Tuesday, March 30, 2010

May I have the envelope please....

I had an ENTIRELY different blog post written last week in which I told you all what band and photographer we went with. However, there was a week long bit of drama, back and forth emails, broken promises, etc. that went on with one particular band and in the matter of a few days, we switched gears and decided to go with an entirely different band. However, I have to say I am soooo excited by our choice and I know they are going to be perfect for our wedding!!!
It's a looooong, convoluted, complicated, boring story that I don't really need to get into, (if you're really curious about it, you can ask me) but that's why it took me so long to write regarding our decisions.

However, as of today we have a contract in hand, a deposit in the mail, and I can happily report this search is done and I'm moving forward. The winners are........drum roll please............:

Band: Arcadia
Photographer: Déjà Vu Studios

To be fair, I do feel I need to give my reviews on the last two band showcases we saw, which will include Arcadia, who we ultimately decided to go with.

Monday, March 15th- East Coast
East Coast was soooo good!! they are def. in the top 4 of the bands we had seen. One of their former lead singers, Michael Lynche, is actually on American Idol right now. He's obviously really good and talented, so it's a shame they don't have him with them anymore. Their new male singer was good, but he doesn't stick out in my mind. However, they DID have Keith Hill perform with them, who was the replacement singer on Broadway's Movin' Out a few years ago, and an amaaazing Billy Joel performer. They were a large band with a great sound and many really great singers. I had to drag Chris there (we were starting to get a little exhausted with all this band searching) but in the end I'm really glad we went. Unfortunately, while they were a 10 piece band that night, Keith Hill and his female singer are an "extra add-on" from their usual 8 pieces. Adding the two of them significantly increases the price. After seeing the 10 people perform, it was a little difficult for me to envision the band with 8. However, I would definitely recommend this band to anyone looking for a wedding band.

On Wednesday 3/17 we saw Arcadia. Arcadia was AMAZING. They have some really great strengths that set them apart from the other bands. 1) their saxophone player/band manager, Gus, was all around awesome at playing sax, singing, and business professionalism when dealing with the bookings. He and one of the singers performed an amazing version of Etta James' "At Last." I think every single band we saw performed this song, but I have to say, they did it best. 2) They had a drummer and a percussionist who was on bongos/cowbell/every percussion instrument you can think of. 3) They had a male singer who sounded perfect in the Frank Sinatra type songs. He didn't sing anything until quite a few songs in, and when he started singing "Fly me to the Moon" Chris and I looked at each other like "Where has this man been hiding??!" Arcadia appealed to me because they can cover a wide array of song styles and genres. They had the old classics down, the rock down, as well the contemporary. You can hear some of their sound clips here. I hope you like them. Meet our band!:

Chris and I were kind of at a standstill for a while between Heart and Soul and Arcadia. We loved Genessa, the female singer from Heart and Soul, but felt that Arcadia had an all around better sound from the supporting instruments, as well as a wide array of music genres that it could offer. I'm thrilled that Arcadia is our band and even more thrilled that the great L.I. band hunt of 2010 is OVER. 3 long weeks, 9 live showcases, lots of emails, phone calls, driving all over Long Island, and shifting around of my piano teaching schedule. It was a wild ride....but in the end, it was all worth it (and quite educational I might add).

As far as our photographer, we booked Déjà Vu last Saturday, March 20th and I am so excited about them, too. I have nothing but glowing comments for the owner, Allen, who made us feel extremely at home and comfortable. Allen is very accommodating and I know he will work with us as far as picking pictures, creating albums, etc. once our wedding is over. We are currently working on scheduling our engagement photo shoot at Wagner College for sometime in June. I am sooo happy we are going to get professional pictures done at Wagner. I think it will be the perfect setting for us, as well as a good practice for what it's like to pose for pictures, we've never really done that before!

