You are in the midst of the exciting wedding planning process and you’re ready to focus on music! What’s going to get the party started? Who is going to get all your friends and family dancing until their feet hurt?

A band or DJ truly sets the tone for the evening since their primary job is to bring everyone together on the dance floor so everyone feels the love and joy in the room. Depending on your individual style as a couple and your budget, the first big decision is whether to have a band or a DJ.

A Band is obviously more expensive because you are paying for more musicians, sound engineers, a bigger sound system, and staging if needed. Still, a great band is able to bring life into the party and fill the room with amazing energy.

Nothing is quite as electrifying as a live music experience. Think about when you’re blasting your favorite artist in the car. Whether that may be The Black Keys, Beyoncé or Bob Dylan – nothing beats the feeling you got when you saw them live for the first time (or second, or third).

DJs have the ability to play all music styles because a computer is right at their fingertips. With this flexibility, they can make sure all your guests are having a great time by reading the crowd and creating an amazing dance atmosphere.

After you decide if you’re booking a live band or DJ, how do you go about choosing the right one for you? Music is considered one of the most important aspects of a wedding so while you’re exploring options, you should feel like the bandleader or DJ you’re meeting with is committed to executing your vision of your wedding. The best bands and DJs are professionals and create a feeling of confidence that should put you at ease.

If you’re viewing band videos, make sure it’s a live video so you are hearing the actual band, not a studio recording that’s synced up to the singers lips for 1-2 seconds at a time. Are they showing you examples of all the styles of music you want? Some bands put a much bigger list of songs out there than they can really play. The musicians should sound great to you and look like they are actually having fun!

Here are a few more questions to ask yourself as you research the perfect wedding entertainment for your big day!

Band

  • Are the band’s videos live and do you like their sound?
  • Does their song list reflect the styles and songs you like?
  • Will they learn new songs for you?
  • How do they personalize the wedding to your musical taste?
  • Are they flexible in the size and price of the band to fit your needs?
  • Can they provide ceremony music?
  • What additional charges are there? Are the sound system, sound engineer, learning new songs, planning meetings, parking and meals for the band included in the cost?

DJ

  • Do you feel comfortable with the DJ’s personality and musical knowledge?
  • What is the DJ’s process for personalizing your playlist for the evening?
  • How many weddings has the DJ done?

Here at Stitely, we strive to answer these questions before you even need to ask them, to give you the confidence that your evening will go perfectly!

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

2017 has arrived, bringing with it snow, bitingly cold winds, and, of course, awards season. This past Sunday, NBC broadcast the annual Golden Globes, bringing with it a cavalcade of celebrities, and high hopes to win one of the entertainment industry’s highest honors. In particular, a little film by the name of La La Land, a musical romp reminiscent of the Golden Age movie musicals of the mid-20th century, had high hopes to bring home a record number of wins.

La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, was nominated for a grand total of seven categories, including Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Director. By the end of the evening, the film had swept the awards and won all seven of the categories for which it was nominated. Prior to Sunday, the record for most Golden Globe wins by a film was shared by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978), each with six wins that year. Needless to say, that record was shattered this year.

This reviewer has heard a number of people discussing whether or not these wins were well-deserved – after all, how could a romantic musical win out for best screenplay over a powerhouse film like Moonlight? And how could Emma Stone win Best Actress over Meryl Streep? In some ways, La La Land’s sweeping victory doesn’t make a lot of sense.

After two viewings of the film (one on Christmas Day, one the day after New Years), this reviewer can honestly say that not only are those wins well-deserved, they say something about the state of film and our society’s relationship to entertainment and to the ways in which we consume media.

During the golden age of movie musicals (think Singin’ in the Rain, Easter Parade, and White Christmas), movie audiences craved escape and romance, acrobatic dance routines, hummable music, and, of course, a happy ending. Stars like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Debbie Reynolds sang, danced, and romanced their ways into audiences’ hearts, and everyone went home happy. But the 1960′s brought widespread home television viewing and rock and roll into the forefront of public consciousness in a highly immediate and visual way. Showtunes and choreography fell by the wayside in favour of mop-topped teenagers with guitars and the Ed Sullivan Show. The movie musical as we knew it retreated to a distant corner of the public consciousness. In past years, it surfaced in the form of movies like FootlooseYentl, and the ever-loved animated Disney films of the 80′s and 90′s – and more recently in movies like Once. But our dear old movie musical never achieved its former glory – even in Enchanted, which used music to make fun of the old golden age tropes, rather than uplifting them.

La La Land stands out because not only does it bring back the big production numbers, romance, and seemingly spontaneous, flawless dance routines of yesteryear, it transforms them into a work of art that is at once nostalgic and forward-thinking.

The story: a classic show-biz routine. Starry-eyed young actress meets and falls in love with a sardonic, passionate jazz musician. Both are down on their luck, but find new inspiration in one another. They talk, they sing, they dance. They are, in many ways, perfect for one another. BUT their story is not all rose petals and sunshine. Rather than committing fully to the age-old paradigm of the fluffy, happy love story, the two young protagonist’s relationship has very real difficulties, and reflects far more the reality of modern love, rather than another generation’s fantasy.

