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!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Caitlin & Steve at West Shore Cafe with Photography by Monique

For my 100th blog post I couldn't have written about a more fun couple and wedding than Caitlin & Steve's ceremony and reception on Lake Tahoe last month.

Technology is amazing! The first time I met these two in person was on their wedding day yet through FaceTime/Skype we were able to meet several times prior to they Big Day and we really connected, plotting musical selections, timelines- fleshing out the general vibe they were trying to achieve on their day. They have definite musical points of view and we were able to weave these throughout the ceremony, cocktail and dinner hour, and into the dancing. I love it when I can play special songs and create an absolutely unique experience that reflects the bride & groom. The whole day and evening seems to become even more special and magical.
The bridal party enters
A large part of the magic that night was the exceptional group of family and friends gathered in a beautiful forested meadow overlooking Lake Tahoe being served professionally by fantastic servers and bartenders- everything seemed to click perfectly. The venue they chose is fast becoming one of my favorites, the West Shore Cafe & Inn. It is a unique destination that has a myriad of possibilities for weddings and events. There is a gorgeous lakeside restaurant, patio and dock that is also a working Inn so the bride and groom and other VIPs can stay right on the property if they so choose. There is an adjoining grove/meadow that is just shaded enough by some towering pines to make an outdoor wedding and reception a comfortable and gorgeous affair without a need for a tent or covering. Finally they have a bar across the highway where your after party can continue well after midnight.  Add those perceptive, friendly and efficient staff members and you have a stellar venue that is easily one of the best on the Lake.  Throw in some of their fantastic food and drink and you don't need to look anywhere else.

I was particularly indebted to Natalie and Hoke from West Shore Cafe.  Natalie helped coordinate everything and did it with professionalism and a fantastic attitude. Not only does she make all of the guests feel right at home, but also the wedding professionals like me who are just coming in for a couple of weddings a season. Hoke (if I'm spelling that correctly) helped me several times with different issues and was a great example of the type of people that make up the WSC family.
Madeline & Luke
The ceremony site is on the eastern edge of the grove and overlooks the gorgeous Lake. The weather was perfect that afternoon and I had a non-musical role in providing microphones and amplification for the officiants and for the two young guitarists providing the seating and ceremony music. Family members Luke and Madeline provided exceptional background and processional guitar music as the bridal party made their way from the back of the grove to the ceremony area. It is a beautiful walk through the trees to the Lake and to watch Caitlin and her dad come in was spectacular for all present... especially Steve :)

The ceremony itself was presided over by two officiants, David & Eric, who I thought did a fabulous job- serious yet tinged with happiness and fun. They alleviated Caitlin & Steve's nervousness through a bit of humor and you could just tell they were so happy and honored to have been chosen to do this for the soon-to-be newlyweds.  When Steve & Caitlin had kissed and been presented to everyone as husband & wife, Luke & Madeline played them out to much applause and happy cheers.
First Dance!
Monique from Photography by Monique is always great to work with and she soon had various family members posing with the newlyweds while everyone else enjoyed the spectacular views along with equally spectacular cocktails and yummy appetizers. Soon the pictures were done, and I gathered up the bridal party for the Grand Entrance. Everyone came in dancing with a unique twist to TI's "Bring Em Out" and Steve and Caitlin followed and went directly into their first dance, "Dance With Me Baby" by Ben Rector.  Fantastic moment!
BM Kevin leading off the toasts
Caitlin & Steve wanted more of an informal vibe so they had two food stations then open up for everyone, without calling up tables by number or what have you. Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner at their leisure and soon it was time for the toasts. The best man and brother of Steve, Kevin led off the toasting with a funny yet touching tribute to his brother and his new bride and the same came next from Caitlin's sister & MoH Emily. By the time Caitlin's dad Dave came up, I was thoroughly impressed with how the two families had welcomed and loved their new addition- Caitlin or Steve- and how much fun they seem to have when they get together. Very cool families!
Father-Daughter & Mother-Son Dance
Following the bubbly, Dave and Caitlin made their way to the dance floor to start the Father/Daughter dance. They danced to Adele as I then introduced Steve and his mom Jocelyn who joined them on the floor as "Here Comes the Sun" by the Fab Four started. Soon after that I invited, on Steve & Jocelyn's and Caitlin & Dave's behalf, all the fathers & daughters and mothers & sons up to join them. I absolutely love when the bride & groom do this!  It makes one more special moment that will be remembered the rest of everyone's lives- including the guests and other family in on the most sentimental dance of the evening.  Why have an ordinary reception?  Have a reception that everyone will judge all receptions to follow by.  Including your guests in on certain events is one way to make this happen, and Steve & Caitlin's reception was indeed a reception that everyone will set their bar by.

