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Chris & Dinah’s Picture Perfect Outdoor Wedding in Concord, MA

On the first Saturday of September, on the historic, lush green grounds of The Old Manse in Concord, MA, Christian and Dinah were set to be married. For a couple who together appreciated the outdoors and all it had to offer, this was the perfect site for their wedding day. The gravel drive brought you to the front doors of the modest home where famous American philosophers Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau did some of their finest thinking and writing. Adjacent was the white tent topped with sails waving joyfully in the light breeze, under which the couple’s wedding guests would enjoy an evening of food, music, and celebration. Down the soft path to the lower yard we went, strolling between small apple trees, arriving at a fairytale ceremony site, stream and antique boathouse in the rear, set in the foreground with a large stone, representing the strong foundation on which this marriage was being built. Just steps beyond lay the site of the first shots of the American Revolution. The sun was bright; the air was fair.

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An instrumental duo provided soft music for the ceremony, and we provided the Justice of the Peace, and the couple’s guests, with wireless microphones.  Two features of this ceremony were unique to me, and I loved them both. First, the Justice of the Peace passed the wedding bands to a guest and asked they be passed around to each person in attendance and that everyone make a prayer or wish for the couple. Also, later in the ceremony, an opportunity was presented to the guests, in which they could share aloud a story or well-wishes for the couple. It was great to see so many people have the confidence to speak and make the ceremony that much more special and memorable for Dinah and Chris.

Following the ceremony, guests partook in cocktail hour on the lower lawn, as the bride posed for photos in the nearby field, the sun’s rays complementing her lovely complexion. Up the hill and under the tent, the final touches were put on the dinner and dancing area. Once everyone was there and seated (greeted by “lobsters” at their seats!), the bride and groom themselves were introduced grandly into the tent, to a long round of applause, and made their way to the dance floor for their first dance to “Moves Me Deeply” by Will Kimbrough. We then introduced the Father of the Bride for a welcome toast, who in turned brought up his new son, the groom, who introduced the rest of the head table himself (and did a tremendous job!).

Dinner music was a mix of the couple’s love for blues, classic country, and bluegrass, including a set of bluegrass cover tunes of classic rock songs that we found. This wedding was a bit offbeat, and in following suit, so was the cake cutting ceremony – they actually did a pie ceremony, with several flavors of freshly baked goodness from a farm just down the road in Concord! We helped them find the perfect song: “Country Pie” by Bob Dylan. After a joint parents’ dance, the dance floor opened up, the party went strong for several hours into the night, and the guests were able to indulge in the delectable baked treats. The last song of the night, “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, was a real hit – an upbeat song with a very sentimental touch.

Big thanks to the bride and groom, Dinah and Chris, for letting us be a small part of their big day. Shout outs to the day-of wedding coordinator Karen Murphy of Celebrations by Karen F. Murphy (http://www.celebrationsbykfm.com), Becky and crew at East Coast Grill (http://eastcoastgrill.net), photographer Matt Grazier (http://www.grazierphotography.com) who took photos a million times more amazing than those we took and display here, Sperry Tents (http://www.sperrytents.com), pie provider Verrill Farm (http://www.verrillfarm.com), and of course, the managers of The Old Manse.

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Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 3: The Ceremony

In a miraculous move by Mother Nature, the humidity remained as we approached and reached the parish steps, but the rain stopped altogether. The precipitation even held out for the bridesmaids and my bride, though the bus driver had an umbrella open and ready, just in case a deluge struck between the sidewalk and the safety of the parish foyer.

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I sweated things out in the sacristy with my best man as guests and the rest of the bridal party arrived. Rays of sunshine even began to glide in through the stained glass window portrait of some saint or another. Those beams, along with some reassuring words from my oldest friend, helped keep my peace. We posed for a few photos, when suddenly my best man’s fiancée came hustling into the holy apartment, my smart-phone in hand. Apparently, the nurse tending to my father-in-law decided to make an incoming call to us on Skype, instead of awaiting our planned outgoing call to her. It was mere minutes before the start of the ceremony, and now we could not figure out how to navigate the circumstances. We could see her, but she couldn’t see us; and, we could hardly hear her through a lagging cell signal and poor (yet expected) audio. The priest somehow deciphered the nurse’s words; we ended the call, dialed the hospital room back, and all was well!  We were so pleased to see and greet my new dad, who was decked out in a crisp white tuxedo shirt and berry bowtie, matching the rest of the wedding party. With that, our friend flew back into the main room, to grant our dad a quick hello to all of our friends and family, and then a much anticipated view of the grand procession, his daughter and wife walking down the aisle, arm in arm.

