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Calendar of upcoming meetings...


Aug 28-- Black & White Hot Event ACC Banquet Hall, 8849 E Cholla St, Scottsdale, AZ 85260 7:00-9:00pm

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Sep 25-- Designs by Claudia 4151 N. Marshall Way #8 Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Oct 23--DoubleTree Paradise Valley 5401 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Nov 20--(1 week early) Classic Party Rental 3103 E Broadway Rd #400, Phoenix, AZ 85040

Dec TBD-- Joint Holiday Mixer

Jan 22--Aldea Weddings at Tlaquepaque 4150 W Peoria Ave #132, Phoenix, AZ 85029

Feb 26--

Mar 26--

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Networking by WEN

4 easy techniques for booking brides

SALES – some people see this as a dirty word. Or at least something they will never do! But if you own a business, work for a business or spend money in any way….then you are part of the Sales process. I wanted to take a few minutes and suggest 4 easy ways to assist you book brides.

1) DO NOT SELL VIA EMAIL! When was the last time someone emailed you information and you purchased from them right there and then? Really, think about it! I never purchase via email. I have questions, I want to know what I’m getting, I want to understand the person I’m giving my money to. If I’m not going to buy via email – then neither is a bride. When sending out information about your services – don’t try and make the sale via email. Provide information. Provide knowledgeable resources. Keep in mind that a bride is doing this for the first time (most of the time). And any help you can give her will build trust in your professionalism.

2) SPEAK TO HER ON THE PHONE! You can’t really help someone if you don’t know what they need. Sure, you know she’s getting married…but do you know what her style is, colors, theme, music taste, favorite cake flavors….do you know anything about her? Not unless you speak with her on the phone and ASK her. Take the time to call her. In fact, call her as soon as you receive her email. I know I love when someone responds quickly to me – even if she’s not available to answer the phone, the fact that you cared enough to respond quickly will set you above and beyond other vendors.

3) GIVE HER ADDITIONAL VENDOR SUGGESTIONS – If you can help her with ideas for additional vendors she may need, you are adding value to the service you provide. She will think highly of you. When you have vendor suggestions, you are now an expert in your field. You come across as someone who wants to help her. (Also, it is bad form to recommend vendors who pay you for referrals…then you are simply referring them to make a buck, and when the bride finds out – you are risking the trust she is placing in you.)

4) DO NOT JUST EMAIL PRICE LISTS – You are your own best sales person. You know what you have to offer. If a bride asks for pricing, ask her what she needs. When she simply wants to compare your pricing to someone else’s….again, ask her if she knows what she is comparing. There are some products that can simply be compared on price. Milk…is milk. I know it’s the same thing at Fry’s or Basha’s. But a DJ, Florist, Event Planner, Linen Company, Rental Company, Photographer, Venue, Caterer, Cake Designer or the number of other event vendors – we provide a product AND a service. The service we provide is different from all others….because it’s US. You can’t go to another photographer and get the same photos that I will give. You can’t go to another DJ and get the same MC and music experience. The Service that we provide is unique to us. Plus, you are more likely to book a bride when you’ve spoken with her, set an appointment and met with her, and actually know what it is she needs/wants. *This last one can be difficult…because a bride thinks that all she needs is a price. But you KNOW that she needs to speak with you in order to fully understand what you offer.

As wedding service professionals – we need to understand that there is no competition. No one can do exactly what you do. There are other businesses out there offering photography, but that’s good. I can’t shoot every wedding in Arizona. I also am not in every brides price point. Again, there needs to be variety for brides. But I do know that when someone wants to speak with me, meet with me and loves me…then they will book me to be a part of their wedding day. I hope these techniques can help you as bridal leads come your way.

Jill Smith is the co-owner of Jill Lauren Photography. She is passionate about photography, but also loves assisting business owners to become successful.

September 23, 2013 - 7:45 am Alli Mandoske - Thanks for the post! Some tips I definitely need to start applying to my own sales tactic. :)

Magic Tip to getting more Referrals

Magic Tip for getting more Referrals…

Let’s be honest about it – a referral is like Pure Gold! I know when a bride calls me because she was referred by an industry colleague that she is already sold on hiring me. It’s as if the colleague did all the selling and basically I just have to explain the details.

