LIVE BLOG: Social Light – The Art of Wedding Design 2011

Good morning from the beautiful JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina. Today, we’ll be live blogging from Social Light – The Art of Wedding Design 2011 sharing insights from the presentations, tidbits on what’s happening inside the Malolo Ballroom, and much more. So check back often for updates and follow along on Twitter as well.

4:35 p.m. - And that’s a wrap. Fantastic day of wedding inspiration and education. Sandra just concluded thanking everyone for coming. We hope you enjoyed following along online. Now it’s off to the after party in the Hokulani Ballroom! Until next year…

4:22 p.m. – The food today was delicious and now it’s time for Raymond Donato and Chef Scott Higa of the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa to talk a little food.

  • Advantage of buffets, it’s a vehicle for discussion and that might be good especially when you have two families coming together for the first time.
  • Action stations create additional surprises and become a conversation piece.
  • Tips on handling the bar…be careful about making announcements that there’s an open bar all night long. Set a budget. Consider using drink tickets.

4:00 p.m. – Wondering what’s new and exciting when it comes to entertainment at your wedding? DJ Troy Michael of Troy Michael Entertainment is about to let us know.

  • Why hire a live band vs. DJ? – The WOW factor…the ambiance of a band…feel the emotion in the vocalist. Or maybe you have a love for a specific band or music genre.
  • Why hire a DJ vs. a live band? – Musical variety. DJ can cover a lot more music genres and they play originals. Band’s can sometimes steal the spotlight, whereas, DJs are a little more in the background. Bands can be more expensive than a DJ and may require additional sound system. Bands will take up a lot more space than a DJ, so keep that in mind. How will the band/DJ set up look at your reception? Something to think about how it will impact the look/feel.
  • MC 101/DJ 101 – It’s all about style when it comes to hiring a DJ too. Need to hire them just like you would a photographer/videographer, etc. Don’t select DJ just based on equipment. Look for a DJ that works well with other vendors. A good DJ should be playing the right music at the right time and shouldn’t be asked or requested to play a song.
  • It’s okay to give your DJ an idea of the kinds of music/songs you like. But you shouldn’t ever give them a list of 150 songs you want them to play. At that point, perhaps an iPod is a better option.
  • DJ can also provide ceremony music. May be additional charge, may be included in your package.
  • DJ can also provide a microphone for your officiant. And if they’re really thorough, will provide a lapel mic for the groom.
  • A good wedding program should last no longer than 50 minutes. If you have a slideshow, consider running that as guests arrive. If in your program, no longer than 10 minutes.
  • Speeches should last only 4 minutes.
  • Bride and groom should do your thank you speech in the beginning. Why? When you do it at the end, it’s a signal that the party is “done”…even though it may not be…and in most cases, people start to leave. Also when you do it in the beginning, it becomes a welcome speech and can set the tone for the evening. Something genuine and natural about it coming from the bride and groom vs. the emcee/DJ.
  • If you want to keep your guests there until the end, make sure the bar is close to the party. Not on the outside of the room.

3:30 p.m. – It’s incredible how far wedding videos have come. Short break before we head into our last session. Back at 3:45 p.m…

3:15 p.m. - It’s all about videography now with our good friends from James Chun of Crane Media (in black font) and Joel Campos and Kristy Martin of Studio Red (in red font).

  • Just like still photographers, videographers are there to capture a story that you will have forever.
  • Technology today has changed everything. Better quality product. Same day editing. Ability to capture still images from HD video.
  • Tips to making a great video: (1) visuals, (2) music plays in such a way it elicits emotion…that has a peak, (3) narration.
  • Questions to ask: (1) how much time will you need separate from the photographer, (2) how many from your team willbe coming, (3) what is your philosophy regarding your presence at our wedding, (4) how much time will you need to complete a same day edit, (5) will you need lighting at the reception.
  • There’s a ton of different styles. Traditional and non-traditional (cinema).
  • Cinema is more about telling a story about your wedding day versus your more linear videos (prep, ceremony, reception).
  • It’s all about how your video is finished…what the end project looks like.
  • One style is not better than the other…just really depends on what style you prefer.
  • Your wedding day is a reflection of you. Your wedding video should be a reflection back of you as interpreted by your videographer.

1:51 p.m. – Time to talk photography with Dave and Michelle Miyamoto of Dave Miyamoto and Company and Frank Amodo of Frank Amodo Photography.

