Below are Kris’s most recent blog posts. Click on the title to be taken to the full post where you can comment and share with friends!
- Let’s set the record straight on something…
So over the last several years, weddings have changed…and pretty drastically. From changes in the planning process to less and less formalities taking place. Some weddings have even become full scale productions with lights and video screens and all the bells and whistles. More and more you see vendors and banquet halls alike offering more options and services. The Elite DJ brand has been around for almost 30 years and in the last 15 years we have added videography and then photography. But there is a common misconception that some people have, especially as it pertains to our photography: “Elite is a DJ company that offers photo.” That. Is. Wrong.
On the surface I could see where it may appear that way. But Elite Digital Images, while in the same office as Elite Entertainment and sharing the “Elite” name, is it’s own entity. For starters, we have plenty of events where our photographers shoot and not our DJs. So right there you see it’s not just some add-on to our DJ packages.
Second, we have a dedicated staff of DJs the same way we have a dedicated staff of photographers. The crossover between the 2 ends at our DJs using their phones to snap a quick photo for Instagram. Our DJs will never shoot a wedding the same way our photographers will not DJ an event. Elite Images offers professional wedding photographers. They have a collective experience of nearly 40 years and are some of the best in the business.
I can personally vouch for their work as I had them shoot my own wedding and my wife and I absolutely love our photos. But “you work for the company and of course you would say that”. So please, don’t take my word for it. Take the words of over 150 happy couples and the collective 5.0 rating we have on WeddingWire. If anything, maybe we should start getting nervous that one day we will be mistaken for a photo company that offers DJ
- Crystal Point wedding for Sarah & Dan
This past weekend I had the honor of celebrating an amazing couple’s big day. Sarah & Dan chose the awesome Crystal Point to celebrate the beginning of their journey as man and wife. The Crystal Point has long been one of my favorite places to work (even before I moved less than a mile down the road lol), but now that they have added their own INCREDIBLE sound system to their crystal ballroom, it’s even better!
We started the night with bridal party introductions, but before Sarah and Dan had their first dance, Dan had a special request. There were a number of military personnel in attendance, including Dan’s best man, so he wanted to play Whitney Houston’s rendition of our national anthem. An American flag was brought into the room and it was a great way to begin the night.
Dan & Sarah were such a fun and easy couple to work with. Throughout the night the guests all had a great time drinking and dancing and you could just feel the joy everyone shared for this incredible couple. Congrats to the new Mr. & Mrs. Eagan and I hope you are enjoying your Hawaiian honeymoon!!
- A Cove Castle Wedding for Jenna & Eddie
I recently had the honor of celebrating the wedding of Jenna Petrillo & Eddie Caldwell at Cove Castle on Greenwood Lake, NY. Jenna & Eddie reached out shortly after Jenna’s sister got married in the summer of 2016. Megan & her husband Burim had a very Elite wedding (DJ, photo, & video) so planning for Jenna & Eddie was nice and easy. On this night they had selected myself as their DJ/MC, and they also used Cyndi & Chris from Elite Images as well as Tom & Chris from Elite Films.
Their night began with a lakeside ceremony just outside of the restaurant. Although the temperature was in the 20s…yes the 20s lol…the ambience was incredible. The moonlight combined with some string lighting to create a magical setting for their nuptials. From there we brought all the guests inside and the celebration was on! We literally had the dance floor rocking from before dinner was even done until the very end of the night! So much so that we skipped over the garter and bouquet and Jenna & Eddie just cut their cake off to the side to let the dancing continue! Congrats again and thanks for allowing Elite to be such a big part of your big day!
- Mountain Creek Wedding for Shawn & Brian
It’s always a cool thing when I get to work with a couple and it’s my own referral. So not only do they know what to expect, but to a degree I do as well. But what always amazes me is sometime show far back that referral train goes.
