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Save $$$ at Country Clubs

In Cost Saving Tips, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! by djscottshirley

One idea that many people don’t consider is choosing a private club for your reception venue. It seems counter-intuitive – private clubs evoke an image of being expensive – but many PM wedding clients have saved hundreds and even thousands of dollars by holding their reception at a Country Club.

Unlike hotels and stand-alone banquet halls, private clubs are often not-for-profit organizations. Banquet rooms are available to members free of charge, and the only cost is for food and drink service. Furniture and even linens are often included.

Compare this to the breakdown of costs from a hotel or banquet facility. You are charged for room rental, food service on a per-person basis, and beverage service. Some will charge for outside furniture or linen rentals, and for security guards, bartenders, and parking valets – charges that are often included at the private clubs.

The bottom line total is often less at the private club!

But I’m not a member!

Some are intimidated by the “private” image of private clubs. The truth is that many of them welcome the general public as banquet customers, and even advertise their availability. It is not uncommon to see a Country Club, Yacht Club or downtown City Club advertise in wedding magazines and bridal shows these days.

Some clubs, mainly the older established ones, will require a Member-Sponsor. Many get around this by having a list of members who are willing to sponsor non-member banquets. If a club makes money from an outside banquet, it helps them keep lower dues and fees for their members.

Another consideration is the fact that most major private clubs have “Reciprocity.” If you have a family member who belongs to the local Yacht Club, for instance, he would be granted member privileges at many of the Country Clubs in the area.

Private clubs are generally well-staffed with experienced food and beverage people. Many have a reputation for outstanding food, a great view, or a magnificent staircase for a bouquet toss.

At PM Celebrations, we have worked with major clubs for years, know the facilities well, and can always help save you money.

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In Standard by djscottshirley

The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond

What does a Wedding DJ know about Love and Marriage?

Well, after 36 years in the business, I have seen a LOT of weddings. And I daresay I’ve learned a lot from my own marriage of 27 years. I don’t have any special magic to offer, and I certainly won’t pretend I have done everything right! But I very much want to see my wedding clients have successful marriages. So I share these thoughts, with the sincere hope that some engaged couple might benefit from my experience.

Eros Now, Agape Later!”

Those words were written on the windows of the car at my wedding – by the preacher, who happened to be my father! I may have laughed at the time, but it has come to mean much more to me now.

The ancient Greeks thought they had Love figured out. If it were only that simple!

These are Greek words for two different kinds of love. Eros refers to romantic love, the kind we see in movies, and is the root form of the word “erotic,” which we usually use to mean sexual love. Agape is a pure, selfless love that is freely given, even to the point of self-sacrifice. It is often referred to as Christian love, but is certainly experienced by people of all faith traditions. In fact, it is a doctrinal practice in 8 major religions!

I knew my Dad was telling me something with his car-window message, and like many things, I would fully understand it later, with maturity. I think it was simply that love grows, love matures, and love takes on a much deeper form as it develops, and as WE develop and mature. Agape is a mature love that is unselfish, and marriages that fail, I believe, have never progressed past Eros to Agape. Selfishness kills marriages.

Those Pesky Old-Fashioned Vows!

Many people choose to write their own wedding vows, or to modify the traditional ones. Sometimes they can be beautiful statements of love and respect. Sometimes they are just different. At a friend’s wedding 20 years ago, I was disturbed by their modified vows. Instead of “As long as we both shall live,” they changed it to “As long as our love shall last.”

I was shocked, and confused about why this was so disturbing to me. After the reception there was a party at their home, and some of our school friends were sitting together when the groom approached us. Oddly, his first question was “How did you like our vows?”

Some couples toss off their Vows like confetti

He was shocked that none of us liked “as long as our love shall last” and wondered why he made that specific change. He said “Well, we just don’t believe couples should stay together if they don’t love each other.”

That statement haunted me for many years. To me it sounded like a fair-weather marriage with a bailout clause, and missed the point of getting married. Whither agape?

Learning the Hard Way

It was not until many years later, when I began to face difficult times in my own marriage, that I began to figure things out. You see, I thought we had the “perfect marriage.” Everything was smooth, we didn’t have big fights, and my lovely wife was very patient with me. We had our financial ups and downs, but overall had a pretty good life together, and even enjoyed a few luxuries. But still waters run deep.

“I’ve Been Rich, and I’ve Been Poor – Rich is Better!”

One key to a healthy marriage is to share the financial burdens of the home and family, openly and honestly. I had an expensive hobby – yacht racing – and spent enormous amounts of time and money on it. I loved sailing (see “Mania” in the graphic above), and considered it a big part of my life and part of “who I was.” I was respected in the sailing community, and collected lots of trophies. But over the years, my wife increasingly saw it differently.

