Whether you've been leading the Horah since your mitzvah years, or are considering planning one as a first, we are here to help lay the foundation for what could potentially be one of the most memorable moments of your reception. After leading thousands of Horahs over the years, we've picked up a few tips that might help get things off on the right foot!
💺 A Sturdy Chair Is A Must!
After seeing one too many Grandpas teetering precariously 6 feet in the air on plastic ceremony chairs (eek!), I made it my policy to always request an extra-sturdy seat from the venue whenever I have a Horah on my schedule. Most experienced venue managers will have a specific chair just for this, and you may as well cash in!
🕒 Think About Duration
As a DJ, I've managed Horahs that lasted anywhere from a few hoists in the air to upwards of ten minutes, and this all just depends on your preference and family history. If you have a long line of parents, grandparents, or other guests of honor who will be expecting a turn in the air, or alternately if you prefer to keep things brief, let your DJ know. We will always be armed with the extra-long edits to accommodate.
Here is a sample timeline that should give you a rough idea of how much time to allot for various segments of your event. The below should give everyone plenty of time to mingle, enjoy dinner, sprinkle in all of the toasts and formalities, and still save a healthy amount of time for dancing.
Guest Arrival: 30 Minutes
Ceremony: 30 Minutes
Cocktail Hour: 60 Minutes
Total Run-Time: 6 Hours
Note: This timing should work for a guest count of 80-200 guests. If you are expecting more or fewer in attendance, you may want to tweak accordingly. (i.e. A 300 person plated dinner may take closer to 2 hours).
What if my guests may need a little "warming up" to get them dancing?
No problem! We can help brainstorm some tricks to help make kicking off the party less intimidating. Placing a parent dance at the end of dinner, and inviting guests to join for the last minute of the dance can be a great icebreaker. Or if you're planning to do a Hora, this can be an excellent way to inspire everyone to join en masse without feeling too self-conscious about their footwork.
What if a particular formality just isn't for me?
Definitely let us know - we are all about rethinking the rules! Whether you're a bride who wants to do her Parent Dance with her mother, or you just want to skip the fanfare of grand introductions, we are all about brainstorming ways to help co-create a timeline that is uniquely *you.*
Got an idea for a special "outside of the box" moment? We love it! Let us know, and we are all about working in song dedications, talent shows, b-boy battles, or whatever may strike your fancy. 🦄
Interested in upping your Wedding Planning karma?
Here are a few other ways you can elect to pay it forward as you plan!
GLT: We love that you donate 3% of your proceeds to charity. What are some of the unique ways that a conscientious couple planning a wedding can give back as part of their big day?
Michelle: Couples should be very discerning when choosing their vendors and should see it as a unique opportunity to give back to very specific communities. Choosing small businesses is a great first step. Think of it like shopping on Amazon versus supporting a small local business. Couples should consider their own moral agendas and seek out vendors who align with that. It makes the hunt for vendors more exciting and fulfilling!
Seek out vendors who are passionate about employing, giving back to and uplifting underrepresented communities. Weddings can be expensive but it's important for couples to realize that their dollars can actually make a huge impact!
GLT: Your portfolio really demonstrates your keen sense of storytelling. Do you have a personal philosophy about the ideal ratio of “fly-on-the-wall” vs. “semi-posed” photos at a wedding, or is it more of a “to each his own” type of decision?
Michelle: Thank you! In a magical world, I'd do 100% of the photos as a fly on the wall. I think of wedding photographers as "moment hunters," but the reality is that natural moments don't always happen at the best angle in the perfect light. I do a fair amount of gently guided posing to capture all those moments and make them look sparkly and lovely, but I try to be as hands-off as possible.
As a weekday vegan myself, I can't NOT ask: Have you found a holy grail bean burger recipe you can share with us? You know, because we all need fuel when we're busy planning events :)
Michelle: That's awesome that you're a weekday vegan! *high five* Bean burgers can be kind of heart-breaking; I've made my fair share of crumbly messes over the years but these are two that will not disappoint! I love that you can make a big batch and just freeze them for later.
