Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carly & Chris at the Grove at Southcreek with Reverend Dave Beronio

Another fabulous wedding at The Grove this past weekend!  Chris & Carly were married and celebrated the night away with a great bunch of family and friends who included me in their happiness for the newlyweds. I had met with Carly back in January right before the American Heart Association's Fantasy Bridal Faire.  I love doing the AHA event as all the proceeds go to fight heart disease and raise awareness.  I told Carly to look me up if she came to the Faire, and she did, so I gave her my Bridal Faire special and we were good to go.  Carly & Chris also saved money with me and with many of their other expenses by planning a Sunday wedding.  Many wedding professionals will give discounts and/or extras for events falling on non-Saturdays, and they had chosen their Sunday wisely- the Sunday before Memorial Day!  So they got great deals and their guests still had a day to sleep in afterwards. Exceptional planning!
It was a gorgeous day, and the ceremony was held in the outside patio at The Grove.  As a DJ I love the flexibility The Grove allows their clients to have their ceremony either inside or out.  I could have set up inside and taken care of the ceremony music and amplification as well as the later reception however I like to be able to watch everything in case I need to cue music or change volume on a mic, so I usually set up just outside and then move inside after the ceremony.  It is only a matter of about 12' but I think I do a better job when watching the ceremony, and it is always an honor to witness a couple's vows.
This was certainly the case with Carly & Chris.  Their officiant was Dave Beronio Jr.  I have witnessed many ceremonies officiated by Dave Beronio Sr. who does an outstanding job and about whom I blogged about here:

However, if you read that blog you'll find I was very impressed with Dave Sr's son Dave Jr, who really helped make that ceremony go off without a hitch.  As they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and Dave Jr. really did a great job both officiating and making the Chris & Carly feel at ease.  I liked the fact too that he made sure that the clip-on mic I rigged him up with picked up Carly & Chris's vows so everyone could hear them.  We are so lucky in the Reno-Tahoe area to have such outstanding officiants and it is great to know that another Beronio has joined this auspicious group.
I really liked Carly's choices for ceremony songs.  Her bridal party entered to a great version of Pacbel's Canon, and then she appeared with her dad Gary and walked down to the Vitamin String Quartet's version of "1000 Years".  When Dave pronounced them husband & wife they exited to the famous version of the same by Christina Perri.  I always appreciate the help coordinating the couples that the coordinators at The Grove provide.  Teresa was amazing as always all throughout the day and evening as was the entire Grove staff- truly the friendliest and most professional team in Reno.

After the ceremony the guests went inside for drinks and conversation while Chris & Carly posed for pictures.  They had a slideshow presentation that played on The Grove's state-of-the-art projection and monitor system.  I was enthralled especially by scenes from the Nevada outdoors that showed the happy couple enjoying hiking & hunting, and gorgeous pheasant and other game that they hunt together.  I thought when I met them that they were a fun couple, attuned to each other, and to see that they share so many interests and hobbies really makes me think they are in for a long lifetime of things that they will discover and do together.  When they were finished with pictures they and their bridal party entered and were introduced while "My Kinda Party" by Jason Aldean played, and that song really just set the tone for the evening.
As soon as they entered dinner was ready and Executive Chef Shakka had amazing beef and salmon along with delicious sides ready for the attendees.  Even though it was a buffet, at The Grove it always feels more like full service.  There are always waiters hovering to check if you need anything, removing used glasses and plates and pouring champagne and cider for the toast.  They are efficient and friendly and really take pride in where they work.  After dinner, Carly's dad Gary started the toasts followed by Chris' dad Rick and everyone from the bridal party.  Each toast was heartfelt and had a different perspective on the day and on the bride & groom.  Just like toasts are supposed to be.  Carly & Chris then started the dancing with their first dance, "She's Everything" by Brad Paisley.  Gary and Carly then followed with "I Loved Her First" by Heartland and LouAnn and Chris followed with "In My Life" by the Beatles.  I loved the fact that Chris & Carly had the other fathers & daughters and then mothers & sons come up after they had danced for a minute or so.  It is really a classy way to extend that sentiment with your guests, and those guests really appreciated being able to share that moment of parent and child.
First dance!

What didn't I play that evening?  Chris & Carly did not have a "do not play list", although they gave me  a dozen or so songs to include, and with those songs and with many requests from the guests, the dance floor was never empty.  I did have a groomsman come up and request that I didn't play "Thriller".  I thought, sure, I have lots of other MJ tunes if asked for.  But then several bridesmaids came up and requested it.  What is a DJ to do?  For his sake I tried to talk them out of it, but they were adamant.  So I buckled and "Thriller" came on, and that groomsman did the most awesome dance and basically copied MJ's moves perfectly.  Everybody went crazy cheering for him and trying to imitate his moves.  I talked with him afterwards and he was cool with it- I think he doesn't want to seem like he is showboating, but wow!  I've seen groups do "Thriller" better but never a single dancer as good as him.  Very cool!
All the Dads & Daughters!

