8 Questions to Ask When You Are Interviewing Wedding DJs

Hello!

Lets delve into the entertainment world! What do you want to know when looking for your DJ? Below are 8 questions I recommend asking when you’re interviewing DJs.


1. How long have you been a DJ and how many weddings have you done?
It’s important to make sure that you are hiring a seasoned professional. The DJ has a huge responsibility in the success of your reception. It’s important to make sure that he/she is confident and fully able to provide the exact vibe that you are looking for.

2. Have you played at my venue before?
You’ll want to make sure that your DJ is familiar with your venue. This is important in terms of load in, set up (where the outlets are, what areas extension cords can run through) and how to set up the equipment to provide the best overall sound for the evening. If the DJ hasn’t played at your venue before, that’s okay. Just make sure that he/she is willing to do a walk thru of the venue space prior to the wedding day.

3. Will you serve as my emcee (master of ceremonies) during the reception? Do you have a video of yourself in action that I can see?
Some companies offer djs and emcees separately, while other companies offer a DJ/Emcee service (same person). Make sure that you have hired a “voice” of your evening to handle the flow of all of your important moments: grand entrance, first dance, toasts, cake cutting and all the other special events throughout the night. The next step is to make sure you “like their voice”. They will set the tone for your entire evening and it’s important that you like their style, how they sound on a mic, and handle a crowd.

4. Are you insured?
You want to make sure that you are hiring a legitimate company for your most special day. Because the truth is anyone can purchase equipment and call themselves a “DJ”. It is incredibly important that this company carries business liability insurance, pays taxes, and has insured equipment.

5. What attire will you wear at my wedding?
Don’t be shy, this is a must ask question! Your DJ must be dressed appropriately; all eyes will be looking at him/her from time to time.

6. Can I select my own songs?
Often times DJs will allow you pick up to a certain amount of songs to give them a good feel as what your music taste is like. They might even ask you to provide them with a “don’t play” list. This could contain the Macarena, the chicken dance, or maybe is past “songs” of your old boyfriends and girlfriends.


7. What is included in your services? What are items (if any) do you offer?
Do they provide a set up for the both the ceremony and reception? What about the cocktail hour? Do they bring back up equipment (just in case)? Do they provide their table(s)? Do they offer uplighting? Gobo light? Photobooths, etc?

8. What is the back up plan if you get sick or have a pop up emergency and you are unable to be at my wedding?
Does he/she work with a team? Do they have other professional djs they can call upon that offer a similar style and service to themselves? Has this ever happened before and how was it handled? Be sure that this person has your most special covered in a worst case scenario.

 

 

Romantic Seville Golf & Country Club Wedding

Oh, friends, I'm so excited to share this Seville Golf and Country Club Wedding with you today! It’s hard for me to believe that this wedding actually took place 4 months ago! I think time flies extra fast during Arizona's most beautiful months.


This wedding was especially endearing to me, as it was the first time I actually started imagining what it would be like to be the "Mother of the Bride" myself one day.  And the reason for that was because of how extraordinary the relationship was between Jessica (the Bride) and Terri (the Mother of the Bride.) So close that Jessica wore her mom's very own wedding dress (with a few modifications.) And when it was time for Jessica to have her dress bustled for the reception Terri had her very own Maid of Honor helping Jessica, along with Jessica's Maid of Honor. It was such a beautiful full circle meaningful moment to witness.


Additionally, Jessica and Bryan's (the Groom) families were so warm and fun. The entire day was filled with laughter, joy, and fun moments. And I think that was a largely because of Jessica and Bryan's relationship, it was quite obvious that they were very best friends, who truly treasured their time with their family, friends, and also each other.


The wedding day took place at the always romantic Seville Golf and Country Club. Every part of their day was filled with a personal touch of some kind and paired with gorgeous florals by Blume Events. But what stuck out to us most was the humor and sincerity of Jessica, Bryan, and everyone around them.


The second our team walked onto property, we were greeted with a huge hug and smile that made us feel like family. As a Wedding Planner, there is nothing you want more than for your clients to truly surrender all their thoughts about planning and details and enjoy and really savor the day.  In that moment, I knew, we had gained Terri and Jessica's trust and allowed them to step into their roles 100% ~as Bride and Mother of Bride and experience one of life's most beautiful days.

 

Jessica, Bryan and Terri, thank you for allowing us to be part of your family for the day. It was truly an honor, and we’re so excited for you to see a few of our many favorites moments!

View Bryan & Jessica's Wedding Day Highlight Video:  HERE 

View my personal "Behind the Scenes Clips" :  HERE 

 

CREATIVE PARTNER TEAM

Photography/Cinema : Steponme Photography | Planner: Jennifer Starr | Florals: Blume Events | DJ/Emcee: Matt Richardson | Officiant: Ryan Centers | Cake: Sue Jacobs Cakes | Linens: Southwick Linens | Venue: Seville Golf and Country Club

 

 

Best Wedding Websites to Share with Your Guests

Recently we were asked by one of our clients, which was the best Wedding Website to use? And let us let you in on a little secret, sometimes us Wedding Planners don’t necessarily have the answers to everything. But when questions like this come up, we always do our research to deliver our best findings to my clients.

For the most part, all of the wedding websites offer the similar features: rsvp section, event schedule area, and a spot to link registries, where they really differ is their customization abilities.

Let’s dig in shall we…..

Websites with a Fee:

Riely Grey ~ (sign-up & wedding website editing is free ~ publishing + sharing = $35/mo or 12 mo. package for 40% savings)

The Details: 40+ gorgeous wedding template design options, multiple color options, personalized domain names, RSVP collection, and the ability  to change your theme anytime after publication.

AppyCouple ~ ( $49 Appy Boutique basic package or $149 Appy Luxury full package - one time payment each) 

The Details: A new alternative to a traditional wedding website, AppyCouple creates a personalized smartphone app for easy access to all things about your wedding.  Users can chose from several design options and the features available within are close to limitless.  Video/photo sharing, guest list and RSVP manager, travel concierge service, customized countdown, multiple language capabilities, access to gift registries, address collection services are just to name a few.  Once created, your app will be available to all your guests as a free download and has the ability to be accessed anywhere even without wifi!


