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Got My Date… Where Do I Begin?

What an amazing feeling! It’s exhilarating… a combination of excited and nervous. We know why you’re excited. This is a day we’ve been looking forward to for many years! Let’s talk about the nervous part for a second…

The temptation is to run around looking at potential venues for your Mitzvah celebration. And we’ll call NYX to lock in our Emcee, DJ, and photobooth. Then we’ll call some caterers and other vendors. And what if everything costs way more than we expect? That could derail our planning completely!

Hang on a second. Don’t drive yourself crazy!

Here’s a quick guide for the best way to begin:

When you get your date, have a meeting with your spouse and agree on how much you can afford to spend on this party. Once you have your total budget, the next (and most important) step is to allocate that budget to the different expenses you will incur. With over 30 years and nearly 20,000 parties of experience, our certified event planner MC Howie T says, “The most important thing to remember is that your party’s success is tied directly to how you allocate your budget. It’s not what you spend, but where you spend it.”

Howie has given us a typical Mitzvah budget allocation, in order from high to low expense:

  1. Food and Beverage/Catering — Venue
  2. Entertainment/Decor
  3. Photographer
  4. Miscellaneous – Novelties, Invitations, Yarmulkes, Parting Gifts
  5. Attire

There’s a very good chance that you’ll go over budget. That almost always happens, especially when you’re planning the celebration of a lifetime! So expect to plan for slight overages and leave yourself a cushion so those inevitable overruns don’t affect the entire event!

If you would like to discuss how several different factors affect the overall cost of your event — such as guest count, day of the week, time of day, time of year, vendor reputation, etc. — drop us a line at 301.984.0500 or howie@nyxevents.com

The Mitzvah Times are Changin!

Are you changing with them?

Once you receive your date, the common practice has been to book your venue, caterer, then entertainment and photographer. That was the old way…

The first thing to do when you get your date is to set your budget with your spouse. Your budget will determine the financial allocation for each element of your party. Once this is done, the order in which you book the services, in most cases, is irrelevant. You certainley wouldn’t book color- or theme-specific items before you decide on a theme. But when it comes to major components of your party like venue, entertainment, and photography, it’s wide open!

Keeping an open mind is important because you may come across an amazing vendor that can deliver exactly what you want at the right price. The sequence in which you book your vendors is not nearly as important as it was under the old tradition!

A perfect example would be… when you find a great DJ (*wink* *wink*), it might be number three on your list and you might only be working on priority number two. We recommend you shuffle priorities and get your date locked in with that perfect vendor. If you choose not to book at that time in order to stick with your traditional booking order, you risk losing out on your first choice who is the ideal fit! It’s important to remember that you’re not the only family in the area planning their Mitzvah on your date, and there is only one perfect solution for you.

So don’t sweat the order in which you check things off your list. With each locked-in detail and accomplished goal, you reduce your stress level and move closer to having fun, which is what a party is all about!

Follow us on Facebook (@nyxevents) and we’ll let you know when the next planning advice blog goes live! And if you need someone to bounce ideas off, drop us a line (howie@nyxevents.com). We would be honored to help! MC Howie T is your secret weapon… a tremendous resource with over 30 years in the Bar & Bat Mitzvah industry and a certified event planner! Let us help make sure the planning process is fun, too!

Get Engaged, Flash Mob Style

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar for marriage proposals has just risen to new heights! Watch Jamin sweep his unsuspecting fiancé-to-be right off her feet with a flash mob style engagement to the tune of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You”!

Flash mob style proposals embody all of the things we love at NYX Events! It has the visual impact, emotional appeal, and whimsical fun that your partner, and everyone around you, will cherish forever. Believe it or not, this kind of proposal isn’t as hard as you might think. But the thought and preparation you put into it will demonstrate your commitment and will not be lost on all those involved.

Step 1: Pick a Song (or Five)
Pick a song that you want your partner and your audience to eternally connect to your proposal. Choose wisely, though. While the proposal itself may last five minutes or so, the memories will last a lifetime!