Moving right along, this Saturday I am starting my bridesmaid dress shopping! I have a 3:00 appointment at Bridals by Sandra, where I got my wedding dress! My mother, sister and bridesmaid Molly will be accompanying me!! I'll bring the camera! I actually had a nightmare last night that I had booked two dress appointments and forgot and was rushing around to get my bridesmaids and drive to the store to try on dresses. Oy..I haven't even started the dress hunt and I'm stressing!

So that's that...
Reception Hall: Check
Church for ceremony: Check
Wedding Dress: Check
Photographer: Check
Wedding Band: Check
Bridesmaid Dresses:______

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mandy's Bridal Shower!

Last Sunday began the wedding festivities of my dear friend Mandy!! (only 2 months to go!!) It was at an Asian Fushion restaurant in PA and was hosted by 3 of her mother's friends.

The Bridesmaids:

There were lots of fun games and good food! We played a "Price is Right" game, a "How well do you know Mandy" game (Mal and I tied for first!) and a "what's in your purse game." This was followed by a fun time of putting Mandy on the spot with questions about her and Billy.  Then she opened her presents..Elizabeth made her an amazing Bride hat out of the gift ribbons, good work Elizabeth!:
I'd have to say Sam topped the gift giving portion with an amazing haiku poem that went in conjunction with her and her mom's gift. Then we rounded out the afternoon with desserts and a really creepy chinese ice sculpture ghost??  This was brought out special for Mandy..annnnd we just accepted it and didn't ask questions. Kinda creepy huh?
May the Mandy and Billy wedding festivities continue!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

BB&B Registering

On Sunday we finally set up our Bed, Bath and Beyond registry. This started out as extremely overwhelming.  (As in: legit wanted to throw down the scanner and run out of the store crying. Not to be dramatic or anything.) But luckily it eventually ended up being so much fun!!

The woman who set us up was really nice, it's just that she was a little too eager and overbearing. I really just wanted to run in, set up the registry, put a few fun things on our account, and be done with it so I could work on it online at home. Bada Bing...Bada Boom. But the BB&B lady started walking through everything with us step by step. She started by talking us through all their different China sets. Bone China, Fine China, Porcelain, Stoneware, Earthenware...ahhhhh!!! When that proved too overwhelming, she thought maybe I could handle vases and asked me to pick out a vase that I liked. Well they had about 50 on display! I just need it hold flowers!! They're all pretty!!!

"What about silverware?"
"Do you like any of these picture frames??"
"How many place settings will you need for you and you family???"
"What style do you want to go with????"


I just wanted to know where I could find the crock pots, cookie cutters, and most importantly, the pizza trays! I just want to register for the fun stuff!! Chris' mom had been doing some shopping in the store and when she came by to check on us...I think sensed our panic. Thankfully, she politely steered the saleswoman in the direction of what we were looking for to add to the registry for right now. So the woman followed us to kitchen electronics. Good, this was more like it. But she still wouldn't leave us alone, because she wanted to show us how to use the scanner. I decided to pick out one thing...anything at all...so that she could show us how to use it and leave, she was just too much up in my space! Once she left...it finally became fun.We added a bunch of things...and I can wholeheartedly and unabashedly state that we are most excited for our ice cream maker! Our friends Mandy and Billy have one and make the most unbelievable ice cream with it. I'm not sure how long we were there, but it was getting late and we were all very hungry for dinner...so we called it quits around 6:00. I still have to do some organizing/adding/deleting to the list online, but at least it's started.

When I went to the website, I saw there were 2 other couples registered with the same exact first and last name as me Laura "W".