Our friends called my sailboat “The Other Woman”

Men and Women See Things Differently

My wife viewed the boat as a money-gobbler. She viewed the monthly bill from the Boat Club as a nice car payment. She secretly thought that if we spent the same amount on a ski condo or a beach house all those years, it would be paid for by now. She was patient and tolerant, and I sailed on, oblivious to her growing resentment.

Love is Blind – And It’s Not Enough!

Everyone says “We’re in love” during their engagement. Since long before the ancient Greeks, this thing we call “Love” has been analyzed, scrutinized, sanitized, improvised, and rationalized, and we still don’t understand it.

But we all think we understand it, when it happens to us! And it makes us do crazy things – like get married. And while some are better prepared for it than others, no one can fully anticipate the trials, the challenges, the hazards, the heartache nor the joy that comes from a lasting marriage.

That’s why people cry at weddings!

Poems have been written, and songs have been sung – hundreds and thousands of songs, trust me, I’m a Wedding DJ, and I collect them! And we make promises to love, to honor, and to cherish our partner. The vows themselves admit that love is not enough! It takes more than that to make a marriage last.

Do You Have Chemistry?

Love was correctly identified as a potentially fatal chemical imbalance in the medieval tale of Tristan and Isolde, who accidentally consumed a love potion and turned into hopeless addicts. Even though they realized that her husband, the king, would punish adultery with death, they had to have their love fix.

British chemist Clair McLaughlin gives a scientific explanation of the chemistry of love. She explains that lust comes first – our natural desire to seek a mate, driven by our sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.

Next comes attraction, driven by surging brain chemicals called monoamines: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Norepinephrine and serotonin excite us, while dopamine makes us feel happy. These “love chemicals” are controlled by a substance which is also found in chocolate and in strawberries, called PEA or phenylethylamine, and it is PEA which controls the transition from lust to love.

Are Cupid’s Arrows Really Drugged?

My friend and client Reverend Don Scott has performed hundreds of marriage ceremonies, and spent countless hours in premarital counseling. “Young couples enter into marriage blindly, oblivious to each other’s faults,” says Rev. Scott. “They’re twitterpated” he says, borrowing a word from Disney’s classic Bambi. That’s Eros.

But will you love your husband when he’s old, fat and bald, and wears ugly golf pants and reading glasses? Will you love your wife when she’s gray-haired, 40 pounds heavier, and wears dumb fuzzy slippers? Not all of us age as gracefully as the pretty people in the Cialis commercials (whom I suspect are really only 40.) Will you still want to be together, when you have trouble remembering to take your medication? Because THAT is what you vow to do at your wedding!

Will you love me when I’m old and gray?

The Chemical Bond

The third stage of love is attachment – staying together. Attachment takes over from the attraction stage and is the bond which keeps couples together. After all, we couldn’t possibly stay in the attraction stage for ever – we would never get any work done for day dreaming! Two different hormones are important during this phase of love. They are oxytocin and vasopressin.

Oxytocin (the cuddling chemical) not only increases the bond between lovers, but is also one of the chemicals responsible for contractions during childbirth, milk expression when breastfeeding, and is released by both sexes during orgasm. The theory goes therefore, that the more sex a couple have, the greater the bond between them. Nice touch Mother Nature!

Vasopressin is the monogamy chemical. Only about three percent of mammals are monogamous; mating and bonding with one partner for life. Unfortunately, humans are not one of these naturally monogamous animals. Endorphins are also involved in the longevity of love. Endorphins have the same pain-killing and pleasure-delivering properties as their cousin, morphine, without the risk of overdose.

SO…Love Is Not Enough, And Chemicals Aren’t Either?

Marriages that survive the trying times are built on mutual respect, patience, and a generosity that often demands self-sacrifice. At various times in a long marriage, you will be required to give more than your share, and sometimes you might even wonder if you really do feel love for this person! As with any close relationship, there will be differences, and emotions run deep in a marriage. Like a small child who screams “I hate you!” when upset with a friend or sibling, you might feel outright hostility toward your spouse at times.

The Light Bulb Goes Off!

That is when I started to figure it out – to understand why it bothered me so, that my friend changed his vows to say “As long as our love shall last.” The “REAL” vow, in my understanding, was “‘Til death us do part.” And all of a sudden, I finally get it. It’s not about living happily ever after, like the fairy tales tell us. It’s about staying together, through the good and the bad – forever.

We Vow To Stay Together – Even When We Don’t Feel Love!

That’s Agape. It’s loving when you don’t feel loving.

FACT: Men go into marriage hoping she will never change.

FACT: Women enter marriage thinking “I’m gonna change him!”