  • When looking for a photographer, look for one with creativity. You want to also make sure you have a connection with them. Look at their work. Ensure it’s a style you like.
  • It’s important to meet with the photographer well ahead of time to establish a comfort level with one another.
  • Customer service is a priority. Work with a photographer that get’s back to you.
  • Difference between film and digital? Digital is much more efficient and the work flow is much quicker. The instantaneous nature of digital and ability to show a couple images during the process can help a couple loosen up and get more engaged in the shoot.
  • A sign of a great photographer is one that can shoot photos that can stand on its own. Photoshop is great, but a good photographer shouldn’t need to rely on it.
  • For great photography, couples should expect to pay $300-$600/hour. But couples should look beyond price and really lock into working with a photographer that really fits your style. This is one of the things that will help you remember this day forever. It’s hard to place a value on that.
  • Photographer should arrive 1-2 hours prior to the ceremony. Photograph the bride getting ready, details, shoes, flowers, dresses. This ensures you can get everything covered before the ceremony.
  • Is a shot list necessary? Yes, but not the usual stuff like “get bride, groom kissing” “bride and groom walking down the isle.” Moreso if there’s special guests or other elements that are very important to capture. Focus more on the special moments that will take place.
  • Take into consideration the season you’re getting married and the location on the island. Could affect the length of daylight you have to work with.
  • It’s important to work with the photographer to determine who gets into the family photo. If you’re brother has a girlfriend, does she get included? If there are separations in the family, is it okay for them to be in the same picture? Figure these things out ahead of time to prevent uncomfortable situations on the big day.
  • It’s also a good idea to take as many photos as possible before the guests start drinking. If you need help getting the guest’s attention, consider using the minister…everyone listens to the minister.
  • Everyone wants perfect weather on their wedding day, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. Cease the moment no matter what.
  • Crying is inevitable. Use a handkerchief instead of tissue to avoid having lint all over your face. Also have Visine if your eyes tend to get puffy.

12:15 p.m. - Time to check out the Design Showcase on the Lagoon Lawn before lunch. Being featured…Raj tents by Current Affairs, stationary by Bradley & Lily Fine Stationary, wedding cakes by The Cake Gallery, and table top designs by Yvonne Design. Gorgeous as expected.


12:00 p.m. -  Session two covering Floral and Design with Yvonne Chapman of Yvonne Design and Alex Garcia of Mood Event. Moderated by Sandra Williams.

Q: What are some good questions when selecting a florist?

YC: How much experience do you have? Ask to see a portfolio…not just center pieces and bouquets, but everything. And any thing specific to the venue. Ask to see an event in that space from beginning to end.

Q: What can bride/groom expect to see at a consultation?

YC: Learn as much about each other as possible to see if it’s going to be a good match.

Q: Should you come to a consultation with a set budget in mind?

YC: Yes and no. If florals are important, then no. Let’s just discuss what your dream wedding would look like and not limit things. However, if you have a budget, then designer can always come back with a second estimate. Then go from there. It really depends on how important florals are to your entire day.

Q: Aside from florals, what other areas should brides focus their attention?

YC: Linen and lighting. The areas where guests are going to be spending most of their time. If you have to take some budget out of florals to get better quality linen, it will make everything on the table really pop. Also take some time to fancy up the bar area. Guests love spending time there so go a little extra to make it nice, memorable. Tying in your color scheme helps bring everything together and makes the ambiance more memorable.

Q: Any tips for outdoor weddings and candles?

YC: If you don’t mind fake candles, go with LED. But sometimes the color won’t match your color scheme, so if you have go with real candles in an outdoor environment, do so. Your caterer will just be lighting them all night long.

Q: Guidelines for using ceremony florals for the reception?

YC: Do not reuse petals that guests have stepped on or are damaged. Any flower you can use from your ceremony at your reception is a bonus, but don’t count on it. If you chose to go with a different color from your ceremony to your reception, keep in mind how that will affect your overall decision.

Q: What’s the options for lighting? What about when you’re outdoors?

AG: Used to seeing a lot of uplighting on walls, then pin spots on centerpieces can really make the room pop. Lighting can really transform a space, especially when you start incorporating your colors. Depending on space, may need to bring in additional power (generators, etc.) to power things. Not many people in Hawaii are incorporating lighting into their wedding, but lighting is really awesome in making a typical space your own…highlight the columns, decor, architecture. Lighting makes the space come alive!

Q: Good questions to ask when looking for lighting?

AG: Depending on what you’re looking for, ask to see photos of what you’re getting in the same venue to get a feel for what you’re looking at and what you’re paying for. Lot’s of folks out there will throw lighting into a package, but make sure they have the experience and ability to pull off what you’re looking for.

Q: What are some other things beyond lighting to think about? New trends?

AG: Lounges are really huge now. Custom pieces…something new and different like chandelier or fabric draping. Bars are also popular and a good way to make your wedding stand out. With regards to trends, you’re seeing weddings use basic lighting to create a certain mood for the reception, but then go a little more bold with moving lights and color for the after party.