So last weekend I celebrated with Shawn Rank & Brian Kermizian as they celebrated their wedding at beautiful Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ. Side note- it also amazes me how beautiful some parts of our state are and the Vernon/Hamburg area is just incredible this time of year. But anywho, so I DJ’d Brian’s sister’s wedding last year- Leigh married her husband Eddie at the Berkeley in Asbury Park. But prior to that I did Brian & Leigh’s cousin Mark’s wedding to his wife Kirstin in 2012. Then I did Kirstin’s sister Kerrin’s wedding to her hubby Jonathan in 2013. And next year I’m doing Mark’s sister Kelly’s wedding to her fiance John…The family lines get a little confusing lol, but it’s just so cool when one event can create memories at so many others.
So Shawn & Brian had their ceremony right at the bottom of one of the slopes at Mountain Creek and it made for a stunning backdrop. After that we moved inside for cocktail and began the celebration for the bride and groom. We got the party started immediately upon Shawn & Brian entering the room. They decided to come into the ballroom to “Lady” by Lionel Richie and there’s some meaning behind it: Brian and Shawn have been together for quite a while but he never liked the term “girlfriend”, so he would always refer to Shawn as his “lady” or his “special lady friend”. From there I mixed right into “On The Floor” by Pitbull & J-Lo and the party was on!
Another amazing night with amazing people and congrats again to Brian and his lady Shawn!
- “You want me to talk…on a mic…in front of people?!?!?!”
Ok for starters, let me just make perfectly clear that the title doesn’t refer to us as DJ’s obviously. It means you- the newlywed. Let me explain…
So last week, I wrote a blog about why, as the bride and groom, you should absolutely 100% go into your cocktail hour. You probably paid for an awesome spread of food and you should enjoy it. But also it gives you the chance to greet all or most of your guests and frees up more time during the reception to spend it as you see fit AKA dancing your @$$ off!
But what if you want to avoid the cocktail hour? What if you would like to make your introduction more dramatic? Some couples like to have that private cocktail hour with just their wedding party as it will add to the theatre surrounding when we first introduce them. While you get to enjoy the food still, that issue of maximizing your reception minutes comes back in to the picture. Well, I present to you a solution so long as you can get over one of people’s biggest fears: PUBLIC. SPEAKING.
I saw one of our own DJs do this at his wedding over 10 years ago and I thought it was brilliant. Once the toasts were done, he grabbed the mic and said (paraphrasing here), “Thank you so much to everyone who came! We would love to chat with you all tonight so come see us on the dance floor.” Simple and so effective. Of course there will be some guests you will take a few minutes to seek out (grandparents and other family members). But is it really necessary to chat up your coworker’s date that you’ve only just met? Eh, I don’t think so. I’m sure some wedding traditionalists will read this with a look of absolute horror on their face. But weddings are getting less and less traditional with each passing year. So why not just take 30-45 seconds to thank all of your guests in one fell swoop. And if you think your fear of public speaking is going to prevent you from doing this. Just picture everyone in their underwear! Except anyone that’s the same sex as your spouse. I mean, you are a married man/woman now, after all.
- No, You Don’t Have To Go Table To Table At Your Wedding
Working in our office, I get to meet with a lot of couples in the early stages of their wedding planning. More often than not they don’t even try to hide the fact that they are very unsure about certain aspects of the wedding and even clueless on some things! I always reassure them that there’s nothing wrong with that and they should be! I mean, more often than not you only plan a wedding once or maybe twice throughout your life. We are involved with the planning of hundreds of weddings each year! So I always encourage couples to ask us questions about anything, even things that have nothing to do with music or entertainment.
So this past week, one of the couples that had come in mentioned something very interesting to me. The bride had mentioned that her mom told them they absolutely should not go into their cocktail hour. I was taken aback for a split second but then remembered that weddings as we know them today are very different than 25-30 years ago and even very different than 25-30 months ago! Some of the traditional aspects of weddings from our parents’ generation are either fading away or are long gone! So for those keeping score at home, you should 100% go in to your cocktail hour, for 2 main reasons
- The food. More often than not cocktail hour food is better than the actual meal being served for dinner. Sure chateaubriand and chicken francese are great. But cocktail hours are a smorgasbord of finger foods and other less formal yet more appetizing food like sliders, fajitas, and make-your-own mac and cheese stations. You paid for it, you should get to enjoy it!