Wedding Woo ~ ($49 year/$69 two years)

The Details: Fully customizable wedding website templates with editable fonts, colors and backgrounds.  Couples can choose to add on fun, interactive "widgets" such as a wedding day countdown, personalized SoundCloud app for wedding music, and Bing Translator services so all guests can feel included.  Other highlighted features include a customizable visual dashboard, domain name, unlimited photo sharing, song request submissions for the reception, and virtual RSVP guest responses.  


Free Websites:

Wedding Window ~ (completely free or upgrade for $14.95/mo or $79.00/yr)

This wedding website service offers 20 free customizable photo themes and 16 free video themes for your website. These templates come with options to add information about wedding day festivities, ceremony details, RSVP service for guests, links to your gift registries, photo albums, guest list information, and a blogging option for the couple to use.  


The Knot ~ (free!)

The Knot is one of the most popular wedding websites that offers 100+ templates with beautiful designs to please every style.  Features within each template include information about the couple, engagement photos, links to registry sites, RSVP features, and a personalized guest book.  PLUS, many of the wedding site designs also come with the option to create matching wedding invitations of the same style through Shutterfly, Wedding Paper Divas, Minted Invitations, and Paperless Post.


Aisle Planner ~ (free!)

This popular wedding planning site now gives couples the option to create simple & straightforward place to share all your wedding details with your guests. 

 

OUR FAVORITE PICKS!!! : 

Websites with a Fee:  "AppyCouple."

After reviewing all of these wonderful websites the paid option that really stood out us was AppyCouple.  Creating a personalized app for the big day is such a creative and unique feature to offer to your guests.  Since we all look at our phones multiple times during the day, having an app that is readily accessible and easy to use like the one offered here has the potential to create more interaction and visitations to your wedding information!

Free Website : "Aisle Planner

Our favorite free website would definitely have to be Aisle Planner! As a J.Starr couple, you will get a wonderful perk in the form of access to Aisle Planner technology and the ability to create your own wedding website.  This is a great feature that lets a couple be connected to the planning process and have access to all aspects of the day

 

**Special Thank You Contributing Writer & J.Starr Intern: Annamarie Gansheimer

8 Simple Tips for Hosting a Home Party


Happy Sunday Friends.

Today begins a new feature on my blog, please allow me to introduce “Sincerely Sundays.” My goal is to share a lifestyle-based blog post each Sunday, sharing some personal stories and hopefully providing you with some tips, insights and inspirations.

Let’s dig in shall we. On the very last day of 2017 we hosted a “Noon Year’s Eve Party” at our home. This party was a combo of a few different themes. “Noon Year’s Eve” + our little girls: “Hannah & Emma’s 5th Birthday” paired with trying to continue our tradition of our annual gathering, making this our “14th Annual.”


So yeah, we had a lot going on, the truth is we always do ~ especially in the current season of life. It was probably too ambitious for us to host a party, especially right after Christmas…but I had to fight through that way of thinking.


I was determined for my littles to have their 5th Birthday Party, and dang it I wasn’t going to let go of our “Annual Gathering” and what the heck, let’s just tie in New Years at the same time okay?? Additionally, you would think that me being a professional Wedding Planner would make throwing a personal party easy peasy right? Umm, no. I think sometimes this actually makes things harder. I always want MORE, MORE, MORE when it comes to celebrations and entertaining, but it’s just not realistic when you’re raising babies and growing a business. And, every gathering ISN’T a wedding! Nor should I put that kind of pressure on myself nor should YOU!


In the grand scheme of things life isn’t all about the glitz and glam, it’s truly about celebrating with those you love and simply enjoying each other’s company. Often times I think people get completely paralyzed by the thought of hosting parties because they think in today’s world of “pinterest” and “Instagram worthy” posts that everything has to be PERFECT. I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. And putting that kind of pressure on yourself isn’t fair to yourself. All that matters is that you’re providing a time and place for sweet memories to be made for yourselves, your families and your friends.


So sweet friends, today let me share with you my simple tips for hosting a home party that is meaningful, fun, yet realistic.


1. Over Invite ~ Yes you heard me right. Over invite and don’t be scared. The truth is people are BUSY. Chances are a good number of guests won’t be able to come and that’s okay. They still appreciate being invited. And having a large guest list allows you a better chance of having a decent actual turn out. 

2. Set a Realistic Budget and Stick to It. ~ This is a hard one for me. But I need a budget when it comes to party planning, otherwise I most certainly will go over the top. But parameters are a good thing. Limitations require you to really think creativity and also relieve the stress and pressure of feeling overspent and remorseful after all is done.

3. Surrender to Perfection ~ You do not need to have the “perfect” home before you allow guests into it. If that’s they way you feel, I beg you to re-wire your thinking. People want to visit with YOU and your family, not your home. Do the best you can with what you have at the time. Keep things tidy, decorate a few areas, but don’t think you need to buy all new furniture.

4. Warm Welcome Area ~ The easiest way to put your guests at ease is to welcome them warmly from the moment they set onsite. Decorate you door, pop out a welcome sign, and if you’re really rocking things, set out a welcome beverage station.

5. Music ~ I truly think a lot of people underestimate the power of music. Music can change up the overall mood instantly and hello….it’s so easy just to turn it on. Make sure that the volume is loud enough to hear but not a competition with being able to have conversations. Also make sure that music is scattered throughout the house (not just in one area.)

6. Accessible Food & Beverage ~ set up your food and drinks in a central area. Make sure that you have your food station equipped with every possible thing that your guests might need: plates, utensils, napkins, condiments, ice, etc.

7. Add in some kind of wow factor ~ guests need to be surprised with some kind of element that they weren’t expecting. For us, this go around it was a Bounce House. (bonus, it kept the kids occupied for hours and kept the noise outside.) Additionally, we had a simple homemade photobooth along with some confetti poppers when we counted down to noon.

8. Set a Schedule ~ Have a set plan in mind ahead of time. A time for a toast, cake, gifts, games, etc. Don’t go into hosting blinding. Take lead and keep your guest's attention flowing from one activity to the next.

Bottom line, don’t let the opportunity to celebrate pass you by just because you’re afraid of not making things perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect ~ anything! Life’s meant to be celebrated, so grab a few party hats and carry on! You deserve to have as much fun as your guests.

