Top 4 Tips When Selecting Your Wedding DJ or Band

When planning your wedding, a large portion of the budget goes to the reception. Every vendor will tell you that their specific service will “make or break” the wedding. Do NOT get me wrong, EVERY aspect of the wedding is important! Food, flowers, decor, photography, etc all have their place. Music, however can truly make or break the party vibe during your reception.

Having a professional DJ or Band is one way to amp up the party and ensure your guests are satisfied on the dance floor all night long! There are some pros and cons of both types of music and it really depends on what your budget will allow. Here are some things to think about when considering a band or a dj.

  1. Can the band play a wide variety of music? Is this a “wedding band” or strictly a bar band? Wedding bands know all of the tried and true classics, know how to keep the party going and will *usually* know how to professionally MC the event as well…think Wedding Introductions, Dinner Service, Father/Daughter dance, Cake Cutting etc. A bar band that you and your fiance love to listen to on a Friday night might not have the working knowledge of weddings or the elements that go into creating a seamless event. Bar bands also *may* be limited on their range of music and will not take requests. If the band can not play Sweet Caroline at the drop of a hat, you might have some unhappy guests. This is NOT a deal breaker, just something to consider and questions to ask.

  2. Will the DJ be the same person MCing the event? There is a huge difference between knowing how to read a crowd, play music and mix beets and actually interacting with the guests. A DJ who also MC’s the event has to ham it up from time to time and get the wedding guests on their feet. You can not have a dud on the mic…it makes for some awkward transitions.

  3. Will your DJ or band perform during the ceremony? Is there an extra charge for this service? How many breaks does the band require? How long are their sets? DJs usually only require a meal break and then play for the rest of the night. If you have a band, do they play all night or do they have scheduled 10/20/30 minute breaks? What music will be played during their set breaks?

  4. What does your budget allow? Bands can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Totally depends on who you hire, how many pieces are in the band and how long you need them to play. DJs will *usually* be the more cost effective option, but do not cheap out. remember, you get what you pay for.

  5. Most importantly, find someone who you and your fiance connect with, who will be able to read your crowd and truly speak to your guests in a way that will keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning.

 Photo Credit: Mayden Photography
Photo Credit: Mayden Photography

Both bands and DJs can create a successful wedding or event. One is not better than the other, they just offer a different vibe to the evening. The most important thing is finding someone who you and your fiance connect with. Make sure this group or person will be able to read your crowd and keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning. Nothing ruins a reception quicker than a dud on the microphone. Find that person with the energy you require and no matter who you choose, you will be happier you chose a professional.


Top Photo Credit: Ann & Kam Photo 

Can I Get Married Today?

 Have you ever thought there might be days where you are not allowed to get married? Turns out there are!   Photo Credit: authentic adventure co
Have you ever thought there might be days where you are not allowed to get married? Turns out there are!  Photo Credit: authentic adventure co

Marriages happen every single day of the year, all over the world. Whether you are a follower of a specific religion or someone getting hitched at the courthouse. Yes, even on a Monday! In the last 100 years or so, weddings typically began happening on Saturday evenings as this allowed bridal party members to have the day before and the day after to prepare, party and recoup all in one weekend. Weddings have come quite a long way from cake and coffee in the church basement following the ceremony. 

According to the Knot’s 2016 annual real wedding survey, only 26% of people getting married, are getting married in a Church or Synagogue. The rest, are opting for less traditional venues such as beaches, barns, museums, tents, etc.  The majority of couples today are choosing to forge their own path, while those opting to get married in a house of worship might not be aware there are wedding conflict dates. 