The church organ was brilliant; the bridal party walking past the lacey white pew bows with vibrantly colored bouquets, lovely; our flower girl, precious, and more so, thorough. (As she reached the front pew, and her daddy, she turned the basket upside-down. Then, upon not being satisfied where the final petal dropped, she bent down, picked it up, and tossed it once more. At that point, daddy pulled her off the runway and into the pew.) I stood there in awe as my stunning, classic-looking bride approached, bright white bouquet of spider mums in hand, veil in hair. (My guests continue to tell me how large of a smile I wore at that time.)

The Mass began. Under the meticulously painted dome over the altar, our readers – Alison’s oldest childhood friend, her uncle and cousin (a bridesmaid), and my aunt – kicked off the services. Alison and I had handpicked much of the wedding ceremony liturgy, with some support from our priest. We chose to include a Unity Candle ceremony in our services. Some parish priests allow this, others do not; you need to ask for permission. We were very glad we were granted the opportunity. In the Catholic tradition, the candle, or rather its flame, is a symbol of Christ, the light of the world. Our mothers approached the altar and ignited the individual flames Alison and I would later use in our part of the ceremony. When the time came, after our vows and rings were exchanged, we took our individual candles and lit the larger center candle, symbolizing our separate lives being joined together, and extinguished the separate lights of the side candles.

Our best man and maid of honor came close as we exchanged our vows; as we did, in complete honesty, more sunshine poured in through the long stained glass windows. [If you haven’t read our earlier post, our custom vows are copied here for your convenience. They were written by yours truly, two nights prior, in approximately 20 minutes:

John/Alison, my best friend and partner,

You love me, and I, you.
You inspire me to be a better person.
You inspire me to change the world.
You remind me to care for myself.
You remind me to breathe.
You are imperfect, but you try your best.
You forgive readily, and are always forgiven.
You accept me for who I am, and you make me stronger.
You are my rock in times of frustration and sorrow.
You are the light of my day.

These things I promise in our marriage together;
I commit to progress, not perfection.
I commit to strength in God, our family, and friends.
I commit to the practice of patience, listening, passion, and compassion.
I commit to be true to you, in good times, and in bad.
I commit to care for you, in sickness and in health.
I commit to love and honor you all the days of my life.]

For other couples getting married in the Roman Catholic Church, yours vows are something else you will need to review in advance with your priest. To clear up any confusion: you may be allowed to write your own, or you may be denied that opportunity. It is up to the discretion of the individual priest. However, if you do receive the go-ahead, you must include certain standard points (for example, faithfulness in sickness, health, wealth, poverty, etc.) in your language, and again, have it all reviewed by the priest. The Church does not offer much, if any, leeway on those points.

My best man took the rings from his pocket, worried even more they would fall from his hands, after the priest sprayed a generous amount of Holy Water on them. They did safely make it to our fingers instead of the floor, and we finished the ceremony with a tear or two in each of our eyes. Our friend continued to roam the parish with my cell phone, capturing the ceremony from all angles, for the viewing pleasure of our dad. We often peered over to dad by way of the video call, waving and smiling, and our guests did the same.

After a very heartfelt and meaningful sermon, an extended period of ‘sharing peace’ (Alison and I kissed or shook hands with every member of our large wedding party), and the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we arrived at another blessed concession by our priest. He had allowed us to invite two members of our family (Alison’s cousins — one, a piano player; the other, a vocalist) to perform a rendition of Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” as our post-Communion meditation music. I still sing or hum the song to this day, more than a month later, on a regular basis. The performance really stole our breath away, and we will never forget it.

