Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kristi & Stephen at Sugar Bowl Resort



Want to hear about a perfect day and evening? That pretty much sums up Kristi & Stephen's big day up at Sugar Bowl. 

There are so many things to gush about...

First there is Stephen and Kristi. What a couple! I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed working with them both prior to and during their wedding and reception. Whether it was an email or a FaceTime session, their enthusiasm for their day and their love for one another always shone through even during the more menial details. I felt excited and honored to be a part of the planning, and then the execution of their vision. They had some fantastic ideas for special moments and songs that just helped take their evening to the next level. I truly love what I do, and to get to do it for couples like Stephen and Kristi really exemplifies that feeling.
The DJ gets his own parking spot?!? Just a first taste of how well the day went :)
Secondly, there is Sugar Bowl. I have had the privilege to work at many ski resorts in the Sierras but for some reason there is a magic about Sugar Bowl that is unique and lends itself so well to weddings and receptions. From the phenomenal staff to the fantastic food to the surroundings that steal your breath away, Sugar Bowl is in a class by itself. The resort is usually quiet in the summer and the guests feel that they have the place all to themselves. 

Kristi!
The ceremony site is lush with grass and flowers, framed by a babbling brook just below and with the mountain rising up a short distance further. The lodge becomes a perfect backdrop for the bride's walk to her husband-to-be as well as a convenient place to get ready and enjoy the mountain beauty. Then, when the ceremony concludes, guests can travel up the chairlift to a small mountaintop chalet where 360 degree views and fields of wildflowers and mule's ear help make a cocktail hour like no other.  
The newlyweds arrive for cocktails!
Photos at 8,000 feet!
Stephen & Kristi return for their Grand Entrance!
When it is time to head back down the chairlift, the large deck of the lodge, framed with flowering hop vines and topped with umbrellas makes for a reception site unlike any other. As day turns to night, the last glows on the mountain switch to a glorious star-scape to dance under. If there is a slight chill in the thinner air, dancing and space heaters warm you up, and since most of the guests end up staying at the lodge or nearby, no one leaves until they absolutely have to. Such was the case with Kristi & Stephan's crowd.



My view of their First Dance!
I loved the little touches the two of them came up with! Their first dance was "Georgia" by Vance Joy but they wanted the song changed a bit- a chorus removed here and the bridge extended there and I was able to tweak it to their satisfaction and they had a first dance to it that was choreographed, elegant, and truly their own.
Irish Wedding Song by special request :)
They had picked songs for their special dances with Dad etc. but also thought about their grandparents, for whom I played the "Irish Wedding Song". I loved that they danced the night away, to songs slow and fast, and songs of their era and songs of today. No wonder Kristi and Stephen are so fun- it runs in their genes :)

I played "Footloose" for Kristi and her family as it holds special meaning and fun for them and a short time later I played Bruce Springsteen's version of "Jersey Girl" as many of Kristi's friends and family are from there. Well, the dance floor was filled with Jersey girls (and guys) singing along for all six and a half minutes with the Boss. Such a fun group! They never left the dance floor. I played a wide variety of music and the intensity level just kept going up! As the evening came on and the sky darkened, I brought out some glow sticks and lights that Kristi & Stephen provided and that just sent them into another level of dancing! Again, there is something about Sugar Bowl that lends itself to fun and dancing, and this night was no exception.

I was so pleased to have been a part of such an amazing celebration in Stephen & Kristi's life together. I love what I do and for whom I do it for! Thanks to Kristi & Stephen and everyone at Sugar Bowl for all the hard work and thought that was put into this day and evening. Congrats you two!
Last song of the night... What a group!