As a wedding professional – I am thrilled to no end when I realize that the colleagues I recommended for various wedding related services were hired. How awesome is it to walk in and know right off the bat that you will be working alongside your talented friends?! It’s pretty sweet.

So the Magic Trick or Amazing Tip to getting those Pure Gold referrals coming your way???

It’s not super hard to read between the lines – the magic trick is to GIVE MORE REFERRALS! As you build your network of good and valuable event professionals – send your clients to them, send your leads to them. When I have a bride on the phone for the first time – I want to offer her more than just my services, I want to be a valuable resource to her. I will ask which other vendors she is needing and offer suggestions based on her needs. (And if I’m not available for her date, then I will refer a preferred competitor…someone I trust will do a good job.)

Does that mean that every bride is going to hire the recommendations I provide? Probably not. But it’s not really about if she hires them or not…it’s about me being a knowledgeable and professional. The plus side? Eventually you’ll walk into a wedding and realize that your client followed nearly all of your advice. Then you’ll know that your day is going to rock with all the awesomeness of the vendors.

You’ll find yourself getting referrals from the colleagues you recommend – Not because you ask them to send clients your way, but because they will appreciate you thinking of them and they will want to return the favor. As well as your clients and potential leads. My favorite was a referral from a bride that didn’t hire me….she was so thrilled that I spent 5 minutes on the phone with her discussing other vendor ideas, that she told her friend about me. Now that’s what I’m talking about!!

To finish up, I am NOT A FAN of paid referrals. I feel it is dishonest to refer a vendor because I will be getting a kick-back or “referral fee”. That fee is an upcharge that the clients is paying. I want my recommendations to be based on talent, customer service and the relationship I’ve created with that vendor. If you’re not getting any referrals…then evaluate your customer service and vendor relations and make necessary changes to improve your business – then start referring other vendors because you know they will do a good job.

Jill Lauren Smith is the co-owner of Jill Lauren Photography . She’s been a member of the Wedding and Event Network for over 5 years and took over the management of the Wedding and Event Network in 2012 with her husband Chris Smith.

4 steps to get you started with Search Engine Optimization

We’re good at running our businesses. When a client has a question – I’m right there with an answer. If I don’t have the answer, I know I can come to any of our fabulous WEN members for assistance. But why does SEO seem like a foreign language? Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, has two parts – first, it is the art of adjusting and aligning your website so that Google, Bing and Yahoo can find you easier and therefore put you in front of clients who need your service. Second, it’s the conversion of clicks to your website to actual leads (calls, emails, etc). I used to think it was difficult – but recently found out that just a few simple changes to help your website tremendously.

Some of these ideas have to do with SEO – other’s are just best practices for your website and will assist with click to lead conversion. It’s a great idea to get clients to visit your website – but if your site doesn’t get them to pick up the phone, email you, or contact you for more information…then you’re just spinning your wheels.

1) Phone number – your phone number MUST be listed at the TOP of your website, and on EVERY page. Don’t make your potential clients search for contact info. Make it super easy to pick up the phone and ask for a quote.

2) Keywords – the keywords you use for your business are very important. What do you specialize in? Do you have any unique services or options. The keywords you use will need to align with the searches that your potential clients use. Are they searching for “Wedding Cakes”? or “Delicious Wedding Cakes”….there is a difference and that difference matters. This is just the tip of the iceburg…Keywords can get very in depth. But you need to start with something.

3) Contact Form – At what point is a potential client ready to reach out and say hello? Is it the home page? or maybe it’s on your blog? After they read your About Me page? I don’t know….That’s why I put a small contact form on EVERY page. It’s on the side of my website. It’s non-intrusive. And I don’t have to guess when a potential client wants to reach out. I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for them to say “hello” to me.

4) Blogging – Does blogging really help your SEO? YES!! It absolutely does. “But I don’t have anything to blog about” yeah, I used to say that too. Guess what, I don’t have to only blog about my expertise. Our clients are looking for information from ALL types of wedding and event professionals. Ask a friend about tips they give to clients and blog about it (hey, credit your friend and they will love you). Blog about do’s and don’ts when it comes to your field. Highlight vendors that you enjoy working with. Ask fellow WEN members if they’d like to do a guest blog post on your site (I’d love to send you an article if you want one!)….blogging isn’t just about what do. It’s about what you know and WHO you know….Make a list of 10 blog post ideas. Write out 5 of the posts and then schedule them to post one week apart. 4 weeks later, write the other 5 ideas and schedule those to go out. Wow – you just blogged for 2 months and it probably didn’t take more than 2 hours. Bam!

