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

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.

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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.

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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!

With Spring just around the corner, I’ve been itching to get out and do more things in the city! If you’re feeling that cabin fever and love hearing new music as much as I do, then here are some shows to check out this month!

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March 3
Ariana Grande @ Allstate Arena
If you like top pop, head over to the arena for what will surely be an entertaining production with high wow-factor.

March 4
The Lone Bellow @ Lincoln Hall
Unfortunately sold out, but had to mention them. If you haven’t heard their new album “Then Came the Morning” it’s a must must must.

March 5
Ben Sollee @ City Winery
This cellist and songwriter’s music is incredibly unique and hard to describe. Transcending genre in the best way, Sollee will keep you entertained with his skill and creative use of his instrument.

Milo Greene @ Lincoln Hall
While Milo Greene is not actually a real person, the band certainly and thankfully is. Check them out.

March 6
The Dodos @ Lincoln Hall
The band has been around for about 8 years, but is consistently coming up with new and interesting additions to the genre. Check them out at Lincoln Hall!

The Apache Relay @ Schubas
More people should know about them. Period.

March 7
Bob Schneider @ SPACE in Evanston
This Austin, TX native will be playing back-to-back shows at SPACE in Evanston. Definitely one to catch! A unique and intimate venue featuring a uniquely talented lyricist.

March 10
Shooter Jennings @ City Winery
Get your country on.

March 12 & 13
JD McPherson @ Lincoln Hall
This man is true rock and roll. Headlining 2 show at Lincoln Hall it’s a wonder that they’re both not sold out yet. Get on this!

March 16
Thelonious Monday: An Evening of Bebop Jazz @ The Double Door
To jazz up your monday night, head to the Double Door for a unique night, tributing a legendary jazz musician.

March 19
Maroon 5 @ United Center
Enough said.

March 21
Mat Kearney @ The Riviera
A favorite of many, Mat Kearney is sure to entertain on his tour for his new album “Just Kids.”

Mortified! @ Lincoln Hall
While not exactly a music show, this hilarious comedy event is worth every penny! Listen as Chicagoans read their middle school and high school diaries out loud! So relatable, so hilarious, and completely mortifying in the best way.

March 27
Penny & Sparrow @ Schubas
This up-and-coming duo has been around for a while, but their newest album has gained well-deserved traction. They are ones to watch!

March 28
Matthew Perryman Jones @ City Winery
So mellow. So beautiful.

March 31
The von Trapps @ SPACE
Great-Grandchildren of the legendary Capt. & Maria von Trapp, this group has toured across the world, carrying on their family’s musical legacy.

During wedding season 2014 we were able to work with a ton of talented vendors–Robb Davidson Photography being one of our favorites. His high energy and big personality are palpable through his photos, and we were ecstatic to get the chance to contact him and ask a few questions about his experience as a wedding photographer. Check out our conversation below and his super-rad website here.

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How and why did you get started in the photography business?

I got started in photography when I was a junior at Judson College/university. I actually had to replace a point and shoot camera, and so with my “go big or go home” mentality, I bought an SLR camera. Cause that takes better pictures, right? Yeah no it doesn’t when you don’t know anything, but really I wanted to learn about it more. I started practicing on friends, posting online…and the college saw that. We didn’t really have any photography programs, so I was the only “in house” resource. They asked me to start covering events, save money for lenses…etc…and shot my first wedding for a friend. HOOKED instantly. I kept booking more, got more organized, grew into a nice small business. I WAS originally gonna just shoot on the weekends and have some 9-5 job during the week. Ha, never could make the interviews cause I was shooting the whole time. Sooooo, I decided to stop bothering with it and do it full time. All the while working full time at Wheaton Sport Center and had a great client base start from there. What an amazing place.

What are some of the main services you offer and how do they set you apart from other competitors?

I shoot people. With my canon. Main ordeal for me is weddings of course, but also looooove any kind of family shoot, headshot, corporate event, pranks needing documentation….whatever. Love people. Creating a place where people can be themselves within SECONDS is key. Otherwise you’re just stuck putting people in a pose that may not be who they are. So the sooner I can get people relaxed and their goofy selves, the better the shots I can get. You can only do so much with your photography side if the subject isn’t their natural self. :)

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

When it comes to weddings, or anything lifestyle related…both sides of the camera is important. I think personalities have to gel at least a little bit. Otherwise, you won’t be on the same page, things won’t go as smooth, or just get straight up weird. Like, not awesome weird. Lame weird.

