At every wedding reception, there are a number of special dances – the first dance for the bride and groom, an anniversary dance, mother-son and father-daughter dances, etc. However, an important special dance for any wedding reception is the last song of the evening. As with any special dance, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing a song.

Here at Stitely Entertainment, we believe it comes down to one simple question: Do you want to end the evening on a sweet note or with a high-energy vibe?

Ending the night sweetly often takes the form of a ballad or a song that holds a great deal of sentimental meaning. Examples include, “Our Love is Here to Stay,” John Legend’s “Stay With You,” “Lean On Me,” or “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

High-energy songs get everyone in the room out on the dance floor! Think popular songs that everyone knows and loves and will be guaranteed to create a celebration. For instance, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey – a song played in every college bar. Another example would be “Beginnings” by Chicago. A tune with a great horn section, message, and groove. Other examples include, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “Raise Your Glass: by P!nk, or “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Jeff Stitely adds that the last song of the evening should create a “unified field” or a sense of oneness with everyone gathered for the wedding – a way for everyone to participate in celebrating the bride and groom’s new life together.

Having trouble deciding which way to go? Do what feels best to you and what fits your personal style! Ultimately, what matters is the way you want to feel at the very end of your special day.

Picture this: you’re sitting outside on a beautiful late spring day. One of your best friends has just said “I do” to the love of her life. As the happy couple turns to face the gathering of family and friends, the officiant proclaims, “It is my great pleasure to introduce, for the first time – “

Ah, there’s the variable! How exactly will they be introduced?

It’s a question many couples face while planning their weddings – not only for the first introduction at the end of the ceremony, but also for the one that happens at the beginning of the reception. Introductions range from informal and casual to traditional. And, depending upon whether or not either person is changing their last name these introductions change further.

For example, say the bride is taking her husband’s last name. On the casual side, they can be introduced as “Tom and Jane Smith.” On the very formal side, “Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith.” And semiformal: “Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Jane Smith.”

If, however, the bride is keeping her last name, they can be introduced by their names, (“Tom Smith and Jane Johnson”) or, more formally, “Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith and Jane Johnson.”

Or, if the couple is combining their last names, “Tom and Jane Smith-Johnson” or “Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Jane Smith-Johnson.

But hey, what if you’re not sure yet what will happen with your last names? Wondering what the current trends are?

According to the New York Times, before 1970, 14% of women kept their maiden names, though the first wave of feminism, which reached its zenith in the 1970’s, pushed that number to 17%. Things took a dip in the more conservative 1980’s, but the number of women keeping their last names has actually been on the rise again since the 1990’s, up to 22% of women in the 2010’s.

Whatever you and your fiancé decide, you have plenty of options as to how you can be introduced to your friends and loved ones on your special day. Do what feels right for you!

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/upshot/maiden-names-on-the-rise-again.html?_r=0

Ever been at a wedding and found yourself wondering about where some of these old traditions – like the ring worn on the left hand, the bouquet toss, and the tiered cake – come from? Here at Stitely, we looked into the history of some of these practices – turns out, the history of weddings is full of fascinating tidbits – some sweet, some superstitious, some strange.

1. Before 1840, brides simply wore their best dress on their wedding day. It was Queen Victoria who set the standard of wearing white for one’s wedding – at least in the Western world (whereas wearing white had already been standard practice in Japan for a long time). Fun fact: her wedding cake weighed in at 300 pounds!

2. It’s widely accepted that traditionally, wedding rings are worn on the 4th finger of the left hand. This dates back to the Roman Empire, when they believed that a vein in the 4th finger of the left hand ran directly to the heart, thus symbolizing the love and commitment between the newlyweds.

3. According to Hindu tradition, rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck!

4. The bouquet toss, that ever-popular battle for the bridal airborne floral arrangement, has its roots in England, where women used to try to tear off pieces of the bride’s dress and bouquet to try to get some of her good luck. At this point, the bride would ditch the bouquet by throwing it over her shoulder and making a run for it! Now, the bride gathers her single female friends behind her and she throws the bouquet high in the air – and the first woman to catch it is thought to be the next one to be married.

5. And, of course, there’s the garter toss. Back in the days when couples were required to prove that their union had been consummated, relatives would be invited into the bedroom as “witnesses.” The relatives would then try to obtain pieces of clothing – undergarments were considered particularly lucky. Eventually, though, newlyweds got sick of this – to the point where the groom would toss the bride’s garter out the bedroom door so everyone would leave them alone. Now, however, the garter is tossed to the single men in the room – and the one who catches it is supposedly the one who will get married next.

Of course, weddings continue to change – some brides opt not to wear white, some people have alternatives to cake for their dessert, and some couples decide to do variations on the bouquet and garter toss or omit them all together. It’s all up to you! You can take what you like from the old traditions, and maybe create some new ones yourself.

