When many people think about karaoke, there are usually a few things that come to mind. For some it’s a fun night out at a bar with friends, gladly making a fool of yourself. For others it’s disco balls, flashing lights and the cheesy bouncing balls that hops from word to word on a screen, accompanied by computerized melodies of your mom’s favorite songs. These were my ideas about karaoke before I started working at Stitely Entertainment and learned how cool karaoke can be when accompanied with a live band.

So, how does it work? To successfully channel your inner rock star via live band karaoke there are a few things one should know. First, even people who are a little on the shyer side can fully participate in this activity. To make people feel more comfortable we provide sunglasses, boas, hats and fun costumes to break the ice a bit and bring them out of their shell—so don’t let stage fright keep you from participating!

Secondly, we have a huge selection of songs just waiting to be chosen. Not only do we play the top pop hits of today, but you can also choose from classic rock, Motown, classic standards, country, indie music—anything that floats your boat, we’ve got it covered. Although we don’t have the fun bouncing ball to keep you in time, we do provide the lyrics on stage, as well as a top-notch professional band to keep you on track. The singers adjust to your comfort level—if you’re feeling confident they let you lead the way adding background and harmonies, or if you’re a little more nervous they help you start each line on time. Either way, having professional singer backing you up and joining in on the fun is an experience unique to Live Band Karaoke.

Finally, there are even options to sit in on percussion instruments, or even guitar if you’re really talented!

At what kind of events does live band karaoke work the best?

We’ve found that LBK works well for any group that wants to be interactive and have a great time showing off their talent and having a moment being a rock star. Corporate events—where people are gathered to have a good time and bond as coworkers—are a great example. We’ve have companies split guests into teams and have them perform together. This breaks the ice and creates great camaraderie!

LBK also works well at bar and bat mitzvahs, especially if the boy or girl is into singing and music. We’ve even done LBK at a wedding! A couple that met singing karaoke decided they wanted to incorporate it into their celebration, so a karaoke wedding was born. The bride and groom sang 4 or 5 songs each and were really talented! Many of the guests regularly sang karaoke as well so it was a blast.

In the end, Live Band Karaoke is really a major step up from the regular karaoke with a machine. The quality of the backing music, the personalization that is available, and the energy that is created in the room when a live band is performing cannot be matched. When the lights are shining on you and all your friends are clapping and yelling and supporting you, it really is like being a rock star—it’s exhilarating!

For companies who want to do something extra special, we can also bring in a video team and project the performers onto a live screen in real time. Check out our star cam in action in the video below!

Chicago skyline

Getting married in Chicago comes with so many benefits and opportunities. One of the best is being able to incorporate the city’s architecture and rich history into your wedding day. From photo shoots to reception décor, you can Chicago-fy your wedding easily with these tips.

BeckyBrown0173Wedding Photos:

Many of our couples use Chicago landmarks and scenery as the background for their wedding party shots. Work with your photographer to find some great shots downtown or by the lake. Whether you traipse through your favorite museum or find your favorite nature spot, the city can truly be your playground as you search for great spots! [Helpful hint: Trust your photographer! They will have scouted out great spots before will not let you down.]

 Venue:

Chicago wedding rooftop Choosing a venue with a killer view of Chicago gives your Chicago-fied wedding that added edge. There’s nothing better than sipping champagne and dancing the night away—especially when you can do it all with an amazing view of the city. Whether you’re right down town surrounded by the city, or in a nearby neighborhood on-looking the Loop, there are a ton of ways to incorporate the well-planned skyline into your wedding-scape.

 

Entertainment:

312 Chicago Wedding Band

When planning your wedding in Chicago, why not choose live entertainment that shares its roots with Chicago rich history of blues and jazz. With so much live music happening throughout the city, your bound to find a band that is right for you. Pictured here is one of our best Chicago wedding bands, 312 Chicago.

 Décor:

While the invites will give guests a sneak peek into your big day, the décor for your reception is where you can really show off your Chicago-fied wedding! [Find picture/specific example] Other finishing touches allow you to add elegant Chicago aspects to your reception. Centerpieces, place cards, napkins and gift bags are just some of things you can Chicago-fy. Your guests will love it!

