Vendor Spotlight: Christina D’Asaro Design

“What I’m most amazed by is how you can change the entire dynamic of an event simply by the pieces of paper that you hand out to your guests.”

Those were my words to Christina of Christina D’Asaro Design the day we sat down to look at her portfolio. She specializes in custom paper-based products – everything from event invitations, to hand-held fans for an outdoor event, to coasters, to accordion-style programs for weddings. Her passion is to enable people to carry out the vision of their event from start to finish – from the second a guest receives their invitation to the moment they leave with party favors adorned with custom-printed labels.

Christina D'Asaro original coaster design

Christina D’Asaro original coaster design

Christina has a background in Fine and Visual Arts and a B.S. in Communications from Boston University. She spent ten years helping top-tier companies effectively market and brand themselves, and then, with her love of all things paper and her years of professionalism and experience, she left to create her own design company.

Christina D'Asaro Custom Favor Bags

Christina D’Asaro Custom Favor Bags

Christina provides personal consulting for her customers, and invests the time to get to know them well. She finds out what they care about, what they love, what they dislike, and if it’s a wedding, she gets to know the bride and groom’s story. She is then able to think outside the box, guided by the personality of her clients, to make their events come to life in ways they may not have otherwise known possible.

Christina D'Asaro Custom Save the Date

Christina D’Asaro Custom Save the Date

Christina D'Asaro Custom Save the Date

Christina D’Asaro Custom Save the Date

That’s what is so special about Christina – she pays attention to what her clients love and invents new ways to showcase it. She finds what’s special and makes sure it’s emphasized.

For a couple’s shower at a horse race track, she not only designed a beautiful invitation, but she also custom made bidding tickets that, instead of having horses to bid on, had trivia about the bride and groom. Far from being a formality, these unique pieces reinforced the summertime derby vibe that the couple wanted to bring to life.

Christina D'Asaro Custom Betting Slips

Christina D’Asaro Custom Betting Slips

Christina D'Asaro Custom Invitation

Christina D’Asaro Custom Invitation

Another great example of her creative concepts are “advice cards” for a wedding that depicted various scenarios. One said “When they have their first fight as a married couple.” Another said, “When they buy their first house,” and another, “When they have their first child,” etc. Guests could provide their piece of advice for the bride and groom, and place it in a box for the bride and groom to take with them to read and enjoy on their honeymoon. I told her how much that would change the reception – I could just see all of the guests going from table to table, trying to figure out how many different questions there were and what pieces of advice their friends and relatives gave. It’s these simple elements Christina creates that can add to the fun for guests and also serve as a great gift for the newlyweds.

If those examples aren’t custom enough for you, she can put her fine arts background to work. For one wedding that she did at the Bryant Park Grill, she hand-sketched the entrance and a side view of the venue. She then scaled down the one the client preferred and placed it on several pieces she created for the event. She did the same using watercolors to create safari animals for a custom photo album, given as a gift.

This attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile are what set Christina D’Asaro and her designs apart. Her level of skill and level of attention to her clients are rare even on their own, but together they make her an asset to anyone who is looking for custom-designed paper goods that help tell their story.

Christina D'Asaro Custom RSVP, Envelope, and Stamp

Christina D’Asaro Custom RSVP, Envelope, and Stamp

Christina D'Asaro Custom Gift Bag Tags

Christina D’Asaro Custom Gift Bag Tags

 

Loft227: The Event Space We’ve Been Waiting For

“I wanted to build New York. I wanted to build something that would stand the test of time.” Robin Sokoloff – jack-of-all-trades events extraordinaire – gutted and renovated a space at 227 W 29th St, turning it into what we at BBoy believe to be one of the best new NYC venues we’ve ever come across.

Robin Sokoloff

Robin Sokoloff

Robin, prior to investing in this space, spent a significant amount of time doing – well, just about everything. She has choreographed for The Atlantic Theatre School, NYSSSA School of Contemporary Dance, The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory of New York, Students Live! on Broadway, and more. Her show “Spotlight Live” was featured on several notable news shows including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” and “The Whoopi Show.” She was  a producer with Multi Image Group, she graduated from NYU and NEW, and is a member of The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Why is all of this experience relevant to Loft227? It helped her see the need in NYC for a space like hers. “There are really big spaces and really small spaces. They’re all fantastic, but there’s no space for the middle ground – that place where you feel great and you can do what you want, but you still have intimacy. People want to meet each other and actually connect while having a great time. They can do that here.”

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The year she spent as a carpenter  helped give her the skills she needed to do all of the renovations herself. “I don’t buy that people have to pick one craft and master it. I believe in mastering all aspects of what you’re a part of.” She also did all of the lighting herself, which was one of our favorite perks of the venue. Most venues charge more to use their specialty lighting, and charge even more for someone to be there to operate it. Robin said of this problem, “I know a lot of people who kept complaining that venues didn’t give them any power to change what they didn’t like about the space, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not offer a venue that does?’”

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Clients can do anything they wish with the lighting – you can dim, turn off, or (our favorite) change the colors on each fixture to any color you wish with the simple use of a small remote. Robin joked about the simplicity: “Sometimes you just kinda feel like you need the whole room to be red, and people can do that here.” Cue the Halleluiah Chorus.

She’s already hosted a myriad of events from a private party for a professional chef to a club-like fundraising party to a fireside concert complete with cozy rugs, lamps and a faux fireplace upon which guests roasted marshmallows.

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“People always ask me, ‘What is this space?’ and I always respond, ‘What do you want it to be?’” Robin’s biggest aspiration for the space is for people to make it their own. There’s a fifteen foot retractable movie screen, two  flat screen TVs, a VIP area, a full (and fully-stocked) kitchen, fifty chairs and eight tables, and a private bathroom – all available to anyone who books the space with no extra charge.

Robin noted of her own experience working with venues, “I worked casting commercials for four years, and rental spaces just weren’t cutting it. I wanted to give people a little more.” With Loft227, you don’t just get more – you get it all. With full use of everything in the venue and full freedom to rearrange and decorate based on each event, this is the ideal space for any event for 20-100 people. Check out New York’s best new venue and book your event today here: www.loft227.com

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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!

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