Jill Smith is the co-owner of Jill Lauren Photography. She and her husband Chris manage the Wedding and Event Network. They enjoy helping fellow wedding and event professionals through education, networking and professional development.

Do More Networking

It’s the New Year. Time to set new goals, evaluate 2011, and (hopefully) take your business to the next level by doing more networking.

Personal goals are pretty much a given when it comes to the New Year. But are you setting significant and achievable  goals for your business?

“I want to do more networking this year!” does that sound familiar? Have you ever thought or said something similar?

We want to make it easier to set and achieve your networking goals this year. We’ve established the Do More Networking plan. This is a pre-payment plan that goes hand in hand with your WEN membership. The idea is simple. Pre-pay for 10 WEN meetings and get 2 free. If you are pre-paying for these meetings, then you are more likely to actually COME to the meetings (plus, getting a discount.) Joining a great networking group is one thing. Attending the WEN meetings is where you’ll receive the benefit of your membership.

It’s really too simple. Purchase the Do More Networking plan. Come to 12 consecutive WEN meetings. Save some cash. Accomplish your 2012 networking goals.

Obviously this pre-payment plan is totally optional. We just wanted to give you some intensive to START on this year’s networking goals.

—Posted by Jill Smith, New WEN Owner

Way cool video from the April meeting at The Views at Superstition

Thanks to Bobbe and Donnie Hayes from MediaCreated4U for this great video from our meeting at the Views at Superstition back in April.  This is also linked on our usual spot for slideshows but this one needed to be seen on the front page for a few weeks.

Click here for the VIDEO


Advice from “Ask Zadie” of the Wedding Chronicle

Répondez s’il vous plaît.  It sounds lovely in French, doesn’t it?  Lovely, but at the same time serious.  On an invitation it politely requests a gracious response.  We can all agree the hosts deserve the kindness of a reply-whether or not you will attend.  They need to know how much food and liquor to order; how many tables and cloths to request;  how many chairs will be required to seat the bottoms of tired, hungry guests.  When only a few reply and many arrive, the numbers slide out of sync; although many positive replies and few guests can be just as annoying.
How about letting someone know if you will attend WEN?  And after you respond, making a serious attempt to attend is greatly appreciated.  Then, as they say in New Orleans…Laissez les bon temps rouler!!

Your Mannered Friend, Zadie

February 23, 2011 - 9:12 am Ann Mattis - Looking forward to attending!

Dear Industry Professionals :: A few words from a Wedding Planner :: PART II

2nd in a two part series

Dear Industry Professionals :: A few words from a Wedding Planner
Written by, Cicely Rocha.Miller – Owner and Senior Consultant of Life Design Event Planning

#3 :: Client says, “I don’t need a wedding planner, the venue has one on site”.

I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing and wonderful Directors of Catering (DoC) or Onsite Event Coordinators (OEC) and honestly if it wasn’t for one in particular, I would not have been given the chance in the industry that I have now. To start off, I do want to mention one thing, wedding planners are here to help, make you look even better and relieve you of performing more than you are expected to. So many times, I hear from potential inquiries, “I don’t need a wedding planner, the venue has one on site” or “The Director of Catering said she would help me plan my wedding”. I need you to A. stop doing and or saying that and B. communicate to your clients that you are there on behalf of the venue first. Let me expand. The hundreds of hours that wedding planners put into making the clients day everything they imagined is not something that you get paid enough to do. I hope I am not being insulting because I have no idea what your salary is but the amount of work that you do currently is plenty. I constantly see DoCs buried in work. They have so many events they are juggling at once and it seems to be that way all year round. It puzzles me that you would want to communicate to your client that you will help them plan their wedding. What I see that ends up happening many times is that the client thinks they don’t need a planner because they have you, then the emails and phone calls start rolling in. “Do you think I should go with an ivory or white gown? Do you think this shade of flower will match your linen? Can you proof my invitation? Where do you think I should sit my divorced parents? What song should I walk down the aisle too? Why isn’t my {insert vendor here}calling me back?” and it goes on and on and on. Pretty soon, the client is more than you wanted to handle (not saying this is something you can’t handle, because I know and have seen you do it). So why not, from the get-go, suggest that a client hire a reputable planner from the beginning of their planning process. Express to the couple that you will do whatever needs to be done to make their day beautiful but you do have limitations and are ultimately responsible for the decisions made that is connected to your venue. Any DoC or OEC will tell you that when they have a positive experience with a planner they love it and do refer them. Help us make this true to all sites. It’s better for me, for the client and for you.