 

 

**And lastly, here's a little video of some clips I captured this day, fun times :) 

 

 

 

 

Bounce House: A Child's Joy | Silly Party Favors & Fluff: Party City | Welcome Sign/Letter Board: Hobby Lobby

Modern Luxury Zen Wedding at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

 

In the spring of 2017 Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine offered me the opportunity to design one of their covers and 4 page editorial spreads.  I was especially excited when I learned this shoot was taking place at the majestic Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. This location has truly the best views of the valley as it's nestled atop of Camelback Mountain.

 

After touring this property and climbing up and down the mountainside with a then (very pregnant) Ashley Lopez, Assistant Publisher of the publication (such a trooper) I immediately had a concept in mind.  Something I tell all my clients is to first and foremost, chose a venue that you LOVE.  Secondly, always strive to chose designs that work with your venue, not against it.

 

With that said, I knew that the astonishing views of the Sanctuary needed to be highlighted in a big way.  I also knew that the feeling of tranquility needed to be represented.  You see, the moment I set foot on this property I instantly feel completely relaxed.  And yet, with the natural desert views, and feelings of calmness, the Sanctuary still feels extraordinarily fresh and modern.   And "that's where my concept of "Luxury Modern Zen" was born.  

 

But how do we bring this to life?  It wasn't easy, but with some incredibly talented creative collaborators I think we pulled it off quite well.  For our color palet we decided on green to bring in the ZEN (as greenery was Pantone's color of the year in 2017), along with white and silver to add in elements of MODERN and lastly natural browns/woods to bring in the DESERT and MORE ZEN. 

 

Back to those incredible views....here enters the wild idea of setting up scene on a somewhat slanted side of a mountain.  Yes, we actually set up an entire lounge set with heavy furniture (as the sky teased us with rain clouds.)  But once you see that shot with the praying monk rock formation in the background, you'll realize how much it was worth it, right?  

 

All and all I couldn't be more proud of this shoot. The collaborating creative team was incredible and the freedom yet immense support given by the team at Arizona's Finest was perfection. Thank you again for the amazing opportunity. 

 

Creative Partner Team:

Publication: Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine | Venue: The Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain | Floral Design: Flowers By Jodi | Photography: CWLIFE Photography | Cake: Kick Ass Kakes | Hair and Makeup: Babydoll Weddings | Bridal Gown: La Bella Bridal Boutique | Jewelry: Syd Jewellery | Paper Details: Posh Invitations | Furniture: Inspired Environments | Groom’s Attire: Mr. Formal | Linens: Southwick Linens | Event Design & Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings 

Beautiful Desert Wedding at Troon North Golf Club

Oh Kim and Billy, where do I even begin?  I struggle to write this blog post because it's my last check mark on their wedding file, which makes me kind of sad....as I don't want their wedding planning process to be over.

Because the truth is, Kim and Billy were really special to me.  They hired me to handle their planning along with all of their designing, so we got to spend a lot of time together, therefore Kim and I became really close.  And as much as my clients think I do for them, the truth is they do so much for me, especially Kim.

Let me rewind a bit.  The first time Kim called me to seek out wedding planning services we chatted for about an hour.  At the end of our call I told her I would be out of the office this coming week because "tomorrow I'm having a baby."  Kim gasped "what you're having a baby tomorrow and you let me keep you on the phone this long!"  I explained that talking to her about Wedding Planning was actually helping me to relax. 

The next time I spoke to Kim was a few weeks after having Hunter (my little boy) she officially booked my services.  It was truly a celebratory moment of reassurance for me. Because when you have a new baby there's this process you have to go through trying to "find" yourself again....as a mama, as wife, as a women, and as a business owner.  Kim was the first "J.Starr Bride" I booked after having my third child.  In a way, as I look back it's almost as if she was more a gift to me than I was to her.  I needed to prove to myself that yes, I can still do this even after having my third baby.  And Kim's belief and trust in me was exactly the push I needed at that time in my life.  I couldn't have asked for a bigger client cheerleader than Kim. 

 

Now let's talk about Kim & Billy...

They've been together for nearly twenty years. Though they knew they wanted to marry a long time ago, life experiences with loved ones pushed back their plans.  First, Kim's son got engaged, and Billy wanted to wait to propose so that their engagement didn't overshadow Kim's son's wedding plans in anyway. (meanwhile, Billy already had the ring the entire time.)  Next, their beloved sister in-law last her long battle to cancer.   Billy again postponed the engagement as the family grieved.  Finally, after a very long courtship, these two lovely people married on April 28th, 2017.  It was finally time for them to allow people to pour the love back on then that they most certainly deserve. 

 

The most important thing to Kim and Billy was providing a nice wedding for all of their guests to enjoy.  The majority of their guests where flying in for this event and it was very important to Kim and Billy that all of their guests felt comfortable .  With that they provided a Welcome Reception at The Inn at Eagle Mountain, the Wedding Ceremony and Reception at Troon North Golf Club, and a day after Wedding Brunch titled "Brunch, Bocce & Bags" at the El Chorro Lodge. 

 

The second most important thing was the "look" of the wedding feel natural to Arizona's desert beauty.  Alas we came up with the concept "Desert Elegance." The ballroom of Troon North Golf Club has some stunning views and it was necessary to really let all the natural beauty shine through.  Our entire color palette was based off the belt embellishment on Kim's wedding dress, containing jewel tones and then we complimented them with soft, muted, desert tones.   

The outcome of the day turned out absolutely beautiful.  But honestly, the true beauty came from Kim and Billy.  They are truly two of the kindest, most giving, incredible people.  They make everyone around them feel important and special.  It was truly an honor to be a part of their wedding and it was an experience that will forever remain special to me.   

