everything you need to know about wedding receptions

Tips for lighting, entertainment and more for Cuyahoga County Courthouse weddings.

Cuyahoga County Courthouse Tips For Lighting, Entertainment and More

What You Need To Know About The Cuyahoga County Courthouse

We’re back with more information you can use to plan your Cuyahoga County Courthouse wedding! If you haven’t already, check out our previous post about on basics of this downtown Cleveland event space. We’re going deeper this time with more specialized tips including information on catering, entertainment and lighting. This is one of the most sought after and unique venues available to couples and that’s why it’s worth investing a lot of time into looking at the space with open eyes before committing.

It Has Character

While there are venues in Cleveland that are more affordable spaces to rent for a wedding, they usually require you to invest in decor in order to make it more grand looking. This is not the case with the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. Less is more because the venue is bold, big and breathtaking. When comparing venues, make sure to take this into consideration. The money you save on decor might be the difference you need to make the Courthouse fit your budget. Decor choices should be more subtle and reflect your sensibilities more than anything else. There’s no need (and no way) to cover up any of the look of the architecture. The goal should be to embrace the aesthetic and not overdo it. Here are a few tips from our founder, Jeremy “Jay R” Rich:

 

Lighting Design at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse

Not all lighting designs work in this venue. Because the building is not a neutral blank slate, going against its established design features is a waste if even possible. What works here is subtly. Warming up or cooling down the features of the venue is one technique that works and can make for some striking designs. If you start with trying to narrow down the feeling of what you want for the look of the night vs. getting into specifics, you’ll be in a much better place to collaborate with a true lighting designer who understands this venue. Ultimately, it’s your decisions that we’ll go with but we won’t hesitate to inform you on the building’s strengths and weaknesses. When you choose true professionals, you get more than order takers…you get invested consulting. Here’s what Jay R has to say about lighting at the Cuyahoga Country Courthouse:

Sound Works Differently Here

One thing you’ll hear about from any wedding supplier who works at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse is the acoustics are a little different there. This space couldn’t be less like a hotel ballroom with their uniform shaped rooms, typical ceiling heights, and soft sound absorbent surfaces. The Courthouse has none of those features! This is a marble very open space with pillars which would be a challenge for an entertainer less familiar with what they would be getting into there. Here are what Jay R says you should take into account because of the uniqueness of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse:

We hope all these tips we’ve shared as the result of years of experience serving couples at this historic and grand venue make a difference in your planning. If you have a specific question that was not addressed here, feel free to drop Jay R a line!

Caption regarding wedding planning tips by Jay R from Selective Sound Entertainment

Expert Wedding Planning Tips So You Don’t Regret Your Wedding In Cleveland

Wedding Planning Tips from Cleveland Wedding Expert Jay R Rich

Selective Sound Entertainment (SSE)’s founder, Jeremy Rich, has been helping couples with their dream days for over two decades. While each couple has different tastes, goals, and visions, many experience the exact same pitfalls in their planning experience. The reason for this is varied. Typically, this is due to the enormous amount of pressure and lack of experience in planning their own wedding. A driving force behind this blog is to educate couples in order to avoid these issues regardless if they end up working with our company or not. We want to work for the couples who we are a good fit for. Our goal is to make sure everyone can benefit from the experience. The wedding planning tips we share enable couples to have a much better experience leading up to their ceremony and reception.

We sat down with Jay R in order to document as much wisdom as possible to share with you. As you will hear on the video, Jay R is very passionate about wedding DJ entertainment, lighting design, videography, photo booths as well as live wedding music. However, he spent most of his time discussing how couples end up with up so much stress. This is mostly due to planning and communication issues. Many of these issue can be avoided but it requires everyone involved getting as organized as possible. The following is a compilation of a few of the biggest wedding planning tips Jay R discussed in the interview.

Choosing a Vendor on Price Alone

Wedding planning tips from Jay R are to research, look for value not price and meet your vendor in person.

Meet with the vendor you have in mind before you sign a contract.

