Getting the Party Started Part 2: Tips from the DJ

Last time we had dance teacher Annemarie offer her insights into how to encourage people to get moving. Continuing our two-part series on creating great party atmosphere, we could think of no better vendor to shine the spotlight on than Jason Amarante of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys

Photo Credit: Nicole Anne Robbins


At the first wedding we did with Jason, our clients were leaning towards not having a DJ since they couldn't imagine their friends and family dancing. With Jason at the turntables though, every single guest was out on the dance floor, and they didn't want to stop even at the end of the night!

Photo Credit: Tim Sohn Studios







Let's get to know Jason a little more, and find out his secrets to getting the party started.

Quick Q's
Best Meal: homemade Portuguese-style chicken & rice dish prepared by my grandmother.
Best present someone has gotten you: my family threw a "celebrity-style" comedy roast for my birthday last year and invited a bunch of close friends. It was easily the best gift anyone has ever given me!
Favorite place to be: on the island of San Jorge, in the Azores, Portugal.
What do H&T stand for to you? two instruments you'd likely hear on a Motown song: harmonica & tambourine. 

About Your Craft
What inspired you to be a DJ? 
First and foremost, my life-long passion for music. I come from a large family that instilled a love of music from a very early age. My mom said I was banging on pots and pans in the kitchen and humming along to Hall & Oats in the car before I could even talk. That love of music took me on a journey which has provided me with opportunities to travel the country in a marching band, play piano at the House of Blues, and DJ for large crowds of people. Becoming a DJ was a natural progression for me, as I love the art of selecting playlists and playing them for a crowd. There's a special relationship that the DJ has with the dance floor, a feeling you get when you're feeding off the crowd's energy and the crowd is feeding off of yours. It's truly an amazing experience. It's what keeps me out there weekend after weekend, playing for diverse groups of people in all sorts of cool venues!


What's your favorite mood music for cocktail hour? 
This really depends on the demographic of the crowd. For many folks, some tasteful 40s-60s vocal jazz (e.g. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald) really does the trick. While for others, something more contemporary really works the cocktail room - like modern acoustic rock. In the end, it really comes down to what will put that particular crowd at ease and make them feel like they're part of something unique and special, whether that be Jimmy Durante or Jason Mraz.  


Photo Credit: Tim Sohn Studios


What in your experience is the best way to let guests know that it's time to dance? 
That's an easy one: turning off the house lights!

Do you have a favorite couple's first dance song? 
I'm a huge Stevie Wonder fan, so I'd have to go with "Overjoyed" or "My Cherie Amour"! 

If the crowd seems shy or reluctant, how do you as the DJ or MC get them out of their shells? 
If I'm faced with a shy or reluctant crowd, I'll seek out the guests who seem to be the most fun and willing to let loose and I'll adjust my playlist to target them. I figure, if I can get the more sociable and outgoing folks participating, then hopefully, they'll attract the more reserved guests to the dance floor eventually.

Photo Credit: Tim Sohn Studios

When the crowd is starting to look a little tired, what's the best remedy? 
If I've been playing some really up-tempo music and the energy level begins to dip a bit, I'll switch up the genre or tempo completely on the crowd. You've got to keep things fresh out on the dance floor at all times in order to prevent ear fatigue and keep folks interested. It's actually my job to anticipate when the crowd needs a jolt of something new, and kicking in a song that's instantly recognizable, but different from the last tune, usually does the trick. 

What's your personal anthem? 
"September" by Earth, Wind & Fire. It's a timeless track and you can't touch a chorus like that! 

What philosophy do you use to guide your work? 
Rely on your instincts. When you've done as many gigs as I have, you've got to trust your gut when you’ve got a packed dance floor and it’s time to mix in the next song. And more importantly, do whatever it takes to make your clients happy. In the end, your reputation is everything in this business.  

Do you have openings for 2013/2014? 
I have a few open dates, but they're definitely filling up fast. I turn away a lot of potential gigs just because I'm so busy these days. 

What's the best way to reach you? 
I can be reached at jason@bigfundj.com or info@amarante-music.com. Please also check out www.bigfundj.com for more information (bio, equipment, rates, events, press)!


Getting the Party Started Part 1: 3 Ways to Get Guests Dancing at Your Wedding



Hello Honeys!

We often hear our couples express unsureness about whether or not their guests are "a dancing crowd". Nothing is less festive to imagine than an empty dance floor. We've asked guest blogger and friend Annemarie (Ree) Estess from The 8 Count (www.the8count.comto give us some tips on getting your guests dancing! Take it away Ree!