Top 12 List of Things I want to Change or Communicate Better in this Industry

 12.  The wedding day’s experience is just as important as the process of planning one.

11.   Always come with solutions, not problems.

10.  Invitations are important. They set the mood of the event and it gets the guests excited.

9.  Wedding planners aren’t just about pretty tables.

8.  DJ’s aren’t given enough credit for the job they do.

7.  Videography should be included in the budget. Hearing someone laugh (or cry) is different than seeing it live.

6.  Décor is important and gives an entire sense of style and feeling for the event. Guests may forget exactly what the flowers/rentals, lighting/etc. look like specifically but won’t ever forget how all those elements together made them feel.

5.  All vendors should be fed at events but please make sure to do it in another private room and please don’t   go through the buffet line.

4.  Wedding planners need to stop being so bossy and controlling. Trust the vendors to do their jobs or don’t   refer them. Do you really want to work with a vendor you don’t trust, you have to control or micromanage?

3.  Be about “flexibility with structure” on the wedding day.

2.  Lighting is everything for photographers so give them a little more light when they ask for it.

1.  Give the married couple 10 minutes alone after the ceremony. They are forever united and took a huge    step in their relationship and deserve a few moments to relish in the moment.

 So, let me step off my soap box for now as my throat is a bit hoarse. Many thanks to Curtis, the members of the Wedding and Event Network and to the readers of this blog for enduring my rant. Again, if you want to discuss any of my thoughts further in person, over the phone, via twitter, Facebook, Skype or maybe in another group format I will buy the first round for everyone.

Thanks for listening and caring about what I had to write.

 With all that Life has to offer,  Cicely

November 17, 2009 - 10:16 am Tony Laub - I totally agree with #1...and never really thought about it before! Yes...give them at least 10 minutes. They just took a huge step in their life. Let them digest and savor this huge emotional plunge!

November 25, 2009 - 12:41 pm Aleasha Shelton - A Day to Cherish - Cicily, I adore everything you have written in this series. If this message gets through to the industry, we will see massive change for the better in every element of every wedding. Next step: let's rent a billboard to put this on!

November 25, 2009 - 12:57 pm Curtis Whipple - Thanks for #8 too. It goes for the good DJs anyways. The untrained and unqualified hobbyists or other beginners really drag us all down. Sadly, there are brides who have resigned themselves to the thought that "Well, that's just the way DJs are..." No! Spend the time to select a good one and budget for a professional fee.

November 30, 2009 - 9:29 am Chris - Number 5 is soooo important! All the vendors need to be fed. Lately it seems like we are forgotten about more often. We might not be in the room with the reception but we are still there. Put some one in charge to make sure every vendor is included.

January 29, 2010 - 4:03 pm Mark Sanchez - I would personally like to meet this planner. This is a very good post, and she really seems to get it. I conquer with Curtis. #8 needs to be rephrased to good DJ's. Other than that I completely agree with everything.

March 31, 2010 - 9:17 pm Karin L. Crawford - Hear, hear! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working with planners! You make it a wonderful, fabulous day for everyone, including all of the rest of us vendors. What a pleasure to partner! I promote planners to all my brides - they enjoy the day more, and so does their family. They are less stressed, and so it's better for EVERYONE!

Trade Show/Bridal Show Etiquette

Hello friends. I hope this posting finds all of you in good health and busy with your customers. I recently attended a large bridal show and witnessed a few things that are probably commonplace occurrences that perhaps should not be commonplace occurrences.

I was situated adjacent to a caterer who prepared some food for the occasion and who, in a stroke of brilliance, brought a grill to the show so that the aroma would waft on the breeze to the surrounding space. Potential customers could smell and taste some hot and delicious samples of what a paying customer could expect at a wedding or other event.