The difference between offering value and being the least expensive can be vast. Low price offerings don’t automatically mean an inferior product or service. However, there are usually reasons why a vendor is so much less than their competitors, especially with wedding DJ’s. Wedding entertainment has no barrier to entry. To be a professional DJ doesn’t come with any tests or certifications. In fact, many do it for fun on the weekends while mostly focusing on their day job. While that’s admirable, there’s a level of professionalism and honing of your craft that you never reach unless you put in the time and are “all in”.

Another limitation with working for people with low prices because of a low overhead is a lack of back-up systems. With Selective Sound, we invest money in training our team members before they ever lead an event. We also have warehouse staff, on-call entertainers, and technicians available as runners. If something happens to your entertainer on the way to your wedding or if a piece of technology breaks down, we are always prepared.

Well-paid professionals are also one of the reasons we have maintained a long history in Cleveland as trustworthy professionals. We keep the people happy who are in the position to make or break an event. This is because they are talented and reliable. We’ve seen a lot of the lowest bidding entertainers come and go. This is because they didn’t have a sustainable business and couldn’t maintain their credibility. There’s no do-over for a wedding reception. Therefore, you need to make sure you ask all the right questions when you are choosing who will help make your day the way you want it.

Budget – Be Open and Honest

Wedding planning tips from Jay include setting your budget and priorities early on.

Open communication is the key to success!

We’ve written before about the importance of setting your budget early before you start the hunt for vendors. This may be one of the most crucial of wedding planning tips. Jay R believes this is a critical point on the road to success for families celebrating a wedding. Make sure everyone with a vested stake in the wedding gets their say and lays out what they are willing to contribute. This form of open communication and organization should follow through to your conversations with those you are willing to hire as well.

While your research online may have turned up pricing and packages for the vendors you want, it’s always worth having a conversation with them. This way you can see if there is something they can offer that would meet your goals while staying in your budget. You’d be surprised by how much creativity and budgets are connected. A true professional isn’t going to change their pricing because they were asked to go lower. However, they can offer you alternative solutions that have less hard costs, such as labor and less products.

All of this is to say that the biggest regrets couples have had seems to center around compromises they made for the sake of their budget. This, unfortunately, resulted in selecting vendors that didn’t perform. The best way to get around this is to talk about budgets early, often and with everyone while asking your preferred vendors to be creative.

Meet Face to Face

Millennials and Generation Z are the most skilled researchers of any generations. That’s because they’re adapt at seeking out online information in order to make better buying decisions. That said, we still advise you to meet with the vendors you are considering face to face. Some wedding pros look better online than they do in reality. This is due to slick marketing. Others could look ideal but when you meet with them you immediately don’t connect.

We think online research is extremely important to decision making for weddings in Cleveland. According to Jay R, listings like The Knot and Wedding Wire work because they are peer reviews. Research can get you 80% of what you need to make a decision so we agree that reviews, videos, testimonials etc. are useful to pick your top few choices. After that, make at least three appointments with the most important vendor types (venue, catering, DJ/entertainment, photographers) in order to have an in-person talk to see if you click. It might seem like a redundant step but it can make a huge difference.

For More Wedding Planning Tips – Watch The Video

Here’s the video of Jay R being interviewed about decisions couples regret making. We don’t want to scare anyone with negativity but it’s important to us that you learn these lessons the easy way before your big day.

Your wedding guest list determines everything

The Importance of Your Wedding Guest List

The People That Matter The Most

Most people will tell you there are stages you go through from the minute you are engaged to the day of your wedding. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions and decisions. Many veteran wedding professionals have advice for couples on any aspect they are asked about. They simply have far more experience dealing with weddings than most of their clients. That said, there’s one recommendation we give that is a bit different than a lot of our peers. That is, build your wedding guest list before you create your budget. We really think it’s the best first step when planning your wedding.

