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Below are Mike’s most recent blog posts. Click on the title to be taken to the full post where you can comment and share with friends!

  • In Recognition of 20 Years of DJing Excellence
    For 20 Years of DJing Excellence
    For 20 Years of DJing Excellence

    Monday night at our staff meeting, I got a little choked up.  I was attempting to present Tom Monaco and Chris Monaco with plaques commemorating their 20th anniversary with Elite Entertainment and I was trying to thank them for their loyalty and excellent work over those two decades.  But emotions got the better of me and, not one to bawl openly in public, I just cut my speech short and asked them to come up and accept their awards.

    I wish I’d been able to finish.  Because if I had, I would have talked about how integral both Tom and Chris have been to the growth of Elite Entertainment as well as our impeccable reputation in the wedding industry. I would have talked about the importance of consistency in the wedding industry and how Tom and Chris have never stopped working.  They’ve been DJing and performing and staying on the cutting edge of everything in the industry for all of the past twenty years.  EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_TomMonaco_ChrisMonacoI would have talked about the importance of exemplary customer service and throwing GREAT parties, two traits both Tom and Chris demonstrate each and everyday.  I would have praised their DJing skills as well as their proficiency as videographers and editors which has made our sister company, Elite Films, into a highly respected videography company in the state.  I would have talked about their influence over the rest of the Elite staff, since Tom and Chris are two of our most respected veterans and many new DJs come into the company hoping to emulate them.  I would have complimented the two of them on helping Elite with our upgrades since they both own and manage what we call our Elite Extreme division which provides lighting and other options to our clients.  But most importantly I would have talked about how much they care.  How well they treat every client who books them and how far and above they go to make sure every event is awesome.  That’s the level of dedication that Tom and Chris both showed way back in the Spring of 1997 when each did their first events for us, and it’s the level of dedication they still have today.

    I was able to get the words “thank you” out at our meeting but I feel the need to repeat that here.  Thank you Tom Monaco and thank you Chris Monaco from the bottom of my heart.  You’ve helped make Elite the company we are today and I’ll always be grateful for it.

    EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_TomMonaco

    EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_ChrisMonaco

  • Autism Speaks Fundraiser in Queens

    My brother Brian has two wonderful boys.  His oldest, my nephew James, is autistic and having a child on the spectrum has made my brother a passionate promoter and fundraiser for Autism Speaks. He’s created a group he calls “The James Gang” and their fundraising efforts have included walk-athons and, in the last few years, an all day event he calls Light It Up With The Blues.

    I’m always happy to donate my services on this day.  I get to spin some cool tunes, use my gift of gab to promote raffle and 50/50 sales throughout the day and then announce some winners.  This year I recorded my opening set and uploaded it to my Sound Cloud page right here.  Give it a spin especially if you like classic rock.

    Meantime, some killer bands play and entertain the crowd.

    This year Brian raised over $6,000 for the cause.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of my kid brother.  It’s an amazing accomplishment and I know this event is only going to continue to grow in popularity each and every year.

    If you’d like to support the cause, Brian is also participating in a walk to raise money for Autism Speaks.  You can donate to him right here.

    Meantime, here are a handful of pictures from the benefit taken by a great photographer named Mike.  If you want to see more check out the Facebook photo album by clicking here.

    EliteEntertainment_MikeWalter
    Happy to be Donating My Time for Such a Great Cause
    My folks with my kid brother Brian. So proud of the work they all do to raise money and awareness for Autism
    My folks with my kid brother Brian. So proud of the work they all do to raise money and awareness for Autism
    Besides raising money for a great cause, Light It Up With The Blues features some amazing bands all donating their time and talent
    Besides raising money for a great cause, Light It Up With The Blues features some amazing bands all donating their time and talent
  • Elite Showcases at Monmouth University
    During FNA's showcase, we displayed their logo on our screens.
    During FNA’s showcase, we displayed their logo on our screens.

    We performed at our penultimate bridal show of the season Sunday at Monmouth University.  We’ve been busy since the beginning of the year, showcasing almost once a week, so it feels good to be wrapping things up.  Bridal Shows are a great way to meet some future couples but they are also a lot of work so it’ll be nice to put a bow on our 2017 Winter showcasing schedule soon.

    The other thing we love about doing shows is catching up with some wedding professionals we haven’t seen in a  while.  Sunday we got to say hello to Don from Clark’s Landing and Fred from the Channel Club.  Plus it was our first chance to see Gerda from Artist European Photography since she got married.

    Don from Clark's Landing was swamped all day
    Don from Clark’s Landing was swamped all day

    We tweaked our showcase just a bit too.  The day before Chuck Berry had passed away so instead of opening the dance segment like we usually do with “The Twist” we began with “You Never Can Tell” during which we showed a montage of photos of the late great rock and roll legend on our TVs.  I think it was a fitting tribute.