Matthew & Corey at St. Gall Catholic Church and the Orchard House with Tamarack Junction Catering

I had the pleasure of being a part of Matthew & Corey's wedding at St. Gall Catholic Church in Gardnerville. I helped provide music over the church PA system for seating, prelude, processionals, Unity candle lighting, communion, and of course the recessional. They picked some fabulous music including Pacabel, Bach, Schubert and exited as husband and wife to Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. I was honored to be asked to play at the ceremony. I do many ceremonies during the year, but they are typically at the reception site and this time I was able to witness their offsite wedding instead of hearing about it when people arrived at the reception site..
Wedding inside beautiful St. Gall's

Newlyweds catch their breath!

Father Paul is the Pastor at St. Gall's and a friend of the couple's so it was great to have him say the Mass and marry them. I was able to meet with him and the newlyweds-to-be prior to the big day and I sensed the familiarity between the three of them immediately. I love it when the officiant actually knows the couple. It conferred a feeling of closeness and grace to an already beautiful ceremony.

I liked the signage :)

Before the guests arrived.

Their reception was held in Genoa, Nevada at the beautiful Orchard House. I always like playing there- the owners are nice and welcoming and the gardens are spectacular. When you reserve the Orchard House, you are in fact reserving a large garden lawn with several spaces, a separate house for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready in, and a large parking lot with plenty of room.  It is a tranquil setting- the crossroads of Genoa a few hundred feet away, the Sierras precipitously rising above you, and semi-tame deer roaming the neighborhood. It is my favorite spot in the historic part of Genoa and it is a blank slate for decoration and for bringing in your choice of vendors. 
My view of the toasts.

The bridal party arrived and were introduced while Michael Franti's "Say Hey" welcomed them in.  Then it was Corey & Matthew's turn. They care in accompanied by "Paradise" by Coldplay and took some time to enjoy their beautiful surroundings and their friends and family. Dinner was served soon thereafter with Tamarack Junction providing the catering. It was delicious and the Tamarack Junction team was on the ball all afternoon and evening. Toasts followed and soon they were dancing to a specially edited version that Matthew made of "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams. 
Lee then danced with his daughter Corey and Matthew with his mom Cindy to a medley of "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder and "Somewhere Out There" by Linda Ronstadt and then general dancing ensued as night enveloped the party.


First Dance!

After a while I slowed the music down and invited all the married couples up for the Anniversary Dance, another medley they requested: "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis followed by "Unforgettable" by Nat & Natalie. The cake was then cut, with Sinatra and Buble in the background.
Love these two!

Dancing then ruled the rest of the evening with a quick break with Pitfall to toss the bouquet.  I want to thank (belatedly) Corey & Matthew for allowing me to be a part of such a fantastic day and evening as they had. I felt uplifted spiritually and know that all is right with the world when two people such as they are united amongst friends, family and faith. May the Lord bless and keep you always :)


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Women's Army Corps Veterans' Association at The Peppermill Reno Resort


There are times as a DJ when events transcend a simple party. This is especially true when deejaying weddings, which I tend to specialize in. The ability to witness and be a small part of a couple's most special day is something that drives me to give 200%, to exceed their expectations, and make indelible memories for the couple and their family and friends. 

For these reasons and more, I love to do weddings and it is the majority of my business. I am proud to have been a part of well over eight hundred of them, and proud of the fact that people see me as a "Wedding DJ", and a damn good one too!

But back in the day, when I was still lugging around crates of vinyl I deejayed nightclubs and reunions, birthdays and conventions, car shows and holiday parties. I still, to a lesser extent, do these other types of events, but they generally don't excite me as much as a couple's first dance or their elaborate Grand Entrance.

But holding a special place in my heart are veterans. I grew up with WW2 vets telling me their stories. My parents' generation fought in Vietnam. My best friend from high school watched MLRS launches and distant tank battles in Iraq at 73 Easting. I am in awe of our vets. The closest thing we Americans have to royalty are our honored service members.

I've had the pleasure of deejaying reunions and parties for ships, air wings, SEALs, and Marine units. I've done Xmas parties for Depots and squadrons and deejayed the Nevada Military Governors Ball. One of my favorite of these events was the USS Oklahoma reunion. The battleship was sunk at Pearl Harbor and my contact and the person uncharge was one of the few that escaped from the hull after days on confinement when the ship rolled over. To talk to those gentlemen and eavesdrop on their stories was a highlight of my career.

