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

Metropolitan Club

Join Stitely Entertainment at the Metropolitan Club this Friday, January 22nd for the 7th annual Boutique Bridal show “Love At Breathtaking Heights”.
The event is from 5:30-8:00pm and guests are invited to mingle among Chicago’s elite wedding vendors while enjoying hors d’oeuvres, signature cocktails & spectacular views.

Bridal swag bags and door prizes for guests will be available for you to enjoy.

Click to register!

or check it out on Facebook!

 

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?

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!

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.

After all the planning and preparing is done, sometimes we forget that a successful event isn’t about how well it went as planned, but rather, its impact lies in how much our guests enjoyed it. The following are some tips for you bride-to-be’s on how to give yourself the space and freedom to enjoy your wedding day!

Newlyweds walk down aisle to a blizzard of flower petals

1. Delegate someone—your best man, maid of honor, a family member—that will be responsible for communication between you and the bandleader/emcee throughout the night. They can let the band know if they’re too loud, too fast, too slow, etc. so you don’t have to deal with any awkward tensions. They can also help you both remember things like eating your dinner! On such a crazy night with so many people to say hello to, it’s easy to forget these major things. Make sure you’ve chosen one person as your right-hand man to watch your back throughout the night.

2. Hire a great bandleader/emcee. The best bandleaders take responsibility for the success of your evening. They should notice important details like confirming the photographer is in the room before making any introductions for toasts, or ensuring silverware is on the cake table before announcing the cake cutting. The bandleader should also be in communication with the catering manager and other vendors to help with the flow of the evening.

3. When creating your seating chart, seat the older guests farther away from the band, and younger guests closer. Some older guests may appreciate being away from the loud noises, and the younger guests will most likely add the energy to the dance floor that every good party needs.

4. If you can, have the bar near the dance floor. If you put the bar outside the main room, it will be much harder to keep the dance floor filled. People will go out to get a drink, get involved in conversation and not make it back to the dance floor for quite a while. If the drinks and dancing are side-by-side, you’ve set yourself up for a consistently filled dance floor

5. Have a good time! This is the day you’ve been dreaming about and working so hard for—enjoy it! Instead of wondering, “are things going as planned?” the whole night, forget the itinerary and soak up all the little moments—even and especially the unplanned ones! Leave the double-checking to the professionals and have yourself a joy-filled and memorable night.

In this week’s installment of Stitely Vendor Spotlights, we had a chance to catch up with Lindsay Parrott of Parrott Party Productions. Not only is she a planner that we often work with, but was also a recent client of ours! Her December wedding was a show-stopper to say the least. Read below to hear about what she does and her tips for couples looking for a planner.

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[Photo by Jai Girard]

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

P3 was started in 2011 after Lindsay wanted to move away from only doing birthdays and corporate events. Our first wedding (partnered with I DO!) was in Napa, California at Auberge Du Soleil and was featured in Town & Country’s Spring 2011 issue.

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

Our main service is Event Design! We take great pride in being able to transform any room and love seeing the face of a stunned bride, groom and guests! We love planning and being able to see all of the small details fall in place. The biggest thing that sets us apart from our competition is our pricing! We set realistic planning and design prices in order to allow more couples to enjoy the awesomeness of using a planner!

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

When creating your design scheme/theme always remember, “less is more and more is in the details”! You don’t need the biggest centerpieces or a complex lighting plan to have a beautiful event. Find examples of what you like, get the images priced out, and go from there. Scale down in places where you don’t feel as strongly and go big in the places that mean the most.

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

I always ask couples to bring in as many images, fabrics and examples of their design style. We then go over their favorite images and what about them makes them their favorite. I learn about their favorite colors, vacations spots and the things they enjoy doing together. All of this information helps me go back and create a Design Board that communicates the couples’ uniqueness and their wedding vision.

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

When looking for a Wedding or Event Planner and/or Designer, you should always pick someone who you feel comfortable with. Find a planner who has a great communication mode. If you prefer text, make sure your planner offers that as an option and their rules and response times. If you prefer to only be contacted at a certain time, make sure your planner understands. Notice how quickly the planners you reach out to when searching, the ones who respond instantly-should move to the top of your list immediately. Whether it was their Production Assistant, Secretary or Intern, it means someone will always be readily available to answer your questions. There should also ALWAYS be an emergency number provided to you by your planner, whether it be their personal cell phone or direct line in. Sometimes there are questions you will need answers to immediately, your planner should be available to those types of questions always.

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

I love planning events that have 400-600+ guests! Our favorite part being able to see so many peoples’ reaction to the décor, lighting, floral and entertainment is exhilarating. We always work with such amazing vendors, we never worry that feedback will be anything other than amazing but it’s always lovely to be reminded.