    Something I’m really proud of too is a change I’ve made to our shows when we showcase with FNA Events.  We showcased with them back in January and I took a step back and watched their show and I thought it looked silly that our TVs were off during their performance.  They would do the same thing during our showcase.  I asked Chuck and Kyle if they’d be willing to put our logo on their screens during our performance and we of course would do the same while they showcases.  As I watched the show on Sunday I was happy with the way things looked.  I think it’s important to have a good relationship with our competitors and this was just one subtle step for us all to show we get along great.

    If you want to see Elite perform at a Bridal Show you’ve got one more chance this month.  We’ll be at The Channel Club on Thursday March 30th.  Let us know if you’d like to make reservations to come to that show.

    Our grand finale!
    Our grand finale!
  • Megan and Patrick and Their St. Patrick’s Day Wedding

    EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_DoolansMegan and Patrick planned their St Patrick’s Day Wedding at Doolan’s in Spring Lake and I had the honor of being their MC and DJ.  They planned a lot of cool and unique events so their wedding would stand out and it certainly did.  Whether it was the green uplighting we provided, the Irish figurines that were at each table (and got awarded to the guest at each table with the shamrock under their cake plate) or the beautiful Irish dancer who entertained their guests right before dinner, Megan and Patrick put their personal stamp on their day with just the right amount of Irish flare.

    Loved the sign at the bar!
    Loved the sign at the bar!

    But some of what stood out for me at Megan and Patrick’s wedding wasn’t planned by them.  Their toasts are a great example.  Patrick’s father had passed away just weeks before their wedding and so the first two toasts (given by the two best men) were extremely emotional.  But then came Megan’s sisters to lighten the mood.  Kelli talked about Megan’s Grease! obsession then Maura rapped her toast over an instrumental of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme.

    The dance floor at Megan and Patrick’s wedding was always packed. They’d given me a ton of requests and I got to as many as I could and they were all great choices.  Their guests danced to everything from Dion’s “The Wanderer” to Prince’s “Kiss.”  And of course we played some Irish sing-alongs like “Wild Rover.”  And we ended the night with the live version of Garth Brook’s “Friends In Low Places” (the one with the lost verse) just as Megan and Patrick had picked.  It was an unforgettable night for everyone involved and I wish Megan and Patrick all the luck in the world.

  • Michelle and Ed Throw an Unforgettable Celebration at The Venetian
    Ed and Michelle outdoors on a seventy degree day in February!
    Ed and Michelle outdoors on a seventy degree day in February!

    Sometimes as a DJ and MC you know very early in an event that it is going to be a great party.  You can tell by the way the guests enter the room and already start dancing to your music or by the thunderous applause during bridal party introductions.  Ed and Michelle’s wedding reception, which they held at the beautiful Venetian in Garfield, was that kind of night.  There was such a palpable feeling in the room of love and affection and joy for Ed and Michelle that translated so well to their celebration.  Every song they’d given me as a request went over great and packed the dance floor.  It was that kind of night.

    Besides reserving me to DJ and MC Ed and Michelle also chose our photography studio, Elite Digital Images to shoot the pictures for their day.  It is always great to work with Carrie and Cyndi.  I’ve included just a few of their awesome images in this blog but if you want to see more of their work, click here for their Facebook album.  Ed and Michelle also booked Elite Films to capture the moving images and it certainly looked like Tom and Thomas were getting tons of great stuff.  So stay tuned, I’ll get my hands on that footage soon enough and edit it into a new demo for myself.

    Michelle and Ed's Grand Introduction. Look at that Emotion!
    Michelle and Ed’s Grand Introduction. Look at that Emotion!

    Usually when I write a blog from a wedding I try to include the single most memorable part of the night for me.  But thinking back to Ed and Michelle’s wedding it would be impossible to pick just one thing.  The first thing that comes to mind is the weather.  Ed and Michelle got a seventy degree day in February.  How’s that for lucking out!  I also think of their grand introduction.  This was a very important moment for them and Ed even had the lighting guy at The Venetian and me rehearse how it would happen a few times during cocktail hour.  I was thrilled that we were able to pull this off exactly as Ed envisioned it and just LOVE the picture Carrie got of Ed and Michelle coming in.  The emotions on their faces says it all!  The next thing I think of is Ed’s brother, Larry, delivering his Best Man’s toast complete with a video screen, projector and power point presentation.  It was hilarious!  Then, of course, as a DJ I think of the dance floor.  Which was literally jam-packed the entire night.  Even some of the songs that Ed and Michelle had selected that were sort of background songs in my opinion, had their guests dancing.  Like, I said, it was just that kind of night.

