Monday, August 11, 2014

Dustin & Ashley at the Gatekeeper's Museum with Take the Cake Events and Reverend Mark Frady

I had the privilege to be the DJ for Ashley and Dustin's wedding up at the Gatekeeper's Museum recently, and I have to say it is one of the highlights of an already fantastic wedding season for me. 

First off, the bride and groom are just special people. So fun to chat and Skype with beforehand, they made me feel at ease from the first moment on. Their love is so natural and complimentary that it magnifies everything they do together, and it overflowed into the music and event selections as to put their indelible mark on the entire day and evening. Their family and friends then added even more celebration and love to their day- what a great group of people!

Speaking of great people, Dustin & Ashley hired some phenomenal vendors to make their day special- and I am not just talking about the DJ :)

Cassie & Pattye of Take the Cake Events were their coordinators and I am always so thankful to be working with them. There are many coordinators out there, at many different levels of aptitude. To tell you the truth, sometimes I'd rather have no coordinator at all instead of some I deal with. You need to be at the top of your game to be a great coordinator- it takes organization, foresight, empathy, the ability to multi-task, improvise, and above all great people skills. Take the Cake Events' Pattye & Cassie have all of these attributes and more- they have a passion for what they do and it shows from their pre-event planning, to setup, to help coordinating the ceremony to staying later than anyone else cleaning and gathering up everything from the site. I am always amazed at their dedication and all the little things they constantly do to keep everything running smoothly. I'd work with them at every event if I could!
My view of Ashley and her dad coming down the aisle :)
Rev. Mark Frady was their officiant, and he is always so great in what he does. He makes couples feel at ease, lending a smiling, calming influence to the ceremony and sets a mood that is fun yet still thoughtful and meaningful. 

The ceremony site at the Gatekeeper Museum is in this clearing overlooking the beach and Lake, and it is at the same time rustic yet elegant. Mountains in the background, shade for the guests, sunlight on the happy couple- it is a perfect Tahoe framing of the moment.

The bridal party entered to Springsteen's "Secret Garden", followed by Ashley and her father coming in to the always perfect "Crazy Love" by Van Morrison. Inspired choices by Ashley & Dustin! After a beautiful ceremony with some of the most touching vows that I have witnessed in many a wedding, they exited to cheers and Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams." Again, a perfect song for that magical moment.

The guests then moved closer to the museum, into the bigger clearing where the reception began. Although it is maybe 30 yards from the ceremony site, it seems like a wholly different venue, as it is open and expansive where the ceremony area is smaller, closed, and intimate. There is plenty of room for tables, a dance floor, a bar and other assorted areas that beg to be explored. It is nice that the Gatekeeper Museum keeps it private and secure as only another 100 yards away is the bridge and Tahoe City. You would not know it though, as you have several acres of pines all to yourselves. One neat aspect of their day was that some trees were flowering, and in the breeze thousands of small white flowers drifted by as the evening progressed. Most fell on the river nearby, but it gave the whole atmosphere a ethereal feel.

When pictures were done, I introduced the bridal party to the Jackson 5's "ABC" and then the bride and groom with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder. Soon everyone was enjoying dinner and the fantastic scenery. When people had finished, toasts were made and then the cake was cut accompanied by "Jackie Wilson Said" by Van Morrison. I have to say, the song list Dustin & Ashley provided was perfect for not only these events, but also for dancing and for cocktails and dinner. I love when a couple has a definite musical point of view, and they do, and it made everything that much more special and true to them.

Then it was time to start the dancing. Breaking in the dance floor, Dustin & Ashley danced their first dance to Ray LaMontagne's "You Are the Best Thing" and I loved how Dustin sang it to Ashley as they twirled. Ashley and her dad Ed then danced to "If I Could" by Ray Charles, which is an overlooked gem of a song, and so fitting for their moment together. Dustin and his mom Sally then had their special moment, dancing to "Here Comes the Sun" by the Fab Four. 
Ashley and her father Ed
Ashley's folks Carol and Ed led off a special Anniversary Dance (they were celebrating 30 years) with their first dance song "You Make Me Feel So Very Happy" by Blood, Sweat & Tears. That kinda set the tone for the rest of the evening- happy friends and family keeping this DJ on his toes with a full dance floor and plenty of inspired requests all night long. My kind of party!
"You Make Me So Very Happy"
I really have to thank all of the family and guests who made me feel so welcome and who danced the night away. I had so many great conversations and played so many requests that were special to a certain couple or that just took the party to the next level.

