Your B-Boy Entertainer is the Best of the Best – Here’s Why!

You're Hired

Written By Brian Buonassissi, Managing Partner of B-Boy Productions, Inc.

The single most important job I have on the management side of the business is making the right hires. There are other things that matter but the business is driven by the people in it and believe it or not, talent of the individual is not the first thing I look for. Here are 3 things I look for in our entertainers and why it should matter to our clients.

#1: Are they customer service minded?
This is the first thing I assess in a potential hire. Artists/Entertainers generally get a bad rap for being selfish and having a diva-like personality and there’s a fair amount of truth to that. However, the private event world is the epitome of the customer service business. We look for people who are willing to go the extra mile for our clients – whether that means getting to the venue earlier than required or staying at the event later if needed, adjusting to last minute changes or looking for the little things to add to the event that will make the day special. If they don’t cut it here, there’s no need to go to #2 or #3. How do we qualify this in an individual? I look for a few things.

*Have they been in the service industry sector before (i.e. bartender, server, hospitality, banker, lawn care, commission based sales, etc.)? Folks who have worked in those industries know that their income and job security depend on the relationships they make with their clients/customers. Those that succeed are usually outgoing, personable, and generally well-liked. This translates well to being a private event entertainer.

*Do they participate in any volunteer work and/or community service on a regular basis? This could include serving at their religious institution, animal rescue, nursing home, mentoring, tutoring, etc. This area is also critical. Giving of your time and talents says so much about an individual. It means they put others above themselves in a very visible way. It also shows me that they are good with time management because this is usually above and beyond their normal day to day schedule. Lastly, it shows me that they possess passion. That is hard to fake because if it’s not genuine, it won’t be sustainable.

*How do they handle pressure? It is a running joke amongst our staff that one of my “Brian-isms” I say often is, “Expect the unexpected,” when they are on a job. At an event, it can run the gamut – weather problems, venue issues, gear glitches, etc. – so it’s imperative that the entertainer (who is typically the face of the event) is somebody who is calm, collected and can navigate through these hurdles. I always ask in an interview process, “Has there been a time where things have not gone your way? How have you handled that? Is that a comfortable place for you?”

#2: How do they present themselves?
At first glance, this may sound rather vain and you may be thinking, “You mean, you select your hires based on their looks?” Whether we want to admit it or not, looks matter – especially in the private event world. Professional photographers are constantly snapping photos at private events, some clients may hire videographers and this potential entertainer could end up on a client’s video for years to come. So yes, looks matter. But that only tells part of the story. When I interview someone who is well put together, it means that they took some time with their appearance. I’m not expecting Armani suits or salon-esque hair styling (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing), but how they look does convey to me whether or not they care. Also, these people are usually in shape. Staying in shape takes intentional time carved out of their day to exercise at the gym and eat right. It gives me more confirmation of their ability to manage their time which, again, is crucial to being an entertainer for our company. I also look to their social networking posts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc.). How are they communicating on a daily basis? Are they generally a positive person or constantly irritable and complaining? A lot of written correspondence occurs between our clients and entertainers so it’s important that I can see what their natural, everyday writing ability is like. Lastly, I listen to their speech during an interview. How do they phrase their answers? Public speaking is at least 50% of our job as an entertainer and while this can and is taught to all of our entertainers, the learning curve can be minimal if they are able to articulate themselves verbally in a concise, professional manner.

#3: Would you pay a cover to watch them perform?
When it comes to live musicians, this is very easy to quantify. I’m looking for something unique and special about the entertainer. We have never settled in this arena for the “status quo” private event musician. Everybody on our roster is extremely talented and the type of act you’d pay  to watch. When it comes to our DJs/MCs, it’s a little different because we train them from the ground up in most cases. It’s more about seeing the potential in someone much like a team talent scout would do in evaluating an athlete. As I’ve gotten older and done this more often, I tend to pick the right ones and rarely miss. When we send the DJ/MC out completely trained (which for us takes a full year to do), our clients will feel like their money was well spent and that’s important to us.

Through this post, I hope you’ve gotten a little glimpse into what goes into our hiring process. It isn’t about making the quick dollar for us. We have an extremely rigid vetting process when it comes to hires and those that we bring on, are generally with us a long time. You can be assured you’re in good hands with a B-Boy Productions, Inc. entertainer. We currently still have availability for 2013 so contact us today to book an entertainer for your event. For a complete list of our staff, go here.

Event Trends – Photo Booth Rentals

Stand-Alone Photo Booth

Every year in the DJ and entertainment industry we see new trends that become the “in” thing to feature at weddings and events. So far this year we are seeing colorful reception additions such as The Harlem Shake; non-traditional first dances; eclectic play lists as event hosts become more music savvy and single song purchases become more readily available; and the addition of more entertainment options to even “traditional” events.

One entertainment option that continues to be wildly popular is the stand-alone photo booth. The booth provides a fun diversion for guests, plus added memories and souvenir photos that can bring a lot of spirit and hilarious interactions to the party.

Photo Booth Fun

B-Boy Productions, Inc. partners with ShutterPods, Inc. out of Fort Walton Beach, FL for photo booth rentals for our Florida division. They offer our clients a discounted rate, in addition to their professional (and fun!) on-site booth attendants and this can be added to your existing B-Boy package and booked through us directly!

But don’t just take our word for it … We asked Todd Siegrist, co-owner of ShutterPods, Inc. to tell you a little bit more about what photo booth rental brings to the party:

1. Why should I consider budgeting for a photo booth at my event when I have a photographer and guests are taking photos with their phones already?

If you’ve never been to a wedding reception with a photo booth, then the benefit is just difficult to put into words. Not only will it give your guests something fun to do and a gift to take home, but our photo booth creates a really cool dynamic by bringing your guests (often complete strangers) together. Since the photos are immediately viewable on an HD monitor on the outside of the booth, your guests stand outside and laugh with each other as they watch. There’s nothing else you can do at your reception that promotes this kind of fun and positive interaction for your guests.