    Michelle and Ed get lifted high during The Hora
    Michelle and Ed get lifted high during The Hora

    Here’s a link to my SoundCloud page where I’ve uploaded the first set that I played at Ed and Michelle’s wedding.  This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  This is right after the toasts, and first course has just been served.  I played a few of their songs that I thought would be safe to play but before I knew it the dance floor was packed and I just kept feeding the energy in the room, climaxing that set with Hava Nagilah.  It was a great opening to an awesome party!

    Ed was very nice to offer me to this glowing review on Wedding Wire:

    EliteEntertainment_WeddingWireReview_NJWedding_MikeWalter

  • We’ve Always Been LGBT Friendly

     

    EliteEntertainment_MarriageEqualityI’m one of those guys who likes to post their political opinions on Facebook because I’ve always loved a good debate.  And thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature I get to re-read some of my posts that go way back.  One of my favorite ones is from December of 2009 when I took the New York State Legislation to task because they didn’t vote to legalize same sex marriages. I love reading it, so many years later because there are some people who responded who basically thought the legalization of gay marriage was “never going to happen” (direct quote).  I’m glad our society has shifted and become a lot more tolerant over the years and I only hope it continues.  My favorite Martin Luther King quote is: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”  King was reminding us, it may take a while, but eventually society will l get things right.EliteEntertainment_MarriageEquality

    Personally, I was ahead of the curve on this issue but I have a family member to thank for that.  Growing up with a gay brother gave me a much more tolerant attitude towards people of all sexual orientations so while in December of 2009 there was still a lot of confusion from some people (and adamance from others) today, the majority support marriage equality (click here to see how our opinions have changed on the subject through the years).  In fact if you break it down generationally, 7 out of 10 millennials support gay marriage.  Good job younger generation!

    I just recently got asked the question: “will you DJ a gay wedding?” and I have to be honest, it actually bummed me out.  It amazes me that anyone still needs to ask that question today.  I responded like I have for over ten years.  Of course we will!  Love is love in my book and when two people have found each other and decided they want to spend the rest of their lives together, that calls for a celebration!  And we at Elite have one criteria for all of our couples: do you want to have a good time?  If the answer is a resounding “Yes!” then we don’t discriminate: we want to be there.

    EliteEntertainment_MarriageEqualitySo it’s probably a little late for this blog.  I could have (and maybe should have) written it years ago.  I’ve never made a secret of my feelings in public (nor on social media) but I also never felt the need to declare it here on our company’s blog.  But the fact that we’re still being asked that question all these years later prompted me to write this.  We are LGBT Friendly and we always have been.

    EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_SameSexWedding_MarriageEquality

  • Tammie and James Celebrate at The Palace in Somerset on Valentine’s Weekend
    Tammie and James saying "I Do."
    Tammie and James saying “I Do.”

    I had the privilege of DJing and MCing for an awesome couple, Tammie and James, last night at The Palace at Somerset Park.  They booked me and also upgraded to our intelligent lighting package which I just love because I think it adds so much to the overall look of the set-up and the energy we can create on the dance floor.

    Here's my set-up right before the party started
    Here’s my set-up right before the party started

    And speaking of energy, I think that was my favorite part about Tammie and James’ wedding.  They are big EDM fans and so I got to play some tracks and some mixes of songs that I don’t often get to play at events.  In fact I had some of Elite’s younger DJs hook me up with some songs that really came in handy and made everyone happy.  As a DJ, I always love going out of my comfort zone a little and mixing in some songs that I’m not used to playing.  At Tammie and James’ wedding, the end result was a high-energy dance floor all night long and some very cool and different mixes from yours truly.  In fact I uploaded one of the sets I played at their wedding to my sound cloud page so you can check that out by clicking right here I’m pretty proud of the mixes and the way I was able to go seamlessly back and forth between some EDM stuff and some more commercial dance music.

    I didn’t know the photographers at Tammie and James’ wedding so please excuse the pictures in this blog.  They are rudimentary shots taken from my iPhone.  They don’t do justice to how beautiful Tammie looked or how awesome their reception was.

    It’s always a pleasure for me to work at The Palace.  I have a great rapport with everyone on staff there and the synergy is just great.  I look forward to being back there soon

    This shot does not do the dance floor justice!
    This shot does not do the dance floor justice!

     

  • This Is What We Call Extreme Vetting
    EliteEntertainment_NJWedding_PrivateShow2
    Set up and ready to showcase

    There’s been a lot of talk lately about Extreme Vetting and while we’ll keep our political opinions to ourselves (well, some of us talk about them on Facebook) we want to say we completely and totally agree with Extreme Vetting . . . when it comes to hiring a DJ for your wedding.  In fact, we’re shocked when we hear people tell us they reserved their entertainment without seeing them perform live or even meeting them.  We encourage every bride and groom that is interested in Elite Entertainment to attend a showcase so they can see us live and figure out if we’re the right company for them.  And also, in order to compare apples to apples, to go see one of our competitors perform.  We’re not the right company for everyone but the only way to figure that out is to see us in action.  And if you’re looking at another company that doesn’t showcase, ask yourself why?

