Friday, September 27, 2013

Kelly & John at the West Shore Cafe & Inn with Liane McCombs Wedding & Event Planning & Marielle Hayes Photography

Lake Tahoe is ideal for an outdoor wedding and reception. There are really few places like it in the world, and with the variety of services and venues available, the clear alpine Sierra skies are the limit. I have done dozens of weddings and events up at the Lake and every now and then I get to experience a new venue, and with the help of John & Kelly I was able to play at the West Shore Cafe & Inn at Homewood, at the western edge of Tahoe.

Kelly & John had definite ideas and a vision for their day that incorporated their personalities and tastes, and they really hit a home run with their guests (and their vendors, especially this DJ). First they found this fantastic venue- normally a restaurant with a few rooms on the upper floors for visitors, but when a wedding is planned they shut down the public restaurant and give the bridal party and guests exclusive access to the property. The Inn is as much situated outside as in, and its large deck, private dock, and side gardens give the guests an unfettered chance to roam and experience the fabulous views of the lake and of the party and Inn from the dock. Nicole and her staff were exceptionally friendly and super competent, and they set up furniture, heaters and cafe-style seating all around the deck and dock and put up chairs in the side garden for the ceremony. I heard so many compliments about the staff and the venue all night long- on a lake with many gorgeous venues, this one is truly special and unique.

To help document their day in the finest way possible, they had Marielle Hayes as their photographer. Her work is superb (see the link to real pics of the wedding, not cheesy DJ ones) and her dedication was extraordinary, as she was in her third trimester! She did super, and to help her second-shoot she had Kaylynne Kroshus who is becoming one of my favorite photographers as well. Two amazing artists capturing every moment! I am in awe of their photographic talent, as I have none myself...

Finally, adding to the venue, the photographers (and a mighty good DJ lol), John & Kelly had Liane McCombs of Liane McCombs Wedding & Event Planning as their coordinator. I've written about Liane before. She is a force in the local wedding world and her knowledge of events and how to keep them running smoothly is encyclopedic. With Liane on the case, I can relax as she is constantly monitoring the event and a myriad of details, both small and large. I really cannot remember any hiccups or missteps during the entire event, and a great majority of that is due to Liane's diligence. 

The ceremony was officiated by Kelly's brother Brian, who I thought did a great job marrying his sister and new brother-in-law. A grandfather was under the weather and could not attend the ceremony or reception, but with technology as it is, there was no reason for him to be left out of the day. A family member had a iPad and used Facetime to transmit the entire ceremony and some of the reception so Grandfather could witness it in real time. After the ceremony, I could see him congratulating the newlyweds through it. Very cool! Just one more amazing touch to a special day.

When the ceremony concluded everyone moved to the deck while the bridal party posed for pictures. Kelly & John, instead of a sit-down dinner had various stations set up with delicious salads, veggies, hors d'eurves, and skewers of chicken and beef. It was a casual, but gourmet-casual!  Servers passed delectable little bites around and kept wineglasses full. In just a little while, the bridal party returned from pictures to "Bring Em Out" by TI and we welcomed the newlyweds accompanied by the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise" and the great party atmosphere kicked into high gear and never really diminished all night. Soon we were toasting Kelly & John as they stood at the foot of the dock surrounded by friends and family. The dancing started with Steve dancing with his daughter Kelly to "Father & Daughter" by Paul Simon, which led in to John and Kelly's first dance. They started with a couple of verses of Ben E. King's classic "Stand By Me" but then surprised everyone when Rob Base's "It Takes Two" suddenly cut in. Everyone jumped in to dance with the bride & groom and the dance floor never emptied the rest of the evening. I played from an extensive playlist they had given me and took requests off the floor and people danced to everything from Icona Pop to Stealer's Wheel; from the Beatles to the Black Keys, and from Michael Jackson to Zac Brown Band. A diverse and fun playlist. As night set over the lake, they tossed the bouquet and garter, had a brownie bar for dessert instead of cake, and had a photobooth up and rocking inside the Inn. It was truly a memorable evening, one that the guests and this DJ won't ever forget. Perfect day, perfect venue, perfect crowd and above all, a perfect couple! Thanks to West Shore Inn, Liane McCombs, Marielle Hayes, and Kaylynne Kroshus for all your superb help and hard work. What a team! But thanks most of all to Kelly & John for sharing their day and evening with me. Congrats you two!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eric & Megan at Wild River Grille with the ceremony at Honey's Garden at Rancho San Rafael

