Monday, June 25, 2012

The Victorian House: Reno & Tahoe's Wedding HQ!

I haven't taken the time lately to blog about the best wedding and event vendors in the Reno-Tahoe area and beyond- my fellow Victorian House members!  I am extremely lucky to be doing something I love and to be surrounded by like-minded, amazing professionals who strive to be the best they can be at their various professions.  The meetings, get-togethers and shared wedding experiences really make me feel close to these folks, and I don't exaggerate when I refer to everyone as the Victorian House family.

The concept of the Victorian House was put together by Evan Zinser of Zinser Photography, Zinser Photobooth and Reno Boudoir Photography.  As well as being the visionary of TVH, he is also an amazing photographer who strives to    make every client a client for life.  His work and personal ethics are exemplary and whether he is shooting your wedding or providing the latest in Photobooths for your function, customer service is always his number one concern.  He and his staff can also make your future husband's dream come true with Reno Boudoir Photography.  What an amazing wedding or anniversary gift a tasteful portrait or photobook would be.  Something that will catch your beauty in this moment in time and remind him of your wedding forever.

The Victorian House is supposed to be a gathering of the best vendors in their specific field, one-stop shopping, if you will, designed to take the stress out of event planning, and Cassie and Pattye can make it even easier on the frazzled bride and groom with Take the Cake Events.  They go above and beyond and can plan the whole event or just show up the day of and lend a huge helping hand.  I love their enthusiasm and organization, and you will too. Save yourself headaches and hours of frustration and get in touch with them- the earlier in the process the better.  They are such a pleasure to work with!

Jessica of the Stylish Scribe is the person to talk to if you envision something more than ho-hum, everyday invitations, save-the-dates, menus and programs.  The Stylish Scribe has truly innovative ideas for anything paper, yet her prices are similar to the boring invites you can get anywhere.  Why not put some of your personality into the invitations or table cards and whatever else you need?  Opening one of Jessica's invitations sets the tone for the entire celebration- your guests will know right off the bat that this will not be an ordinary wedding.  Instead it will be an event that is special from the Save-the-Dates all the way through the big day, unlike anything else they have attended.  What a way to start off your dream day!  Check out the Stylish Scribe online and start your dream today!

David and his team at I Do Massage give brides-to-be and everyone else amazing massages at really reasonable rates.  Their room in the VH is an island of tranquility and they will even come to you on your wedding day.  What a great gift to give to your bridal party or to yourself to relax before the big day!  They also take regular appointments and I can say they are very proficient at what they do.  My wife, for example, has had back problems for the past few years and she tends to take the stress off her back and put it on her shoulders, neck and elsewhere.  I Do Massage relieves that stress and she feels better for days afterwards.  Highly recommended!

The Grove at Southcreek is an amazing venue, but most people are unaware that their fantastic food can come to your event, even if you aren't at The Grove.  Their catering service is top-notch.  Shaka and his staff prepare everything from BBQ to haute cuisine and everything is delicious.  Even simple items like steamed or grilled vegetables are amazingly delicious!  Let their Event Manager Samantha help you design a menu that will have your guests going back for seconds and thirds!

I have deejayed close to 650 weddings now, and one characteristic that I always find disappointing is that while most cakes look spectacular, the vast majority do not taste as good as they look.  They run the gamut from almost inedible sheetcake with tasteless frosting to cakes that are good but still lack that certain wow factor.  Well look no further!  It is possible to have a cake that looks amazing and that tastes even better than you thought possible in a wedding cake.  Let Leigh Anne & Tesla at Tiers of Joy Wedding & Celebration Cakes blow you away with their made-from-scratch flavors that will have your guests coming back for seconds.  Every flavor is outstanding but my two personal favorites are Champagne and Chocolate-Peanut Butter.  Why get a cake if it's not amazing both inside and out?  Tiers of Joy will make sure it is both.

Reno Tux Shop is your source for contemporary tuxes for all of your bridal party at prices that can't be beat.  Tesla & Joshua will make all of your groomsmen appointments quick and easy, and when you combine meetings with other professionals in the house, you save all kinds of time.  Why go to a tux shop across town, then visit a bakery miles away, and then meet your DJ at a third location when you can do all of that and more in one simple visit?  With the highest quality tuxedos, a huge selection, low prices with deals on multiple tuxes, and above-and-beyond service why go anywhere else?