A Money Dance and Anniversary Dance were also danced that night and when they tossed the bouquet & garter some great snatches from mid-air were made.  Dancing continued all through the night with all different genres and tempos.  I really liked how they responded to old-school hip/hop so I played some deep cuts from that genre as well as motown, country, rock & roll and the latest pop hits.  A very well-rounded evening of music with enthusiastic dancers- what more can a DJ ask for?  Thanks to Teresa, Shakka, Marco and everyone at The Grove.  Thanks again to Rev. Dave Beronio for starting us off so well, and finally thanks to Carly & Chris for sharing their special day with me.  Wishing them many years of health, happiness, music and love.  Congrats you two!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Brandon & Jillian at the Grove at Southcreek with Rev. Mark Frady and Mix Cupcakes

  It is great when you know some of the family and friends of a bride & groom before you even meet them or do their wedding.  This is the case with Jillian & Brandon's wedding which I was so happy to be a part of this past weekend.  I have had the absolute pleasure the last couple of years to DJ Brandon's mom Rita's work holiday party and have had a blast doing so.  It is not a large crowd, but they are super fun & friendly and dance all night long and it is always one of the highlights of my Christmas season.  This past holiday season I met the future bride & groom at the party and was pleased when they decided to have me at their big day at The Grove at Southcreek.

  It was one of those beautiful spring days in  Northern Nevada where the temperature is perfect but clouds come in and out, and you wonder if a thunderstorm is in the works.  Thankfully no rain was forthcoming but the sun coming into and out of the clouds really made the light perfect for those professional photographers out there- the pix I took, well you can see why I'm a DJ and not a photographer. 
Jillian, Rev. Mark Frady, Brandon
  I am always happy to see Reverend Mark Frady at a ceremony.  He is one of the best & most experienced officiants in the area, and he has an unflappable wit and huge smile that puts brides & grooms instantly at ease.  He is not afraid to deviate from his script, making it a personal experience for everyone there, and his ability to roll with changes and soothe nervous almost newlyweds is unmatched.  I threw him an unintentional curve ball when the lapel mic I equipped him with started to cut in and out.  I immediately began running up towards the dais with a backup mic, but he just asked if everyone could hear him without amplification, waved me off, and continued with his hearty reverend voice. A true professional.  His service is always a perfect blend of familiarity, love, commitment, and inspiration and  the guests and bridal party were completely immersed in his words and the moments he perfectly framed with them.  Jillian walked down the aisle to "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait, bringing a tear to Brandon's eye (First Looks have nothing on seeing your bride for the first time coming up the aisle).  When Rev. Frady pronounced them husband & wife, they departed down the aisle to "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" by Thompson Square to the cheers of everyone.  A perfect ceremony.
First Dance
  While family and the bridal party stayed outside for pictures, everyone else moved inside to the beautifully decorated Grove for cocktail hour.  Jillian & Brandon had a picture-filled guestbook and also a thumbprint tree for their guests to sign (and press) and a slideshow of the two of them through the years was on the big screen as well as the bar & fireplace monitors.  A candy table occupied many of the younger guests as well as many who were just young at heart.  When pictures were through, the bridal party entered to cheers while "Long Cool Woman" by the Hollies played in the background.  Brandon & Jillian entered last and made their way to the dance floor for their first dance, "Cowboys & Angels" by Dustin Lynch.  As soon as the last note was played, and the clapping & cheering subsided, Julie, the Grove's event coordinator informed me that dinner was ready.  That is what I love about the Grove- such attention to detail and timing!  The Grove served the bridal couple at their sweetheart table and everyone else went through the delicious and quick buffet line.  I know I've typed about him in the past, but executive chef Shakka's food is always extraordinary.  People were going back for seconds and thirds.  I love how his simplest foods are over-the-top good.  Like sauteed veggies and real mashed potatoes with herbs or perhaps leeks that make them so delicious.  Needless to say the guests were not disappointed.  After some great toasts by the Best Man, Maid of Honor, dad and groom, the newlyweds moved over to the cake table.  They cut a small cake and didn't mash each other too badly, but the dessert highlight were the many different cupcakes piled all around the cake.  I found out it was Mix Cupcakes of Reno, and though I don't know them or haven't had their cupcakes before, I am a fan!  The many flavors and the sheer beauty of the cupcakes really sets them apart, and later when the dancing was in full swing and everyone had had their fill of them, I wandered over to the cake table and picked a Reeses-topped cupcake that was absolutely fantastic.  Yum!
Rita and Brandon
  Speaking of dancing, Jerry danced with his daughter Jillian to "Just Fishin" by Trace Adkins to start off the night.  Then Rita danced with her son Brandon to Lynryd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" followed by a great money dance. The Black Eyed Peas started the fast dancing and it never really let up except for slow songs to let them catch their breath and an Anniversary Dance and the Bouquet & Garter.  I played a lot of country, but also a lot of newer pop and hip-hop along with many of everyones favorite novelty and line dances.  One guest requested "Billie Jean" and proceeded to start an MJ dance-off that really fired up the crowd.  What a great group!  Easy for a DJ when practically everything you play is enthusiastically danced to.  All too soon the evening wound down, with Brandon & Jilly exiting to sparklers and off to their honeymoon.  I can't thank them and Rita enough for allowing me to be a part of their special day.  Thanks also to Reverend Mark Frady and Julie, Roberto & Shakka and everyone else at the Grove that took their day and evening to the next level.  Congrats Brandon & Jillian!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Haley & Spencer at the Grove at Southcreek with Follow Your Heart Photography