When picking your song(s), think about which ones have special meaning for you as a couple. Perhaps a song that played on the radio during your first date, or the song that was playing when you had your first kiss would be good choices. Another consideration is that you’ll have lots of people dancing to this song or these songs. So make sure to choose something that has some energy!

Step 2: Pick a Location
So, you’ve picked your song(s), and now you’re ready to pick a location that is both sentimental and appropriate for you and your fiancé-to-be. Do you want a more public proposal like Jamin’s engagement at Disney World, or do you want your mob to be more intimate? We would be glad to suggest some of our favorite scenarios if nothing comes to mind right away. Wherever you choose, we can set the mood with details like sound, lighting, and logistics so you can focus on your performance and making the moment memorable for your partner!

Step 3: Choose an Entertainment Company
Once you’ve pondered your music selection and your location, you’ll need to start choreographing the dance. If choreography isn’t your thing, you’ve come to the right place! As the nation’s leading entertainment producers, we have several professional choreographers and veteran dancers on staff to create the perfect flash mob that is personalized for you as a couple. And we’ll work within your dancing skill level when helping put together your magic moment. Whether you’re a former “Dancing with the Stars” champion (one of whom we worked with on his wedding between hoisting Super Bowl MVP trophies… *ahem*), or you would like to take lessons as part of working with Team NYX, no previous dance training is required to pull off this kind of epic proposal! We would be honored to help you create an unforgettable performance regardless of your skill level, and we will gladly handle professional photography and videography to capture your theatrics in pristine HD forever!

Let us Help!
How do you go about arranging the perfect flash mob for your engagement? Contact us today – we’ll make it easy for you.

Here are some other flash mob proposals that we loved, and we think you will too!

 

 

 

 

Mitzvah: Not Just for Kids Anymore

Excitement is in the air, let the planning begin! “We’re having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah so we’re looking to throw a great party for the kids!” This is the perfect mindset for a kids-only party at your local bowling alley, swim club, or recreation center. But if you’d like to have adult family & friends involved in the festivities, let’s re-think that approach…

Include Your Adults

Your family, and friends have been looking forward to this occasion and hope to share in the celebration. They want to pay their respects on the big day! This is especially true if you’re looking forward to their participation in celebratory activities like Hora, Candlelighting, or dinner with Hamotzi. Once the guest list is finalized, the age breakdown tends to be around half & half or even 3-to-2 adults to kids!

Although your guest ratio may be slightly different, the principle is the same. Let’s plan your entertainment with the kids AND adults in mind and avoid having half (or more) of your guests bored and/or disconnected from the fun. Yes, the adults understand that this event is centered around your child’s rite of passage. And they legitimately enjoy seeing your kids (and theirs!) having a great time. But you will be a far more gracious host if you build in some fun for the adults, too!

“MUST HAVE” DJ Traits

The single best way to go about including your adults in the fun… Pick a DJ with an extensive knowledge of music and the discipline to use it. Discipline — how does that apply to your choice of DJ? We have all heard the horror stories… “Our DJ played hip-hop and techno* all night and our guests left early!”

If your DJ lacks maturity or professionalism, their top priority may be showing off or “looking cool” for the kids. If that is the case, they will be tempted to weight their song selections toward music that may not be enjoyable for the majority of your guests. Don’t allow yourself to be put in that position. Make sure your DJ knows what music will fit well for all your guests. Your DJ must recognize the appropriate time and place to focus on kids’ music in a traditional mitzvah.

The ONE Mitzvah Takeaway from This Article

Interview your DJ and MC in person at their office! Be sure they understand how to incorporate all your requests while still appealing to various ages and musical tastes. We train our DJs rigorously to put forth a happy mix of music for everyone from eight to eighty. Everyone should leave your party having heard their favorite song!