GLT: It sounds like you're quite the world traveler. Any fun trips on the horizon, or places queued up next on your bucket list?
Michelle: Most recently I've been planning a bunch of quick little trips around the U.S. as I'm starting to grow my business outside of Chicago. For leisure travel however, I'm pretty eager to check out southern Chile. I love hiking and there's an incredible national park there, Torres del Paine.
Want to work with Michelle at Spark & Glow Photo? You know you do! Read more HERE!
If you're looking to add a little personality to your wedding décor, Relics Vintage Rentals is the answer to all of your Pinterest-black-hole-prayers. Based out of Milwaukee (and happy to travel to the Chicago area), the team over at RVR will work with you to design the perfect collection to give your big day the look it deserves. Whether you need a stunning farm table, some heirloom china, a stack of vintage trunks, or a rustic sheepskin throw, the Relics Vintage team will be happy to offer hands-on guidance to achieve your perfect look. Check out our Q&A with their in-house design specialist Jess below!
RVR: Here at Relics, every event is a story! We want our clients to utilize our rentals to tell that story visually! Our team strives to deliver every one of our couple’s with a curated aesthetic that not only tells their love story but reflects their personal style. The simplest way to do this? Utilize one of our pre-assembled yet visually unique lounge packages. What is a lounge package you might ask? It is a furniture bundle that includes couches, chairs, rugs, tables and accessories all for a fixed rate. We now offer over 30 lounge packages each with its own flair and flavor. These stylized collections not only make an event shine but serve as a “one stop shops” for couples who do not have time in their day to hand pick each piece of decor for their big day. Weddings can often be overwhelming and a lounge package is an excellent way to easily add some frill and function (perfect for use during cocktail hour or as a photo booth!) to your event without totally overexerting yourself. It is the little details that make an event feel whole. We find that those details are most commonly overlooked when planning. For first-time planners, we recommend browsing both the “Grand Details” and “Petite Details” sections of our website. Accessorizing is key when making an event intimate, inviting, and all your own.
GLT: Judging by the look of your amazingly curated vintage collection, this seems to be a labor of love. Who is the mastermind of sourcing, or is it a team effort?
RVR: I love that you call it a “labor of love” because our collection is truly curated via the love of all things vintage. Each employee has equal opportunity to source items for our collection because we find that each team member has his or her own specialized taste that adds to Relics’ versatile (and somewhat quirky) aesthetic. It is the melting pot of different personalities and preferences that makes Relics the vintage sanctuary it is.
GLT: Pinterest Fatigue is a real condition that many couples find themselves facing as they plan the visual elements of their wedding. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep organized, or edit down many ideas to a cohesive aesthetic?
RVR: One thing I always recommend is printing off a few ideas from online or cutting out magazine editorials instead of just using Pinterest. This way, you are making yourself a tangible Pinterest board to look at that is physically present during day to day life. I find this helps keep me on track in terms of personal design aesthetic and know it would work wonders for any fatigued couples out there. If you aren’t wedded to any look in particular, having a tangible Pinterest board also allows you the ability to mix and match styles or create more than one style to eventually choose between.
GLT: What are a couple of the wackiest items you have in your inventory? Any piece de resistance that deserves a special shout-out?
RVR: The most eclectic area of the Relics Penthouse is definitely the treasure trove where we store our entire loot of children’s goodies. We have a whole room dedicated to fun, funky items that might be impractical for daily use but are perfect for birthday parties, photoshoots, and more. This collection includes but is not limited to: a rainbow of vintage bicycles, ceramic animal heads, a vintage parasol made of hot pink fringe, a plastic dinosaur parade, a fleet of baby carriages, a hand sewn ballet tutu, a pair of mint-green waterskis, and a crown made entirely of glittery mushroom caps. Talk about wacky and whimsical!
GLT: As a private event DJ, I always ask my clients for "Insider Info" about songs and artists that hold a special place in their history. What's an example of a song that you personally tie to a "warm and fuzzy" memory that might be a good option to mix into a dinner playlist for instance?