Dancing then began in earnest and I really enjoyed the crowd. They rocked the dance floor all night. Steve & Caitlin had an amazing dessert bar set up, with brownies, cookies and other goodness and so a formal cake cutting wasn't really done. They also did not throw the bouquet or garter but no one missed it and it was great to make their vision of their day and evening come to life.  After sunset pix and some phenomenal dancing, a surprise that Caitlin's parents Dave and Joanne engineered was sprung on the newlyweds.

I announced over the mic that "we'd lost Kai", one of Caitlin's younger brothers and apparently one who has a history of getting separated from the family. Kai himself then appeared, introduced himself, and then brought his parents and siblings out where they proceeded to do a choreographed dance routine much to the surprise of Caitlin & Steve and the rest of the crowd.  A great surprise and some great dancing!

We danced until 10pm (the usual stopping point for amplified music around the Lake) and then the guests and bridal party migrated across the street to an after party at that bar that I am sure went deep into the night and early morning hours. Such a fun group!

Thanks to Natalie and Hoke and everyone from West Shore Cafe for their hard work and big smiles. Thanks to Monique from Photography by Monique for her professionalism and ease to work with. Thanks to Madeline & Luke for the tremendous job they did with the ceremony guitar music and to Eric & David for their fun officiating.

Finally thanks most of all to Steve & Caitlin for including me in their exceptional day and evening. I had a blast and will remember your wedding and reception for a long time to come. The best of everything, always you two!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sarah & Matt with Angelina Ellis with The Entertainer and Fig Tree Catering

