30 Requests For Your DJ

When it comes to hiring a professional DJ for a wedding or an event there is often a conflict between perception and reality. The perception is a DJ plays music and makes the lights blink. How hard can that be? He (or she) probably sleeps all day and only works on Friday and Saturday nights. While that may be true from some out there, those are not the people you want to hire for your event. They are not professionals.

The other perception is a DJ should not cost more than a few hundred dollars. I mean really, the DJ is pressing play on songs, so why should it cost more?

When you hire a professional DJ, that person has likely invested over $10,000 in equipment. They are often the first one to arrive and the last to leave, so a 5 hour event is 9 hours or more for them. They pay thousands of dollars to update their music collection every year. They spend time reviewing new music, answering client questions, visiting venues, maintaining equipment, directing caterers, photographers and venue managers as to what happens and when. They attend meetings, send out contracts, work on timelines, deal with drunken guests and go out of there way to make sure everything goes perfectly. They need to be able to make a living just like everyone else.

Value is often forgotten and instead people look strictly at cost. You can always find someone cheaper, but you must understand what you get in return decide how important you event is to you. Here are some key questions to ask yourself of any DJ you consider:

  1. Do you get quality, professional equipment?
  2. Do you get a 2 person team that understands your event?
  3. Will your actual DJ meet you in person before you book them?
  4. Does your DJ know how to use their technology and how to troubleshoot issues?
  5. Will they set up long before guests arrive and work with other vendors?
  6. Can they adjust to schedule changes and unplanned issues?
  7. Do they know how to do introductions, tell a story and properly use the microphone?
  8. Will they be respectful to all your guests and not play offensive music?
  9. Do they prepare well in advance for your event?
  10. Do they play music from legal and reliable sources? Not from streaming or internet sources.
  11. Do they make sure their set up looks clean and professional?
  12. Do they refrain from drinking and smoking during your event?
  13. Do they dress in proper attire and appear well groomed?
  14. Do they speak clearly and naturally without putting on a show?
  15. Do they understand proper volume, tone and clarity for the entire room?
  16. Can they multi-task with music selections, announcements, and guests?
  17. Do they know how to mix different types and eras of music?
  18. Can they adjust to the crowd and bring people to the dance floor?
  19. Do they understand they are not the focus of attention?
  20. Do they value what they do and charge appropriately for it?
  21. Do they honestly answer your questions?
  22. Do they care about you and don’t consider your day another “gig”?
  23. Are they insured?
  24. Do they clearly explain what they will and will not do?
  25. Will they give you the time and attention you deserve?
  26. Do they have a back up plan should something go wrong?
  27. Do they have experience and a good reputation?
  28. Are they someone you trust and can work with?
  29. Will they promptly answer your calls and emails?
  30. How will they make your event unique and memorable?

Any professional DJ is going to have quick and honest answers to every question. Most people only hire a DJ once in their life and so many part time amatuers count on ignorance. A bad DJ can will ruin a great event. Don’t let it happen to you.

Fashion And Function

We get to plan and attend some pretty cool events. It fascinating to see how styles change depending on where you are. So many things from the culture to climate effect the look and feel of an event.

It’s always a bit frustrating when event people assume style only comes from either New York or Los Angeles. Nothing against those cities, but each city and town has there own style and taste waiting to be discovered.

I’ve witnessed some event folks trying too hard to make an event something it’s not. food_600x450_8dfcd58851Quirky and over the top does not work if it’s not functional. Often events go for the visual appeal and forget everything else. If you have triangle plates and tiny forks it may look cool, but your guests may starve trying to get food to their mouth.

Speaking of food, I’m adventurous when it comes to cuisine, but not everyone is. If you have to pause to decide if something is modern art or edible there is a problem.

Not all of your guests want to, or are able to wind their way through a maze of sensory overload. Sometimes easy access to a drink is more important than if that drink shoots from the fingertip of a woman dressed like a vineyard.

I love creative elements in events. I love things that entertain and catch the eye, but it has to be a functional part of the overall presentation. It’s tempting to plan an event to try to impress others and create your next portfolio piece, however unless all the elements work well, that event fails even if it looks great.


Time for a Trend Article

Every year at about this time the trend predictions of what is in and what is out appear like holiday decorations in a shopping mall.

Trends are like fads, and as history proves, some fads are just popular bad ideas. (Google “parachute pants” for a prime example).

The problem with trends is once everyone follows then they no longer “trendy”. As event planners we constantly strive to create new experiences. To deliver for our clients and guests things they have never seen before. We create events that siStock_000018254113-Trend-Analysistand out and provide an interactive, engaging experience. Part of this effort is always seeking, developing and introducing exciting new elements, technology and productions.

The things that capture the attention and imagination of our event guests are the true trends. They are the things that people talk about long after they are over.

While each event we produce is custom created specifically for each client, here are a few ideas to consider in the coming year.