The number of guests you have drives every decision and especially comes into play when you consider your budget. Your guest count becomes your new multiplier. Due to this, you’ll need to know it with every meeting you have with those who would potentially be involved in your wedding. Wedding cakes are sold by the slice, caterers charge by the plate, and each centerpiece is one per table. This of course, means everything revolves around the number of attendees from your wedding guest list.

For what we offer, the guest count comes into play for the amount of equipment we need to make sure sound is ideal. On top of that, possible decor features such as pin-spotting for centerpieces are contingent on knowing your multiplier. The amount of space you will actually be using in your venue can impact where the best placement of the dance floor should be and potentially even the use of pipe and drape. Even photo booths hinge your wedding guest list for things like printing, novelties and speed. If you work together on your ideal list first, you can use that number to drive the rest of your conversations.

Not Everyone Will Come

Click picture for a sample wedding guest list tracker

Download a wedding guest list template

A lot has been written about the typical percentage of those who RSVP for weddings. We don’t believe there is a consistent percentage across the board. However, there are many factors to consider when speculating your count. With weddings in Cleveland, you have to think about the weather. You probably know that snow is possible between October and April. This can definitely keep many people from traveling on the roads. Travel in general makes a big difference when it comes to your wedding guest list. If most of your guests are in-between Akron / Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, expect a higher turnout due to the decreased financial burden.

The percentage of family vs. friends can make a difference too. Family tend to find a way to make it happen more often than friends. Finally, take into account seasonality. Are the Cleveland Browns playing on that date? Do you have a lot of summer vacationers on your wedding guest list? Are there guests in college? Lots of questions like this can give you a somewhat clearer picture. Bottom line, you won’t know for sure who will RSVP but it won’t be 100%.

Kids or No Kids?

There are a lot of opinions about kids at weddings…many of them are strong ones. We provide detached council when it comes to questions about kids. This is because it can work as often as it doesn’t and it’s ultimately your decision. You know your crowd better than we do. And, either way, you are the one who will have to deal with the ramifications. One piece of advice we do have is to be consistent with your policy. A surefire way to make people feel alienated is to have a policy that isn’t equal. Most of the time, it is a pretty safe play to go with all or nothing when it comes to kids. The gains and benefits from having or not having kids around at your wedding don’t add up to more than the cost of hurting anyone’s feelings. Be fair, communicate and stick to your guns.

Create A Tiered Wedding Guest List

A wedding guest list determined this floor plan.

Your wedding guest list will ultimately determine the size of your venue and so many other things.

As mentioned, not everyone you invite will attend and your guest count makes a big difference on your budget. Since you know this when creating your wedding guest list, consider sending out invitations in waves based on tiers. If you do that, you’ll be able to add others as spaces open up. Creating tiers has its own challenges, of course. Usually more than one person has a say as to who is invited. If there are multiple decision makers weighing in on who is invited, give them each an allowance of guests. By doing that, you’ll even out the impact of who gets to come for sure and who is on standby.

Couples Are Two Times The Guests

If you are looking at pairing down your guest list, then we know it’s obvious that guests’ plus ones make up half of your list. A common point of contention we’ve seen over and over are couples who get upset at guests who bring dates they don’t see as valid. Like with the inclusion of children, breakdowns in expectations from ambiguity. The clearest ways to communicate who is a valid plus one and who isn’t is by saying anyone can bring a plus one or only married couples can come as a unit. This clear cut rule is routed in fairness.

Venue Limitations

Guest table settings determined by wedding guest list.

The guest list determines so much. Number of centerpieces, how much food, which venue, etc.

The first questions couples ask during a tour of a venue is almost always “How many guests can your venue accommodate?” The amount of guests in a venue has many factors including safety, comfort, legality, room flow, etc. Against all that, they are running a business. More guests means more revenue for the space and a larger cut from your budget to you. That’s why it’s important to work with professionals who have a great reputation and don’t take chances. It’s also a good idea to look at pictures of the venue with a configuration similar to what you are looking at. There’s sometimes a distance between what a venue can legally accommodate and what is ideal for your guests.