Martin: The song that makes me feel nostalgic is a song called “Suena” by Intocable, my sister would have this song on almost every time I would walk into her room, and so I think of her every time I hear it.
GLT: Now, let's get down to brass tacks - Do you have any general tips for someone planning a multi-cultural wedding?
Martin: The number one thing I always tell clients is that planning your wedding is a great excuse to research and learn more about your culture! Every culture has a plethora of traditions, some of which can be lost with generations, so I always say don’t be afraid to do some digging and find out more. Ask your grandma or even do some Google searching to weave new meaning into your event. Not only will this pay off by making your family feel included, but it will weave a new personal story into your memory book.
The unique combination of different cultures we experience in the US can yield endless unique combinations, and a mesh is never a bad thing, so long as you stay true to your own personality and roots. Take for instance, the Dollar Dance at a Mexican wedding. While it is a common Mexican tradition, I’ve had couples request American music for the dancing. This way, they put their own personal twist on it!
GLT - On that, note what's your philosophy on MCing a bilingual wedding? Any tips or suggestions to make all guests feel included?
Martin - Whenever I MC a bilingual wedding I ask the bride and groom how much English/ Spanish they want me to use through the evenings. Most couples prefer me to MC everything in English and to mention the important items (cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.) in both English and Spanish. I like to make jokes in both English and Spanish to make everyone feel welcome and to lighten the mood in the room. I have had couples that prefer the majority of the Wedding be in Spanish with only some things being announced in English. When speaking to the parents, I normally introduce myself in English and then based on their responses, will speak to them in either English or Spanish. Ultimately, it’s up to the Bride and Groom and what they feel comfortable with (based on their guests).
DJ Zach had an amazing time rocking the dance floor at Jess & Steve's wedding, hosted at Artifact Events this past June. We can't lie, the Do-Rite donut table is our new favorite dance party fuel!
Big ups to Five Grain Events for keeping the show running smoothly, and for posting this amazing collection of photos on their blog here.
(Photos by: Artisan Events)
We were lucky enough to be neighbors with the lovely and witty Mary Simmons of Persephone Floral at this past winter's Indie Wed, and we instantly fell in love with her style. It's clear upon first glance that Mary goes far beyond sticking flowers in a vase, and utilizes her background in visual arts to build creative and singular arrangements for each event. She is easygoing and flexible - happy to travel, or create a package that suits your aesthetic and budget. Read on to learn about the latest industry trends, and why you definitely want your florist to be an artist at heart.
1) Can you tell us a little bit about your background as a painter, and how this led you to the world of floral design? Would you say knack for composition began with the paintbrush?
My journey from painting to flower arranging involved both practical considerations and transferred passion. Oil painting was second nature to me. I can't describe the feeling of putting paint onto canvas. I used to paint for hours and it would feel like no time had passed. I knew that I wanted to be a painter, so of course I studied it in college. But I never knew what I wanted to paint! It felt important for the painting to be meaningful but really I was most interested in how color, line, texture, and value could come together in truly striking ways. I struggled to find a purpose and subject matter for my work.
After I graduated, I moved to Chicago and tried to pursue art. I worked and kept up a studio practice on the side. Eventually friends started getting married. Being wildly confident in my ability to successfully pick up creative pursuits, I began volunteering to be their florist. The experience of arranging flowers into beautiful designs reminded me of what painting felt like. Except better, because I knew what made flower arranging meaningful---it transformed a room into an intimate space. Suddenly I saw that flower arranging was an obvious path I just hadn't been seeing. I loved nature and gardened as a child so I already had knowledge of flowers. I could use all of the skills I had learned as a painter to compose breathtaking arrangements, be creatively fulfilled, and have the thing I felt I lacked with painting: purpose.
I didn't go for it right away though. I was nervous about owning my own business and I wasn't ready to trade in my paint brushes for pruning shears yet. The final push happened after I had my daughter Sibyl. I soon realized that all that free time I thought I would have to paint while on maternity leave didn't exist. I couldn't paint around her because of the oil fumes. So I started arranging flowers for fun because it was something I could do with her. Then one day it occurred to me that the only thing holding me back was fear. That wasn't the example I wanted to set for my daughter. I quit my job, filed for a business license and haven't looked back.