Photo Booth For Your Event

2. Will the photo booth look out of place at my event? Can it be customized to match my décor?

The complete opposite is true! Our booth won’t just blend in, but rather it will compliment your décor and look beautiful. The booth is all white and nearly seamless, and we can even customize the LED lights around the top of the booth to match your wedding colors. The minute you lay eyes on a ShutterPods Photo Booth you’ll want it at your reception.

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3. Do my guests get to keep their candid photos? Or do I get to keep them?

Both! Your guests will receive their lab quality prints within 10 seconds to keep for themselves. They also have the ability to immediately share their photos by uploading to Facebook or sending to their email right from inside the booth. Then, at the end of the night, you will receive a flash drive with all of the high resolution event photos. Let the blackmailing begin!

Stand-Alone Photo Booth Rental

4. What comes standard with the photo booth rental? And what other “must have” add-ons should I get?

You’ll always have a professional on-site attendant, prop table, unlimited prints and a flash drive of all your photos at the end of the night. For a small upcharge you can upload to Facebook from the booth, get double or triple prints, choose your favorite photo for a full 4×6 print, record video messages and more!

Stand-Alone Photo Booth

5. Just curious, how many people can fit into a photo booth at once?

The booth will comfortably sit 2, easily fit 3, barely fit 4 and with the help of an open bar, 5 is possible.

ShutterPods Photo Booth Rental

6. Can the DJ announce a “funniest photo” contest or something similar to get a competitive photo taking spirit going? I want to blackmail my friends after the event! (Just kidding.)

This is actually a FANTASTIC idea. Thank you!

Photo Booth Fun For Your Event

So now that you’re convinced that photo booth rental will add spice and hilarity to your party, just call B-Boy Productions Inc. today (888.825.0655) to add one to your scheduled event!

Vendor Profile: Cloud Nove Events – Wedding Planning and Coordination

Regina of Cloud Nove Events

Photo courtesy of  Alan Abrams Photography

Cloud Nove Events is a full-service event planning company that provides hands-on attention to all the details of planning your special event — from helping you develop a budget, to selecting vendors, to day-of coordination services. But their services go above and beyond just “traditional” planning, and extend to elements like customized invitations, honeymoon planning, destination weddings, etiquette advisement and more.

We checked in with founder and chief planner, Regina Cialone and asked some questions about Cloud Nove Events:

How did you get started in the event planning business and what is your background?

I started Cloud Nove Events in 2009 with one goal in mind: to help as many couples as possible be stress free throughout their engagement, and most importantly, on their big day. I’ve worked with nonprofit events for over 12 years, and have experience in fine dining, directing and stage managing theater, and budget management. I knew I had a talent for pulling things together efficiently and with the most impact, and coming from a huge family I am no stranger to drama and complex relationship dynamics. Wedding planning is a natural fit for me.

Where are your offices physically located and what areas do you cover for events? Do you travel upon request?

The Cloud Nove Events studio is located on the south shore of Long Island in Lindenhurst, NY.  The space provides a relaxed comfortable environment for us to hold consultations, meetings, and various vendor trials and tastings. We also host wedding planning guidance and education workshops and events.  We serve Manhattan to Montauk!

What do you love most about being an event planner?

There is a moment, usually during or after the first dance, where the couple looks at each other and smiles. The nerves of the day are gone, everything has gone perfectly (or near perfectly!), and here they are breathing a sigh of relief and just happy to be in one another’s arms. That’s a great moment. And I’m always proud to have helped in some small way to make that moment happen.

One piece of advice regarding hiring an event planner?

Realize you can work with an event planner for all levels of service –perhaps you just need help finding the perfect venue, or maybe you’d like someone to handle all of the details from start to finish.

Many of the couples who come to me are worried that they don’t have enough time to get all of the wedding planning done. Some worry that they do not have enough resources and want help executing their vision while staying within a limited budget. No matter what the reason they come to me, I work best with couples who enjoy laughing and smiling and want the wedding planning process to be fun and enjoyable! You’re going to spend a lot of important moments with your event planner, so select someone who you trust, genuinely like, and would want to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with.

Photo courtesy of Alan Abrams Photography

Photo courtesy of Alan Abrams Photography

What trends are you seeing for 2013 events/weddings?

I don’t think this qualifies as a trend, but I see a lot of couples who have seen things at other weddings and then think they need to have them at their own. They ask me, “What do you think? Do I have to have a slipper basket/cry packs/petal cones/pashmina basket/garter toss/symmetrical bridal party/etc.” and I always answer “You don’t have to have anything. Is this important to you? Is this something you envision will make your day more special and more unique to you as a couple? If not, it’s superfluous. Keep it simple and authentic to you.”

Visit the Cloud Nove website or Facebook page to learn more about how Regina and her team of professionals can help you realize your dreams for your special day!

 

Entertainer Profile: DJ Brian Buonassissi

DJ Brian B NYC

Photo courtesy of Miller Mobley Photography

It’s time to get a little more personal with the guy who started B-Boy Productions, Inc., Brian Buonassissi. If you follow Brian’s Facebook or Twitter posts, you’ll quickly see this guy is one busy individual. If he’s not flying around the country DJ’ing some of the best private events in the US, he’s working on new podcast episodes, scouting/training new talent, remixing new music, or planning the next move for the company. We were able to snag a few minutes of his time to ask him a few questions about how he got started, what separates him from the rest, and even a few personal things.

Where are you physically at today?
Ha! Today I’m in NYC but I’m leaving on Thursday to take the wife on what I’m calling a “mini getaway” to run a ½ marathon in California. Don’t ask me how I convinced her to do this run because I seriously have no idea. It’s been a very busy start to 2013 so this weekend trip is definitely needed to recharge the batteries (that is, if you can call running a ½ marathon recharging).

