With cold weather still hanging on by a thread and wedding season just around the corner, we take a moment to look back on our favorite movie weddings. Here are our winners:

Best Wedding Music: Love Actually

This wedding was filled with surprise musicians popping up throughout the pews. Although I always wondered how no one notice some guy walking in with a trombone, this is still a sweet ceremony.

Worst (& the Most) Bridesmaids Dresses: 27 Dresses27 Dresses
This final scene from 27 Dresses is iconic when it comes to ridiculous bridesmaids themes and dress choices.

Most Classic: The Sound of MusicSound of Music Wedding
While this scene was never my favorite when I watch The Sound of Muisc as a child, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in it. Maria has found love and the beautiful cathedral combine with her massive train evokes royalty like no one but Julie Andrews could capture. (Unless you are actually royal…)

Favorite from Childhood: The Parent Trapparent-trap-wedding
If you grew up during the late 90s and Early 00s, there’s no way you missed Lindsay Lohan’s breakout role in the Parent Trap. Although I was upset for a while summer when I found out she was only one person, the final wedding scene backed by Natalie Cole’s “Everlasting Love” is still a favorite of mine.

Funniest: My Big Fat Greek Weddingbig fat greek
If anything, this entire movie taught us that while weddings are often stressful, what really matters is the marriage, not the actual ceremony. And also that Windex cures all.

Honorable Mentions:
Bridesmaids
Runaway Bride
4 Weddings and A Funeral
A Walk to Remember

In today’s wedding industry, everything is optional when it comes to the old wedding industries. Couples are choosing much more non-traditional routes from the color of the dress to the order of the event. To help you decide whether or not to include these traditions, today we look at the pros and cons of including or excluding these traditions.

Bouquet & Garter Toss
For many brides, the bouquet toss is something that they have been looking forward to for quite a while. As a little girl, I was always so excited to be a part of that tradition. It’s exciting and competitive and gets you out of your seat. Now, though, as a single woman being invited to more weddings each summer, that group of bouquet catchers is getting slimmer and slimmer with every event. Be sure to keep in mind how many single ladies are on your guest list before you invite them all up to catch your bouquet. Depending on the number, it could be more embarrassing than exciting!

Bouquet toss at wedding

Introductions
The manner in which you and your wedding party are introduced has also become a topic of conversation. This is one that a lot of couples don’t even think about being optional. If you and your new spouse don’t love having all the attention on you, opt for a low-key entrance, blending and conversing with the rest of your guests for the cocktail hour. Including or excluding this one really depends on the vibe you want for your party.

Cake Cutting
With so many couples going the non-traditional dessert route, official cake cuttings are becoming few and far between. If you want to include this tradition, consider having a friend or relative make you a small cake for the cutting/feeding pictures. Then provide your guests with more dessert choices, such as cake balls, pies, macarons, or ice cream!

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Cocktails All Day
The timing of your cocktail hour also depends on the vibe you would like to achieve. If you’d like your guests to party all day and all night, many couples are opting to have a short cocktail time before the ceremony to loosen people up, then a more extensive one before dinner & dancing. Choosing this structure of your day may negate the seriousness of the ceremony if that’s important to you. But it may also put people at ease and create a celebratory atmosphere! Having your specific guests in mind for this one will be key.

Dress Color
Finally–don’t feel restricted with your dress color! While shades of white are still dominating, many brides are choosing to add colorful accents or dresses that just scream their style. Wedding color choices don’t necessarily carry the same symbolism for many as they once did–just focus on the beauty and comfort you want to possess on your big day!

With so much music in this great city of ours, there is often too much to keep track of. You probably aren’t even aware of half of the live music that take place in the city any given month, and with people like the folks at Sofar, there’s no wonder.

SofarSounds

According to their website, Sofar Sounds started in 2009 in a “tiny North London flat. Frustrated by the traditional live music experience, [they] hosted three young artists who played to a carefully selected audience of the true music lovers.”