    Jay Thomson singing the first dance while our bride and groom dance on the clouds
    Jay Thomson singing the first dance while our bride and groom dance on the clouds

    So last night we hosted one of our very own “Private Showcases.”  This one took place at The Sheraton in Eatontown and we had a first!  In our long history we’ve never had “perfect attendance” at a showcase but last night it happened.  24 couples had made advanced reservations for the show and wouldn’t you know, 24 showed.   As usual with our Private Shows we walked everyone through the entire wedding day, from tips on choosing ceremony music to personalizing your bridal party introductions to ways to get your guests involved on the dance floor.  We also emptied the warehouse and showed almost every upgrade we offer, everything from our photo booths to dancing on the clouds and more.

    The overall vibe in the room was excellent and I’m happy to report that exactly half of those couple’s in attendance reserved us last night.  A few more said they were interested but still needed to think things over.  And we certainly understand that.  We just hope if they’re considering another DJ company that they have a chance to see them in action.  Afterall, we invite brides and grooms to vet us (extremely) and so should everyone who hopes to win your trust.

    If you missed last night but want to see us we have a few bridal shows coming up this month (check the schedule here) and then exactly a month from last night, Thursday March 2nd, will be our next Private Show.  We hope to see you there!

    Our Grand Finale!
    Our Grand Finale!
  • Kate and Jason Get Married at The Shadowbrook
    Kate and Jason
    Kate and Jason

    My very first wedding of 2017 was this weekend at The Shadowbrook in ShrewsburyKate and Jason got married there (we provided the music for the ceremony) then celebrated with their family and friends.  I worked very closely with this couple and they had some specific requests but they also left a lot of the programming up to me.

    Kate and Jason did a choreographed dance for their first dance that brought the house down. Their guests loved it and I have to say they were pretty flawless.

    Kate and Jason's First Dance
    Kate and Jason’s First Dance

    Then after the toasts it was my turn to get everyone up and the mood in the room was upbeat from the very beginning.  Everyone danced and partied all night long.

    The Shadowbrook has been under new ownership the last few years and I just love the changes they’ve implemented  The new marble tiling throughout the first floor is beautiful and they run a very organized event.  The Maitre d’ was Brittany and she was easy to work with and kept me informed about all the special events.  She was also flexible when need be.  When she was ready to cut cake, for example, I had the dance floor packed and she gave me an extra five minutes without me even asking.

    I also had the pleasure of working with Thomas Quinn from Expressive Image.  I’ve worked with Tom many many times throughout the years and it’s always a pleasure.  He’s a true professional who takes amazing pictures and is very easy to work with.  Thanks Tom for sending me the images I’ve used in this blog.  If you’d like to see more click here for a photo album on the Expressive Image Facebook page.

    I can only hope every wedding this year is as awesome as Kate and Jason’s.  They were a great couple to work with and their family and friends really knew how to celebrate their big day.  As a DJ, you can’t ask for much more than that!

    Kate was so nice to give me this awesome Wedding Wire review.

    EliteEntertainment_WeddingWireReview_NJWedding_MikeWalter

     

  • Elite Showcases at The Hyatt Regency in Princeton

    We always say “don’t take our word for it” when we encourage clients to come see our bridal shows.  Lots of DJ companies will tell you how good they are. We’d much rather show you what we can do.  And we did it again on Sunday when we brought a banging sound system, tons of upgrades and eight of our MCs to The Hyatt Regency in Princeton for an American Bride Bridal Show.  I was joined by Kris Abrahamsen, Dominic Sestito, Tom Monaco, Dan Fumosa, Phil Walsh, Alex Cameron and Thomas Williams.  Tom Monaco did a superb job demonstrating bridal party introduction, Phil sang a beautiful version of “Beautiful In My Eyes” and then, even though the room wasn’t packed we were able to get a lot of people up on the dance floor having a good time.

    If you’ve never been to a bridal show at which we perform and you’d like to witness our style and hear and see one of our sound systems, please click on this link and check out our schedule.  We’d love to see you at a future bridal show.

    Here's our set up before the show started
    Here’s our set up before the show started
    Here's the dance floor at the end of our showcase
    Here’s the dance floor at the end of our showcase
  • It’s Award Season!

    As the headline says it is award season, and not just in Hollywood where the Golden Globes kicked off their annual award season but in the wedding industry as well.  The Knot and WeddingWire have both announced their “Best of the Year” awards and once again we at Elite are honored and humbled to have received these awards.