If you would like to talk music for your upcoming event, reach out to us at at info@nyxevents.com

The Night of Your Dreams (on a budget)!

Since you’ve been anticipating this event for many years, you likely already know your total budget. But once you start reserving services for your party, it’s easy to get caught up in the creative and artistic side of planning. That might leave you getting carried away with one aspect of your event and finding yourself in a bind when you have to take money from another. To avoid that situation, here are some ways to make sure your budget turns into the night of your dreams!

1 – Budget Your Budget!
Be sure to have your total properly allocated to the appropriate vendors before you go to meet them. All vendors will need to have some idea of your budget in order to give you the most for your money. Top industry vendors will also want to clearly communicate what they will deliver for that price so that your expectations are met.

Be prepared with your expected guest count and allocated funds for their particular area of expertise when they ask. Much of your allocation will be defined by what is most important to you. But if you would like some advice on what a typical allocation looks like, feel free to give us a call and we’ll gladly walk you through some case studies with similar budgets to yours.

Traditional wisdom says you will not get as good a deal if you disclose your budget. But reputable event professionals already have pricing established for their services. Discussing your budget will allow them to put the best package together for you knowing the guidelines with which you’re comfortable.

2 – Deal or No Deal!
To quote the old adage, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Sometimes in an attempt to be cost-conscious, certain aspects of your party can suffer. It’s important to educate yourself so you know where that line is. There’s nothing wrong with getting a good deal, but the good deal has no value if the service you hire ruins that aspect of your party.

A true professional that can deliver quality results consistently, and has the reviews and reputation to back it up, will only discount so far. They know the value of their service. You will find that if you compare several high-level vendors, their prices will be similar. Once you’re convinced that the vendors you’re considering will definitely provide great performance and value, then your selection of a vendor becomes a matter of personality and service.

3 – Packages Provide Prudent Pricing!
Check with your vendors to see if they specialize in multiple areas of need for your event. It is good for your bottom line to minimize the total number of vendors for your event, because each vendor will have delivery and setup fees associated with the items or activities they provide. For example, if your DJ is already bringing sound, video, and lighting equipment, it is likely cheaper for them to supply your lounge than securing a separate company, as they already have labor and trucking reserved for your date. Ask your vendors about package deals!

More info…
If these quick budget tips were helpful, let us offer advice in other aspects of your Mitzvah celebration. If you have any questions or need help with any part of your party, we’d be glad to assist. Email info@nyxevents.com or drop us a line at 301.984.0500 anytime.

LGBT Weddings: Forms and Formalities

Image credit: KRISTA GUENIN/FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS

Our Experience

As a company that embraces our amazing friends and clients in the LGBT community, we’ve been honored to be a part of many elegant same-sex weddings. As part of our evolving communication with engaged couples, we’ve invested the time into creating some forms which take into account the feedback they’ve given. We offer them here as a gift to the community, wedding planners, wedding venues, officiants, and other DJs. Feel free to use them and/or change them to suit your company or your clients.

So What Has Changed?

Language. We’ve asked our same-sex couples how they’d like to be formally presented to their family and friends, and the response has been “newlyweds”.

Formalities/Activities. Most of our same-sex couples aren’t interested in activities like the garter removal and bouquet toss, so we’ve changed those sections of our document so that they can write in these kinds of activities if they would like them.

Besties. Traditionally, most of our grooms have had a best man, and most of our brides have had a maid or matron of honor. However, one of the greatest toasts I’ve heard in my 24 years as a DJ was by the female best friend of one of the grooms at a recent wedding. This client asked for her to be presented as his “Best Person”.

Special Dances. The father/daughter and mother/son dances still play a very important role in paying homage to loving relationships with our clients’ parents. Recently, we’ve hosted some partners who have chosen formal dances with special people other than the opposite sex parent. Our planning tools now reflect those wishes.

How can we help?

