Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bands vs. DJs- a Band's perspective

Keyboard player Mark Shilansky of the Hip Pocket Orchestra in Boston,MA offers some great advice when deciding on your entertainment for your wedding.

Hip Pocket Orchestra
Music Mangement

Bands vs. DJs.
As a keyboard player who has been a full-time and sub member of some of New England's finest wedding bands (currently a member of Hip Pocket Orchestra, have played with Moment's Notice, Night Rhythm, Stardust), I'm obviously in favor of you hiring a band for your wedding or other event.

Our singers interact with the crowd, often dancing with guests and leading dance contests and the like. As instrumenalists we can interact, as well, upping the intensity as the dancing becomes more intense... having seen a band like Earth Wind and Fire live, I can tell you it's much more fun to dance to them live than in my living room. A couple gets an even more special feeling if a human being stands before them and sings their favorite song, than when a human being pushes a button on a CD player or an ipod. And, with a band like Hip Pocket that has choreography and great soloists, the members of the crowd who don't feel like dancing get treated to a concert.

Not to discount the value of DJs. They can play up-to-the-minute current stuff, and can also get crowds worked up. And I wouldn't recommend working a Bar Mitzvah without a DJ (and dancers) for the kids, as well as a band for the adults. But, if you have the money, it's worth the expense to have the extra warmth and energy a band can generate.

You need to choose a band that is capable of playing the music you want to hear, or is capable of playing the widest diversity of styles imaginable, to meet you and your guests' needs. Ask if the band plays specific tunes by specific artists; a good band almost always includes in its basic pricing one or two special requests, with more available at a small fee. Try and hear the band live to see if you want to spend several hours with them. And, back to the diversity issue: our band can play the latest tunes from the pop charts (we're currently seeing the dance floor fill up to "Single Ladies" by Beyonce, and Lady Ga Ga's "Just Dance"), and disco and 80's classics (EWF's "September" and, surprisingly, the novelty hit "Come On Eileen" are huge for us), but then play jazz and James Taylor for the cocktail and dinner sets, and even provide musicians for the ceremony.

So, thanks for reading, and consider weighing these options when choosing entertainment for your event! Congratulations!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Innovation meets A Very Unique Request

I had the pleasure of working with Jen and Erik on their wedding last weekend at the Wequassett Resort on the Cape. I actually worked very closely with Jen's mother, Ronnie throughout the entire process, never meeting either the bride or her mom before the wedding. We did everything through emails and phone calls and Ronnie allowed me to design almost everything I wanted, with a few color and style parameters. One of the things I enjoyed most about working with Ronnie was her sense of humor. Kate Mann and I would be laughing out loud almost every time she sent us a new email. My favorite conversation about her flowers was preceded by an email from Ronnie asking for a special surprise for Jen. Jen and Erik have a dog named Tiegen, a Welsh Terrier. Ronnie thought it would be great to "include" Tiegen in the wedding festivities so she asked me to create a life-sized Tiegen for the place card table. Better yet, she asked that we used items that would give Tiegen her actual features and fur coloring, instead of a traditional flower topiary. Well, after saying YES as I always do, I had to figure out how to make this dog and get her to the Cape in one piece. After many KPW staff members' hard work and creativity, Jen and Erik loved see their dog at the wedding! Here is Tiegen before the ceremony.... ahh the things we do for our clients :)

Thanks to the fabulous Stacey Kane for taking the time to get me this image!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bands vs. DJs- a DJ's perspective

Brown Photographic Image from Brown Photographic

Dave Dionne, a DJ in Maine who has been in the wedding industry for the past 23 years has given some great insight to this subject. Here's what he has to say about the ongoing discussion!

Dave Dionne

One of the great wedding debates is whether to have a band or a DJ at your wedding reception. In either case you’ll want to get an experienced wedding DJ or band! A really good wedding DJ will have quite a few advantages over a band.


