Recently at the Holiday Inn in Albany, I was the disc jockey for a real fun, high-end, Asian-fusion-themed Sweet Sixteen Party. The party was formal, and also much like an Japanese-American themed Wedding I did recently, so I thought I would throw down some ideas to help others who are thinking about a theme for their special event.
It’s okay to be different. The birthday girl at the party I did was an African-American. If you love sushi and/or Chinese food and have a huge passion for the East, who says that you can’t have an Asian-themed wedding? If you are thinking of changing things up a bit for your wedding, it doesn’t matter if the bride or groom has Oriental roots or not, it really doesn’t matter. America is about diversity. How many theme parties have you been to where the hosts actually fit the mold in their daily lives, anyhow?
Anyhow, it could be difficult and limiting to isolate your event to just Chinese or Japanese culture, since they themselves draw from so many inspirations. The modern Japanese writing system itself uses three main scripts, and one of them, Kanji, is basically made up entirely from Chinese characters/letters. Since here in the west, we often group eastern ideas and cultures together, it may be interesting to have an Asian-Fusion Theme, so you can incorporate all the fun.
WEDDING CEREMONY – For the actually wedding ceremony, there are many different eastern traditions that can easily be researched. One interesting one has the bride and groom entering the room from opposite sides and symbolically walking together. Guests then wave paper streamers over the couple’s heads for purification to keep evil spirits at away. After exchanging vows, the bride and groom each drink a symbolic glass of sake. Finally, they trade glasses nine times to symbolize their new bond.
BRIDE DRESS- Typically, a bride in Japan wears a white silk kimono that can cost over $20,000, but you can get something much cheaper here in the states, or even have something made. The fun part for the bride in Japan is that she gets to act like Lady Gaga at an award ceremony all night. Normally, the Japanese bride changes into up to five different kimonos throughout the wedding day.
Japanese brides often wear a traditional Japanese wig as part of their regalia. These wigs are very fancy and decorated in golden barrettes, pearls, and beautiful artificial flowers,
GROOM CLOTHING- On the other side of the ying yang, a Japanese groom wears all black. A “haori” on the top and a “hakama” on the bottom are the official terms of the traditional matrimonial garb.
DRESS CODE – The wedding party also dresses in kimonos, usually in a color chosen by the bride. Depending on the atmosphere you are looking for, you may want to encourage fun eastern attire from the guests as well. Warning… be forewarned that Uncle Charlie could probably show up as a ninja.
The reception is where you can really pull in the Asian-Fusion theme. There are so many options with this that there is no excuse if you fall short.
ARRIVAL – Though I will admit I have not seen this, coming in pulled on a hand-pulled rikshaw would kick some major bonsai!
DECORATIONS – There are so many options. Bonsai Tree centerpieces, Shoji paper lanterns with Japanese script, Chinese paper parasols, Lucky bamboo plants, Fancy sushi trays and dipping dishes, Cherry Blossoms, paper wall room dividers, hanging oil lanterns. Mini Sandy Zen gardens with tiny rakes. Polished river stones can act as paperweights for napkins.
PRINTING – For the invitations, print custom invitations on Japanese Fine artisan papers and make sure to include some Chinese or Japanese letters. You could also print programs on paper fans!
FAVORS – In Japan, a nickel is a beautiful cheap coin that has a hole in it. It is said to be good luck to wear this coin as a charm on a necklace. Therefore, why not give out Good Luck Japanese Nickel Necklaces? Also, every place setting could have a Lucky Red Takeout Box & Japanese Chopsticks, and Origami. You could also go with a keepsake Porcelain Chinese Takeout Box , Longevity Chopsticks in Silk Pouches, or even Personalized Japanese Wood Chopsticks. Also, fortune cookie with pre-printed fortunes, customized by the bride and groom would be a great hit!
DRINKS – Bowls of edamame beans at the bar, Sake, Wasabe Brew, green tea, or mango sodas.