 

Photography: Jacqueline Hanna Photography | Venue: Troon North Golf Club | Florist: Wild Child | Invitation: Idieh Designs | Music: Sarah Vanell | Cake: Ruze Cake House | Hair & Make-Up: Vidogi Salon | DJ: Rose Bud Entertainment | Groom & Groomsmen Suits: Celebrity Tux & Tails | Bridesmaid Gowns: Suzanne's Bridal Boutique | Wedding Planner: J. Starr Stylized Weddings

Meet the J.Starr Weddings Team

JENNIFER STARR: OWNER, DESIGNER, SENIOR LEAD PLANNER

Meet Jennifer ~ She's an Arizona Native who loves anything and everything about the creative process, a music lover, and completely addicted to being an entrepreneur.  She's truly obsessed with any reason to celebrate, even though cooking is one of her struggle area~ although she's improving. This is mostly because she's the wife of Justin and the mama to her four year old twins Hannah & Emma, and her one year old son Hunter.  Hunter's appetite is the size of football team, forcing this girl to get better in the kitchen.  Her favorite wedding moment is sneaking the couple into their reception room right before their wedding begins and allowing them to see a glimpse of their wedding day vision come to life.   Jennifer's been working collectively in the wedding industry for 12 years & started her company in February of 2011. 

APRIL WARNER: SENIOR LEAD PLANNER

Meet April ~ She's a transplant from Michigan who is a musical fanatic, TV  junkie and intense lover of Disneyland. She makes lists for almost everything she does, even though she's the only person who can read her handwriting. During football season, she never misses a Michigan game.  Her favorite wedding moment is right before the bride walks down the aisle.  She's married to the most incredible man and they have the sassiest little 2 year old...who 100% gets her sass from her mama. She's been working collectively in the wedding industry for 12 years & has been rockin J.Starr Weddings since 2016, and was even a J.Starr Bride herself!

MELISSA BAILEY: LEAD PLANNER

Meet Melissa ~ She's a helpless romantic, married to her hot shot fire fighting husband and mom to two adorable boys and beloved kitty cats. A girly-girl country girl that can still hang with the boys that loves God, her family and friends. In her spare time you can find her watching one of her many favorite movies with a bowl of popcorn by her side or finding something to organize in her home. She loves a great margarita, believes chips and salsa should be served at every meal, and every night looks forward to her coffee the next morning. One day when she tires of this dream, she will be a Professional Latin Ballroom Dancer. Melissa has be rockin' J.Starr Weddings since 2011.

MEET RENATA HODL: LEAD PLANNER

Meet Renata~ "This girl is on fire!" would be her favorite lyrics to sing at karaoke~ that is *if she could* sing ~so instead she'll just rock out in her car. She is a European transplant and has lived in several different states here in the USA. She loves traveling with her young son as he is her favorite travel buddy. Her favorite recent adventure included traveling to Thailand and visiting with the little tigers. If she's not jumping out of a plane, hiking, or lifting some weights she's pursuing her dream in the kitchen of participating on the Food Network's "Chopped" show. Renata has been working with Jennifer Starr since their earliest days in the Wedding Industry ~ a combination of 12 years. Renata loves the excitement and beauty of wedding days and especially loves all things design & floral related.

MEET CHRISTINA GAGLIANO: LEAD PLANNER

Meet: Christina ~ She's a newlywed, fur baby mama, Disney lover and Arizona native who loves the desert and all the unique features it brings. She loves traveling, daily adventures and cuddling up next to her new husband to watch documentaries. During the week Christina enjoys rock climbing at a local gym and trying new restaurants. Her favorite part of the wedding day is telling the couple " it's time" to head to the ceremony~ as each couple have such sweet emotions at that very moment. Christina has been loving working in the wedding industry for 6 years. She's been rockin J.Starr Weddings since 2016, and was even a J.Starr Bride herself!

 

 

Photography: Annie Randall Photography | Venue: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale | Rentals: Glamor & Woods | Hair & Make-Up: Linda Valenzuela | Coffee Truck: Gypsy Cup | Cinematography: Nate Ethington

WIPA Wanderlust Adventure

Recently, I was asked to be the Event Chair for the May WIPA (Wedding Industry Professional Association) Event.  I gladly said YES.  I knew this would be an amazing opportunity for me to be insanely creative, have the chance to work with some incredible people, and put together something really special for my industry peers. 

The Overall Concept:

Two key factors were already in place before I was assigned as the "Event Chair" for this event:  the location and the time.  Knowing that this would be a morning event, I wanted the overall theme to feel fresh.  I also wanted to take into account the venue that it would take place in.  After touring the Hyatt Scottsdale Resort, I felt that it gave a strong feeling of a "Desert Oasis."  I started brainstorming and designing inspiration boards~ I knew the "look" I desired but didn't have the right "name." I then sent over my design board to my BFF, who lives in LA (and happens to be a little bit cooler than me) and asked her...."What is this look?" she replied back with some perfect wording/concept ideas and the "WIPA Wanderlust Experience" was born. 

Next I got busy curating my Creative Team.  I tried selecting team members who I knew could NAIL my vision and who would be easy to work with.  I always try not to get too fixated on everything initially ~ as these types of events tend to flourish themselves when you pick the right people and show them your inspirations.

The Look:

The first place I started was working with Tami from Posh Invitations on  the "Save the Dates." I especially appreciated Tami's amazing patience as there was a ton of pressure on creating the "Save the Date" as it served as the first "visual" into the event.

I worked with "Glamour & Woods" for all of the rental and furniture pieces.  I actually had the opportunity to tour their showroom and warehouse firsthand and was blown away with all of their amazing inventory.  Next we actually all walked and "space planned" the entire venue along with Amy Dressor (Event Sales Manager Extraordinaire of the Hyatt.) The space we had to work with was quite large and we really needed to "fill" the space appropriately yet still make it feel causal and cozy.  The Glamour & Woods team knocked my concept out of the park with the pieces they offered, it truly took my vision to a whole new level.  They also were able to work "with" the venue, not "against it" and I was especially impressed by how in sync their pieces worked with the carpeting in the ballroom~ seamlessly.

Next, I knew I needed to work with Floral Designer that was truly "different." One that could pair a "high end" vibe with a "ultra cool" twist.  Mandy of Butterfly Petals is known in the industry as a true creative.  I can always spot her work out of a crowd because their is always some really interesting element to it. 

For the linens I worked with Laurie & Shelby of Southwick Linens.  They provided all the linens for the high top tables in the cocktail area, and the tables and napkins for the reception.  I always trust Laurie to suggest which linen colors will really work to compliment the look and not overpower or take away from the concept.  We always were very creative with the table layouts (not the normal) so Laurie new exactly how to make the linen sizing "work" with our unique room set up. 