Another highlight for me was this past weekend when I had the honor of deejaying at the 2016 Women's Army Corps Veterans' Association convention held at the Peppermill

If you are unfamiliar with the WACs, they were formed in WW2 as a way to get large numbers of women into the Army. Up until the war, there were very few women in the Army, excepting nurses, and even fewer officers. The WACs were 100% volunteers. They served our country with the utmost distinction doing everything short of actual combat, and I am sure they did that when called upon. 

My aunt was a WAVE- the Navy's version of a WAC, and she was proud of her service and her contribution to the war. I didn't know any WACs prior to this weekend, but I was able to meet quite a few and be in awe of their dedication and patriotism.

The organization honors those original WACs and all the women who have served in the Army since. The attendees came from all over the country for this convention and were ready to shake it loose a bit after a great dinner and fantastic remembrances by Major General McWilliams (Ret.). MG McWilliams shared stories emphasizing humorous and poignant anecdotes about her career and the careers of those she worked with. Her theme that she wove throughout her talk was that the contributions of this group, its members, and the thousands of WACs they represent should be remembered, recorded and shared with loved ones as well as future generations. 

Indeed, as I spoke to many of the ladies, they told me stories of perseverance against adversity from both within the Army and from without. These ladies, every one a volunteer, worked twice as hard as their male counterparts to level the playing field, enabling the current generation of men and women to work together without much thought as to gender or MOS. Each one of these trendsetters contributed tangibly to the security of our nation and to the progression of equality in our society and yet they were approachable, fun, and absolutely proud of the service they chose, the United States Army. The camaraderie was palpable. They share a bond that is unbreakable. To be a small part of their celebration was a true honor and their closeness reminded me of those men of the USS Oklahoma. 

Major General McWilliams said something that will stick with me for the rest of my days. She said she gets thanked for "her service" quite a bit, and while that is fine, it really doesn't do these women and many vets justice. "Service" sounds like they were called up, they did their job, and went on with their lives. For millions of vets this is very true, and we are thankful for them. But this room full of women (and some of their veteran husbands) were all volunteers. They chose to make the Army a career, to move constantly, to accept less pay than the private sector, all for our benefit.

She said instead, thank a veteran for everything they have done for our country.  The sacrifices they made were worth it to them. Let them know that you appreciate them. And I do. 

A WW2 vet leads the conga line :)
The Peppermill sets the bar very high when it comes to service, food, AV support, and the countless little things that help make a convention a success. The Naples Ballroom was filled with conventioneers and several other nearby rooms were set up for meetings and roundtable discussions. I spoke to the Head Waiter after the event and had nothing but praise for his friendly and efficient staff.
Starting the march!
Having a crowd that musically spanned nine decades was a blast! Playing Glenn Miller through Motown through Justin Timberlake can present some deejays with a challenge but he ladies were ready to dance and had lots of favorite requests. They had an auction and other ways to raise money for their causes and drawings and even some singing made it a unique and energetic evening. I loved how they began- with a Sergeant Major leading everyone in the room to the theme from "Bridge Over River Kwai" and ended with them locking arms and singing "God Bless the USA" at the top of their lungs. What an extraordinary group of ladies, veterans, and patriots. I was honored to be in your presence and thank you for all you did and all you continue to do for our great nation!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Michelle & Justin at Skylandia Park with As You Wish Catering

Weddings for me are magical- moments that inspire me and make me strive to be a better husband and DJ. All are special and unique but some are more magical than others. It is sometimes hard to put your finger on why. In Justin and Michelle's case, it was apparent from the first.

The biggest factor in a perfect wedding and reception is the couple getting married. I am lucky in that my brides & grooms are mostly professionals, closer to thirty than twenty, and that they have found me because they don't want ordinary for their day. My couples know what they want and don't want for their big day, and it is a privilege to make their dreams become reality.