    I have a very clear memory going back ten years when The Knot first announced that they were giving out awards they were calling “The Knot Best of Weddings.”  We were blown away when Elite Entertainment was on the list.  We hadn’t submitted anything for a contest or had to fill out a form or anything.  The Knot just came out with this list broken down by state and Elite was one of the few companies on it from New Jersey and one of only two from Monmouth County.  It was a very nice recognition for all the hard work we do trying to  make our clients as thrilled as possible.  The following year, 2008, we were given the award again and we were no less excited.  Then the following year this new, upstart website called WeddingWire announced that they were giving awards.  They were calling their award “The Bride’s Choice” and once again Elite received recognition in that very first, exclusive group.  We were one of the few wedding DJs from New Jersey in that first group and one of only three or four wedding DJs from Monmouth County.  It was quite an honor!

    Things have changed since those early days.  Wedding Wire, for example, has changed their award name to the more politically correct “Couple’s Choice.”  And, oh yeah, the awards are no longer as exclusive.  Or so it seems anyway.  Almost everyone I know in the industry has been sharing their badges and announcing their wins so either I’m only connected with the best of the best (which is certainly a possibility) or both of these online platforms have decided to expand their criteria and offer their awards to more and more companies.  Either way, we at Elite can still say we’ve gotten them all and, to steal the great line from Jaws, we’re going to need a bigger trophy case.

    Here’s one thing though that is very important: we don’t do it for the recognition.  Like I said, when we got those first few awards we weren’t even aware that they were coming.  So it’s not like our motivation is to please our clients so we get a badge or door decal every year.  No our goal has always been to make every client we work for as happy as they can possibly be.  We do that by listening to our couples, collaborating with them to put together a perfect and personalized playlist and then getting as many people dancing at their event as possible.  We do that by being enthusiastic, upbeat and interactive.  We were doing that 25 years ago when Elite first started (long before any online review sites even existed) and we’ll be doing it till we hang up our microphones.

    So no doubt, getting that annual email saying “You’ve been named . . . ” is a thrill.  It was back in the day and it still is today.  And no matter how universal it may seem now, we are still proud and happy to have all of these recognitions.  Take a look:

    Elite Entertainment _The Knot Awards 2009-2017

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    EliteEntertainment_WeddingWireAwards_2009-2017

  • Biggest Wedding Trends of 2017

    First let me start this blog by telling you what it won’t be.    I won’t be discussing trends in fashion, food or flowers because, A) there are tons of blogs and articles available that cover those things and B) that’s not my forte.  What I will discuss in this blog are the new and unique things I (and the rest of the Elite staff) have seen in 2016 and assume will continue into the new year.  One of the things we emphasize with every couple we work with is to feel free to break the mold, do things your own way.  First and foremost that’s probably the biggest “trend” we are seeing, the lack of trends.  Sometimes I’ll DJ three weddings in a weekend and all three will be completely different and have their own style and theme and look and feel.  I think that’s an awesome thing and I hope it continues.

    So here goes, here’s our list of New Wedding Trends for 2017.  Enjoy:

    eliteentertainment_mikewalter_shadowbrook_njwedding
    The first look can be a wonderful, private moment in an otherwise hectic day

    First Looks  I wrote a whole separate blog about this because it’s become such a huge and accepted trend so I won’t belabor the point here but suffice to say if you are getting married at your reception site you should seriously consider seeing each other well before the ceremony takes place so you can take all your pictures and not miss your entire cocktail hour.  Sure tradition says the bride and groom shouldn’t see each other before the ceremony but how many other traditions have we already put aside?  It’s hard to even call the first look a trend at this point.  It’s almost become the new tradition.

    Personal Officiants.  More and more we are seeing couples ask a friend or family member to officiate their wedding.  I even dedicated an entire blog post to this recently.  It is so easy nowadays to get “ordained” online (which then gives you the legal right to marry a couple) and a first-time officiant can easily research how to put together a script for a ceremony with one Google search so I believe this trend will only continue and become even more prevalent.  My advice to couples is to pick someone who has a little public speaking experience because I have witnessed a few first-time officiants fold under the pressure.  And my advice to new officiants is stay away from the bar till after the ceremony is over.

    Signature Cocktails.  Speaking of the bar, the next trend we see often now is the signature cocktail.  eliteentertainment_njwedding_signaturedrinksignCouples are creating their own drink, naming it after themselves or something to do with their wedding, and displaying it prominently at their bar.  I’ve spoken to some bartenders about this and they love the trend, as long as the drink doesn’t require like fifteen steps to make.  If there’s a blender involved along with crushed mint leaves, three minutes of shaking and four straws and an umbrella, the line is going to get long at the bar.  But Signature Cocktails are an awesome way to put a personal spin on a reception and I often see them matching the color theme of the wedding.