When Crusin Photo Bus agreed to be on board, my beach loving spirit did about ten somersaults, and when Amy (from the Hyatt) agreed to allow us to drive the van INTO the ballroom and serve as a MAIN décor element nestled next to the stage, my Wedding Designing heart jumped for JOY.  I knew that would be key factor in the "WOW" element.   

Jesse Jo, the talented owner of Freed Hands  provided acrylic signs with her signature hand calligraphy that were placed throughout the event, truly telling a "story" as guests experienced each area. 

I brought Karma Lighting onboard to provide the uplighting~ something to really "set the mood." They also provided a beach projection scene of rolling waves on the side wall, giving the entire room a sense of movement. 

Lastly, I needed a true artist to capture this event~ and that's where Andrew & Jade Photography stepped in. Known for their natural & intimate style of photography, I knew they would capture the overall sense of beauty and softness that I needed for this rather untraditional look and feel. 

Additionally, our friends over at Serendipity Cinematography captured our event on video for us.  (see video link below)   

 

Bringing in the Elements of FUN!

Now that I knew the event would look beautiful, I had to ensure that it would be fun!

The talented Linda Valenzuela and her team not only provided the hair & make up for our bride model, they also offered a "Boho Braid Bar" for all of the guests to get their "Wanderlust" look on. 

Dave from Desert House Productions made the party~ "a party" as he played the perfect mix of jams.  I was so thrilled when Dave (a yogi himself) agreed to lead the group in some yoga stretches before we opened the doors for the Reception.

Gypsy Cup~ a traveling café was another WOW piece that I was so thankful to have be a part of the event.  As guests finished their initial passport led tour of the Hyatt, they we greeted by owners: Linsay & Neil's amazing coffee truck.  Each guest was treated to a personalized cup of coffee before they entered the "morning cocktail hour."

I was so thrilled to work with the Champagne Creative Group, they are known for bringing key SUPRISE elements to take any party from an event to an EXPERIENCE.  They provided a strolling carousel with two "wanderlust greeters" to walk through the party serving fresh berries and Greek yogurt parfaits to all of the guests.   

Dane Sanders , author and speaker truly inspired our crowd with his very personal and motivating presentation. 

 Lastly, with this much beauty and excitement I just knew that we had to add a Bride & Groom model into the mix.  I was so happy when my intern: Annamarie and her boyfriend Vinny said YES to modeling.  (special thank you to Annamarie's mom for saying it was okay for her 19 year daughter to ROCK out a wedding dress ;) Annamarie's beautiful gown was provided by Labella Bridal Boutique.   Mary Zarob, of S.W. Wilson Bespoke Clothier has a custom suit created for our Groom model. 

 

The Outcome:

If I can be totally honest, this particular event was an exhilarating total booty kicker for me.  Whenever you host an event for the "Industry" it's completely different than working with my clients.  Don't get me wrong, I put an tremendous amount of energy and love into all of my events...but industry events involve a lot of PRESSURE.  Reason being, the guests attending these events aren't as necessarily easy to "WOW" because they work/live/breath in this wild world.  This means I have to try and find ways to impress and entertain them with things that they haven't seen or experienced before.   

But the really cool part about hosting an industry event, is the outcome.  These people KNOW how much work goes into all of these moving pieces.  I was so appreciative for all the amazing feedback that I received.  Thank you so much to the WIPA Board for asking me to be the Event Chair, thank you to all of the incredible CREATIVE partners that collaborated with me on this, and thank you so much to my team members: April, Melissa, Renata & Christina who showed up at the crack of dawn that morning to SUPPORT me and help me with this event.  This will go down in history as one of my favorite events of all time. 

Link to event video: https://mediazilla.com/ios0ftxb0

 

Photographer: Andrew + Jade Photography | Venue: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch | Florist: Butterfly Petals | Stationary: Posh Invitations | Calligraphy: Freedhands | Rentals & Décor: Glamour & Woods | Hair & Make Up: Linda Valenzuela | Bride's Dress: La Bella Bridal | Groom's Suit: SW Wilson Bespoke Clothiers | Speaker: Dane Sanders | Event Chair: Jennifer Starr | Cinema: Serendipity Cinematography | Linens: Southwick Linens | Lighting: Karma Event Lighting | Photobooth: Crusin' Photo Bus | Entertainment: Desert House Entertainment | Entertainment: Gypsy Cup | Entertainment: Champagne Creative 

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Long

This past winter I had the joy of working with Steven and Lora on their gorgeous wedding.  They choose the incredibly romantic Royal Palms Resort to serve as their wedding location.  I worded mostly with Emilla (the Mother of the Bride) she was so funny and had great taste and I could have listened to her accent lovely accent all day. 

Lora and Steven also had amazing style and true admiration for each other.  One of my favorite memories of that day was getting a glimpse of the slideshow that Steven had made to surprise Lora.  When Lora entered her Bridal Suite guestroom that day, Steven had a slideshow pre staged on her television along with a card. I especially appreciate Steven's sweet gesture as I think he chose the perfect time to have this presented to Lora.  You see, as a Bride the morning and afternoons are filled with so much hustle and bustle as nerves and emotions are high.  But once Lora was onsite at the gorgeous property and she able to relax for a moment in her room, that's when she was presented with the thoughtful gift from her groom, absolutely perfect. 

I also admired how Steven and Lora wanted to take a moment to themselves before joining their cocktail to simple relax and be together for a few moments.  They both just seemed so in tune with the moments that really matter, I really admired that about them.  Visiting all of their guests at their tables during dinner was also very important to this couple, they wanted their guests to feel welcome and appreciated. 

The reception was like a dream, complete with floral chandeliers,  beautiful linens and endless candlelight.  Steven and Lora's Wedding Day was beautiful and meaningful, my most favorite combination.  Congratulations again Steven & Lora, I hope you are enjoying your first year as Newlyweds. 