                                                                                                              Photo by Kym Ventola

I noticed that several vendors also got in line to help themselves to a sample.  It sounds harmless enough doesn’t it?  Fellow vendors are a good source of referrals too right?  If the food is great, they will refer paying customers.  The problem was that the caterer had rightly planned for the predicted headcount of brides and their attendants/grooms/mothers. The caterer ultimately ran out of food with about 90 minutes of brides left and it turns out that the predicted headcount would have been perfect. Not only did the extra vendors take food intended for customers, they added to the wait time of those customers and additionally, the caterer was being engaged in conversation by these vendors and that was attention diverted from customers.  

Many bridal shows provide a vendor lounge or a boxed lunch and if not, arrangements should be made for our own food and drink.

The caterer had paid for the food and had paid for the booth. You can bet they didn’t get a refund for the remaining 90 minutes even though the booth became less effective for it’s purpose without the food.  I think most caterers or florists or other vendors would be happy to impart any leftovers AFTER the show had ended, but not before.

More on this subject:

In writing this, I realize that I may have been guilty of the following offense in times past and if so, I apologize.  Each of us should stay in our booth during show hours!  You never know when the “million-dollar” customer/bride is approaching and I’d hate for the opportunity for that contact to be diminished by a fellow vendor talking shop. I’d hate more to be guilty of having diminished the opportunity for my fellow vendor who paid a price for the exposure to that customer.

I always enjoy seeing my industry mates and hearing a few war stories and of their successes and all about some new techniques they are trying, but if those conversations happen at all while customers are on the floor in the given time, they must be restrained to lulls during fashion shows or before or after the show and one must be very conscious of approaching customers and excuse oneself promptly. (Shameless self-promotion ahead– Save the conversation for a WEN meeting!)

I notice that most shows require participating vendors to be set up well in advance of the official start time. This allows for each of our cars/vans/trucks to be moved from the preferred parking spaces, those up close to the venue,  to parking spaces further out before customers arrive.  Side note- some vendors have identifying monikers on the sides of said vehicles and probably would not want to be noted by customers as having taken up the prime parking spaces- happy customers spend money. The point I’m making is that the hour or so before the first customer arrives at a show should be the time to catch up with our industry mates.  

Best regards, Curtis Whipple

October 23, 2009 - 11:03 am Reeves Photography - Very good point - thanks so much for sharing!

Go! Tell it on the mountain!

Next to the DJ, there are others who may be using microphones to add in various ways to the success of an event. These people may include the wedding officiant who will conduct and pronounce the ceremony. The banquet captain may introduce the wait staff or provide instructions on the meal. There will be champagne toasts. The Bride and Groom may take the microphone at the end of the evening to express their gratitude and say good night to the guests.Mic pic

For a professional DJ, speaking on a microphone should be the least of our worries. For others who may be called upon, it can be excruciating. Since all of our professions cross paths in one way or another in the course of making great weddings and events, perhaps we can help each other out by sharing this information with others who may need it for an event they are working on.

A bit of schooling for the layperson on how microphones work:

When you hear a microphone squealing, it’s called feedback. The sound is coming out of the speaker and going back into the microphone and through the system and back out the speaker and back into the microphone and a loop is created that sounds like a high pitched squeal. There are a couple of reasons that this may happen. The person using the microphone may walk in front of the high-powered speaker. They may cup their hand over the microphone in an attempt to speak to someone beside them and not have it be broadcast over the sound system. A cupped hand acts as a funnel and draws sound into the microphone and through the system and out the speaker and into the microphone again—feedback. Covering the microphone that way is also an indicator that they weren’t fully prepared to be speaking yet and should have finished preparations before they were introduced to speak. On occasion, the venue may not give the DJ the space needed to place the speakers such that there will be good stereo separation and that those who will use the microphone are far enough away from the speakers to avoid feedback in any case. I try to avoid all of these situations, but when microphones feedback, the DJ is the one who is made to look unprofessional.