Finally, the Mass had ended, and it was time to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” The cell phone and Skype call made a final pass around the audience, and our dad and guests waved goodbye to each other. (The phone battery died just as the Mass ended!) The church organ cued up. Alison and I were beaming ear to ear and practically skipped down that aisle. Our bridal party followed us to the back of the church, and immediately back to the front again. We had planned to take a few formal bridal party shots, and then photos with Alison’s side of the family, with our photographer at the parish. We had arranged to pose for photos with my family once we arrived at the reception hall. We were in a race against daylight and anticipated late-day thunderstorms, to snap photographs outside there, overlooking the valley.

In the fourth and final installment of Our Wedding Retrospective, it is party time. Get ready to learn of great ideas for fall-themed centerpieces, slideshow setups, drink specials, and much more!

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[This Wedding Diary is written by full-time Massachusetts wedding specialist, DJ John Dudley. You can find more information, tips, ideas, testimonials, videos, photos, and more at http://www.DJJohnDudley.com , http://www.YouTube.com/user/DJJohnDudley , on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]

Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 2: Pre-Ceremony

Somehow, following a long, raucous post-wedding rehearsal dinner at the local Polynesian pop-spot, Hu Ke Lau, I still wake up bright and early in our master suite at the Hampton Inn Chicopee, with two of my groomsmen stirring in the adjoining room. Through our negotiations with Sandy at the hotel, we had procured one of the hotel’s two master suites for our wedding weekend, for two nights, one of which was complimentary (a stipulation we set with the sales manager, upon our block of rooms selling out), the second of which was at the discounted rate we arranged for our guests’ standard rooms. [Note: A friend of mine in the hotel industry in Boston once told me that it costs a hotel approximately $17 per night to maintain most rooms, so when you bargain for a hotel block for wedding, be polite but hard-nosed, as now you know the whole story.] Some of the guys stayed with me, while some bridesmaids stayed over at my mother-in-law’s house with my bride.

That morning, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel (something other local top-brand hotels in the area did not offer), I took off with the maid of honor to receive the manicure my mom-in-law had so lovingly and readily booked for me. This was only the second ‘mani’ of my life, accepted only slightly less reluctantly than the first. As we ventured out we encountered rain, and according to the Weather Channel, we could still expect a solid sixty percent chance of rain well into the early evening. We kept our fingers crossed. Rain aside, we had other issues that weighed on our minds, namely Alison’s father, who was now guaranteed to miss the entire wedding day due to the status of his health. He found himself bed-ridden in the intermediate care unit of the hospital instead of rightfully by his daughter’s side at the altar. (Although both Alison and I were raised Roman Catholic and still practiced our faith, a church marriage was one of the few wishes her father and mother held most dear.)

The fantastical thoughts and discussions I had shared with Alison and family the few days leading up to this one now turned more pressing and realistic: What if I could set up a Skype teleconference between that isolated hospital room and the warm interior of St. Stan’s? After the salon appointment, I, with the support of my best man, his fiancée, and my new cousin-in-law, ventured to my new dad’s bedside. We had many concerns, including being able to tap into the hospital’s restricted wireless signal, positioning the laptop so that everyone could see one another later in the day, properly instructing and trusting hospital staff to operate the program and accept the incoming call when the time came, and of course, ensuring that my father-in-law would be found fashioned in the crisp white tuxedo shirt and berry bowtie we brought along with us. (The man had always been an impeccable dresser, and we would certainly not have this day be different from any other.)

With the grace of God, everything worked out at the hospital, and again with His grace, the same would happen when my best man’s fiancée called the laptop from the Skype application on my Evo 4G inside the church at 3:25pm. I could not thank her enough as she offered to walk around the altar and crowd during the Mass, connecting the world of that hospital room and the world of the wedding. We made our way back to the hotel with safety in mind, as we encountered yet another flash downpour.