We work with venues all the time to take in many different factors in order to have a win/win for everyone. Once we know your guest count, we can call upon our experiences in a specific venue. Then we can help draft a floor plan that makes it look like it was built for the exact number you have. If you are ever unsure about how a specific venue will accommodate the number of attendees you’ll be having, feel free to ask us. We’ll be one hundred percent honest with you. Even more, we’ll also provide you with options that can help manipulate the space to make it perfect for you.

In Summary

While we provide wedding entertainment, lighting, photo booths and other entertainment, our goal is to do more than that. We want to be your partner. While most event companies stress the creation of the budget as the first move you should make, we know weddings of any budget can be special as long as you have the right people there celebrating with you. Reach out if you are looking for a team with over two decades of wedding experience in your corner.

Picture of figurines dancing with an ipod

Why Professionals Never Recommend DJ -ing Your Own Wedding

The Consequences of DIY

Ever since the iPod was released, blogs and wedding magazines  have posted DIY, money saving wedding tips. They are 100% correct that creating an iTunes playlist is less expensive than paying for a professional DJ. However, they really miss the point of why experienced wedding DJ’s are hired in the first place. If all you want is background sounds, articles like this one are correct. Just borrow equipment from generous friends (if you’re that lucky to have ones with speakers and wiring), queue up your playlist, press play and walk away. We are not disparaging that option.

We always want to do our due diligence when it comes to educating couples on the consequences of certain decisions. As long as your are armed with information, you can decide where your priorities are for each aspect of your wedding.  With that said, it’s hard for us to choke back the passion we have for wedding entertainment! We work hard to provide a lot of value for what we do and believe entertainment is a significant part of a wedding reception. To help us educate more objectively, we’ve asked a few of our favorite Cleveland wedding professionals to weigh in on this topic.

Covesa Gragg, Owner

Covesa Kelly Events 

Hire an experienced Cleveland DJ

An experienced wedding DJ is worth every penny

Q: What would be your biggest fear if you found out the couple at the wedding you were working on decided to try to DJ their own wedding?

A: Timing. Do they have enough music for the duration? Is the music family friendly? Do they have all AV and technical components necessary to play the music?

Q: Have you ever been to a wedding without professional entertainment that ran just as smooth as when pros are there?

A: No

Q: How do DJs compliment, enhance, and collaborate with what you do at a wedding?

A: They help keep the energy high. They keep guests informed of what’s going on. They can help bridge the gaps if things are off track (catering, waiting for bridal party etc)

Q: What would you want couples to know if they were considering an ipod playlist instead of a professional DJ for their wedding?

A: You’ve spent all this money, just hire the DJ. It’s just not worth the risk.


Sara Fouts, Staff Photographer

Making the Moment

Be sure your Cleveland DJ is experienced with weddings

There is a difference between a DJ and an experienced wedding DJ

Q: What would be your biggest fear if you found out the couple at the wedding you were working on decided to try to DJ their own wedding?

A: While I would understand why someone would choose to try to DJ their own wedding, my biggest concern would be the extra stress the couple would experience with someone who isn’t familiar with DJing weddings. I would also be concerned that the DJ wouldn’t be experienced in communicating with the photographer. There have been multiple occasions where we told the DJ (who was a friend helping out the couple) we were leaving the room to use the restroom. Because they were inexperienced, they initiated events anyways and we weren’t present to capture them.

Q: Have you ever been to a wedding without professional entertainment that ran just as smooth as when pros are there?

A: No

Q: How do DJs compliment, enhance, and collaborate with what you do at a wedding?

A: DJs allow us as photographers to set-up for reception events at appropriate times. They ensure we are present and ready to capture events before they begin. To me, ensuring that the photographer is present and ready to capture before an event begins is a factor that separates professional DJs from non-professional DJs. DJs also help us have more fun! They do so much more than play music.  They read the crowd’s energy and direct it through an entertaining flow that enhances everyone’s experience at your event. We love working with DJs who love their job!