- To maximize your time. Including your cocktail hour your wedding is only 5 hours. Yes…ONLY. Sounds like a lot of time and if you were sitting through a dissertation on the process of paint drying I’m sure it would feel like even longer. But on your wedding day it flies by. On top of being pulled in a million different directions, there’s a reason they say “time flies when you’re having fun”. So on top of enjoying some awesome food, use your cocktail hour as time when you can say hi to as many guests as possible. For years, we would see couples going table to table to table to table…you get the idea…and it would literally take them more than half of their reception to greet everyone. So your 5 hour timeframe for fun has now been trimmed down to 1.5 to 2 hours! Weddings are a once in a lifetime experience (and expensive!) so while I 100% agree you should make time to say hello to everyone, you should also get to spend it the way you want. If that’s chatting with friends or catching up with relatives who travelled from far away, that’s awesome. But if you’re like me and my wife and want to dance dance dance, maximize those cocktail hour minutes!
- Waterview Pavilion Wedding for Vicky & Tom
This past weekend I had the honor of celebrating the marriage of Vicky Ivanov & Tom Hines at the Waterview Pavilion in Belmar. I actually got to meet with them prior to them reserving us for DJ (and photo too!) so I was really happy when they told me they wanted me to be the DJ for their big day. They’re just such a super cool and easy going couple so I knew they would be so awesome to work with and I was right.
They had their ceremony right on site and had the mayor of Belmar, Matt Doherty, officiate for them. When I asked Matt what the last thing he would say would be (to coordinate their recessional song), he told me it was the kiss but to be ready because the ceremony would only be 3 minutes. I thought he was just joking with me and that was his way of telling me it would be short. Well, it wasn’t actually 3 minutes…it was 2 lol. Easily the fastest ceremony I’ve ever seen. But that seemed to be par for the course with the new Mr. & Mrs. Hines. The formalities just seemed to be formalities in a way and they were just excited to spend the time with all of their friends and family.
Once the reception began, we introduced each member of the bridal party separately. Some came in solo and some with their spouses, but each of them had their own song. Vicky & Tom were struggling with the choice for their song, but in the course of our month-before meeting, Game of Thrones came up and I learned that they’re huge fans. So they ended up choosing the main theme from the show for their grand entrance. I personally binged the entire show in the month before the finale so while I wasn’t a fan since day one, but I am now so it was super cool for me to do that. They even had a custom tree stump made to say HOUSE HINES as an ode to the show (and now I want one of my own!)
The rest of the night was a mix of some dancing and just some close friends and family having a great time. Tom actually mentioned to me on my way out that when he envisioned the day, it was exactly how it went so I was so glad that I was able to deliver for them. Congrats to the new Mr. & Mrs. Hines and have an amazing time on your December honeymoon to Bora Bora!!!
- DOUBLE Your Fun And Dance Forever!
So this past Saturday, I had the honor of celebrating with not one but TWO awesome couples! It’s rare that it happens but it was a day where, schedule-wise, I was able to celebrate the marriage of 4 awesome people. Before I get into the specifics, we do get asked a lot about a DJ doing multiple events in a day, and the ONLY time that happens is when it’s feasible from a time perspective. My first wedding was over at 5pm, and my second wedding was about 30 minutes away and intros were not until 8pm so there was more than enough time to make both work, and work they did!
