Archive for September, 2010

History of the Wedding Reception

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Chari Vari

image source

At Chris Laich Music Services, one of the things we’re known for is deejaying wedding receptions with a great mix of music tailored to each bride and groom. As we keep the dance floor moving, we’ve often wondered…where did the tradition of a wedding reception come from, anyway?

We did a little research, and you’ll never guess the answer!

Apparently, the wedding reception has its roots in a funny old Middle Ages custom called Charivari. To celebrate a couple’s wedding, friends and family would mock serenade a couple outside their bedroom window with pots, pans, and rowdy folk music, the idea being that this would keep the new couple awake (it was also often used to show disfavor to the couple).

By the time this custom made it to the US, it became geared toward making a racket until the couple invited the noisemakers in for some food and drink. Called Shivaree in the US, if the couple did not let the merrymakers in, sometimes the groom would be “kidnapped” and left naked outside to find his own way home!

This kooky combination of pranks and partying is said to be one of the precursors to today’s wedding reception!

information sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Wedding Stationery…ByHand

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Until I met Steve Bottorff of ByHand Invitations, our knowledge of wedding stationery was limited to what we got in the mail and learned through osmosis from wedding planners and our clients.

I knew choosing wedding stationery could be daunting and sometimes frustrating, especially when faced with binders full of pre-made invitations that look nothing like the gorgeous images torn out of Martha and Washingtonian Bride and Groom!

Imagine how amazing it would be to toss the binders and have a wedding stationery suite custom-designed by your own creative team with your unique wedding and interests in mind? Think that kind of bespoke stationery is only a dream? Think again!

Custom Invitation created by: By Hand Invitations

custom wedding invitation by By Hand Invitations

Washington, DC’s own ByHand Invitations is a boutique wedding stationery design firm that specializes in creating one of a kind wedding invitations for each one of a kind couple they work with.

Owner Steve Bottorff’s experience in graphic design and the fortuitous request by a friend for Bat Mitzvah invitations led to the beginning of something wonderful. Before long, Steve was creating stationery for all kinds of special events, including weddings!

Inspired, Steve opened ByHand Invitations, a nod to when everything – notes, invitations, letters – was made and delivered by hand, as well as to the fact that every piece of stationery is crafted by hand and with love.

For about the price of a high-end invitation selected from a binder, Steve and his creative team will get to know you and how your envision your wedding stationery looking. Drawing inspiration from what they learn, they spend hours researching and developing just the right combination of elements for your custom wedding invitations.

Everything from typography, printing process, and design is considered. Letterpress, thermographic printing, debossing, engraving…no matter what a couple may dream up, Steve and his team at ByHand can make it happen! You’ll quickly discover that Steve and his team at By Hand Invitations not only have the talent and knowledge to devise the perfect stationery solution for every bride but also that customer services puts them at the next level.

Custom Invitation created by: By Hand Invitations

custom wedding invitation by By Hand Invitations

History of Here Comes the Bride and the Wedding March

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Victorian Wedding

Victorian Bride and Groom

Have you ever sat waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle, ears straining for the first bars of “Here Comes the Bride” or the “Wedding March,” and wondered how long the tradition of playing these songs has been around?

“Here Comes The Bride,” or its official name, the “Bridal Chorus,” is part of an 1850 opera called Lohengrin written by Richard Wagner. The irony is that in the opera, the “Bridal Chorus” is sung as the bride and groom enter the bridal chamber and the wedding party prepares them for their first night together. Not to mention the whole story of two star-crossed lovers ends in tragedy rather than in a happily ever after.

Usually, the “Bridal Chorus” is played without singing at modern weddings, but you can see the original lyrics and learn more about some of the controversy surrounding it here.

The “Wedding March,” composed by Felix Mendelssohn, was created in 1842 to accompany Shakespeare’s famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Mendelssohn’s wedding march was first played in a wedding in 1847, but it was Victoria, the Princess Royal and Queen Victoria’s daughter, who made it the song to play during a wedding ceremony by having it accompany her own wedding in 1858.

info sources 1, 2, 3, 4

Glen Echo Park Set Up

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Opening first as a National Chautauqua Assembly in 1891, Glen Echo Park was transformed into an amusement park in the early 20th century and operated until 1968. It came under control of the National Park Service in 1971. A pretty cool history for a very cool place!

Glen Echo Park is a special place for a wedding. It’s whimsical, retro, and one of a kind! Events are held in the Bumper Car pavilion. One of the neatest places to take pictures is the Dentzel Carousel, which features hand carved wooden figures and has been at the park since 1921.

We were at Glen Echo Park for a recent event, and snapped this shot from our set up!


Glen Echo bcp

Arts Club Washington Set Up

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The Arts Club building in Washington, DC was not always a space for promoting the arts or one of the hidden gem wedding venues scattered across the city.

It was once the home of President James Monroe, and even acted as the executive residence in 1817 while the White House was repaired from the war with Britain. Over the years, the home has been added onto and expanded, and it has a truly storied history.

The Arts Club’s Monroe House also happens to have a handsome outdoor space perfect for a wedding or special event that feels like a secret garden right in the middle of the city.

To help preserve its magical feel and maintain perfect sound integrity, we carefully plant our wireless Bose speakers around the garden. As you can see, they really blend in!

