The Wedding Ceremony & Cocktail Hour

Jessica and Kevin’s wedding reception took place at a place I’ve been very familiar with lately! I was back at the wedding venue The Stockroom at 230 in Raleigh NC on Saturday for another great one. They actually had their ceremony there as well. I showed up just as the last guest was seated since they didn’t need me for that part of the day. As soon as they were pronounced husband and wife, the guests made their way back down to the street level and walked next door to Mahler Art Gallery for the cocktail hour so that I could set up and the room could be flipped.

The Reception

Around 6:30pm, the guests came back up to a totally different room with floral arrangements by The English Garden, lighting by Themeworks and they were ready for the festivities to begin! I introduced the best man, maid of honor and the new couple to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” as everyone stood and cheered. As soon as they hit the dance floor, I went into their first dance, “I Got You” by Jack Johnson. What a perfect first dance choice! I’ve played “Better Together” by Jack several times, but not this one. Jessica and Kevin then welcomed the guests, the mother of the bride gave a blessing, and the food stations opened (Catering Works did their thing once again).

The Dancing

As soon as I saw that most folks were done eating, I went into a brief oldies set which got a good number of guests up and moving. We took a break to do the best man/maid of honor toasts, the Catering Works cake cutting and parent dances. Jessica and her dad danced to “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman and Kevin and his mom danced to “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. After that, it was on! The dance floor stayed slam packed and jumping from that moment until the ending at 11:00 with a big singalong to James’  song “Laid”. What a way to close it out! Ha! Awesome reception! Shout out to Sally Oakley Events for keeping things right on schedule. I can’t wait to see Azul Photography’s amazing photos!

Liz and Cody had to overcome a nasty ice storm on their wedding weekend, but guess what? That didn’t prevent about 60 folks from having an amazing time! Let me start from the beginning. As soon as I walked into the room at the historic wedding venue The Stockroom at 230 in Raleigh North Carolina, the foul weather immediately left my mind. Lyn Graves and his Fresh Affairs had transformed the venue into something amazing! All I could say is “WOW!”.

The Wedding Reception Details

Around 6pm, the guests started showing up from the ceremony and were treated to light apps and cocktails as I spun music from The Rat Pack era. Around 7:00, we had a formal introduction to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”. As soon as Liz & Cody hit the dance floor, they went into their first dance, the classic “Moon River” by Andy Williams. Then, as a surprise to Cody, none other than Mr. and Mrs. Wuf (NC State’s official mascots) entered the party while I played the NC State fight song. Everyone went nuts getting their pictures taken with them and they even hung out for a while dancing with guests during dinner. I loved it (and I went to a rival college, lol).

The Dancing

Coming out of dinner (another great job by Catering Works), a couple of folks gave great toasts and then Liz and her dad danced to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland and Cody and his mom danced to “Days Like This” by Van Morrison. After that, it was on! I could tell everyone was itching to dance because they were all standing at the end of the groom/mother dance, ha! And dance they did! What a night!

This was my first wedding of the weekend for the Svaboda family. I was hired for both Robby (the Son) and Matti (the Sister)’s weddings. It was a great idea since both were getting married and the family would all be together anyway. For Brittany and Robby (he was dressed in an NC State tie and socks), they had the ceremony on January 16th at 214 Martin Street in downtown Raleigh followed by a baptism of their beautiful baby Austin. Before the ceremony one year old Austin was escorted down the aisle by his Aunt Tiffany to “Sexytback”. It may be one of the cutest things I have ever seen! Brittany then entered to a cover of Garth Brooks’ “She’s Every Woman”. After a short ceremony they recessed to “The Wedding March” and then came back shortly for Austin’s baptism during which I played the hymn “All Things Bright & Beautiful”. After the ceremonies were over, guests made their way to the front of the room for the cocktail hour while the staff flipped the room for dinner and dancing.

As soon as the cocktail hour started there were a couple surprise special guests. NC State’s Mr & Mrs Wuf showed up from the top of the stairs and came down to hang out with the guests and get pics taken. They were great at keeping the kids entertained! During the cocktail hour I had a mix of country, top 40 and soft rock playing. After pic were taken by photographers Rebecca and Brian Mullins, Brittany and Robby were ready for their first dance to “You Make It Look Easy” by Eric Church. The pasta and taco food stations opened and I continued the same playlist as cocktailsr. Brittany and Robby’s table was decorated with an NC State wolf centerpiece.

After dinner we had a few toasts and the cake cutting (Mr & Mrs Wuf cake topper) to “Die A Happy Man”. Before opening the dance floor to everyone, we had the bouquet toss to “Single Ladies” and garter toss to “I’m Still A Guy” and then opened to everyone with “My Girl” followed by some oldies, top 40, country and line dances until their last dance to “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice.