So I began my day at one of the most beautiful new halls in New Jersey, the Park Chateau, where I got to party with Brittni & Ettore (disclaimer: I was working by myself so I didn’t get a chance to snap a pic…bad job by me). Brittni actually worked in the banquet industry for years so she decided to do things a little differently. For starters, we did a formal intro of Brittni & Etty towards the tail end of their cocktail hour. We timed everything out perfectly so they entered at a specific point in The Who’s “Baba O’Riley“. From there we had the guests join them in the grand hall for their receiving line and we began their reception. Since we already did their intro, we jumped right into the formal dances…but their first dance was actually last! Etty & his mom danced first, and then Brittni and her dad danced to a mix of songs I made for her that spanned all sorts of genres and it was awesome! Then the new Mr. & Mrs. Vecchione danced their first dance to Coldplay’s “The Scientist“. With about 2 minutes left we invited all the guests to join and as the song ended we went into “We Are Family” and kicked off the celebration. That set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and the newlyweds and all their guests had an amazing time (I did too lol).
From their I made the journey, all of 30 minutes lol, over to the incredible South Gate Manor in Freehold for Kristin & Sergio’s wedding. Their night began with a beautiful ceremony on the grounds at the Manor, and after cocktail hour we kicked off the festivities for their night. In addition to their first dance and the 2 parents dances, we had 2 more very special dances to do. Sergio has an adorable 3 year old daughter named Reagan. He wanted to dance with her and they danced to “Everything” by Michael Buble, and I gotta admit, it made me tear a bit. Part of that is because I’m about to become a father for the first time. We are waiting to find out the sex of the baby, but it made me envision being able to dance like that if we have a girl and just how amazing that moment is. After that, Kristin wanted to share a dance with her grandfather, David, to “Because” by Perry Como. David’s wife, Kristin’s grandmother, unfortunately is no longer with us, but about 30 seconds in we invited all of David’s children to come on out to the dance floor to share that dance with them. It was an absolutely beautiful moment and I can imagine one that was very special for David. After that it was party time and we began the journey with some oldies and finished with some “fist pumping” (Kristin’s words lol) music to close out the night.
All in all it was an amazing day with 2 awesome couples and I’m so glad I got to celebrate with all of you!
Here’s a quick pic of Kristin & Serg during their first dance:
- Crystal Point Wedding for Kristen and S.W
This past Friday, I had the honor of celebrating at the Crystal Point with an amazing couple, Kristen and S.W. Now you’re probably wondering: what does the S.W. stand for? Well, you actually pronounce it “Ess-Veeuh”, he is from South Africa and it’s an easier abbreviation of his full name. In fact most his family that were in attendance still live in South Africa.
Now usually we try to get the dancing started right away, like a few minutes after intros. But being so many people travelled from so far away, they actually asked me to keep things more mid tempo so everyone would have plenty of time to catch up and chat. Then, one dinner was done…we would drop the proverbial dancing hammer lol.
They began the night dancing to James Arthur’s beautiful, “Say You Won’t Let Go“. Kristen then danced with dad to “I Loved Her First“, followed by S.W. and his mom dancing to “Close To You” by The Carpenters. After some delicious food and some to time to talk, we got the dance floor rocking with a mixture of Bruno Mars, Pitbull, Ke$ha, Bieber and even a couple of Hardwell tracks. We sprinkled in a couple of Africaans tunes as well and we didn’t let up until the last song of the night: “New York, New York“.
Kristen and S.W. could not have been easier to work with, or more gracious with everything and everyone. You could clearly see how happy they were together and the deserved the very best!
- That little extra warm and fuzzy feeling…
So the wedding is over. All those months and sometimes years of planning and the best night of your life has come and gone. Everything went according to plan and your DJ absolutely rocked your dance floor and you can’t wait to write them a glowing review on WeddingWire or The Knot. It’s always great seeing those reviews pile up online and let’s us know we did a great job.
But every now and then, we will get a mail delivery that includes some smaller card-sized envelopes addressed to a specific DJ. And inside will be one of their “Thank You” cards with a hand written note on it. Not to discount how effective online reviews can be for future couples doing research, but getting one of those cards in the mail is a whole different animal. They aren’t going to do anything to help us garner business but that’s not the point. The fact that a couple took some time to personalize a handwritten note to us, sometimes 6 months after the wedding, is very special. It really drives home the fact that we helped create an amazing night on the biggest day in a couple’s life and reenforces that what we do is one of the greatest jobs in the world.