This is the premise for Sofar Sounds secret shows. Here’s how it works. You sign up for an e-mail list, and every month you are notified of the date that a secret show will be taking place. You can specify which city you would like to attend in (out of many across the country and the world), then give a reason why you should be admitted into the secret show, which usually takes place in someone’s apartment or living room. You won’t know what artist you are about to hear until you show up the night of the show–how exciting!

The link to subscribe to their updates is here. What do you think–would you attend a show featuring a band you’ve never heard of in someone’s house you don’t know?

At Stitely Entertainment, music is our business and our lifeblood. Not only do we love using music to ramp up the energy at a wedding or other event, but we also love it in our lives. We had a chance to have a conversation with Jeff Stitely to talk about his knowledge of music and go in-depth about how he and the other Stitely musicians use musical nuances to create different feels for different moments. The key, to start, is a solid rhythm section. The following posts stems from our conversation about how different styles of music elicit different responses:

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In a live band, the rhythm section is the backbone. Whether you notice it or not, every band has a core rhythm section, often consisting of bass, keys, drums and guitar. Different styles of music also have different focuses and feels. In jazz, the quarter note is king. The main focus is the bass, playing a walking quarter note bass line. The drummer adds the ride cymbal, also focusing on that quarter note base. The bass and drums have to match up for the groove to come alive. Really, a jazz rhythm section is like a great conversation. You pick a theme, someone makes a statement, and everyone will respond accordingly, adding their own flair to the conversation. When there’s an openness to what’s being discussed and the conversation is flowing, there’s almost a pleasant hum that occurs. In the same way, a jazz rhythm section will flow and hum in a comfortable yet ever-evolving way. The nuances and variations on this key conversation are what make each tune special.

For dance music, that conversation looks totally different. While the rhythm section is still present and important, they definitely have a more scripted part. This is especially true when they are recreating music that’s been played before. For example, the bands that make up Stitely Entertainment are largely playing dance music that is recognizable to the general public. Because of this, they want to make sure they include every lick and detail that the audience is expecting when they hear that song. When playing older jazz tunes, getting a carbon copy isn’t as important—it’s the style and the essence that you want to extract and recreate. You can play variations on the original while still upholding the integrity of the genre and the song itself. But with dance music, you want to follow the song like it’s a map written out before you.

To successfully follow that map, each musician has an important role. They are each responsible for studying their specific part and recreating it to the best of their ability. The meticulous process of writing out an exact drumbeat or strumming pattern that the original artist used can be tedious, but necessary to recreate what the original artist produced. By writing everything out specifically, the musicians are respecting the artist’s original sound and work.

This process can be challenging with contemporary music because much of it is produced in the studio with layers and layers of synthesizers, keyboards, and strings. This can be very hard to replicate in a live setting, and the keyboard player often has the biggest responsibility: to try to recreate the sounds that all the synthesizers in the studio make, prioritizing the layers that are most important to the structure of the song, as well as what will meet the listeners expectations of the what the song is “supposed to sound like.”

Just as both traditional and contemporary styles are structured slightly differently, they also make you want to move differently as a listener. Motown, Classic Rock, Top 40 Pop, and Jazz are all distinctly different in terms of feel and general response from the audience. Knowing the difference in how and when to play all the styles is important, especially at events like weddings when each portion of the night demands a different feel. The differences really come down to the way that the rhythm section structures itself and how successfully them blend into that “conversation” we mentioned earlier.

In summation, music is an emotion, and that musical emotion is expressed differently for each person in the way they move on the dance floor. So whether or not you realize it when you’re cutting a rug on the dance floor, the rhythm section is playing a huge part in manipulating that raw emotion in a way that grooves with the rest of the atmosphere and creates a memorable and energy-filled space that you won’t want to leave.

 

Whether you’re reading this to get tips or finding ways to avoid the hipster scene, this post will let you know what details are considered “hipster.” Feel free to embrace or avoid.