After returning to the hotel in the early afternoon with an unnatural sheen to my finger caps and a glowing optimism toward my new father being able to virtually attend the wedding, following one quick check-in phone call to my lovely bride, I did what was natural to me in times of growing pressure: I chatted with anyone and everyone (read: procrastinated). At some point – only an hour before the limo bus was to arrive and transport my groomsmen and me to St. Stanislaus Basilica – I made my way to the room and began getting ready. Within an hour, I found myself boarding the bus with my groomsmen and others, popping open a bottle of champagne, and rolling toward to the church, with rain smacking the windows.

In the third installment of Our Wedding Retrospective, you’ll get to read about and even see photos of the ceremony, so stay tuned!

Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 1: The Final Prep

Hampden Country Club.

The beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows of the Hampden Country Club function space in autumn.

As our Friday wedding date approached, we watched the weather carefully. Although both the ceremony and the reception were taking place indoors, the travel into and out of each, and the travel on the several miles of road between the venues (i.e. the safety of our guests) were still a concern of ours. And this is putting aside the fact that we had planned very carefully in order to ensure that in the event of sunshine, we would have a perfect opportunity to photograph at our reception venue with a glorious sunset as a backdrop, overlooking a lush and multicolored valley. There was more than a week of bold sunshine leading up to our rehearsal dinner, and more sunshine on deck, slotted for after our wedding had ended. As much as we planned and hoped and followed the meteorologist’s every word, the sad truth was we would be going about our wedding day in the rain, with an inevitable 70 to 80 percent change of precipitation. But we were determined to make the best of whatever situation came our way.

In actuality, weather issues aside, both Alison and I needed to have our optimism on high gear anyway. About two or three weeks prior to the wedding, Alison’s dad, who has a history of heart and respiratory problems, was admitted into a Springfield area hospital, where he was to have another important procedure pertaining to his heart condition. Under normal circumstances, this procedure would understandably take a stressful and frightening toll on an individual and their family. With tons of final wedding preparations to nail down and organize, it became a taxing time. It was a bittersweet final path to the Roman Catholic Church marriage, to which her parents so thrillingly looked forward. We did not know how everything would turn out, though hoped Alison’s dad would make it through the procedure unscathed and recover in time still to walk his beloved daughter, my bride, down the aisle.

With tears in at least one person’s eyes at any given time, we worked together with my bride’s mother, and cousins and friends, to finish the following:

fall impressions glass coasters

The glass coasters (sets of two) imprinted with white leaves, in which sat our guests' seating assignments. The coasters served as our thank you favors.

– writing out and packaging with lace ribbon the guests’ party favors / seating cards (glass coasters shown here; a link can be found in our last diary entry);

– welcome (“goodie”) bags for our guests staying in our select hotel block (at the Hampton Inn in Chicopee, a fabulous hotel with nice amenities including a full complimentary breakfast and a can-do staff) which included personalized bottles of spring water (labeled them ourselves with “Alison & John’s Wedding”), chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies from a Springfield area bakery, small autumn-scented votive candles, a schedule of wedding day events and key addresses/directions, and mints that read “thank you” on them;

– writing, designing, printing and assembling programs for the ceremony (which we made on Alison’s mother’s home computer — they came out very classy without too much fuss);

– packaging / organizing everything to be brought to the church and the reception hall (i.e. pew bows, Unity Candles, remaining centerpieces, guest book/matted photo, etc.), and the list of who was to bring what, where.

We couldn’t have finished everything in time without the help of our family and friends. Furthermore, we would never would have had time to finish other vastly important items — like writing our vows!

Two nights before the wedding, we sat down and came up with our pledge to one another:

John/Alison, my best friend and partner,
You love me, and I, you.
You inspire me to be a better person.
You inspire me to change the world.
You remind me to care for myself.
You remind me to breathe.
You are imperfect, but you try your best.
You forgive readily, and are always forgiven.
You accept me for who I am, and you make me stronger.
You are my rock in times of frustration and sorrow.
You are the light of my day.

These things I promise in our marriage together;
I commit to progress, not perfection.
I commit to strength in God, our family, and friends.
I commit to the practice of patience, listening, passion, and compassion.
I commit to be true to you, in good times, and in bad.
I commit to care for you, in sickness and in health.
I commit to love and honor you all the days of my life.