- This week’s head scratcher
So every now and then in the course of talking to prospective couples, Dominic and I will hear a story or 2 (thousand) about certain things other companies have done or said to these same couples. So today I heard one that I’ve heard several times before. Having a phone conversation with this bride, she asked me how much input can they have regarding the music. I told her they have complete control over the request list for the night, meaning they could pick every single song if they would like or leave the musical selections completely up to us. She said, “Ok great because I had spoken with this other company and they said we could only pick out 30 songs for the night.”
Ok so a few things. First off…WHAT?!?!
Ok seriously, like where did the number 30 come from? Is that just some arbitrary number that was pulled out of a hat? Is that the owner’s lucky roulette number? In a 4 hour reception you’re looking at anywhere from 60-80 songs played. So if you’re a bride or groom and you have a specific vision for your night musically, this would mean it could be 50% out of your hands and that’s a large number. At the end of it all, this is YOUR wedding, not ours. I can guarantee that some DJ will be reading this now and saying to themselves, “Yeah well we are the professionals and have more experience and should get to play stuff we know works and anyone that involved should just set up an iPod.” So if you’re a DJ and you just read that and said that to yourself: A. get over yourself and B. Shut up. A true professional will be able to take a music list, regardless how long, and turn it into a playlist that will not only have the guests up and on their feet all night long, but it will also have a distinct flow to it. And if you can’t I’m going to help you out and give you your new DJ name….DJ iPod….you’re welcome
So last night I had the pleasure of celebrating with Stephanie & Toby as they officially began their journey as man and wife. A bunch of us from Elite have known Toby for years. Toby used to bartend at the Sheraton and after events on the weekends we would sometimes go there for karaoke. We essentially were quasi-regulars so we got to know Toby pretty well so it was an honor when I found out he selected me to DJ his big day.
They selected the Channel Club as the location for their ceremony and reception and the weather gods were more than cooperative. During the ceremony, Toby and Stephanie each wrote their own vows. What made them even more special was that Stephanie wrote a second set of vows specifically for Andrew, Toby’s son. After that the guests enjoyed a wonderful spread in cocktail hour and then we moved upstairs to officially kick off the celebration.
The celebration and dancing was non stop and it was an amazing party. But for me the most memorable moment came during their first dance. Being big Bruce Springsteen fans, they chose “Happy” as their first dance. About 2 minutes in, and without any prompting or coercing, Toby’s little boy Andrew walked out on to the dance floor. At some point, a little flower had fallen off one of the bridesmaid’s bouquets. So Andrew walked over, picked it up, and went right up to Stephanie to give it to her. I’ve been doing this a long time and that had to be one of the most pure and genuinely beautiful moments I’ve seen. Congrats to the new Mr. & Mrs. Stark and thank you so much for allowing me to share in your big day!
- Why you absolutely should have videography at your wedding…
Ok, so you’re engaged and the planning has officially begun. First on your to-do list is to figure out when you would like to get married and the next big decision is where. Once you’ve got that set, it’s time to get the ball rolling and select your vendors for the night. Naturally the two biggest ones most couples select first are entertainment (band or DJ) and photography, and rightfully so. You need someone to take pictures of the day of course and how fun would a wedding be without music? But what about videography?
There’s really two schools of thought here. Some people don’t want it because they think they’ll never or barely watch it, the others are afraid that if they don’t get it they will wish they did and at that point there’s no do over. I read somewhere that the biggest regret couples have is not having a videographer at their wedding and I completely agree. As much as photographers can capture some amazing images of the day, having a videographer there will not only breathe some more life into those images but capture some other moments that would’ve been impossible to truly capture in a still image. Plus there’s different degrees of coverage you can get as well. We can cover just your ceremony and reception; we can also get the bride getting ready as well as your photo shoots; and we can even have everything covered on the bride and groom’s side and essentially make you a documentary of your wedding day.