The not so stellar part of planning Weddings and Events would have to be “crushing dreams” as we call it. We can do anything and everything when it comes to planning and designing BUT we cannot make your budget bigger! Our vendors extend enormous discounts and sometimes will throw an item in there every once in a while, but it is always difficult to tell couples’ they cannot have a 12 piece band, 5 course meal and open bar throughout their entire wedding and only hope to spend $15,000.00. We make magic happen, not miracles!

What is the craziest event story you can share?

We had an outdoor event last summer. The venue was a gorgeous house in the backyard. The house itself was beautiful; the backyard was lush and had beautiful landscaping. The only thing I saw as being a huge problem was the guest-count and of course, the weather! The day of the wedding was beautiful, great weather and all vendors arrived more than early! Set up went superb and the couple was on time with pictures. Minutes before the event starts—DOWNPOUR. The ceremony had to be moved inside, and the reception had to be delayed about an hour while appetizers were passed inside. That is not the craziest part…while the ceremony was going on, the P3 Staff and Catering crew were in the tent outside, standing on the dance floor so it would not wash it away. We had to make bridge-like walkways for the guests to get from the house to the tent without sinking into the ground and help the caterers set up the food stations. It was beyond stressful but at the end of the night, the owner of the house had nothing but nice things to say and the newlywed couple were over the moon.

As a recent bride, how has your own wedding experience change the way you plan for others?

As a recent bride I wanted to simplify the planning and designing process even more! We recently upgraded our A La Carte Menu to include more offerings from our Luminous Suite. We also have added Event Design Suites, for clients only seeking Event Design assistance. I think being a bride has made me more sensitive to the fact that my clients have lives and other things to worry about and do. Yes, their wedding is important and they understand that but life gets in the way. I want to be able to take the reins as much as allowed, allowing the couple time to enjoy their engagement.

For more information about Parrott Party Productions, check out her website here, or on Facebook 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

This year we had the pleasure of working with Paper Antler Photography at a wedding in Madison, WI. After getting a peek at the photos from the event, they quickly became some of our favorites of the season. The way they captured the moments of the party conveyed more than just the events that occurred, but also the emotion and energy that represented the couple and our band very well. We had a chance to correspond with Jonny, one of the photographers at Paper Antler, about how he and Michelle got started in the business and what they love about photographing weddings. Check out their answers below, and I would also recommend checking out their stellar website here.

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

I (Jonny) studied philosophy and photography in college.  Right after graduating, I started creating a portfolio and shadowing photographers in Minneapolis while Michelle – with her natural eye for space and design – started assisting me on my solo assignments.  That was back in 2007.  We knew that we loved working together so we set out to find a career that a.) valued creativity and artistry, b.) would have intrinsic meaning, and c.) allow us to have some flexibility in our schedule as neither of us are 9-5 people.  Once we had enough weddings and other gigs booked, we quit our jobs and set out full steam ahead as photographers.

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

Our wheelhouse is photographing weddings and have traveled all over the country and some of the globe to do so.  We want to be the best photographers we can be and thus we keep our focus on photography and don’t offer many services otherwise.  The fact that we are a husband + wife duo does allow us to be in two places at once at a wedding, and because we have worked together and now have been married for almost seven years, we can communicate with hand signals and facial expressions, much like the secret service but not as fancy.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a photographer?paper antler fun - 0018

Couples should choose a creative, artistic photographer for sure, but more importantly a photographer that makes them feel comfortable and who is also a nice person.  It doesn’t do much good to have a technically great photographer who man-handles your bridal party and is rude to your Uncle Jim.  When photographing weddings, you need to be ultra patient at times, and there’s really no room for ego.

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

One of the most satisfying parts of photographing a wedding is that as the photographer, you are giving the couple a tangible artifact and vestige of one of the most important and celebratory days of their life.  At that point, it becomes about something way bigger than photography and those photographs now serve as reminders for the rest of your lives and also for your family now and in the future.

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The most challenging part of our job is keeping up with correspondence and editing photos, though it’s hard to complain.  Also, it can be a little obnoxious when dozens of people with iPads cut in front of us at weddings to take a photo that we set up.

What is the craziest event story you can share?

A wedding that we photographed last year featured none other than Ric Flair (wwf world champion) as a surprise guest for the groom.  He walked the bride down the aisle and the expression on the groom’s face was priceless.  We later got a picture with Ric Flair, with Michelle and myself flexing.  That one made the scrapbook.

Where in the world do you enjoy photographing the most?

We’ve photographed weddings from Carmel Valley, CA to the Lakes District in England, and honestly there is so much beauty every place we’ve been to photograph a wedding.  A place like California offers a few more options than the Chicago suburbs but so much about wedding photography is finding beauty regardless of the location.

 

 

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