Photo credit: Alvaro Ponce 2012


Envision your ideal wedding reception.  The flowers smell sweet, the refreshments are flowing, and the atmosphere is joyous.  As the music starts rolling, you and your honey boogie down on the dance floor, followed by waves of guests eager to dance the night away.  

We would all love for the reception to flow in this fine fashion.  However, most of us have born witness to just how challenging it can be to build the party momentum.  Fortunately, there's no need to fear an uncomfortably-sparse dance floor.  We have a few suggestions for getting folks out of their seats and ready to rock.  

1. Dare to draw outside the lines for your first dance.  

We're not advocating that you seek the YouTube spotlight with a flashy routine, but we do encourage you to consider a dance style that suits your personality as a couple and that you'll enjoy using beyond your wedding day.  If you're investing in lessons or choreography, you may as well learn dance moves that you'll have fun with for many years!

The role of the first dance, after all, is to debut as newlyweds and kick off the celebration.  If you're clearly enjoying dancing together, the crowd will follow your lead.





 
2. Encourage your bridal party and close friends to serve as "dance ambassadors."

Dance parties are largely dependent upon critical mass.  Once you hit a certain threshold of people enjoying themselves on the dance floor, the more hesitant guests will join the fun.  

Bridal party members are the highest-profile guests, and therefore the best positioned to attract people to the dance floor.  Hosting a bridal party dance session just before the wedding day can help everyone bond and get comfortable with upbeat dance moves to show off at the reception.  You can also breathe easier knowing that you'll have a trusted cohort of ladies and gents to break the ice and keep the party from falling flat.  



 

3. Hire a pro to show your guests the moves.

Oftentimes we hear that guests would like to dance, but they just don't know how.  Hiring a professional instructor to lead fun, simple steps at your reception is a great way to get novice dancers out of their seats.  It also catalyzes the dance party in a much more unified manner, as everyone is able to connect over the same moves.  (And no, this isn't limited to learning the Electric Slide.)

Bottom line: a lively dance floor is largely dependent upon having key people set the tone (and having a timeless music selection, but we'll leave that to the DJ's post). Nothing gets guests more excited to dance than seeing the newlyweds and their loved ones let loose, share joy, and celebrate this beautiful step.   


Annemarie has been teaching dance fundamentals for over a decade.  She specializes in helping clients utilize the social value of dance, recognizing that it is one of the most engaging ways to meet new people, let loose, and enjoy the present. To talk to her about first dance choreography or bridal party dance lessons contact her at ree@the8count.com .

And watch her fun promo video here.

San Francisco Art Institute Wedding

Happy Tuesday Honeys! 

We'd like to share with you this lovely video by Tyler Faires Productions

We had the honor of coordinating for gorgeous Rebecca & Jon on their wedding day. Some of our favorite parts:

The breathtaking view at SFAI, the mouthwatering scent of paella wafting through the air, the romantic Ñanduti wedding favors, the beautiful chuppah built by family...and what's a celebration without a little gangnam style? :)




Wedding Table Decoration Ideas - The Lab Event

Hi honeys! We've missed you! It's been a while since we've posted but we're back from the wonderful Holidays and ready to rumble into 2013.

We couldn't be more excited to be planning for many beautiful couples this year! To get inspired, we attended The Lab in Sonoma this past weekend. What a wonderful event! If you are a bride-to-be (or soon bride-to-be!) you should definitely plan to check it out next year.

Here are some wonderful wedding table decorations to feast your eyes on!






Happy Honey & Twine Tuesday!
- Hannah

Congratulations Catherine & Jay!

Update: Emily Scott with Gem Photo just posted a sneak peek shot from Catherine & Jay's wedding day on Facebook!

On Saturday, December 15 we had the pleasure and honor of coordinating Catherine & Jay's wedding! Their love-filled ceremony took place at the breathtaking Stanford Memorial Church and was followed by a chill, but seriously fun (I mean, really fun... their friends know how to party!) reception at Gravity Bistro and Wine Bar. Even though it rained, nothing could dampen the spirits of this gorgeous couple.
Congratulations Catherine & Jay! We couldn't be more happy for you!
UPDATE: Sneak peek wedding photo from Gem Photo!
The beautiful couple. Amazing photo by Gem Photo.


Sneak peek of their ceremony from the organ loft. Apologies for my crappy cell phone photo!

Winter Origami Decoration

Happy Honey & Twine Tuesday Everyone!

We've got a winter wedding coming up that we're soooo excited about! The colors are silver and pink, and the bride & groom are cute as can be

One of the pieces we're working on for them is a hanging origami installation. Theirs will be surrounding a skylight, but we've put together a simplified version for you to use as holiday party decor on the wall.