Hipster Wedding

1. The Dress

The style of dress you choose will often set the style tone for the whole event. Whether you choose a Bohemian hippie style or a short vintage look, there are unique ways that your attire can start the hipster vibe. Above all else, don’t get bogged down by the traditional tropes and brands—your dress should reflect your personal style, hipster or otherwise.

2. Invitations

Your Save the Dates and Invitations will be your guests first look into the style and theme of your wedding. For a bonafide hipster invitation, be sure to team up with your favorite local artist or graphic designer to create something wholly unique for your big day. Your guests will be impressed and slowly realize that it’s not their grandma’s wedding style that they’re walking into.

3. Location

For your hipster wedding, choosing a simple location will be key. Try finding a loft space or small outdoor venue that you can dress up to make it your own. If design is really important to you, then finding a blank canvas venue may be a great place to start. If you’re really going for that trademark hipster irony, try finding a more unique venue! A funky museum, an antique store or a coffee shop could make for a hipsterrific wedding experience to remember.

4. Food

Again, non-traditional is key for a truly traditional wedding. Food trucks are a great funky option in place of traditional plated meals. Tacos are also really trendy and fun. For dessert, ditch the traditional cake and go for something a little more fun and surprising—ice cream sundaes, donuts, or pies are some options to name a few!

5. Photography

Finding a photographer that can capture your day in a way that communicates your style is really important for a hipster wedding. Not only should that photographer themselves embrace that persona, but their shooting style should as well. Be sure to check out their portfolio to see what they can do to create a lasting keepsake of your special day.

6. Music

Finally, music is most certainly what makes a hipster wedding hipster. From artist choice to instrumentation, be sure to choose artists and songs that emanate your style. A Mumford-style ensemble for the ceremony, combined with an Indie music quartet for dinner and dancing could be the perfect combination for your big day. Make sure you are clear about what traditions you do and don’t want to include in your day. Your musicians will really play a big part in creating the soundtrack and mood for your day, so make sure you are on board with their style!

To truly find out if you’re at a hipster wedding, check out this fun flowchart at Refinery 29.

While the big Chicago St. Patty’s celebrations have more or less come to a close, here at Stitely we are still looking forward to our St. Patrick’s Day Event with the Trinity Irish Dancers! Check out the video below when they were featured on Conan.

If there ever was a wedding to recount and remember, this one takes the cake.

After having a secret wedding ceremony in the 1980s, Ann & Susan were finally able to legally tie the knot this past summer—and what a joyous occasion it was! The couple wanted their day to be focused on family and celebrating the many loved-ones in their lives. The music was also a really important factor in their entire day. From special music sung by their son during the ceremony, to a dance to “Happy” down the aisle, to a slew of musical memories made during the reception, their music really tied their whole day together.

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The ceremony took place on July 26, 2014 at the Hotel Allegro in Chicago. Their ceremony featured At Last by Etta James, A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, Your Song by Elton John and Happy by Pharrell. Their reception dancing was kicked off with Sweet Love by Anita Baker for their First Dance, and the dance floor was packed all night.

We had a chance to catch up with Ann & Susan and reflect on the planning process leading up to the big day, as well as to remember their favorite moments of the ceremony and reception. The following post is made up of notes from our phone conversation.

Ballard-WarnerCeremonyWhat kind of style or vibe did you want for your wedding? What role did music play in your vision?

Overall, Ann & Susan just wanted it to be a huge celebration and for everyone to have a good time during their ceremony and reception. They wanted their music choices to be enjoyable for everyone, but also wanted it to reflect their time together over the years. They chose music spanning from jazz and soul to contemporary. Since they were getting married later in life, they had a lot of memories to reflect on and to include in their celebration. They really wanted the music to set the tone for ceremony and reception, and truly believed that without music there would be no real wedding celebration feel—it was that integral.

Ballard-WarnerFamilyTreeWhy did you choose the Stitely Orchestra for your wedding?