How did you get started DJ’ing?
I actually started as a club DJ back in 1996 working at a restaurant in San Clemente, CA that would turn into a pseudo “dance club” after 10PM.  This was a really small space (fire code maxed out at 125) but we’d squeeze in as many folks as we could.  It was an open format so pretty much anything musically could be played.  I might be dating myself by saying this, but I’d actually record my sets on cassette tape so I could listen to the mixes after the night was over and work on getting better.  I have to thank the patrons who showed up week after week because that’s where I cut my teeth in learning  how to format and really beat mix.  I started DJ’ing just Saturday nights but the night got so popular that they added a 2nd night of dancing on Fridays, moving their mainstay karaoke night from Fridays to Thursdays.

When did you start DJ’ing private events?
My first private event was a wedding for one of the nightclub patrons.  I had no idea how to structure a reception back then.  It was just a more “formal” nightclub dance party. I started getting more and more requests to DJ private events, so I decided to work for a private event entertainment company for a year to really learn the ins and outs and did everything from school dances to weddings to company holiday parties.

How did you get your first celebrity event?
DJ’ing was initially just a weekend side job for me.  My day job was working for Pioneer Electronics (a DJ hardware manufacturer). I was hired as their Marketing Manager and through that position, where I was constantly working with Hollywood execs in product placement, I ended up DJ’ing a lot of movie and TV wrap parties and it started to spread from there.  I also got to work at the X Games, Disney, Virgin Records album release parties and some of the best clubs in Vegas, Miami, New York, etc.  That led to private events with P Diddy, Kid Rock, Elton John, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Los Angeles Lakers, etc.  To say I had a sweet situation is an understatement.

When did you branch out to FL and NY?
I realized that the corporate life was not for me (at least at that time). I wanted to run my own business and build something that had my personal stamp on it.  In 2006, I went to FL to be the headlining DJ at the largest nightclub in the panhandle (they would average 1,800-2,000 patrons a night)  and had my own live radio mixshow that was mixed straight from the club.  I did that for 6 months and the phone calls were pouring in to have me DJ private parties. So after a year DJ’ing in the club scene in Florida, I stopped to focus on private events exclusively in both the California and Florida markets and even some “one-off events” in various spots throughout the country.  No one in the local Florida area was DJ’ing private events the way I was DJ’ing them.  The demand was growing so quickly that we started hiring/training entertainers to fill the requests.  We built a strong presence and became the “go to” entertainment company in the area.  Looking back on it now, I feel like we really changed the game there. We always trained from the ground up and now a few of the guys we trained have gone on and done their own thing in the panhandle. While some could look at it like they are now my competition, with what I am doing and seeing in the bigger markets combined with the amount of training we do with our guys and national industry shows we attend, it keeps us ahead of the curve with what we bring to local panhandle market. Plus as a result of what I started in the area and having trained a lot of those guys personally, it only helps elevate the industry as a whole and gives even more clients the ability to experience quality entertainment even if they don’t go with us.  NY came about because that is where the best of the best are in the entertainment field.  CA and FL from a management side were built to be self-sufficient. I felt like I had maxed out with what I could do in the Florida market from a personal standpoint of DJ’ing and I wanted to push the envelope.  I had DJ’d a handful of events in NY over the years and there is nothing else like them.  The diversity and musical knowledge that NY crowds have are unlike any other.  So with relatively little contacts, we decided to venture out and give it a shot.  NY is a city that generally takes time to develop your business. But every now and then, if you get that one shot with the right person, it can be a game changer. We’re ready either way the chips fall!

How would you describe your DJ’ing style?
Musically, it generally is a hybrid of retro, current top 40, and progressive music all in one.  I love weaving in and out of all kinds of genres and putting things together that you just wouldn’t think would work but just do.  It’s always makes me smile when I see a 40-50 year old wedding guest dancing to some Avicii or Zedd and they are truly into it!  It’s gotta be mixed in at exactly the right time and you can only know how and when to drop tracks like that with experience.  As far as overall entertainment experience, 80% is the music and 20% of it is the MC’ing when it comes to my shows. Too many private event DJs rely so much on the MC’ing that they let the music stuff slide.  I think that’s so unfortunate and I cringe whenever I see it happen live.

What makes you different than the rest?
I get this question a lot and it’s always such a tough thing to put into words.  My live shows have to be experienced to really get a full understanding.  I am able to walk into pretty much any room and quickly assess what the pulse of the crowd is and give them the best party of their life.  I’ve done every type of ethnic party and party type (school dance, weddings, corporate parties, etc.) imaginable and have DJ’d all across the US so I know what will work to make the party come alive no matter where I’m at.  It may sound like I’m bragging but I can’t even begin to tell you how many clients have said after almost every event, “You are the best (private event) DJ I’ve ever seen.”  I, of course, feel honored but it’s a testament to all the hours I put into my craft. I spend countless hours (and a ton of late nights) finding or making my own edits of the best tracks out there and am always honing my MC chops to give my clients the finest entertainment experience I can within the 4-6 hours I’m with them.

What’s your favorite part of DJ’ing?
It might sound cheesy, but I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of people when I’m DJ’ing.  Music is the universal language.  No matter what baggage people may walk into the room with, I can usually make them forget about it and more often than not, music is the perfect remedy.  For weddings, it is probably that couple’s most important day they’ll ever have.  To know that they’ve entrusted me with it still gives me goose bumps every time I get behind the decks.  I love that what I do is making an impact in the lives of my clients.

Where do you see B-Boy going next?
Right now, our focus is in NY – really making a name for ourselves in the Manhattan area. Our other divisions in CA and FL continue to flourish and I do personally go back and DJ some of the elite parties there. We have a desire to launch 2 more regional locations – one in Chicago and one in Hawaii. While that is the plan, I’ve learned that nothing is set in stone in this business. You have to be willing to go where the winds are taking you.