Eric and Megan impressed me from the very start of our first meeting. They had a definite, unique  vision of their upcoming wedding & reception and a warm, loving vibe with each other that was infectious, making me want to be a part of their special day. I am a lucky guy. I get to share in a couple's most perfect day and do my small part to make it conform to their vision and hopefully exceed their expectations. I was so happy when they selected me to be their DJ.
Honey's Garden
They planned their ceremony in a special little glen in Rancho San Rafael Park called Honey's Garden. It is surrounded by trees and comes complete with a babbling brook and koi pond and is a fantastic gem hidden amongst the Arboretum just down the hill from the Ranch House where I have deejayed many times before. I was unaware that amplified sound could be used there, and when Eric checked into it, he found that yes, you can use limited PA for wedding music and microphones- you just can't have your dance party there. No worries! I got there early, set up a ceremony system, hooked into power with the help from a friendly park employee, and began playing some light background music. Brooke Smith-La Fata was a great help before the ceremony keeping me informed and lining up the bridal party. Soon I was playing "Storybook Love" by Matthew Lister for the bridal party and then a special version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Ingrid Michaelson which I had mixed the week prior for Megan. She loved the version except for a stray note that Ingrid hits early in the song. I was able to excise that part and no one was the wiser, and Megan came down the hill into the Garden glowing from the inside out. Many deejays don't particularly like providing ceremony music and amplification as it can be quite a bit of extra work. It was a completely different location than the reception site, and it was down a hill and a bit of a haul, but it was so great seeing her cross over the bridge into the Garden, and seeing the emotion on Eric's face (and on everyone else's as well) when she appeared. Nothing like that moment. I'll never forget seeing my wife when she appeared down the aisle twenty-six years ago, and I know Eric will have Megan's image etched in his mind in the same manner for the rest of their lives. I love being a small part of the ceremony as it is such an honor being a part of a couple's day!

After they had said their vows, Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine" got everyone in the party mood as they recessed from the ceremony. The guests and I then packed up and headed to downtown Reno while Megan & Eric roamed the scenic park getting their pictures taken. 

The Wild River Grille is perched above the Truckee River just south of the Virginia Street bridge in basically the exact center and cultural heart of Reno. Their food is contemporary, fresh, and sourced locally when possible and it is quite a step above the usual reception fare. The River Room has a great loft-like feel, a huge bar with friendly servers, and windows that look out on the river and city. I arrived and quickly set up my gear in a corner and began playing some background music for the guests arriving from the ceremony. It wasn't too much longer when Eric & Megan arrived and they were introduced with Natalie Cole's "This Will Be" punctuating their arrival. Soon everyone was enjoying the very delicious Wild River fare and I have to credit the staff with being so friendly and efficient. They really made sure everyone had plenty to eat and drink and all with a smile and great demeanor. 
My view of the cake cutting
After dinner the B&G soon were toasting & cutting their cake- actually an assortment of bundt cakes giving their guests choices of several flavors. "Bless the Broken Road" then filled my speakers as Eric and Megan took to the dance floor for their first dance. David then danced with his daughter to Heartland's "I Loved Her First" for the Father-Daughter Dance followed by Pam and her son dancing to Rascal Flatts "My Wish" for the Mother Son Dance. The dancing really never stopped after that.  Alan Jackson's "Remember When" was the backdrop for a great Anniversary Dance with Eric's and Megan's parents both being married for over 40 years. What great examples for their children and for all of us!
First Dance!
I played a large variety of music that night to an enthusiastic crowd. My favorite moments had to be when some 90's pop and hip hop were requested and I strung out a fun mix of everything from Warren G to "Bye Bye Bye" to "No Diggity"... Very cool!  I love an interactive crowd with requests that just build on the moment. I have to thank Brooke Smith-La Fata for all her hard work, the great staff at Wild River Grille, and most of all Megan and Eric for allowing me to be a part of their amazing day and evening. Congrats you guys!
Megan and her dad