Ann says that their confidence with Stitely really began after personal interview with Jeff. It was a lengthy one-on-one meeting to go over all the details of the day. Shortly after that, they made a decision to go with Stitely, and wedding planners at hotels in downtown Chicago confirmed that decision as they were looking for venues.

What was your favorite wedding memory?

Ann & Susan had plenty of memories to share from their big day, as did everyone I’ve spent with who was in attendance that day. It is fondly remembered as a day full of joy and love.

Susan & Ann’s first favorite memory one is the ceremony. It included Happy by Pharrell playing during the recessional, with their kids and family dancing down the aisle with them. It was a beautiful visual representation of the joy that they wanted to portray during their wedding, and the music really helped. A related memory is that people never stopped dancing during the reception—the dance floor was really never empty!

Another favorite memory was their son singing At Last during the ceremony and some Frank Sinatra and Jackie Wilson tunes with the band during the reception. That was really special, and Ann said it was so cool that Stitely made it happen for their son to sing with the band.

BAllard-WarnerDancing1Please share any stories or special significance behind your song selections for the special dances.

Happy by Pharrell was one that Ann & Susan wanted to integrate early on. It was really the inspiration for the heartfelt atmosphere we wanted to create. Having it played during the ceremony was very special and reflected them as a couple well—people still talk about it all the time!

Ann also said that having Stitely work with them prior to the wedding and helping their kids get songs and ideas together was a dream. She says “we couldn’t have made our vision of intertwining the music with our friends, family and guests come true if they hadn’t worked with us in the months and weeks leading up to our day. Without all those elements it really wouldn’t have been the dream day that it ended up being!”

Thanks again to Ann & Susan for being such a joy!

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Want to make your wedding a little easier on the environment? Here’s how!

Do Your Research
Half the battle of creating a sustainable event is knowing which vendors you can trust to share in your vision. Determine what is important for you, and seek out vendors who share your priorities. It will be much easier to succeed when working with vendors who share your goals than trying to work with those that don’t understand.

Paperless Invitations
Although you may get some flack for being untraditional, many are turning to the web for their invitations. With so many great graphic designers and web developers out there today, it’s still possible to keep the classic style and feel of traditional invitations, yet transform that style via web-based media. This will save paper as well as postage money! Greenvelope is a great E-vite resource that provides beautiful alternatives to paper invitation.

If you want to be green but are tied to the idea of traditional paper invitations, a compromise in this area would be to send an electronic Save-the-Dates but still keep paper invites. A little still goes a long way!

Picking the Right Venue
Choosing a venue that has a green initiative is probably one of the biggest things you can do to have an eco-friendly event. Find an event space that has met the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System, which sets the standard for sustainable spaces.

Some green venue options in Chicago would be Venue Six10, Greenhouse Loft, and Loft on Lake.

Go Organic
Work with your caterer to learn where your food is coming from. Make sure the caterer you hire has sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for your dinner such as free-range chicken or fresh wild salmon. For dessert, include free-trade coffee for your guests. Remember, going organic doesn’t have to be a trade-off for delicious food!

Green Wedding Favors
Certain wedding favors can contribute to waste, so give something eco-friendly as well as memorable. One idea is to plant a tree in your guests’ name, or even give out trees for them to plant in your honor. On a smaller scale, you could include sachets of herb or vegetable seeds so your guests can start their own eco-friendly edible garden.

If anything, foregoing the deck of cards or shot glass with your name printed on it will help save some trees and spare your guests from pretending to be excited about that.

Charitable Donation to Eco-Friendly Non-Profit
In lieu of gifts, you could also use that money to give to charitable organizations that support the green causes you are passionate about. Choose one that already has a special meaning to you, or do some research to find local organizations that share your passions. Your guests will appreciate knowing that their gift is going somewhere meaningful.

