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!
- Valerie and Chris Get Married at The Waters Edge
Thursday night weddings are becoming more and more common in our industry. Clients understand they can save significant money. deal with lower minimums and basically throw a great celebration for far less money by choosing a Thursday night. That’s what Valerie and Chris did and as luck would have it, they got a beautiful night to get married outdoors as well.
This was my second wedding this summer at The Waters Edge in Bayville. It’s a great spot with an outdoor ceremony location that looks like it could be somewhere in the Caribbean. And to top it off the food is great and the service is awesome as well.
Congratulations Valerie and Chris!
- Professional Photography – It’s Not Just for Weddings
My wife Kelly launched a new business last year as an in-home caregiver for the elderly and special needs. She wanted to make some business cards and a brochure. I took some pictures of her with my iPhone to use in her new marketing pieces but we were both unhappy with them. So we decided to call a professional photographer and have him take the same shots. Christopher Smith, who shoots for Elite Digital Images, came to the house, took some shots and even offered some suggestions on poses Kelly and I hadn’t thought of.
The pictures came out great and Kelly’s new business literature has helped her fill her schedule way sooner than we thought she would.
I was looking at some of those pictures recently, and thinking about the difference between amateur and professional photography. And it’s huge. But the problem is that nowadays, we all think we’re photographers. We all have cameras in our pockets and with the filters and effects we can add to our iPhone or Android-snapped pictures we feel we’re true artists.
But take a look at the difference between your last selfie and a professional photograph of you. It’s night and day. Which isn’t to say there is anything wrong with taking pictures on our phones or digital cameras. But there are certain times when that’s not enough. There are certain times where it is worth it to call in a true professional who will capture an image much better than you ever could and will see things through the lens that you may have missed. I’m smiling as I write that because I’m thinking of a picture my brother was showing off a while back in which he did looked extremely handsome but the problem with it was behind him was a painting that made it look like he had a big green Afro. That’s not something he or the amateur taking the picture noticed but a professional photographer would have.
In my experience, these are some of the moments you might think about calling a professional photographer:
Baby Pictures. Sure, you’ve already got a million shots of your newborn or toddler. But a short session with a professional will probably result in some of your favorite ever and make it on to this year’s Holiday card. Dominic and Sarina did this recently with their son Nico. A local photographer named Gerda from Artist European Photography took some shots and got some amazing images of him even though it was rainy day:
Family Gatherings A few years ago Kelly was organizing a family day, inviting her cousins out from Long Island to visit with their grandmother. We decided to have a professional photographer spend some time with us that day, getting some pictures of the whole family. John DeFiora took some amazing pictures that day and, as it turned it out, this was a wise choice. Kelly’s beloved grandmother passed away less than a year later and those pictures from that day are images we will all cherish forever.
Your Honeymoon. When Kelly and I got married in 2013 she told me she had a crazy idea. What if we brought our wedding attire on our honeymoon in Iceland and took some professional pictures? We were able to locate a photographer named Levi Tijerina who took some amazing pictures of us. These are images we cherish to this day:
Headshots. Perhaps it’s just the line of work I am in but I think everyone nowadays should have professional headshots of themselves. Spending a few hours with a professional photographer can result in some impressive images that will help you promote yourself online. And this isn’t just for the self-employeed. If you’re a professional in any line of work, your social media (or at least LinkenIn) image is important. Why not have a professional shoot the shot that will become everyone’s first impression of you. Here’s one Carrie Roberts of Elite Digital Images got of me last year that makes me look way cooler than I ever could be in real life:
These are only a handful of times when a professional photographer should be considered. I’m sure you can come up with a few more.
- Jess and Gary Celebrate Their Marriage at St Clement’s
I had the honor this past weekend of MCing and DJing for Jess and Gary and St Clement’s Reception Center in Matawan.
This was an awesome couple who put their full faith in the Elite services. Besides myself and Chris Cocco providing sound and lighting, they had Chris Smith from Elite Digital Images shooting the pictures and Chris Monaco from Elite Films getting everything on video. I know what you’re thinking, way too many Chris’ right? I was confused myself all night.