Riki Schmigel, Catering Sales Manager

A Taste of Excellence

Your Cleveland DJ plays the key role of timing during the wedding reception

The DJ plays the key role of timing during the reception

Q: What would be your biggest fear if you found out the couple at the wedding you were working on decided to try to DJ their own wedding?

A: Technical malfunctions that disrupt the flow/schedule of the evening. There also wouldn’t be a master of ceremonies to help keep things moving. i.e. transition from cocktails to dinner, speeches, cake cutting.

Q: Have you ever been to a wedding without professional entertainment that ran just as smooth as when pros are there?

A: I have catered very casual weddings that DIY their music and it has been a beautiful occasion. Typically the more traditional things like The Grand Introduction and Dances do not take place at these events.

Q: How do DJs compliment, enhance, and collaborate with what you do at a wedding?

A: DJs help to keep the timing of the event for us. This is important because we cook our food on-site and rely heavily on a timeline to time our meals.

Q: What would you want couples to know if they were considering an ipod playlist instead of a professional DJ for their wedding?

A: DJs help inspire guests to dance and be involved with the important activities of a wedding – for example cutting the cake. Sometimes without some energetic encouragement you won’t have people dancing at the wedding.


Robert Drago, Photographer

RAD  (Photography)

Wedding DJ's produce the feel of the reception

The DJ can make the reception exciting or drab; make sure they are experienced!

Q: What would be your biggest fear if you found out the couple at the wedding you were working on decided to try to DJ their own wedding?

A: As a photographer, I look forward to the reception because I know it’s taken care of and I can sit back and do my job. A large percentage of my job is coordinating and organizing throughout the day. However, when the reception starts, it’s the DJ’s show. So if I were to photograph a wedding without a trained DJ I would be very nervous and anxious about how the evening will go.

Q: Have you ever been to a wedding without professional entertainment that ran just as smooth as when pros are there?

A: Fortunately, in the last 15 years, I can only think of two occasions that a couple decided not to have a DJ. Both very small events. In both occasions, the timeline for the reception did not go smoothly and there were things missed throughout the night.

Q: How do DJs compliment, enhance, and collaborate with what you do at a wedding?

A: DJ’s are the wedding coordinators of receptions. The amount of time that is put into a reception schedule should never be overlooked. The entire feel of the reception is produced by the DJ. Every event is elevated when you have someone with experience. It can really bring the party to the next level.

Q: What would you want couples to know if they were considering an ipod playlist instead of a professional DJ for their wedding?

A: Do you like having a party with dead air and awkward silence? If so, fire up that iPod and enjoy your evening.


Diana Elizabeth, Floral Designer

Diana Elizabeth Designs 

Cleveland wedding professionals highly recommend using a DJ

Wedding professionals highly recommend using a DJ

Q: What would be your biggest fear if you found out the couple at the wedding you were working on decided to try to DJ their own wedding?

A: It would not be as smooth as they planned.

Q: Have you ever been to a wedding without professional entertainment that ran just as smooth as when pros are there?

A: Yes I have and it was confusing. The dinner music was not right and then their laptop shut down mid reception. They had to reboot and there was dead silence for a few minutes. TRUE STORY!

Q: How do DJs compliment, enhance, and collaborate with what you do at a wedding?

A: Vibe

Q: What would you want couples to know if they were considering an ipod playlist instead of a professional DJ for their wedding?

A: I just wouldn’t recommend it.


So there you have it. Five experienced wedding professionals who have seen it all with very similar answers. In short, you CAN DJ your own wedding with an ipod or iPhone. It is possible. You can also act as your own plumber, electrician, or even doctor but…you probably don’t. The reason is that when a professional is hired, you get the results you want without regret. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into, the decision is all yours!

If DJing your own wedding sounds stressful, then perhaps an Emcee is the way to go. We have an Emcee who will make sure your event runs smoothly. Skip the stress…email an experienced DJ who will ensure you get the wedding of your dreams!