Laura W.  and Nick                    Wedding           TX           
Laura W.  and Laura W.             Other                CT           
Laura W.  and Christopher           Wedding          NY           

First one...a wedding of Laura and Nick in Texas. Fine, normal. But that second one: Laura W. and Laura W. in CT last August listed under the category of "other". At first, I thought this was a lesbian couple who both happened to have the same exact first and last name (I mean..how funny and ironic would that be?!?!) But, upon checking out the registry (Sweater bag, alarm clock, table fan and surge protector) I see that this is a girl who registered for college gifts. Is it just me or have you never heard of registering for college gifts? I can't remember if I knew anyone who ever did this, but this is certainly news to me! Well, she didn't get any of gifts because none of them are listed as "purchased" so sucks to be you Laura W. from CT!

There is LOTS HAPPENING in the way of booking our band. Lots of News! Lots of Drama! It's a regular soap opera over here! Not really, but aren't you so intrigued now??

I can't fully update until tonight or tomorrow because there are still some things up in the air. However, I do think that my next entry will be entitled something along the lines of "Band and Photographer= Booked!"

Until then...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Photographers and Band Showcase #4

I realized that I didn't give you any updates on our two photographers we visited last weekend: Deja Vu Studios and Franklin Square Photgraphers. We liked them both a lot which I was totally shocked about because for some reason...I didn't think I was going to be much impressed. Franklin Square was such a cute, family owned and operated business. Two brothers run the business their parents started years ago and are also the two main photographers. Both their wives and other family members help them in other aspects of the business as well. We toured the facility, right down to their printing and video production room. They have a really great business going and we had a good feeling there. However, I also really enjoyed our time at Deja Vu. The owner, Allen, who we met with was extremely personable, and down to earth. We both felt so comfortable and at ease with him that we also just really want to work with him in general. Not to mention, Deja Vu gave us a better price than any of the other photographers we've visited so right now, Deja Vu is in the lead with price and personality. Both places have some really cheesy pictures on their website...in fact a lot of these places have at least one on their website that make me just want to say "really?" I know I've talked about this before, but you know which ones I'm talking about...the girl draped over a white piano with her dress hanging down and a single red rose draped over her chest while she looks wistfully up into the sky thinking about her love. Yes...that picture and any number of its brothers and sisters are unfortunately found on both the sites of the places we visited on Saturday. My favorite would have to be this picture below. I can just imagine the photographer directing this one. (For argument's sake, let's say their names are Brett and Michelle).

"Ok...Michelle, I want you to sit down and lean back like you're going to lay down, but don't actually lie down. Now, lift your right leg at an awkward 90 degree angle. Now Brett, kneel down, grab her raised leg by the ankle, and kiss her cheek so it looks like you're getting ready to get on top of her. Good..now hold. Great..I'll just blur the edges a little bit once this is developed and it'll look like a dream."

While pictures like these can make me cringe...I have to tell myself a few things:
1. There are a lot of girls out there who like pictures like that and they need to cater to their broad range of clientele. (By the way...I'm sorry if I have offended anyone, or if you have a picture just like this either in your wedding album or plan to take a picture like this...and I'm especially sorry if this is your picture above.)
2. I certainly don't have to pose any way I don't want to. If the photographer starts to say any of the following statements to me I have the right to say "no":
      "Ok lift your leg high in the air..."
      "Here, hold this red rose across your chest and look longingly at your husband..."
      "Sit in the middle of the room with your head flung back while Chris kisses your neck. I'll take the picture from above.
      "Laura, lay across the piano while Chris pretends to play"
      "Chris, lay across the piano while Laura actually plays"

3. They have a ton of other great pictures on their website that they have to offer as well...and one or two faux paux's should not deter me from anyone entirely. The Photojournalist sections offers great pictures that I would be more than happy with.