 

Sources:

https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/weddinglore1.html

Here’s a taste for what’s been going on around the Chicago music scene the last few years: Pocket Radio is a Chicago-based band known for energetic live shows and music that combines jazz, funk, hip-hop, and soul and gets audiences on their feet. This original tune, written by tenor saxophonist, S. Hudgens, is a perfect example of Pocket Radio’s style.

When it comes to choosing a song for your first dance as a married couple, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s so much great music out there! How can you possibly choose?

Jeff Stitely, our fearless leader here at Stitely Entertainment and an expert in the field for 25 years, has a few recommendations to help the process along.

First, he says, when considering a song, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Does it give you chills? Make you smile? Do you love the feeling you get when you hear it? If so, those are sure signs of a great song choice!

Second, pay attention to the lyrics. Do they resonate with you? Do they reflect your outlook on life, love, and/or relationships? If so, great! Looks like you’ve got a contender.

On the other hand, what if the song makes you feel great, and you love what the song has to say about life/love/relationships in the first two verses and the chorus… but then the third verse takes a left turn into darker territory? (What if the people who were so in love at the beginning of the song break up? Or what if the person’s love is unrequited? etc.)

Don’t give up on that song just yet – there are ways we can make it work!

If you’ve booked a live band, it can be as simple as changing a few words – past tense can become present tense, for example – or even omitting that last verse entirely. It’s as easy as that! If you’ve booked a DJ, it’s possible to fade the song out before that troublesome verse comes up. Either way, you have options that will help to make your first dance extra special.

Here’s a great example of how someone chose their perfect first dance song. Consider Jeff Stitely’s story:

“When I got married, I was a jazz drummer and loved all the old classic ballads. My favorite song was called “My One and Only Love”. The lyric starts with “The very thought of you makes my heart sing” and the whole song is that scrumptious in addition to being one of the most beautiful melodies ever written from that era. Maybe two other people in the country chose that song but we didn’t care about that. It is a personal choice. Check it out.”

Still need inspiration? Here’s a list of the top 10 most popular first dance songs of 2016 according to the music streaming service, Spotify:

 

  1. Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
  2. At Last (Etta James)
  3. You Are the Best Thing (Ray LaMontagne)
  4. All of Me (John Legend)
  5. A Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
  6. Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
  7. I Won’t Give Up (Jason Mraz)
  8. Everything (Michael Buble)
  9. Better Together (Jack Johnson)
  10. Amazed (Lonestar)

 

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.

 

This week’s Stitely Vendor Spotlight features another one of our favorite planners to work with in Chicago–LOLA Event Productions! These women go above and beyond the call of duty for every event that we’ve worked on with them. We had a chance to catch up with Lori Stevenson, a founder of LOLA to see what she has to say about her beginnings in the industry and tips for couples choosing their vendors.

Lori Stevenson

Lori Stevenson

How did you get started in event planning?

I have been in the wedding business since college – my degree is in fashion design, and I paid my way through school designing and making wedding gowns. Brides are just in my blood! I started LOLA in 2006 recognizing a gap for a planner that can also act as a design liaison as well as dig into the logistics of planning a wedding or event.

There are 4 of us so our journey is a collaboration that clients really get to take advantage of. While they have a single consultant they are working with, they have the ideas and expertise of the entire group and our diverse backgrounds in design, catering, logistics, etc.

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

Working with brides is incredibly rewarding – you get to be with people on their best day. How many people get hugs from clients on a weekly basis? It feeds my soul! Most of my challenges just come in work/life balance. I am lucky to have a VERY understanding husband as this job is really 24/7.

What is the key to a successful event?

The LOLA Pros

The LOLA Pros

A great guest experience. Yes, a wedding is to a certain extent “all about the bride” but at the end of the day you want to make sure guests get the experience that a bride and groom are striving for from the band to the food, flow, decor and atmosphere.

What is the craziest event story you can share?

Whenever I say, “Well, now I have really seen everything” something even crazier is bound to happen! I feel like I need to knock wood if I am going to answer this one :-) Last year alone we had a “cheeky” grandmother (yep, she mooned the DJ), we had a streaker blow through cocktail hour chased by 5 of Chicago’s finest police officers, and we surprised a bride and groom with a flash mob (not all surprises are bad, but I can’t say I love any surprise on a wedding day!)

Hire your planner before you make ANY decisions. Not only can we help create a beautiful, cohesive and well-planned event, but we can help you tackle it all with aplomb so you can have a great time doing it. No stress needed!

If you were stuck on a desert island which three albums would you want with you?

I always tell clients not to judge me based on my musical acumen! It’s petty awful in a tween-pop sort of way. My husband is ashamed of my iPod selection.
I think I would have to stick with classics, even though there are so many good contemporary artists out there spanning pop and indie like The National and Bruno Mars (seriously, can you STOP singing Uptown Funk?! Absolutely NOT!):
-Hot August Night – Yes I am die-hard Neil Diamond fan since childhood – I blame my mother!
-Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits – for when you need to sing along to something (and for the record, my husband is NOT ashamed of this pick)
-Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits or ABBA Gold – for when I just need to ‘dance it off’ – it really never gets old.