Pastor Kristopher Dahir at I Thee Wed can customize your ceremony for your tastes and beliefs and make it a ceremony that everyone will remember for years to come.  What I like about Pastor Kris is his ability to make everyone feel at ease during his ceremony.  He truly cares about the couple and even offers marital counseling before the big day to help make their upcoming matrimony one that they'll be celebrating decades from now.  He doesn't just say some words on a page- he believes in the sanctity of marriage and in the bond that they are making together.  Even mishaps are handled by him with ease and care.  One wedding I witnessed, a bridesmaid locked her knees and tumbled during the vows.  Kris, without being flustered at all, went to her aid, told everyone what was happening and that it was something happens often, and joked with and soothed the bridesmaid (and the bride & groom) until everyone was able to continue.  He flawlessly led everyone right back into the ceremony and people didn't talk about the mishap afterwards but about how beautiful the ceremony was.  That's the kind of officiant Pastor Kris is and will be for your big moment.

Cathy from Alie's Flowers & Gifts is a talented florist and one of our core team-members at the VH.  Unlike many wedding florists who work out of their homes, she has a successful shop in Carson City which is open year-round and serves both Carson City and Reno.  Why is this important?  Because many "professional florists" don't have things like insurance, business licenses, and even a knowledge of current flower costs and availabilities like a true storefront florist will have.  I have done many weddings where the flowers were not what were ordered, envisioned, or just plain awful.  Sometimes they don't show up at all!  When you have no reputation of excellence like Alie's Flowers, you can promise the world and deliver what you'd like.  Cathy knows which flowers she can get, what they will cost and will give you a fair price because she deals with these issues every day.  Many florists will drive to Sacramento the day before your wedding, hoping the wholesaler has the flowers they have promised you.  Don't risk your day on a picture in someone's book when you have the stellar reputation and expertise of a full-time florist who will make your floral dreams a reality.  Alie's Flowers- great service, fair prices, and no worries!

Michael & Sons Fine Jewelry and Native American Art is a Northern Nevada institution and the latest member of the Victorian House.  Their expertise with engagement and wedding bands is only exceeded by their exemplary customer service and love for what they do.  Whatever your need, they can help.  They can even help you realize your dream ring with custom design so that your ring is as unique as you are.

Craig & Vickie Musni at Ever After Creations Video are awesome videographers, super parents, and above all, great people.  They feel like family after you meet them and that is the way they conduct themselves at the weddings and events they capture.  People open up to them and they record not just the typical shots but the entire vibe and feeling of your event.  Their production values are top-rate and they can even do a quick edit where you and your guests are watching the getting ready and ceremony footage at the reception!  That is really special, as most companies take weeks just to deliver rough edits.  Unlike some other companies, EAC Video has vast experience with weddings and other events whereas others might be able to count their clients on one hand.  Don't be a learning experience for your videographer; instead be another amazing wedding shot by the best, to play over and over to relive your day.  Contact Craig and Vickie for a package that fits your needs and prepare to be wowed!

Carolyn at All About Honeymoons is a travel guru specializing in getting the best honeymoon for your style and budget.  Being a honeymoon specialist allows her to get you packages normally unavailable, even online.  Whether it is a cruise, all-inclusive resort, or even a house overlooking the beach in Nicaragua, she can tailor your trip to your likes and needs.  And as a travel agent she receives her compensation from the airlines, cruise lines and hotels, leaving you with no expenses for the incredible amount of time she takes making sure you get the perfect honeymoon at the best price.  Recently I became a client. For our 25th anniversary, Carolyn planned an amazing European vacation that we still are glowing from.  Her advice and ideas helped make a trip become a trip of a lifetime.  Why trust your honeymoon to some fuzzy pics on the internet?  All About Honeymoons will take care of you and your spouse and make it a trip to remember forever.