YC: Trends for 2011: Personalization. Incorporate your likes and personality into the wedding. Reflective elements…use of mirror chargers, vases. Simplified table decor, then something unique hanging above the table makes for a really dramatic ambiance. Incorporate games into the cocktail hour…horseshoes, bocce ball, etc. Color…honeysuckle is the color of 2011.

11:10 a.m. – Next topic: Planning your wedding from a guest’s perspective with Sandra Williams of Finishing Touch. She’s sharing 10 tips to create an event your guests will talk about for all of the right reasons.

  • Greet your guests with a welcome drink! The best wedding guests will ever attend, is when a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) is dropped into their hands upon arrival.
  • Tradition is back! Usher each guest to his/her seat for the ceremony. Find a couple of good looking and responsible guy friends (not the groomsmen) to do the duty. Guests love to be treated like VIPs.
  • Rule of thumb – always have enough chairs for all the guests at the ceremony.
  • Another tip about seating: make sure you have some seating available during the cocktail hour. I recommend setting enough chairs or lounge furniture for 30% of your guest count.
  • If you plan on serving food during the cocktail hour, it’s always best when they are being tray passed. Keep in mind your female guests will still have their purses with them during cocktail, there’s simply not enough hands to hold a cocktail, a purse, and a plate full of appetizers.
  • Do your best to simplify “check in” process. Guests will always remember the wedding they stood in line for over an hour just to get their table assignment. Recommend having escort cards for all guests, set up the guest book (signing of name only, no address) in the cocktail area for guests to sign on their own time.
  • Keep your smallest guests (children) entertained! As your venue if they can offer a small meeting room for you to set up a kid friendly area filled with toys, movies, games and serve hot dogs. Keep the children out of the main dining room is a win-win for parents and children.
  • If you have hired a live band for your wedding, do not have them play during dinner. If a live band were to play during dinner, ask them to do instrumental only. Dinner is a time for guests at the table to have conversation. A lot of brides are concerned their centerpieces will block the view of their guests, but not many remember to also keep the volume in the ballroom in check so guests can have a conversation.
  • Favors – Think outside the “box.” Guests are more intrigued by how the favors are given versus what is being given. Instead of giving your guests a boxed up cupcake, how about setting up a cupcake buffet full of plain cupcakes and “condiments” sush as icing and sprinkles so guests can customize their own cupcake.
  • Have fun! Guests don’t like to see a stressed out bride and groom. A relaxed bride and groom is truly something guests will remember most from a wedding.

10:45 a.m. – First session: Bridal Fashion, Beauty and Planning with Robyn Iaea of Pacific Weddings, Dan Sanchez of Dan Sanchez Salon, and Jacque Rojas of Jacke Rojas Salon. Wedding gown showcase by Casablanca (photos coming shortly).

  • Dan Sanchez: Brides need to prepare their hair for the big day starting early out. Likes using Morrocan oil. Make hair more pliable and easier to work with. Also notes it’s important to do a trial with your hair…depending on your ethnicity, some hair will be more coarse than others. So it’s important to experiment and test your style ahead of time. Trend these days is to put more volume in the back, less on the top.
  • Jacke Rojas: Suggests exfoliation and facials starting six months out. A green papaya enzyme mask is a favorite of her clients. Helps take off several layers of skin and makes the face more luminous when  makeup is applied. Air brush makeup is great, but since it’s a thin layer makeup, it works better on lighter skin. It’s becoming more popular, however, most are still using traditional makeup.
  • Robyn Iaea: On your wedding day, be true to yourself…be yourself. If you are getting married outdoors, visit the venue on more than one day. Wind is such a huge factor in Hawaii. Something to keep in mind.

10:11 a.m. – Social Light founder Sandra Williams takes the stage to introduce all of today’s presenters. A quality group with plenty to share. Here we go!

9:25 a.m. – A lot of smiling faces in the Malolo Ballroom. Guests are discovering the small touches that make good events great. Personalized drinking straws/stirrers, crossword puzzles to keep the guys busy, and bubbly upon arrival just to name a few things. This Sunday morning is off to a great start. Next updates in 25 minutes when the formal program gets started.

9:05 a.m. - Doors are open and guests are arriving to the warm sounds of the Manoa Strings Quartet.  About 100 brides-to-be (and grooms-to-be) will be enjoying a day of learning and inspiration. Joel Campos and Kristy Martin of Studio Red are capturing everything on video and will be doing a same-day edit of all the Social Light activities.

8:54 a.m. - Sandra Williams and Tristin Lobendahn of Finishing Touch, along with Yvonne Chapman of Yvonne Design and DJ Troy Michael of Troy Michael Entertainment are putting the final touches on the room. Everything looks beautiful. Manoa Strings Quartet warming up and the greeters are ready with trays of Domain Chandon Rose champagne. Doors open in six minutes.