Corporate events are changing. Flying the entire company to location for a sales meeting or product launch used to be the norm. Now companies are staying closer to home to save money and make it more convenient for employees.

Power point presentations in conference rooms are not the way to go. Instead create an entire brand experience to deliver your message and meet goals for the event.

Technology can’t be ignored in these events.  Events should keep attendees engaged.  Using iPads, Smart boards, and even creating an app for the event all create a way to connect with your audience and deliver your message. Make sure attendees are able to connect through WiFi and provide them plenty of opportunities to interact at your event.

Forego the bag. How many conferences have you attended where you have been handed a bag? That bag is usually filled with things you will never read, things you will never use and that bag will end up in back of a closet assuming you don’t throw it out before you leave the property.  No one wants to walk around with that bag, so invest your budget in one nice gift or consolidate and award a few very nice gifts for lucky guests.

Weddings are moving away from the usual chicken dinner in a hotel ballroom. Smaller and more intimate celebrations at unique venues are becoming more popular. Even wedding luncheons that end in late afternoon are taking the place of the party that goes till 1 AM.

Private parties are often being centered around a theme. Elements borrowed from movies and pop culture are very popular. Time periods and celebrations that allow guests to participate in the theme are appearing at celebrations.

A year from now all this may change. It may also be bigger than ever. As an event planner, it’s our job to be aware of tends but also to create an event that doesn’t attempt to follow a trend, rather it presents a new twist or presents something entirely new.

On behalf of all us at Pierce Events we wish you a very happy 2016!


Price and Value In Events

Event Planning BudgetPricing and budgets are always important when planning events. You don’t have an unlimited budget and usually one of the first questions asked of an event planner is “How much is this going to cost?”

At Pierce Events we serve three very different and distinct clients.

  1. Social event clients who are planning a private event on a limited budget.
  2. Corporate clients with larger budgets and internal and marketing goals
  3. Non-Profit clients who are looking for fund raising opportunities and a solid return on event investments

Creating a pricing structure for a variety of clients, budgets and events can be a challenge. Pricing need to work of all parties involved. Social events require a different pricing structure than corporate and non-profit events. Many social event planners charge a time based fee. Depending on the type of event a planner creates, average hourly rates vary greatly.

Corporate event planners may change a flat fee or planning and project fee based on cost and time estimates. Often we plan an event with a specific budget defined. Choices and vendors are chosen based upon the budget restrictions.

At Pierce Events, we plan and produce events from coast to coast. Our internal costs of vendors, labor and staffing varies based upon geographic location. Everything from time of the year to local tax rates can impact the cost of events.

While pricing is certainly important to most clients, choosing the lowest bidder in events is often a mistake. It’s just as important to consider value along with pricing. Spending more with an event planner or company that has experience, vendor connections and production knowledge is money well spent.

It’s important to remember that a large portion of the money paid to planners does not remain with them. From the fees we charge clients, we pay venues, vendors, equipment rental, permits and license fees among other costs.

Educated clients are often the best clients and provide for a powerful working relationship. Be sure communication is clear and your planner understands your budget and goals.

Passion and Paychecks – Not always a match

I’m often asked for advice on finding a job in the event industry. That’s not easy to answer because the industry is so vast, but that’s also one of the things that is attractive to people. You can make your own path.

I often hear people say “follow your passion”. I’m not sure people who say that even know what they are really saying. The word “passion” comes from the greek word pathéma. It literally means suffering, affliction, an undergoing, an enduring. It’s not a pleasant thing.

We think of passion as something you love to do. Do what you love for your job. That’s great if you can and pay the bills, but the reality is that’s not always possible. There are jobs that need to be done that are not fun. They aren’t entertaining. Think of the people you encounter every day. Are they following their passion or working to make ends meet?

There are also people who don’t have a clue what their passion is. My advice to those people who aren’t following their passion is to work hard at whatever job you have and live life with your eyes wide open. Seek out new things, try things you have never done before. Ask questions of people you find interesting or successful or even happy.

The eureka moments when we discover our true calling don’t always happen. Sometimes we live our whole life and never answer that question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Following your passion, even if you know it is not easy. It’s often risky, incredibly hard and many fail in that pursuit.

The world changes. There is not much work for cobblers and blacksmiths anymore. I know many people who took a “job” in order to pursue their passion in their spare time. Often that is the best approach. Once your passion becomes that thing that has to put food on the table, things drastically change. Your motivation changes. What you will and will not accept changes. Sometimes even your passion changes.

So follow your passion if you know what it is. And if you dare…

Fall Means A Change Of Color

It’s important to be well-versed in current trends for colors and décor. This fall, you won’t have any trouble doing that—we’re here to help, showing off the latest in fall event trends.

Cues from Nature

Shades from things like the forest, nighttime skies, and end-of-summer sunsets. Brown table linen, such as our Copper Birch pattern, invokes feelings like you’re surrounded by trees, and when you accent it with some lush, green centerpieces and metallic candle holders, you can create a romantic setting for a beautiful wedding or party. Use unique dishes such as shimmering black charger plates to bring drama to the tablescape, and your event will be what everyone’s talking about.