For more ideas on making your wedding a platform for service, check out our previous blog post on Weddings For a Cause

Recycle Your Decor, and Even Your Dress!
After any event there will almost certainly be a lot of things leftover. Whether it’s leftover food and cake or forgotten flowers or decorations, there are plenty of things that are in perfectly good condition at the end of the night that you no longer have use for. Instead of just throwing everything away or letting it sit in the back seat of your best man’s car for a few months, make a game plan for all the leftovers so nothing goes to waste. You can donate your flowers to a nursing home to brighten their space, recycle any paper decorations you’ve used, and coordinate with a food bank or homeless shelter that would take the mountains of leftover food you undoubtedly have. In these ways your big day can continue on to effect even more people for the better!

As many artists are gearing up for their Spring and early Summer album releases, it begs the questions: are albums still important? Sure we all know that music matters, but does the physical album, vinyl or otherwise, still have a candle to hold in this digital day and age?

Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy has a few thoughts on the subject. In a recent article from Chicago radio station 93XRT, Tweedy says he is “not worried about the ‘experts’ saying that the album is a music medium that is dying out.” He continued saying, “an album is a journey…It invites you into its environment and tells a story. I enjoy albums, and I assume that if I enjoy them there must be others who feel the same.” (Read complete article here.)

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While personally I agree with Tweedy—my personal record collection continues to grow much more rapidly than my digital one—many do not. The vinyl resurgence has been condemned as a fad, kitsch, hipster and a waste. Yet Jack White, whose Third Man Records label played a major role in the increase in vinyl sales, is hopeful about the resurgence of vinyl. White says “All of those people who preach the gospel of the vinyl; it’s all come back into the mainstream…It’s an incredible resurgence. It’s the only part of the music business that’s growing in sales…”  (View complete video of this interview here.)

For White and many of his disciples, vinyl is the best way to listen to music at home. The warm tone is often referred to as the way music is supposed to be listened to. The vinyl resurgence has also promoted creativity. Many artists include special features in their vinyl packages, like their own artwork on record sleeves, to create a more holistic creative experience rather than just downloading an album from iTunes.

So what do you think? Are albums still important to the music world, or will our digital age continue to reign?

This week we feature another astounding planner: Clementine Custom Events. Not only do they have one of my favorite company names, but they are great woman to work with, incredibly helpful, cordial, and really put their clients needs first. See below for our conversation with the lovely ladies of Clementine.

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How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?
My involvement in the wedding planning business evolved over my career in off-premise catering. I began coordinating social affairs in 2005 and was given the opportunity to really focus my attention to the wedding business with I joined Clementine in 2012.

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What are some of the main services you offer and how do they set you apart from other competitors?
We offer month-of coordination, full-planning and everything in between. I feel that the “Custom” in Clementine Custom Events really speaks to our core principles. It is important to us to really take the time to listen to the needs of our clients and what they wish for their special day. From there, we work as a team to prepare a plan that will best suit their needs, while providing expert guidance within the evolving wedding landscape.

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What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?
Take the time with your significant other to jot down how you both envision your day and what is most important to you. Keep the top three elements top of mind as you begin to research, brainstorm and make decisions. I also recommend envisioning how you will feel when you look back on your wedding day photos 10, 20, 30 years from now. Sometimes that point of reference can really help in making decisions on design and style.

 

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?
I feel that this can be an evolving process. Many times we will prepare a thorough plan based on the preliminary design thoughts, and use this as our guide for the duration. Thoughtful vendor selections for who will enhance the design plan is incredibly important. Of course, as important as it is to listen and reconfirm direction, it is equally important to be flexible. As we all know, plans change.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?
Experience
Responsiveness
Trustworthiness
And comfort…you are hiring this professional to be a partner in one of the most special moments of your lives.

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?
My catering background will always be a major factor in my love of this job. I find the production and logistics of the day challenging and satisfying. I also have to say that my most favorite moments in every wedding day is sending the bride down the aisle, a fluid dinner service, and seeing our timeline tick along with ease.

What is the craziest event story you can share?
My lips are sealed ;)

For more information, check out the Clementine website here.