Contributed by:  DJ Tony Schaab

I was blown away recently from the results of a survey by a national wedding-planning website of brides- and grooms-to-be from all over America. After polling thousands of nearly-newlyweds, the data collected showed vastly different information than that we have come to know to be true here in Indiana; for example, the poll showed that the average length of an engagement is only six months, and the most popular month of the year to get married is December!

Clearly, we do things a little differently here in Indiana. While planning advice and “Dos and Don’ts” lists are fairly common to find online and usually pretty helpful, I’d like to take some time to present local brides and grooms with a few additional hints to help you plan a wedding in our “neck of the woods!”

1) Use unique local venues to your benefit

Every city has its own beautiful and exclusive ceremony and reception locales, and Indianapolis easily boasts some of the most rare and unparalleled locations in the region. Looking for something downtown Indy with amazing views of the city skyline that also provides very modern elegance? Be sure and check out D’Amore, The Skyline Club, or The Mavris. Want something elsewhere in town with a homespun, Midwest-hospitality type of vibe? Take a peek at places like Oak Hill Mansion or The Ritz-Charles. Having a travel-themed wedding or simply a flair for the theatrical? Go fall in love with locations like Fountain Square Theatre or the first major railroad station in the country (and a nationally-registered Historic Place), the Crowne Plaza Union Station. Surrounding cities such as Bloomington, Muncie, and Lafayette also offer wonderful, distinctive locales (and vendors) to host your event. Whatever your preference, there are an ample amount of amazing venues in our area that will show your guests a truly Indiana-specific party.

 2) Plan around the weather – to a point

While December weddings can definitely provide a very “winter wonderland” or holiday vibe for your reception, many couples opt to take advantage of the warmer weather months to provide an indoor/outdoor event for their guests. Whether your preference is to get married on a sunny day on the Downtown Canal or hold a party under the stars at Eagle Creek Reservoir, May through October comprises the bulk of the “busy season” of the local wedding professionals. Just remember that Indiana weather can be tricky, so it may not be a bad idea to have a backup plan in place for your outdoor events – we’ve seen 70-degree weather in February, 100-plus-degree weather in July, and bitter cold winds in September, to name just a few of our local meteorological quirks.

3) Don’t drag your feet on booking your vendors

I couldn’t help but laugh when I read a “Wedding Pre-Planning To-Do” timeline in one nationally-published wedding magazine which boldly stated that you don’t need to book your DJ until four months before your wedding. Perhaps there are just an overage of wedding vendors in other parts of the country, but I can speak from experience here in Indianapolis: the core group of trusted and expert wedding professionals will have their calendars filled long before the four-month mark. I myself have worked couples with wedding dates as far in advance as 27 months from when we first spoke! Because each wedding vendor will have their own singular “style,” its imperative that you start as soon as you can, take the time to explore your options, and select the person or team that is the “best fit” for you and your reception. Whether it’s a photographer, videographer, caterer, baker, or – ahem – DJ/Master of Ceremonies, there really is no such thing as “too early” to start your search for your ideal match.

4) Don’t be afraid to make it your own

Did you know that it’s traditional for brides in the Southern states to do a “wedding portrait” weeks before their big day, where they get dressed and made up just like they plan to on their wedding day, and then have that portrait displayed at their ceremony? On the West Coast, it’s almost considered offensive for couples to NOT do a Dollar/Money Dance at their reception. In Canada, the signing of the marriage license is actually a part of the wedding ceremony itself. Heck, in the United Kingdom it’s actually illegal to get married after 6pm local time!

What I’m really trying to say is this: there are differences from region to region with wedding traditions, so incorporate Midwest routines and traditions if you want to, but feel free to plan the party they way YOU want it to go, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to host your reception. Do your “formalities” out-of-order: put a twist on your day by doing your first dance right after your grand entrance, or cut your wedding cake before dinner begins. Use technology to your advantage: amazing new products like Cell Phone Snaps turn your entire guest list into photographers for you. Here at Event One, we offer our clients the opportunity to make your rehearsal dinner a unique party: rather than a “status quo” quiet dinner, we join you for the evening and get your VIPs and loved ones involved by playing “Know Your Bride and Groom” Trivia, which gets everyone excited and energized about the fun weekend ahead! Doing distinctive things like these options will go a long way towards setting your celebration apart from the average wedding.

5) Use local flair to your advantage

Besides being “flat and full of corn,” there are many things that our state is well-known for around the country, so don’t be afraid to embrace these local idiosyncrasies to help your reception stand out all the more. Having your party in May? Get some checkered flags and celebrate Indy 500-style! Lots of your guests big sports fans? Set your uplights to “Colts Blue” or “Pacers Yellow!” Proud to be an alumni of your local college? Bring IU, Purdue, or Butler jerseys for your guests to wear in their photo booth pictures! The possibilities are endless.

Whatever your preferences, the common theme in all of these tips is to do what you can to make your reception unique and meaningful to you, the bride and the groom. Your guests will appreciate your personal attention to detail and will be truly honored to be a part of your special day.

 

Tony Schaab is a seasoned wedding professional, having worked as a Wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies since 1999. He is the co-host of the annual Bishop Luers-Midwest Swing Choir Invitational in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the world’s first show choir competition. He is an award-winning and best-selling author and review critic; 2013 will see the release of his humorous “memoir” novel, “Confessions of a Wedding DJ.” Tony lives in Indianapolis with his fiancée, daughter, and two rambunctious dogs. Learn more about Tony at TonySchaab.com.