More work is still needed to address same-sex couples with the level of dignity and respect they deserve on the most important day of their lives. NYX Entertainment & Events is working toward that goal and if these documents can assist you, it is our honor to present them. We’re open to your feedback on how they can be improved, and what other considerations we can make to produce for all of our couples their #BestDayEver.

Download:

http://bit.ly/NYX-Events-Same-Sex-Wedding-Docs – zip file contents are virus-free .pdf files.

The Best Playlist Ever Made!

One of the most important aspects of any great party is the music. With guests ranging in age from 8 to 80, multiple cultures, religions, and personalities, the best playlist ever made must not leave anyone out.

No one understands this better than the DJs at NYX. When you combine the talent and experience of our seasoned professional DJs with your personal favorite songs, the result is your perfect playlist.

Our state-of-the-art online music portal allows you to engage with your NYX DJ 24/7. In addition to the ability to manage all the details of your event, you’ll be able to browse our library of hundreds of thousands of songs and create the dream musical landscape for your occasion using the following categories:

1. The “Must Play” List
These are the important songs that must be played. They’re the songs that we’ll use for special introductions and any other formalities you may have planned. They’re the songs that aren’t negotiable. Think about the anthems of your generation that you’ll adore hearing throughout the night or maybe songs that take you back to a specific, happy time of your life that you want to share with your guests.

2. The “Do Not Play” List
We like to keep you and your guests happy. We know your NYX DJ will only play the best tracks, but we want YOU to know that, too. Just to be sure we’re on the same page, we offer you the “do-not-play” list.

3. The “Play Only if Requested” List
These aren’t your favorite songs, but you wouldn’t mind hearing them if your guests would like to. Often what makes this list are songs that have choreographed line dances. Your DJ will only visit this list when your guests ask for something, it’s clear that they will have fun dancing to it, and it fits appropriately into the schedule and flow for your event.

4. The “Dedications” List
These are the songs for which you would like your DJ or MC to make an announcement. Is someone at your party celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Perhaps you’d like to have a special dance for someone that has traveled particularly far. Maybe you’d like to rile up your rowdy college friends or sing along to your team’s fight song. Let’s be sure we note it in this section so we don’t miss that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Make It Memorable
Our goal is to deliver a happy mix of music ensuring that every guest leaves your party having heard their favorite song. Our experienced DJs can read the crowd and will intuitively know what to play to keep your dance floor moving. The best playlist ever made is the one you will make with us… The one that will make your #BestDayEver memorable for years to come.

Need Suggestions?
The soundtrack to your event is a huge part of what makes it memorable for your family and friends. Need help getting started? Call us today so that we can begin creating the best playlist ever made.

Sweet 16: Harry Potter Style

Team NYX produced a Harry Potter themed Sweet 16 celebration at the Bethesda Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Needless to say, the event was a fun, whimsical, and all around amazing night!

Scroll down to transport yourself to the Hogwarts that we created with the help of Da Vinci Decor & Lighting. Photo credit: Focus Fine Photography.

Every detail was carefully orchestrated, from the themed seating cards and gated entrance…

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 entrance

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 seating closeup

…to the candle-lit ceiling, Harry Potter multimedia and custom Hogwarts drapery.

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 roomshot 1

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 roomshot 4

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 roomshot 3

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 roomshot 5

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 Table

And the cake, of course, was the finishing touch!

NYX Entertainment & Events Sweet 16 Cake

Now, back to reality. Elevate your experience.

DIY New Year’s Eve: Party at Your Pad

Part Two: Food & Beverage
Now that you’ve picked the kind of party that you want to have, we’re ready to graduate to Food and Beverage. New Year’s Eve is now three weeks away, and time’s a tickin’ – take your seat and let’s learn!

Beverage
We’ll start with the bar because regardless of the kind of party you’re having (cocktail or dinner), champagne isn’t a “want,” it’s a “NEED.”