After finishing our vows, we also needed to connect once more with our photographer and DJ, to apprise them of a couple last minute changes to the day, especially the fully yet sadly anticipated absence of Alison’s dad.

At the end of the day, we both felt quite accomplished — and exhausted — and slept like babies. What was in store for us the next morning?  Yes, you guessed correctly: manicures.

Stay tuned for the riveting second installment of Our Wedding Retrospective!

The Boston DJ’s Wedding Diary: T-Minus 264 Days: Wedding Budget, Schmuget.

It’s the year of destiny: only 264 days left until we climb the alter steps and say our vows. This discussion of budgeting blog entry has come as reluctantly at the actual process of budgeting. Alison and I have had many intense conversations about what we could and should spend on our wedding day, and I’ll be the first to tell you that arriving at a certain level of agreement hasn’t been easy to obtain. We both started with different dreams and visions, concepts of reality and acceptable spending, trying to find middle ground. I would have been happy committing ourselves in front of a small group of closest family and friends, and celebrating in a happy but modest manner, with beer and American Chinese food – chicken fingers and crab Rangoon would have been fine with me! But of course, I know a beautiful bride fantasizes from a young age (as do parents) of a more extravagant day of celebration, and rightfully so.

It really started out with the largest consideration of a wedding: number of guests. We bounced around quite a bit, from a tiny figure to one that included over 150 individuals. After taking a serious look at the cost-per-person at our venue, the Hampden Country Club in Hampden, Mass., we decided that at most, we could have 118 others on the final guest list to celebrate formally with us – ourselves included, 120 in total. Needless to say, with all the wonderful people we love and care about, coming up with this final guest list would not be an easy task either, though it would need to be done, important matters of dollars and sense and making a sound financial decision to start our life together. At a rate of about sixty-ish dollars per person, you can do the math on the heftiest portion of our wedding spending, fortunately assisted in great part by Alison’s parents. (Alison and I, in all honestly, haven’t saved a whole lot for our wedding day, though we’ve now committed to squeezing out a few hundred dollars each month toward the cause.) The reception, we decided, would be 45% of our wedding budget. From there, we made decisions to skimp on the areas of flowers and decorations, hard-bargain a bit on the DJ (a generous friend/colleague of mine) and the hotel accommodations (with the advice of a friend – good stuff to come later, so stay tuned!), and ask some talented family members to help with supply some music for the ceremony. We even decided that our rehearsal dinner would be held at a fun, local Chinese restaurant, to save quite a bit over hosting it at a fancier, more expensive location. (YES, I got my crab Rangoon after all!)

Getting down to more concrete percentages for a modestly priced wedding celebration – that means, you’ve got less than $15,000 in total to “toss around” – a good rule of thumb for your planning is to budget approximately 40% of your total spending on the reception (food/beverage); 8-10% on your entertainment (of course, I’d encourage upwards of 12% to ensure a really memorable experience, though I’m obviously a bit biased); 8-10% on bridal attire; 10-12% on photography/videography (you want to capture your treasured memories on something other than just brain memory); with the remaining percentages, you can be discretionary on things like save-the-dates and invitations, table cards and favors, hair and nails (always important), transportation, and other items. As we’re doing, please don’t overlook the opportunity to create some of these at home, with friends and family, to save some dough and have some added fun. Please do not forget to include in your budgeting the cost of your church rental and Pre-Cana fees (if you’re getting married Catholic, obviously), wedding rings, gifts for the wedding party, vendor gratuities, and of course, your three week honeymoon to a private bungalow in Tahiti (best of luck with that one!).

[If you want a handy tool to help with your budgeting, check this out!  http://planning.theknot.com/wedding-budget]

Budgeting is NOT fun by any stretch, but it’s certainly a good exercise in communication, healthy negotiation and working together, to tackle a tricky problem – something from which your future life as husband and wife will unquestionably benefit.

Coming up in our next Diary entry, we’ll talk hotel accommodation negotiations, and there will be a guest-entry from my fiancée Alison on her bridal and brides-maid dress shopping experiences.  Thanks for reading!