Cleaning is a service that most people overlook when planning their wedding.  If you get married at a unique venue, sometimes the end of the night comes and you & your relatives are stuck cleaning off tables, putting up chairs, and gathering all the accouterments that must be packaged up and returned to vendors.  Things like tablecloths, silverware, plates and vases, just to name a few.  Then the floor has to be spotless and maybe the kitchen and bathrooms too.  Do you really want your bridesmaids and parents cleaning toilets and emptying trash cans?  Kathleen and her crew at Just In Time Cleaning can come in at the end of your reception and take care of all this and more for less than you'd expect, and less than a deposit.  You and yours can go on to an after-party or just relax after an amazing day.  I worked with Just In Time at an outdoor wedding, and they went above and beyond, setting up decorations prior to the reception, helping the caterer, and even gathering all the gifts to bring to the bride & groom's parents home the following morning.  And they do home and commercial cleaning too.  You can't go wrong with Just In Time Cleaning!

I don't often recommend other DJ companies.  I set my standards very high, and to tell you the truth, the majority of deejays out there are either wannabe radio jocks with egos as big as their hair, untrained newbies who bought the equipment but don't have a clue how to run a wedding, and finally the wedding crashers who have decided to settle down with some equipment and hit on guests professionally.  These are the deejays that give our business a black eye, but believe it or not, there are deejays out there who are consummate professionals who will keep your reception flowing and the dance floor busy all night.  Larry Williams from Reno Tahoe DJ Company is one of these.  He is first and foremost all about customer service- he has even written a book about it that you can get on  He believes is extensively training his other deejays so you won't have a rookie presiding over your day.  Finally, he has a "Love Story" presentation that he does that is unique and that many rave about.  To sum up: he is a professional in a sea of part-timers and that is why you should   give him a call or send him an email.  When I am booked, Reno-Tahoe DJ Company who I refer people to, and I don't put my reputation on the line lightly.

Finally, if you want a band at your reception or simply a musician or two to play you down the aisle, consider Nichole at Bon Fete Live Music.  Nichole has artists and bands to fill any need for any aspect of your day, and she goes above and beyond in order to pair you with the right musicians.  As a DJ, I don't see many bands, but I work with quite a few harpists and guitarists and Bon Fete can give you a wide variety to choose from.  Choose Bon Fete for all your live musical needs!

Come by the Victorian House at 216 Stewart Street in downtown Reno and meet some or all of our family of professionals.  We'd love to be a part of your celebration!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brandon & Kate in Reno at Lakeside Ranch with Lake Tahoe Wedding Ministries and the Sauce Wagon

Being a wedding deejay I get to see all kinds of ceremony sites and reception venues. Everything from glitzy casinos to mountaintop aeries; from park buildings to church halls; from alpine restaurants to country ranches.  This weekend Kate & Brandon were married at the beautiful Lakeside Ranch in the foothills of Southwest Reno, and it was as fine a spot as any I've done in recent memory.  Gently rolling grassy pastures, big shade trees, and a babbling creek bisecting the property- it was a special setting for a great couple.  My photographic skills are rudimentary but you get idea- it was a gorgeous day for a wedding!
Ceremony site
When I first met Brandon & Kate, I thought "What a fun couple!"  They laugh a lot and have that look like they were made for one another- a certain glow when they are together that basically makes them so much more as a couple than they are as two separate people.  I am lucky as most of the brides and grooms I have the pleasure of getting to know are similar, but with these two you know from the moment you meet them that they are a couple and are in love.
Beautiful day for a beautiful bridal party
Kate and her bridesmaids and Brandon and his groomsmen spent a good amount of time prior to the ceremony using the beauty of the grounds for various pictures.  I happened to be nearby when the ladies were being photographed on one of the footbridges and on the swing, so I was able to snap a few pix here and there.  I'm a way better DJ than I am a photog, but the beauty of Lakeside Ranch and of the girls definitely shines through.  Brandon was brought in right before the ceremony for a "first look" so that the real photographer could capture the moment when bride and groom see each other for the first time in all their finery, and I got a shot from the side.
Their "First Look"
Finally the time had come to get married.  The guests filled the chairs and the large bridal party walked over the creek and into the ceremony area.  The grandparents and parents walked in to a great song, "Storybook Love" by Mark Knopfler from the movie the "Princess Bride".  The bridal party then entered to an acoustic guitar version of Pacbel's Canon in D, and finally Kate and her dad entered to Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" covered by the Vitamin String Quartet, one of my favorite string groups.  Officiating was David Beronio from Lake Tahoe Wedding Ministries.  He is a great officiant as he always ministers a thoughtful and heartfelt ceremony tailored towards the bride and groom.  His son, also David, was very helpful in coordinating the couples as they walked down to the ceremony site.  It was a large bridal party, and it all went perfectly.  Thanks David & David!
The DJ's view: ceremony and buffet!
After they had been pronounced husband & wife they and their party exited to cheers and One Republic's "Good Life".  After more pictures and some mingling we welcomed them to the reception tent with a Grand Entrance and everyone then enjoyed a great Sauce Wagon buffet dinner accompanied by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra tunes.  Following dinner, some great toasts were made and then the B&G took to the floor for their first dance as a married couple.  They danced to "All Your Life" by the Band Perry, followed by Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dances in which Kate and Brandon had wanted all the Dads & Moms to come up with their children to join in the dances.  What a classy gesture, and it was appreciated by dozens of people who got to show their love for their parents & children.  After that it was non-stop dancing the rest of the night, broken up only by the cutting of the cake.  It was a spectacular evening with everything a DJ could ask for: a great crowd, lots of requests, and a bride and groom who seemed to be walking on air.  Congrats Brandon & Kate and thanks for having me be a part of your fantastic night!
Late night dancers- what a great group!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jessie & Colin at Montreux Golf Club with Tiers of Joy Cakes