APPETISERS – Sushi, sashimi, a full raw bar spread, dim sum, shrimp tempura, spring rolls, teriyaki or yakimore sticks and noodles dishes.
MAIN COURSE – Don’t even get me started.
No matter what you do, a theme wedding is the way to go. No one will forget! …And do not be afraid to play Carl Douglas’ “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” and The Vapors song “I’m Turning Japanese.” You know you want to!
Ahoy party people! “The Prince of Passion” DJ Kenny Casanova is here, with my very OWN wedding report on the real royal bash of the year… “The DJ Kenny Casanova & Maria DJ Pirate Wedding Extravaganza.”
A PIRATE WEDDING CAN BE AWESOME
In case you are keeping score, I practiced what I preach. I always say, “If you have the guts, always go with a theme for your wedding. Theme weddings make for a better time! ” Many traditional weddings are real fun, but all have the same flavor to them in the end; a fancy bridal dress and a whole lot of monkey suits.
Being wedding DJs that attend a few weddings a week, Maria DJ and I had to do something different for our own reception so it would stay in our minds forever, and not blend into the many memories of our clients’ passed special days. The question at hand was, “What do two wedding DJs do when they get married to each other?” We, therefore, decided to answer with having a theme wedding ourselves, so OUR special day would be memorable.
My wife randomly chose PIRATE, from a blog I wrote a few years back and the outcome was awesome!
A lot of local people from Albany, Troy and Schenectady and land lubbers from around the world browse my blog here at TheDJservice.com/blog for great planning ideas and wedding tips based on all the succesful weddings I have have been a part of. “Sharing is Caring,” is my motto, but this time it is ironic that I am sharing some fun things from MY actual wedding.
THEME WEDDING IDEAS
OUR CELEBRITY EMCEE – Always jazz things up with a surprize! We wanted the most pirate-like celebrity we could think of to be the replacement voice of my own.
Therefore, with a little deliberation, we picked Glens Falls native and former WWE United States Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan! He became the special “mystery groomsman” and then the special guest emcee. Hoooo! We agreed in the end that he was great!!!
Everyone loved him, he fit the bill perfectly, and was better than any other extra we could have thrown in there. People from another wedding even came in to meet and greet the WWE Hall-of-Famer.
CENTERPIECES – Our beautiful centerpieces were pirate treasure chests, but not like you would think. We loaded ours with mardi gras beads, gold coins and large crystal gems. In the centerpiece department, we did not skimp out on the contents at all. We did not use any cartoony-like, plastic happy meal-like prize inserts, which would have been easy to do. Our philosophy on making this celebration a success was to decorate for “a fancy pirate wedding.”
We tried our best to make everything look as legitimate and as real as possible, so the reception didn’t look like a kid’s pirate birthday. Using Broadway play quality costumes and high cost quality decorations made everything look and feel all-the-more classy …or at least as classy as a pirate shindig can be!
FLAGS – Cloth is a definite must. None of this plastic or paper table cloth nonsense. We adorn the hall in full pirate regalia. We posted 17 different “jolly roger” pirate flags up in each window-bay of Hebert’s of Birch Hill’s large reception hall. (With each flag hand-chosen to be slightly different, the attention to fine detail made things more interesting to the eye. It was interesting to see the little variations of each traditional pirate flag than to quickly browse over the same print over and over again of the same skull & crossbones. There are actually many different pirate flags out there, and if you look online, you can find full real 3 x 5 foot flags for $5-$10 a piece, that may not be all that weather-sound, but perfect for the short-term; an indoor reception like ours.
FOOD – In the true spirit of a pirate, we had a feast. We had buffet style thick carved prime rib, lobster penne, and chicken marsella.
CAKES – Arrrghhh! Yes matey! We had two cakes; one custom pirate wedding tower by yummy local wedding cake favorite Coccadotts, and a surprizingly scrumptious groom’s cake by my own sister that was peanut butter frosting, peanut butter cake and topped with crushed reeses everything! (My favorite!)
I actually fed a piece of this to my best man, the same as you feed one to your bride, in full pie-face tradition.