In our example, we used origami butterflies made from 6"x 6" silver foil paper (following this video tutorial) but this project can be done with cranes, snowflakes, etc!

What you'll need:




What to do:


Using your pin, skewer, or other sharp object, pierce a hole in the butterfly. We want our butterflies to hang at an upward angle, so we're piercing them towards the front. 



Cut string to desired length and tie a bead to the bottom. This will hold your butterfly in place. 



String your butterfly through the hole you pierced and slide it into place. 



Tie another bead desired distance from the first one. We spaced ours 4 inches apart. Slide another butterfly down the string, and repeat as many times as you like!



Once you've strung butterflies to the top of your string, tie the remaining tail to a horizontal string, and secure with hot glue. 




Continue making strings of butterflies and space them evenly apart – we spaced ours 4 inches. To get that undulating rhythm, we strung butterflies seven to a string, then six, five, four, five, six, seven, etc! 

Hang on your wall or mantle to add some shimmer and texture. 

For our couple, we'll also be adding larger butterflies and snowflakes cut from glitter paper, so stay tuned for photos from the wedding!

Wedding Budget Advice

Today, we're tackling budgets. Do you know "Mo Money Mo Problems" is one of my favorite songs? I digress...

While this isn't the most glamorous part of wedding planning, it's certainly one of the most important. I received this email from a friend recently:

"I'm trying to come up with a budget... I looked quickly at some venues but those prices vary A LOT from place to place. I know there's food / drink costs involved. The dress. The photographer. Arghh! That's when i started to panic because I really have no idea where to start..."

Here are some of my top tips.



1) Prioritize and be flexible: When you begin the budgeting process, all couples (no matter how big or small your budget) should sit down together and place the following list into three categories: "Very Important," "Negotiable," and "Not Important At All." By laying this out on the table, you can agree ahead of time that you won't mind spending more on important items if it means cutting back on others.


  • Venue
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Live music
  • DJ
  • Other guest entertainment
  • Wedding gown
  • Bride’s accessories
  • Hair and makeup
  • Groom’s attire
  • Groom’s accessories
  • Bridal party flowers (bouquet, boutonnieres)
  • Flowers / centerpieces
  • Ceremony decorations
  • Reception decorations
  • Lighting (lanterns, candles, monograms)
  • Cake / Dessert
  • Stationery (invitations, table signs, programs)
  • Transportation
  • Favors


2) Venue Shopping: Your venue is going to be one of the biggest contributing factors to the look and feel of your wedding. Coincidentally, it is going to be one of your biggest costs. Start shopping and doing price comparisons early. Consider location, amenities and complimentary benefits. If you are set on getting married at a winery but have a limited budget, consider Livermore instead of Napa. If you want a ballroom wedding, look for hotels that include a honeymoon suite in the wedding package.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco


3) Keep an Eye on the Guest List: Keep in mind that some costs are fixed (your photographer and dress will cost the same no matter how many people you invite) and others are charged "per guest" like food and beverage (F&B). When it comes to "per guest" costs, a growing guest list can really put you over budget.

For example, say I have $10,000 to spend on F&B. I invite 100 guests and sign a contract for a catering package at $100 per person. If my guest list grows by only 10 people, I'm already $1,000 over budget!

While it can be difficult, it's important to be strict with your guest list!

Courtesy of Martha Stewart
4) Budget for "hidden" costs: Many couples forget to include sales tax, delivery charges, and service charges in their budget estimates, which can be automatically added to your bill. With 8.5% sales tax in San Francisco and 20% service charge, that's almost 30% more than the original price tag!

We hope you find this helpful, honeys! Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Happy planning!
- H x

Simple Centerpiece Tutorial

Hellloooo and Happy Tuesday! 

We recently added Diana & Jon's wedding photos to our website gallery, and wanted to share with you how their centerpieces were made. We had such a great time working with them and coming up with ideas to fit their needs and style! 

The centerpieces needed to be low and small enough so that they could be placed on lazy-susans without getting in the way of the delicious banquet. We took cues from Diana's pinterest to create these simple gray flower boxes filled with white hydrangea.




Since the couple didn't have a budget for florals, we created their bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces with silk flowers. To save on labor costs, Diana enlisted the help of her wonderful family, so we made a very simple tutorial for them of how to assemble the flower boxes:



Once the box was assembled, we added a yellow ribbon for the finishing touch. The table numbers, concepted by Honey & Twine and designed by the wonderful Karyssa Magann, were named after SF locations that held special meaning to the couple.