Monday, September 9, 2013

Jennifer & BJ at Sugar Bowl Lodge atop Donner Summit

The Lodge at Sugar Bowl
As a wedding DJ, the best accolade I can receive is a referral from a happy client. Recommending someone for such an important part of such an important day is taking a big responsibility for the outcome of that event, and I appreciate the trust put in me by both a former client and a new one.
About a year ago I was so honored to be a part of Jason & Nicole's day at Sunnyside (see blog) and when Nicole's friend Jennifer set her date to be married, Nicole gave her my information. I couldn't be happier. Nicole & Jason's wedding was such a great time and I knew any friend of Nicole's would be pretty special too, so I was excited to be considered for Jenn & BJ's day.
My view of the ceremony.
As Jenn & BJ live quite a distance from me, we spoke on the phone, traded emails, and finally Skyped to finalize the events and music for their day. They have very definite musical tastes, and we incorporated their playlist into the entire day and evening. Many DJ's get flustered with clients who have tastes that don't fit into a standard box. They can't think past their own 'most played' playlists and have a difficult time meshing their style with that of the B&G. Me, I love strong opinions on music. Music is such a large part of our lives- it mirrors our mood and defines our most treasured moments. To incorporate the musical choices of the clients is one more way to make the day completely theirs- to add their essence, both serious and playful to their day. So many times I get people coming up and complimenting me on the music I play, and usually the songs they hear are those that the bride & groom had chosen. For example, BJ really like the Avett Brothers, and while I had some of their music, he really broadened my perspective on them and turned me on to new songs I hadn't heard before. When they were taking pictures, I played a few of them, and he turned and gave me a thumbs up, and went back to his photographic duties. I could feel the bridal party's mood elevate just a little but more, as when the bride & groom are happy & smiling, it is incredibly infectious. I encountered more new (to me) artists through Jenn & BJ such as Iron & Wine and the Morning Benders and am better for it. Part of the benefit of being a DJ is that your clients and their guests expose you to new bands that you may never have found on your own. When you love music as I do, this can be priceless.

BJ & Jenn picked the Lodge at Sugar Bowl for their ceremony and reception, and what a great choice they made!  Sugar Bowl is a fantastic venue for an alpine wedding. The ceremony was held in the meadow adjacent to the Lodge with spectacular mountain views and a babbling stream a few yards away. I played Sufjian Stevens' "For the Widows in Paradise" for the parents entry and Ben Howard's "Old Pine" for the bridal party's processional. I had "Bloom" by the Paper Kites ready for Jenn's processional, but Asa Dean, a groomsman came down the aisle with his guitar on his back, surprising BJ with his own rendition of the song. Asa sounded wonderful, BJ was surprised, and Jenn positively glowed coming down the aisle. When the ceremony concluded, the newlyweds exited to "Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon and their guests boarded the chair lift for a cocktail hour at the top of the mountain.
BJ & Jenn head up for cocktails!
How cool is that?!?  Where else can you invite your guests up for a mountaintop cocktail? When BJ & Jenn were finished with pictures, they boarded a chair and joined their guests at the top of the mountain while I set up on the deck of the Lodge. After an hour or so, everyone returned and found their tables on the deck for dinner, I introduced the bridal party punctuated by Macklemore's  "Thrift Shop," and the reception began A buffet line was set up inside and soon everyone was enjoying Sugar Bowl's delicious dinner. Speaking of the Sugar Bowl, I have to say they have one of the friendliest staffs out there.  Amanda & Megan and their people are top-notch. They really enjoy what they do and are proud of their food and of the Lodge, and their service shows it. At some lodges and ski resorts the staff is very transient and because of this, not as well-trained, loyal or happy. You can tell that Sugar Bowl treats their staff well and it shows in the level of service from the coordinators on down. Great job!