What are your hobbies?  What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a huge LA sports guy so I love watching Lakers or Dodger games (in person or TV).  I’m also an avid reader and try to knock out 2 or 3 books a month.  One of my other passions is travel, which makes DJ’ing across the country a way to take advantage of that.  I also love serving in the local church.  It feels great to give my time and money to things that I know have eternal impact.  This might be the most cliché answer ever but truly my favorite thing to do is spend time with the wife.  Of course, if it includes the stuff above, I’d  be in heaven.  But, honestly it doesn’t really matter as long as she’s in the equation. She’s put her life on hold to see me realize my dreams and she’ll never know how much that means to me.

We’ll end this interview with having you give us your favorite to 10 quick questions:
Favorite color?  Blue.
Favorite Season?  ALL – Fall in Florida, Summer in California, Winter in NYC and Spring in all 3!
Favorite food? It has to be a filet.
Favorite things about NY?  Diversity, food, culture and driven work ethic.
Favorite Airport?  It’s a toss-up between CLT (Charlotte) and SNA (Orange County, Calif).
Favorite place to vacation: Still working on that one.  Anything beachy with little to zero humidity, great amenities and wifi!
Favorite book you’ve read this past year? Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – it will make your worst day not seem so bad.
Favorite Movie:  I love comedies so anything with Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd or Steve Carell in it.
Favorite Musical Artist?  I’d have to go with Michael Jackson.  His stuff will always be timeless.
Favorite Private Event? It would have to be working a bat mitzvah a few years ago for the President of CBS’ daughter at the Four Seasons Restaurant in NYC.  They pulled out all the stops for this. Never seen anything like it.

Top Destination Wedding Venues in Destin, Florida and the Emerald Coast – Part 1

Top Destination Wedding Venues in Destin, Florida and the Emerald Coast

Ah, the destination wedding … creating memories to last a lifetime in a location with unparalleled beauty and ambiance!

It’s no wonder that Destin, Florida consistently ranks at the top of the list for domestic wedding getaways – sugar sand beaches, emerald green waters (they don’t call it The Emerald Coast for nothing!), warm gulf breezes and friendly natives.

With a DJ and entertainment company division located in Destin – and with years of experience living and working in the local area – B-Boy Productions, Inc. has a unique perspective on recommending top wedding venues … we’ve worked at most of them!

The list of recommended venues is extensive, so we’re going to just start with a select few and make this a multi-part series!

Henderson Park Inn – Destin, FL

This romantic bed and breakfast hotel is at the secluded end of a beachfront road, and offers spectacular views of the gulf; wedding ceremonies on the beach or West or East lawn; catered receptions on the lawn or the Veranda; and luxurious accommodations for wedding guests.

Henderson Park Inn added a North Lawn across the street for larger guest counts as well as an adjacent parking area, which adds convenience for wedding guests not staying at the property (since parking is very limited at the Inn).

*Note that Henderson Park Inn is an adults-only property for accommodations, but children are allowed to attend weddings/events.

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The Venue at Crystal Beach – Destin, Florida

This open-air venue is owned/managed by the folks at Henderson Park Inn, and will be coming soon to the space right next door to the inn. This 3-1 one venue will feature a stained concrete deck area, a lawn area, and a beachfront area – all with completely unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico.

While still under construction, they do have a few artist renderings of the new space, and you can contact Christine Walker at 850.200.3614 for more information about advance booking.

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Eden Gardens State Park – Point Washington, Florida

The park encompasses 161 acres in the midst of South Walton County in the Florida panhandle, along the shores of Tucker Bayou and the Choctawhatchee Bay. The site boasts numerous gardens; reflecting pools; towering moss-draped oaks; serene waterways; and the historic 110-year-old Wesley House.

Eden Gardens State Park has a pavilion that provides an enclosed area for approximately 150 guests to sit and eat, plus a large food preparation room. The park is available for rentals by contacting the Event Director at the park office.

This FAQ will provide helpful information when considering an event at the state park — Read FAQ »

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Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village – Destin, FL

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village offers a wide array of indoor and outdoor locations that provide the perfect backdrop for wedding ceremonies and receptions.

For those not interested in sand between their toes during the ceremony, Emerald Grande includes a breathtaking outdoor deck with a grand staircase for creating an unforgettable entrance.

On-staff event planners and culinary professionals make planning super easy, and special accommodation packages such as the Sweetheart Package and Honeymoon Package offer wedding parties great value.

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Sandestin Beach Hilton – Sandestin, FL

Consistently voted as one of the top Florida resorts – and currently ranked #26 on the Conde Nast Travelers Top U.S. Resort Spas – this beachfront hotel offers all the amenities a bride and groom could dream of, plus 32,000+ square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor space to accommodate any dream wedding plan.

Beach weddings at the Sandestin Hilton are treated with an eye for detail that gets rave reviews from wedding parties and guests: a wedding arbor with fresh flower décor, a champagne toast for guests, tiki torches with greenery, a limousine for the bridal party, and more. We also love that security comes with the ceremony packages to ensure a somewhat private space is secured for your location without sunbathers strolling by or ending up in your pictures.

One of the specialties of the Hilton is feeding guests with bountiful hors d’oeuvres and lavish dinner spreads, both for rehearsal dinners and receptions. And special touches for busy bridal parties can include Bride’s Dressing Room Refreshments and Groomsmen on the Go menus. They offer cocktail hour/reception space on numerous outside decks or inside ballroom spaces during the hot and cold months. The indoor ballrooms act as a “day of” rain alternative which can be quite the cost/location saver, eliminating the need for tents or switching venues at the last minute.

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WaterSound Beach Club – Watersound, FL

This private beach club is set among the rolling dunes of WaterSound Beach, with sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico and private boardwalk access to an exclusive beach.

There are multiple options for ceremonies and receptions at WaterSound Beach Club, including poolside among the generous terraces and 14,000 square feet of pool decks surrounded by sprawling green lawns; or the grandeur of a the Shark Tooth Golf Club with it’s sophisticated art glass windows and chandeliers, fireplaces, and natural wood and stone interiors.