The reality is that both husband and wife will go through many changes in the course of a lifelong marriage – and this is where you make it or break it.

Changes Strain the Relationship – And Also Strengthen It

All close relationships go through difficulties and disagreements. Think about relationships with parents, brothers and sisters, and roommates. People are different, and people will disagree. But mature adults do not sever a relationship over a disagreement; rather, they come to terms with some form of mutual understanding. And it might be that you agree to disagree!

One unrealistic aspect of young love is feeling a desperate need to be alike. While it’s said that opposites attract, we tend to be attracted to our partners by the things we have in common. Whether we mean to or not, we tend to try to mold each other to share our interests. Young people in love will often “go along to get along,” which makes things easy, at first, but can lead to trouble down the road.

“What do you mean, you hate cats? You said you LOVED Fluffy!”

Differences are not deal-breakers!


Five Complaints About Wedding DJs

In Uncategorized by djscottshirley

We have written at length here about Professionalism; what it is, and what it isn’t.

And much advice is floating around the Interwebs, much of it conflicting, about DJ professionalism and prices. By definition, a “professional” does it for a living, not a hobby or a sideline to their Real Job. And just like a professional photographer, or a professional anything for that matter, he or she must charge enough to earn a living wage. True professionals are worth it, and their clients all say so and send them more customers.

But 95% of them are hobbyists. And while some of them have talent, and may be “professional” in their demeanor, appearance, or their business practices, they don’t have to kill to eat. Professionals live off of referrals, and thus will do whatever it takes to make your event successful. Amateurs don’t need to.

Here are the Top 5:

1.  They Play TOO LOUD!

This comes from two mistakes amateur hobby DJs make: A.) small cheap system with just two little speakers on sticks – their only option is to “turn the volume up to 11,” and B.) a youthful DJ who intentionally shows off how loud the absurdly HUGE sound system can get. That sort of unprofessional practice is simply immaturity. Neither is equipped nor qualified to play for a wedding.

Absurd overkill, and TOO LOUD even switched off!

A professional uses the appropriate system design and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to get good coverage and sound quality at lower volume.

2.  They Dress Inappropriately.

This one is just stupid. The DJ/MC is highly visible, and needs to look professional. For a wedding this means a tuxedo or a suit. Too many inexperienced DJs want to look “badass,” and many have a thing about dressing in all black, and an aversion to wearing a tie.

3.  They Get Drunk And Hit On Bridesmaids and Guests.

Really? Do I really need to explain this? Bad, unprofessional, and potentially criminal.

4.  They Play The Wrong Music.

Perhaps the most bothersome aspect is that this is ranked fourth! A professional will meet with the Bride and Groom as much as needed to select music that is just right. No two are alike, nor should they be. The music should be what the client wants, not the DJ. This is why it’s not a great idea to ask the Club DJ you like to play for your wedding. Totally different skill set.

5.   The DJ is “Cheesy” or Says Inappropriate Things

This one belongs in the same category as getting drunk. Totally wrong and unprofessional. Horror stories abound, all because people planning weddings fail to check references or choose the lowest bidder – sure ways to end up with an amateur. Sadly, this often happens with a FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) who thinks such comments are funny, that no true professional would ever say.

PM Celebrations has many Blogs archived about Professionalism. In the Dallas-Fort Worth market, there are fewer than three dozen experienced professional DJs who do weddings full time. A Google search will turn up 4,000 amateurs. Ask your planner or your  photographer who the real Pros are, and CALL their references! Call and speak to them on the phone (NO texting.) Why? Since this will be the voice that represents your family, don’t you want to know if he stutters? Talk with him, or her!

Good, professional DJs are out there. If we are booked for a date, these are the people I will refer too, because I can count on them to be professional. Someone told me that to find a good Doctor, you should ask a malpractice lawyer who he sees. To find a professional DJ, ask one who he would trust enough to refer for one of his best clients.

Call PM Celebrations at 817-688-2665, and we will get you with a professional.

Off-Shoring Theme Parties?

In Uncategorized by djscottshirley

At PM Celebrations, we have always loved events with special themes, and work hard to make them special and unique.

We have done Western Themes and New York Themes. We have done White Themes (all the guests dressed in white), Tacky Parties, Blacklight Parties, and “White Trash” Parties with a Redneck theme. We have even done Redneck Theme Weddings!

My personal favorite is Pirate Theme Parties.

We have covered every decade: 50s and 60s parties, 70s and 80s parties Gen-X parties. We’ve done the Rat Pack “Crooner” theme. We do Disco Theme Parties better than anyone, and they have been all the rage for middle-aged birthday parties for several years. The classic Mirror Ball and fog machines can turn any venue into the Disco club from “Saturday Night Fever.”

