Montana is 21k on the high end.  Sure some cost a lot more and others less, but regardless 21k is a lot of money.  But it’s not the kind of money that can produce most of those Pinterest weddings you are seeing.  Yet brides want what they see and go out trying to get it done only causing stress that doesn’t need to exist in the first place.

That’s just a small example.  Social media is such a broad topic and could be discussed for hours, but I truly think it’s ruining the way we interact.   People used to enjoy each other at the weddings they attended and now it’s all about snap filters, the right sides of the body for a picture, texting, and the absolute worst is when everyone turns into a photographer during ceremonies with their phones out.  I LOVE the venues in Montana that don’t have cell phone service.  There are a few venues that you almost know for certain that are going to be good weddings and fun parties because people don’t have service and they are staying for the night at the property or venue that the wedding is being held.  They are essentially forced to interact with each other without the temptation of a cell phone.  Most of you reading this don’t even remember what it was like before cell phones got popular, but I can assure you weddings were a blast when people were less focused on their cell phones and more focused on the people they are actually with.

2. Wedding Planners. This one is tricky.  I have wonderful friends that are wedding planners.  In fact I have a lot of respect for some of them that I’ve grown up in the industry with.  I would gladly give you their information if you want to hire them.   I guess I should technically reword it and say “Wannabe wedding planners”.  Hands down 50% of “wedding planners” are shitty.  The same could be said for any vendor category, but the “I’m gonna be a wedding planner” fad is spreading through the industry faster then an STD in a trailer park.

Here’s why:   You all know the type… the friend, sister, aunt, mom, or old college roommate that has the alpha personality that offers up their “expertise” because heaven forbid you spend some extra money on someone that knows what they’re doing. I can’t stand working with these type of so called planners.  Most of them have zero experience and can barely organize their own birthday parties let alone a 20 thousand dollar wedding with 200 guests.  Weddings require months of detailed planning, invites, communication with vendors, the venue, and a whole lot more!  A good wedding planner has schedules and is creative in their planning.  They are forward thinkers and good communicators.  They have a vision and execute that vision ANDDD they know how to navigate their way through a wedding and planning a wedding with other reputable vendors.

The last sentence is the most important one.  There’s nothing that makes me wanna pull my hair out faster than a wedding planner who doesn’t respect the needs of the other vendors around them.  This is the big difference between a rookie and a skilled planner.  And by rookie I’m talking about the friend or family member of yours who volunteers themselves to do it so you can save money.  The friend or family member that has barely even attended a wedding let alone plan one.  Yeah these “planners” ruin weddings most of the time and I highly suggest inviting them to take a long walk off a short bridge.  Most of the time they are bossing everyone around about things they don’t have any experience in doing thus causing more stress then needed on a day that is supposed to be all about fun.

Unfortunately everyone thinks they need a planner these days. It never used to be that way.  People with appropriate budgets should hire them, but now people that don’t have the budget are hiring Aunt Jane…  Sometimes you just don’t need one.  That’s a fact.  If you do need one make sure you do your research and hire the professional ones with a resume and experience.

3. Picky Brides.  Ladies some of you have lost your minds.  I don’t even know when and where this all started and why.  I have my ideas and some of them stem from reality TV shows that compare and show weddings.  Some women truly won’t even get married in the same venue a friend or family member did because heaven forbid if they do something even remotely similar.  Brides are now spending copious amounts of time trying to be “original” and trying to come up with that one thing that nobody else has done.  You see it everywhere.  From the ceremony music to the decorations to the first dance now being remixed with 123 songs that they want blended together perfectly.

Okay that number is slightly exaggerated, but seriously ladies… some of you are now asking us to mesh 10 songs together for a first dance thinking it’s original when in reality everyone is doing it now.  I get it, you want to be different and want to think of new things, but unless you have a budget of 50k or higher chances are your idea has already been done!

Brides have become obsessed with this concept though:  My wedding has to be way different then the norm and not even close to traditional.”  Some brides and their wedding parties have become their own worst enemy.  It’s sad to watch.  2018 was one of the hardest years in my career as a DJ.  I had a bride get mad at me for playing her own playlist.  Her OWN playlist! Keep in mind I’ve been doing weddings for years and I’ve never in my career had a bride chew my ass for playing the music she requested.  No shit that really happened.  At first she sent her maid of honor up to tell me to change the song.  “Bride hates this music you’re playing” she says.  When I informed her that it was the bride’s most requested list she told me to figure it out then… Also keep in mind there were a lot of people on the dance floor during this time… I tried to change up the music the best I could, but they kept coming up and wanting the music changed.  I was playing through every classic I could think of.  I finally went back to the bride’s list… and again… this time the bride herself comes storming up and telling me she could pick better music.  Lol.  I told her at this point that she did pick this music and she looked at me like I was the dumbass… almost as if she didn’t believe it was her playlist.