I am enjoying a fantastic wedding season so far- the best ever in 27 years of being a wedding DJ, and it is because of the amazing couples I am privileged to work with, the fun guests that attend the events, and the fantastic vendors that help make it all possible. I could not have asked for a better couple, crowd, and group of wedding professionals as I had earlier this month at Matt & Sarah's reception.
I have to say, first and foremost that Sarah & Matt are such an fantastic couple. From the moment I first met with them I loved their energy, fun ideas, and oh-so-apparent love for each other and I was so excited and honored to be chosen to be a part of their day and evening. I love meeting with clients. We are able to discuss all kinds of aspects of their day and make their vision a reality. A couple's excitement about their day is infectious and it makes me strive even more to go above & beyond their expectations. I don't want a reception to be ordinary- it should be extraordinary; one that everyone compares any other reception to from that point onward, and Matt & Sarah's reception was a highlight of an already stellar wedding season.
They had a church ceremony and then everyone headed to a private home off Mount Rose Highway for the reception. It was a perfect afternoon and evening amongst the lush grounds of this home: grapevines in the front, a patio and sizable pond on the other side of the house, and then a huge leveled area complete with a fantastic tent, bar area, and very sophisticated and clean mobile restrooms- not your average backyard wedding. The property's owner owns a landscaping company so the flowers and landscaping were park-like and perfect for the 200+ guests.
If the beautiful manicured surroundings weren't amazing enough, Angelina Ellis and her team from The Entertainer in Gardnerville really wowed everyone with their decorating and coordinating skills. I don't usually take many photos of the decor but Angelina's touches, both big and small were everywhere. The pics I took are a small sample of the thought and effort she put into making the grounds a wedding wonderland. I am so impressed with her skill and outstanding work ethic! In my experience, wedding coordinators are a mixed bag. Some are great at decor but no so much at coordinating. Others are good at day-of coordination but have average planning skills and little decorating vision. The majority of coordinators fall into one of these two categories. There are a few though that are outstanding in all aspects. I can count on one hand those I think excel at everything- those that I can recommend without hesitation. Angelina is a part of that elite group.
When you have an outdoor estate wedding, possible complications are multiplied. Things normally taken for granted like electricity, restrooms, lighting, and prep areas become possible challenges and must be planned for and dealt with. I was amazed at the lack of issues considering the number of guests and fantastic detail put into the evening. This was largely because of Angelina's preparation and the combined vision of the bride & groom, coordinator, and the property owner. When there were issues Angelina dealt with them quickly and efficiently and no one was the wiser. I especially loved the fact that even with 200+ guests, there were a myriad of things for them to do during the reception. I was pleased by the numbers of people just touring the grounds, looking at the plants, flowers and decorations so artfully grown and placed. Appetizers and cocktails were on the shady patio, a picture station was near the photogenic pond, lawn games actively played on the lush lawn, and many signs and stations directed the guests to all the happenings. There was a memory table for those who had passed on but were there in spirit. There were parasols and four types of lip gloss for touring the grounds while still remaining safe from the bright sun. Signs with their hashtag were put up so that their guests could post pictures instantly- several people were watching them as they were hash tagged. Angelina and her staff continually patrolled the large area smoothing out small details and making sure everything went smoothly.
After everyone had explored the grounds and settled in with a cocktail and appetizers, Matt & Sara arrived. I started up "Timber" and introduced the bridal party and when they had all entered I switched to a certain spot in at the Rudy soundtrack for Matt & Sara. They came in to thunderous applause and the huge smiles on their faces really just set the tone for an extraordinary evening. Everywhere people picked up on their exuberance and the energy level never subsided.
Instead of a guestbook, everyone signed a wooden leaf- very cool!
Soon Fig Tree Catering was in the spotlight as those 200+ people were served dinner. I especially thought that the bartenders were extraordinary, serving that many people without much of a wait. As people finished dinner, Angelina and Fig Tree began pouring champagne for the toasts and Sara's dad Alan started off with a funny yet heartfelt toast that set a high bar for the next toasters. After much bubbly was hefted and sipped, Matt & Sara moved to the dessert table and cut their cake as "Build Me Up Buttercup" played in the background. As the cake was cut and as guests came up for various goodies, Matt and Sara strode to the dance floor for their first dance.
FoB Alan giving the first toast
Now I haven't said much about them yet. I've told you about the spectacular grounds and Angelina's art and expert coordinating but the real stars behind the planning and countless details were Matt & Sara. So many were their great ideas they had and made happen. They gave me six pages of favorite songs spanning everything from cocktail hour to dinner to dancing. They encouraged me to go outside their choices though, taking requests and trusting me to put in songs that were perfect for the moment. I like a couple that has a musical point of view, and they do, making it easy for me to play songs that exuded their personalities and moods. Crafting a phenomenal dance mix is a balance of the likes of the bride & groom, the requests of the guests, and the discretion, knowledge and experience of the DJ and as a consequence the dance floor was full all night long.

