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Wedding - All 230We’d just gotten married.  What a fun day.  One of the few in my life when I was completely present, not thinking about anything but what was happening right then, and I remember it vividly.  We went back to this spot for a picnic; it was nice to be there again as our normal selves and remember being there as our wedding selves.  This time it was not as hot and we wore bug spray.

After the wedding, we ate all but two (ie–approximately 50) of the leftover cupcakes.  I wrapped those two in three layers of plastic wrap and put them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  Chris pulled them out a few days ago so they could defrost in the fridge.  We were very excited to eat them yesterday, and they were surprisingly close to being as delicious as they were a year ago!

But sheesh, this time of year is busy.  I don’t know how we pulled off the wedding last year.  I must not have been doing my job very well!  Ah, who cares?  It was more than worth it.

We did not hire a DJ for our wedding.  We were very particular about the music we wanted played and we didn’t want a “personality” hijacking our party–since we were going to be so controlling about it, it didn’t seem worth it to pay someone.  We caught a lot of flack for this but we think it was a huge success.  Our wedding playlist is still my favorite thing to listen to!  I’ve been at a lot of weddings since where the couple goes a similar route…except they miss a few key steps.  While it’s definitely possible to skip hiring a professional DJ, you do not want to just plug your iPod into some speakers and leave it unattended.  Here are the steps we found to really work:

1. Figure out when music will be played and what type will be appropriate.  The music you want for cocktail hour is different than what you’ll want for after-dinner dancing.  Create playlists in iTunes for each section, then drag all your favorite and appropriate songs over.  (Our lists consisted of: before ceremony, processional, recessional, reception entrance, dinner, cake cutting, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, dancing, last dance.  Some of these lists were only one or two songs long, but it makes them easier to find.)

2. Edit your lists.  You probably know how long each portion of your wedding will be and so you know how many hours of music you need.  Keep a little extra just in case the timing isn’t exactly as you expect or you want to skip a song in the moment.

3. Edit each song.  This is absolutely crucial.  We spent our entire 1 1/2 year engagement on this process.  Without this, you will have those awkward 30 second pauses between when one song fades out and the next one gets going.  This kills the mood.  To edit each song, right click on the song, select Get Info, then Options.  You’ll see little boxes for start time and stop time.

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I’ll warn you, this was the most tedious project we had (even with folding the tissue paper pom-poms and cootie catcher programs).  Why?  We had to listen to the beginning and end of every single solitary song a million times and note when it started to fade in or out, change the start or stop time to match, then test it with various other songs to make sure they flowed together.  Yes, this is a pain, but it is the only way to ensure everyone at your wedding isn’t groaning about how you just plugged in your iPod and the music sucks.

4. Mix it up.  Don’t stick to all one kind of music.  Think about what your parents, peers and little cousins and nieces and newphews will enjoy, so there’s something for everyone.  (This usually means a lot of throwbacks mixed with current pop and a bunch of irrefutable classics.)  For us, this meant Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love to You was followed by Notorious BIG’s Hypnotize was followed by Kool & the Gang’s Get Down On It. And throw in some slow slongs every now and then.  Two slow songs to every eight to ten fast songs is a good ratio–this gives the folks who aren’t big dancers a chance to get on the floor and it gives the folks who are big dancers a much needed breather.

5.  Recruit a friend to oversee things.  We had my brother’s friend man the music.  He switched from playlist to playlist at the appropriate times, pressed play and stop, acted as emcee, and could skip or rearrange songs depending on how things were going.  As jobs go, I think it’s a pretty easy one.  We invited his girlfriend as well, put them up in the hotel as payment, and they got to hang out with my brother and enjoy the wedding (I hope!).

6. Last, but absolutely not least: DO NOT USE AN IPOD!!!  It sounds counterintuitive, but iTunes is really the key to all this, not the iPod.  An iPod is just to tricky to use when you’re under pressure like this.  And all your song editing will be lost, and that’s no good.  Instead, use your laptop.  You’ll be creating and editing your playlists on your computer anyway, and this gives you way more options and flexibility.  Borrow or rent a sound board with your speakers, plug in and go!

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What kid doesn’t love making and playing with these things?  We’d spend countless hours at summer camp creating these for every category you could think of: numbers, colors, friends, games, places; and man did we come up with the craziest, most ridiculous questions and answers to fill inside.   For anyone not familiar, Wikipedia has a good explanation of these paper fortune tellers.  Really, they were silly things you could make with folded paper that would enable you to confirm that your best friend was destined to marry to dorkiest boy at camp.

Since we had a non-religious wedding ceremony with no readings or singing, we didn’t need or want the traditional program that tells guests what page to turn to and when to stand.  But we did want everyone to know who those important people standing up there with us were.   I thought these would be cheap and easy to create and give our guests a fun little way to entertain themselves, with a giddy hit of nostalgia thrown in, while waiting for the ceremony to start.  They were a hit.

I bought some heavy stock cream paper from Staples and used a PowerPoint template from teacher Gail Lovely.  However, there are now TONS of people selling lovely versions of these on Etsy!  So even if you do not have the time or inclination to make these yourself (although I do think anyone can do it), there are plenty of people who will gladly do them for you!  I think off-beat and creative touches like this are what really make a wedding fun, memorable and personal.  The blog I-Do-it-Yourself also has lots of other fantastic ideas along these lines.  I wish I’d known about them when I was planning!