First, you’ll want to select the appropriate space. Talented event designer, Mitchell Crosby of JMC Events, Charleston, SC, notes “…it’s wise to put the bar as far from the front door and food as possible!” You want to strategically place the bar away from your front door so that you can draw your guests into your space, rather than letting them linger around the entrance. The second tip is less intuitive, as people usually think ‘I’ll want to drink something with my food, so why not put the two stations next to each other?’ Here’s why: putting both stations in close proximity will clog your space. People will be magnetically attracted to that area of your home for majority of the night, rather than circulating the party.

But, what should you serve? Unless you’re having a massive slumber party, remember to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The designated drivers are thirsty, too. But, either way we suggest stocking your bar with your favorite drinks, and of course, champagne!

Experienced caterer Michelle Fishman of Main Event Catering, Washington, DC, suggests incorporating a champagne-concoction station for the event, which allows guests to mix-and-match their own flavors to create their perfect New Year’s tincture.  She suggests stocking the station with “…champagne and maybe a sparkling rose, as well as ginger ale and assorted mixers; cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, St. Germaine’s, sprigs of rosemary or mint, possibly some candied ginger or just some fresh raspberries.”

Here's an example of a create-your-own champagne bar, as suggested by Michelle Fishman of Main Event Catering.

Here’s an example of a create-your-own champagne bar, as suggested by Michelle Fishman of Main Event Catering.

And, her advice doesn’t stop there! She even lets us know how to set up the station: “Place all of the sparkling beverages on ice along one side of a table, glass pitchers filled with the mixers and small bowls of garnish on the other.  You can go with disposable champagne flutes or glass!”

So, the takeaway message for the beverage aspect of your event? First, have drinks for everyone – both drinkers and designated drivers. Second, place your bar strategically. The farther away from the front door, the better, and make sure that it’s not directly next to the food station so there’s not a clog in the arteries of your party-flow. Third, open the doors for creativity! Consider adding an assortment of mixers, garnishes and fruits to the station.

Food
If you’re serving cocktails, you’ll probably want to serve food with it. As we mentioned in last week’s blog, both cocktail and dinner parties feature snacks.

For the snacks, Michelle Fishman of Main Event suggests serving one-bite options. Think of things …” that you can eat with your hands and use only a beverage napkin,” Michelle said. “One of my favorite fillings is mushroom and brie (cooked diced Portobello mushrooms and brie cheese).  Another easy item is purchase a package of raw boneless skinless chicken tenders, slice them in half if you feel they are too big, skewer them, then glaze them with apricot ‘jam’ and roll them in crushed pecans.  Cook and serve room temp or hot!”

Main Event suggests serving your appetizers on sticks! They're great finger foods without the mess. Photo courtesy of Sweet Tea.

Main Event suggests serving your appetizers on sticks! They’re great finger foods without the mess. Photo courtesy of Sweet Tea.

The takeaway for snacks: keep it light, keep it small. Don’t think appetizers and hors d’oeuvres have to be an entire course – the simpler, the better, and no plates necessary. And, are your friends the kinds of people that are dying to help? Let them. Answer “what can I bring?” openly and honestly.

If you’re serving a dinner course, Michelle Fishman suggests prepping the meal the night before. “Prep and platter everything the day before that way you just need to place it out on the table or pop it in the oven for a few moments to take the chill off.” Michelle said. The one-step process keeps things simple – and trust us, as event and entertainment production professionals, when it comes to event production you’ll want to keep the areas that can be simple, simple.

An alternative to cooking the entire meal yourself is throwing a potluck-style dinner. This approach will help bring your crowd together as your guests enjoy the opportunity to taste each other’s dishes and swap recipes! Afraid of two people bringing the same dish? Assign them to a specific style: pasta, vegetable etc.

But, what about third meal? After a night of drinking, dancing and mingling, people are sure to be hungry. Leftovers are a great option (if there are any), but here’s a creative idea we love from Mitchell Crosby of JMCWe love making Strata (egg and sausage casserole) a day ahead and throwing them in the oven at 11:30pm to cook through.  They will be firm and can be placed on small plates with forks to pass out once the kissing and celebrating is done. No need for fruit, grits, hash browns.  Make this a one-dish wonder and be done with it.”