Thanks to Rev. Mark Frady for doing what he does with such spirit and passion. Thanks to the Gatekeeper's Museum for such a gorgeous venue. Thanks, thanks, thanks to Cassie and Pattye at Take the Cake Events.  There are some people who can take an event far beyond what the bride and groom can envision: Cassie & Pattye are two of those people.

Finally, thanks to Dustin and Ashley. It was so great getting to know you in the time we shared prior and during your amazing day. It was so great and fulfilling to have been a part of that day. A super couple with great family and friends. 
Fantastic crowd!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hailey & Dustin at the Grove at Southcreek

Had another extraordinary event at The Grove at Southcreek a few weeks back. As you might notice from other blog entries, I truly enjoy the people and professionalism at The Grove. They really help a bride and groom realize their wedding day dreams.
Hailey and Dustin are a great couple. They have that youthful exuberance that is ready to take on and take in the world together and it was great to be a small part of their day and evening. Dustin is a member of our armed forces and it was especially gratifying to be able to give something back to him  for all the sacrifices he makes for us. I really enjoyed Hailey's processional as she picked "At This Moment" by Shania Twain, and then really picked a perfect moment in the song to emerge from the doorway and down the aisle to her wedding. Beautiful bride, dress, and moment in time!  When all the "I do's" had been said, kisses kissed, and newlyweds introduced, the happy couple left the ceremony with Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You" punctuating their recessional. Just a beautiful ceremony on one of those days photographers love- a bit cloudy for that special lighting.
Speaking of lighting, I was able to try out a new fixture I had acquired at Mobile Beat 2014 this past spring. It is a moving head fixture that really gives me a lot of options for lighting effects and allows me display a personalized gobo monogram if the brides and grooms want that extra little personalization. This was theirs up above me at The Grove. I moved it all around throughout the evening and I was impressed by the colors and brightness. Very fun and a great option for those brides & grooms that want that little something extra.
The happy couple soon returned from pictures and were welcomed to their reception as Kool & the Gang's Celebration punctuated their Grand Entrance. Dinner was served immediately thereafter and everyone enjoyed the deliciousness that emerged from The Grove's kitchen. As plates were being pushed away, the Best Man Robert opened up the toasts with a funny video of Dustin singing while driving a Humvee that got everyone laughing and cheering. The Maid of Honor Whitney then had her own touching toast and Dustin & Hailey then toasted everyone who had come to share in their day. Edwin McCain's "I Could Not Ask For More" then started up and I had the honor of introducing them for their first dance as husband and wife. So awesome!
More special dances followed: a Mother/Daughter dance with Carrie Underwood's "Mama's Song", a Mother/Son dance featuring "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts and then a fun Money Dance. After that we just let loose for a while dancing to country, hip hop, Motown and even a bit of EDM (many thanks to the groomsman who turned me on to Disclosure). Before long however, I noticed that there was a very healthy rivalry between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen and with a few strategic requests, they engaged in a spirited sing-off! I declared the ladies the winner after a few songs each which was very controversial (amongst the guys). Super fun! What a great crowd!
Cutting the cake!
I little while later they were cutting their cake with Toy Story's "You've Got a Friend in Me" in the background and then they were tossing the bouquet and the garter to Beyonce and LMFAO. The rest of the night was filled with tons of dancing and we went into overtime. I want to thank Kathleen and everyone at The Grove for such a phenomenal job. They are so accommodating, professional and thoughtful with both their guests and even with the lowly DJ. I have to say that the Grove is my favorite venue to work with, and the Reno/Tahoe area is filled with exceptional venues and staff.

Thanks most of all to Hailey and Dustin. Just a magical afternoon and evening and I was so lucky to have been able to be a part of it. Best of luck to you two and thanks again for your service Dustin!