Jess and Gary are huge animal lovers so in between their church ceremony and the reception they stopped by a farm to get some shots. Here’s a great one Chris Smith got:
Jess and Gary were very involved in the planning. They gave us a ton of unique pictures to take and had filled me up with requests which I played all night long. They also brought along some giveaways like sunglasses and inflatables. I know some people think these are cheesy but as I look at the photos, it just looks like it added to the FUN!
Congratulations Jess and Gary.
- Our First Buttonwood Manor Bridal Show in a Longtime is a Huge Success
We showcased last night at The Buttonwood Manor in Matawan for the first time in a long time and it was a huge success. Tom and his great staff at WeddingSetGo did a great job of filling the room with couples who were planning their weddings and when our segment came up we did our best to get the dance floor hopping and show everyone how we can make their reception unforgettable. We had Tom Monaco demonstrate bridal party introduction, Phil Walsh sing a beautiful wedding song and then myself, Dominic Sestito and Thomas Williams pitched in to throw a party!
If you haven’t been to an Elite Showcase yet, be sure to check our schedule for where we’ll be appearing next.
Here are some shots taken with my iPhone last night. They aren’t great but they capture the look and feel of the show!
- Joe and Jenn’s Beach Wedding on a Perfect September Night
When I sent my questionnaire to prepare their personalized ceremony Jenn wrote that she really wanted to get married on the beach. That was the plan but as we all know, sometimes Mother Nature has a different idea. Well, Jenn got her wish! Doolan’s (which is where the reception took place) has a great hookup on the beach and the weather was perfect, warm but not too hot and sunny but with a few stray clouds.
It was quite an honor to officiate Jenn and Joe’s wedding and then hand things off to Chris and Thomas Williams who tell me the celebration back at Doolan’s was tons of fun!
Congratulations Jenn and Joe
- Nissa & Evan’s Awesome Celebration at The Manor in West Orange
I had the absolute pleasure of MCing and DJing for Nissa and Evan this past weekend at The Manor up in West Orange. After a high energy introduction Nissa and Evan danced their first dance as husband and wife to the beautiful Haley Reinhart version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” I got a picture of this on my cell phone which doesn’t really do the moment justice. I’m sure their photographers from Off Beet Productions got much better shots.
Nissa had given me a number of Indian dance songs and I loved playing them and blending them into the other songs they requested. I put one of their dance sets up on my Sound Cloud page so you can hear an example of that.
Another thing I loved about Nissa and Evan’s wedding was their doughnut wall. I didn’t sample the sweets but they sure looked good!
Congratulations Nissa and Evan!
- Dawn and Joe’s Beautiful Night at The Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge
It was a weird Labor Day Weekend weather-wise. How weird? you ask. Good question. When I met with Joe and Dawn, whose wedding I was DJing and MCing the Friday night of Labor Day weekend at The Grain House at The Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge, they told me I’d be set up outside the dining room under a tent. My first thought, and remember this was a month or so before the wedding, was “ hope it’s not too hot and humid of a night.” The week of the wedding Dawn called to make sure we’d be ok “out in the cold.” That’s the kind of night it was, unseasonably cool for early September. As it turned out we were fine and her guests were able to dance the night away outdoors and not melt from being too hot. The weather was perfect!
What stands out most about Dawn and Joe’s wedding is a set I played about halfway through the night. One of their guests asked me to play some “freestyle” so I worked Stevie B’s “Spring Love” in. The dance floor immediately doubled and Dawn and her friends were dancing with a renewed energy. Hmm, I thought, funny that she didn’t tell me she wanted free style. But ok, let me see if they love the whole genre or did I just get lucky with this one song. I played TKA’s “Maria” next. Same reaction! I was clearly bringing this group back to their clubbing days and they were eating it up. I played a few more from that same era and it wound up being one of the best sets of the night. I’ve uploaded that set to my Sound Cloud page and you can hear it here.
Dawn and Joe had also hired Elite Digital Images to shoot their wedding. I got to work with Cyndi and Jen and I’m sharing some of their pictures in this blog. To see even more of their work be sure to follow our studio on Facebook.