Unbeknownst to everyone but the bridal party and myself, we had crafted a first dance mix of Keith Urban's "Making Memories of Us" into Andy Grammer's "Honey, I'm Good". Everyone enjoyed the slow, sweet Urban song and then "Honey I'm Good" hit. Sara & Matt began a coordinated dance routine that blew everyone away! If that wasn't enough, bridal party members then tried to cut in and Matt & Sara playfully waved them off as they danced. By the time we segued back into the last bit of "Making Memories" everyone was cheering. Just a fantastic way to start the dancing!
Lots of happy dads & daughters!
Then came the most sentimental dances of the evening. First Sara and her dad Alan danced to "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle. After a minute or two I invited all the fathers & daughters up on the dance floor to join them- always a special, unexpected highlight for those dads and their girls.
Then Matt brought up his mother, Lisa, and they had a moment as "My Wish" from Rascal Flatts played. Soon more moms and sons joined them and then the dancing was off and running :)
After a great jam-packed set we stopped the dancing for a moment to toss the bouquet & garter. Sara chose "Dear Future Husband" by Meghan Trainor to pump up her girls for the toss, but Matt and I had a secret for his retrieval of Sara's garter. Instead of a background song, Matt and his boys donned sunglasses and sang "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" right to the surprised and happy bride! Very cool! Her smile is big and bright anyway, but I don't think she laughed and smiled more than that moment. Matt pulled off a special moment that will vividly live in his beautiful bride's memory forever. Such a great couple!
"You've lost that loving' feeling...
Whoa oh that loving' feeling..."
An Anniversary Dance followed that (Ben E. King's "Stand By Me") and then the rest of the night was filled with laughter and dancing. I really enjoyed every second of the evening- to weave a mix for such a fun and dancing crowd, to help bring an amazing night together, and most of all, honor a special couple on their most special day- this is why I do what I do, and it couldn't have gone any better. Matter of fact despite shuttles coming and going, most everyone stayed until the end and actually we went into overtime. Such an amazing night!
Thanks to Angelina from The Entertainer- you really knocked it out of the park in every aspect of coordination. Thanks to Mike for his beautiful home and perfect grounds- it was a perfect setting! Thanks to Fig Tree Catering. Finally, thanks to Matt & Sara. When I first met with you two, I saw how in love you are, how fun you are, and I knew it was going to be a monumental event that I wanted to be a part of.  Thanks for making me a part of your day! I wish you all of the best in your life together! Congrats you two!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Celena & Anton at The Hyatt Regency Incline Village with Belinda Grant Photography and Blake's Floral Design

We are blessed in the Reno/Tahoe area with beautiful natural surroundings, first-class hotels and dining, and top-notch venues that really attract destination weddings. Many couples spend time together skiing nearby or enjoying Lake Tahoe and want to share these surroundings with their guests. Some grew up here and still have family and friends and have no hesitation when planning to pick one of our amazing venues for their special day. This really is telling when you hear where these couples are from or live now. We sometimes take the area for granted, but when these couples choose the Lake, the Valleys or the Sierras I am so honored to be chosen to be a part of their celebrations.

One such couple is Anton and Celena. Anton's folks live in the area but he is a lawyer who met and fell in love with another lawyer, Celena, working in NYC. They now live in Brooklyn and both work as public defenders or for the state, dedicating their talents to the noble cause of a court system that represents all people equally and fairly. I was impressed with the two of them from the get go when we first met. Extremely bright, deeply in love, and conscious of the legacy they are creating, both in the public arena and in the life and family they were joining together. I immediately wanted to be a part of their special afternoon & evening.

They were planning the whole thing very quickly and though our initial visit was brief, I was honored to be chosen to be a part of their vendor team. Throughout the rest of the time between then and the big day we stayed in touch though phone calls, through Skype, and through quick emails & texts. We were able to formulate a plan for the music and events and last Sunday it all came together up on the shores of Lake Tahoe in beautiful Incline Village.
The Hyatt's Kendra straightening Celena's dress just before she walked down the aisle
They picked the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort on the beach at Incline Village. I like the Hyatt because it is truly a one-stop resort with cabins, hotel rooms, a casino, and most importantly gorgeous areas on the Lake to be married and celebrate in. The ceremony was held in the beautiful Lakeside Cottage Green- a stunning meadow within the Lakeside Cottages that looks right down the entire Lake. I was appreciative of the Hyatt staff, especially Kendra the coordinator and Guillermo one of the helpful workers who made my job easy while setting up and while later moving. I played some classical and string quartet selections as guests began arriving for the nuptials.
Beautiful setting for the ceremony!
When everyone was ready, Derrick, our officiant and Anton stepped up and awaited the bridal party. I played "All You Need Is Love" while the BP walked down the aisle and then a string version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" for Celena's entrance. The ceremony was really well done by Derrick (I believe it was his first one) and included a couple of readings that spoke well of the commitment and love that Celena and Anton share. When all was said and done, they kissed and were pronounced husband and wife and they made their way back up the aisle to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by the Funk Brothers. Pictures and cocktails then ensued with me being able to play lots of Motown and classic rock & roll that they had picked for their guests.
Beautiful bridesmaids & flowers :)
I have to say that not only were the bride & bridesmaids glowingly pretty, but the flowers and bouquets by Sharon Buckley at Blake's Floral Design were amazing! I took a pic of the bridesmaids because I thought the dresses with the bouquets were spectacular, and I don't usually notice these things! 