(The groom of this wedding tipped me and the father of the bride apologized.)

Another similar story.  Same year in 2018.  I was doing a wedding as one of my first elite weddings.  It was an amazing party.  90% of the entire place was on the dance floor and I’m enjoying the night.  BUT… it was too good to be true.  Up marches the maid of honor telling me the bride wants more upbeat music and to turn off the song I was in the middle of playing.  Guess what though… The groom had requested the song I was currently playing.  So I explained that to the Maid of Honor but she didn’t believe me.  She proceeded to take matters into her own hands and try messing with my gear and changing the song herself.  I got upset and yes I did tell her to “get the hell away and not touch any more buttons.”  That story traveled a completely different way throughout the party that night.  I don’t need to get into details but it wasn’t respectful at all.   The common denominator here is I was sober and she was not so keep that in mind.

Long story short… I again got an apology the next day and a tip from the bride and her family.

Point is those 2 weddings were within 3 months of each other.  There are other examples from that summer that I won’t get into, but what happened to just being with your friends and family and having fun.  You are only going to remember one thing after your wedding is all over and done with:  Did you have fun and enjoy the night?

Make sure you relax, don’t stress about stupid shit that doesn’t matter in the end, and enjoy dancing with your family and friends.  The night will be over in a flash and you don’t want to look back and realize all your dumb stress wasn’t worth it.

Those 3 reasons lead into my next segment.  Are weddings supposed to be perfect?  If you are grateful and thankful for your big day your wedding will be perfect… that’s the only way it will be.[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title strip_tags=”true” color=”#082d48″ size=”24″ font_weight=”bold” txt_transform=”uppercase” margin_top=”024″ margin_bottom=”16″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]The Pursuit of “Perfect”[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554330139804{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]After all the weddings I’ve seen and been a part of over the years, I want to offer my honest opinion on what I think makes a wedding “perfect”.  Notice the word perfect is sitting snug in between quotations.  It’s sitting that way because perfect doesn’t exist on a wedding day unless you are in the mindset that what can go wrong sometimes does.  There is always something that will go wrong and how you respond will determine how perfect your day is.

Wind, bad weather, sick kids, late wedding parties, drunk uncles, dress malfunctions, Mics cut out(not with Bradshaw Media though ;)), caterer is running behind, flowers are wrong, and much more to even name.  These things can all happen and you must go into your wedding day knowing only one thing:  It all works out in the end if you embrace the day.

Here’s how you can embrace the day and prepare for your wedding from start to finish.

Number 1Have a wedding you can afford.  So many brides and families these days want the fanciest weddings and end up spending half their parents retirement trying to get married that by the time the wedding rolls around everyone is grouchy, stressed, and feeling the pressure of things building up.  Not only is spending too much money on a wedding stressful anyways, but by doing that it raises your expectations to unfair levels.  People know when they are spending way too much money, and when they know that they will look for anything and everything to bitch about if something small goes wrong.  My advice is to ask yourself the max you would spend or can afford, and spend half that.

Where can you save money: Decorations, Invitations, wedding cakes, flowers, have beer and wine only bars, venues, dresses, bride’s maid dresses, Tuxes, horrible wedding planners, and having zero appetizers(believe me appetizers add up super-fast.)

All of the above mentioned items that people think are a big deal are not.  I’m sorry, but it’s the truth and bold honesty. They are luxuries that if you can afford then by all means indulge, but if you are on a budget please know that saving money on the above list is where you want to start.

The vendors below are worth every dollar you will spend.  Some will disagree with me.  I’m hardly ever wrong 😉 Ask my wife… she’ll tell you…[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554335620669{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Where to NOT save money:

a.) Photography: Believe it or not this is still an art.  People now think they can bargain shop photographers because they’re a dime a dozen these days.  When I first got into weddings I could name on 2 hands the photographers that were reputable within the industry. Fast forward 10 years and there are thousands of photographers in the area.  Okay maybe not that many, but my goodness they are all over the place due to the digital world.  I’m gonna keep this short and blunt.  Find one that has a massive portfolio, a good reputation, and the reviews to match.  If the price is over $2500 then they are worth it.  You could even throw a good videographer in the mix!