The wedding team at WaterSound prides themselves on their ability to personalize a wedding to each couple’s unique vision.

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Bentley’s on the Bay – Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

There are so many things to love about this venue!

Location – Situated on the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay in Santa Rosa Beach, conveniently located between Destin and Panama City Beach, and close to all of the little resort towns along the 30A corridor.

Space – Bentley’s on the Bay can accommodate both large and small events. They offer over 3600 square feet of covered and open deck for bayside weddings and receptions of up to 200 guests. And indoor areas with amazing views and 2200 square feet of space.

Privacy – Bentley’s only hosts one event per day, assuring that your wedding gets the attention it deserves.

Resources – This venue offers a team of event professionals to assist in planning your event; day-of coordination services; and even rentals for tables, chairs and linens.

Food – Oh yes, a dedicated caterer and pastry chef. Fresh ingredients and artful presentation.

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And to round out our destination wedding venue review (part one), here are some helpful tips from professional destination wedding planners:

  1. Pick a destination that can fulfill your needs. Think about your dream wedding and decide what best represents your vision – a wedding on the beach, overlooking the beach, underneath a gazebo for sun protection, etc.
  2. Send pictures of your ideal setup – from chairs to floral displays – to your wedding planner. It will help your planner to assure that the destination offers everything you’re looking for.
  3. Don’t forget a ceremony sound system when planning a beach wedding. Whether on a beachfront terrace or with your toes in the sand, there is always plenty of ambient noise that could inhibit your guests from hearing your vows. A ceremony sound system assures that your guests will here the all-important “I Dos.”

Watch for more Destin, Florida venue information in future posts!

(And if your wedding/reception venue is not listed yet, please feel free to contact us with your venue details and photos for the next blog post/s. Thanks!)

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 3

Taking Off Garter

Photo courtesy of (c) Michael K Photography

It’s time to wrap up our 3 part series on wedding reception formality music.  The Grand Entrance and main family dances are all pretty well known.  But what other formalities do you need music for?  This post is going to answer just that.  Here are the typical ones:

  • Toasts
  • Bridal Party Dance
  • Cake Cut
  • Bouquet Toss
  • Garter Removal
  • Garter Toss
  • Money Dance/Dollar Dance

 

Most people wouldn’t even think about needing music for these areas but picking the right tunes can definitely be the “icing on the cake” to your reception.  While the Grand Entrance music sets the tone, these formality song choices build on the theme/vibe you’ve selected for your party.  Let’s jump right into it.


Toasts
The toast music could also be referred to as walking music.  Think about live productions like the Grammy’s, Oscars or variety shows.  When someone wins an award or a transition occurs, there’s typically always background music being played.  Why is this important?  It keeps the dreaded (and awkward) “dead air” from occurring and the energy from dying off.  It’s a subtle thing but can really make a big difference.  In the context of the wedding toast, you can go 2 different ways.  This can be simple instrumental music (think instrumental versions of pop or dance songs) or it can be a personalized song to the toaster.  The toasters are usually family members or friends that know the bride/groom pretty well, so it could be a song that is an inside joke between the two people or an artist you both grew up listening to, the college fight song of the school you both attended, etc.  The audience doesn’t always have to get it. If a bride or groom doesn’t have song picks in mind and wants to defer to us, we’ll make sure to read the crowd energy and pick something that is appropriate for that moment.  In some cases, it’s an upbeat track.  There are other times where it could be a tender moment and it would make sense to have a slower track ready.  We’ll always have about 3 or 4 tracks cued and set to fit any mood.


Bridal Party Dance
As a “stand alone” formality, the bridal party dance has been slowly fading away over the years.  However, this formality can act as vital transition between the family dances and the open dancing segments.  While our DJs are the best at getting people on to the dance floor for open dancing sets, why not use this dance as a way to generate a full dance floor before open dancing, as well as capture a moment on the dance floor with just you, your fiance and your bridal party?  For large bridal parties, you can have just them with the bride & groom.  With the smaller bridal parties, you can invite their significant other or immediate family to join them.  The key to this dance is picking something that is upbeat.  Slow songs can not only be uncomfortable (especially if you have groomsmen and bridesmaids that don’t really know each other) but it can make going into the open dancing segment all the more difficult for your DJ and your crowd.  So what songs should you use?  No, you don’t have to go with the predictable “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge song selection.  We personally like to find out what is the go to genre for your crowd and have you pick a song from there. You don’t want to necessarily pick the hottest track out, because some people will really want to dance to that.  Also, don’t go with a line dance.  The line dances (even the cool ones like Gangnam Style or Cupid Shuffle) are stuff that everyone will want to dance to, so you’ll inevitably have to play it again later if you use it for this formality.


Cake Cut
Ah, the cake cut.  This is THE formality which people always forget about picking a song for. Like the toast, this is used as walking music to move people from the dance floor to the cake cutting area and then as pictures are taken of the cake (or these days cupcake) being cut and fed to their partner.  When picking a song here, go back to the feel you’re going for with your reception.  Do you want it elegant?  Do you want it to be a party?  Do you want it comical?  Whatever it is, take the opportunity to build on that theme with this selection.  Some of the more popular ones we’ve done recently:
*Sugar, Sugar by The Archies (from the hit show “Cake Boss”)
*Cut The Cake by Average White Band (upbeat and fits the theme perfectly)
*That’s Amore by Dean Martin (iconic pick!)
*Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar (a little tongue in cheek)


Bouquet Toss
The key to the bouquet toss is picking a song for the ladies!  It needs to be a woman anthem.  This song choice usually goes in waves and is 99% of the time a top 40 type track of that time period. In the 60s, it was “Respect.” In the 70s, it was “Bad Girls.”  In the 80s, it was “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”  In the 90s, it was the “Lady Marmalade” remix by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Lil Kim and Pink.  In the 2000’s it’s been “California Gurls” by Katy Perry and “Single Ladies” by Beyonce.  So far in 2013, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen is starting to become the go to song selection.


