DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

November 22, 2011

Off Season has arrived

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:23 am

The end of wedding season is always a mixed bag. 2011 was a great year on several levels. I’ve written about many of the couples I worked with and I would say that it was as satisfying a year as I can ever remember. And while one couple in particular made a huge impact on me (and if you are reading this, you know who you are!) I have to say that, across the board, I am thankful to have shared such special days with so many truly good people — I wouldn’t have traded ANY of them. I thank them all again for letting me be a part of their celebration.

And while there may be some small measure of taking a breath as the slow season arrives, it also presents new opportunities.

Inquiries for the following season begin to pick up around the holidays (many people either become engaged or announce it to their loved ones during family get-togethers around the holiday season.) Many dates in 2012 are already booked and, in fact, I am already beginning to turn away couples because their date is taken — probably my LEAST favorite part of this business. Even as I write this, I have several pending meetings with prospective clients who are anxious to hire their DJ.

It”s also a time to focus on the management side of things by looking ahead. It’s a time to plan business purchases, update/upgrade equipment, determine marketing plans, website updates, budgets and so on. I am excited at the prospect of adding uplighting  as an optional service. As a side note, I’m always very cautious about trying to wear too many hats, but this will fit nicely into the service that I provide and is only being introduced after careful consideration and planning.

2012 looks to be another very good year.

November 14, 2011

Shannon and Matt – Smith Barn

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 5:21 pm

A return to Smith Barn at Brooksby Farm in Peabody for Shannon and Matt’s celebration was my final wedding in 2011. I couldn’t have been more pleased to end my wedding season with these two.

Shannon was the ultimate planner, having originally contacted me fourteen months prior to the wedding.  It was a great plan, since they were to have a destination wedding in Key West, Florida, followed by a party for all of their family and friends back home. All of that changed when Matt was accepted by the Boston Police Academy, thereby canceling the plan for a wedding in Key West in October (it’s hard to have a wedding when one-half of the couple can’t be there…) They had already secured tickets to see Jimmy Buffett at the Comcast Center in Mansfield and, being self-described major Parrotheads, they decided to get married there in the parking lot, surrounded by 20,000 of their closest friends. Imagine that: after nine years together (they met in college at Hofstra University) and all the early planning, they ended up putting together the actual wedding in only two weeks. A fantastic slideshow of that day in June was shown to the guests immediately preceding their vow renewal and it set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Shannon and Matt have had their share of challenges on the road to marriage, but they come from good stock. Each of them have parents that have been married for more than 30 years, which was celebrated through the dedication of Alan Jackson’s “Remember When.” I have no doubt that they will be celebrating their own 30th anniversary. And if Jimmy Buffett is still around and singing, I have no doubt HOW they will celebrate — nibbling on sponge cake…

November 7, 2011

Julianne and Ben – Stow Acres Country Club

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 10:31 am

Planning for Julianne and Ben’s wedding was way ahead of schedule. We had met for our final “in person” meeting three weeks before their ceremony and had reviewed or finalized almost all of the details of the day. As it turned out, my tendency to over-prepare (and to prepare EARLY) ended up paying big dividends since I was without power, telephone and internet for three of the last six days before the wedding. Even cell phone service was interrupted. Nature’s sense of humor by playing a big honkin’ “trick” on almost all of New England on the eve of Halloween didn’t amuse me at all. And although I had managed to stay in touch with the bride by searching out every internet cafe in the area so that she knew that all contingencies were in place, it was a solid reminder that even a veteran like me needs to stay on my toes every single time with such a big celebration. And, when all was said and done, everything went off without a hitch.

The crew at Stow Acres Country Club had been dealing with similar issues but were well prepared by the time the big day rolled around. Vows were exchanged inside the Victorian Clubhouse, which was nicely sectioned off to create an intimate setting. The ceremony itself was simple but sweet and, has been the case many times this wedding season, I had provided the music and sound. I loved that the bride chose “Then He Kissed Me” — the classic song from The Crystals — as their recessional. It was so appropriate and perfectly fit the charming mood of the day.

At most weddings, there is a moment that I know is going to stick with me. At this one, I knew it was happening even as it developed. There were no fewer than four generations in attendance, including the bride’s grandmother, who is restricted to a wheel chair. Nonetheless, this lovely lady was tapping her hands along with every dance song that I played, from Michael Jackson (more on MJ later…) to Nicki Minaj to Earth, Wind and Fire to Pitbull. Then that moment happened: we dedicated Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” to Grammy Kate, at which time she was wheeled out onto the floor to ‘dance’ with the bride and a few other family members. It was touching beyond words and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Julianne is a huge Michael Jackson fan. She also attended dance lessons for 13 years (thanks to the bride’s mom for filling me in on that one…) The result was, without question, some of the most entertaining dance moves I’ve ever seen. One of the guests had requested that I play “Smooth Criminal” and Julianne, along with a few of her friends, put out the kind of stuff you see in music videos — and they were clearly having the time of their lives. Another guest request (“Ice Ice Baby”) showed why, on at least one occasion, she had won a dance contest.

