Monday, July 26, 2010

Themed Alternatives to Wedding Place Cards

You know the little cards that lead you to your table at the wedding reception... Well, they do not 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!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ultimate Willy Wonka Theme Party Idea Blog

First off, let me say my sister is nuts! So when she recently called me and asked if I could draw an Oompa Loompa without a face on a foam board, it didn’t seem like an unusual request from her. I completed the task with ease (see picture below.)Little did I know that she was planning a ridiculously huge theme party for her two kids’ birthdays: WILLY WONKA STYLE!

Willy Wonka? You mean the creepy chocolate guy? That’s right and it was a huge success. Rather than to try and write up everything I saw, here is some of what my sister, Kathy Bechand, wrote up about it – with photos: How to Throw the Ultimate Willy Wonka Birthday Party.

Tags: candy, kids party

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wedding Recption Locations in Capital District

Planning a wedding? Hello Wedding Reception in the Capital District seeker! I am a local DJ and often have to pinch hit as a party planner. From time to time, customers ask if I recommend any locations for wedding receptions and big parties, so I decided to put together a list.

Here are some great locations to check out, if you are planning your wedding reception. I have broken them down kind of into regional areas, rather than alphabetical order, to help you get an idea. It is all still a work in progress. For regional locations so far, I have Albany, Averill Park, Troy/Cohoes/Latham, Schenectady, Eastern Points towards Mass, Clifton Park/Saratoga and a few more. If you know of a good one or would like to see your own establishment on this list (which will soon become a tab on my website) drop me a line at

DJ Kenny Casanova - 518-506-3305

Shaker Ridge Events Ltd
802 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, NY - (518) 456-4251

Albany Marriott
189 Wolf Road, Albany, NY - (518) 458-8444

German-American Club of Albany
32 Cherry Street, Albany, NY - (518) 482-5845?

Albany Clarion Hotel
3 Watervliet Ave Ext., Albany, NY - (518) 438-8431

La Serre Restaurant
14 Green Street, Albany, NY - (518) 463-6056

Crossgates Restaurant-Banquet
225 Washington Avenue Ext, Albany, NY - (518) 456-0261

Italian American Community Center
757 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY - (518) 456-0292

West Albany Italian Benovolent
50 Exchange St, Albany, NY - (518) 482-4731

Best Western- Albany Airport Inn
200 Wolf Rd, Albany, NY - (518) 458-1000

Jack's Oyster House Inc
42 State Street, Albany, NY - (518) 465-8854

The Desmond Hotel Albany
660 Albany Shaker Rd, Albany, NY - (518) 869-8100

Paolo Lombardi's Ristorante
104 West Sand Lake Road, Wynantskill, NY 12198 - (518) 283-0202

Crystal Cove Weddings
38 Old Route 66 - Averill Park, NY 12018 - (518) 674-0703

Lakeview On Crystal Lake
4 Old Route 66, Averill Park, NY - (518) 674-3363

Crooked Lake House, The
NY Route 43 & 66, 2339 SR 43, Averill Park, NY - (518) 674-3894

Averill Park & Sand Lake Fire Co
35 Eastern Union Turnpike, Averill Park, NY - (518) 674-3077

West Sand Lake Volunteer Fire
3697 Old State Highway 43, West Sand Lake, NY - (518) 674-3677

Mallozzi's Banquet & Ballrooms
1930 Curry Road, Schenectady, NY - (518) 355-0340

Maple Ski Ridge
2725 Mariaville Road, Schenectady, NY 12306 - (518) 381-4700

Mohawk Golf Club
1849 Union St, Schenectady, NY - (518) 374-9121

Stadium Golf Club
333 Jackson Avenue, Schenectady, NY - (518) 374-9104

Woodlin Club
49 Mohawk Avenue, Scotia, NY - (518) 399-3117

Riverstone Manor
1437 Amsterdam Road, Glenville, NY 12302 - (518) 382-8322

Millstone Food and Spirits
654 Saratoga Road, Burnt Hills, NY - (518) 384-3812

Glen Sanders Mansion
1 Glen Avenue - Scotia, NY 12302 - (518) 374-7262

Birch Hill Catering
One Celebration Way - Schodack, NY 12033 - (518) 732-4444

The Lodge on Echo Lake
100 Hudson Street - Warrensburg, NY 12885 - (518) 623-5599