Garter Removal
There are a lot of couples who don’t see the Garter Removal and Garter Toss as 2 separate formalities.  But they really are. By having 2 songs, it allows us to segue between the 2 formalities a lot each easier by fading out the song playing and starting the next one.  For the removal, it’s usually either a comical choice or a more sensual choice.  Everything from “Oh Yeah” to “Let’s Get It On” to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” to “Sex On Fire” has been used.


Garter Toss
This being the opposite of the Bouquet Toss, we’re looking for a male driven type song. There’s not a whole lot out there being written with this lyrical bent so typically the song pick is a bit more retro.  Songs like “Welcome To The Jungle” or the Cops Theme Bad Boys” are still great choices.  Lately, “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO has been used and fits great.


Money Dance/Dollar Dance
This formality, much like the Bridal Party Dance, has been done less and less over the years.  When it does get used, we push for the “genre medley” style.  Back in the 90s, it was a slew of love songs.  Not only is it awkward to dance to those slower tempo songs with strangers but it can suck all the life out of the party if this drags on for 25-30 minutes.  The “genre medley” is where we’ll switch genres every song and try to keep it upbeat.  It’ll go from, say, a motown track to funk/disco to maybe hip hop to big band.  This keeps people guessing and is a whole lot more fun.  This area doesn’t require song picks from the bride and groom (unless of course they want a few played).  Leave it in the DJ’s hands and they’ll pick what’s appropriate for the mood and feel of the event.

So there you have it!  All the reception formalities have been covered.  We hope this has been helpful. Of course, as clients of B-Boy Productions, we’ll be sure to give you the most up-to-date list of song suggestions that we have.  We’re constantly updating it, so you won’t be getting a list that hasn’t been touched since 1984.  Happy song picking!

Dj’ing the “Dream Weddings” at the Empire State Building

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So when arguably the most renowned international event planner, Preston Bailey, calls and asks if you’d be available to work a high profile event at the Empire State Building, what do you do?  You immediately go to your calendar praying to God you’re not already booked.  Once you see you’re available, you get back on the line and say that you are absolutely available.  This was literally how this event came about.

What was this event?  Well, to start, the Empire State Building only allows weddings at their venue 1 day a year – Valentine’s Day (good trivia knowledge for you).  Preston Bailey decided to hold his own personal wedding there at midnight to kick off Valentine’s Day.  He also held a contest where he picked 3 winning couples and designed their wedding for them.  Their weddings were to happen on Valentine’s Day in the same venue where Preston had his and the winning couples could each invite up to 30 of their friends/family to attend.  The gist of the contest was to create a 60 second video ad where you’d tell your story, why you’d want to have your wedding at the EmpireStateBuilding and what it would mean to have Preston design it.  The most creative and moving stories won.

This was my (and come to find out Preston’s) first time running 3 weddings simultaneously at the same venue.  It took a ton of planning and coordination to make this come off without a hitch and to give each couple a unique, individual feel for their wedding.  We had a few subsequent meetings with the Preston Bailey staff (all of them were incredible to work with – from Kathy Romero, Director of Weddings/Event Planning & Client Relations to Brenda Della Rosa, Director of Online Content, to Xoua Vang, CEO of the company) to come up with the game plan.

Preston has a reality show on the WE network and this was being filmed for an episode.  Additionally, there were various media outlets – from local NYC News 1 channel to the AP to People Magazine – reporting on the event.  What a way to kick off the 2013 wedding season!

In addition to Brian B. DJ’ing the reception and providing PA support for the ceremony, we were able to showcase the latest additions to the B-Boy staff, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Cutillo and guitarist Craig Graham.  Both musicians are superbly talented and the ultimate professionals.  Craig played in our cocktail hour/waiting area and Matthew played for the ceremonies and lunch hour.

We loaded in the day before the event.  In case you don’t know, security is tight at the ESB.  You can only load in at certain times during the day, must have 2 forms of ID to enter and they have a full body scanner, similar to the ones you’d find at the airport or other government buildings.  One walk around the venue and you knew this was definitely a one-of-a-kind event.  The décor was some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen and this was just on set-up day.

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We finished set-up in an hour or so and then headed to rehearsal (off-site at a different location).  The couples were all very nice and so excited to have been chosen, which made it all the more special.  Camera crews were there as well documenting the rehearsal.

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The next day we arrived at 7AM for a 9AM  start time.  All the couples and their  guests were in the waiting/cocktail hour area.  The floral décor in that room was amazing and had a window view unlike any  other.

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Craig provided the jazz music as they waited for their ceremonies to happen.

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Ceremony times were 9AM, 10AM and 11AM.  Each ceremony was approximately 20 minutes.  As soon as the ceremony ended, the ceremony décor was changed for the next couple.  It was so impressive to see the look completely change and for it to happen so quickly.  Preston decided to go with a “seasonal” feel for each wedding. One couple had a “winter” theme, another had a “spring” theme and the third couple had a “fall” theme.  They all looked amazing but I was partial to the fall.  Not only is that the season when my wedding took place, but the colors were just so vibrant …especially in person.

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Matt absolutely killed it on vocals and guitar for the ceremonies.  One of the tunes selected was “Marry Me” by Train.  Have you ever tried singing a song with that high of a melody line at 9AM?  Not many can pull it off.  Matt did so and was just exceptional.  We had nothing but compliments about his talent.

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Seguing into the lunch hour, each couple had their private dining room themed to their season.  While I was partial to the “fall” season for the ceremony, the “winter” dining room was my favorite.  The crystals hanging from the centerpieces were stunning.

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The caterer, Cardona Catering and Restaurant Consultant Group, was unbelievable.  Ricardo, the chef and owner, was completely down to earth and the food was so delicious.  Presentation?  What can I say?  It was like a 5 star restaurant experience.