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.

With all the money being poured into the wedding industry, many couples are starting to look for ways to re-allocate some of their expenses toward organizations and charities that are doing more than creating a beautiful event, but are working to make a lasting difference in the community. If you are one of those people who desire to leverage their wedding day for a cause, here are 9 simple ideas to get your headed in the right direction.

1. Incorporate a charity into your showers or registry.

Ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food bank along with their gift for your shower. Or, add a charity to your registry to people can donate to a cause you care about while they’re shopping for your wedding gift. Idofoundation.org is a one-stop shop for couples, providing a number of resources for couples to raise donations for a charity via their wedding plans.

2. Rent a nonprofit’s space.

Support your local museums, historical sites or botanical garden by renting their space for your event.

3. Reuse your flowers and other décor.

Call your local nursing home or hospital and ask if you can donate your reception flowers after the event takes place. This way your flowers can continue to spread cheer for others rather than sitting in your maid of honor’s car for a couple weeks.

wedding flower ring chicago wedding bands

 4. Select favors with a purpose.

One way to do this is to forego guest favors altogether and use that money to make a donation to their favorite charity. Another way you can still show your guests your appreciation while also giving back is by choosing a favor that your guests will love that also supports a charity. One example is FeedYourSoulCookies.com. These sweet treats will be a highlight for your guests and will also support charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!

5. Don’t waste the leftovers.

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception re-distributed to feed hungry people in your area. SecondHarvest.com is a good starting place to learn more about this and find food banks in your area.

6. Charge it.

With a Working Assets credit card, every purchase you make—whether its your dress, flowers, or any vendor bills—a percentage of it benefits the charity of your choice with no extra cost to you.  For more information, go to WorkingAssets.com

Wedding Table Food Give Back Decor Chicago Wedding

 7. Hire nonprofit entertainers

From cultural dance groups to community youth orchestras, there are a number of ways to support the arts in your community by booking local entertainment. Add some unique flair to your ceremony or reception music while also promoting the arts!

8. Donate your dresses

After the big event, many people have no more use for their wedding or bridesmaid dresses. Brides Against Breast Cancer (for wedding dresses) and GlassSlipperProject.org (for bridesmaid dresses) are two places that can donate your gowns to make a different in the lives of local girls and women around the world.

9. Use your wedding day to bring awareness to a cause you care about.

One popular cause right now is the fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. One way to support this cause is by using vendors in your city from LoveGivesWay.com. This group of vendors give a part of their fee back to charities that are already working to end sex trafficking. This is a way for you to leverage your one wedding day in support of those who are fighting for this cause every day.

wedding dress give back flowers Chicago wedding band

Whatever way you choose to celebrate, consider a using just one aspect of your day to make a lasting difference in the world! For more information about the ideas and organizations listed here, as well as links to others, check out this article from BridalGuide.com.

Here at Stitely Entertainment we just love the music scene in Chicago. In the week’s Music Monday post we have the privilege of featuring one of our very own bandleaders, Nicholas Barron, and his solo gig coming up next month!

Kowalski0489-L

Nicholas, the leader of 312 Chicago, will be playing a solo show at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday February 4th. Tickets are $10 and it will be a night of awesome R&B and Blues music. Buy tickets here.

Not only is Nicholas a great musician, but also a talented artist in other mediums! (Not the custom guitar in the picture above!) Check out his website nicholasbarron.com for more info about his music and art.

Kowalski0646-L

See you at Lincoln Hall on Feb. 4th!

To invite children or to not invite children—the age-old wedding planning question is starting to rear it’s ugly head again as couples are sending those Save the Dates and invites for the Spring and Summer weddings. This topic is a sensitive one and there are many opinions that support both choices. The following is a short how-to post

averyhouse 1

Step 1: Talk with your spouse-to-be and make a decision.