But there will still be people who don’t think they will watch it enough to warrant spending the money. But what if it’s not about the amount of times you watch it, but how you watch it…the old quality over quantity debate. Let’s say in the ensuing 50 years after your marriage you only watch your wedding video 2 times. Doesn’t seem like a lot does it? But what if the first time it’s when your own children are old enough to appreciate what they’re watching and they get to see the day their mommy and daddy said “I do”? And what if the second time was when you and your beloved are old and gray, and one holiday you get to sit down with your now adult children and your grandchildren…how amazing and special of a moment would that be?
So next time you think about whether to book video, don’t think about it terms of how much the price is…think about it in terms of those priceless moments you may be missing.
- How many songs should you select for your reception?
So your big day is rapidly approaching, and you have around 3-6 months to go until your wedding reception. You and your fiance decide now would be a good time to sit down and come up with a playlist for the night. But there’s only one problem: you have absolutely no idea how many songs to choose!! The good, or bad news (depending upon your perspective), is that there really isn’t a wrong answer. If you decide to go ahead and select every single song for the night, and then some in some cases, that’s great! If you decide to leave the musical selection mostly up to your DJ, that’s great too. Obviously there are pros and cons to either end of that spectrum. Should you decide to select the vast majority of music for the night, it will make your DJ’s job a little easier in that they will have a more limited selection of music to choose from. The downside can be if some of the music selected isn’t necessarily the best dance music. At that point it would fall on your DJ’s shoulders to politely express that. I’ve personally gotten an excel spreadsheet with all the music picked out for the wedding as well as the times they wanted each song played. The list was filled with some very cool music but not exactly music that would make people want to get up and dance. I explained that to him and he felt that the guests would ultimately want to dance to it and asked me to stick to the list, so naturally I said no problem. Come wedding night, we had a hard time filling the dance floor with the songs selected so the bride told me to just throw on some stuff that I felt would work better and we ended up turning the night around. The other side would be getting really no input from the bride and groom. Sure it gives the DJ total freedom to do what he feels would work best, but we don’t know the guests like the bride and groom do so in a way we are flying blind. As with most things, the happy medium is the happy place. I usually say come up with a list of 15-20 songs that 100% must be played. Then if there are still some requests that aren’t quite as important, give that to your DJ as a guideline for the rest of the night. Some of the stuff on there may be awesome and we will definitely play it, but we also may have some other ideas based on those selections.
- Bringing Boston VS New York to the dance floor!
Yankees vs Red Sox…Rangers vs Bruins…Knicks vs Celtics…Giants vs Patriots…the Boston/New York rivalry in sports dates all the way back to the days of Babe Ruth. But instead of professional sports, this past weekend we brought it to the dance floor (although in a much less heated setting)…
Ryan & Sarah got married this past Saturday at the “One & Only” Westmount Country Club and I had the honor of being their DJ and MC for the night. I didn’t get to meet with them face to face prior to the wedding but we did chat a few times and they were such a great couple and so easy to work with. For their first dance they chose an incredibly appropriate song called “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates…and it was something our Sarah was doing all night. as we had a jamming dance floor with an amazing crowd.
About a week or so before the wedding they emailed me with an idea: Ryan’s family was mostly from Boston while Sarah’s was more local from NJ/NY. So they thought it would be a cool idea to have a dance/sing off between the two groups to some area appropriate music. For Boston, we had Shipping Up To Boston, Dirty Water, Centerfold, and of course Sweet Caroline plus a few others. For the NY/NJ contingent, we used New York State of Mind, Dancing In The Dark, It’s My Life, and New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. None of us were totally sure how this would go over but it honestly couldn’t have been better. We had two side of the dance floor absolutely packed with the faithful from that area and they were absolutely going crazy each time their song was played. It was definitely one of the better ways I’ve seen to personalize a wedding and leave a memory they won’t soon forget.