Montreux's Ceremony Site
Wow.  A ceremony and reception at the Montreux Golf Club is a special thing and I was privileged to be a part of Jessie & Colin's big day there this past weekend.  When you combine the beauty of the property, the professionalism of the staff, and add in an amazing couple with their incredible families and friends, you know a fun evening is ahead!

Colin & Jessie are one of those couples that you know when you meet and talk with them that their day will be a memorable and a fun one.  The miles traveled for their friends and family to attend must be right up there with any weddings I've ever done.  Practically everyone came in from somewhere else with New York & Montana claiming the most but with many other states close behind.  What a great bunch of folks on a gorgeous day!

It was my first time at Montreux and it was all I've heard it would be- a great place to celebrate your wedding day.  As I had never been there before professionally, I arranged a meeting with Billie Doyle, the events manager at the Club and she graciously zipped me around in a golf cart, showing me the ceremony site and where everything would be set up and then taking me over to the reception tent.  She is a true professional, always hovering around to make sure everything goes very smoothly before and during the event.  Her staff are some of the friendliest people in the industry, going above and beyond all evening with ever-present smiles on their faces.  It is obvious they enjoy people and what they do, and they provided happy and efficient service throughout the event.
The DJ's view
The ceremony site is unique in that it overlooks the golf course's practice hole which is immaculately groomed- birds singing in the pines; bees buzzing amongst the flowers- the whole shebang.  Wonderful setting- it reminds me of some of my favorite places in Montana.  Hard to believe you are just minutes from Reno but you truly are immersed in the natural beauty here.

For a DJ, it requires a bit more preparation as the site requires a generator, but it is so worth the extra effort.  Make sure you get a quiet generator, as the site is serene and you wouldn't want something marring the whole magical effect.  My new Honda ran perfectly and noiselessly, providing power for microphones and music for seating & the ceremony.  The bridal party walked down to "Canon in D" by Jurassic 5, a fun modern twist on the Pachbel's original, while Jessie entered to Vitamin String Quartet's cover of "Only Time".  I played "Me & You" by Kenny Chesney during their sand ceremony, and when they kissed and were pronounced husband & wife, they and their party exited to "Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder.   As I was packing up to move to the reception site I heard several guests singing along with Stevie  :)