Speaking of pictures, one of my favorite photographers, Belinda Grant of Belinda Grant Photography was snapping pictures all throughout the afternoon and evening. She and her crew were constantly at work posing shots, getting candid images and running a photo booth at the reception. Belinda is so talented and innovative- the shots she frames are unlike anything anyone else does- she is always looking for unique angles and perspectives while being so personable and fun. There are many photographers with talent and experience. There are many that are super friendly to be around and work with- that connect with the bride & groom on a personal level. Most photographers have a good deal of one but are missing the other. Belinda is one that achieves all of these characteristics and at a high level. I am always happy to see her at a wedding because the professionalism and just the pure fun factor goes up a bunch of notches :)
First Dance!
I was kind of sorry to leave the Cottage Green- the guests were swaying to the music and enjoying the fantastic weather and views but dinner was about ready so we went inside to the Lakeside Ballroom where the views and party continued. Soon James Brown was doing double duty in the background as I introduced the bridal party to "Get Up Offa That Thing" and then Anton & Celena to "I Feel Good". They then went into their first dance, "All of Me" by John Legend and after that Anton's parents Dimo & Dora welcomed everyone to the reception.

The distances and diverse places the guests came from was really inspiring. Anton's family comes from Bulgaria and Celena's family is Puerto Rican and Irish. Add a bunch of guests from both coasts and lots of places in between, family from Bulgaria, and a Jamaican bridesmaid and you have an outstanding and fun group of people that gathered from all over to celebrate with Celina & Anton. Nothing can beat that.
Dora & Anton
Anton then danced with his mom Dora to Lennon's "Beautiful Boy", an inspired choice. The first of three courses then was served and dinner was on. As the final course was being finished the toasting was started, and three exceptional toasts really set the tone. Omar, the best man, talked about friendship, college and law school and about Anton's character & humanity- what a great way to start off! Keisha, a fellow lawyer and colleague of Celena gave a poignant speech about what a force Celena is, how she does her job so well yet still exemplifies motherhood and family. Finally, and I may have this out of order, Celena's sister and MoH Caitlin spoke. She really hit a home run, and considering her fellow toasters' oratory skills, she even outshone them. Just totally from the heart, talking about the importance of family to Celena. Such great toasts!

The bouquet was thrown with the Weather Girls providing the vibe while the garter was removed to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and then caught to "All I Do is Win". Very fun!
Bulgarian Horo dance
We started open dancing right after that, and the crowd was fun and involved the rest of the evening. There were many special moments in this special night- I was able to welcome Anton's aunt and uncle to the United States in Bulgarian (with a little help from Dimo!) and then we played a horo, a traditional Bulgarian folk dance. It reminded me of Greek horos, but while the Greek songs start slow and gradually get faster, this horo started fast and never let up! 

Another phenomenal moment was when Anton surprised Celena by singing "Wonderful Tonight" to her. She had expected the song but not him singing it to her :)

I was also able to get an East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry going through their suggestions of Biggie vs. 2Pac- very fun! I ended playing a little of everything- from Funk to Reggaeton; Hip Hop to Dancehall; Electronic to the 60's. We ended a great dancing night with Beyonce and then Nina Simone's "Feeling Good", and we all were.

Thanks to everyone at the Hyatt Regency!  Thanks to Sharon from Blake's Floral Design for your fabulous flower artistry! Thanks to Belinda and Leanne from Belinda Grant Photography- always amazing working with you! 