The total number of songs available to a DJ has no limits (especially for those DJs using a laptop computer and having access to the internet). A music playlist for your cocktail hour, dinner and the dancing portion of the reception can easily be put together by your DJ. That means having music customized to your reception reflecting your tastes. Bands on the other hand are very limited in their potential song selections. They follow their playlist and are completely limited to the songs they know (and practice) as a band. Your DJ will supply music continuously throughout the reception. Bands are notorious for their breaks. There’s nothing worse for the party than the sudden silence that accompanies a band’s break!!


Your experienced wedding DJ will be an excellent master of ceremonies. With experience at wedding receptions comes the knowledge of how to keep things flowing and when to make specifics events (introductions, cutting of the cake, garter & bouquet toss, etc) run smoothly. Clear speech and command of the microphone will make each announcement easily heard and understood by everyone! I’ve known of many instances where even the best wedding band didn’t have a member of the band who was an effective emcee!


Here’s where the DJ has yet another major advantage over a band, cost!!! Here in Maine an experienced wedding DJ will probably cost you around $1000-$1500 for a prime Saturday between May and October. The cost of an experienced wedding band will be three to four times as much!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lighting- An essential design element

After working on the Cape this past weekend with one of my favorite photographers, Stacey Kane, we were chatting about a few moments in the wedding that we wished I had used some lighting for. The ceremony was under a beautiful Sperry Tent at 6 pm so although it was still daylight, it was difficult to capture the remaining natural light because we had a "ceiling" over us. One of my favorite decor elements of the wedding was a life-sized sculpture of the bride and groom's dog, Tiegen. She was the showpiece for the place card table and unfortunately she was in a very dark part of the cocktail hour tent and wasn't given her full glory. So after thinking about all of the lighting we've used in the past, from our studio or from hiring our absolute favorite lighting company, SBL Lighting, I thought it would be helpful to show you some images of weddings that used lighting as an important design element as well as a few shots without lighting so you can see the difference. Enjoy the images!

SBL Lighting
The State Room
Belle Mer

Sperry Tents
Stacey Kane
Claris Photography
Nelson Hancock

The reception space in the middle of the afternoon.

Images by Claris Photography

Belle Mer with LED lighting elements in the ceiling an on the dance floor.

A stunningly dramatic cake during the day.

An image of the cake with lighting from SBL Lighting.

The entrance to the State Room with lighting elements to add drama and the client's color palate.

Images by Stacey Kane

The State Room reception before it was evening.

Uplighting in pinks and oranges with round paper lanterns

Image by Nelson Hancock

A shot from outside a Sperry tent with uplighting in oranges and deeps reds.

Image by Stacey Kane

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vendor Interview Series No. 16, Julie Dunfey for the White Apron

Julie might be one of my favorite vendors although I've only done a few weddings with her and her staff. Their food is unbelievable, their staff is incredibly easy to work with, and Julie is basically a complete riot to hang out with and I spend just as much time laughing as I do setting up the reception! Take a look at some of her photos and enjoy the interview!

Julie Dunfey for the White Apron

KP: What is your favorite part of the wedding process?

JD: Planning the menu. It's a curious thing. Usually when we are clearing dinner or cutting the cake I will try to figure out "why did that one work so well?" or "what would I change to make that better?" It always goes back to the menu planning. The perfect menu, makes the perfect reception.

KP: What do you love most about your job in the wedding industry?

JD: The fun behind the scenes. I know I should say "oh the happiness of the bride", or love this or that. But we do have a lot of fun. I also know the guests are fascinated in the goings on behind the curtain. We strive to keep it seamless and get to that glass of wine at the end of the night.

KP: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?

JD: That we have some super secret store where we get food cheap or free. And that our food cost is just what we spend or don't spend at that super secret store.

KP: How did you get into the wedding business?

JD: I started catering on boats(20 years ago). That led to catering weddings on boats a short step to land.