Big thanks to Julianne, Ben and all of your family and friends. It was as fun as it gets.

October 25, 2011

Kristin and Nick – Indian Pond Country Club

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 9:05 am

Opulent. No other word describes the Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston, Massachusetts, which is where Kristin and Nick held both their ceremony and reception. It was so lavish that I almost (ALMOST) felt like I was in over my head.

As has been the case many times this year, the bride and groom hired me to do the sound for their ceremony as well as reception. And, true to course this year, the skies were threatening rain. As an aside, a word of advice to couples considering having their ceremony outdoors: if it’s your dream, go for it (and have a solid plan “B” in place in case the weather refuses to cooperate.) If, however, you’re on the fence about it, I strongly suggest having your ceremony indoors. I have done around a dozen ceremonies this year and every single one of them have given the couple an extra element to consider in the days leading up to their wedding. With so much else on your mind, why add one more thing to think about?

That ceremony was quite sweet and I witnessed, for the first time, a wine box ceremony. The couple selected a favorite bottle of wine and placed it into a wooden box. They each brought along a sealed envelope containing a letter that they had written to the other, describing what it was about the person that made them fall in love and decide to share a life together. Neither knows what the other has written and, after placing the letters and wine inside, the box is locked (the Justice of the Peace joked that he felt Kristin should keep the key…) The box is to stay locked until their 10th anniversary at which time the couple will open the box, enjoy the wine and read the letters that were written. At that time, a new bottle of wine will be selected and new letters will be written. The box is sealed again for another 5 or 10 years at which time the process is repeated. It was quite touching.

Nick was possibly the most animated, engaging groom I’ve ever worked with. He was clearly having the time of his life. When the time came for the cake cutting, he appeared to be on his best behavior and, after slicing a piece of cake, raised it to Kristin’s lips…and promptly leaned in and ate it himself. Apparently he really likes cake because it took two or three more attempts to get it right. When Kristin’s turn came, she was clearly NOT going to repeat his antics and fed him quite sweetly  — before delivering the best follow-through I’ve seen since Ted Williams and pushing it up into his face — a totally spontaneous move I am absolutely certain. I’m not generally a fan of this “tradition” but in this case it WAS pretty comical. If that wasn’t funny enough, the little victory dance she performed was (every pun intended) the icing on the cake. Nick, true to form, never even broke character, instead turning to the photographer and asking, “Do I have something on my face?”

October 14, 2011

Becca and Chris – Sterling National Country Club

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:17 pm

The plan for Becca and Chris’s wedding was a great one. Hold an outdoor ceremony at a beautiful location during a perfect New England autumn afternoon. After all, the weather during early October is about as nice as it gets — still warm and pleasant and very little rain. And we all know, it’s NEVER unpredictable.

At least that was the theory. Things turned from promising to pretty dreary in a matter of a few days. Instead of the perfect fall conditions, rain and drizzle moved in and it looked like the planned outdoor ceremony would have to be changed. All in all this wasn’t a bad thing, since plan “B” was well established — the main room at Sterling National can accommodate an indoor ceremony. The staff had things well under control in transitioning from a dinner setup when, just 25 minutes before the formalities were to begin, there was a very small break in the weather and just a glimmer of hope that getting married outside was still a possibility. One small challenge was that NOTHING was set up in the original location because of the wet conditions.  No chairs, no flowers, no sound (did I mention that I had the responsibility for sound at the ceremony?)  But the thing that overrode all of that was the “can do” attitude of everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, involved in the process.  If I hadn’t been so busy scrambling to set up my small sound system in record time, it would have been wonderful to just sit back and watch an entire crew quickly and confidently make things happen. I can’t think of a time when I was so impressed watching a group work so well as a team. Of special note, and worthy of special comment, was the event manager, Ally Wood. Ally’s cool under pressure was extraordinary and her willingness to, quite literally, get her hands dirty along with everyone else won my respect.

The resulting ceremony went off without a hitch. Becca was gorgeous in her gown and she and Chris seemed truly happy and pleased that they were able to have things the way they had originally envisioned it. The guests were just fabulous, seemingly unconcerned with the slightly damp conditions and sharing in the celebration. As is usually the case when there is a shared challenge, it seemed to crank the party atmosphere into a slightly higher gear when that time of the evening rolled around. The energy level could not have been higher and I think that just about everyone took a turn on the dance floor.