 

VIEW: Video Highlight

 

Photography: Katrina Wallace Photographers  | Venue: Royal Palms Resort | Florist: Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio |  Cinema: Serendipty | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Officiant: Matt Nathanson |  Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team

6 Insights to Achieve Your Goal Weight

Awe, this little man…he certainly has captured my heart. I never knew having a little BOY could be so amazing, especially after being a mama to my twin girls. But today I thought I would confess something to you all…losing the “baby weight” after having him has been HARDER and a much SLOWER process than losing the “babies” weight after his sisters. If you’ve been following my blog for a few years you may remember that I was able to lose a total of 49lbs after my twins using the Weight Watchers program. Well, I’ve been back at again after having Hunter (granted this time I have less to lose, thank goodness.) So far, it’s been a super slow process, but I have lost 15lbs with 12lbs more to go~ to get to my desired goal weight.


During this process, I’ve had to allow my mind to work really work through this again. I’ve had to remind myself that I am a different person now than I was before. I am now the mama of twin four-year-old's and a one-year old baby boy. My business is continuing to grow as are my many responsibilities and I had to rediscover a way to make losing weight and getting to my goal a priority again in my current stage of life. In doing so, I’ve learned some honest truths so I thought I would share with you to hopefully help in inspire you in your own goals.


1.) Realization
Here’s the deal. You absolutely, 100% CAN do this. The math works, especially when you’re using the Weight Watchers Program. It’s super basic…all you do is “track” the food you put into your body and “track” your daily exercise. At the end of the week, so long as your points aren’t in the negative…you will lose weight. You just have to do it.


2.) Permission
If you’re a people pleaser, this may be harder for you. You have to force yourself to take care of YOU first, and give yourself the permission to do so. You may struggle with feelings of “guilt” at first but over time, once you start feeling the results, you’ll realize that you can now give even MORE of yourself to others because you FEEL so much better.

3.) Acknowledgement
We are constantly changing, evolving humans. We are not the same people that we were yesterday. Just because something worked or didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same results today. You must acknowledge where you are in your current stage of life, figure out how to make your goals work and push forward.

4.) Patience
Big goals take time, they don’t happen overnight, there’s no quick fixes. You just have to keep going even when you don’t necessarily see results or experience setbacks along the way. Don’t give up, little efforts to equal big sums.

5.) Transparency
It’s okay to share your goals (if you want to). In fact, by you doing this you’ll inevitably help others along the way. Here’s the deal, we all have goals and we all have challenges, some people talk about it, and some don’t ~ that’s the only difference. I’ve found that by sharing a little about my journey along the way, it helps me to stay accountable. And in all seriousness, we’re kind of set up in the country to be overweight. Just look at the giant portions that are served at restaurants, look at all the complicated labels in the grocery stores. We have take responsibility for ourselves and navigate healthy decisions despite all the excess everything that’s constantly presented to us.

6.) Strength
One of my favorite quotes is “Be stronger than your excuses” Reminder: we all have incredible capabilities. We just have to fight through those weak moments.


In closing, I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert in this area. I just know that the points listed above have really helped me. I truly think that health and wellness is a constant work in progress. But it does blow my mind how by putting this first, has helped my productivity and overall happiness. Cheers to good choices and achieved goals.

 

P.S. Here's a few links to past posts from my old blog on this topic:

http://jstarrstylizedweddings.blogspot.com/2013/03/food-fitness-fashion-vol-1.html

http://jstarrstylizedweddings.blogspot.com/2014/01/friday-food-fitness-and-fashion-vol-2.html

http://jstarrstylizedweddings.blogspot.com/2014/03/friday-food-fitness-and-fashion-vol-3.html

http://jstarrstylizedweddings.blogspot.com/2014/04/friday-food-fitness-fashion-vol-4.html

 

 

Much Love,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

Budget + Guest List Before Venue Selection

The best way for a Bride to completely overwhelm herself is by trying to choose the venue BEFORE she has come up with a budget estimate and the guest list.

That's because looking at venues and getting excited about all the creative aspects of wedding planning is more fun than number crunching and deciding who you like and who you just kinda like.

But believe me as a former bride myself and as a Wedding Planner who has had heart to heart discussions with several brides....I'm telling you...You MUST establish your budget and guests list FIRST.

Ask Yourself These Questions:
(Budget Related) What is your ideal wedding budget?
(Budget Related) What is most important to you? 
(Budget Related) Is it having all of your friends and family there? 
(Budget Related) Is it being able to put a lot into the design and décor?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to have your dream dress?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to have it at the venue of your dreams?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to host a bar for all your guests? 
(Budget Related) What are areas that you're flexible on?
 
(Venue Related) Where do you want to get married? Location in terms of city and state?
(Venue Related) Will your Ceremony take place in a Church or the same location as the Reception?
(Venue Related) How many guests do you plan on inviting?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many do you anticipate actually attending?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many are children?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many are under 21?

Then ask your Wedding Planner is this a realistic budget?  Your Wedding Planner (hopefully yours truly) will explain to what your options are, where you need to increase and decrease. Your planner will then be able to give you a list of optional venues that match what you are looking for...Your planner will then help you determine areas that you're willing to possibly cut back in order to make room for other areas that are more important to  you.  Your Planner will save you tons of time and heartache (from getting your hopes up on aspects that might not fit into your budget).  Your Planner will be able to help you set realistic expectations and help you start to see the vision of your wedding day more clearly. 

 

My Top 5 Romantic Reasons to Visit the Royal Palms

Recently I had the chance to stay at the lavishly romantic Royal Palms Resort and Spa.  After holding many weddings here for my amazing clients, I finally had the opportunity to enjoy the resort myself, and let me tell you~ it was truly heavenly.  I was treated to a "Wedding Planner Fam" (meaning a "Familiarization Stay") at the property. From the moment I stepped foot on property I was wined, dined, and oh so spoiled.  The first night included a "Royal Luau" complete with an over the top canopy of greenery, lanterns, and white floral.  The evening was paired with an amazing four course dinner and a live fire dancing island performance. 

The next morning we were treated to breakfast in the Alegria Garden, a spot where I've walked a good handful of my clients down the aisle.  There was a beautiful low table, stunning flowers, live musicians & even more delicious cuisine and flowing cocktails.  After brunch I was treated to a massage at the beautiful Alvadora Spa, and afterwards I finally felt 100% relaxed.  Then it was time for the pool party complete with yummy food and endless antioxidant mojitos and the chance to relax and chat with many of my fellow Wedding Planner friends. 