KP: Tell me one vendor other than in your industry that you highly recommend. Why?

JD: Kate Parker. I swear I say this all the time "That girl makes me look good"

KP: Favorite wedding story- funny or serious?

JD: At the cutting of the cake the grooms turn to feed the bride and he grabs about 1/2 the 2nd tier of the cake with his hand and smashes into her entire face, She slaps him so hard across the face, I have never seen a quite settle over 200 guests like that.

KP: What other part of the industry would you not want to work in? Why?

JD: None, I would only do this part. All the other jobs don't look as fun.

KP: What differentiates you from the rest of your industry peers?

JD: I can't speak for my peers and what they offer. I feel that it goes back to the planning. If I let a client persuades me as to an amount of appetizers, or they don't eat sweets so their guest won't either. I need to bring to the table 20 years of "this is how much people eat" If I haven't made that clear and I get to the event with "not enough" the only one that looks bad is me. So I make sure that doesn't happen. I always have extra and take it on the chin(my pocket) if I have made an error in planning.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vendor Series Interview No. 15, Arie Kidder Custom Cakes

I met Arie at the Expert Panel meeting for Seacoast Bride Magazine this winter and she graciously brought us some cake samples to enjoy... what talent she has, in both baking and designing her cakes. Check out her website and enjoy the interview!

Arie Kidder Custom Cakes

Arie Kidder

Some of her incredible creations!

KP: What is your favorite part of the wedding process?

AK: My favorite part of the wedding process is collaborating with the bride and groom on the flavors and design of their wedding cake. I most enjoy having the opportunity to bring my experience to the table and feature their unique personalities and tastes in my work.

KP: What do you love most about your job in the wedding industry?

AK: I love being able to contribute to a couple's very special day, plus it is such a happy occassion (the wedding)!

KP: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?

AK: The biggest misconception about wedding cakes is that it is "easy" to do. Having your cousin or aunt make the cake may sound like a great idea, but then I get the frantic last minute call when the relative backs out or the bride suddenly loses faith in their abilities! Go ahead and let your relatives make a children's birthday cake, but your wedding cake is a one-shot-deal. Leave it to a professional!

KP: How did you get into the wedding industry?

AK: I started decorating cakes as a young girl in my grandmother's bakeshop. As I got older and better at it, my grandmother let me work there and decorate all the birthday cake orders. Not long after, it made sense to handle wedding cakes too. After culinary school, I sought out to train specifically in the field.

KP: Tell me one vendor other than in your industry that you highly reccomend. Why?

AK: I wish I could recommend more than just one wedding vendor! We who are in the wedding industry, love what we do, and just hope to make a living doing it. Support local vendors, especially the small ones who really take pride in their work!

KP: Tell me one vendor in you industry that you highly reccomend. Why?

AK For wedding cakes in the Seacoast area, I like the work of Owen from Confection Art. I also like Owen himself! He is very talented.

KP: Favorite wedding story- funny or serious.

AK: One of my favorite wedding stories is this: When I was pregnant with my youngest child (now 4), I had been careful to schedule my last cake order well in advance of my due date. Well, the baby decided to arrive 6 weeks earlier than planned, and caught me with a wedding cake that was not quite finished! As I was recovering from an emergency c-section surgery and on morphine, all I could talk about was my cake! Luckilly, my husband who also has a culinary degree, had seen me make hundreds of cakes, and was brave enough to take on the job of finishing it! The cake was not exactly what it should have been, but it still turned out beautiful, and the bride's family was so understanding of the situation. The best happy ending was that we had a healthy baby girl!

KP: What other part of the industry would you not want to work in? Why?

AK: I dont think I can choose a field I dont want to work in, but I do know I do not have the patience of professional photographers. The amount of time they put in during (photographing) the event is just the tip of the iceberg. People do not know how much time they put in after the event, going through all the photos and editing. I have much respect for the Photography field.