Comfort Inn - Glenmont
37 Route 9W, Glenmont, NY 12077 – (518)-465-8811

Herbert's At Birch Hill Cater
1 Celebration Way, Castleton On Hudson, NY - (518) 732-4444

Gateways Inn & La Terrazza Restaurant
51 Walker Street, Lenox, MA - (413) 637-2532

Rookwood Inn
11 Old Stockbridge Road, Lenox, MA - (413) 637-9750

Best Western Cobleskill
121 Burgin Dr, Cobleskill, NY - (518) 234-4321

16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, MA - (413) 637-3556

Stockbridge Country Inn
26 Glendale Rd, Stockbridge, MA - (413) 298-4015

A Taste of Europe
3630 State Route 145, Cobleskill, NY - (518) 296-8000

The Quarry Steakhouse
100 New York 81, Coxsackie, NY - (518) 731-8914

Clarion Hotel at The Century House
997 New Loudon Rd., (Route 9), Latham, NY - (518) 785-0931

Captain JP Cruise Lines
278 River Street, Troy, NY - (518) 270-1901

Michael's Banquet House
1019 New Loudon Road , Latham, NY 12047- (518) 785-8524

Century House - Hotel/Restaurant/Conference Center
997 New Loudon Rd - Latham, NY 12110
Local: (518) 785-0931 - Toll Free: 1-888-674-6873

Comfort Suites
7 Northside Drive, Clifton Park, NY - (518) 373-2255

Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs
232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY - (518) 584-4550

Georgian Resort & Conference Centre - Lake George
384 Canada Street, Lake George, NY - (518) 668-5401

The Boathouse Restaurant
3210 Lake Shore Drive - Lake George, NY 12845 - 1-800-853-1632

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vegas Theme Wedding Reception

Ding, ding, ding! “Vegas Party Theme at a wedding? We have a winnerrrr!”

I short time ago, I DJ’ed a wedding reception at The Western Turnpike Golf Club in Guilderland, NY that had a “Las Vegas theme.” The bride said that it was the only way she could get the groom to buy into having a hand in the planning. All in all, she was right. By the end of the night, the guests had a blast and it was a very different and memorable party for all.

Thinking of planning something similar? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are some ideas that they used, as well as a few others I have seen…

The shuffling of the cards. The rolling of the dice. The spinning of a silly roulette wheel. Aside from the obvious playing of must-have lounge lizard music like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and other Italian American oldies, decor will be your key. The visual plays an enormous role part in getting over the theme and in this case, you don’t have to spend a lot to get that sweet cheesy Vegas feel.

If you really want to sell the idea to your guests, buy a bunch of playing cards and poker chips from the dollar store. Then, go nuts. At this reception, they scattered the loose cards and chips everywhere around table centerpieces, by the guest book, on the gift table and on pretty much any flat surface available. A special colored poker chip can also be taped underneath one chair at each table to signify who gets to bring home whatever casino-related centerpiece you can dream up.

As far as clothing is concerned, black felt gangster hats and jeweled tiaras are also a must to keep in hand! Maybe even get a Money Boa for the bride. Another idea is to put a bunch of cheap black sunglasses on the tables. Because a number of people will be wearing tuxedos, a lot of the pictures will end up having that monkey suit and sun glasses combination that The Rat Pack made famous.

Another great idea this group had was to make massive eight-foot cardboard cut-outs of playing card suits and put them in the corners of the room. The diamonds and clubs and spades were all made out of painted cardboard with a cross section in the back of each to help them stand. The heart was right near the head table. Each fixture was outlined and finished in glowing white Christmas lights.