Incorporate Warm, Metallic Shades

You might think that metallic shades are a little overdone, but the reason they’re so popular is because they always look great. Instead of going toward changing-leaf color schemes, though, go for something unexpected, like pairing gold linen with soft pink and white accents. While you might think that those colors together is too spring-like, the truth is these shades are becoming more and more common during fall and winter events.

Don’t Be Afraid of Bright Patterns

Instead of shying away from bold shades like papaya or grass green, use them in abundance and pair them with autumnal accessories, such as textured, jewel-toned charger plates or fall foliage as the centerpieces. If you don’t want to overwhelm the event space, you can use runners on bare tables so that the pattern isn’t too distracting. For instance, pair the Clover Mesa Runner with the Papaya Mesa Napkins, then use clear charger plates with gold borders for added elegance. Fill planter boxes with flowers, succulents, and different grasses to tie the look together.

Reversible Linen That Complements Itself

Another décor trend that’s gaining speed is the use of reversible linen. It allows you to use the same color in slightly different shades, or even reversed patterns for visual interest. Reversible fabrics let you use the same type of linen, for instance, for the tablecloths as well as the napkins, and yet they’ll look different enough to make people wonder what the trick is.

Outdoor Summer Events: Tips to Keep Guests Comfortable

Outdoor PartyWarm weather hails outdoor events. It also brings special considerations for anyone planning an alfresco affair and it’s important to keep your guests comfortable. Here are some helpful tips:

Comfortable Seating – Metal and even black chairs in the sun can be painful to sit on. Padded light-colored chairs work best. With several styles and colors to choose from, your event will be comfortable and look great.

Temperature Control – Weather is the one thing even the best event planner in the world can’t control. Heat is just one extreme you have to be prepared for. For some tented events portable air conditioning is an option. If outdoor AC is not an option for your event, be sure to have some well placed fans available. This will help move the heat that gets trapped under tents and even help control bugs.

Food & Beverage – No matter what food and drinks you plan on serving, good old fashion water is essential. Alcohol and heat don’t mix well and often the hotter it is, the more guests drink. Be sure to give them water to balance any other drinks served. Food should be items that will keep well in the heat. Salads and chilled food should remain chilled. Even cooked food should not be left out more than two hours.

Know Your Guests – Think about who will be attending your event and the space you will be using. Not all guest can easily uses steps or walk on uneven ground. Consider how far the restroom will be for your guests. Make sure you have adequate parking. If you are hosting a large party in a residential setting, it’s courteous to inform neighbors beforehand.

Summertime Sips – Drink Ideas for Your Backyard Party

The grill is hot, the pool is cool and all you need is a drink. We’ve got you covered with some great drink ideas.


WU0302_Raspberry-Lemonade_s4x3.jpg.rend.snigalleryslide.jpegRaspberry Lemonade

4 cups fresh lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1 bag frozen raspberries
Ice cubes, for serving
Squeeze the lemons and pour the juice into a pitcher. Mix together the sugar with 3 cups water and stir to dissolve to make a syrup. Add the syrup to the lemon juice and top it up with 8 cups water. Taste to make sure it’s sweet enough for you, and then add the raspberries. Mix the lemonade together and let chill in the fridge. (Keep in mind that the raspberries are tart, so be sure to sweeten enough!)

Fill mason jars with ice cubes and top them off with the lemonade.

Cucumber Pineapple Tequila Cooler

1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
2 limes, skin removed
1 seedless European cucumber, peeled, plus cucumber slices for garnish
4 ounces silver (blanco) tequila
1 1/2 cups ice cubes, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Pinch kosher salt
Prepare a vegetable juicer (or blender if unavailable). Run the pineapple, limes and cucumber through the juicer, letting all the juices combine. Pour the tequila into a cocktail shaker or pitcher, and then add the juices, ice, agave and salt. Shake or stir vigorously until chilled. Line up 4 tall Tom Collins glasses filled with ice, and pour the tequila cooler over. Serve with straws and cucumber slices for garnish.

Mojito Limeade

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges, plus more for garnish
2 cups crushed ice, plus more for serving
1 cup Lime-Mint Syrup, recipe follows
1 liter white rum
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Club soda
Lime-Mint Syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 limes, zested
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Watch how to make this recipe
Muddle the mint leaves and lime wedges with 2 cups crushed ice in the bottom of a large pitcher. Add Lime-Mint Syrup, rum, lime juice, and more ice. Top off with club soda, to taste. Pour into glasses over ice and serve. Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and mint sprigs, if desired.

Lime-Mint Syrup:
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime zest and mint, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to infuse the syrup with the flavor of lime and mint. Strain out the mint and zest and refrigerate the syrup, covered, until cold.