b.) DJs/MCs: Here’s where I’ll get called out for my bias.  I’ve made a living being a DJ so of course I’m going to include DJs in this list.  BUT… The fact remains and I will stand by this forever:  The DJ will hands down make or break your day single handily!  I’ve always told people that the rest of the vendors at your wedding could be perfect, but if the DJ is bad then you will have one of the worst weddings that people talk about.  All you’ll ever hear when your wedding is brought up is “yeah but your DJ sucked and we didn’t have much fun.”  You don’t want that to be your wedding.  The opposite can be said if we turn the situation around:  If all your other vendors are horrible, but the DJ is amazing I can promise you that you will still have fun at your wedding.  The number one thing anyone ever remembers about a wedding is:  Did they have a good time?  You can read a lot more about this on my website, but DJs are responsible for announcements, organization, requests, sound, lighting, and the overall success of the party.

c.)  Food: I don’t think I need to elaborate much on this.  Good food is the cornerstone to any successful event when you are entertaining others.  There’s nothing better than weddings that understand this and have a buffet of food that would make the highest class hotel in Vegas jealous.

d.) Booze: If you are having a dry wedding just lower your expectations because I’ve never seen a dry wedding pop off into the late night hours.  Alcohol despite the way some might feel about it, sets the party off.  This might be sad, but it’s true.  The DJ can be doing everything down right perfect from playing the right music, to taking requests, to engaging the audience, but sometimes people still sit there and stare at you like you’re naked in the street.  But you just wait… Once the booze hits it can turn a party of rednecks standing on the sideline into a Soul Train break dance session.  Alcohol is the one cure all for a good night of dancing.  My advice is to have somewhat of an open bar.  You don’t have to pay for all the drinks, but having at least beer and wine for free is a MUST!  If people can drink for free they will stay if the music is good.

**Quick tip** The bar and the DJ should always be in close proximity in my opinion.  Dance parties happen way better when people can grab a drink and walk 10ft to the dance floor.  In addition, most people conjure around the alcohol early in the night and it’s easier to get people dancing if they are right there in the same room.  [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554335808598{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Number 2:  Ditch a timeline.  Now here me out here.  Timelines can be good if you use them as only a reference.  But in my years of experience there is nothing worse than brides, moms, DJs, Photographers, wedding planners and you name it stressing themselves out over a timeline.

I can’t stand them.  Weddings are hardly ever on time.  Someone is always running late, unexpected things always happen, and so many instances can occur that can put you behind.  When people are trying to stick close to the timeline all this does is stress everyone out.

Instead I like an order of events and an organized keeper of those order of events.  I am damn good at it.  Some wedding planners are damn good at it.  Photographers can be very good at it.  When you hire the right vendors timelines aren’t needed.  An order of events is. We will get into my opinion of the perfect order of events in a couple paragraphs below, but for now all you need to do is have an outline of how you want the day to go without times next to them.  This will help reduce stress when things start happening that you didn’t plan on because they will and I can almost guarantee you will thank me later for this one.

Number 3:  The Perfect Order.  I do believe this is the best way to format the order of events at your wedding.  There are definitely other ways, but keep in mind the goal is to get to dancing and fun.  The formalities are important, but so is keeping your guests engaged at your wedding so they don’t leave.

(This order of events can only be executed by professionals who have a sense of what and how a wedding should be conducted.  This is truly where the pros and amateurs are separated.  Getting through this order in a timely manner, without rushing people, but also without too much time left in between each event is the cornerstone to a successful wedding day.)

We just talked about timelines and how I think they produce a negative result most of the time.  In order to avoid a timeline you must have someone with experience in leading your wedding through this event order.

  1. Ceremony
  2. Cocktail/mingle time.
  3. Intro of the wedding party/Bride & Groom.
  4. Blessing
  5. Dinner
  6. Toasts ( Near the end of dinner when people have all eaten or gotten their food)
  7. Cake Cutting (People hate waiting for desert. I wouldn’t wait long to cut the cake)
  8. First Dance
  9. Father/Daughter Dance
  10. Mother/Son Dance
  11. Anniversary Dance
  12. Dollar Dance
  13. You can use discretion here. Sometimes I like to get right into the Garter/Bouquet toss.  If people seem ready to fill the dance floor up I’ll get right into dancing and use the Garter/Bouquet toss as a way to break up the evening and let people take a break.
  14. Dance the night away!

There are other activities that some will do such as the Newlywed game and Bridal party dances.  Bridal party dance I usually do last, whereas the Newlywed game I like doing right after the toast before cutting the cake.