Here are some pros and cons to think through as you are deciding whether or not to include children on your guest list:

Pros to Inviting Children:
1. Kids love weddings! Little girls are in awe of the brides’ beauty and they will not hesitate to bust a move on the dance floor. Wedding also teach kids how to behave at formal occasions—it may be their only
2. If you decide to allow kids at your wedding, the drama of who will feel excluded is eliminated. The more the merrier, indeed!
3. Including children also shows that you care about and respect the guests that you are inviting to support you in your newly-married life. Babysitters are expensive! If you allow children at your wedding, you are giving the parents their own choice of either paying for a sitter for a kid-free night or if money is tighter, to  bring them along to join the festivities.

flower girls dancing to chicago wedding band

Cons to Inviting Children:
1. For those couples that do not particularly love kids, they can be an added stressor on the wedding day. If a child crying during the ceremony or yelling “Hi, Aunt Laura!” as you’re walking down the aisle will totally bum you out, it may be a good idea to ask your day be adults-only.
2. Depending on how many kids would be in attendance, feeding many children can also be a budget constraint.

Leslie&Jens-614

Step 2: Stick to your guns.

Once you decide either way, stick to your decision with a united front. This can be particularly challenging if you decide not to invite kids. Many couples will feel as though this is a personal attack on their family. If any unrest occurs because of your decision, a phone call is usually the best way to handle that conversation rather than a text or email.

Step 3: Make your wishes clear on the invitation.

If you are not inviting children, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the parents. You could even go as far as filling out the names on their response card. If you end up getting unwanted RSVPs, phone call are again the best way of handling that conversation.

Kowalski0664-L

Step 4: Think about childcare options.

One compromise for those who want to include families with kids is to provide childcare. Having a fun pizza party with games and other activities in a separate room at the venue is a great way for parents to enjoy with wedding without spending on a sitter. They can also conveniently check on their kids for some more peace-of-mind. While this is a slightly more expensive option for you, it will be much cheaper than paying for a full, catered meal for each child included.

In the end clarity, tact, thoughtfulness and maturity are all qualities to keep in mind as your making guest list decisions. Happy planning!

View More: http://brittamariephotography.pass.us/kim-john

This week’s Music Monday feature is Allen Stone, a current favorite of Stitely’s Planning Coordinator Katy. In anticipation of the release of his new album Radius in 2015, Allen Stone is a force to be reckoned with. Many compare his sound to that of classic Motown/R&B singers while he classifies himself as a “soulful hippie.” His familiar R&B feel and tone combined with his quirky, hipster-geek style and lyrics makes this Washington-rooted artist appealing to an increasingly wider audience. Whatever the classification, Allen Stone is a little-known powerhouse that is sure to make waves this year. Let’s hope he makes a stop in Chicago again this year!

Check out this live performance of his single “Unaware” recorded from his mother’s living room.

We’ve won the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards for 2015 thanks to all the raving reviews we’ve received from our amazing couples! The Couple’s Choice Awards recognizes Stitely Entertainment as being among the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide. What an honor to be one of the best Chicago wedding bands! We couldn’t be happier.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 11.12.47 AM

Thanks to all our couples and clients for making 2014 another successful year. Looking forward to working with many more amazing couples in 2015!

The holiday engagement season is winding down, and many couples are already in full planning mode. After securing their big vendors, most brides start thinking about who they want to choose to be in their bridal party. While this is such a fun job, it also holds more responsibility than you might think! If you are asked to be a part of someone’s wedding party, here is a great article from brides.com outlining mistakes that bridesmaids should avoid!

Mistakes Bridesmaids Should Avoid

[Photo by Britta Marie Photography]

One final tip from Stitely: Be able to laugh at yourself and not be a party pooper! The wedding party is there to support the couple and set the tone for the rest of the guests at the party. If this bridesmaid on crutches can have this much fun, so can you!

 

Happy New Year one and all! Here at Stitely we are so looking forward to what this year has in store for us. Some vendors we’re looking forward to working with again in 2015 include:

LK Events

Clementine Custom Events

Big City Bride

Café Brauer

Kenilworth Club

Warwick Allerton Hotel

Art Institute of Chicago

…and many more!

One of our resolutions this year is to take more photos and document more beautiful moments! Luckily we had some experts to pick up our slack in 2014. Let’s take a look back at some best moments from some of our favorite events in 2014. (Each photo links to photographer’s page) Enjoy!

averyhouse 5paper antler - 0014BrittaMarieCONNELLY483Kowalski0808-L

Here’s to another rockin’ year!