After dinner the bride & groom were toasted and then Jenn & BJ made their way to the dance floor for their first dance, "February Seven" by the Avett Brothers. However, once again the talented Aysa Dean came up and serenaded them with his own version of the song. Very special and memorable!  Augustine then danced with his daughter to "My Little Girl" by Tim McGraw and then Beth danced with BJ to "Over the Rainbow" by IZ.  In a special twist, Jenn then called up several other newlywed couples and they all danced to Adam Sandler's "Grow Old With You" with Jenn & BJ. Enthusiastic dancing then followed all through the rest of the evening.  What a great dancing crowd!  I played such a variety of songs and the floor never emptied.  It was pretty magical as night fell as the deck was lit by candles and twinkling lights, yet you could still see the Milky Way high above in the alpine night sky.
First Dance!
Aysa at work
Dad & Daughter!

Thanks to BJ & Jennifer for allowing me to be a part of their extraordinary day and evening.  Thanks to  everyone at Sugar Bowl Lodge for their efforts and warm hospitality. And thanks to Nicole & Jason for making it all happen for me through a simple referral. I love what I do. I try to make a difference in a couple's most special day, and I am so happy people seem to get that and are so pleased with my performance.  Congrats Jenn & BJ! May the soundtrack of your lives be long, varied and filled with lovesongs!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mato & Amy at The Old 1862 Ranch with Take the Cake Events, Kaylynne Kroshus Photography and Men Wielding Fire

There are many benefits to being a wedding DJ.  You get to meet people from all over, from all walks of life, and all backgrounds. You get to help make an amazing couple’s most special day that much more memorable and fun. You get to work in fabulous settings and venues. And you get satisfaction knowing your efforts were an integral part of the overall experience of the bride & groom and of their guests.
The ceremony
You could attach all of these benefits to wedding coordination as well. There are some coordinators who embody the same spirit and love for their work as I do, and I was fortunate to be a part of a day and evening with a fabulous couple, their family and guests, and my favorite coordinators, Cassie and Pattye from Take the Cake Events.
Lawn games
The couple’s marriage we all were so happy to be a part of was that of Mato and Amy. They are head-over-heels in love and wanted everything about their day to celebrate their love for each other as well as the love for their families and guests.  They had a very clear vision for their day- from the venue to the food to the look of the whole thing. They made sure the day would be perfect- perfect for them and for their guests and it certainly was.
The bar
The venue they chose is really unique. It was the first time there for me and it really exudes the atmosphere that Amy & Mato wanted to bring out- country gorgeous. It is called The Old 1862 Ranch, and it has been an active ranch from that date, lovingly restored by its owners Jan & Jim. Two nicer hosts I cannot remember. They helped out all throughout the evening and talked with guests about the history of their beautiful spot in the rolling Long Valley northwest of Reno. The ranch has extensive acreage and several outbuildings evoking simpler times gone by. They had set up a tent and dance floor on the wide lawn and the ceremony and reception surrounded the stately ranch house.
Dining tent, dance floor, and ranch house
The ceremony was simple yet beautiful. The natural arch of a tree branch provided the arbor for the focus of the event with views of green fields, livestock and distant mountains making for a perfect backdrop.  The bridal party entered to a great version of “Fireflies” by Jurgen Johannes followed by a radiant Amy entering to one of my all-time favorites, Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” The ceremony itself was fairly quick, perhaps quicker than it should have been as the officiant forgot the “I do’s” and was about to pronounce them married!  Everyone, especially the bride & groom had a chuckle as someone brought it to his attention and it was soon rectified. I loved how Mato & Amy and their bridal party just rolled with it and enjoyed the moment. I knew then that it would be a fun and happy group that evening. It will be something they can laugh about for years to come. I would rather have a memorable moment if it turns out fine than a ceremony that fades quickly from memory. Their ceremony, with the beautiful bridesmaids and bride, the gorgeous backdrop, and the love that encapsulated everyone will never fade from people’s memories.  They exited to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne to rousing applause and were off on the wonderful grounds of The Old 1862 Ranch for pics with Kaylynne from Kaylynne Kroshus Photography.