Congratulations Dawn and Joe!
- Joe and Tiffany and Their Very Special Night at The Channel Club They say rain on a Wedding Day is good luck but I’ve always felt that was just a way to make couples feel better. To me, what’s good luck is planning an August wedding with an outdoor ceremony and getting an 80 degree day with no humidity. That’s what Joe and Tiffany got this past Saturday for their wedding at The Channel Club. It was just one more sign that this couple is blessed and, well, lucky.I had a great feeling about this wedding going into it and I was not disappointed. I felt like it was going to be an awesome celebration. I don’t know why, there was something about Joe and Tiffany from our pre-planning meetings that told me they were going to have a great reception. And they sure did. One of the things they asked me for was when I introduced them into the room could we do a quick dance set before we went into their first dance. I said, “sure!” knowing that this would work if and only if their guests were there to party. Well, it worked! Like a charm. When I introduced them with Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling” and then asked all their guests to join them on the dance floor the energy went from high to off the charts. The ensuing dance set was only 12 minutes long but it set the tone for the night. This was going to be a great party and surely it was.I uploaded an entire set from this wedding to my Sound Cloud page. You can hear it right here.Joe and Tiffany had picked out over 150 songs. We discussed this in the planning stage and they knew they wouldn’t hear all of them but they wanted to give me a sense of their musical tastes. I love this! And I played from their list all night long. In fact I only played five songs that weren’t on their list and all five were requests from their guests.Joe and Tiffany had also hired our sister company Elite Digital Images. Lynn was the lead photographer and she and Nicole and Angelina got some awesome shots! I’ve included some here in this blog and to see more on our Facebook page. And while I’m talking about who I worked with, I have to tip my cap to Fred and his entire staff at The Channel Club. They are all awesome and it’s always a pleasure for me to work there!Joe was nice enough to offer me this very nice review on WeddingWire
Congratulations Joe and Tiffany!
- Stephanie and Josh Get Married at The Lobster Shanty This past Friday night I had the honor of not only DJing and MCing for Stephanie and Josh but officiating their wedding
ceremony as well. This is a truly awesome couple and their entire wedding turned out to be a very special and memorable evening.When I officiate a wedding I like to personalize the ceremony as much as possible. As a DJ I have provided the music for tons of ceremonies through the years and I’ve worked with all of the regular local officiants. Many of them are awesome but some, I have to say, put zero effort into personalizing the ceremony. I have stood by my gear plenty of times literally lip syncing to the officiant because I’ve heard their ceremony before and it’s exactly the same each time. When I became “ordained” and started officiating I told myself that would never be my style and when Josh and Stephanie heard that they hired me straight away. We worked together to make their ceremony unique and memorable which included a “Beer Unity Tasting” in lieu of a Unity Candle Ceremony. Both Stephanie and Josh love visiting local micro- breweries so this matched their personality perfectly and when we got to that part of the ceremony, their guests loved it.As for the reception itself, Josh and Stephanie’s family and friends really knew how to party. The dance floor was packed most of the night and I got to play a wide range of music from oldies, to country to newer stuff as well. Stephanie and Josh also asked for some hard rock like Fall Out Boys and Blink-182 and it was a thrill to see them thrashing around and really enjoying that set.The ceremony and reception were both held at The Lobster Shanty in Point Pleasant which is such an awesome location. It has the 3 most important things about any location in my opinion: great food, impeccable service and amazing views. It’s no wonder every client I work with at the Lobster Shanty has always been thrilled.Josh and Stephanie had also hired our sister company Elite Digital Images. Lynn was the lead photographer and she and Chris and Angelina got some awesome shots! I’ve included some here in this blog and to see more check out their album on Facebook.Congratulations Josh and Stephanie!PS – A special thanks to Stephanie for this AWESOME WeddingWire Review:
- Mark and Noelle’s Backyard Wedding is One for the Ages
My first meeting with Mark and Noelle was in February of this year. They contacted the office about possibly having us DJ their wedding which was going to take place in their backyard in Point Pleasant and so I drove down to meet with them at their house and see what they had planned. As soon as we met we connected and started sharing ideas about how to make their reception different and unique. I was able to offer some suggestions that they loved and adopted, specifically altering the traditional timeline and having a cocktail hour before the ceremony. It’s something my wife and I did at our wedding 4 years ago and Mark and Noelle loved the idea. By the time we were done chatting they asked me to draw up a contract. I was thrilled because I really wanted to be a part of their wedding!
