Monthly Archives: March 2012

From The Expert: 7 Things To Know About Your Band

On Monday, Ken Arlen of Arlen Music gave us the scoop on six helpful tips for hiring a wedding band. Today, he’s back for more to share seven good ideas and important qualities to look for when narrowing down your search. Following these guidelines will help you feel like a smart shopper and a confidant bride.

1. You want to have a good rapport with your prospective bandleader. He or she will be playing a very important role: the bandleader will not only be injecting personality into your event, but implementing your vision for the evening. My MC style is fun, warm and inviting. I do not like the stereotypical and artificial animated MC personality. I like to create a festive atmosphere where the musicians and guests are celebrating together, and I especially want our performance to be from the heart. This is what people respond to and what will connect with your guests!

2. When you meet with your prospective band leader ask him about the process he will take you through to plan your wedding. At Arlen Music, we want to work closely with our clients to customize the flow of the evening and to discuss the many specific details that will make your wedding unique. This involves a series of steps we will take you through as our client. We want the process to be enjoyable, easy and fun for you. We especially want you to sleep well the weeks before your wedding and feel confident that Arlen Bands will deliver the goods.

3. Your bandleader should be able to show you the personnel in the band. Beware of the “revolving door band.” Only well established bands who a hired for lots of work can demand an exclusive commitment from their musicians. At Arlen Music, we do not hire freelancers. All of our bands have set musicians and vocalists that have agreed to make your wedding date their top priority. When you hear the audio demo, make sure the musicians and vocalists you are hearing are what you are actually going to get at your party.

4. Check out how well the band performs contemporary dance music. It is much more challenging for a band to perform new music with an authentic sound than music that has been around for 20 to 30 years. Production values are much higher today than they were ten years ago. Also, beware of bands where the vocalists perform behind a music stand so they can look at lyrics. How can you connect to the audience as a vocalist while reading lyrics? Our guests often tell us that our Arlen Bands perform and sound like a live concert of the original artist. We deliver authentic vocal performances as well as instrumental arrangements.

5. Please do not expect to audition your band at someone else’s wedding. Imagine a dozen uninvited folks crashing your wedding to hear your band perform. To me, the bandleaders that invite you to hear them at someone else’s wedding are displaying poor judgment. At Arlen Music, we invite you to our conference room to meet in person, which allows us to direct our full attention on you and your wedding. We also have extensive materials to show you including current live performance video.

6. There is an old saying in the music business that “Frank Sinatra did not move pianos.” You want to make sure your bandleader has a solid support staff to free him up to perform at the highest level for your wedding. Take a look at both the front stage and the back stage of an organization. If the bandleader does not have a strong back stage, then rest assured his front stage is operating on thin ice. At Arlen Music, we have six full time office staff ready to take your call from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, and multiple conference rooms all designed to support our wedding bands. In order to address new repertoire and our client’s musical requests, we have eight arrangers on staff to create multiple new musical arrangements on a weekly basis. Rest assured, any requests you have we can prepare for your wedding. In order to make the front stage performances sparkling, we also employ a choreographer and a wardrobe consultant to keep all of our musicians looking their best.

7. Sound reproduction is a huge component to the success of your wedding. So many bands play too loudly and the mix is poor, or you hear horrendous feedback when your father or the best man is giving his toast. At Arlen Music, each band has two full time sound engineers that know the band inside and out. At your wedding, one mans the controls at the back of the stage and one walks the room to ensure levels are set correctly. Our mandate is that during dinner, all guests must be able to talk comfortably across the table without leaning in. When our bands perform, it will sound like a well-mixed recording throughout your room.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. As you are making your final decision, remember that wedding entertainment is an investment with a huge payoff. Every wedding has a budget, but a great orchestra is very much worth the extra dollars. Ten years from now your guests will remember the music because dancing to an awesome live performance is an incredibly powerful experience. But do not forget that you are the stars of the evening — not your band. This is your night! Mazel tov!

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With over 25 years of experience and a stellar reputation with venues, wedding planners and past clients, Arlen Music has the knowledge, talent and resources to make your wedding reception one that you and your guests will never forget. The Arlen Music bands have ignited hundreds of wedding receptions with the unique Arlen Music style and contemporary music selection. Following the success of the Ken Arlen Orchestra, Arlen Music began offering additional bands in the KAO mold. Over the years, demand has led to more diverse offerings, ranging from traditional string quartets (perfect for ceremony music), and a variety of fabulous dinner entertainment such as a rock and roll violin show and Oh What A Night, a tribute to the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Music plays a powerful role at your celebration. Make it memorable by contacting Arlen Music.

I’ll Bet You Love These Aisle Ideas

Before you’ll have your eye on the prize under that chuppah, your guests will have an eye on the aisle. The space on which you’ll walk to say “I do” will be the first hint of what’s in store for the evening. This is the place to set the mood, express your vision, and impress your guests. So show your style down the aisle!