    Décor Lighting  Speaking of color themes, décor lighting is almost a must nowadays at weddings, especially since so many banquet halls have already installed it in their rooms so it’s just a matter of telling your location what hue you want.  And if your banquet hall doesn’t have it, almost any entertainment company you look at will offer some kind of Uplighting package to enhance your room and pull in your theme color. It’s just another way to put your personal stamp on your day.

    Personalized Hashtags and Geofilters.  Brides and grooms want to see all the photos and videos captured on their day.  That goes for the images that were taken professionally as well as all the shots that were taken by their friends and family members.  Using a personalized hashtag is a great way to find all those posts on Instagram and Facebook.  The key is create something unique.  For example, #OurWedding is going to pull up over 100,000 pictures on Instragram (I checked) but yours will be lost in the mix.  So use your names and wedding date or something clever that ties into your day (for example: one of my couples last year were April and Richard and their hashtag was #AprilGetsRich) but then you have to get the word out to your guests.  If you create the hashtag early enough you should include it on your wedding invitation and encourage your guests to use it even prior to your wedding day.  This way, when you search that hashtag, you might even find shots of your bridal shower or bachelorette party (appropriate ones of

    Here's another memorable hashtag we've seen
    Here’s another memorable hashtag we’ve seen

    course!) and it can become a whole documentation of everything leading up to and including your wedding day.  There are apps that accomplish the same thing as a hashtag (like Wedpics) but the problem with these is all your guests have to download them and many would rather just use their existing social media platforms.

    Geofilters are special overlays that communicate the “where and when” of a post on Snapchat and many couples are creating them to use at their wedding.  They are inexpensive and fun to use and can show your younger, social-media savvy guests how cool you are.  The Huffington post did an article this year entitled “5 Signs You’re At a Millennial Wedding” and they discussed these trends as well.

    Unplugged Weddings.  If I remember from High School physics it was Isaac Newton who theorized “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Just as there is a trend to use hashtags and encourage guests to post everything they capture to social media, there is an opposite trend towards unplugged weddings.  If you decide to go this route, where you ask your guests to refrain from cell phone use and “be in the moment” at your wedding, there are a number of different ways to convey this to your guests.  It can be included on your invitation (with polite wording to the effect of “we’ve hired professional photographers so please refrain from taking pictures at our wedding.  In fact, we’d love to see your face all day so if you could stay off your phone completely it would mean the world to us”) and reminders can be placed around your reception (another Huffington post article offered some great suggestions for this). I’m a big Prince fan and in the last few years of his life, when he played live he would make similar announcements at his concerts, asking everyone not to take pictures, to put their phones away and enjoy the moment.  It’s something we could all probably focus on more and more so if you chose to go this route with your wedding, more power to you!

    DIY Photo Booths   It’s been amazing to witness the evolution of photo booths in the last decade.  I can clearly remember the first few times I had one at a wedding I would have to get on the microphone and explain to all the guests what that big box was over in the corner of the room.  It was a new thing and no one expected them.  Since then they’ve become so ubiquitous some guests actually walk into the reception and look for the photo booth.  And now, I’ve been seeing more and more “Do It Yourself” photo booths  that consist of nothing more than a backdrop, some props and the wedding hashtag to use when you post your photos.  Personally I still think a traditional photo booth that prints out a strip of pictures is better but that also might be a generational thing.  For many millennials they don’t care about a printed picture nearly as much as they care about a cool post on social media.

    Personalized Music and Edits  This is a trend we started seeing a few years ago and it only continues.  Some couples want their first dance to be a mashup of a few songs, usually going from a traditional slow song into

    Some couples want to turn their first dance into something upbeat and memorable
    Some couples want to turn their first dance into something upbeat and memorable

    something upbeat and fun.  Any entertainment company you work with should be able to make a mix like that for you and get it to you early enough so you can rehearse it and make it a fun moment.  There have been a handful of couples who have “gone viral” when videos like this make their way to Youtube so if that’s your ultimate goal, good luck!  You may just be the next online sensation.

    Individual Song for Introductions  Another sign that couples are trying to personalize things as much as possible is the trend of selecting a separate song for each couple (or even each individual) in their bridal party to be introduced to.  Most DJ companies you consider with will be happy to work with you on this.  The key is playing the best part of the song as the couple or person is introduced.

    Yup, that's me leading The Wobble
    Yup, that’s me leading The Wobble

    Organized Dances   It’s funny how some people hate line dances (we see “The Macarena” and “The Electric Slide” on a lot of “Do Not Play Lists”) and yet every year a new organized dance emerges.  Last year it was “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and this year “Ju Ju on that Beat” has become a trend.  Personally, I’ve always loved what we call “audience participation” and this year I got to lead a lot of them, from “The Wobble” to “The Cupid Shuffle,” so I always like when a new one pops on the scene.  It’s yet to be seen if “Ju Ju” has any staying power but while it’s hot, I’ll be “running man on that beat” whenever it’s requested.