Becca and Chris were as fun a couple as I could have hoped for and I wish them the best. They have a new marriage and a new home. What’s the big deal about a bit of rain to make things a little interesting?

 

October 3, 2011

Who has the best customers?

Filed under: Fun,Personal,Weddings — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 1:09 pm

I do. Without question…

I like to talk about the concept of finding the right “fit” when interviewing wedding vendors. It really goes both ways because, from my perspective, not every person who makes initial contact with me is my ideal customer. If the last few years are any indication, identifying that fit has become very effective and I couldn’t be happier with, or more proud of, the relationships that have been built. It’s a labor of love to help create a wedding celebration that is both tasteful and FUN. And my customers give back to me.

For the last couple of years, I have increased my visibility on WeddingWire, which is a wedding planning website. Not only does it offer planning tools, it also provides an opportunity for customers to post reviews of their experience with their wedding vendors. I am continually humbled by the rave reviews that my customers post in their own words. And not just the fact that they were happy with the job that I did for them, but that they take so much time to express the level of their satisfaction. Want to see what I mean about how great they are? Take a look for yourself here.

Beyond that I get e-mails and handwritten ‘thank you’ cards, sometimes MONTHS later. And not too long ago I had one former bride  that sent along a note immediately upon returning home from her first anniversary dinner with her husband. She had been reflecting on how much fun she had on her wedding day and just wanted to say thank you again. I firmly believe that not everyone is lucky enough to meet these types of people.

Then, just this past week, a package comes in the mail. Upon opening it, I discover a small card that reads, “Thank you Jerry, Everyone enjoyed the music! – Liz and Chris 9/4”. Also, there is this:

 

You are looking at a box of Cakettes, which, I learned upon research on their website, are a hybrid of chocolate truffles and cupcakes. Allegedly they can keep for two weeks without refrigeration. For me, about one pot of coffee should just about do it…

 

September 28, 2011

Matthew and Chrissy – Spinelli’s

Connecting with Matthew and Chrissy was the result of a fortunate turn of events. Another couple had wanted to hire me for the same date but, due to changes in their planning, I was available when the bride e-mailed me. After working with them, I could not have been more pleased. This is as genuine a couple as you could ever hope to meet.

Chrissy is originally from Arizona and Matthew hails from Indiana. If you have ever met anyone from the west or midwest, you know that you are dealing with a different mindset. It’s definitely different from native New Englanders and it showed at every phase working with them. Matthew is a disarmingly over-the-top nice guy — almost to the point that I found myself forgetting that it was a business transaction we were participating in. And their reception could only be described a “simple elegance”. Everything from table settings and centerpieces to the cake was beautiful but simple and tasteful.

Spinelli’s in East Boston is a great facility but it’s not the easiest location to navigate. The Ted Williams tunnel may get you INTO Eastie, but those neighborhood streets can be a challenge.  Since the vast majority of their guests were from out -of-state, the bride and groom had arranged for buses to shuttle guests to the reception from the ceremony. This was a great plan since, not only is parking somewhat limited, it’s pretty easy to get lost — which is exactly what happened when we heard that one of the buses carrying guests was indeed “missing”. All turned out well in the end and the festivities that were planned were only delayed by a few minutes.

Once everyone had arrived, we jumped right into the introduction and first dance. This is something that I truly enjoy every time, since it sets the stage for the entire reception. This one was unique from any I had ever done, since Matthew had asked his good friend Scott (a Berklee graduate and master guitar player to play.) Scott and I got along great and it was pure pleasure listening to him “vamp” as we got ready to introduce the couple. They entered and he transitioned seamlessly into a really sweet rendition Israel Kamakamiwo’ole’s cover of “What A Wonderful World” — the hairs were standing on my arms that evening and they are again as I write about it.

Later, after the cake cutting, I learned more about the connection to family and tradition that this couple cling to. It has to do with when and how they became engaged. The details are pretty involved, but in summary, Matthew proposed to Chrissy at the same location where his parents became engaged, the ring he gave her was his grandmother’s and they got married on his parent’s anniversary.

Matthew and Chrissy you were a joy to work with (I also SINCERELY appreciate the fabulous review.) Thanks for letting me be part of your celebration.

September 15, 2011

Liz and Chris – The International Golf Club & Resort

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 10:53 am

Liz and Chris celebrated their wedding at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts. This is a world class facility that simply does everything “right”. Their ceremony was held on site, which provides a beautiful panoramic view of the golf course and the rolling hills that lay behind them. The setting is, quite literally, picture perfect.