Your friends and family arrive at your venue and whether it’s a synagogue, garden, country club, museum, or hotel patio, they will no doubt comment on the arrangements you’ve chosen for the chairs and aisle. The overall set up may be traditional with rows of chairs, interactive with an in-the-round arrangement, or, even, innovative with a spiral seating pattern. It can be fun to think about how you want your guests to be seated and view your ceremony under the chuppah. If it’s your personality to be different, here’s your chance!

Then think about what you’re actually going to walk on as you mosey down the aisle. Runner or no runner? If you’d like a runner, do you want it to be a simple, solid color or white? Or, would you rather choose a runner that has a pattern stitched in like a damask or a floral motif? Is your head hurting yet?

Flowers! Rarely do we see weddings that just don’t have flowers. Flowers are a must, right? But are they a must down your aisle? Up to you! If you do choose to have flowers on your aisle, perhaps you’ll be inspired by these images of petals lining the perimeter, scattered randomly, heavily carpeted, or in a design. Florists and event designers can execute so many different creations!

You might forgo petals and use other types of arrangements. Glass containers with flowers or even fruit add splashes of color down the aisle. These can be reused in your reception, too, so you’re saving money and a little bit of Mother Nature as well. Go green and save green? Win-win!

Shepherd’s hooks are also popular down the aisle. Pomanders can be hung from the hooks for floral accents that also have depth, adding a 3D quality. Shepherd’s hooks look great especially in garden settings because they’re soft and almost fairytale-like. If you want hanging flowers, but want to nix the hooks, just hang some floral pomanders from the frames of the chairs. Super delicate and dainty — and that’s just divine!

Lit lanterns hanging from the hooks could also look formal and romantic for a dusk or night time ceremony where flowers may not be as visible. Evening ceremonies might also feature giant votives clustered down the aisle for a very dramatic effect.

If you want to minimize the tsotchkes down the aisle and prefer a cleaner and simpler look, you can just do bunches of flowers attached to every few rows of chairs, threaded together by chiffon. This is a classic look that also allows for flower repurposing at the reception.

There are so many ways you can establish your wedding look at the ceremony! Don’t be afraid to try new things, but also remember to stay true to yourselves as a couple. Voice your ideas to your florist or coordinator, but trust their experience. Remember, they’ve most likely worked the same venue before and they know what’s possible and what looks great on the property.

Ceremony decor down the aisle is a perfect environment to utilize your color scheme. You can neutralize other areas of your wedding, but flowers, ribbons, fabrics, and hard materials like jars and aluminums are perfect for producing a finished color palette. As soon as they sit their tushies down in the chairs, your guests should be able to tell if your wedding is going to be vintage and rustic, timeless and formal, modern and chic. By implementing your ideas through your ceremony decor, your wedding will become a unique representation of you!

Real Jewish Weddings | Seattle, WA

After three years of dating David popped the question to Sarah at home, overlooking their amazing view Seattle. The couple, who’d known each other since they were in high school through a mutual friend, knew they wanted a unique, yet traditional wedding which made for fun wedding planning. From attending summer camps and youth group events both David and Sarah loved Havdalah and wanted to find a way to incorporate that into their wedding. It was also a good excuse to have a Saturday evening wedding! Guests filled the sanctuary of the synagogue, where Sarah is a fourth generation member.

For the reception, the couple wanted a unique place where no one else had been married before. They chose an old train station in downtown Seattle that happened to be celebrating its 100th birthday! The bride and groom spent the entire night on a packed dance floor celebrating with friends and family.

Mazel tov, Sarah and David!

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Photographer: Libby Lewis Photography
Wedding Planner: VOWS, Stephanie Wilson
Invitations: Valerie’s Invites
Ketubah: ketubah.com
Wedding Dress: Belltown Bride
Hair/Make Up: Salon Maison
Tuxedos: The Tuxedo Club
Cake: The Cake Lady
Flowers and Décor: Dennis Warshal
Limo/Party Bus: A Crystal Coach
Ceremony: Temple De Hirsch Sinai
Reception: The Great Hall at Union Station
DJ: E-Rock Entertainment
Yarmulkes: skullcap.com
Bridesmaid Dresses: Moms, Maids and More
Favors: Bruce’s Candy Kitchen

  • Bob Buhrman says:

    Congratulation’s Sarah & David!

    It was an honor to be part of your wedding celebration and you all looked absolutely awesome!

    I’ll treat you at Dicks next time!

    Bob Buhrman, owner
    The Tuxedo Club

  • Lauren says:

    Beautiful wedding for beautiful people. Love the flowers, cake and super unique venue!

  • sharon says:

    great photos! i love the unique venue. you can feel the fun vibe & excitement through the pictures.

  • Pingback: Moms, Maids and More | Bellevue Washington | Blog

  • Ketubah.com says:

    Mazel Tov, Sarah and David! Your ketubah is displayed beautifully! We wish you a lifetime of happiness!

From The Expert: How To Hire A Wedding Band

Get your dancing shoes on and get inspired to start your search for your wedding band! Ken Arlen of Arlen Music drops by today for Part I of a two-parter that’s all about learning the ins and outs of hiring a group to play live tunes for your big day. Ready to start shopping for your band? Read on to find out how to successfully and intelligently check off this important item on your to-do list!