From the moment we FaceTimed, I knew their day was going to be special. They have an ease about them, an aura of happiness and positivity that is infectious. Their love for each other is always apparent- it's like they are the embodiment of living life fully and joyfully. And they have found the perfect partner in the other. That old adage, being greater together than the sum of their parts is absolutely true. I was enchanted- not a word I use often- and excited to be a part of their special day.

Tahoe and more specifically Skylandia has a special place in Michelle's family. It is a gorgeous area on the North Shore and a place where memories become sacred, to paraphrase Nicole, their phenomenal officiant. When Justin, a native of Colorado, visited for the first time, he became interwoven into the magic of the place and every subsequent visit to Tahoe includes walks in the park and selfies on the dock. So when they decided to marry, no other spot seemed more fitting for their vows.
My ceremony view
I had never been to Skylandia, so when Justin & Michelle came up to the Lake several weeks ago I met them there for our final planning meeting. It's more of a locals spot as the usual beach parks are right on the highway. Skylandia takes some perseverance  to discover. A beautiful forested area stretches in three directions and a rocky bluff overlooks the beach and has views all the way across to South Lake Tahoe. It is a place where almost everything has to be brought in, but is away from crowds and tourists- not always a given on the North Shore.
Hey! That's me! :)
When I arrived on Saturday, tables were decked out, chairs were set up for the ceremony, lights were strung between trees with photos hanging from the strands, and a dance floor was set up waiting for me. Power is not available there, so I brought my Honda 2000. It is a workhorse- it quietly provided clean and plentiful power for 7 hours without fail. It sips the gasoline as well- I don't think it used much more than a gallon.  I was early and set up by 2:30 for a 4pm ceremony, but as people began to arrive around 3pm, I started a nice background mix to set a fun tone.
Loved their seating chart!
I was a bit worried as the winds were gusting that day and the sun was in and out of the clouds. It felt more like Spring than July, but as the ceremony got closer, the winds started to die down and weren't a factor.  It really was a group effort from Justin & Michelle's friends and family- there were several people making sure things were set up and perfect when I got there and friends brought their Photo Booth. Their props/hats/masks etc were probably the best I'd seen at an event. Quality, fun stuff that really got people happy and silly.

The ceremony was fantastic. With the Lake at her back, Nicole wove nuptials that were specific to Michelle and Justin- telling their story, eliciting laughs, some happy tears, and finally huge applause as Justin & Michelle became Mr. & Mrs.

Pictures followed while the guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers courtesy of As You Wish Catering. I was very impressed with As You Wish. I have worked with them before, and their standards of personnel and food and beverage service are the highest. Many times during the evening As You Wish went above and beyond, cleaning broken glasses on the dance floor, helping people find belongings and countless other little things that make an exceptional  wedding vendor. Their BBQ-themed dinner fit the setting perfectly and was efficiently served and delicious. I am sure they were happy to work at Skylandia, as it is just a couple of blocks from their office/kitchen.

Several games were set out for the cocktail hour. Some bocce and corn hole matches were played and witnessed and Justin & Michelle's "guestbook" were some large Jenga pieces that people would sign and then play with- just a fun vibe throughout.

Michelle and Justin had a Grand Entrance punctuated by a little Usher, and dinner was immediately served. After dinner, the two Mikes (Justin & Michelle's dads) gave poignant toasts followed by Jerica and Jessica, their Best Woman and Maid of Honor respectively.  I get to witness many toasts and these four really were great. Following Justin thanking everyone for being a part of their day, the dancing started, and never really ceased except to cut the cake and toss the bouquet and garter.


First Dance
"Die a Happy Man" was Michelle & Justin's First Dance, and it was neat because one of their beloved dogs, Aspen, joined them at the end of the dance :)  Next up was Michelle and her dad dancing to what else but "Michelle" from the Beatles. Michelle had danced with her dad at his wedding, so they already had some fantastic history with the song, and halfway through I invited all the other fathers & daughters to come up and join them in the dance. Always tugs on the heartstrings a bit!