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John Dudley
Owner & Lead Entertainer
DJ John Dudley Entertainment
www.DJJohnDudley.com
John@DJJohnDudley.com
(617) 791-1001

~ Thank You for Voting Us one of the Best Wedding DJs on Boston’s 2010 A-List ~ http://boston.cityvoter.com/dj-john-dudley-entertainment/biz/587133

~ Enlivening events throughout New England for more than 10 years ~

Proud Member of Global Mobile Entertainers Association &
Boston Young Professionals Association

For news, tips, testimonials, photos, videos, contests and offers, follow us:
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The Boston DJ’s Wedding Diary: T-Minus 315 Days: Dance and Shoot

Three hundred fifteen days left to live in Engagementland, and we are making moves. Alison and I have locked up both our DJ and photographer for the big day, after not a whole great deal of work and effort, actually. People keep joking with me when I tell them I’m planning my wedding… “So, are you going to DJ? Ha ha.” Look, I DJ’ed once for a shared birthday party for me and my brother, and it was horrible. Well, it was when I was still using CD’s, so every four minutes, I was pulled away from the fun to mix the music. Regardless, my wedding day is the one day I’m looking forward to having everyone else carry the load so I can put my feet up.

Our budget didn’t really allow for anything but a DJ, and I had just the man in mind: my colleague Craig Sutton at Sutton Entertainment [www.SuttonEntertainment.com]. Craig is a seasoned DJ and entertainment agent and event concept specialist who uses me frequently throughout the year for some of his most important corporate clients and wedding couples. He’s a fantastic guy with a really warm personality, and he’s really become a good friend. Obviously, in my stead, I would recommend using Craig to DJ your wedding. (Thinking about it now, I’m fortunate to have developed such a close relationship with Craig, because trust, comfort and personality-match do play huge roles in choosing a wedding DJ. It honestly would have been difficult for me to go through the process of vetting other DJ’s with whom I even have decent relationships. To this point in my career, I already had a deep appreciation for the comfort level – almost friendship – I try to develop with my wedding clients, and this scenario bolstered that further.)  Ideally, under different financial circumstances, Alison and I would have preferred to have a band and Craig as DJ. We’ve become huge fans of the ‘80s tribute band Fast Times here in Boston, and I’ve began developing a friendship with a couple of the guys in the band even. If you want a really fun dance party at your wedding and you’ve got the dough, look them up [www.FastTimes.biz] and tell them I sent you. You won’t be disappointed, promise.

So, with Craig’s services under lock and key (lucky he had the date free!), we moved on to picking the photographer – another apparently daunting task. When we had our first meal testing at the Hampden Country Club, they had their partner vendor in photography on hand in the room. We looked through the albums and pricing, and everything seemed reasonable at first glance. Alison sometimes tells me I should be a detective because of my attention to the tiniest details: I noticed in the only large format photo the woman had on display, featuring an entire wedding party, both a bridesmaid and the flower girl had their faces obscured by objects or other people. I thought, if this is the one piece brought along to demonstrate and sell their services, we might be better to look elsewhere. And we did. I’ve again worked with dozens and dozens of photographers on different weddings, and a couple did stand out in my mind, due both to their professionalism, personality, and methods. Unfortunately, when sharing these visual artists’ websites with my bride-to-be, their sites sadly didn’t do the photographers any justice, and I simply couldn’t talk Alison out of looking elsewhere…again. (This certainly reinforced for me the importance of the feel and user-friendliness of my own website, which is why I continue to work on it on a regular basis.)