Disclaimer – By no means are these the only conflict dates. If you are looking to get married in one of these venues, please reach out to your specific parish, synagogue or temple for a complete list. Dioceses and individual churches may have other rules or regulations. If you have additional dates, feel free to comment below! #themoreyouknow 

 dates provided by  catholicweddinghelp.com
dates provided by catholicweddinghelp.com
 dates provided by  g  reekweddingtraditions.com
dates provided by g reekweddingtraditions.com
 dates provided by c habad.org
dates provided by c habad.org
 dates provided by  qual.org.au
dates provided by qual.org.au
 dates provided by  fpmt.org
dates provided by fpmt.org

Despite this list or other religious conflict dates you might discover, always check with your spiritual leader or house of worship. Special dispensations or allowances might be made. If you are thinking of having your ceremony outside of a house of worship, really, any date would be available for a ceremony. Just be considerate of your guests. No one wants to attend a wedding on a major holiday. Dates to avoid in general would be Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day. New Years Eve can be a hit or miss. You will most likely be paying a premium for all of your vendors and it might not be financially worth the extra expense. 

ANE Real Wedding: Leslie and Dave

In just over one month, Ashley Nicole Events will be celebrating Leslie and Dave’s 1st Anniversary!  I can not believe how time has flown by. It seems like yesterday that we were wrapping up the final details and practicing the long walk down the aisle. It was such a pleasure working with this sweet couple. Leslie and Dave had double the reason to celebrate as they would soon be welcoming their first son! Their adorable little boy is also the first ANE baby! During one of our planning sessions, Dave came to me and told me that he really wanted to hire a planner to take the stress off Leslie. They were both so busy with their jobs and with the joyous blessing of a baby on the way he wanted to do as much as possible to make the process easy and enjoyable for Leslie. It was so sweet to see him jumping into the protective father role, right from the very beginning. Dave and Leslie were surrounded by friends and family on the first of many joyous days together as husband and wife. 

We at Ashley Nicole Events wish Dave, Leslie and baby Jack a very happy first anniversary and many, many more to come!

Vendor Spotlight:
Planning: Ashley Nicole Events
Ceremony Venue: St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Wheaton
Reception Venue: The Haight, Elgin
Hotel: Courtyard Marriott, West Dundee
Florist: Laura’s Flowers
Photographer: Crane’s Photography
DJ: Quinn Bayola
Hair: Christina Sopata
Makeup: Erin Paul
Cake: Michelle Siorek
Catering: My Chef
Rentals: Windy City
Limo: Top Fleet Inc.

How a Former Chicago Film Star Turned Me Into a Wedding Planner!

Life often has a way of surprising you. You might have a job that is just a job, truly a means to an end… A stepping stone. Nothing is wrong with these types of jobs. Stepping stones lead you to bigger and better things. It takes vision and determination to know a stepping stone vs. the mountain.  When you lose sight of the grander picture, those stepping stones become boulders, weigh you down, and then you fail to reach the peak. I’ve had my fair share of stepping stones. I have waited tables, delivered food, I even worked at a nursing home. All of these were great stepping stones and taught me things that I still use to this day. One job in particular carved the path that I am still walking down.

I met George Bozonelos, the owner of Gaslite Manor Banquets, through one of those stepping stones. I waited tables at a restaurant and my manager (Patrick) happened to be George’s cousin. I began telling my coworkers my passion for weddings and my desire to one day be a wedding planner.  Patrick knew I was terrible at waiting tables. He almost fired me on more than one occasion for dropping a platter of food. What he saw in me was potential. Patrick saw a drive and determination that was greater than waiting tables. Patrick connected me with George and I began a college internship at Gaslite Manor Banquets. I was able to experience every aspect of an event from the sales and logistics to placing food orders with vendors and managing a staff of 20 people. I got to work an event from beginning to end and see it truly come to life. Sure, I had to do some not very glamorous things like helping do the dishes but in those menial tasks, I saw true importance and then delighted  in the fun tasks like linen and cake selections.

Eventually, the internship turned into a summer job  and I was offered my very first full-time position right out of grad school. I could not have been more excited. The hours were long and I learned the meaning of “working weekends” but I would not have changed a thing. I consider George to be my mentor. I learned how to plan my very first wedding from watching him. He taught me to NEVER run in front of guests, even if there is a fire in the kitchen! If a guest sees you run, they know something is not right. “Walk with purpose” is what he used to tell me. Hurry, but don’t run. I can hear his voice in my head every time I casually walk with *intense purpose* across a room.