So, this week you’re homework is brainstorm where you want your bar, and the items you want on it. You also need to brainstorm the small items you plan to have for snacks, and if you’re throwing a dinner party, the meal that you plan to serve!

Feeling overwhelmed and want a chance to talk to a professional? Comment below, and we’ll put you in touch with some of the pros!

 NYX To-do list 2

DIY New Year’s Eve: Party at Your Pad

Part One: Pick Your Party
‘Tis the season…to start making plans for New Year’s Eve. If you live in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, DC, or somewhere in between, you’re undoubtedly faced with a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to picking your New Year’s Eve party location. But, when was the last time you considered your own home? NYX Entertainment & Events New Year's Eve Party Planning Guide

Rather than breaking the bank to make plans to celebrate at someone else’s party with strangers, save your hard-earned dollars and plan to host the bash of the year in a more intimate setting with people that you truly want to be around.

During the next four weeks, Team NYX and other event industry icons from around the country will be weighing in with tips and ideas to help you plan your New Year’s Eve party, stress-free.

What Animal Are You?
All party animals are not the same; everyone’s a member of a different herd. The first step to planning your New Year’s Eve party is deciding what kind of shindig you want to have for you and yours. Take a second to consider the following questions:

Will it be a dinner party or cocktail party?  Will it be catered, or are you a foodie who loves to cook and enjoy company while you’re at it? Do you want to do a potluck-style gathering? 

Do you want to start the party at 6p.m. or at 10p.m.? What do you want to do at midnight; are you watching Ryan Seacrest in Times Square, or are you going outside to light fireworks? 

Party Planning To-Do List: Week One
These are all questions that you’ve got to answer for yourself before we can proceed. But, rest assured that no matter what category your party falls into (cocktail or dinner), we’ll help you plan it! On your party-planning to-do list for today, you only have one thing to accomplish: pick your party!

Step one is easy! Pick one.

 

 

Performers We Love: George Duke

Professionals in the entertainment industry can all agree that the pioneer in America’s truest form of music, George Duke, will be greatly missed. George died Monday in Los Angeles from his battle with leukemia at age 67, his record label told the press.

Uncharted Territory
We’ll forever cherish Duke as the mastermind fusion artist that brought together jazz, rock and R&B to create his own funktastic sound. His career began in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1969 that he became a music-sensation on the West Coast after re-discovering his childhood affinity for the piano and producing progressive jazz-style music with Jean-Luc Ponty. The following is a track produced by the Jean-Luc Ponty and the George Duke Trio in 1969, titled “Pamukkale.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oag3k2RbNIE&w=420&h=315]

Adventures of a Solo-Artist
Later in his career, Duke embarked on his own musical journey. The solo-artist began putting out music that fused elements of disco, soul, jazz and funk to create his own unique sound. He also began producing music with artists like The Pointer Sisters, Dianne Reeves and Stanley Clarke, whom he produced a Top 20 hit, “Sweet Baby,” with in the ‘80s:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZZcZHWw9eM&w=420&h=315]

He Loved the ’90s
After he finished touring with Clarke, Duke returned to the studio in 1992 tired, but still committed to his sound and career. He put out the track, “No Rhyme, No Reason,” which quickly became a fan-favorite.

Duke’s long career was laden with musical gems, entertainment wonders and whimsical sounds that are more than worth your exploration. Today, we’re leaving you with the last music that Duke produced, which was his way of honoring his deceased wife whom he had lost to cancer approximately one year ago, titled “Dreamweaver.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hpmkFmzd9s&w=560&h=315]

Thank you for your musical prowess, entertainment genius and artistic talents, George Duke. The industry will forever revel in your fusion-glory; rest in peace.