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!