We finally ran into a company called Classic Photographers at a wedding networking night we attended together. I had never worked with them before but we conversed with the owner of the company was very personable, attentive to our needs, and informative.  They are a “large” company with a subcontracted team of about 12-15 photographers in the Greater Boston area. The pricing (our main concern, besides skill set and personality) seemed a bit more modest than others we’d seen or heard, so we gave them a shot by setting up an appointment with their sales director, actually located at their sister-company Classic Tuxedos shop. Prior to our visit, we had been sent links to view about 8 or 9 of their photographers’ work (i.e. online albums); Alison chose her top four, and I narrowed those down to two. To our appointment, I brought along a set of 20 questions to ask your photographer, which I researched and printed out from the web. The salesman took the time to answer all of our questions are patiently and thoroughly as he could (Note: this is always a good sign, regardless of vendor). Although we hadn’t met or even spoken with our remaining frontrunner photographer (by the time we got to the appointment, one of top two had already been booked privately), we had a good feel for her work and style via the albums and the salesman’s background and familiarity with her. So, right then and there, we put down a small deposit on the services for our big day, and they set up a monthly payment plan with us (interest-free!)  up until our wedding. The total package includes six hours of wedding day shooting, an hour long engagement shoot in the summertime, 8” by 8” twenty page album, a DVD with all of our high resolution/auto corrected photos from both shoots complete full and unrestricted reprint rights. We went with Julia P., who is a personalized, artsy photographer and college photography instructor out of Salem, MA: here’s her stuff http://www.classicphotographers.com/featured/julia_p/index.php (Let me be frank here: I am generally not a big fan of “large companies” that are in the wedding business. With my business being primarily just me, when a couple hires me, they know exactly who they are getting, and what they are getting: that is, my personal care and attention, experience, and personality. To me, they’re not just another sale; you know, crunch the numbers, get the bare bones details, throw them into the computer, and leave well enough alone unless there’s an issue. Not to say some people don’t have success with the “big guys,” but generally my take on it is, quality sometimes tends to suffer with volume…and this just isn’t something you desire for your wedding day. But, with all that said, we decided to choose this company because the photographer’s work spoke to us, and definitely because the pricing was right – especially with the help of a $300 discount on the photography package when committing to use their sister-company for the groomsmen’s tuxedo rentals.)

Coming up in our next Diary entry, we will definitely be getting down to the dirty talk of budgeting (I really would have told you much earlier on, but to be honest, we’re doing things a bit ass-backwards ourselves, though we’ve tried so hard not to – hopefully it won’t come back to bite us!), and there also may be a guest-entry from my fiancée Alison on her dress shopping experience.  Thanks for reading!

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Feel free to drop us a line and learn more about us. (We’d like to learn more about you, too.)

John Dudley
Owner & Entertaining Entertainer
DJ John Dudley Entertainment
www.DJJohnDudley.com
John@DJJohnDudley.com
(617) 791-1001

~ Enlivening events throughout New England for more than 10 years ~

Proud Member of Global Mobile Entertainers Association &
Boston Young Professionals Association

For news, tips, contests and offers, follow us:
http://www.youtube.com/user/DJJohnDudley
http://www.twitter.com/TheBostonDJ
http://thebostondj.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/pages/Boston-MA/DJ-John-Dudley-Entertainment/185565415781
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The Boston DJ’s Wedding Diary: T-Minus 333 Days: Where? And When?

We’ve got 333 days to go, and there’s been a lot going on lately. The first questions we tried to answer, just as I guess most future brides and grooms would, were: when and where. After visiting a handful of venues both in Greater Boston (my home) and Greater Springfield (Alison’s home), in response to some innocent prompting from Alison’s mom (“So, what have you talked about so far, about your wedding planning… Huh, well?”), we chose a facility in the end that really took our breath away.

Now, backing up just a bit, I had a couple of contacts here in Boston with whom I work frequently on other couples’ weddings in my line of work. I was already familiar with the high quality of facilities here – as many Boston DJs would be. We looked into facilities including the Hilton at Logan Airport and the Hotel Marlowe inside the Galleria Mall in Cambridge. I’ve worked at both places many times and both are as classy as you can get; the staff, space, and services are phenomenal at each. Though, as one might imagine, the substantial costs of real estate taxes and overhead in Greater Boston for all intents and purposes priced us out of the wedding market here. Well, not entirely, though the few places we could actually afford did not offer us the all-important “atmosphere” we wanted (e.g. although I’m very familiar with the stellar food and services of Spinelli’s in Lynnfield, we weren’t crazy about getting married along a highway). All of this, plus the facts that my fiancée’s parents were footing a hefty portion of the wedding, as well as that her guest list would be longer than my own, really put the ball in their court – Western Mass.