As the day approached I was keeping an eye on the weather and wouldn’t you know Mother Nature was being a little coy. Would there be thunder showers in the afternoon or evening? The forecast kept changing! Mark let me know I needn’t worry about my gear because he’d made sure I’d be set up under a tent but still, a good soaking can clear any dance floor. Well, I’ll skip the drama and just report, other than a little drizzle towards the end of the night the evening was perfect.
And by perfect I mean everything. They had hired Reverend Ben Hickey for the ceremony and he was great as always. Funny and personable! And when it came time to dance, Mark and Noelle’s family and friends were there to party! Because of the unique timeline (and overtime booked in advance) I had about 3 1/2 total hours of dance time. That can be extreme for some crowds but not Mark and Noelle’s. By 11pm the dance floor was still jammed and we ended the night on a high!
I’ll remember Mark and Noelle’s wedding for a long time now. They were a fun and unique couple to work with and I was so happy that their night ended up being, well, perfect!
Thanks Mark for leaving me this AWESOME review!
- Linda and Andy Celebrate Their Love
I had the pleasure of providing the music and MCing for Linda and Andy at the Crystal Point. As I prepared for the reception I got very excited seeing their music list. It was filled with some cool and obscure requests and heavy on 80s (which was such an awesome decade for party music.) I am happy to report the wedding was great and Linda and Andy and their family and friends danced the night away to everything I played.
Part of the joy of doing what I do is the great people I get to work with. I was in Ian’s room at the Crystal Point and he runs a great wedding. He’s loose and carefree and let’s the night evolve organically and he also knows that a great party makes everything else about the night better. Ian kept giving me the thumbs up all night and he genuinely seemed to enjoy the soundtrack, specifically because most of what I was playing was not standard wedding fare. As an example, here’s a set I spun for Linda and Andy right before dinner. It’s filled with songs I don’t normally play at weddings and it worked! The dance floor was packed through this whole set
I also had the chance to work with photographer Ashley Meyer from Meyer Photo + Video for the first time. At one point I saw Ashley laying on the ground to get a great shot of Linda and Andy which made smile – she obviously cares about what she does and wants nothing but the best for her clients. I hope to have the chance to work with her again and I thank her for letting me use some of her images in this blog.
Congratulations Andy and Linda!
- Joe and Diane’s Unique Love Story Culminates in a Beautiful Marriage
Being a wedding DJ for almost 30 years now I have seen so many different paths that couples take to get to the “Big Day.” This past weekend I had the pleasure of DJing for Joe and Diane, an awesome couple who have a unique love story. They dated back in college, went their separate ways, each got married and had kids and then, decades later, they found each other again. And that unique love story took a big step Saturday as they shared their vows to become husband and wife.
Joe and Diane got married at The Crystal Point in Point Pleasant and they had an awesome summer day for outdoor pictures.
Besides our DJ services Joe and Diane also booked our photography studio, Elite Digital Images to capture all the pictures from their reception. I got to work with Chris Smith who is not only an amazing photographer but a great guy as well. I love this shot he got of Joe and Diane during their wedding song. I think it really captures how happy they both were on their wedding day!
One of the requests on Joe and Diane’s list was Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights.” Whenever I see that I know it’s my chance to get out on the dance floor and getting everyone singing along. Here are some shots Chris got of me doing just that. It was a fun highlight of the night for everyone (myself included)
Just days after the wedding Diane was sweet enough to offer this great WeddingWire review
Congratulations Joe and Diane!
- Michele & Sam Tie The Knot and Throw a Great Party
Sunday Night I had the pleasure of working with Michele and Sam as they got married at The Crystal Point in Point Pleasant and then threw an awesome celebration for their family and friends.