Kaylynne is a fantastic photographer. I have had the pleasure of working with her several times and she always has an easy-going vibe with the other vendors as well as the bride & groom and guests. She really captures the feel of the moments and events she photographs, and her work is stunning. Follow this link to see how a real photographer documents a day through her talent and artistic eye. Much better than the pictures I take for my blog... :)
Speaking of music, I really loved the choices Amy & Mato made for their ceremony and reception.  They live in Austin Texas, probably the greatest city for progressive music in the country, and their selections reflected their high music IQ and eclectic tastes. When a bride & groom give me specific songs not just for events but for cocktail hour, dinner and dancing, they are putting themselves into the mix. They gave me a songlist that ranged from Louis Armstrong to Ghostland Observatory, from Johnny Cash to Cake, and from Cat Stevens to the Wheeler Brothers. Many guests complimented me on the selections- I was quick to let everyone know that Mato & Amy had programmed the majority of the songs. It is a day all about them, but they included songs that were special to family and friends and when the dancing started, they encouraged requests. A recipe for a fun night as the dance floor was always humming.

First Dance!

While the happy couple roamed the grounds for pictures, their guests enjoyed a fun bar area and a whole variety of lawn games. They had cornhole, croquet, bocce ball and two sets of mega-Jenga using 2'x4's. The guests that weren't inclined to play wandered around the ranch and sat on the porch and laughed and talked. When Amy & Mato were ready to rejoin the reception, Cassie came over and let me know, and within a few moments we were welcoming them with their Grand Entrance. Men Wielding Fire catering provided the BBQ that followed and soon everyone was enjoying dinner.

All during this time, and well before everyone started to arrive, Cassie & Pattye from Take the Cake Events scurried around solving problems big and small and preparing for the guests and their needs. It is hard to know where to begin describing what a good wedding coordinator does, let alone a great one, and two great ones to boot! They prepared beverages, placed fans, fixed flowers, drove down the road to affix a sign for directions to the wedding, met with all the vendors and helped them with their setup and the schedule, assisted the bridal party, found missing items, figured out where and how things should be displayed or placed, and welcomed the guests and family as they arrived. These and another couple hundred things that I haven't mentioned. They are always the first vendors to arrive and the last to leave, after cleaning up, organizing linens, collecting gifts and making sure the people coming for chairs, tents, and tablecloths the next morning would find all of their items quickly and organized. I can't say enough about them. They went above and beyond with a goal, like mine, to do everything possible to make the bride & groom's day better than they even imagined, and they succeeded with flying colors. When Cassie & Pattye are at an event where I am deejaying, my stress level immediately drops down to almost nothing, allowing me to concentrate on the music and emceeing. Many coordinators can be imperious and bossy. You want them to be assertive, as they are trying to get things done and solve issues that arise, but while being assertive the girls at Take the Cake Events are also friendly and cooperative- just the sort of coordinator you want interacting with your guests and loved ones.
Father & Daughter
Lori and Jenny, Amy's sisters, led off with a pair of tremendous toasts as dinner concluded, and John, Ray and Steve followed up with great ones of their own. Then Mato and his bride started the dancing with their first dance, using "I Can't Believe You're in Love With Me" by Hot Club of Cowtown. They had a few moves to wow the audience with, and their loving enthusiasm warmed the already attentive crowd. Ray then danced with his daughter in the Father-Daughter dance using the appropriate "Daughter" by Loudon Wainwright.  Next Judy danced with Mato for the Mother-Son dance with "I Will" by the Beatles capturing the moment perfectly. Everyone joined the newlyweds for the dancing that followed and it never really let up except when it was time to cut the cake (they also had cupcakes) and toss the bouquet and garter. As the summer night darkened, the lights around the tent and ranch house came on (and a couple of lights from yours truly) and the dancing took over. I played many great requests mixed in with Amy & Mato's playlist, sprinkled with a few choices of my own. I couldn't have asked for a friendlier or active bunch of dancers- it was like the whole day was magical and they were trying to capture some of that magic forever by dancing and having fun alongside the B&G.
Mother & Son
I sure enjoyed the entire experience. Like I said, there are so many positives to being a wedding DJ, you don't mind the load-in or out, especially with a bride and groom like Amy and Mato and their family and guests. I was honored to be a small part of the magic.
Dancing begins!
Thanks to Kaylynne from Kaylynne Kroshus PhotographyMen Wielding Fire, Cassie and Pattye from Take the Cake Events for all their help and hard work and a huge thank you to Jim & Jan for opening up The Old 1862 Ranch for the evening. It is a special place, and they do only a very limited amount of events each summer, and it is really an undiscovered gem. But most of all, thank you Amy and Mato. I truly enjoyed your day and I am so happy for you as you discover the world together.  Magical...