Finally, thanks to Celena & Anton. I love your dedication to one another and to your friends & families- that happiness that emanates from your two is so contagious! Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your special day a& evening.  Nazdrave!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Matt & Maddie at the Tannenbaum with Delicious Designs, Ciprian Photography & Fig Tree Catering

One of the benefits of being a wedding professional is that you meet, get to know, get to laugh with, and ultimately be a part of a fantastic couple's most important day of their lives. I can't tell you how much it means to me to do this. Every couple I have the chance to work with is unique and their love burns brightly, but I think Maddie & Matt are one of my favorite couples ever. Let me tell you why... 

Matt is a member of the Army- one of those professionals that leave on a moment's notice and put themselves in harms way so that we are all safe & sound back here in the States. He has deployed numerous times and that means that it takes a woman with special patience and love to deal with those separations. That woman is Maddie. They are perfect for one another. He is dark & handsome, with a quick wit and kindness that exudes from everything he does. She is blonde, gorgeous, smart and has a teasing gleam in her eye that keeps Matt on his toes. To hear them banter with each other is like watching a prize fight- witticism after witticism all balanced with a love for one another that is almost visible. I am certain if I could see just a little bit into another spectrum, I'd see their love burning brightly- probably brighter than most. When we first met, I knew immediately that they were deeply in love and I was honored to be chosen to be a part of, and have looked forward to, their big day ever since.

They chose Tannenbaum to be the site of their fantastic day and evening. I have done many events there and I am always pleased with it as a venue- beautiful grounds and trees, lots of room inside and out, and flexibility to choose your own vendors and decor. Kiley & Sasha were the Tannenbaum coordinators for Matt & Maddies' event and they did a great job throughout, helping out in innumerable ways. Just great people.

Their choices for their wedding professionals were inspired as well. I was setting up and saw Leigh Anne from Delicious Designs arrive. My favorite wedding vendor! If you don't know Leigh Anne, you should get to know her! A more enthusiastic and talented baker I have yet to encounter. Leigh Anne's cakes, cupcakes, and cookies are delicious and her decorating is amazing. She loves what she does and it shows. Here is what she made for Matt & Maddie:

Champagne cake with lemon curd & raspberry filling.
Pistachio cupcakes with pistachio buttercream frosting.
Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache.
Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting topped with vanilla bean sea salt.
Guinness stout spiced cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.
Phenomenally decorated butter cookies.
(plus lots of Oreos and M&Ms that she didn't make but displayed with her goodies).

Compared to the picture I took of the desserts, there was very little left at the end of the night :)

Taking pictures all throughout the event was Ciprian from Ciprian Photography. I have had the pleasure of working with him on several occasions and he is a consummate professional- easy to work with and continually snapping shots.  I would have to say he is one of the top photographers in the area both for his ability, professionalism, and his finished work. Again Maddie & Matt hit a home run.

Their choice of caterer and the food served was inspired as well. Fig Tree Catering did the appetizers and dinner, and it was an eclectic mix of M&M's favorite foods. There were shots of soup, gourmet mac & cheese, hand-dipped corn dogs and a sandwich station with carved pork loin and beef with 5 or 6 sauces. All of these were at different stations- not a typical buffet setup. I was amazed how efficiently everyone was served, and how much everyone enjoyed the atypical fare. It another unique aspect to Matt & Maddie's day and yet again another hit with everyone- including the DJ who had to go back for a second corn dog :)