I got to work with one of my favorite photographers, Stephanie Jones. Stephanie and I have worked many weddings together through the years and I always enjoy her laid back style. She gets amazing images at every wedding but she does so in a very cool, calm and collected way which is not always the case with some photographers. But I have to believe that her approach helps take some of the stress out of the day for her clients. I certainly felt it on Sunday and looking at Stephanie’s images it’s obvious as well. Stephanie was nice enough let me use a few of her pictures in this blog. If you’d like to see even more head to the album she uploaded to Facebook by clicking here.
Any DJ knows a Sunday night wedding can fizzle early as guests start thinking about getting up early to start their work week but I can report that this didn’t happen for Michele and Sam. After we cut the cake I knew it was all going to fall to me and my assistant Andrew to keep the party thumping for the last hour and we did it! At 11:00 when I hit play on “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker, which Michele and Sam had selected as their grand finale, I can honestly say most of their guests were still in the room and happily packed around Michele and Sam for the big ending.
Congratulations Sam and Michele!
- 1,500 WeddingWire Reviews (And Counting)
We recently had the honor of receiving our 1,500th review on WeddingWire which puts us among the top 15 companies in the entire country in terms of number of reviews, and even higher among companies with that many reviews who still have a 5.0 average.
And that’s really the thing we are most proud of, the combination of quantity AND quality.
Because whether we are performing at four weddings on a given Saturday night, or fourteen, we always want to exceed our client’s expectations and have them happily sing our praises. Which is really, when you think about it, what a positive review is all about. If you meet someone’s expectations, if you provide exactly what they expect, odds are they aren’t going to offer you a review. Especially in today’s day and age when everyone is constantly bombarded with requests to leave reviews somewhere. You buy a movie ticket through Fandango, you get a review request. You book a restaurant through Open Table, you get a review request. You come back from a vacation planned through Expedia, you get a review request. Most people have review fatigue by this point!
So we are well aware that meeting our client’s expectations is not enough. We need to exceed them, consistently, for brides and grooms to take the time to go online and write a review. So when we pass a significant number like 1,000 or our most recent accomplishment, 1,500, we feel pride in what we do each and every weekend. And it just makes us all the more determined to keep doing it. We at Elite built our reputation years before the internet was even a thing, so we know what it takes. And now that websites like WeddingWire are so significant to our industry, it means so much to us when our clients take the time to review us. We’re always grateful!
- Another Successful Private Showcase at The Channel Club
Years and years ago we came with the catch phrase: “don’t just take our word for it” as a way to invite people out to our live showcases.
Like most other entertainment companies, we can show you video footage of our DJs, you can read reviews (lots of them in fact) from past brides and even get tons of references about our work from people in the industry. But before you make that critical decision of who will handle the entertainment at your wedding, we invite you to a showcase where you can hear our sound system, check out our upgrades and see our DJs live and in action. We think it should be an important step in hiring the entertainment for your wedding and if you’re considering a company that doesn’t perform at any showcases, well, you’d have to wonder why.
With all that said, we had another very successful showcase last night at the newly remodeled Channel Club. We had a nice size crowd show up to see us perform and our showcase ran smoothly as always. We walked attendees through everything from the ceremony music to their bridal party introductions and then into the celebration. 10 of our MCs were there and everyone had a chance to shine on the microphone. In fact, the most common comment we heard from couples who wanted to reserve us after the show was, “it’s so hard to pick an MC because you all sounded great!”
Here are a few shots, taken amateurishly from our iPhones that do our showcase no justice whatsoever. So if you’re interested in really seeing what we can offer, check out our showcase page and make plans to come see us live!
It was a gorgeous night at The Channel Club and just as our showcase got started we were treated to this awesome sunset over the Marina
We break out most of our upgrades at our private shows. Here’s Jay singing the wedding song for Beth and Pat while they “Dance on the Clouds”
Then, just like at a wedding reception, once the formalities are over it’s time to PARTY. And last night, in a room of almost complete strangers, we packed the dance floor. Imagine what we can do with a room full of your loved ones on your wedding day!