3) We understand that you often do floral design for destination weddings and events. As a florist who is committed to sourcing local products, this must really change the materials you're working with! What are some of the places you've traveled for a booking, and is there a destination on your bucket list that you've always wanted to try out?
Travel is a huge passion of mine, getting to experience a new environment through the lens of a florist enriches the experience so much. My favorite part is getting to meet the farmers and learn about what is local and seasonal to their region. I get to experience flowers that I wouldn't usually get to work with or experience a familiar flower in a new context. It's definitely a challenge to manage all the logistics and familiarize myself with a new place, but the more I do it, the more my network of farmer friends grows. Two years ago I arranged flowers in England; last year I went to Brooklyn, Dallas, and Atlanta. The wedding in Atlanta was in February. When I called up the local farmers they said they had nothing for me because it was winter, but their winter and a Chicago winter are two different things. I found flowers beginning to bloom there that Chicagoans wouldn't see for months. I'm hoping for an excuse to travel to Iceland, Japan, or Mexico. Anyone want to take me?
2) As someone who has a finger on the pulse of floral design, what are some of the trends you've noticed lately? What's in and what's when it comes to designing a modern floral package? And is there a look or element that you'd say will always be timeless and en vogue?
The floral world is a funny place when it comes to trends, because its very slow to move forward. You have florists still designing the way they did in the 70's, 80's and 90's which is very formal. Others have embraced a more natural style, which reminds me of old Dutch still lifes; this came into vogue in the 2010s. Now I'm seeing a shift toward simple, yet dramatic, Ikebana style arrangements. Personally, I've developed a style that is grounded in a deep appreciation for flowers in their natural state. I want to preserve their original beauty. What is more timeless than nature itself?
I'm definitely influenced by other florists, but I have tried to develop my own distinct style. I want my customers to come to me because they love my style in particular. That is probably the biggest trend overall: florists are beginning to see themselves as artists and feeling more free to experiment and develop unique arrangements. At the same time, the florist who follows the standard formula remains a part of the industry. I think that speaks to the fact that people buying flowers all have their own preferences. As a florist who mainly does weddings, most of my clients have never worked with a florist before. There is a lot of client education involved. I love working with people who want beauty at their event, but need my expertise to guide their designs. At the same time, a lot of couples just want what they saw on Pinterest or at their friend's wedding. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is why trends stick around forever in this industry.
Want to work with Mary at Persephone Floral Atelier? You know you do! Read more HERE!
We are excited to feature the unique and brilliant Nikki Segarra of Thistle + Twine Atelier in our latest Vendor Spotlight! If you're looking for a Fine Art approach to your special event photography, Nikki is the girl for you. While adhering to eco-friendly guidelines, Nikki draws upon her background in integrated media to add a special twist to her documentary-style photography approach. Her large format film portraits, and handmade keepsake boxes offer a memorable one-of-a-kind presentation to your special memories. (Yes, she even offers a wooden USB stick tucked inside a faux linen-bound book to deliver your photos!) Read on to learn more about Nikki's special knack for encapsulating the moments that you won't want to forget.
We have to start out by saying that you have one of the most standout approaches we've seen in the world of wedding photography, particularly with regard to your packaging and presentation. Can you tell us a bit about how you developed this technique? Was this something that you developed naturally as a results of your fine art background?
Well, my graduate studies were very much focused on experimental photography and mixed media. I'd say that it was my time as a student where I developed a love for the object - something tangible that can be touched and experienced on a more intimate level. I found myself printing on dresses and handkerchiefs, making giant scrolls with wood and silk, and then I discovered the art of bookmaking. I really fell in love with that process, as well.
The idea for integrating USB and keepsake boxes into my wedding work was a lovely accident. As an exhibiting artist, one that often shows objects rather than just prints, I needed something to transport my work to show curators, etc. I decided to make a portfolio box for my fine art work (my first keepsake box prototype!). I didn't realize how great of an idea it was until I had people asking me to make boxes for them, as well. Thus became the inspiration for the wedding boxes. The USB box is my favorite. I just love that it looks like a book - and that it contains this one wooden object that keeps safe your very own story.