The music: at once classic Broadway and modern masterpiece. Composer Justin Hurwitz teamed up with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics for the film. Pasek and Paul are Off-Broadway and now Broadway veterans, and are the minds that gave us shows like Dogfight and Dear Evan Hansen, which has just moved to Broadway. The old Broadway sensibility is there – but so is a modern outlook. There is a depth and earnestness to the music that has developed over time in the Broadway sphere since the late 1960′s – far more aware of itself and aware of the underlying humanity. “City of Stars,” which won Best Original Song, is the perfect example of this. It could almost be a modern radio hit – and yet it calls upon influences from the music of composers like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin for a decidedly nostalgic flair. A near-perfect hybrid. 

The performances: decidedly modern. As opposed to the old style of movie musical acting (big laughs, big fun, not a lot of subtext or character development), La La Land throws two powerful acting talents (Stone and Gosling) into an older format and asks them to do what they do best. Occasionally while singing and dancing. The result is enchanting, though in a way that makes one very aware that you are watching something different than anything you’ve seen before. Exquisitely nuanced and deeply felt, Stone and Gosling’s performances lend an incredible richness and humanity to a story that, if handled only slightly less carefully, would have been heavy-handed and insincere. (My only complaint: the singing was only so-so. Is it so hard to find actors with that kind of emotional gravity and heart that can really sing? Several alternatives come to mind…)

Overall: a stunning film. Richly visual, highly dynamic, funny, poignant, well-paced (it clocks in at 2 hours and 8 minutes, but feels like far less), and a wonderful leap into the future, rooted in a shared past. The magic of La La Land is in its deft handling of an older genre (which has a power in and of itself) within a modern context, with modern actors, creatives, and technology. We may not see another like La La Land for a long time, but the film points the way into the future – not in the sense that every film from here on out should be a musical, but in the sense that there is something to be said for listening to the past, taking what works, and taking real care in making it a work of art for the modern audience.

3.5/4 stars

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.

PPP

[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.

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

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

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

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

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

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

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

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

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

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

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.

With all the money being poured into the wedding industry, many couples are starting to look for ways to re-allocate some of their expenses toward organizations and charities that are doing more than creating a beautiful event, but are working to make a lasting difference in the community. If you are one of those people who desire to leverage their wedding day for a cause, here are 9 simple ideas to get your headed in the right direction.

1. Incorporate a charity into your showers or registry.

Ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food bank along with their gift for your shower. Or, add a charity to your registry to people can donate to a cause you care about while they’re shopping for your wedding gift. Idofoundation.org is a one-stop shop for couples, providing a number of resources for couples to raise donations for a charity via their wedding plans.

2. Rent a nonprofit’s space.

Support your local museums, historical sites or botanical garden by renting their space for your event.

3. Reuse your flowers and other décor.

Call your local nursing home or hospital and ask if you can donate your reception flowers after the event takes place. This way your flowers can continue to spread cheer for others rather than sitting in your maid of honor’s car for a couple weeks.

wedding flower ring chicago wedding bands

 4. Select favors with a purpose.

One way to do this is to forego guest favors altogether and use that money to make a donation to their favorite charity. Another way you can still show your guests your appreciation while also giving back is by choosing a favor that your guests will love that also supports a charity. One example is FeedYourSoulCookies.com. These sweet treats will be a highlight for your guests and will also support charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!

5. Don’t waste the leftovers.

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception re-distributed to feed hungry people in your area. SecondHarvest.com is a good starting place to learn more about this and find food banks in your area.

6. Charge it.

With a Working Assets credit card, every purchase you make—whether its your dress, flowers, or any vendor bills—a percentage of it benefits the charity of your choice with no extra cost to you.  For more information, go to WorkingAssets.com

Wedding Table Food Give Back Decor Chicago Wedding

 7. Hire nonprofit entertainers

From cultural dance groups to community youth orchestras, there are a number of ways to support the arts in your community by booking local entertainment. Add some unique flair to your ceremony or reception music while also promoting the arts!

8. Donate your dresses

After the big event, many people have no more use for their wedding or bridesmaid dresses. Brides Against Breast Cancer (for wedding dresses) and GlassSlipperProject.org (for bridesmaid dresses) are two places that can donate your gowns to make a different in the lives of local girls and women around the world.

9. Use your wedding day to bring awareness to a cause you care about.

One popular cause right now is the fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. One way to support this cause is by using vendors in your city from LoveGivesWay.com. This group of vendors give a part of their fee back to charities that are already working to end sex trafficking. This is a way for you to leverage your one wedding day in support of those who are fighting for this cause every day.

wedding dress give back flowers Chicago wedding band

Whatever way you choose to celebrate, consider a using just one aspect of your day to make a lasting difference in the world! For more information about the ideas and organizations listed here, as well as links to others, check out this article from BridalGuide.com.

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!

 

Here is a fun post I found on the Knot.  How many of these traditions/superstitions did you know?

http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/50-wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia.aspx?MsdVisit=1

Enjoy!