    Food for the Road  I know I said I wasn’t going to discuss food trends but this one has become so popular I felt the need.  Whether it’s coffee and donuts or pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches in the lobby for your guests to grab on the way out, I’m seeing this at so many weddings.  It’s a great final send-off for your guests (even if pork roll isn’t the healthiest thing to eat that late at night).

    No (or a Delayed) Honeymoon The main reason we’re aware of this trend is that we ask all the couples we work with about their honeymoon and then often mention it late in the reception.  On the microphone I might say something like “they’re going to Hawaii!” and that often gets a big reaction.  But we’ve worked with a lot of couples recently who either weren’t taking a big trip at all or were waiting a while before they went away.  The significance of a honeymoon has obviously changed through the years so it’s understandable.  But as you plan your big day, if you start thinking about not getting on a plane immediately after, just know you’re not alone.  There are plenty of couples who aren’t traveling right away or have already taken their “dream vacation” before the wedding.

    So those are the trends we’ve seen and predict will continue.  One of the things we know to be constant though is that everyone wants to have a great time at their reception.  Celebrations are made memorable when everyone from the guests of honor to all the invited guests has fun.  And that can mean different things for different people.  Some people define a fun party by how much they danced, some by how good the food was.  Still others just want to catch up with loved ones they haven’t seen in a while.  So creating an environment where all those things (and more) can happen will always be the key to success at any wedding.

     

     

  • Elite’s Best of 2016 Mixes

    We put the call out to our staff asking for some “Best of the Year” mixes.  Six of our DJs submitted something.  And though we didn’t plan it this way, the mixes are as diverse as you can get.  Mike and Tom both went pretty commercial as did Marshall although with a heavy R&B and hip hop lean.  Young guns Alex and Thomas also offered mixes too although they dove into specific genre’s as did Kris Abrahamsen.  We released the mixes in the order we received them and as luck would have it, if you listen to them in order, they’re the perfect set.  Marshall gets you going, Mike and Tom hit you with some recognizable tunes, Alex and Kris give you a 2am nightclub feel and then Thomas eases you back down to earth with his “deep house” mix.

    Here are links to all six with a little description from their makers:

    marshall-moore-elite-entertainment

     

    “This mix is what 2016 sounded like in Brooklyn as a DJ, radio and online music listener and party and club goer.”

    Marshall Moore

    Click here for Marshall’s Mix

     

    EliteEntertainment_mike-walter“Here’s a mix of some of my favorite tracks from 2016. Some were big hits that I played at a lot of my events, some were just songs I really dug this year but rarely (if ever) used. Like the opening track. I love everything Beck releases and his hip-hop send-up “Wow” was one of my favs this year. Used it to sound check a lot this year but never dropped it live. Also the Snakeships’ song “All My Friends” I haven’t been able to get out of my head all year. I love the way I was able to weave that in with “Cheap Thrills.” I probably broke the “never layer lyrics over lyrics” rule but I think I caught at least one “Friday night” line from both songs playing concurrently so I’ll take the broken rule.

    I squeezed 60 songs in the first 75 minutes of this mix so it’s a lot of verse-chorus-out kind of mixing. Don’t always do that at events but it’s a technique that can be valuable when used properly. I did it here because I wanted to include a lot and not have a three hour mix.

    Every song is from 2016 except the last one of course. Had to include a little tribute to my man Prince. There were lots of great moments in 2016 but April 21st will always be a sad day for all Prince fans. And then I got cute and tried to end the mix the way it began (with Beck) to kinda give a full circle thing.”   Click here for Mike’s mix.

    EliteEntertainment_-tom-monaco

    “This year lower beats per minute were pretty popular. The dancehall reggae sound came back and even the EDM producers started making Moombahton which is basically EDM, Reggaeton and Dancehall mixed together. Here is an hour mix with full tracks of some of the more popular radio hits played at weddings.
    Started at lower BPMs and worked my way up. Enjoy!”

    Tom Monaco

    Click here for Tom’s Mix

     

    alexcameron-eliteentertainment_NJDJ

    “The popularity of EDM continues to grow each year. This mix consists of all different sub-genres. There’s so many different sound of dance music , more sub-genres continue to be created each day! Can’t wait to hear that and more EDM in 2107!”

    Alex Cameron

    Click here for Alex’ mix

     

    kris-abrahamsen-elite-entertainment-2

    “Although I have a love for pretty much all things music, nothing really hits me as much as uplifting and higher BPM trance music. It’s not the kind of music you would hear anywhere near a typical wedding dance floor, but it’s perfect whenever I need a pick me up, whether I’m at the gym or running or just driving anywhere. Here’s some of my favorites from the last 12 months so I hope you’ll give it a listen and enjoy!”