After lunch, we transitioned all the guests to the reception part of the space.  This area was the exact same area that Preston used literally 12 hours ago. The walkway was decorated with different purple and pink florals hanging from the ceiling along with crystal.  LED lights through the sheer panel drapes in the ceiling helped accent the floral choices.

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Once in the reception area, it took your breath away!  The dance floor had floral print decals and the pillars were covered with flowers from top to bottom.

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It was quite a challenge to give every couple exactly what they wanted, with their tastes being so varied, but at the end of the event we know we accomplished just that. The dance floor was packed from start to finish and the couples, guests and the Preston Bailey staff had nothing but complimentary things to say.

The event was a total success.  After what ended up being a 14-15 hour work day, my amazing wife said we could order pizza for Valentine’s Day dinner and I could make it up to her the following night.  How did I get so lucky?  We hope to work more events with Preston Bailey and their team.  We’re so thankful for the opportunity to showcase our company to them and the nation.  Be sure to check out the WE TV for “Preston Bailey Dream Weddings” and see the episode for yourself.

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 2

First Dance

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has a Grand Entrance. Sometimes, it’s a small house wedding and a Grand Entrance would feel out-of-place. Some brides and grooms want to be a part of the cocktail hour with their guests and the element of surprise with the entrance is not needed. There are yet other couples who just don’t want the spotlight on them hardly at all so they’d rather bypass the Grand Entrance.

That said, almost every couple has a First Dance. After the First Dance, the next 2 popular formality dances would be the Father/Daughter dance and the Mother/Son dance. Trying to figure out the right song to use for these can be tricky, especially if music isn’t your thing or dancing isn’t your forte. Here’s a few things to keep in mind with the formality dances:

WHY DO THE DANCES AT ALL?

The formalities are more about the pictures that are taken during them than they are about the sentiments of the dance itself. If you’re not looking for these dance photo opportunities, it’s completely OK and not against etiquette to do only one or none of these dances. Don’t feel pressured to do them. It is all about you and your significant other. In this day and age, everything is customized. No longer do couples have to feel the added pressure of doing all the formalities of past generations.

CONSIDER THE LENGTH OF THE TRACK …

More often than not, ballads can be unusually long. An average song length for most tracks is around 3 minutes. Ballads, however, can range anywhere from 4-6 minutes. That can seem like an eternity if you’re not a natural-born dancer. You may be thinking, “If we cut it short, does it hurt the photography?” Not at all. Professional photographers are snapping a to of shots in milliseconds. After 2 minutes, they more than likely have enough shots of the dance from every angle possible. So, unless the song has extreme meaning to both of you or you have choreography for the dance, consider picking a shorter song or have the DJ fade out the track after 2-3 minutes. Not to mention, the quicker the formalities conclude, the quicker you can get to the open dancing and get your guests involved and the party can really go up another notch!

MAKE SURE THE SONG HAS A BEAT …

This is so often overlooked. If dancing isn’t your strong suit, using a song that has a beat can be extremely helpful. This doesn’t mean the song has to have a rock type sound with huge drums. It just needs something where you can feel the pulse of the tempo.

ADD A LIVE ELEMENT …

This can give a creative twist to any of your formality dances. If you have a live musician for your cocktail hour, consider keeping him/her there to do the First Dance as soon as the grand entrance is over. It’s an extra 5 or so minutes after the cocktail hour but can give the song a more intimate or custom feel. Another option is to have a vocalist sing to a karaoke track. It used to be tough to find karaoke tracks. Now with all music going digital, you can find the karaoke or instrumental for virtually any song.

First Dance
Traditionally, this dance was supposed to be a song that had deep meaning between the bride and groom. While that still can be the case, these days it’s happening less and less. If the song doesn’t instantly come to the both of you, here’s some thoughts.

FIND A SONG THAT IS TIMELESS …

One of the things my wife and I kept in mind while looking for our own First Dance song was that we wanted the song to still be relevant 50 years from now when we request it at a future wedding we attend or better yet, when we’re dancing at out our own 50th wedding anniversary surprise party! This does NOT mean you have to dance to the original version of a track necessarily (although there are some great ones). So many songs have great arrangements or covers done by current artists. With YouTube, you might even find an amazing version of your song by an amateur that you want to use. Check out some of these examples:

 

THE MASHUP …

This is the latest trend in First Dances. This creates a memorable and creative way to handle a traditionally slow type of dance, not to mention that it brings energy and typically humor to the event immediately. If you’re not familiar with a “mashup”, this is where you take at least 2 tracks and mash them together into 1 song. You don’t have to necessarily create the custom track yourself. At B-Boy, we can create a custom edit for you (at no charge). Also, this is a great way to help make a “non dancer” look great because you can choreograph it! This is also something to be sure to get on video! Here’s some of the best we’ve seen.

Armanda & Joe:

 

Chad and Shawna (personal friends of ours):

 

THE SIGNATURE FIRST DANCE …

This is a custom and personal touch that we at B-Boy started in the Panhandle of Florida and have adopted in our other markets. This is where we meet with the bride and groom in person (preferably) or over the phone or virtually through the internet before the event and record them separately telling the story of how they first met or how they got engaged. We then take the “best of” from the interviews and splice it in various parts of the first dance as if they’re telling the story together. We surprise not only their guests but also the bride/groom with this gift. We give the bride/groom a keepsake of the custom song on a CD with the raw interviews. Crowds are either tearing up, laughing hysterically or both. Here’s a few of the ones we’ve done.