One of our favorite Heirloom Boxes offered by Thistle + Twine.
You seem to infuse a very “analog” feel to your products, without printing off books and books of paper photos. What are some of the ways we can ensure an eco-friendly photography package, without sacrificing style?
I think it's a balancing act, for sure. It's primarily it's a lifestyle choice. My personal habits are integrated into my business. I recycle persistently, I avoid purchasing plastics, and I'm rarely seen without my giant metal water bottle. Many of my eco-friendly business practices include paperless contracts, quotes, invoices, etc. I use rechargeable batteries, I recycle equipment properly, I use a digital gallery for proofs, rather than a book, and my marketing materials are eco-friendly, too. The boxes that I make are from 100% recycled book board, and I package them with recycled packing paper, nicely wrapped and tied with natural twine and dried flowers that I have somehow inherited over the years (eco friendly, yes! But, with a touch of pretty). I often deliver my products to my clients if they are local, but I also re-use boxes when I have to ship.
Out of my two album options, my classic album is sourced from an eco-conscious company, using 100% post-consumer fiber, and is even produced using wind-power electricity. They make solid products - the best I've seen that can claim to be eco-friendly. My prints and my heirloom albums, and of course my film portraits, are of the finest quality, and are not 100% recycled, and film does require use of chemicals to process, but these are offered responsibly, and are produced in very small quantity, as objects and images that will surely be kept and treasured - not thrown away. With what I am unable to sacrifice in quality, I do my best to make up in all other aspects of my business, which is where the balancing act comes in.
Above: Somehow, Thistle + Twine seems to lend that coveted mystical mermaid look to all bridal photos.
Can you tell us a bit about your handmade brass/large format camera work? Has your experience with this technique informed your digital photography work in any way?
Very much so. Photographing large format film portraits is quite different - think 19th Century portraiture, with the photographer hiding under the curtain. There are movements in the camera that allow you to shift the focus. Every tilt and shift becomes a creative choice for what the image will be. The focus is delicate, as well. Only one sheet of film is placed in the back of the camera at a time, and this sheet film is quite expensive. So it means, that every frame that is shot is 100% crafted with intention. It is slower and more expensive, but the quality - it is ever so luscious.
What this technique has taught me is to take ownership of the frame. To trust my eye and my instinct. This is very much translated in my digital photography - I tend to shoot rather formally - clean lines and thoughtful composition. I prefer to choose the perfect shot or two, rather than relying on shooting a dozen frames of the same image. In the same vein as my eco-conscious self, I choose quality over quantity.
A few samples of Nikki capturing honest moments with clean lines.
As a former radio DJ and avid listener of records, we have a hunch we might have a proper music buff on our hands! How do you prefer to discover new music these days? Are you thrifting through the dusty crates, or are you a fan of the new streaming and playlisting culture as well? Any new and amazing discoveries lately?
Discovering new music was so easy when I had an entire (analog only!) radio station's music collection at my fingertips. Back then, I hosted a show that only played 7-inch vinyl. You can imagine how obscure my set list was! I still listen to V89.7 FM in Tallahassee for inspiration, and I enjoy Chirp Radio, as well, which is Chicago-based. There's also the occasional record searching adventure, or a work day spent at Cafe Mustache, where they play all vinyl. My favorite vinyl discoveries tend to be something folky, some jazziness, maybe some rockabilly, or 60's french pop - basically anything that you can imagine playing in a Tarantino film.
Spotify is such a great tool for discovery, as well, with their custom discovery channels. For instance, I am just about the biggest Future Islands fan, and I just discovered a side project called The Snails via my discovery channel. They are really good! Another recent favorite is Shannon and the Clams. Can't get enough of them!
The ocean seems to play a big part in your personal aesthetic. How do you manage to infuse a healthy dose of driftwood and salt into your life as a midwesterner? Does your schedule allow for the occasional pilgrimage to the sea?