Justin had a surprise for his mom when the Mother Son dance started. I played "Wonderful World" by Satchmo for twenty or thirty seconds then scratched out and started up "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens. Everyone including mom was surprised and it became the joyous start to open dancing. I invited everyone up and soon we were deep into an oldies set that just set the tone for the rest of the night. 

Family and friends were really tremendous throughout the day and evening. So many people came up not just to request songs but to just chat and I had some fantastic conversations throughout the evening. Most of the crowd came from a good distance away and their love for the newlyweds was very apparent. I think Michelle and Justin have that effect on people. If you knew them, how could you possibly miss their wedding day, even if you call Colorado or the East Coast home?  My favorite conversation was with Michelle's grandfather. After a lively rendition of "Tequila" with everyone singing along and doing their best PeeWee Herman dance, he came up to me and told me that he was in the room when Danny Flores wrote the song. It was a B-side instrumental to the Champs' first record but it became the star instead of the A-side. What were they doing as Flores wrote the song you might ask? Drinking tequila, of course :)

I played a great mix of oldies, 90's pop and hip/hop, rock & roll and a little country and the dance floor never emptied. Lots of fun requests meant a happy crowd and a happy DJ. We went an extra hour until the dreaded Tahoe 10pm curfew reared its ugly head. Finally, as I was packing up, everyone headed down to the pier for a last group shot and some fireworks went off nearby. Coincidence? Probably :)

Thanks to everyone at As You Wish Catering for a stellar job. Thanks to the family and helpers that spent a lot of time getting Skylandia just right. Thanks to all the guests who made me feel like one of them instead of a hired hand. And finally, thanks most of all to Michelle and Justin for including me in their day and evening. I am honored to be a part of many fantastic receptions and this one was one of my favorites. If you can't tell, I love what I do!
Congrats you two!





Saturday, April 9, 2016

Melissa & Alden at Edgewood with Video Quest Productions and Hall Creations Photography

My first wedding of the 2016 wedding season and it was a blast.  Two people, deeply in love. Two exceptional families.  One of my favorite venues.  A crowd ready to party.  And two phenomenal wedding professionals recording it all.  What a way to kick off the season!

Alden and Melissa.  What can I say about these two?  Absolutely head over heels in love.  Fun to work with from day one.  From families that exemplify love, commitment, and unwavering faith, they exude an aura of purpose and of life, and most importantly love for one another.  There were so many moments that I choked up a bit- watching their total commitment to one another.  It makes me want to be a better husband and reminds me of those moments in my life that are so important and indelible.  Maybe the best word to describe their love and wedding is "exuberant".  A special couple having their day and evening in a special place.

Edgewood.  Definitely special.  One of my favorite venues.  The uplifting architecture and gorgeous setting is punctuated by the best service and staff on the Lake, and probably in the entire area.  Many of their employees have been with Edgewood for over twenty years and one I spoke with one yesterday who just passed 35 years. And the food!  Not your ordinary fare!  Dinner was plated/served and the guests chose from prawns, fillets, and pheasant.  I had the pheasant and it was fantastic!  Servers are efficient and friendly yet unobtrusive and they make my job so easy because of all these qualities and because of their vast experience.  It's a well-oiled machine that I am always happy to be a part of.

The weather was a bit iffy with some drizzle, so the decision was made to have the ceremony inside instead of out on the green.  Normally, this would be quite a disappointment but not so much at Edgewood.  The building, with its glass and wood and stone already has an ethereal vibe, and in the center it is almost cathedral-like, and that is where the efficient staff seamlessly placed chairs and moved furniture to make the ceremony happen on time.  I played Alison Krauss's "I Will" when the parents and grandparents were escorted in, and then "Tonight" by Secret Nation for the Bridal Party. An absolutely radiant Melissa and her dad Israel then entered to "I Do" by Jessie James Decker.  I looked at Alden when she came up the stairs and he was so full of emotion seeing his bride in her dress for the first time- it reminded me of my same moment 29 years ago.

