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

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)

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago skyline

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

BeckyBrown0173Wedding Photos:

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

 Venue:

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

 

Entertainment:

312 Chicago Wedding Band

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

 Décor:

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

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

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

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

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

flower girls dancing to chicago wedding band

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

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Step 2: Stick to your guns.

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

Step 3: Make your wishes clear on the invitation.

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

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Step 4: Think about childcare options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LK Events

Clementine Custom Events

Big City Bride

Café Brauer

Kenilworth Club

Warwick Allerton Hotel

Art Institute of Chicago

…and many more!

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

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Here’s to another rockin’ year!