He taught me that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the wedding industry and eventually it will all work itself out. He taught me that funerals can be just as entertaining as a wedding, and that when you sit in your office with the lights turned off, you will see people do the darnedest things as they exit the bathroom and think no one can see them.

 

 

Please enjoy this very candid interview with the man who put me on the path to my personal mountain, George Bozonelos. I owe this man everything.

Tell me how you got started in the wedding business.

 I’ve been working in the business since I was kid, started with folding napkins and peeling potatoes.  Then in September 2000 we bought Gaslite Manor Banquets, and the rest as they say is history.

How did your Venue come to be? Are there any interesting facts about the space? What was the space before it became a wedding venue?

Gaslite Manor Banquets has been in this location since 1968.  We completely renovated the space in 2001, and again in 2008. Our crowning achievement is the addition of The Gaslite Chapel, which accommodates all weddings that we host at all 3 of our banquet facilities.  Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia and The Courtyard Banquets in Warrenville.

How long have you been at Gaslite Manor?

We have been at this location over 17 years.

How many people does the space fit for a cocktail reception? Sit down dinner? Can you accommodate Ceremonies?

We can accommodate as few as 100 people to as large as 900 people.  The Gaslite Chapel can seat 160 people for the ideal wedding ceremony.

What do you love about the job?

Best part of the job, by far, is watching a couple come in nervous and scared at the first consultation, to then a ball of energy and pure joy the night of the wedding.

What do you not love so much about the job?

My biggest gripe is when family members try to take over the coordination of a ceremony & reception.  We have people in place to make sure that everything goes according to plan, and family tend to input their 2 cents and try to convince the bride that we aren’t doing things properly.  We have been doing our job for way too long to not know how to cut a wedding cake!

What is something you wish all couples looking at Gaslite Manor considered or asked when booking a venue?  

The best questions to ask us, or any venue for that matter, What keeps your repeat clients coming back?  Why do they trust Gaslite Manor Banquets with their important events? (Editors Note: Gaslite Manor has done baptisms, birthdays, weddings and funerals for many repeat families in the Chicagoland area)

Besides your venue, what other venues do you respect or refer clients to if you are booked?

We have 3 facilities, so we keep our referrals in the family.

What is your favorite wedding trend for 2017 or 2018?

We have seen more and more weddings going back to live music for their receptions.  It really is a treat to not have to hear the same songs, every weekend.

Tell me one thing no one knows about you or your venue

Very few people booking Gaslite Manor Banquets know that I was an actor in college, and have a movie credit to my name.  If you see me around, go ahead and ask. I’m not shy about telling you the details of filming a movie in Chicago.

On a follow up note, being a wedding planner, I see tons of venues. Really cool industrial spaces, chic barn venues and luxury city ballrooms. I chose to get married at the place where it all began because I know the passion George and his entire staff have for each and every wedding. I chose to get  married and celebrate my special day with the person who gave me a tiny spark of his own passion. If our big brother/little sister relationship tells you anything…I stopped working there years ago, and I still have a key to the building. You should totally stop in and ask him to tell you the story of filming a *very famous* Chicago movie. the stories of the other *very famous* actors are pretty amazing. But really, if you are getting married or know someone getting married and you want an awesome experience with an affordable price tag, please stop in and visit George and the rest of the talented staff. Gaslite Manor Banquets will not disappoint. 

 

San Diego Love Fest

Stephanie was interning at the Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World and Alex was working for a marketing company on special assignment.  One day at work, Stephanie was scheduled to work security… Don’t get me wrong, Stephanie is a strong girl, but not very intimidating!  Sometimes, the universe conspires to put you in direct path with your future spouse. In this case, it put Stephanie on a direct collision course with her future husband, Alex! Stephanie, having been originally from California moved to Florida for the Walt Disney internship and Alex was currently living and working in Florida. After Stephanie finished school and Alex applied for a new position, he followed her and his dreams across country as they made a new home in Sunny San Diego.