Capturing all these moments were Jason of Video Quest Productions and Angie of Hall Creations Photography.  They are true professionals who worked well with each other, the staff, the bride & groom and myself all throughout the evening.  I don't think I've worked with Angie prior to last night but I'd love to work with her again.  Jason is a consummate professional when I've had the pleasure of working with several times and his work is unbelievable.  He showed me a few shots during the evening and I know Alden & Melissa will be so happy with his record of their day and evening.  Look up his work on his website. Stunning.  And a great introduction to the beauty at Edgewood.

After Melissa and Alden kissed and exited their ceremony to Justin Moore's "Til My Last Day", we all moved to the gorgeous North Room for cocktails and appetizers.  After photographs, the Bridal Party entered, each pair to their own song- everything from Avicii to Kygo; from Drake to Justin Timberlake.  When Alden & Melissa were ready to enter, I played a snippet from "Tombstone", Alden's favorite film and then Jason Aldean's "Lights Go On" and they came in to thunderous applause.  Very fun!  In a minute or two- no longer- salads were being served by the ultra-efficient Edgewood staff and dinner was on!
"I Love You This Big..."

Following some great toasts by the dads and by the Bridal Party and finished up by Alden himself, they started the dancing with their First Dance, "I Love You This Big" by Scotty McCreery.  The joy and love between the two newlyweds was palpable as they slowly swayed, singing the lyrics to one another.

Melissa found a perfect song to dance with her dad Israel- "Daddy" by Addy Anderson.  It was my first time playing it and I know it won't be my last.  What a great song!  Alden and his mom Julie followed with another favorite of mine, "A Mother's Song" by T. Carter Music.  A Money Dance followed and then dancing began in earnest.  I played lots of fun songs for an enthusiastic crowd, starting with Major Lazer and ending the night with Drake.  Lots of Old School, lots of Country, lots of happy dancers :)

Midway through the dancing they cut the cake to George Strait's "It Comes Natural" and then tossed the garter and bouquet. "Hey You There" by Soulja Boy got the girls amped up and then "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins did the same for the guys when Alden removed the garter.  But what was best about the garter was the toss.  I played the NFL theme and the guys went crazy!  Literally there were 7-8 guys in midair fighting for the garter, and an injury or two in the aftermath!  What a great group!

I really could not have asked for a better way to start off my 2016 wedding season.  Thanks to everyone at Edgewood- such a pleasure as always!  Thanks to Angie and Jason- so great to work with you two!  Finally, thanks to Melissa and Alden.  The whole planning process was fun and it was so great to be a small part of your magical day and evening.  All the best you two!
Last Dance!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Importance of Being Early


As a wedding DJ, I take on a special responsibility for my clients and their guests when I agree to be a part of their day and evening.  I have to not only meet but exceed their expectations throughout the event.  I would not want a wedding professional involved in my wedding who did not have this goal in mind.  Why settle for ordinary when your love, your celebration, and your party are anything but?

I accomplish this with the utmost professionalism and with an attitude that lends itself to the success of the event.  There are countless ways I make this happen: I get to know the bride & groom.  I dress and act professionally at all times.  I use only top-notch equipment and have backups handy, just in case.  I make sure I have all their music on at least three different devices.  And maybe too easily overlooked by some but very important nonetheless- I always arrive early to the venue.  I'm not punctual.  I am early.

It seems simple, right?  Show up well before you are scheduled to play.  Unfortunately many don't strictly follow this rule and their performance suffers.  I do not want the bride & groom, their families, other wedding professionals etc to worry one moment about "Where is the DJ?"  My job is to facilitate the event, to head off problems before they impact the timeline, and to seize opportunities as they come up to make their day even more spectacular.  For me, being early sets me up to accomplish these goals.