Arts club 5

Arts Club Washington

Arts club 4

Arts Club Washington


Arts club 2

Arts Club Washington


Arts club 3

Arts Club Washington

Cupcakes vs. Cake…the Debate Rages On!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Lately, at Chris Laich Music Services, we’ve been intrigued and are ready to enter the great debate: cupcakes or cake? We see a lot of both, and we’ve wondered…is one better than the other?

Cuteness and Style:

The cupcake wins, but it’s close! Cake (especially from one of our favorites, Fancy Cakes by Leslie) looks sweet and delicious. Once cut, it gains some mouth watering appeal and but loses a little in the looks department.

Cupcakes, like our favorites from Fancy Cakes by Leslie, don’t get cut and pack a lot of punch in a little package. There’s nothing like a cupcake perched in the center of a plate.

For a more formal wedding, a cake might be the only way to go, but you can have your cake and eat it too by having a smaller wedding cake to display and cupcakes at the ready in back!

Cupcake by Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Cupcake by Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Cupake by Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Cupcake by Fancy Cakes by Leslie


It’s a draw. Unless you DIY your cupcakes or decorate store-bought ones, the cost of cake and cupcakes is generally the same. Cupcakes, particularly when they are specially decorated for your wedding, take just as much time as a fabulous cake from another of our local favorites, Kendall’s Cakes.

Cakes by Kendall's Cakes

Cakes by Kendall’s Cakes

Cupcakes by Kendall's Cakes

Cupcakes by Kendall’s Cakes


We knew the answer to this one! It’s a little tricky make an event out of a cake cutting with a cupcake. Plus, cakes have been a part of weddings for hundreds of years. The modern, multi-tiered wedding cake was first introduced by Queen Victoria. Trendsetter that she was, she also introduced the notion of a white bridal gown. However, before Queen Victoria rocked the boat, all sorts of less grand concoctions were served at weddings throughout history.

Cakes by Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Cakes by Fancy Cakes by Leslie

So, in the end, the great Cupcake vs. Cake debate will rage on! There are wins for both sides, but ultimately it’s up to the bride and groom to choose what suits their style best!

Woodlawn Manor Set Up

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Woodlawn Manor Maryland

image via Woodlawn Manor

More than just another beautiful historic mansion perfect for weddings in Maryland, Woodlawn Manor in Sandy Spring has a fascinating history. Built in the 1800s by Samuel Thomas and his wife, Anna, Woodlawn Manor was the site for a Quaker boarding school and has a rich history as part of the Underground Railroad. Oprah Winfrey even visited it for a tour to experience the Underground Railroad while she prepared for her role in “Beloved”!

Woodlawn Manor

image via Woodlawn Manor

Past aside, Woodlawn Manor is a lovely place for a wedding, surrounded by pastoral green hills, grazing horses, and a pretty garden. There’s a great gazebo perfect for wedding ceremonies, and plenty of space for an outside tented reception. With so much open space, it can be a challenge to arrange everything so each guest can hear every word spoken during the ceremony without making our equipment detract from the setting and experience. Chris Laich Music Services was ther

e recently, and we took a few pictures to show our wireless Bose speakers at their unobtrusive best!



How Do I Choose My Wedding Day Music with Chris Laich Music Services?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Your wedding day is just that – all yours! At Chris Laich Music Services, we are committed to always keeping that in mind.

Each playlist for every wedding we do is custom-tailored for the couple and their one of a kind wedding day. If you had a request that is not in our 80,000 song repertoire, we will download as much as needed from iTunes before the event.

Music selection always starts with the bride and groom, and our process is geared toward making sure the music on their wedding day is exactly what they envision it to be. Whether they have a large list of must-plays or a large list of do-not-plays, or whatever; we will completely honor their lists.

We supply our clients with a song list that covers only about 400 songs, asking them to highlight what they’d like to be played, and encouraging them to write any additional songs they would like to hear.

Christine & Jason, image by Elaine Studley

image by Elaine Studley

Our cocktail/dinner playlists often include Frank, Tony, Dean, and Bobby, as well as Dinah, Etta, Ella, Billie, and Nina. Then there’s Van Morrison, Nat, Marvin, Ray, and James Taylor. Some newer music is also worked in, with tracks from artists like Ben Harper, David Gray, Sting, Dave Matthews, Regina Spektor, Coldplay, U2, Harry Connick, Michael Buble, and Eva Cassidy; but will certainly cater to your likes and dislikes.

Jeff & Patti at the Metropolitan Club

By getting to know our clients and their style, when their wedding day arrives, our brides and grooms trust us to pull songs from their list, read the crowd, and play songs in an appropriate order from cocktails to dinner and dancing. With their feedback, we put together a perfect mix of new and old, a blend of eclectic yet recognizable, romantic, distinctive sounds that will always catch their guests’ ears!

Reception Wedding Dress

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Reception Dress images by Tec Petaja

images by Tec Peteja via Once Wed

Any vendor who is on site working at a wedding will tell you that one of the many exciting moments during the event is seeing the bride in her gown! Even after all these years of deejaying weddings and events in the DC area, it’s something I always look forward to.

Once something unusual, we’ve been spotting more brides changing into another dress for her reception. We’re all for a wardrobe change, especially when the intention is usually dance floor comfort!

What do you think of a wedding reception dress?

Reception Dress images by Featherlove

image by Featherlove via Style Me Pretty

Reception Dress images by Georgia Moxham

images by Georgia Moxham via Once Wed