Here's the cost breakdown for their simple and elegant centerpiece:
Hydrangea from Michaels: $21.54 for 6 (we got them on sale – yay for Michaels' 40% off sales!)
Dusty Miller from Michaels: $5.99 per bunch. Each box uses 1/3 of a bunch, so add $2 per box
Wooden Boxes Rented from Honey & Twine: $6
Approximate Total Cost Per Centerpiece: $29.54

Depending on your priorities, there are always creative ways to be cost effective. We can't wait to share more ideas with you in the posts to come!

Stay Sweet,
Tria 
xoxo

Hanging Flower Decorations

Fall is upon us, and as leaves start to flutter down, one can't help but think of romance. There's something magical about beauty above us, so when thinking about your wedding centerpieces, think above the table as well as (or instead of) on the table. Here are a few examples of beautiful hanging floral centerpieces:












We know that letting your imagination soar is always fun, but not everyone has the budget to do large hanging centerpieces throughout the venue. If you'd like a scaled down version, consider using a hanging centerpiece to draw attention to one specific area, like the sweetheart table or cake table. 

Happy Planning!

*Photos courtesy of Ruffled, Style Me Pretty, Doltone House, Sullivan Owen, and Belle the Magazine

10 Tips for Planning a Cross Cultural Wedding

We love the San Francisco Bay Area’s diversity. More and more couples today are multicultural – one in 10 married couples are now interracial, an increase of nearly 30% since 2000!

Courtesy of Tim Sohn Studios
A cross cultural wedding requires more planning and finesse than a single-culture wedding. Not only is it important to blend customs and traditions – it also requires a deeper understanding of cultural nuances such as family dynamics and what is considered appropriate (and inappropriate) behavior at weddings.


Here are our top 10 tips!

Know that this is your wedding. Be confident in your decisions! You may not be able to make everyone 100% happy, but your families will appreciate your efforts and intentions. At the end of the day, they’ll be thrilled when they see you walking down the aisle!

Educate each other and your families on important cultural traditions, customs and what is considered appropriate behavior at weddings. Discuss expectations; communicate openly, respectfully and often. You may even want to consider pre-marital counseling to help you dive into this important area of your lives.

Make a short-list of customs and traditions that are meaningful to you, or that you think your family and guests would enjoy. Once this is done, it’s easier to think about how and when to incorporate them into your wedding.

Don’t try to incorporate too much at once. You don’t need to include every tradition from all the cultures in your family. If the cultures you’re combining are drastically different, consider incorporating one or the other into different parts of your wedding. To honor both South Asian and Hispanic cultures, for example, you could host a mehndi party after your rehearsal dinner and incorporate the lasso tradition in your ceremony.

Courtesy of  Capturing the Light
Photography (Toronto)
Consider honoring both ethnic and religious customs in your ceremony. Some officiants and religious leaders are open to conducting joint ceremonies. They can also work with you to incorporate ethnic customs. To honor Korean culture in a Catholic ceremony, for example, you could discuss incorporating elements of a kunbere, like sipping wine poured by the mother of the bride, with your priest.

Be creative in incorporating culture into your attire and food as these are two of the strongest sensory elements your guests will experience. To incorporate Japanese and Italian cultures, for example, a bride or groom may choose to wear a traditional wedding kimono during the ceremony and serve a family style Italian meal of their favorite dishes at the reception.

Consider a modern twist on old traditions to make it truly yours. A Chinese tea pouring ceremony is traditionally held at the home of the bride and groom’s parents prior to the ceremony. However, if it’s important for your guests to experience this tradition, why not incorporate it into your reception as an extension of your cake cutting?

Choose venues that will allow for the customs you’ve chosen to honor. You’ll want to ensure your venue can accommodate structures like a mandap or huppah if required for your ceremony. And if a traditional Greek Kalamatianos dance is a must at your reception, you’ll want to ensure the venue allows amplified music. Don’t forget that religious centers may even have specific rules and/or required classes.

Explain cultural traditions to your guests. If you’re having a multicultural wedding, chances are you’ll have guests who are familiar with one culture, but not the other, and guests who are not familiar with either culture. Consider explaining the significance of traditions in your programs, on your menus, or by asking your MC to make an announcement. Your guests will appreciate it and feel more involved.

Be yourself. Cultural traditions and customs are important, but don’t forget to let your personalities shine through. Wedding location, colors, specific food dishes, song selection and stationery are just a few of the simple ways you can personalize your wedding. It’s your big day so make sure it reflects you!

Happy planning!
Hannah & Tria / Honey & Twine