This couple had a fun, diverse vision for their day. For cocktails and dinner, there was a heavy influence of jazz and American standards. The “Rat Pack” was specifically requested by the young couple — Frank, Dean and Sammy, as well as many of their contemporaries, were  heavily featured, which led to the sweetest moment of the night for the DJ. A somewhat elderly gentleman approached me fairly early on during dinner, obviously wanting to tell me something. In all honesty, since his table was positioned somewhat close to the speakers, my initial thought was that he might be coming up to see if I could turn the volume down a bit (this is often a challenge when guest tables are positioned very close to where I have been assigned to set up.)  In point of fact, this very sweet gentleman took my arm and thanked me for the music, telling me that so many times he and his friends go to weddings, only to be blasted by the music, but that what we had put together was “just wonderful!” He was so cute I had to resist the urge to pat him on the head.

The evening took on a higher energy level during dancing and I was happy to see that nearly every guest took a turn on the floor. It was not only a very fun crowd, but also one of the nicest groups that I have worked for in quite a while. My thanks again to Liz and Chris. You were a great couple to work for and your guests completely made the night.

September 11, 2011

Jess and Matt – Hyatt Regency

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 3:52 pm

Jess obviously is a no-nonsense person who works well under pressure. Why else would she put together her wedding in just a couple of months? You might think that, given the short time frame she was under,  there would be compromises somewhere along the way. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Every aspect of their celebration was well planned and perfectly executed.

First a word about the Hyatt Regency Boston: their reputation is well earned. From the moment I arrived until the evening’s end, everything (and I do mean everything) was handled with the highest level of professionalism. It was elegant, but still charming and fun.

Jess and Matt’s ceremony took place on the 3rd floor terrace at the hotel and it was just beautiful. The cocktail hour followed shortly thereafter at the same location and we had chosen a selection of music that blended jazz and American standards that fit the setting.

The introductions gave an early indication of how fun this night was going to be. The bride chose the very rhythmic song “Closer” by Ne-Yo and the wedding party took their moment in the spotlight to make individualized entrances. The guests excitement grew with each introduction and by the time we brought out the newly married couple, they were ready to explode. That energy level carried over into what was originally planned as low-key dinner music. It’s rare that guests will start making requests DURING dinner, but this crowd was ready to party. Everyone was on board with moving things along so we opened up the dance floor and it was full for just about the rest of the night.

It was also altogether fitting that this wedding was held on the eve of the anniversary of September 11th. You see, this groom is not only a tremendous person, he’s also an American hero, having completed his military service after serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. To Matt and his new wife Jess, I am honored to have been at YOUR service.

August 29, 2011

Kathy and Paula – Colonial Inn

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 1:18 pm

Kathy and Paula held their private ceremony on Cape Cod at the end of July and wanted to host a post-wedding reception for their family and closest friends at the Colonial Inn in Concord. I was told that as they looked around the room, they couldn’t think of anyone that they didn’t REALLY want to be there.

Okay, so who invited Irene?

Pulling off this incredibly fun reception was a matter of good planning and great timing. As Hurricane Irene was moving her way up the east coast, Kathy and Paula’s friends were making their own travel plans to be there. Many were traveling from the exact areas that were in the path of the hurricane — New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and, I’m sure, one or two others. In my mind, it was a race to stay ahead of the worst conditions. And to tell you the truth, I was impressed by how few guests didn’t make the trip — it’s a testament to how special these people were to this wonderful couple. The celebration wrapped up within hours of when Irene hit Massachusetts.

Planning for Kathy and Paula’s celebration was fun. They had their own taste in fun music, mostly 80’s, but were keen on having me put together a diverse play list so that everyone in attendance could party down. And party they did.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget their official first dance. We started it off as Etta James “At Last” and, just as the guests started to believe that it was going to be a slow romantic dance, we threw in the sound effect of a record scratching and kicked it into high gear with the Pointer Sisters bouncy rendition of “I’m So Excited”. Their wedding party joined them on the dance floor sporting colorful boas. Many of the guests joined in as well.  Have I mentioned how fun it was? I wish I could have captured it on video to share with you.

A special thank you goes out to Arthur, the captain in charge at the Colonial Inn. He and his crew did a great job of keeping everybody comfortable — and he even led the spotlight moment when the brides cut the cake — and he managed to completely engage everyone in the process.

Kathy and Paula were an absolute joy to meet and to work with. They have already been together for 26 years and the special bond that they share is pretty obvious. And I met some of the sweetest, nicest guests as well. My thanks truly do go out to each and every one of them.

 

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