KP: What differentiates you from your other industry peers?

AK: To differentiate myself in my field, I really take pride in putting my best work forward. The cake has to be fresh and delicious, and the decorations and details have to be perfect. It helps that I am a perfectionist!

Bands vs. DJs- a Band's perspective

Here's another expert's opinion on music for your reception.

Amy Serrago of Nite-Time band in NYC agrees that if you can afford it, having both the band and DJ is the best of both worlds! Check out their website for more information on Nite-Time!

Nite-Time band

A live band brings an air of excitement to any event. There is something about watching and listening to live people making music right in front of you that takes the whole experience up a notch, and your wedding is a once in a lifetime event. A professional event band should be able to cover all types of music, but this is an especially great choice if you are into rock, swing, Motown, alternative, and genres generally utilizing live instruments to create their sound. If your fiance proposed to you at a Bruce Springsteen concert, trust me, you’re band people.

However, if you are into club music, hip hop or techno, and you and your fiance never miss a Saturday night out at the club, then a DJ might be a better fit for you. A great DJ can play his or her turntables like an instrument, and this way you will know exactly what the songs are going to sound like. If you practiced your first dance to the CD for all of those months, you can dance it exactly the same way that night.

I agree with Anne about price, a live band costs considerably more than a dj - we have more people to pay. However, I disagree with her statement that "most bands can't play from grandma's era to today's top hits" a professional event band can and has to play music from all eras. If you find one that can't, you should keep looking.

Of course, for the bride that wants it all, you can always hire one of each and have them trade off, or start with band, end with dj. I find that to be a fun night. We've been asked to "dj" certain songs or sets of songs. We can save people a little money that way too, by letting the musicians go early and then turning on the tunes through our system. We can custom design playlists and music packages for all tastes, styles and almost all budgets.

My husband and I started running Nite-Time - New York City's Premier Party Band! in 2002. We serve NYC and the tri-state area. We opened a Hudson Valley office in 2007 and are starting to get more work in that area as well as some in New England. We have a combined experience in the wedding/event music business of 42 years, and we're not even that old! We both got started very young, I guess.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bands Vs. DJ's- A DJ's perspective- Anne Turgeon, All 4 you DJ in Rhode Island

Recently I joined, a new community for wedding vendors and brides to discuss everything about weddings.  I met a Rhode Island based DJ, Anne Turgeon and asked her to chime in with her two cents on this subject.  Here's what she had to say:

We always tell our brides and grooms that if they can afford a great wedding band, then go for it! A band offers a certain excitement that a DJ can't. But, at least in our area, a great wedding band can run 5 or 6 times the price of a DJ. It all depends on the size of your entertainment budget.

However, we hear more couples say that they want to hear songs they love at their wedding. When a great song starts to play, you see people rushing for the dance floor, and dancing and singing along with their friends and family to songs they love. Brides want to dance with their Dad to a song that has meaning for them, they way they remember it. And, of course, there's the variety. Most bands can't play from grandma's era to today's top hits. We can also provide those ethnic songs or specialty dance tunes that a band can't.

I certainly agree with Anne in terms of the actual artist performing a special song.  I have heard bands from across the country, some costing upwards of 50k, and I still think there's nothing like the original artist.  In terms of versatility, I have seen a lot of bands who know the realm of the 50'-70's really well and then the 80's to Top 40 gets a little challenging.  There are SO many songs for them to learn, especially with new hits coming out almost every week.  I would suggest finding a band that caterers to the most popular style you're looking for and then consider even hiring a DJ for band breaks and maybe the last hour of the event so you can get the most out of your band and you can also enjoy the original versions of some of your favorites songs.  To have the excitement factor of a band and the ability to hear original versions of your special songs is a great combination!  Thanks Anne for your insights!  

Check our Anne's website, to learn more about her services.  Based in RI, Anne travels throughout New England for weddings and other events!