Haley and Spencer had an amazing reception this past Saturday at The Grove which I was privileged to be a part of.  It was fun, heartwarming and reinforced a pillar of service that I always strive for- arriving early at the venue.

It doesn't sound like much or too terribly important.  All your professionals will be at the venue well beforehand, right?  Not always the case unfortunately.  Even if you allow yourself enough time to arrive and set up, things can always go wrong.  In nearly 1000 events I've done over the years, I've nearly been late only twice- once because I was rear-ended on the freeway and once because I slid off the road in a blizzard and had to be towed out of a snowdrift.  In both cases I was able to arrive at the event and set up my gear without being late because I gave myself extra time to begin with.  My minimum arrival is an hour before I am supposed to play.  If it is a venue I haven't been to before, or if it is farther away, or if the weather is iffy I give myself even more extra time for travel and setup.  I would rather be set up with an hour to go than stressing about being ready in time.
With Spencer & Haley's reception I arrived an hour before I was scheduled to begin playing even though The Grove is five minutes from me and it takes 15-20 minutes to set up there.  I would rather take my time and perhaps talk with Julie and her great crew at The Grove a bit and not worry about the time.  I had an amazing helper as well that evening, Vickie Musni, president of Weddings of the West and co-owner of Ever After Creations who wanted to see the deejay side of things at a reception and I began showing her my setup procedures.

Soon thereafter, about 35-40 minutes before I was scheduled to start, guests started arriving, the offsite ceremony having concluded earlier than expected.  As I was there early and ready to go, I started the music and the reception started earlier than we had planned.  Some wedding professionals might be flustered by this but I looked at it as an opportunity.  How often do you get extra time during a reception?  Usually the ceremony goes off late and everything gets bumped a bit further in the evening. Julie and The Grove rolled with the changes perfectly as well, even having dinner ready 15 minutes earlier than planned.  Good things happen when you are early and ready to go.
The bridal party entered shortly thereafter to "Forever" by Chris Brown and then the happy couple arrived to "Love Story" by Taylor Swift to thunderous applause and a few tears.  Spencer had played that song for Haley in the background as he proposed, so it will always hold a special place in their hearts.
First Dance!
Dinner then followed- the usual amazing cuisine by Shakka.  After toasts by the bridal party and parents, Haley and Spencer went into their first dance which started with "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz but soon faded into "La La La" by LMFAO.  Everyone cheered their choreographed moves and they soon settled back into Mraz for the ending.  What a great first dance!  Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dances then followed with JT's "Suit & Tie" starting off some lively dancing.  

After a nice long fast set of music they moved into the Anniversary Dance, with Haley's grandparents being the final couple on the floor, having celebrated 61 years of happily married life together.  What an inspiration!  I was able to play them a couple more songs that evening including the "Tennessee Waltz" and "Laura's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago.  I hope I'm still dancing like they did when my wife and I celebrate 61 years as well.

It is great to work with such amazing professionals like Julie from The Grove and Vickie helping me spin the tunes, but most of all it is so important to work in concert with great photographers, and two of the best were capturing images all night: Tiffany and Dean from Follow Your Heart Photography.  I always am happy when I see them at an event.  Not only are you getting two amazing shooters with unique perspectives and styles but they are just great people who are happy to be doing what they are doing and always are striving to give 110%.  Some wedding professionals seem jaded or burned out doing what they do.  These are the people who should move on to another profession.  Tiffany & Dean genuinely love what they do and are able to preserve amazing moments for their brides & grooms.  It is a calling and a privilege to be a great wedding photographer or great wedding deejay and Tiffany & Dean have the same fire for their photography as I do emceeing and spinning tunes for people.  It helps too when you embody the love and commitment of marriage.  It comes through in your work and several times I've seen them steal a slow dance when all the events are finished and portraits taken.

Love is why Haley & Spencer married and had all their closest friends and family around them throughout the night.  Love is being married 61 years and getting up to dance at your granddaughter's wedding.  Love is playing a special song when you propose and having it played at your Grand Entrance.  Love is your photographers lost in a slow dance at the end of the evening.  Love is your friends and family serenading you singing "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of their lungs at the last song.  All of these things and countless more contributed to a special night for Spencer and Haley.  When there is that much love in the air, it can't help but solidify the bonds of the bride and groom and all the couples that witness it.  Good luck to Haley and Spencer and thanks for including me in your celebration.  I love my job!