For more information and to connect directly with Lori and the other ladies at LOLA, check out their website here!

Being a part of a wedding party is always an exciting thing. Dressing up, taking pictures and being up there with the happy couple on their special day is a real thrill. But what do you do with that beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) dress after the big day? Even though your bride-to-be friend has assured you that it was so cute that you will surely wear it again, oftentimes these garments end up in the back of our closets, then donated to Goodwill during spring cleaning.

Let’s change that cycle! The following are a few ideas that you can use for your bridesmaid dress (or even your wedding dress!) after you’re done with the event.

Bouquet toss at wedding

1. Sell It.

If your aim is to get a little of your fashion investment back in cold hard cash, try a few of these websites who will buy your used clothes: Tradesy, BridemaidTrade, & PreownedWeddingDresses.com

2. Donate It.

If your aim is just to get it out of your closet and you want to do some good, there are a ton of organization that take used formal gowns for girls who may not be able to afford that gorgeous prom dress they’ve been dreaming about. If making a small difference in a young girl’s life is something that interests you, then try these sites: GlassSlipperProject, BeccasCloset, & FairyGodMothersInc.

3. Craft It.

Quilts, Pillows, Jewelry —anything your heart desires! Don’t let the pricy fabric your dress is made of go to waste, use is as an inspiration to create something completely new!

4. Tailor It.

If getting rid of or completely cutting up your dress would upset you or your friend that wanted you to wear it in the first place, consider taking it to a tailor who can create something that’s more your style. For a few extra bucks you get a dress you know you’ll wear, and your friend will be honored you cared enough to keep the dress in your wardrobe. It’s a win-win!

Chicago printed bridesmaid dress

Well folks, winter is here to stay in Chicago it seems. As the light at the end of tunnel still feels miles away, I’ve been searching for fun things to do in the city that won’t freeze my buns off. Going to shows is one of my favorite things, so I’ve compiled a list of shows taking place this month for you to think about attending! The list includes venues all over the city and suburbs, as well as old friends and new faces in the music scene. See below for a schedule with descriptions.

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Wednesday, February 11

Forest & the Evergreens @ Schubas

Winning the award for my new favorite band name, this band’s blend of “neo-soul, R&B, and ‘young funk’” is sure to be an exciting addition to your February.

Thursday, February 12

Nikki Lane @ Double Door

Up and coming Nashville singer/songwriter teamed up with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to record her second album. Definitely one to watch.

Jason Isbell @ Symphony Center

For a little added southern warmth & Alabama Shoals flair to your February, don’t miss this singer/songwriter, Jason Isbell.

Friday, February 13

Wynton Marsalis @ Symphony Center

For your Chicago jazz fix let this incredible trumpeter whisk you away.

Saturday February 14

10,000 Maniacs @ City Winery

For a Valentine’s Day throwback hit up the City Winery for 10,000 Maniacs’ 2 shows.

Fleetwood Mac @ Allstate Arena

For an even throwier-back (as well as a pretty penny) Fleetwood Mac will be playing their second show at Allstate Arena in the past year.

Tuesday, February 17

Sleater-Kinney @ Riviera

For all the Portlandia lovers out there, head to the Riviera for the grandest reunion show of the season.

Joe Purdy @ SPACE

Another American folk singer/songwriter whose sure to entertain in the most mellowest of ways. The intimate setting of the SPACE venue in Evanston is the perfect place to experience this kind of music.

Thursday, February 19

Timber Timbre @ Lincoln Hall

Winning the award for my second-favorite new band name, Timer Timbre will be your fix for all things bluesy and all things Canadian this winter.

Friday, February 20

Brooke Fraser @ Bottom Lounge

The New Zealand pop artist will surely entertain and impress with her killer pipes at this unique Chicago venue.

Wednesday, February 25

Hozier @ Riviera

Enough said. It’ll be what you think it will be…probably awesome.

Thursday, Februray 26

Motion City Soundtrack @ House of Blues

Nothing like your emo past-self getting a little love this winter. For a night of nostalgia, nothing is better.

Saturday, February 28

Steve Aoki @ Aragon Ballroom

Japanese-American house artist brings electronic energy that will help you to celebrate the end of this wintery month, in one of Chicago oldest and most unique venues.

Punch Brothers @ Riviera Theater

On a sweeter more mellow note, the Punch Brothers will be your bluegrass fix for the month. Their harmonies are beautiful and you’ll feel refreshed after listening.

 

So there you have it—your Chicago music for the month of February. Links to tickets are on all the artists’ names. Click through and enjoy the music!