PHOTO MAGNET PHOTO-SHOOT – Ever see this yet? For party-favors, a photography service comes in with a green screen magnet shoot so that people could bring home high quality magnets to put on their refridgerators of the night. The magnets are a great way to remember the fun had with all their friends. These magnetic keepsakes are great for a pirate wedding theme because our photographer (Holmes Photo Imaging) changed the background on demand to match the guests costumes and our theme. And, the super sharp full color quality was also unbelievable! This extra fun option was again provided by Holmes Photography in the Albany, NY area.
STAY TUNED – There will be much more to come soon, on how to actually plan a great pirate wedding, once we go through the pictures. In case you might want to walk the plank yourself at your own wedding, here are some of our guests pictures to hold you over, as the professional shots by Manny at Affordable Photography are not quite done yet.
Have you been to a wedding lately? Was it good or bad? If you answered “good,” there is a good chance that the DJ had a good part of helping you come to this answer. Audience interaction is the key to success.
It is funny how a lot of weddings have so many similarities, but can still be good or bad. There are many traditional activities that happen at most all receptions. The first dance, the bouquet toss, father & bride dance, mother & groom dance, toasts and the cake cutting… we have seen these all time and time again. But these activities alone do not make the wedding reception a night to remember. If you really want people to have fun, your guests need the option to interact.
Dancing Activities are important to many of you guests.
Some will argue that group dances are hokey and there are a number of them that really, really are. One example is the dreaded “Chicken Dance”. I personally, hate that song! However, there are some that are very modern and can do wonders for getting people out of their seats.
Even if you as the bride and groom absolutely hate dance activities, these are great ice breakers. If you can sacrifice a couple of songs to the majority of your group and and moving, it may be worth it in the big picture. If you get the people up and dancing with The Cha Cha or Electric slide, they may very well stay up there for the rest of the night.
There are many activities you have at your disposal as options. Others include The Cupid Shuffle, The Apache, The Mississippi Mudslide, The Conga, Souljaboy and The YMCA. Also, there are dollar dances, the freeze dance, The Limbo, the twist, and anniversary dances – where the DJ calls out numbers of years married to leave the dance floor, until the couple that had been together the longest remains.
True story… Last weekend, I had three weddings; a Mexican Salsa Reception in Saratoga at Tiznow, a Pakistani Wedding at Best Western in Albany, and a Six Flags Lodge Reception in Lake George, NY. There is a first time for everything.
First off, my first time experience was doing a DJ gig at The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. It is a really nice place and good people. At the Six Flags wedding reception, the guests settled into their seats for dinner right after the cocktail hour and the intro. They were just about to enjoy their salads, when all of the sudden a loud siren sounded with a blinking white strobe light from wall.
Whhhhoooop! Whhhhoooop! Whhhhoooop! A recorded voice followed the shrill alarm. “The fire alarm device has been activated. All guests, please evacuate the building.”
At this point, the hotel wedding coordinator ran up to me to inform me that all was okay. “A 5-year-old boy pulled an alarm,” he said shouting over the siren. “False alarm. However, the alarm is going to have to run its course.”
“Ugh,” I replied. “How long is that going to take?”
“I am not sure,” he replied. “Maybe fifteen minutes? Can you make an announcement and ask the guests to stay seated?”
“Okay. I will try.” I said. For one, one of the piercing alarms was right behind me over my head, and for two, there were others around the room annoying the attendees.
I grabbed the mic and people who were gathering objects looked over at me. “Ladies and gentlemen, do not worry it is a false alarm,” I said. “The cake is not going to melt and my equipment is not going to burn, so let’s try and make the most of it.”
I quickly browsed through my computer and found “Burning Down The House” by The Talking Heads and pulled it up. A few faces started to laugh.
Now, mind you, you usually do not want to play loud dance music while people are eating, but I needed a way to entertain and cover up the annoying backdrop and the salads weren’t cutting it. The talking heads was a good start. The next step was to get the people on the dance floor to make them forget that a peaceful first course probably wasn’t going to happen for the moment.