Being early, I don't typically have to worry about loading or parking issues, and if I do I have plenty of time to work around them.  Sometimes the layout of a room has completely changed since talking with the clients or venue representative and the extra time allows for innovative problem solving if the new setup is less than ideal.  Power sources and positions for lighting and speakers can be tested and changed so that the set up is optimal.

Arriving early allows me to calm an overtaxed mother of the bride or a nervous groom.  It allows me to meet and get to know the bridal party and officiant and discuss pertinent details of the day.  I can speak with the venue rep, the caterers, the cake people and pick up valuable details while being a calming influence, showing them I will be a productive and cooperative partner in the upcoming festivities. Through this I am making connections that will not only serve me well in this event but in future events as well.

Finally, arriving early allows me to keep my personal stress level down.  I am not watching the clock, hurrying to accomplish something but instead taking my time to make sure that every little detail is correct.  I am a rock for my clients and the other wedding professionals, keeping things level and fun  which only magnifies the vibe of the entire event.

Personally, if I am not at the venue and unloaded an hour before I am supposed to play, I get antsy.  And this is at a venue that is close by and one that I have played before.  If the venue is further away, I always add more and more time depending on the circumstances.  I have to allow for traffic, for weather, for flat tires- basically anything that can happen I need to be prepared for.

In almost 800 weddings now, along with several hundred other events, I have had three close calls.

Once, in Southern California, I was rear-ended on the freeway on the way to a Holiday party. I had to wait for the CHP to come and make a report and even though it took up far more time than I would have liked, I was still at the venue and set up in time for cocktail music.

Another time, up at Lake Tahoe, I arrived early at a beach for a ceremony (the reception was in another spot and I had already set up there).  No sign of the bridal party but the officiant and a dozen family members were looking around, kind of confused.  It turns out they (and I) had been told the wrong beach by the coordinator!  The real beach was several miles away! Being early and inquisitive, I had the time to talk with the family members and officiant and I knew something wasn't quite right.  A quick call to the groom and we were off to the real ceremony site with time to spare.  Instead of "Where's the DJ?" I received gratitude for correcting an issue that would have affected their day.

Finally, the only other time I became worried about my arrival time was a winter wedding up in Incline Village.  It was snowing and I allowed for lots of extra time to get over the pass.  It's a good thing I did!  As I reached the top of the pass under whiteout, 15mph conditions, the road in front of me suddenly cleared up!  I was ecstatic until I drove off the highway into a shallow depression... The clear area was where the snowplow had just turned around. Aargh!  My vehicle wouldn't budge.  I immediately called AAA and awaited rescue. The tow truck showed up 45 minutes later and I had him take me all the way to the venue- I wasn't taking any more chances!  I did not make much that day- the tow charge and the healthy tip cut drastically into any profit but most importantly I was on time and the ceremony went off nicely.  I told my photographer friend what had happened and he laughed because he had passed me as the tow truck was hooking me up but didn't realize it was me.  So even in dire, blizzard conditions I had given myself that extra cushion of time and it had paid off immensely.

So what I am trying to say is a wedding is not a 'gig' or just another job.  It is a sacred trust you are entering into by accepting a contract, and every aspect of your preparation or lack thereof reflects on you and on your reputation.  Being early is one of those things that is well within the control of even a novice event professional, and all the little things you do to prepare add up and make a difference.  Don't be 'on time'!  Be early and your clients and your reputation will thank you.

My expensive hook up :)


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sandy & Jorge at Edgewood with Blake's Floral Design


For my last wedding of 2015 I could not have picked a better setting than beside Lake Tahoe while snow showers accentuated the winter wonderland all around us.  That was the case yesterday up at Edgewood.


Sandy and Jorge wanted a winter wedding: somewhere their friends and family from the Bay Area could easily travel to and somewhere special.  Of course Edgewood fit the bill.  As this winter has been a good one for snowfall so far, the beach and golf course were covered in a foot of snow and the sleet became flurries which became snow showers as the day wore on. Most of my weddings at Edgewood have been during the summer, and they are glorious with the distant mountains across the Lake, the greener than green links, and the expansive views seen through the unique architecture of glass and wood, but a winter wedding there is maybe even more breathtaking. The windows allow you to feel a part of the wintery scene while still being warm and dry inside. Just a fantastic venue anyway, and with it punctuated by the snowfall- magical.


