These are the three categories that describe me at the moment and the three things that are helping me learn what it takes to truly plan the most successful wedding I can for me and my lovely fiance', Toni.
Since I was 15 years old, I was involved in the catering business. I started as a dishwasher at the old Monte Bianco (now The Renaissance) in Staten Island. I moved up to bus boy a few months afterward where I participated at my first wedding reception ever. Isn't it interesting that the first wedding reception I ever went to were complete strangers? Afterward, I worked as a waiter for four years at the old Dellwood Manor (now South Shore Country Club) in Staten Island.
My catering experience from this perspective allowed me to observe many different bands and DJs. I got to see how each one differed from one another. I remember important factors such as energy, music selections, quality of music segways, how loud they played, and more. From this criteria I had favorites. Unfortunately this was in the mid-to late-80s so many of these bands or DJs are no longer around for me to choose from but when I became a DJ, I adopted their positive characteristics that made them successful.
Unlike most DJs that start their own business and learn from their own mistakes, I joined a leading DJ company in New Jersey at the age of 19. The biggest advantage to this change in my career was that I was part of a company that was already established in the industry for ten years and they had an excellent training program. There were about 30 different DJs with the company at the time so once again, I benefited from learning skills from different entertainers. I shadowed and learned from some of the best entertainers in the industry and after six months of shadowing and training I was qualified to MC and DJ my own parties. The company was growing very fast so there was work every weekend and I started to improve as I gained more and more experience. One year after joining the company in May 1989, I performed my first solo wedding as the MC. The one thing I remember the most was the bride jumping up and down cheering when I played a particular song. That was the one thing that made me the happiest as a DJ - making people happy. All I could think that day was how happy she was. In all of my memories as a waiter, I couldn't remember a time when the band or DJ made their brides this happy.
After a few years of DJing for a company, I ventured on my own. Having your own business can be very challenging and the slightest mistake can risk losing everything you've worked so hard to build. I recently finished my MBA to fill in the missing pieces to successfully manage a business. The experience has really helped me improve many important aspects of event planning such as customer service, quality management, cost management, and project planning. It's these areas of knowledge where I now help brides and grooms the most when it comes to planning and preparing for a successful wedding.
Here I am twenty years later and I am now ready to plan my own wedding. This experience has been great because no matter how close I've gotten to a bride and groom to help them with their planning dilemmas, I truly could not understand what they were feeling. It's like being a family counselor while having no children of your own. That's all changed now and here I am getting married in the near future. I plan to use my experience to help meet the challenges we're faced with planning a great wedding - limited budget, busy schedules, limited timeframe, etc. I also hope to use the experience of planning my own wedding as I deal with other vendors as the customer. Perhaps I can learn ways new ways to improve upon my customer service as a business owner.