Shift gears to a hot set… “Disco Inferno” by The Tramps, “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Burning Love” from Elvis, and Buster Poindexter’s “Hot, Hot, Hot.”
The guests had a blast. Somewhere in the middle of the last song, the alarm ended and everyone went back to their meals.
Later on, the manager said, “Kenny Casanova saves the day!”
Also, the Lodge was really cool about everything. They gave the guests a free hour of open bar, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise, as well as an extra half hour of hall time at the end of the night.
In my opinion, it made the night better and a fun memory.
You know the little cards that lead you to your table at the wedding reception… Well, people are really raising the bar now. It seems that place cards do not even need to be cards anymore. As I wrote in a previous blog about a month ago, I recently saw a couple use lit tea candles with their guests names printed on the candle holders. This isn’t the only alternative option out there, especially when a them is involved.
At a beach-theme reception, you can really have a blast. Seashells with names printed on them, perhaps from metallic ink pens are a novel idea, as are decorative stones. Other people may choose to actually decorate coconuts with their guests names on them, as well. Other ideas can include mini-ships in a bottle, messages in bottles (open slips of paper read through the glass), or other various sea-related statuettes.
A vegas theme could involve poker chips with names on them, or even large playing cards!
Music-friendly? Another neat idea includes cd’s (compact discs) with the couples names printed on them, with music for later listening. How about a 45 record with names on them for the older guests?!
It is really worth stopping by the dollar store and seeing what you can whip together! You will be surprised, and hopefully, so will your guests!
Every bride pictures the day they are to be married as being the perfect-ending of a fairy tale, when they are very young. If you want your big wedding to be a fairy tale come true, why not consider putting just the right theme to it? If you want to set an atmosphere of fantasy, enchantment and fun, then maybe a Cinderella wedding could be just for you!
DARE TO PICK A THEME – If you really want the groom to buy into the helping of planning your wedding, add a theme. From experience, adding any type of theme can really get your Prince Charming to buy into the whole party planning process, as many grooms do not really buy into the planning side. Add a theme, however, and the creative juices start to flow!
DO SOME RESEARCH – So first, you have to do your homework. If you think that a Cinderella theme could work for your wedding, then make sure you re-watch the movie Cinderella, itself. You will see from watching the movie a number of things that can really add to the overall feel.
First off, Cinderella is from a kingdom and the messengers use scrolls. You can send your invitations out with that scroll feel, and also even create something like this for your guestbook. Since you want your guests to really know that they are attending a fairy tale wedding, a nice glass slipper or something from the film should be printed as a background of clip art on the invitations. If you can, also try sealing your envelopes with a royal wax seal.
COLORS – The official colors for the reception should include ivory, light pinks and white. These colors should be used for flowers, linen, and even the clothing. To get that ballroom feel, the bride should shoot for a bell-shaped gown, when possible, if it compliments her body well. She should try to match the style of Cinderella, of course, from Disney, as this is the image that is well-known. The groom should look at black tuxedos with tails.
PROPS – Props are everything and will really sell your theme, no matter what it may be. In this case, props should include, glass slippers, pumpkins and perhaps long red carpets. (At the ceremony, you may even want to have the ring bearer carry the ring inside a glass slipper or pumpkin!)
The venue will also play a good hand in getting the Cinderella feel across. A ballroom with chandeliers and fancy drapery and wall hangings would be the perfect setting for your Cinderella wedding reception theme and your fairy tale coming true. Locally Glen Sanders mansion, might be nice, or any place that has a cascading staircase for a grand entrance, too!
MAKE IT SPARKLE – For that added magical feel, you should use glitter everywhere you can. Table tops with tinsel pieces would be great and you have to make pumpkin couches your centerpieces. Also, small magic wands with stars on the tips provided as party favors would make for some fun pictures, as well. Also, if your budget allows, you may want to shoot for a giant ice statue of a slipper to add to the night.