The evening ended with a cocktail reception out on the Palmera Patio with again...plentiful food & drinks.  By that time my husband had joined me on property and we stayed an additional two nights and soaked up all that the incredible Royal Palms Resort offered. 

 

This experience inspired me to share some of my top reasons why you need to visit the Royal Palms~ especially if you're looking for a unique experience for your upcoming wedding reception, anniversary dinner, or next staycation.

 

Let me share with you some of my romantic discoveries~

 1.) The Entrance~ The moment you pull into the Royal Palms Resort, you feel the magic. The resort sits at the base of the majestic Camelback Mountain and when you first pull in you are greeted by the original "Royal Palms Mansion" that was built in 1929.  You feel as if you're driving into someone's Spanish Colonial private estate rather than a resort.

You are instantly greeted by the most friendly valet attendants and bellmen.  The resort's front desk feels nothing like your traditional corporate hotel...it's nestled in a small cozy room with beautiful furniture, a fireplace, and a display of signature beverages and cookies~ you instantly feel at home.  

2.) The Love Story~ Oh the Royal Palms Love Story, I may be a sucker for romance but the tale of this beautiful place is really quite special. Did you know that it was built out of an act of love by a husband whose wife was ill and her health required warmer climates?  This couple (Delos & Florence Cooke) were garden lovers and used the majority of their household budget to include rare plants and over 900 palms trees from Egypt, many of which are still standing there today.   

3.) The Hidden Twists & Turns~ Of the many times I've worked at the Royal Palms and even after my recent visit, I've noticed a common feeling ~privacy.  The unique layout of the resort has so many different twists, turns, pathways, patios...that you never really see many people at the resort.  You almost feel as if you have the entire place to yourself. 

4.) The Service~ Many of the staff members have worked at the Royal Palms for years and they always remember me.  Talk about making you feel special and welcome!  This is especially important on Wedding days. It's very apparent that the teams realize how incredibly special these days are for couples and treat them with top notch service!

5.) The Overall Experience ~From the cuisine, the spa, the pool, the rooms.....the entire experience is so romantic and refreshing.  It was honestly hard for me to leave, but thankfully I'll be back soon for some upcoming fall weddings.

 

A special thank you goes out to Emily Anzalone & Nora Narkevic (Event Sales Managers of the Royal Palms Resort) for treating me and my husband to this extraordinary extended weekend.  Thank you for making me fall in love with the Royal Palms Resort even more.

 

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Gagliano

Christina and Anthony began their romance while in college.  They went to high school together but never dated and reconnected on Facebook.  Anthony "liked" one of Christina's photos and soon after they began chatting regularly.

In high school, Christina said her first impression of Anthony was that he was quiet but was the popular guy in every single sport. Later, she saw him as handsome guy that she wanted to know more about so she dropped by his work (Papa Johns) for a few minutes to see how cute in person he still was!

Christina and Anthony started officially dating when he asked Christina for her number on Facebook.  She responded with it and said "I don't play games" so he texted her right after that.  Anthony asked her to be his girlfriend when they were outside his house one evening. He had an upcoming family get together and asked if he could introduce Christina as his girlfriend.  And of course she said yes!

During their dating relationship, the pair spent everyday with each other!  Right around the time they started dating, Christina's childhood friend, Lakota (a guy), came to live with her for a year. Anthony was skeptical at first due to the fact that his girlfriend had a boy living with her and her family but thankful, Lakota and Anthony became best friends instantly. Christina and Anthony eventually moved to Arizona together after just over a year of dating and continued their relationship for three and a half years.

Christina knew Anthony was "the one" about two weeks in when she remembered thinking "there's something different about this one" and had a feeling she was going to marry him one day.  

The couple's engagement took place at a beautiful castle in Germany.  One month before they went on the trip, Christina asked Anthony when he was thinking about taking the next step with her.  She wanted to be sure they were on the same page.  He said he wanted to wait two years so he could finish paying off his car and a few other items before buying a ring.  Christina understood but told her family and friends that she had to wait another two years.  Little did she know, Anthony had already finished paying off his car and had had the ring custom created.

On the trip to Germany (for Anthony's family vacation), the couple went to tour a castle. While they were taking photos on a bench in a courtyard, Anthony turned to Christina and said "I love you" with a smile on his face.  She replied "I love you too." He said "do you love me a lot?" and she jokingly said "I love you a little." He smirked and said "would you love me more if I told you two years would come sooner?" Confused, Christina replied "no?" He replied "would you love me more if I told you two years would come today?" Still confused she answered "I wouldn't believe you." Anthony then turned and said "would you believe me if I pulled the ring out of my pocket?" At this time Christina was in shock and exclaimed "no!" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little black box. He stepped off the bench onto one knee and while opening the box asked "will you marry me?" She said yes! They hugged and kissed for a minute and then Christina realized that Anthony's mom and step dad had got the whole thing on camera.  They have some amazing photos of this moment!

Christina said that the most special thing about the engagement was that Anthony wanted to spend his life with her. Out of all the people in this world somehow they had found each other and he picked Christina to be his wife. 

Christina then began planning her special day.  Being that she is in the wedding industry herself, she had seen a lot of trends.  She still went on Pinterest (a lot!) to find what they really loved. The couple knew they wanted it to be outdoors with bistro lights for that romantic starry look. They chose their special day due to the fact that it had the best ratings for good weather. Their "theme" was Fun-Romance and they planned their colors to be Marsala, blush, champagne, gold and ivory.  They had Italian stations for dinner and the couple is still getting compliments on how great it was! Christina and Anthony also chose to have a DJ and MC and then, as a surprise, had two T-Rex's come out on the dance floor during the reception! They also had lawn games such as giant Connect Four and giant Jenga along with corn hole and a ring toss. 

For the couple, the moment that stood out to them the most about their wedding day was the vows! Christina and Anthony read their own vows out loud. They both had a line in their own that was similar to the other's.  When looking back 50 years from now on their wedding day, Christina cherishes the memory of an amazing day with her husband and the special dance with her dads.  She also wishes to remember seeing all of the couples on the dance floor swaying to slow songs and being surrounded by such love.