    Kris Abrahamsen

    Click here for Kris’ mix

     

    lo7a6731

     

    “My mix is all about the deep house that has come out this year, it’s all about the subtle vocals followed by deep sub bass reminiscent of the olden Chicago house days when you just closed your eyes and moved to the beat of the music. Vastly overshadowed by edm and its sub genre this digs down to its roots.”

    Thomas Williams

    Click here for Thomas’ mix

  • Fred & Lindsay’s Epic New Year’s Eve Celebration

     

    Fred and Lindsay kiss beneath the fireworks
    Fred and Lindsay kiss beneath the fireworks

    It’s fairly popular for couples to get married on New Year’s Eve.  When you think about it, it makes sense too.  Most people are looking for something fun and exciting to do that night so what could be better than getting invited to a friend or family member’s wedding.  This year we had the honor of DJing a few weddings on New Year’s Eve.  This blog will be specifically about Fred and Lindsay who celebrated their wedding at the Park Pavilion in Seaside, NJ. (Do yourself a favor and click on that link to the Park Pavilion – the video on their website is amazing!)

    Happy New Year!
    Happy New Year!

    Fred and Lindsay had met us at one of the bridal shows we did last year and wound up reserving Phil Walsh to be their MC and DJ and also Carrie Roberts from our sister company, Elite Digital Images, to capture all the pictures.  We’ve included just a few of the great photos Carrie took in this blog but if you’d like to see more, click here to head to the album she uploaded to Facebook.

    One of the great advantages for Fred and Lindsay about getting married on New Year’s Eve in Seaside is they do an amazing fireworks display every year.  Couples pay thousands of dollars to have fireworks for their wedding but for Fred and Lindsay it came with the day!  As did the added celebration theme of midnight which turned out to be a huge highlight of the party (complete with confetti!).  Phil and Carrie also told us the best man’s toast was one of the funniest they’d ever heard as well.

    Fred and Lindsay's First Dance
    Fred and Lindsay’s First Dance
    A montage of Phil Walsh in action
    A montage of Phil Walsh in action
  • Nicole and Stephen’s Wild, Patriotic Wedding
    Nicole and Stephen getting married at The Shadowbrook
    Nicole and Stephen getting married at The Shadowbrook

    As I look back on 2016 one of the weddings that really stands out for me is Nicole and Stephen‘s at The Shadowbrook on July 3rd.  It was one of the wildest dancing crowds I had all year which I figured it would be going in to it because Nicole and Stephen are friends with Jillian and Ron who’s wedding I DJed a few years ago and that one I STILL remember as being insane!

     

    i-love-the-love-these-two-have-for-each-other
    I love the love these two have for each other

    Nicole and Stephen were married in the gardens behind The Shadowbrook and we provided the music and microphone for their ceremony.  It was  a very pleasant day, not overly hot or humid so the guests really enjoyed being outside for the ceremony as well as the cocktail hour.  The Shadowbrook recently changed hands and the new owners have already put their own stamp on the place and I really like what they’re doing.  Besides the awesome new marble foyer and dance floor they run incredibly smooth events.

     

    After cocktail hour it was time for introduction.  Nicole and Stephen had a very cool first dance to From the Ground Up by Dan and Shay and then soon after it was time to party.  They hadn’t given me too many requests but one of the things we talked about in the planning was that Stephen had served in the military and there would be a lot of fellow servicemen in attendance.  I think it’s always appropriate to acknowledge our veterans but even more so when it’s Independence Day weekend.  I got huge ovation for everyone who had served then went into God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood.

    Some shots of me interacting with the crowd
    Some shots of me interacting with the crowd

     

    Nicole and Stephen had provided me with a bunch of patriotic themed giveaways like red white and blue glasses so we handed those out then launched into a patriotic dance set featuring “R.O.C.K. in the USA” and “Party in the USA.”  The party had already been slamming but this just brought it to another level that was amazing.  Sometimes in the middle of a party like this where I’m having as much fun as the guests I have to pinch myself because I feel like I’m living the dream.  Who else can get paid and have such an awesome time?

     

    Nicole and Stephen worked with our photography division and our videography company as well.  Carrie was the main shooter and took some amazing shots.  I’ve included a few in this blog but to view the whole album just click here.

     

    I also got my hands on the raw footage and was able top make two demo videos out of it.  A live audio video and a V-log which just features some shots set to music.  They also hired Sarina to sing a few songs for them.  She did a few ballads and then also sang a few slow ones during dinner.  I think it’s a great addition when clients add one of our singers to their package, it really gives an elegant, live feel to the night – and I just love working with Sarina.

     

     

    Stephen was very nice to write me this awesome review on Wedding Wire after the wedding.

    mike-2016-7-3-16

     

Click here to access the archive of Mike's older blog posts.

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