Nothing But a Party Crowd at Coco Key Hotel & Water Park Resort in Danvers, MA
Married about a year beforehand, Vickie and Paul were looking very much forward to a second ceremony, and more importantly a great party, for their family and friends. On a warm Friday evening in mid-May, they did just that. Following a lovely vow renewal ceremony, including a purple and jade (the day’s colors) sand ceremony, inside the spacious and gorgeous library of the hotel, it was off to the ballroom for the celebration.
The musical tastes of the couple were eclectic: Rat Pack and other upbeat lounge tunes for cocktail hour, and a mix of country, line dances, top 40, 90′s hip hop, and 90′s boy bands (for the bride, of course) during the reception. I lead an interactive centerpiece giveaway during dinner, which had folks dancing around the tables to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” — and the cameras were a-snapping!
The bride’s ceremony processional song was Nick Lachey’s “This I Swear.” The bridal party was grand introduced to “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull, with the bride and groom entering to “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. The cake cutting song was “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland. There was both a bouquet and garter toss, and the last song of the night was “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, where all the guests got in a big circle, swayed and sang.
Note: The CoCo Key Resort is currently undergoing renovations and will be re-opened as the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore in the fall of 2012.
Venue/Catering: Stefanie McCowan,
Photography: Barbara Lynch,
Photo Booth: Photo Fun Box,
Uplighting: DJ John Dudley Entertainment,
A Classy Yet Fun Affair at the Commander’s Mansion, Watertown, MA
In late April, Natalie Wu and Josh Levine joined hands in marriage, celebrating inside a historical home in Watertown. There were beautiful sites to be seen by guests as they arrived, from paintings, to classic furniture, and even a large projector screen that I provided, on which photos of the bride and groom scrolled along during cocktail hour, to the tunes of upbeat lounge music and upbeat pop songs from various decades.
There was no grand entrance for this couple, who enjoyed socializing with their guests the entire day. Toasts took place in a lovely spot, on the grand staircase, and dinner service took place upstairs in various rooms of the house. Later, downstairs, the couple performed their cake cutting ceremony to “The Sweetest Thing” by U2. Dancing commenced after that, and soon it led into a Hora, a celebratory circle dance in the Jewish tradition. The bride and groom, both seated in chairs, were raised up in the circle’s center by their strongest guests as everyone else danced around them. Guests really let loose as the night went on, ending on a high note, singing loudly in a tight circle to “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.
Photography: Amanda Ambrose,
Florist: Chaba Florists
Venue Coordinator: Rae Grassia,
Catering: Beth Heller,
Cinco de Mayo Celebration at the Hilton Boston Logan Hotel, Boston, MA
On May 5, Alison MacDonald and Miguel Nieto tied the know in very festive style! In the spacious ballroom foyer, just at the top of the popular never-ending escalato, the bride and groom celebrated the marriage with family and friends to the sight and sounds of a full Mariachi band during cocktail hour.
After the bridal party’s grand entrance into the ballroom, guests were entertained by the bride and groom in their first dance as husband and wife, a custom mix I made for them, between Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” and a classic Merengue track, Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente.” There were two “Best Men” and two “Maids of Honor” who proposed toasts before dinner service. Music during the night featured hits from the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, 90′s, and today’s Top 40, along with new and classic Merengue and Salsa songs and artists.
Photographer: Will Mann,
Uplighting: DJ John Dudley Entertainment,
Function’s Wedding Planner: Samantha Bevilacqua,
On the evening of Saturday, February 25, 2012,Thuy and Kevin, both of Vietnamese descent, tied the knot and celebrated their marriage at the Marriott Boston Long Wharf.
The cocktail hour of the reception took place in the hotel’s conjoined Constitution, Faneuil, Beacon, and Haymarket rooms, overlooking the pier and New England Aquarium. Guests arrived to the laid back sound of our smooth jazz mix, and were invited to sign a traditional Vietnamese banner scroll in lieu of a guest book.
As guests mingled in the cocktail lounge, we and the exemplary staff at the Marriott put the very final touches on the recently renovated – and magnificent – Harborview Ballroom. The wedding featured red décor, from the uplighting to linens to chiffon chair pads to rose-filled centerpieces and even backlit DJ booth. As the sun went down over Boston Harbor, the room glowed with warmth and richness.
Entering the ballroom to a bit of traditional Vietnamese instrumental music, guests awaited the grand entrance of the parents and bridal party. Because the bride and groom wished to have most of the introductions spoken in Vietnamese (to accommodate all those who traveled from afar for the wedding!), the groom’s older sister Vivian assisted with the intros. After the wedding party and couple were announced, the family made a point to recognize the siblings and several other important family members in the crowd, which was such an atypical and nice touch.
Toasts and dinner got underway. During dinner, the two sets of table centerpieces were given away. The smaller pieces were awarded to whoever had a penny under their charger plate. The larger rose pieces? Those were awarded to the folks who knew the couple best, via trivia questions provided by the matron of honor. I ran around the room like Richard Dawson on Family Fued, the numerous answers so hilariously incorrect! After that fun came the cake cutting ceremony, set to the tune of Harry Connick, Jr.’s “Recipe For Love.” The cake was actually an arrangement of three different sized white frosted cakes donning red embellishments, atop thin golden metal pedestals of different heights. The couple was quite neat during the ceremony!
During dessert, the bride and groom shared in their first dance together as husband and wife to a wedding favorite, Etta James’s “At Last.” [Note: traditionally, the couple’s first dance often takes place either immediately following their grand entrance, or as this couple chose, following dinner to kick off dancing.] Following that, the couple simultaneously shared a dance with their respective mothers, to an older Vietnamese song entitled “Long Me” (Y Van). Quite beautiful, both in tune and meaning (find the song and translated lyrics on YouTube).
From there, it was a full-on dance party. The house lights dropped and the party lights got turned on. A little bit in the action, the bouquet was tossed to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and we even played a couple of fun games (again, at the planning of the matron of honor), which were actually really fun and funny. The first was recruiting five male contestants including the groom, to stand on chairs, pull up their pant legs, and let a blind-folded bride wearing dishwashing gloves try to identify her new hubby only by the obstructed feel of his shin and calf muscle. Then, it was vice versa. It’s important to note that both bride and groom identified their mate!
The next game was set to severely embarrass both of them, as Kevin stood on chairs for the entire room to see, as Thuy ran a hard-boiled egg up one pants leg and back down the other as quickly as possible (having quite a bit of trouble at the halfway point!). And the crowd went wild!
We got everyone back to the dance party after this, there was an impromptu congo line started by the groom, and then before we all knew it, the party was at its end. The final song of the night was selected by the couple: “When You Got a Good Thing” by Lady Antebellum. All the remaining guests circled around the married couple as they danced.
A great night was had by all, including me. A big thanks and congratulations to Kevin and Thuy for inviting me to be a part of their special day. Thanks and shout out to Sonja and the always can-do (and punctual!) staff at Marriott Boston Long Wharf. Everyone, enjoy the photos from the celebration.
[This wedding experience was shared by full-time Boston-area wedding specialist, DJ John Dudley. You can find more information, tips, ideas, testimonials, videos, photos, and more at
, on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]
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.
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!
[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
, on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]
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
(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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~ Enlivening events throughout New England for more than 10 years ~
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