I’m similar to many born and bred Bostonians, being almost completely ignorant to the world beyond Worcester; but since meeting Alison nearly three years ago, the area is starting to grow on me. Her home town is not very different from my own in many ways. At the same time, Western Mass and the Berkshires offered us a very unique opportunity to wed within an environment all its own. I’ve had the chance to DJ many weddings at barns and similar classic New England rustic venues, so we begin examining that course.

We first made a drop-in visit to a place called the Log Cabin in Holyoke. In all honesty, the view and grounds on the rear side of this venue, for some ceremonies and cocktail hours, are nearly unparalleled. The facility was modestly modern and in decent shape, and we were pretty much sold, again, on the gorgeous view itself – you could see for miles. But, we found ourselves out of luck when the rooms with the best access to the view had minimum guest counts way out of our range (e.g. 175) and very restricted availability; the remaining option in the facility overlooked a highway, which again we did not want. We checked out the Log Cabin’s sister venue, the Delaney House, down the road, but its proximity to an outdated hotel/motel , and its function room which was comparable to just about any other function room anywhere, knocked this place out of the running.

We took a bit of time to visit a Knights of Columbus Hall nearby, of which Alison’s step-dad is a member, and this venue actually surprised us quite a bit. Its exterior was castle-esque and inside there were two sizeable quite modern function rooms; each could hold 250-plus people easily, yet the minimum head counts required for each were very flexible. One room there – for the first time in our multi-city venue tour – was fashioned beautifully for an autumn-décor wedding of 125 people later that same day. (Note: we hoped to choose a date sometime in the Fall of 2011, to harness the power of the New England foliage.) Despite the positives, we could not (again!) get past the fact that the venue was right smack on a rotary, neighbored by the likes of Rite Aid and Denny’s and other similar merchants. The parking (another issue we had to consider) was more than substantial here, as it had been as most of the other venues, but again – no dice.

So, we moved on to a venue which screams (…quietly) New England: the Publick House in Sturbridge. The ride there was stunning, reds and yellows and oranges abound. The grounds were beautiful. Parking was adequate. There was lodging available both inside the House itself, as well as just up the hill. Our cocktail hour would be held inside of an old barn; the remainder of the reception inside what I would describe as a supersized yet uber-comfy country dining room. There was a hutch against one wall; antique sewing machines and snow sleds in the rafters; raw wooden beams everywhere. Our centerpieces likely would have been oil lanterns! The pricing points were even just right. It was seemingly perfect. Though, we had one last place to visit before making our final decision.

We traveled to Hampden, Massachusetts, south of Springfield along the Connecticut border, to see the Hampden Country Club. I can’t honestly recall how we made our way there; but I will never forget driving way, way up uphill, surrounded by trees, finally reaching the top and overlooking a stunning view of a valley that went on for miles. We again dropped in for a visit, knocking on a window of the function space. The general manager happened to be strolling by and let us in, happily and without hesitation giving us an impromptu tour of the facilities. We were floored. The function room was, my guess, about 20-25 feet deep and 120 feet long – that is, 120 feet of nothing but glass and a view of the entire valley. After discussing briefly menu and cakes and parking and pricing and availability (and despite our preferred church and nearest preferred hotel for our guests being 30 minutes away), we were sold. The management did give us one of the best first impressions possible, and everything else seemed to fit the bill. We actually chose the date based on the venue’s availability in October 2011. All Saturday evenings were already spoken for, so we opted for a Friday evening reception in exchange for a small discount on the food and beverage rates. (An afternoon wedding wasn’t our cup of tea: we wanted drinking and dancing, both of which are rarer in the light of day.)So, there we had it: we were locked in to tie the knot the afternoon of Friday, October 14, 2011, and to celebrate that evening at the Hampden Country Club, to the backdrop of a valley seasoned in the shades of New England autumn and a sunset which would cross slowly and directly behind the long, floor-to-ceiling windows of our hall.

Stay tuned, because next time, we will talk one, all, or some combination of the following: discussing and setting our budget (yuck); securing our DJ (no, this is not DIY); choosing a picture-perfect photographer; and dress shopping.

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