Graeme & Christen:

 

Paul & Kristin:

 

Father/Daughter Dance

A lot of the same concepts from above apply here as well. Dances with parents can be awkward if you’re not a dancing family. Those are the couples that tend to need our help finding a song. In those instances, I encourage them to find something upbeat and fun. The dance steps don’t have to be perfect in faster songs. The other problem that couples run into is there aren’t many songs these days ritten about a father/daughter relationship. Not to worry…pick a song about the woman. There are a ton of tracks about that. A couple popular ideas from the past year are:

 

Mother/Son Dance

By far, this is the toughest dance to find a song for no matter if you are a dancer or not. If you thought songs written about a father/daughter relationship are scarce, try finding one about a mother/son (and harder yet is finding one that isn’t cheesy). Good luck. Most men don’t dance with their moms often anyway, making the song selection choice that much tougher. A generic song about “gratitude” is always a safe route. Another idea is to defer to your mom in the selection of the song. Typically, her role in the wedding is minimal so this will give her a feeling of importance and purpose. Regardless, keep it upbeat and pick a short song. A few of the more popular selections we’ve used in the last year are:

 

Hope these tips are helpful. Again, if you’re a client of ours, e-mail us and we’ll send you a more comprehensive list of song ideas. Good luck in your selections! Our next and last installment of the formality series will deal with the other misc. formalities that need custom songs selected.

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 1

Grand Entrance

Image courtesy of GwyneMark Photography

Almost every wedding reception has at least one formality that needs a special song selected. Having a tough time figuring out which formalities need a song and/or what song to use? Maybe you’ve already gone online and googled “wedding formalities” for ideas. If you’re like the vast majority of the couples we know, most of the songs you’ll find are either cheesy, old, played out or don’t fit you and your fiancé! In the next few posts, we’re going to dissect the formalities and hopefully, with what is now our 17 years in the business, we’ll get you on the right track to finding the perfect music for your reception. This particular post is going to be directed at the Grand Entrance. It’s such an important formality that it needs an entire post dedicated entirely to it. The other formalities will be covered in part 2 and 3 of this series.

GRAND ENTRANCE

From a DJ perspective, the grand entrance is one of, if not THE most important area to spend time picking out a song. Why? Because it sets the tone for the entire reception. Seriously, if there is one formality to really give some TLC with the song choice, this is it! Your guests’ first taste of your vision for the night is based on the music selected for this entrance. So a couple things to keep in mind:

DECIDE ON A THEME
What type of feel do you want your event to have? A formal vibe? A more Classic Rock theme? A high-energy party atmosphere? Whatever it is, once you decide this piece of the puzzle, it’ll set you on a path in picking the perfect song(s). But keep in mind, the theme must be decided first before going on.

PICK MUSIC WITH ENERGY
Regardless of the theme, the track should have some energy. Nothing can stunt the potential of your party like a boring song to start the night. And don’t think for a moment that if you pick something other than a “Party Atmosphere” as your theme that this can’t be accomplished. For example, if you want that “classic/timeless” feel, 2 of our favorite tunes to consider would be either “At Last” by Etta James or “It Had To Be You” by Harry Connick, Jr. Both have a great build-up with huge fanfare in the intro and then drop perfectly for the introduction of the newlywed couple. So it doesn’t have to be a modern track (necessarily) to achieve that energy that is needed for a memorable entrance.

CONSIDER AN INSTRUMENTAL OR A TRACK WITH SPARSE VOCALS
This is usually the last thing on a couple’s radar but makes a huge difference. No matter how popular a song is, it is tough introducing anyone over a track with vocals. Think about radio MCs. Do you ever hear them making announcements over anything other than the intro of a song? Of course not. With a grand entrance, announcing the bridal party over a song with vocals will inevitably cause something to suffer – either the MC or the track. So we suggest picking a song with zero or minimal vocals. One instrumental track that worked well for us this past year was “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. People instantly recognize this song when the synths come in so you don’t even need the vocals for this one. We’ve made custom edits to certain tracks using the instrumental for the verses and then bring in the original with the vocals for a chorus to break it up. Can’t find the true instrumental of a track? Here’s a trick. Look up the karaoke version. There’s almost always a karaoke track for just about every popular tune out there and the quality of karaoke tracks has gotten substantially better over the years.

PICK 2 SONGS FOR A BRIDAL PARTY WITH 6 OR MORE PEOPLE
Most couples coming in to meet with us think one track is all that is needed for a grand entrance. We recommend 2 tracks. Selecting 2 songs does 2 things:
-Allows for a natural segue way between introducing the bridal party and the bride/groom.
-Gives the bride/groom their own moment in the spotlight

If you only have 2-4 people in your bridal party, one track can work fine. Any more than that, we always recommend 2 songs. There have been a few clients who want to take it to the extreme in the other direction and have a different track for each person in the bridal party. Not only can that be tough for the DJ to juggle but the impact you’re trying make is going to be hard to achieve. The walk-in generally takes only 20-30 seconds which means that unless you’re doing custom edits or cueing to the hook of the song for every track, you may get just the intro of the song before the next one needs to start. Stick with the 2 song approach and you’ll create a smooth and memorable Grand Entrance.

This post wouldn’t be complete without some song recommendations. I’ve given you just a few song ideas below based on the specific themes I mentioned above (our complete list is reserved for our clients). We’re constantly updating our song suggestion list for formalities so be sure to e-mail us for the most recent list. In our next post, we’ll tackle the First Dance, Father/Daughter Dance, and Mother/Son Dance.

CLASSIC/FORMAL
At Last – Etta James
It Had To Be You – Harry Connick, Jr.
Jump Jive An’ Wail – Brian Setzer
Viva La Vida – Coldplay

CLASSIC ROCK
Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
Rock & Roll Part 2 – Gary Glitter
Sirius – Alan Parsons Project
We Will Rock You – Queen

CURRENT TOP 40
Don’t Stop The Party – Pitbull
Let’s Go – Ne-Yo & Calvin Harris
Levels – Avicii
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
Turn Up The Music – Chris Brown

LAID BACK VIBE
Say Hey (I Love) – Michael Franti  & Spearhead
You Are The Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne

OLD SCHOOL
It Takes Two – Rob Base
Let’s Get Married (Remix) – Jagged Edge with Run DMC

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