In their next chapter in life, Christina is most looking forward to traveling for three upcoming weddings in the next year (St Augustine, Orlando and Columbia) and then the couple's own honeymoon in Hawaii.  They also hope to buy a home soon! At the end of it all, Christina said her favorite part of the day is crawling into bed, turning on the TV and cuddling with her HUSBAND.

Photographer (images as shown above): Steph Wahlig Photography | Photographer: Lennon Photography | Venue: Seville Golf and Country Club | Florist: Designs by Jen Colvin  | Beauty: Courtney Ness | Wedding Cake: Crumbs Cake Boutique | Cinema: Amoroma Productions | Photobooth: SnapBooth | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Lighting: Arizona UpLighting | Games: Curtis Whipple | Dress: Stella York via Bella Lily Bridal | Groom/Groomsmen Attire: Mr. Formal | Officiant: Uncle Bret | Rentals & Décor: Material Girls | Rentals & Décor: Native Events | Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team

3 Tips on Keeping It Real~ for Birthday Celebrations


There I was on a Sunday morning, sitting at my desk weeping. The emotions of life just overtook me for a moment. Here it was the morning of my little guys 1st Birthday Party. I had just come off of a very busy wedding season and I had just wrapped up a huge industry event a few days before. Needless to say, I hadn’t been able to spend a lot of time putting together plans for my son’s 1st birthday… and the “mom guilt” was hitting me hard.
Luckily, my husband recognized that I just needed a moment of calm, and took the kids out for a drive. And there I sat, taking deep breaths and trying to remember the BIG picture. Even being a professional event planner and now a mama of three there are still things that I needed to remind myself of and today I thought I’d share those things with you…..

1.) Give Yourself Permission
Give yourself permission to do whatever you WANT. If you want to throw a big gathering with all your family and friends, do it. If you want to keep things small and intimate with your immediate family, perfect. If you simply want to spend the whole day snuggling, well that sounds pretty amazing too.
Bottom line, do you boo. Your child is happiest when YOU’RE happiest. All that matters to them (especially at age one) is YOUR smile. It’s not about the cake, the gifts, the party décor…it’s about the love that they feel.

2.) Keep Something Simple

Decide what matters most to you at the time and focus on that ONE thing, and go simple on the others. For me, I always LOVE the design/décor aspects of parties. It’s just something that ignites me and I simply can’t fight it. Even if I do something super duper simple, I still want a certain area of the event to have some kind of wow statement. So with this….I focused on one table~ that’s it and for the first time ever (kinda sad, I know) I made a birthday cake. I do believe it was the first cake I’ve ever made in my entire life, like ever. Apparently, my little boy owns my heart. But that’s all the food I prepared. A family member picked up catering (Sub Sandwiches) on the way over -simple.


3.) Enjoy the Small Moments

Once the event actually starts happening. You MUST let go and enjoy. Don’t stress over silly things. The moments that you don’t actually plan for are always the most fun and memorable ones. But you have to let go of your expectations and let the moments take their own course. (it’s taken me years to learn this.) Laugh, smile, take a few photos, and soak in life, because you DESERVE to ENJOY.

It was a "roaring" good time!

 

 

* All Party Supplies Came From: Party City

 

 

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Davies

For Megan & Zach it all started shortly after high school, when they both attended a friend's graduation party.  Zach, being the smart guy he is, made the first move by asking a friend for Megan's number.  It didn't take long for them both to realize that marriage was in their future.  After a couple months in, they knew that what they had was extremely special. 

Zach and Megan dated for five years before getting engaged.  What really sealed the deal for them was being thrown into a long distance relationship and becoming even stronger because of it. Zach's baseball career was taking off and Megan was completing her studies at Arizona State University.  Although there were many trials of being in a long distance relationship, this only strengthened them all the more.  Megan was committed to being Zach's biggest fan and enduring the travels and joys of being immersed in the baseball world. 

Zach proposed in Seattle, Washington.  There, he took Megan to Alki Beach during the sunset.  Zach, had cleverly arranged to have Megan "FaceTime" with her best friend.  Her best friend had dressed Megan & Zach's dog's up, and even had a sign behind them that said “Will You Marry Me?”  This, was a surprise to Megan.  Though she had an idea that Zach could be proposing soon, she had no idea when. Zach's proposal meant so much to her because he involved their beloved dogs; Zooey and Penelope.  Megan herself is a huge animal lover and their dogs are considered their children, so having them a part of the engagement was very special to her. 

Megan and Zach chose El Chorro in Paradise Valley for their wedding location. The moment they stepped foot onto the property they both knew they wanted to get married there.  Their wedding date of December 3rd, 2016 was chosen because it was "off season" for baseball.  Megan tends to "freeze" quite easily and was concerned about it being too cold, but as it turned out they were delivered a gorgeous 70 degree wedding day.

Megan really wanted her overall look for the wedding to compliment their chosen venue.  They chose El Chorro because of it's incredible desert landscape and view of Camelback Mountain.  Her main focus when planning the design elements was to make sure that they weren't drawing their guests attention away from the natural beauty of the venue but still giving it that extra touch for a more romantic feel. 

Looking back on the wedding day now, Megan and Zach both agree that their most special day was genuinely perfect and felt like a dream, the best dream you could possibly ever imagine.  They had many out of town guests that flew in for their wedding day.  Zach and Megan say that "knowing that so many people from all over the country came to be there for our wedding day was very special for the both of us."

The newlyweds are now most excited about "being together, especially during his baseball season ~ no more long distance!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer: Daniel Kim | Venue: El Chorro | Florist: Sarah's Garden | Hair: Ashley Petty Hair | Make Up: Amanda Bland | Wedding Cake: a Bakeshop | Cinema: Cineprose Films | Entertainment: Bolt Entertainment | Entertainment: Emotion String Quartet | Photo Booth: Foto Booth Bus | Stationary: Freed Hands | Travel & Accommodations: JW Marriott Camelback | Brides's Gown: Hayley Paige | Groom's Suit: Magro Clothing | http://magroclothing.com/ | Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team, J.Starr Stylized Weddings