The Reception Site
The reception was held back at the Clubhouse.  The guests arrived and enjoyed drinks on the deck while down in the tent everything was being made ready for the arrival of the bride & groom.  The guests moved to the expansive and beautifully decorated tent, and to the strands of "Eye of the Tiger" the bridal party made their Grand Entrance.  Jessie & Colin headed to the dance floor and danced their first dance to Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You" and then made their way over to the double-sided buffet line where Montreux had a delicious BBQ-themed dinner spread out for everyone complete with chicken, ribs and even prime rib.  Another thing about Billie & her crew: they are super-efficient.  Many places say dinner will be at so-and-so but it actually arrives a bit later.  Everything was anticipated and ready- you won't mess up the timeline because of this venue. Well before the toasts, they were popping bottles and pouring glasses just to be ready to pass them out when called for.  A real pleasure to work with this group!
Yummy Cake from Tiers of Joy 
After some great toasts by the best man, maid of honor and Jessie's dad, the B&G cut into an always extraordinary cake from Tiers of Joy.  Many cakes look beautiful but taste like sheet cake.  Leigh Anne & Tesla from Tiers of Joy make beautiful cakes from scratch that are also delicious.  What a concept!  Cakes that look and taste amazing- why is that so difficult for some bakers?  The Montreux staff quickly had the rest cut up and distributed while Jessie and her dad Craig danced their Father-Daughter dance.  They started with Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl", a great Father-Daughter song, but about a minute in I faded into LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" and Jessie & her dad surprised the guests with some amazing moves.  I will never think of "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" the same again!  After 30-40 seconds I faded back into "My Little Girl" and Colin and his mom Maryanne joined Jessie & her dad, and then after a few more moments invited everyone up to join the dancing.
The Bridal Party does some Shuffling...
After some dancing, a Money Dance and then an Anniversary Dance followed, with a lot of couples in the 30-40 year range.  The last couple up had been married 46 years... wow.  Dancing went on all night long, with quite a large and diverse bunch of requests making up the vast majority of songs I played.  Great crowd!  Good dancers and just nice people who were extremely happy to be sharing Colin & Jessie's special moments.  I was so pleased to be able to be a part of their day, from the beautiful ceremony all the way through the last dance.  I love my job!  Congrats to Colin & Jessie: may your all your days be filled with music and love.  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Taleah & Dom, June 2nd at the Cottonwood Room at Lazy 5 Park

One of the best things about being a deejay is connecting with people on their special days. It is an honor to be a part of a moment in time that they will remember for the rest of their lives, and when you start to get repeat clients from the same families, you know you are doing something right.

Such is the case with Taleah & Dom and their families.  I had the pleasure of deejaying Taleah's sister Tasheena's wedding two years ago down in Carson City and when it came time for Taleah to be married I was asked to be a part of her wedding as well.

Taleah & Dom are a great couple.  They have been together for many years and they seem like a pair that will only grow together in marriage, making anniversary milestones left and right.  They have a good example in Tasheena & Mark, who are about to celebrate two years and are expecting a boy in October.  What is it with brides & grooms I have deejayed for in 2010?  Five couples are currently expecting from that timeframe.  It was a very good year.
Dom & Taleah and Tasheena & Mark (I love the vests!)

The Cottonwood Room at Lazy 5 Park is a very nice venue for a reception and ceremony. Being a part of the Washoe County Parks system, it has a beautiful setting, very reasonable cost, and allows you to bring in your own caterer and other wedding professionals with you in control of every aspect of the day. There are other venues in the Washoe Parks system that are beautiful and easy on the budget as well, and they can be a great choice for your wedding or other event.

Dom & Taleah brought in all of the decorations and drinks, and catered a great BBQ lunch and with the help of their families they transformed the room into a beautiful ceremony and reception site.  Marty Barlease presided over a wonderful ceremony, and his presence and guidance was also felt throughout the day with a benediction before the meal and a very heartfelt toast to the bride and groom.  After the ceremony, the bridal party and family went outside amongst the willows and cottonwoods for pictures by Alan Wong, who did a great job with the photography all day long.
Dom & Taleah's first dance

The bride & groom entered to "The Imperial March" which was fun and the meal that followed was delicious.  When the dances and events began, I was privileged to be a part of a couple new ones for me.  Taleah & Dom are Native American and during the money dance, they laid a blanket down where everyone laid their money down before dancing.  It sure is a better system than pins or even a silk purse and when everyone had danced, Tee & Dom picked up the blanket together, which was a nice touch.  

But for me the highlight of the day was the Round Dance that everyone danced celebrating their heritage.  There was a feeling of unity and strength that was incredibly palpable that I was honored to witness and to be a small part of.  To have your friends and family all around you, confirming your heritage and their love and caring for you as a group is a powerful thing and it makes me think that when Taleah & Dom have difficulties and triumphs in their life together, they will have a community that will help them when they are down and celebrate with them when they are up.  No one could ask for more.  Congrats Tee & Dom!
The Round Dance