Oh, I miss the sea every day!
When I first moved to Chicago, I had every intention of moving back to New England - but then I discovered how incredible this city really is. One of the perks of being a wedding photographer (other than how awesome it already is), is that my schedule can be relatively flexible. I've put all of my focus into Chicago within the past few years, but I hope to set myself up with an annual visit to Cape Cod, where I can make work and get reconnected with my art and my ancestry. I've also considered an artist residency which entails spending a month on a ship and traveling from the West Coast to China, working on my next personal project. If that doesn't pan out, I am speaking with someone about gaining access on a boat in Lake Michigan, for starters! Time will tell.
Well, there you have it, guys! If you'd like to work with Nikki, you can find her out steering a ship somewhere out there on Lake Michigan, or otherwise at her website: Thistle + Twine Atelier.
It was a treat to talk shop this past week with Chicago-area photographer, Emma Mullins of Emma Mullins Photography. Originally from Wisconsin (she is still active in the Milwaukee-area), Emma has traveled the world to develop her unique approach to docu-style event photography.
Not only does Emma have a cool and capable energy (ideal for that potentially frantic wedding day photoshoot!), but she is one of the most responsive and positive vendors you'll find. (Yes, we are suckers for anyone who responds to our emails within 5 minutes!) Read on to learn more about Emma's influences, knack for capturing an urban landscape, and how to make the most of your relationship with your photographer, even if you're a bit camera-shy.
1) After perusing your portfolio, it seems like you have an affinity for a fair amount of hip, edgy, fun clientele. Would you say this is something you've sought out, or have these clients just magnetically gravitated toward your work?
Oh wow! I suppose a lot of my clients do fall into the hip and edgy category – and yes, the point (to me) of being photographed is to have fun! That’s definitely something I encourage with my couples at all times.
The work shown in my portfolio is based on a number of factors, including what I love to shoot the most. As much as I enjoy nature and outdoor weddings, I’m definitely a city girl. Urban landscapes can be just as breathtaking as natural ones – and provide so many options when it comes to photography! I think it’s fair to say I seek out couples who possess a similar style and vibe.
2) It sounds like you are a pretty experienced world traveler. When you're on a personal adventure, do you always bring your eye for composition to document the experience, or do you prefer to put the camera down? Do you have a favorite photo from your travels?
This is a great question. Traveling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – it’s actually how I got started with photography. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t visit new places. I still always bring (at least one!) camera with me whenever I travel, but in recent years have made it a point to enjoy my travels from a non-photography standpoint as well. Of course, I still end up with tons of travel photos! I believe every trip is worth documenting if you have the chance.
3) As a self-described “documentarian,” can you cite any specific photographers or filmmakers who've inspired your aesthetic and approach?
Two documentarians that come to mind are Sophie Calle and Errol Morris. I really admire the way each of them approach storytelling and have incorporated their personal lives into their work. I know it’s cliché, but another photographer whose work I will never tire of is Ansel Adams. I even spent a summer out west visiting a lot of the same locations and monuments he has made so famous in his life’s work.
4) Is there a perennial tip that you share with all of your clients when it comes to planning the approach to their photography package? Or is it more of a case by case scenario?
Every wedding day is different, just like every couple is different. It’s pretty case-by-case. If there’s one thing I always recommend it’s adding an engagement session, so the three of us have a chance to hang out together before the wedding day. The more used to each other we are before their wedding, the better their photos will turn out! It’s the very best thing couples can do to prepare - especially for particularly camera-shy individuals.
5) It seems like photography involves a healthy amount of being out in the world, but also editing behind the scenes. Do you prefer one part to the other, or do they each have their own pros and cons?
This is very true! I definitely spend more time behind the scenes than actually shooting. Something that not everyone realizes is how many hours go into creating a finished wedding gallery. I will admit that I much prefer being out in the world capturing moments that editing in the studio, however there’s nothing like getting into a good editing flow! Editing season = podcast season, basically :)
Want to work with Emma for your special event? Read more HERE!