As a bandleader, I can appreciate the tough decision each bride and groom face when deciding on the best entertainment for their wedding. We all know that a great band or orchestra can make or break a special event. Although every wedding I perform is different and unique, I believe my clients are looking for one universal result – they want a combination of elegance and fun, with fun being the operative word!

“We want all of our guests on the dance floor celebrating with us all night!”

The experience of sharing this day with all of your friends and family is so powerful it is hard to put into words. I like to ask my couples, “If we are sitting here four weeks after your wedding, what had to happen for you to be completely thrilled with your celebration experience?” This is how I tune into what will make their wedding special and unique.

As I have grown my entertainment company over the years, I now have five bands that can deliver the above result. But my friends and clients often ask me, especially if my bands are not available, how do we decide? What process should we follow to find the best music for our wedding?

Here are six tips that I feel would be helpful:

1. Understand the lingo — everyone wonders about the difference between a wedding band and orchestra. A dance orchestra is a larger band, usually with multiple vocalists, a horn section, and a violin section. For example, my 15-piece Ken Arlen Orchestra has five rhythm, three horns, three violins, and four lead vocalists!

2. Recognize that you have to find a band that plays not only the music you like, but also music that will be received well by all of your guests including your friends, your parents’ friends, and your grandparents. This requires a high level of versatility and an extensive repertoire. There is no reason why your band should not sound incredible in all styles. No compromise!

3. Start by getting referrals from your family, friends, and especially other professionals in the event industry. When you think about it, photographers are a great referral source since their primary job is to document the experience in the room. Just like your bandleader, you are hiring them to pay close attention to everything that is happening. Many photographers tell me they love working with Arlen Bands because the guests are more animated and have more fun, thus the images they capture are more interesting!

4. Ask your venue for their referrals. Having a band that has experience performing at your venue and has a working relationship with the venue staff is a definite advantage.

5. Keep in mind that you may have a favorite club band, but if they do not have experience performing at a wedding, I can guarantee that you will not be happy with the result. Leading a band at a wedding requires a specific skill that takes years of experience to develop.

6. Look for a great bandleader. I often tell clients that great music is only half of what makes a wedding successful. The other half is the bandleader’s ability to read the crowd, customize the music to your desire, keep the pace of the evening as MC, and effortlessly implement a well conceived itinerary that flows from when the doors open to the end of the night!

Let’s assume after following the above advice you have your top bands lined up. Of course you will peruse their web site, but you need to take the time to meet with your prospective bandleader to make your best decision.

Come back on Thursday to read up on Part II from Ken Arlen to read about qualities to look for and rapports to have when selecting your dream wedding band!

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With over 25 years of experience and a stellar reputation with venues, wedding planners and past clients, Arlen Music has the knowledge, talent and resources to make your wedding reception one that you and your guests will never forget. The Arlen Music bands have ignited hundreds of wedding receptions with the unique Arlen Music style and contemporary music selection. Following the success of the Ken Arlen Orchestra, Arlen Music began offering additional bands in the KAO mold. Over the years, demand has led to more diverse offerings, ranging from traditional string quartets (perfect for ceremony music), and a variety of fabulous dinner entertainment such as a rock and roll violin show and Oh What A Night, a tribute to the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Music plays a powerful role at your celebration. Make it memorable by contacting Arlen Music.

Hey Shorty, It’s Your Wedding Day

…we’re gonna party like it’s your wedding day.

No, no, I’m not calling you short (although there is nothing wrong with being short, ahem ahem!… Says the 5-foot-1-inch Wedding Yenta). I’m simply suggesting some inspiration for a short wedding dress.

Tuesday’s Real Wedding inspired me! Marissa looked super chic and sophisticated in her to-the-knee white cocktail dress from Sak’s.

If you’re having an intimate wedding, an artsy wedding, a beachy wedding, a courthouse wedding, or a destination wedding, a short dress may just be for you! And maybe you have killer legs or you just do not want that big pouffy dress. That is a-okay in my book! Short wedding dresses can still make a statement with fabulous style and current trends.

You can still keep Jewish traditions alive with a short wedding dress. If you need your shoulders covered, there are some great boleros or cardigans that would add even more style to the entire look. And if you plan to wear a veil, there is no better way to go with a birdcage! So if you’re on spilkes that you have to wear a traditional wedding gown in order to keep your vows kosher under the chuppah, you can still have a Jewish wedding and stay true to your style and what you love.

The long and short of it is: you can totally pull of the short wedding dress!

And now we’ve reached the portion of this post where we get to stare at photos. Because, really, who doesn’t like to stare at photos of pretty dresses?

Kate Spade New York 'Gimlet' Silk Sheath Dress from Nordstrom

Robert Rodriguez Black Label Daniela Bead-Top Dress from Neiman Marcus

Albury Gown by Watters

Sue Wong Organza Petal Sheath Dress from Nordstrom

8154 by Watters

Lela Rose Brocade Sheath Dress from Neiman Marcus

  • Lisa L says:

    love this post ,Allison, you have a good fashion-sense! We have several of these at our store, Lili bridals!