I was thrilled to play for them and meet their son Austin. He is a doll!

Rachel and Isaac’s wedding reception took place at the beautiful Prestonwood Country Club on a Sunday before a holiday (MLK Day) so folks were ready to party knowing that they didn’t have to work the next day! They didn’t disappoint! The reception started around 5:30 pm with guests entering the room and waiting for a few minutes for the big intro. Everyone entered from the side door to Chris Brown’s “Forever” except Isaac and Rachel who came down the massive grand staircase to thunderous applause! As the crowd settled down, a string quartet played their first dance “Skater’s Waltz”. It was beautiful! The father of the bride welcomed everyone and the father of the groom gave a blessing, then dinner was served. The food was great!

As dinner wrapped up, Rachel and her father danced to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. Isaac and his mother danced to “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris and then I sent the couple up the steps to where the lovely cake was cut. After the cake cutting, the two best men and two maids of honor gave toasts. All were awesome and heartfelt. After that, it was time for me to do my thing! Party! Rachel promised me she had enthusiastic dancers, and she didn’t lie! They were rocking hard all the way to the end! The night closed out with everyone singing Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking out Loud” to the bride and groom and then sending them off with a bubble departure! Congrats Rachel and Isaac!!!

My weekend started out with a fun post-holiday party for the employees of Galloway Ridge at Fearrington Barn in Pittsboro, North Carolina, so it was awesome to leave that night and be able to leave my gear set up for the next day’s wedding! Joe & Lindsey had their ceremony at the Garden Terrace on the Fearrington property and immediately after guests made their way to the barn for the reception. I had music playing and drinks and food started flowing. After about an hour of cocktailing, it was time for introductions to the song “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors (always a great choice). Joe & Lindsey came in to a loud crowd and went right into their first dance “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds, a great song and even more fitting because Ben Folds is from Chapel Hill! The father of the bride welcomed everyone, a family friend gave the blessing and dinner began.

As dinner concluded, Lindsey and her dad and Joe and his mom did a “combo” dance to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. After that it was party time! At the first slow break, we did the Anniversary Dance to “Had to Be You” by Harry Connick Jr. and then back to more dancing with only a short cake cutting break to “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor and then a little later a bouquet toss to “Single Ladies” by Beyonce. These folks danced for well over two hours all the way up to the sparkler departure around 11. What a party! Great winter wedding! I can’t wait to see the photos from Krystal Kast!

 

Kate and Louie got married on New Year’s Eve in Raleigh at 1705 Prime and held both their wedding reception and their ceremony there. It literally rained all day on 12/31, but right when we had to make the final call on the outdoor ceremony, the skies cleared! Let me tell you, an outdoor, candlelit, warmer than normal winter ceremony is the deal! What a beautiful ceremony officiated by Barbara Lodge.

Once the ceremony ended, Kate and Louie greeted the guests who then made their way into the main room for tons of amazing food. I introduced the couple to “Love Never Felt So Good” by Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, and after a few sweet words from Kate’s grandmother, they went into their first dance “Nights in White Satin” by Moody Blues. About a minute into the dance, we did a reverse anniversary dance where I asked couples to join them by number of years married. We had a huge group out there by the end of the song! I played a few more songs as guests ate and then started picking it up. The only time we had to break in the three hours was for a couple of toasts and the parent dances. Kate and her dad danced to “My Girl”. Louie and his mom danced to a Sinatra classic and then Louie also danced with Kate’s mom to “I Hope You Dance” while Kate danced with his father! Great dances!

As midnight approached, I got people hype and the horns and hats were passed around. We started the countdown about 20 seconds out and were blasted with confetti cannons at midnight! I played “Auld Lang Syne” and then went right back to the jams! I could hear Kate yell every time I dropped her favorites. LOL. As a side bar, Kate and I have known each other many years dating way back to when I DJd bars in Wilmington, then when she was a wedding planner here in Raleigh (we even shared an office for a while)! I was so glad I was able to share this day with them! What a way to end/start the year!

Kim and David booked me around 2 weeks before the wedding and I’m so thankful I was available! They are the sweetest couple and I loved playing for them at Durham’s Washington Duke Inn! The ceremony was held inside in the foyer out front of the Presidents Ballroom where the reception would later be held. There was an easily 20 foot Christmas tree already there to decorate the room. For music they had a wonderful classical violinist playing.

After the short service officiated by David’s Uncle, guests made their way into the small room next to the Presidents Ballroom for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the Classic Carolina Photo booth that was busy the whole time he was there. During the cocktail hour I played a mix of rock, classic soul, top 40 and standards. After pics were taken by photographer Rachel from Thirteen Moon Photography and video by Damien Maass & Kevin Alexander, the 100 guests made their way next door to the Presidents Ballroom to find their seats. I left some music ands went out to the hallway to line the wedding party up and get them ready for their introductions. I introduced the group of bridesmaids into the room to “Single Ladies”, the Groomsmen to “Gangnam Style” and finally Kim & David to Shania Twain’s “From This Moment” until they hit the dance floor then I scratched into “Happy” and the room went wild! So great. They took their seats and David’s father welcomed everyone including the guests from Singapore where Kim is from. During dinner I had the same mix as cocktails playing.