Number 4:  This thing here, this thing there.  Weddings are a great celebration and most of the time the people planning a wedding have never been married before.  Everything to this point is great advice.  Whether you take it or not is up to you as these things are just my observations and opinions.  I have so many other things to say that I decided to list them out below.  If you take all that’s been said so far, and pair it all up with the advice below then I truly believe your wedding will be an amazing experience!

a.) Don’t start your wedding too early. If you are getting married in the summer, one of the biggest mistakes people make is starting their ceremony at 2-3pm.  I made this mistake when I got married.  If you are looking to have a big dance party and good night with friends and family an ideal start time is 5pm in my opinion.When you start a wedding too early people are exhausted by 8-9pm.  That’s the time you want the dancing to kick off.  If you start too early in the afternoon people get tired quicker, they were up earlier, and think about it… Once 9pm rolls around they’ve already been at your wedding 7 hours if you had a 2pm start time.  This is especially bad if you’re getting married outside in the 90 degree weather in the summer.  The heat will exhaust people and it almost always leads to people calling it a night earlier then you expect.

b.) Pick a venue that allows you more time flexibility. There is nothing worse than a damn good wedding getting cut off by dumbass venue rules.  These days it’s happening more and more.  I’m not sure why yet.  I think venues are just wanting to end weddings earlier, yet some will blame a noise ordinance when they live 1,459 miles away from the next living human.  Either way if you want a good party where people are dancing into the night I certainly wouldn’t pick a venue that drops the hammer on things at 10pm.  Brides and families always think it won’t matter too, but in the end it does.  I don’t want to mention names, but there are venues in Montana that I’ve had all out arguments with because the people paying me (bride and groom) tell me to keep going at all cost…. The venue is yelling at me to shut down… I think you can see where this is going…

c.) Do everything you can to have 90% of pictures done BEFORE your wedding. Sure there will be a few after the ceremony and during sunset hours, but you will love yourself forever if you get most of them out of the way beforehand.  This ties into the next point I make very well.

d.) Don’t leave your wedding for long periods of time. There is absolutely nothing worse than a bride and groom bouncing out of their own wedding for more than 30 minutes at a time.  It down right drives me nuts!  It’s not just me though… Your guests will hate it.  It’s literally one of the worst vibe killers I can think of.  People are there to see you.  Not anyone else.  People want to dance, talk, drink, and hang out with YOU!  They aren’t there for anyone else.  When I was talking about the pictures above, one of the things that is tough to work around is when a photographer has to take pictures of everyone after the wedding.  That can take up to 90 minutes or more at times.  No matter how many appetizers and fun you think you have planned for people, they will get tired of waiting around for you to show up if you are off wandering the country side for too long…

e.) Never do a Bride auction! THE WORST THING EVER!!  Listen to me!  If there’s one corny ass, ridiculous thing you stay away from it’s this.  I don’t care if you don’t take my advice on the rest of what is written in this blog as long as you hear me out on this one!  For those that are unaware:  This is when the bride gets “stolen” by members of the groom’s wedding party.  The DJ then has to play auctioneer to get YOUR guests to bid money to get her back to the reception.   People hate this and usually the people that choose to do it want $1,000 raised to even get the bride back to her own wedding!!!  Your guests are already spending money on traveling, gifts, hotels, booze in some cases, food, you name it.   Also I’ve never seen anyone do this that also doesn’t do the Dollar dance.  So if you do the dollar dance AND this auction you look like a money hungry scam artist.  That’s the truth.  Your guests are already spending tons of money being at your wedding.  Please avoid this ridiculous idea at all costs.

f.) Let your guests request their favorite songs. This is your big day after all, but it’s always a good idea to let your friends and family request their favorite tunes.  Lately brides and grooms are turning in extensive “do not play” lists of songs they either can’t stand to hear or ones that they think are too cliché for their wedding.  Either way you most likely are listing songs on your “do not play” that everyone else wants to hear.  9 times out of 10 several people request those songs and will end up bothering you to the point where you will just give in anyways.  I see this happen all the time.  The only songs I would put on a “do not play” list are songs that invoke bad memories.  Those songs are out there for some people and it’s always a good idea to avoid those.[/vc_column_text]Everything written above in the pursuit of perfect can and should be taken with a grain of salt.  Everyone is different and has unique situations.

I have seen it all in this industry.  The sad part is though most brides and families rarely listen to advice.  It’s only after the fact they realize they should have listened.   You only get one wedding… I hope… and the unique side of our industry is that you can’t redo a wedding, and you can’t get it right on the next try.

I’m going to wrap this section up and post it.  My next insight, Part 2,  will be into trends such as uplighting, videography, and photo booths.

Part 3 will be a list of my most loved and hated vendors over the years with true stories attached to them.

Part 4 will be the stories everyone wants to hear that should never be told.

I appreciate you taking the time to read through this stuff and understand If you hire me I’ll offer my opinion if you ask, but will always accommodate you in whatever you need.  My goal is to always use my experience and time in this industry to better serve you and give you the ultimate stress free experience.

Ryan Bradshaw
Bradshaw Media
(406) 531-8593
bradshawmedia24@gmail.com