For invitations that scream Las Vegas, attach the actual invitation to a playing deck of cards, poker chips, or dice. If you are really creative, a custom caricature, kind of like the walls at Delmonico’s Steakhouse on Central Ave might be fun. Portrait the bride and groom as casino dealers or mafia, or a lounge singer and a showgirl. The couple could also be the King of Diamonds or the Queen of Spades!

This party opted for a massive candy table. Have you ever seen these? The colors really got over the feel of the party and there were loads of packets of bogus bills and dice beads mixed throughout to keep them in the Vegas mindset! During the dancing, it was funny to see guests throwing the money around and “make it rain in the club” to various hip hop songs later in the night.

The decorations really turned the hall into the Vegas strip! Aside from the playing card suits, they hung slot machine backdrops and a big Las Welcome to Vegas sign on the wall.

For Vegas themed favors, you can get custom printed poker chips, or make dice out of card stock and fill them with goodies.

Last but not least, someone had secured two HUGE appliance boxes and wrapped them in white paper, then painted black dots on them. They created a gigantic pair of dice that sat off to the right of my DJ set up. It was great!

Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to be different!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten Tips for Planning a Succesful Wedding

As a wedding DJ, I have seen many things go wrong. These were little tiny problems to start and could have been eliminated easily, just with a little planning ahead of time. Here is a top ten list of ten important things to think about in order to plan a fun and succesful wedding for all.

1. Think of EVERYBODY
I cannot say this enough. Even though it is your special day, you have to think about your guests and be a humble host, as anyone who throws a party should. After all, a good host puts others needs first. Do guests know what to expect? Are you planning your wedding for on a holiday that friends and family may have other obligations to? Are you a vegan and forcing your guests to eat food they are not comfortable eating to make a statement? Do you love hardcore music and do not care what the others think? Try your best to make everyone happy.

2. Be Yourself

If the couple is not all about classic music and being overly elegant, planning much of the reception as such may not be the right thing to do. You may want to go for more up beat fun stuff right from the get-go, during the cocktail hour. Also, some couples are now making the grand entrance into the cocktail hour to enjoy the festivities and then heading out for some pictures before they eat.

3. Don't Waste Money
The wedding industry is a money making industry, with lots of avenues to indulge in. There is a lot of good advice out there, but remember, people will also profit from it. Shop around and do your homework! Budget means budget. If you have a number, stick to it!

4. Know who is running the show!
There are two people running the show. One is the officiate, the minister or justice of peace. His/her personality will come out in the ceremony. The other is your DJ/band, who plays a very important role in whether the guests will say your reception was fun, or not.

5. Be prepared for ANYTHING
Most people don’t want to believe that something could go wrong at their wedding, so they do not plan for it. If it is an outdoor wedding, make sure that you have an alternate location in case of rain. Keep phone contacts on hand for vendors and people with important roles.

6. Don't Lose Perspective
Don't get caught up in so many small details and traditions that you don't spend enough time on what's important. Keep the big picture in mind. If something doesn’t go exactly as planned, this is okay. Nothing ever does! Just remember, it is a celebration. Make it work.

7. Careful Having a Heavy Party the Night Before
It’s not always a good idea to plan crazy bachelor/bachelorette parties for the night before the wedding, if people with important roles tend to get carried away. The last thing you need is to wake up with a headache, or upset stomach. Too much drinking the night before is not always a good idea.

8. Bride & Groom Team planning
Wedding planning can and should fall on the bride and the groom together. If one becomes too overbearing or selfish, it can make for an awful night for the other. Ask yourself, did I listen?

9. Seat Guests Effectively
Your wedding is no place to try and mend broken bridges between guest. Forcing enemies to come together by seating them together is probably not going to work and not a risk you should try taking. Also, try and keep older people away from the DJ or band, as they often do not like louder volume levels. For more ideas on seating, see my other blog.

10. Don't be afraid to be different
Traditional weddings are all the same. Don't let your wedding reception fall into the regular pattern. If you do, your wedding will blur into the rest. Never be afraid to be different! A good idea is a good idea, even if it bucks tradition.


DJ Kenny Casanova - is a professional wedding reception mobile dj and professional wrestling ring announcer out of Albany, NY and Troy, NY. You can email him at

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