Joy from Being Joy Photography captured their love as we visited some of the most iconic locations in San Diego on an unseasonably cold and windy day. Stephanie proved to be a complete bombshell in the custom Alyssa Kristin bridal gown and her flowers were provided by Wyld Blooms. Stephanie’s hair and makeup was provided by Flora Hair and Makeup. Stephanie and Alex, you both were such troopers braving the cold and wind! You deserve a lifetime of love and happiness and I wish you nothing but the best!

Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day or Galentine’s Day?

February 14 is widely known as Valentine’s Day in Canada, the United States, Mexico and parts of Western Europe. Do you know how the candy and flower empire began? See below for this interesting breakdown of Valentine’s Day numbers. 

 source credit  here
source credit here

Typically, Valentine’s Day in my house was always spent working at my grandparent’s flower shop. I would help sort the flowers, run bouquets up and down to the cooler after they were designed. When I got older, I would even get to help wait on customers and try and sell the unsuspecting and obviously terrified guys the most expensive thing in the store. Let me say, I was pretty darn good at my job. Also, perhaps, they couldn’t say no to a 10 year old. 

Galantine’s Day

Wether you are spending the day with your boo, or are hitting up the town with your best girlfriends, take the time to tell your loved ones, how much they mean to you. It seems that on Valentine’s Day it is common to spread the love, but what about the other 364 days of the year? A few years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of being the creative director for this Girl Power Bridal Brunch Photo Shoot. It applies for weddings or for a girls afternoon party, spend time with your friends and there is never an occasion to small to have a party. 


Creative Partners:
Creative Director: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Venue & Stationary: Ijorere
Floral & Event Decor: JD Event Design
Hair: Mariefel Lagatuz Westa
Makeup: Adrianna Gilarducci
Fashion: Whimsy Luxxe and Abby Bella Couture
Jewelry: Gemma Jewels 
Bakery: The Sugar Path
Balloons: Oh Shiny Paper Company
Linen: BBJ
China: Kate Spade
Wrapping Paper: Paper Source

 

Why you should ALWAYS hire a professional

Weddings can be expensive, I get it. When you start reaching out to vendors and you say, “Hi, I am getting married let’s chat about how you can create my dream wedding!” you are so optimistic and excited you spend your time blissfully chatting about flowers, lighting, linens and the best photo package possible. Everything is perfect until you get their proposal and all you see are the $$$. Ensue mild panic attack

One solution you might think of is to reach out to a friend who really likes to bake cakes or another friend who just picked up photography as a hobby. While these friends might offer to provide you with your dream wedding at a fraction of the cost or even free all together…please, for the love of all that is holy, carefully consider your options. There are plenty of ways to thoughtfully and methodically save on extra expenses. Taking a chance on an amature is not one of them. While all vendors start somewhere, there is a huge difference between running a profitable business and doing something a hobby. Below are photos of how much of a difference a professional vs amature wedding can turn out.

 This image was taken from photographer David Bailey's Blog. You can read the full article  here . 
This image was taken from photographer David Bailey’s Blog. You can read the full article here . 
 When a bride ordered a tire wedding cake, she walked into the reception to find this cake waiting for her...full article  here
When a bride ordered a tire wedding cake, she walked into the reception to find this cake waiting for her…full article here
 Source via Pinterest
Source via Pinterest
 This catering fail was actually how I saw food being presented to guests...in real life. No joke.
This catering fail was actually how I saw food being presented to guests…in real life. No joke.

Let me say this again, all vendors start out somewhere. Not all new vendors are bad. Not all experienced vendors are fantastic. While I would always recommend hiring a professional to provide a service on your wedding, there are ways to cut costs on other aspects of your big day. While weddings are expensive, your sanity and the stress of wondering how something will turn out will always trump the extra few dollars. It is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry…

Having friends who want to help contribute to your wedding is fantastic. Allow them to bake a cake for your bridal shower or have them take photos at the bachelorette party. Please, allow your friends to be guests on your big day and take a boat load of stress off your shoulders. You are hiring professionals because they will know how to handle any situation. Amateurs or hobbyists are simply not worth the nominal savings. Trust me. You and your guests will thank me for it. 