But the fun doesn't stop there!! Nope! We went to two more photographers on Saturday! As my friend Christina stated last week:
"Your hunt for the right wedding vendors should be compared to an expidition...somewhat Lewis and Clark like..."
Well...yea, Christina is pretty correct in that assessment. I'm beginning to think we just like going and meeting new people who like to plan weddings, it's not even really about the photography anymore. Of course, I'm joking...while we have enjoyed meeting new people and seeing how different each place is (because each place really is SO different in how they present their product), we are absolutely done looking for a photographer. This past Saturday we visited Perceptions Photography and Silverfox Studio . I love the pictures at Perceptions but I have to say it was one of the worst, most unaccommodating, most awful customer-service we have encountered so far in the wedding hunt (and the most expensive!). They certainly do well for themselves, they get a ton of business and they also photographed the Jonas wedding at Oheka Castle a few months ago (a fact I didn't know until we arrived and there were Jonas wedding pictures all over the place), so they've gotten all the press they need.  Silverfox was really great, and the guy we dealt with was an excellent salesman. He took us through each individual main and 2nd photographer they have and told us about their personal style as well as individual personality so help pair us with who we think would best suit our style, which I was extremely impressed with. I loved their albums and I loved their video as well. He used to be a wedding planner so he was also very helpful in giving us some of his personal opinions on the bands that we've heard so far (He was very fond of Heart and Soul, as we were..and also thinks we're going to really like Arcadia when we see them on Wednesday). All in all...we are done with the search for photographers..just need to figure out a few more things and we should have our final choice by the weekend!

On the band front, we went to see the band Stages on Friday night at Empire City in Yonkers. I had quite a different vision of what Yonkers was like and what Empire City would be like...and let's just say this was not the most glamorous of places. Stages seemed fun, they had a good crowd up and dancing, and we talked to their band leader who was really nice. However, Heart and Soul are still in the lead for us.
We have 2 more bands to see this week...one of which we think might be a real true contender (Arcadia on Wednesday night) and we will reach a decision about both our photographer and wedding band by this Saturday, if not sooner. Then, I'll be onto the next phase of planning: Bridesmaid Dresses!

Video of the Day:
This is sooo cute and creative. This couple took 500 engagement shoot pictures and created this video. However, they don't get points on environmental friendliness for letting the balloons go at the end.

tori and austin from sarah yates on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Band showcase #3

Well now we are just downright confused. confused. confused. Heart and Soul last night was two words. Ah. Mazing. Ah-Freaking-Mazing. They were all around the best band we've seen so far. Their lead singer Ganessa has the most amazing voice I've ever heard on someone NOT already famous, and their lead male singer was also top-notch. They were fun, energetic, had a wide variety of songs and styles. They were great. The confusion lies in the fact that we still also really like Full House. They had a laid back, classic-oldies and rock style about them that we both really jived with. Full House also had the 3 brass players (sax, trumpet, trombone) that we really liked. Heart and Soul differed in that they were more contemporary and didn't do a whole lot of those classic oldies. That's not to say that they can't do them...it's just that we didn't hear them perform Frank Sinatra, or Bruce or anything like that. They had one guy who switched between sax, clarinet and flute, which was nice but not the same as three horns together. I realize I'm being very nit-picky but this part is really important to both me and Chris so we're being extra picky on this. We still have 4 more bands to see..so maybe we'll like another one better and won't have to decide between these two. But, I can almost gurantee that there is no way we're going to find a better female singer out there than who we heard last night. 
There's more that adds to our confusion between these two, but again, I'll recap all the "yays" and "nays" of the bands once we reach a decision.

Picture of the Day:
I love Chris...and I also love food, particularly desserts. While I'm MORE THAN happy with the way my proposal went, I can't help but feel a littttle jealous at whoever got proposed to this way, especially because there are oreos involved:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Band Showcase #2

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Last night we went to the Carriage House at Milleridge Inn to see the band Code Bleu perform live. They did a real nice, long showcase and it was very different from our experience last week. This was at a catering hall, they had a few drinks set up in the back and we sat at tables while we watched. They opened up with some light cocktail hour music (guitar and a pianist/singer who did reallly great Billy Joel). Then they went into the full band. They were really good, especially the two main male singers. Their lead guy, I think his name was Tony, was unbelievable. He could sing anything classical, jazz, oldies, current.