To the wedding officiants: Brides and Grooms have often paid an extra fee to have a separate sound system set up for the ceremony itself. When I introduce myself to the officiant, I explain that the microphone is set in place and already turned on and that I will turn up the volume when they take their place. While shaking their hand, I’m also sizing up their height so that I may set the microphone stand exactly where it should be. It is on a boom arm so that it remains out of the way of their hands and their notes. I recently had a minister walk up to begin a lovely garden wedding ceremony and pick up the microphone stand and set it about 8 feet away, rendering it useless. His voice barely reached past the first two or three rows. The sound system provided all of the lovely music that had been chosen by the bride and groom, but more than half of the guests could not even hear the ceremony as it was spoken. Additionally, the videographer that had linked to my sound system to record those words got NOTHING!

If what you have is important enough to say at all, then let it be heard by all—over the sound system—USE the microphone! The DJ can inform microphone users on where to stand and how close to be to the microphone and he or she can even set up microphone stands exactly at the height of their mouths. Take the time to adjust the stand if needed. Trust the DJ to be the sound technician. Disregard what you think it sounds like and just speak clearly into the microphone. Let the DJ adjust the volume to reach the all of the intended listeners. Don’t suddenly step back from the microphone because you think it’s too loud or you dislike the sound of your own voice. What will happen is that the DJ will be forced to turn up the volume to try to capture what little amount of sound is reaching the microphone and risk getting more feedback.

Here’s to a great event!

~Curtis Whipple

October 16, 2009 - 9:32 am Rev. Ted Czukor - This is great information, Curtis - but I have to tell you that many DJ's are not as professional as you, and cannot be trusted to care as much about whether my voice is being heard. As you know, I spent my early years as a stage and TV actor and had quite a bit of experience with sound systems, as well as cameras. The poor performer (or wedding officiant) is at the total mercy of the technical people, and has no way of knowing how things turned-out until he views the tape or listens to the recording afterward. By then, it's too late - the damage is done. This is why I appreciate the show-biz practice of a technical rehearsal BEFORE opening night, and why I think it would be preferable for the DJ to be at the wedding rehearsal, to give me a mic check on the equipment that I will be using on the Day. I know that's never going to happen, and I'd better get used to it. But I still think that if it's a good idea for Broadway, it's a good idea for a wedding. (By the way, even though I couldn't tell how my voice sounded to the audience, I COULD hear the mic "popping" when I pronounced P's and B's. That could have been avoided by a technical rehearsal.) Thank you for this wonderful website; it provides a unique opportunity to exchange views!

February 22, 2010 - 8:42 am Mark Sanchez - To add to the Rev. Ted's comment; Many DJ's are not as professional because most DJ's are part-timers who hold a full-time job during the week. Therefore have much less time to properly plan and prepare for weddings on the weekend. I play basketball part-time, but I'm certainly not a pro ball player. It is improbable that a DJ will set up equipment for a rehearsal, however it should be a very possible for a DJ to arrive early to give themselves enough time to not only set up, but to make the proper sound checks necessary before guests arrive. Just because a sound system works fine one day, does not mean it will work properly the next. When you pay for professional full time service you get much better results. Good post Curtis, keep climbing those mountains.

A Photo Booth? Where do you put that?

By Chris and Jill Smith of A2Z Photobooths

Photo Booths are becoming more popular within the wedding industry. The concept of letting guests take as many pictures as they want and the bride having an album of all their fun photos – it’s catching on as one of the greatest wedding ideas ever. However, placement of the photo booth can either make or break the effectiveness of the concept.

There are many times when a photo booth just won’t fit in the ballroom – and a wedding planner or mother will try and put the booth at the entrance or lobby. This is okay, because guests will know where to come to get their photos. But this also means they have to physically leave the party in order to have fun in the photo booth. We’ve seem numerous occasions where guests would rather be lined up for the photo booth and opt to miss out on other reception features (cutting of cake, toasts, bouquet toss etc). When your photo booth is placed outside of the main party area – you are forcing your guests to choose between the party and the photo booth entertainment you’ve provided.

Sometimes we are placed right next to the DJ – now don’t get me wrong, we love the music. But when we are right there with the speakers blaring – it’s hard to get guests interested when they can’t hear instructions. The DJ typically needs to be front and center with the dance floor – the photo booth doesn’t need to be a main attraction.

A Photo Booth does very well along a wall or in a corner of the room, with access to remove the booth if it’s not being used for the entire event. Trust me, you won’t miss the photo booth. When it’s included in the reception area – the guests won’t have to choose to leave the party.