 Hi there! I am Ashley Radosav, the owner of Ashley Nicole Events. I have been planning weddings and events for the past 11 years. I too, was once an amateur and have certainly grown as I turned my hobby into a professional and profitable boutique planning firm. I am currently located outside of Chicago, Illinois and serve the Chicagoland area. I am also willing to travel (for the right couple!) If you have any other wedding planning questions, send me an email and I will include that as the next blog post! You can reach me at: hello@ashleynicoleeventsinc.com  photo credit: Mary Rose Photography
Hi there! I am Ashley Radosav, the owner of Ashley Nicole Events. I have been planning weddings and events for the past 11 years. I too, was once an amateur and have certainly grown as I turned my hobby into a professional and profitable boutique planning firm. I am currently located outside of Chicago, Illinois and serve the Chicagoland area. I am also willing to travel (for the right couple!) If you have any other wedding planning questions, send me an email and I will include that as the next blog post! You can reach me at: hello@ashleynicoleeventsinc.com photo credit: Mary Rose Photography

Ashley Hamm Photography

Part of being a wedding planner is being connected. I know a guythat can help with whatever you are looking for. Do you need an authentic cuban cigar roller? I know a guy. Perhaps a master sommelier or someone to hang from the ceiling while pouring tequila shots? I know a guy…or girl. Really, I do!  When it comes to wedding photography, I know Ashley Hamm. When I met Ashley, we immediately connected over having the best name on the planet! Hello, Ashley Squared! 🙂 Ashley has been the owner of Ashley Hamm Photography for ten years! Ashley was a blast to interview. Please get comfy, grab a cup of coffee and get to know my friend. 

How did you get started in the wedding photography business?

Gosh, that’s a great question! I remember the first time I found a disposable camera in my parents’ junk drawer and went out to play with it in the woods. I was maybe 7 years old and I loved the clicking sound of the camera when I pressed the button and the way the light shone through the trees. At first, it was a hobby, just for friends and coworkers, but then it became something I just couldn’t live without.

What do you love about being a wedding photographer?

I love working with people capturing their favorite moments. The moment they say I do, the moment they hug their children and watch laughter spread across their face or the moment they hold hands and fall in love all over again. I get to see how people look at each other and love and embrace and cry and just be amazing.

 Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography
Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography

Let’s be honest, what do you not love so much about wedding photography?

Honestly, it’s the laundry (from working with kids getting on the floor and getting dirty) and finding comfortable shoes. That’s it. Worst answer ever? Maybe. There is not much I don’t love about this profession. 

You deal with couples on the most important day of their lives, what is something you wish all couples looking at photographers considered or asked?

Full weddings! Before you book, ask to see at least 3 full galleries of the most recent weddings from your photographer! From start to finish, consistency should be a key element when booking a photographer for your wedding day.

Where are some of your favorite engagement session locations?

Downtown Milwaukee, Starved Rock, and The South Shore Cultural Center!

 Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography
Photo credit: Ashley Hamm Photography

What is your favorite wedding venue? Why?

Wandering Tree Estate, Salvage One and Emerson Creek.

Wedding days can be stressful and over in a flash. What do you wish people considered on the day of the wedding?

I would actually prefer it if they didn’t think about it at all. Be in the moment, live it up, smash the cake all over each other’s faces. Be present! I am there to document your day just as it is, so be there and enjoy!

Tell me one thing no one knows about you (but you are okay with the world knowing!)

I own 35 cameras (film and digital) and collect them from all over the world when I travel! I’m also allergic to kiwis 🙂

Thank you, Ashley, for joining me and allowing my corner of the internet to get to know more about you! If you are interested in meeting Ashley, or getting to know more about her, I recommend you reach out directly to her. You can find her corner of the internet by clicking   Ashley Hamm Photography  Tune in next week when I provide my top 5 Engagement Photo tips!