Congrats Amy & Mato!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Crystal & Travis at the Tannenbaum Event Center with Alexander's Catering and Dan Thrift Photography

What's wrong with a Thursday wedding? Absolutely nothing! When you have a super couple, fun guests and family, great vendors, and a fantastic alpine setting, the day of the week is hardly a concern. Travis & Crystal and their guests fit that bill perfectly. 
On a Saturday, and to a lesser extent a Friday or Sunday, your choice of venues may be limited. The caterer or photographer you want may be booked already. But by having your big day on a non-traditional day of the week, you can make your planning much simpler and bring those costs down considerably. Of course you need to make sure that any conflicts with bridal party or guests' schedules can be overcome, but with plenty of advance notice, everyone will schedule for your wedding and reception long in advance and there won't be any difference in fun or atmosphere.
Tannenbaum's ceremony site
Travis & Crystal made some great choices for their day besides taking advantage of a weekday. First they booked the Tannenbaum Event Center on the slopes of Mount Rose. The Tannenbaum is a gorgeous venue, both for ceremonies and for receptions. There is a grassy area, perfect for a ceremony, just behind the building, below the deck that looks out over the mountains and it is surrounded by pines and greenery. The building itself is beautiful and reminiscent of a mountain lodge and the people at the Tannenbaum really do a great job coordinating the event while allowing for various vendors and setups. In the last year or two they really upgraded the bride's and groom's rooms, giving the bridal parties lots of space to change and celebrate the day. Indeed, the bridal suite opens up so the ladies can just walk right out as the processional starts to play. It is dramatic and convenient. Another huge plus there is the level of professionalism from the coordinators. That day Rachel, Kylie and Rebecca went above and beyond (as usual) and smoothed over details both small and large making the event and my job much better and easier.
Crystal & Travis saying "I do"
Next they hired Alexander from Alexander's Catering. I have blogged about him before. He is one of my favorite caterers- always going the extra mile for his customers. His crew is dedicated & friendly as well, taking the whole event to another level. His food is always delicious too, but many caterers have great food but drop the ball on service or are great on service but drop the ball on the meal. Alexander's consistently hits home runs on both levels, and that is why he is on my personal preferred vendor list.
Cutting the Cake
They made an inspired choice with Dan Thrift Photography as well.  I have worked with Dan in the past and I really like his style when he works.  He is unobtrusive but seemingly everywhere at once, getting not only all the normal posed shots but also candid shots of the guests enjoying the moment. A true professional and great to work with.
First Dance!
Finally, I loved all the extra little touches Travis & Crystal thought of to make the day all about them and their guests. There was a photobooth guestbook, which is always fun and gives your guests something fun to do together. They named their tables after various types of wine instead of plain old numbers, infusing their love of wine into the evening. And they thought about their guests' safety in that they had a bus take them up and down the hill so they didn't have to drive from their hotel to the Tannenbaum. To me that is the ultimate show of caring for your friends and family- making sure if they have had a few glasses of their favorite libation that they can arrive safely at their rooms. Very cool.  Here's another example of them going above and beyond: coming up the hill, a bus broke down bringing guests up to the ceremony and reception. Travis and his groomsmen immediately headed out to the parking lot and took several vehicles down the road and picked up the stranded guests. Here they are, getting ready for the ceremony but they didn't want their guests to have to wait for a replacement bus.  Just the kind of atmosphere that Travis & Crystal engendered throughout the day. I heard several guests telling others how happy they were to see their new chauffeurs come to the rescue in snazzy tuxedos.
Such a great couple