After dinner we had a few toasts and the cake cutting to “Sugar, Sugar”. Kim and David made their way to the floor after for their first dance to “Thinking Out Loud”. After they finished I invited all the married couples to the floor for a longest married couple dance to ”Endless Love” and half the floor exited after the 5 year mark. Ha ha.. I opened the floor to everyone with “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and the floor filled instantly for the next 2 hours. Kim had picked a lot of great songs so I didn’t get a chance to play all the requests, but it didn’t matter. They danced to everything from top 40 and oldies to sings a alongs and disco.

The guests made their way to the lobby for the rose petal exit, but the older guests weren’t ready to leave, so came back and danced for another half hour. What a fun crowd to play for. There was one time during dinner that Kim and David visited each table of friends and all stood in a circle screaming to the top of their lungs until they couldn’t any more, then all did a shot. I had never seen that before, and love it!!

I was thrilled to play for Ana and Reggie at their wedding in Fuquay-Varina at Highgrove Estate on a picture prefect December 5th night! The ceremony was held outside in the back and overlooks a lake and hill. They had a trio playing live classical music and a singer for a couple tracks during the ceremony. I ran mics for the singer and trio, two ministers and for Ana’s brother who did a reading during the ceremony. The ceremony was beautiful and included communion by their second minister.

After the ceremony, guests made their way to the outside patio for cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres. During this time I had a mix of soft and indie rock, standards and classic soul playing for the 150 guests while photographer Megan Kime and videographers Memories Of A Lifetime got some shots of the wedding party around the grounds. After the cocktail hour was over, guests started making their way inside the ballroom where I was for dinner and dancing. They found their seats and I went inside the house to line up the wedding party.

I introduced the wedding party to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and Ana & Reggie came right in to the dance floor for their first dance to Ray LaMontagne’s acoustic version of “You Are The Best Thing”. I had not heard it until this and love it!   They took their seats after the applause settled down and Ana’s father welcomed everyone and their minister blessed the meal. The family style dinner came out by Angela and the staff at Highgrove and I continued the same mix as cocktails.

After dinner we had a few toasts and the cake cutting to L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole and Ana joined her father on the floor for their dance to “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. As the song was fading out I mixed into the chorus of The Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to surprise her father since he used to sing it to her as a child. So sweet!! Before opening the dance floor to everyone we did an anniversary dance to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra with the longest married couple being 56 years! I then opened the floor to everyone with some Motown and current top 40. Shortly the Krispy Kreme flambé station opened. OMG!!! So good and I always look forward to it.

We ended the night with Zac Brown’s “Chicken Fried”, ‘Sweet Caroline” and finally their last dance to Glen Hansard’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. What a wonderful family and group to play for! Thank you Ana, Reggie, Kenneth & Shirley and congratulations.

The Sutherland is one of Wake Forest’s prettiest and most historic properties. I highly encourage that you check it out if you’re having an event. Anyway, moving on, the day couldn’t have been prettier a couple of Saturdays ago for Sarah and Justin’s ceremony. The guests made their way to the ceremony area where a hand made arbor was placed at the end of the aisle. It was gorgeous! Sarah and her mom picked some amazing pieces of music for the ceremony and it went perfectly including a part in the middle where they put together a wooden cross together. I had never seen that, and thought it was a great addition to the ceremony. As the ceremony wrapped up, the guests headed around the house for some refreshments as I finished getting ready for the reception under the pavilion.

After an hour or so, I went inside the house to line up the bridal party for intros. The parents came out to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts and then the bridal party and couple entered to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”. They did their first dance to “Keeper of the Stars” by Tracy Byrd. Next, Sarah and her dad had their dance. It was a custom edit that my DJ, Randy Bennett, put together. It started with “Daddy Dance with Me” and then they started shagging in the middle! Great father/daughter dance. Justin and his mom danced to “A Mother’s Prayer” by Bonnie Barbey. We actually did a custom edit to that song as well to shorten it a little (always a good idea when songs run over 3 minutes). Afterwards the blessing was said and the buffet was opened. The food was great by the way!

After cutting the cake, it was time for some dancing! It took a little coaxing and some chilly temperatures to get them moving, but once they did, the guests had a great time. I played lots of group participation stuff and that went over best. Mixed in a couple of ballads and sent the couple off with a sparkler departure. Another great Fall wedding in the books. I’m sure I’ll be seeing some great photos of this one later from Nancy Ray.