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bridal party posing for picture

Wedding Event Trends Available In Cleveland Now!

When Your Wedding Event Trends Needs More

Most events just need their bases covered with typical event offerings. Venue, catering, entertainment…and they’re all set. There’s nothing wrong with a straight forward approach to event trends and their design. The goals of the event and a scale that is balanced is what matters the most.

That all said, there’s never been a more exciting time than now for creating memorable experiences! The technologies that are available coupled with access to a world of creative examples has empowered those of us who make the visions of event trends real like never before. The core of our company has always been entertainment but entertainment takes many forms. Our entertainers work is complimented by our lighting design, at times enhanced by our Party band, and captured for all time by our videography team.  Beyond that, the sky is the limit because we continuously add products and services we believe can add an extra element to events with the right set of goals.

Entertaining Event Trends

Sparkular

event trend shown: cold spark fountain

Indoor cold spark fountains give that over-the-top experience at your wedding reception

We now offer an indoor cold spark fountain. We can control the height and the moment they go off (for up to 90 seconds each). It’s not a low-end add-on but it’s what your guests will be talking about for years!  We make sure that each venue we are at approves its use, even though they are completely non-flammable, releases no smoke and is not an open flame.

 

CO2 Cryoblasts

event trend shown: Happy couple entering the wedding reception through CO2 blasts

Enter your wedding reception with flare

Looking for an introduction akin to professional sports events? Our CO2 Cryoblasts utilize Liquid nitrogen and raise the level of excitement instantly! These offer a similar wow moment as the Sparkular but with a different look while popping more in well-lit rooms. A popular way to use this equipment is to have the cryo jets shooting up in short controlled bursts when you walk in for intros followed up later in the night with the bride or groom manning our cryo gun which they can shoot their guests resulting in an unexpected rise from everyone! The cryo guns blast compressed air that dissipates instantly and gives them a “wooooooosh” of cold compressed air (often readily appreciated when the dance floor is packed).

Feature Spot Lighting

wedding couple's first dance under a spotlight, a great event trend to show off specific aspects at your event

No doubt all eyes will be on you while you’re under a spot light

An elegant and high-impact option can be our feature spot lighting. If you are in a ballroom without any windows or can get it that dark, we can control a beam of light that draws all eyes to where you want. With featured spot lighting, it’s easy to create an introduction akin to sporting events (complete with that style of announcements!).

 

Custom Bistro Lighting

Event trend shown: decor string lighting at an outdoor wedding

Bistro lighting adds a special feel at your venue

Backdrops and lighting as decor are incredibly “in” right now. We work closely with florists in order to incorporate complimentary lighting with their custom flower/drape backdrops. One of the more popular options is when we add our 3″ edison bulbs in different levels and configurations in front of drape and floral fixtures.

 

Mirror Booth

This unique photo mirror booth is one of our leading event trends

The photo mirror takes up minimal space at your venue while adding a lot of fun for your guests

We’ve written a lot about our mirror booth because it’s incredibly popular. Want to know why?

  • Smaller footprint than traditional booths.
  • Classier looking.
  • We can customize everything.
  • The fun can be seen by guests rather than being in a secluded draped area.
  • I-pad app integration for digital downloads.
  • Options for digital only photos at a greatly reduced rate.

Additional Event Trends

Wedding Hashtags

Asking your guests to use a specific hashtag has become a mainstay of weddings. If you want to increasing the sharing, we offer software that will display your guests posts anywhere we can put screens in the venue.

Caricature Artists

You might not have expected this one but the novelty of this being low-tech and entertaining to watch brings attention to this every time.

Ice luge

Any way to enhanced your guests getting an extra drink or two in them, only helps your chances that they will loosen up more an dance at a wedding (also can look pretty incredible with the right lighting!).

It’s your event. We can offer limitless options for the right entertainment and enhancements to meet your needs and budget. What matters most is the celebration and telling your story. We have the creativity and passion to bring yours to life!