Because Jack N Jill’s are mainly a New England thing, I remember when I was planning my wife and I’s Jack N Jill that there wasn’t a lot of information online. Hopefully this little blog will help with getting you or someone you know with a Jack N Jill. The idea to write this blog actually came a few months back when I was helping my friends Scott and Gina with their Jack N Jill. While we were brainstorming ideas, and setting up. A few people came up to me and said I needed to go into professional Jack N Jill planning.
Step One – Picking a Date
The main idea behind a Jack N Jill is for the Bride and Groom to raise money to help with the cost of the wedding. So you want as many people to show up as possible. Keep this in mind when picking a date, you will want to stay away from holidays where people are generally traveling (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Ect.).
Step Two – Location, Location, Location
Most VFW’s, American Legion’s, Polish Club’s, Elk’s Lodge’s, Portuguese Club’s, Ect work great for these events. They aren’t the classiest looking places, but they’re cheap and they hold a lot of people! Some of them even offer an outdoor pavilion if you are looking to have your event in the summer time. Some of the best places I have performed for Jack N Jill’s at are The Ludlow Polish Club, The West Springfield Elks, and The Ludlow Elks Lodge.
Step Three – Food & Beverage
Most of these places offer you the opportunity to purchase kegs to have beer served. The cost of the keg(s) should be covered by the bride and groom. After all, you’re asking people to donate money to your cause you should provide them with free beer. Most places will also offer you the opportunity to buy another keg if you run out. The way I have seen it work best is to buy two up front, and then as the night progresses think about buying another 1 or 2. As far as food goes I would try to steer away from a caterer if you can. They tend to be expensive and again the idea is to make as much money for you guys as you can. What I have seen work a lot is family members or people in the bridal party cooking the food. This works great because what you’re paying for is just the cost of the food. It doesn’t take a lot to make a ton of meatballs and pasta which is usually a Jack N Jill staple. It almost always is a buffet style.
Step Four – Raffle Prizes
As I am sure you know raffle prizes are a huge key to any Jack N Jill. Generally you always have the 50/50 raffle, and most people these days do a Chinese raffle where there are bags next to each prize that you place your raffle tickets in to win that prize. One way I think to do this which seems to be successful is having the general Chinese raffle prizes, and 3 or 4 big prizes.
For the big prizes you charge a little more (I’d say 5 tickets for $10 is a safe amount to sell them at) for the raffle tickets. Some ideas for the big prize table that people always want are; Flat Screen TV, Tickets to a Red Sox (or Yankees) game, an iPod or iPad, Grills, Mini Fridges, ect. Chinese raffle tickets are a little cheaper (an arms length for $5 is the standard) compared to the big prizes. Usually people do themed baskets (movie, margarita, beach, candle, ect). In addition to the baskets any type of booze will do good in a raffle. Any kind of sports memorabilia is good too. Basically you want to get stuff people want. A good place to find stuff is actually at Marshall’s. They usually have good stuff priced reasonable. Don’t be afraid to ask the people in your bridal party to help you out with purchasing prizes either, they are there to help you out and shouldn’t object, it says right in the job description to do whatever the bride or groom wants without questions.
One last thing you may want to consider for prizes is a door prize. No one has to pay for tickets for this, usually you have the guest write their name on the back of their ticket or have tickets with numbers on them and draw one out. I have seen everything from fire pits filled with beer, wheel barrels full of beer, to gift certificates to different places for door prizes.
A few other things to think about – I have seen people do themed Jack N Jill’s. Anything from casino night, to carnival, to murder mystery night. These are all great ideas. They create a little extra work, but give the guests something else to look forward to.
Don’t be shocked if a lot of your party leaves after the raffles. Most people want to pay the $20 for the ticket, eat the food, drink the beer and walk out of there with a raffle prize. Once the raffle is over though is when the party begins. That’s when whoever you hire for entertainment gets to get the dance floor packed and when a lot of the fun starts.
A lot of work goes in to the Jack N Jill. If you do it right though all that hard work can payoff. In my experience I have seen couples make anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Spread the word, go on Facebook and be annoying about it, ask the bridal party to sell tickets to their friends and family. While you’re watching the guest list for the wedding because of cost, this should be a more the merrier type of event.
I love Jack N Jill’s both as a guest and as a performer. I hope this blog put some insight, and can help you create a successful Jack N Jill. If you have any questions about planning one leave a comment below, or feel free to contact me.
Here’s a picture of me and my wife at our Jack N Jill back in 2008