I view Code Bleu as a very good, polished, by the book wedding band. They do it all...they did the Hava Negila, an Irish Jig, an Italian Ballad, the operatic "Time to Say Goodbye", Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, etc. etc. They absolutely had more contemporary songs on their setlist than Full House, BUT for some reason, we both individually agreed that we liked Full House better and just weren't feeling like this was our wedding band. I'll go more into detail on our likes and dislikes on each one once we've settled on a band, but that's where we are at right now.

Tonight we see Heart and Soul at Chateubriand!

Today's Funny (and Canadian) Wedding Ad:
You can't afford bad photography.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The First Dance

Unfortunately, Chris and I don't have "a song" ....we just never really found that song that defined us. Sometimes this bothers me...most time it doesn't. Considering I was a music major I feel like I, of all people, should have "a song" because music is so important to me. But somehow...Beethoven's "Pathetique Sonata", or Chopin's "Waltz in E minor" just doesn't make the cut as a first dance song (though ballroom dancing would be pretty impressive!) We also have very different tastes in the music we listen to. "All I Ask Of You" from Phantom of the Opera is quite different from Van Halen's "Why Can't This Be Love". I also tend to like more mellow musicians like Jack Johnson, Guster, Matt Nathanson, John Mayer...and Chris likes rock music. We both like DMB, and may end up going with one of his songs...but certainly not "Crash Into Me". Though I truly love that song, it's so overdone at this point..and reminds me too much of all those long lost crushes of 8th grade.

It also reminds me of my '99 family vacation to Canada where I told my parents to listen to this "really amazing song". They popped in the cassette tape (jeez I'm old) I had copied and started playing "Crash Into Me" as we drove to Niagara Falls. My parents remained silent for quite some time as the song played, and kept exchanging worried glances at each other. I was very confused..."What's wrong with it? This is a great song! I don't get it!" What followed is a bit hazy, but by their worried expressions it suddenly dawned on me what the song was actually about. As the lyrics "Hike up your skirt a little more" came on, I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack and I sat in the back with my sister willing the song to end but it just.kept.playing. In short, I was mortified, my parents didn't really care to listen to any more songs and "Crash Into Me" was never quite the same for many years after. 

It's exactly what happened in 3rd or 4th grade when I brought home the Ace of Base CD that I borrowed from a friend. The first song on it was "All That She wants, Is Another Baby" and I'll never forget the worried expression on my parents faces as they dissected the lyrics and told me they didn't really think this was appropriate. Again..I never even THOUGHT about what the song was actually saying, I was in 4th grade!! All I knew was that I liked to dance to it in my friend's living room. (For the record, they still let me buy the cd, Thank GOD! Who didn't have Ace of Base's "The Sign" growing up?) However, from that point on...everytime I listened to the cd, I thought I was this rebellious, grown-up kid who listened to those crazy baby-making, "Living in Danger" singers from Ace of Base.

Back to "our song", I've never had that one song that I always wanted to dance to at my wedding from the ripe age of 10. That certainly would be helpful to me now. Ugh!! Why wasn't I planning my wedding at 10?? This would all be so much easier!! Haha, so for the time being..I am making my way through the songs on This Website. So far I'm on page 3 of 26, but it has been tremendously helpful, not only for picking a first dance song, but for picking songs I like in general. Many of these would be great for slideshows, or to just be played at our wedding in general and I'm enjoying going through them.

This site has the good, the bad, the ugly and the confusing. For example, I'd like to point out that "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast is on this list. It's a great song..but for a first dance? Also, "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood. Can you imagine if Chris and I are introduced for our first dance and on comes "Before He Cheats"?
"Right now, he's probably slow dancing with a
bleached-blonde tramp
And she's probably getting frisky
Right now he's probably buying her some Fruity little drink
'Cause she can't shoot whiskey
Right now, he's probably up behind her with a pool-stick
Showing her how to shoot a combo
Oh and he don't know..."
Actually, "right now" he's dancing with his new wife, who hopefully isn't a "bleached-blonde tramp" and hopefully not getting "frisky" because lots and lots of people are currently watching. I mean...if we were following the new trend of doing a funny dance, this song could work, but come on, let's have a little faith here people! You've been married for 2 hours!! Hopefully he can put off cheating at least for the night!