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

I’m glad this is paired because it’s usually the case…finding obstacles that you have to overcome become the most satisfying at the end of the day. How to make indoor locations for a wedding look real pretty when it’s pouring outside, we only have ten minutes to shoot EVERYTHING and make it seem like this is the way it SHOULD be, someone in the bridal party has a cast and you gotta creatively tuck that sucker away.

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What is the craziest event story you can share?

Gosh, ones that I’m actually allowed to share? Haha, well I would say that it’s just crazy how it all happened. March of 2013 I was at the gym when I got a call from a buddy of mine. Basically let me know that he was a guest at a wedding that didn’t have a photographer, bride was 20-30 minutes from walking down the aisle. I BOLTED out of the gym, threw on a suit, and met her before that going down the aisle to introduce myself. I said I was a full time professional wedding photographer, ready to shoot the rest of the night and figure out details later. Great night, awesome people, so glad I was able to help. I guess they never heard from their original photographer….hope they’re okay? Still crazy.

Why do you love photographing in the Chicago area?

There’s something so homey and family oriented in the midwest that I can’t get enough of. I guess an awesome hybrid of homey white picket fence, and the get after it mentality. Everyone loves incorporating family traditions, their relationship history, or just something to make it so unique for the shoot. Really doesn’t feel like there’s “competition” or anything like it, so I teach people anything and everything I may know…cause there’s so much awesomeness to go around! They really don’t suck out here.

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Planning a wedding can be a love-hate process for couples, and it might lean toward hate when tailoring your plans to fit a budget. Although it can certainly be stressful, having a tight budget does not limit the beauty or uniqueness that can come from your wedding day. Below are some practical tips from your friends at Stitely for the cash-conscious bride to consider as she begins planning:

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1. Timing is Everything: For couples who have not yet chosen the date for their ceremony, don’t be afraid to plan in the off-season. Sure, everyone loves a beach wedding in June, but a fall wedding in a cozy chapel can be just as wonderful and romantic (and can also result in great photos!) Many vendors offer discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings as well. Avoiding prime-time rates on wedding vendors and venues can save you serious bucks on your big day.

2. Get a Pro Involved: Hiring a professional wedding planner may cost more than you’d like, but compared to what it could save you in the long run it’s almost always worth it! Planners come with years of experience in the business, which means that they will know how to give you what you want within your budget! Not to mention they’ll know the best vendors in the business to work with so you’re not left blindly trusting your Google search findings.

3. Don’t Fear the Department Store: While the idea of shopping at a store like Kleinfeld’s from “Say Yes to the Dress” is appealing to a lot of brides, these boutique store can be incredibly pricy! If you’re planning on splurging a bit on the dress of your dreams, take some time and evaluate some other option for your bridesmaids. The days of all bridesmaids exactly matching are coming to an end, which gives people more money-conscious options! From using dresses they already own to shopping at stores like the Gap, Macy’s, J. Crew and Anthropologie, these options can give your wedding party a unique flair for a lower price. Plus, these are dresses that they might actually wear again!

4. Cater to the Kids: Ask your caterer if they offer children’s plates! This simple idea is an easy way to trim down food expenses, while actually giving any children at your wedding some food they may actually enjoy.

5. Get Flower Frugal: Flowers can be a major cost on a wedding day, especially if you have a lot of bouquets for the wedding party or if you use flowers as centerpieces. To cut down the price, try to pick flowers that are in season (i.e. tulips in the Spring instead of roses). Another simple money saving trick is to choose big flowers. Since most florists charge by the stem, needing fewer flowers can only help! Also adding cheap fillers like cotton and wheat stalks, berries, or even paper flower creations can also significantly lessen the cost of flowers. .

We hope these tips help those who are looking for a lower-budget wedding! Don’t be discouraged—your wedding can and will still be so special no matter what your spending limit. It’s much less about the richness of details and more about the people who you choose to surround yourself with. Happy planning!

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!

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.