The music was hand-picked by them as well. I love when my couples add their musical tastes and personalities to the mix.  It started with the seating music prior to the ceremony: instrumental string versions of classic rock that set a fun yet ceremonial mood, and then Bach's Prelude in C Major accompanied the bridal party followed by Crystal and her dad entering to "Concerning Hobbits" from the LOTR soundtrack. How unique is that! I really liked a line that the officiant uttered during the ceremony: "Love is a friendship that has caught fire." So descriptive and true!  Then after he had pronounced them husband & wife they exited to "The Throne Room" by John Williams which was the end of "Star Wars: A New Hope"... How cool is that!?!
Leroy and his daughter
After what I imagine were amazing picture opportunities out and around the Tannenbaum, the bridal party entered to the Black-Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feelin" and shortly thereafter Alexander's Catering were working their magic. Another nice touch Crystal & Travis thought of was to feed the kids with their own kid-friendly buffet prior to the adults. Alexander's Catering had many choices for them and they (some with their parents help) went through their own line and got settled into their seats before the rest of the guests. This was great for a couple reasons: the kids got something they'd like and eat, they sat down and got a head-start so they were happy, and their parents were happy being able to go through the adult line without jostling a second plate with a child in tow. Just another thoughtful touch by the bride and groom. When the kids were through, Alexander quickly changed out the serving dishes to the adult fare and people were up getting their delicious dinner in no time.
Start of the special family dance
After dinner, the reception events began, first with some great toasts by the two dads and then the bridal party. The cake was then cut and soon thereafter Crystal & Travis were dancing their first dance to Journey's "Faithfully". Then Crystal and her dad Leroy danced to "Through the Years", and in another classy move invited all of the fathers and daughters in the audience to join then halfway through the song. I love it when all the dads and their daughters get to experience a Father-Daughter dance alongside the bride and her dad. It's something that they will always remember, and something that sets Crystal & Travis' reception apart from other wedding receptions they've been to. This was immediately followed by a Mother-Son dance started by Travis and his mom Roxanne, and again halfway through the song, this time the Beatles tune "In My Life", I invited all the other moms and sons up on their behalf. Following a few slow songs for the Money Dance, dancing started in earnest and never quit all night long.
Everybody joining in...
Some of my favorite moments were a great Anniversary Dance and later the bouquet & garter tosses using "Ladies Night" for the girls and the theme from Indiana Jones for the guys. Very unique and fun!
Another awesome moment was a traditional Mexican dance led by several people in Crystal's family.  They used a song I love, "La Marcha de los Zacatecas" for the dance (I know the song from one of my favorite comedies, "The Three Amigos" when it is played at El Guapo's birthday party). Basically they all started the dance like a train or a conga line, with a column of people in a line moving all around the room.  Then they made two sides and the couples would go through the arches the previous couples would make.  Finally, everyone got in a large circle and Crystal & Travis were put in the center.  It was a great dance and a fun family tradition that the whole crowd participated in. 
Going through the arches
They danced to all kinds of genres from country to hip/hop and rock & roll to oldies. Any wedding that I get to play "Volver" to a crowded dance floor with everyone singing along is exceptional in my book. When the bus arrived to bring everyone down the hill, it was a bittersweet moment as the night had to come to an end. Glowsticks were then distributed and all the guests formed a glowing tunnel for the bride & groom to make their exit through with Semisonic's "Closing Time" setting the mood. It was a great afternoon and evening, and I was so happy to be a small part of it. Thanks to Alex and crew from Alexander's Catering, everyone at the Tannenbaum, and Dan Thrift Photography for helping make their day even that much more special. Congrats Travis & Crystal!