I really loved Sandy's whole plan for her wedding- simple yet elegant. She had so many great ideas!  One of my favorites (coming from a family with a famous quilter in it) was that instead of a guestbook, everyone signed quilt blocks which are to be made into a memory quilt after the wedding. Another idea I thought really unique was the favors she gave out to her guests. There was a nice laser inscribed wood ornament tied to a beautiful poem and a pair of mittens.  The guests absolutely loved them!

Her flowers were spectacular, and totally fit in with her winter color scheme.  Sharon at Blake's Floral Design, a fellow Weddings of the West member really hit a home run, and Sandy kept talking about how she was so pleased with how her bouquet looked- just as she envisioned.  Sharon always arrives super early to arrange her flowers and deliver the bouquets so she really never sees her work in context- with a beautiful bride in her dress and holding her handiwork, so I took a picture during the reception.  Great job as always Sharon!

Jorge and Sandy were married at a church offsite and they arrived and were able to take some pictures before all the guests got to Edgewood.  After some amazing appetizers and cocktails, I introduced the bridal party to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" which Jorge and Sandy had picked.  Soon after that, Father Carl was saying a benediction before the meal and then Sandy & Jorge were hitting the fabulous brunch buffet.

Fabulous is an understatement.  If you have read other blog entries of mine, you know I am a fan of Edgewood and of their chefs :)  This buffet was one of my favorites ever!  Here is a (probably incomplete) list of the offerings of the buffet:

Several types of really great rolls & butter.
Their decadent pasta salad (my favorite- I'm drooling thinking of it right now).
A beautiful green salad.
Their fruit platter with ripe everything- my favs were the raspberries, blueberries & blackberries.
A hot pasta dish.
Fantastic cubed squash with herbs (drooling again!).
A kind of breakfast mashed potato dish (yum!).
Mounds of top-notch bacon,
Chicken breasts in sauce.
Eggs Benedict.
Hollandaise sauce.
Carved ham (drooling again!)
Carved tri-tip.
Plus a full omelette station with all the fixings and a chocolate fountain with pineapple, pretzels, poundcake, rice krispie treats and marshmallows to dip into the chocolatey goodness. Wow!

Debbie and her crew were fantastic, as always.  Edgewood (and the Grove down in Reno) are how I judge service at all the venues I play. The service is efficient, friendly, and professional and sets the standard.  I love how Edgewood could just rest on their beautiful surroundings, fabulous architecture and sterling reputation and not worry so much about service and food. But no, they strive for excellence in every facet and it shows. And that is the dedication and experience you want for a wedding and reception.

After brunch, toasts were made and the cake was cut (accompanied by Plain White T's "1-2-3-4") and dancing began with Jorge and Sandy's first dance, Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up". Roberto, Sandy's dad then danced with her to "Wind Beneath My Wings" followed by an Anniversary Dance that they picked, Dan Fogelberg's "Longer".

The rest of the afternoon we danced to Cupid Shuffle, Usher, Flo Rida and lots of other songs.  I especially loved the guests (and bride and groom) stepping outside for a momentary picture in the snow flurries. Lots of great pictures with big snowflakes in their hair. Pretty magical.

I want to thank Jorge and Sandy for inviting me to be a part of their amazing day- you two really are a special couple!  Thanks to Sharon at Blake's Floral Design for her usual exceptional floral artistry.  And thanks to Debbie and all of the crew at Edgewood from the servers to the cooks to the people putting tables up and taking them down at the end of the day. Just a solid bunch of professionals. Edgewood should be very proud of them all.  Here's to a amazing 2015 and looking forward to many more tremendous weddings in 2016.  

Happy Holidays and New Year everyone!