Maddie & Matt did a "first look" and while I am sure Ciprian got much better pictures, I took a few with my cheap camera from up on the deck. Pretty magical. More and more people began to arrive and after a bit the Bridal Party was entering to a piano version of One Republic's "Feel Again". Maddie and her dad Bob then came down the aisle to "Jubel" by Klingand and soon Tom was officiating their union. Right after Maddie arrived however, Matt grabbed a mic that I had secreted nearby and welcomed and thanked everyone for coming. A nice touch to a beautiful ceremony. When all was done, Maddie & Matt exited to the American Author's song, "Best Day of My Life" which was very fitting.
Dee & friends dancing to Madonna on the deck :)
Pictures then ensued. I stayed outside on the deck playing from a list of cocktail music they had selected. When they moved over to the old chimney for more pix, I happened to play a Madonna song off their list and the girls started singing and dancing as they posed. Maddie's mom Dee then appeared on the deck beside me with several of her girlfriends dancing along to the song. Dee told me that she loved Madonna and when Maddie was small they sang and danced to all of her songs together. Dee said the first word that Maddie wrote was "Madonna" so it is in her genes. I played a Material Girl mix from that moment onward until those pics were finished. Very fun!

We then moved inside and I introduced the Bridal Party to Bruno Mar's "Uptown Funk" and they all danced as they came in. When I announced the bride & groom I played more of "Jubel"- a song that really resonated with M&M. That is what it is all about- making the event match the bride & groom. Fig Tree then had the stations for dinner manned and ready and everyone began to enjoy the food. Toasts followed dinner, then cake cutting (with Joe Cocker's "Feelin Alright" punctuating the moment). Then it was time to dance :)

Maddie & Matt danced their first dance (although they cheated a bit and danced to "Jubel as they entered for their entrance beforehand) to Billie Holiday's "Come Rain or Come Shine"- just an amazing moment for them and for all of us watching. 
Ciprian at work

Bob then came up to dance with his daughter. We had all met and planned the week prior to play another song for his dance with Maddie, but when he left the room Maddie then told me instead to play "White Bird" by It's a Beautiful Day. It is his favorite song, and a week later he was so happily surprised when it began to play that he hugged Maddie even tighter. Just a great moment- it makes my eyes glisten just thinking about it. Another case of Maddie & Matt choosing things to make their reception that much more personal and special.

Matt and his mom Kathy then danced to Cole Porter's "Night & Day" sung by Frank Sinatra. It was a perfect lead into their Money Dance which went about 4 songs and then we were all dancing starting with "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon. The dancing was great- M&M had picked some great music and I filled in the sets with songs I knew would kick butt and had some great requests from the audience.

Etta James slowed us down for the Anniversary Dance followed by the tosses. The girls danced to Meghan Trainor's "Dear Future Husband" as they fought for the bouquet and then the guys gathered around Matt as he removed the garter from Maddie to "Shakin" by Eddie Money. The theme from MNF then punctuated the toss.

I loved every minute of the day and evening. Matt & Maddie's family and friends were almost as fun as M&M themselves and the fun energy never let down. There were many special moments but one of my favorites was when the last couple standing for the Anniversary Dance turned out to be Danny & Shondell. Danny had come up to me earlier and asked if I had "Love Me Tender" by Elvis. He asked if I could dedicate it to his lovely wife Shondell sometime during the evening. It was their wedding song. Absolutely! I told him. Nothing like celebrating 53 years of wedded bliss! So when they were the last couple up I announced how long they had been married and that Danny dedicated the next song to Shondell. When it started up she immediately had a tear and they danced to much cheering and applause like they were teenagers again. So special. Yet special was routine at Matt & Maddie's wedding and reception.

So thankful to be able to work with Sasha & Kiley at the beautiful Tannenbaum- such an extraordinary venue! Leigh Anne from Delicious Designs- your creations were delicious and gobbled up by everyone- you rock! Working with Ciprian from Ciprian Photography is always a pleasure. A true professional. And Fig Tree Catering- you really helped Matt & Maddie make the food delicious and fun, thanks for all your creativity and hard work!

Finally thanks to Matt & Maddie, Bob & Dee, and all the family and guests that welcomed me and made me feel more like a guest than a hired hand. Matt- thanks for your service- we all owe you so much- much more than your humble nature will admit. Maddie, thanks for being such a fun bride! Your smile was infectious and your enthusiastic presence on the dance floor made me strive to give 200%.  Best of everything, always you two!

Viel spaB in Deutschland!