We have done all kinds of Nerd Theme parties. We have done Plane Crash Victim parties in airplane hangars (not very funny after an air tragedy), Zombie Parties, and Nautical themes. We have done costume parties where everyone dressed as a dead celebrity. Ugly “Bill Cosby” Sweater parties are popular at Christmastime, and college students have had Toga Parties for decades.

We even did a Harry Potter Theme party for the release of the final film in the franchise. The decorating and refreshments were straight from the books and everyone came in costume. We projected the crests for the four houses of Hogwarts on the marble walls of the Great Room. The movies were showing on two huge screens, and we did Green-Screen Photography where we could shoot a guest’s photo, and insert them into a scene from their favorite HP film – very cool!

American Party

But guess what is trending across the pond? American Theme Parties. Or at least, how people in other countries think Americans do it. See what you think.

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On Love – and Wedding Cake

In Let them eat cake!, Weddings! by djscottshirley

How many weddings have you been to, where you heard the familiar scripture on love from 1 Corinthians 13?

It is probably the most popular statement about love used by wedding preachers.

Katy and Clay Hodges’ wedding cake had everyone eating these words:

"Love is not jealous or boastful" although it might prove to be fattening!

“Love is not jealous or boastful” although it might prove to be fattening!

Here is a closeup view:

love cake closeup

At PM Celebrations, we are always finding great ideas. Call us at 817-688-2665 and let us share the ideas learned from years of wedding experience!

So, How Big Are Your Speakers?

In Professionalism by djscottshirley

One way to spot an inexperienced amateur DJ or sound man is that they advertise and boast about how BIG their speakers are.

Ludicrous speaker is not exactly “portable!”

Experienced professionals understand that better coverage using numerous smaller speakers works better for most events. Lots of little speakers provides greater control of volume and allows zones of sound.

And bi-amplification – using separate loudspeakers for low frequencies and mid-to-high frequencies – lets the pounding bass notes stay where you want them, (like on a dance floor), without excess volume in conversation areas.

DSP (Digital Signal Processing) can eliminate echos and harsh acoustics in difficult spaces.

There is an art and a science to sound! It’s much more than having the biggest speakers – and much less.

Call PM Celebrations for all your events that could benefit from great sound!

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“And They Will Throw Rice at Your Wedding”

In Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! by djscottshirley

I write a lot about traditions. I have posted about ethnic traditions, school traditions, family traditions, yachting traditions, and weird traditions.

At Texas A & M University, the big joke is that if you do it twice, it’s a tradition. Their Traditions Council has recorded the origins of some of their long-standing traditions. But the origin of many traditions is often lost to the mists of time.

Do you remember the last time anyone threw rice at a wedding?

Newlyweds were once pelted with rice when they left. Now birdseed seems to be the weapon of choice.

It was the tradition for many years for guests to throw rice as the Bride and Groom made their honeymoon getaway. The origin for this is vague, but it is supposed to symbolize wishing prosperity and fertility to the newlywed couple. In other cultures, guests might throw dates or figs.

In America we stopped throwing rice, in favor of birdseed, due to fear of harming birds. Seems the birds would eat the dry grains of rice, which would expand in their stomachs, ultimately causing the poor bird to explode. Everyone now “knows” this, and it is simply not PC to throw rice any longer.

Turns out it’s all nonsense.

Why aren’t there stories about exploding birds? Because it doesn’t happen.

Pigeon shrapnel!

I always suspected this. I recall driving through the rice fields of south Louisiana and seeing that they were filled with birds. Some were eating the crawfish and other critters in the flooded rice paddies, but many birds were eating rice. And we never once saw a bird explode.

Our culture is so pre-programmed to believe that any story that gets repeated enough must be true. So it became universal practice to use birdseed instead of rice. The past few decades have seen couples running through bubbles, rose petals, and sparklers as well.

There are some practical reasons to favor birdseed. Rice can be hazardous to walk on, and a bear to clean up. Many venues banned rice for these reasons…but it had nothing to do with exploding pigeons. And so far no one has exposed a conspiracy by bird seed companies to promote their product this way.

I recently heard of a hazardous birdseed story. Someone purchased birdseed for a wedding that was specially treated to keep squirrels from eating it. After showering the bride and groom with it, they developed a painful burning and itching, as did many guests who came in contact with the seeds. Turns out the active ingredient was capsaicin, extracted from chili peppers. That was a hot wedding!

So now that the truth is out, will we see a return to the rice throwing tradition?

We now have special “Designer Wedding Rice”

There are new, improved rice products being marketed for weddings that are supposed to be safer and easy to clean. Some is even heart-shaped! And it won’t make birds explode – just as regular rice won’t.