Lost of new love songs will come out between now and our wedding, and there are so many good classics that I would be happy with, too. I'm obviously not in a huge hurry, just starting to think about it and get an idea of what we'd like to have.

This weekend, we have two appointments with photographers: Deja Vu Studios who were recommended by sandcastle and Franklin Square Photographers, who I'm much more eager to see. I'll let you know how they go!

Finally, My dear friend Ben sent me and my fellow engaged friend, Ashely, this Slimfast ad this week. For the record he stressed not once, but TWICE that he was not sending this to us because he felt we needed to see the ad. Sure Ben...sure. ;)
Need to lose a little weight before your wedding?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Laura..you waited too long to do this

I've run into my first "Laura..you waited too long to do this" moment. It's not so tragic, but two bands that I was interested in seeing are already booked for MAY 21, 2011!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it?? The Projekt and Renegade are already booked...and I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before Code Blue is booked, too. I was interested in The Projekt because they are a spin off band of the band that played at the Chris's parent's wedding in 1981. They've had a few different names since then, but for the past 11 years, they've been called "The Projekt" and apparently have become highly regarded. The guy I talked to on Thursday night from the band was literally one of the nicest people I've ever talked to. We talked for about 15 or 20 minutes and he was so excited that I was referencing these people from Chris's parent's wedding band that he knew or knew at one time...I think he was genuinely bummed that he wasn't available for our wedding!  I'm so impressed by those couples out there that already have their bands decided for their May 2011 wedding. Jeez...I thought I was ball, but apparently not.  I should have done this before the reception hall search! It's really not a huge deal, there are still a ton of bands out there that are great, but I am interested in seeing just how good these two bands are that they are booked that far in advance. I wonder if people out there who have an engagement for less than a year find it extra difficult to book the vendors and places they want?! Anyway, I've switched around my piano teaching schedule for the next two weeks so that I can go to more band showcases. There are 6 we plan on attending in the next 2 weeks...so there will be lots of updating!

In other news, in the midst of all this band searching, I also scheduled an appointment with a photographer this past Saturday morning. Chris and I have passed their building (Twelfth Night Photography) several times driving out by our apt/house/whatever it is we technically live in. I had noticed it before and always said to myself "Oh I gotta check that place out online when I get home" and then of course never did. Luckily, Chris remembered to check the website out last week and sent it to me, and I was very intrigued. I like the idea/concept/visual aspect of their website, though not the most user friendly. I thought they seemed really great, local, convenient and would be worth checking out. But then, I read some reviews about them online and I slowly became more and more obsessed. I read amazing review after amazing review.I really liked the place. It was a comfortable atmosphere. Dom, the owner, is extremely personable and I could tell he would be great to work with. 

He talked A LOT....sometimes I wanted to say "ok..we get it...we understand" But I refrained. What I really liked about this place was how digital everything was. He understands that in this day and age...we just want the files. We don't need every single picture printed in a huge book to look over..give me files, give me the ability to upload them to my computer, and give me the ability to print them myself. And he does that. He even told us that we should upload the pictures to Snapfish or kodagallery and create our own scrapbooks for our friends...(but to still get a nice professional one for us and our parents of course). 2 hours and a cup of hot chocolate later...we left Twelfth Night, feeling quite satisfied! We plan on going to a few more places just for price comparison before making a decision, so we I hope to also have this solidified by the end of the month, as well as our band.

That's all for now...I have another really busy week ahead of me with work, so I hope I can update one more time this week.