Monday, February 27, 2006

wedding bands (part II)

Starlight Orchestras
we met with the booking agent for Starlight Orchestras in their lovely Upper West Side offices.
the Starlight Orchestras schtick is that all the bands are led by female bandleaders. cute, no?

although the two principals of Starlight Orchestras (Valerie Romanoff and Marianne Bennett) were booked for our date (at their going rate of about $28K per wedding), there were two orchestras still available: Laurell Eastman and Sarah Scott (just under $20K).

both singers were very talented in their genre, but we felt that when confronted with hip-hop or rock, their interpretations left something to be desired. for some reason all the Starlight bands evoked the Sweeney sisters to me.

however, the booking agent told us about one other band he had, which was "the anti-wedding band." we were informed that this band was "like no band you have ever seen and people either love them or hate them--there's no in-between." the band we were about to see (on DVD) was called "One Nation" and Thurston was convinced, from the name and the description, that what we were about to see was clearly going to be something truly offensive, such as a white supremacist band. this was not the case, however. One Nation was a (mostly) black band that kicked some serious ass. the musicians were actually talented and the singers had chops.

we all loved One Nation, but were concerned that as great a band as they were, they might not be a great wedding band, a category unto itself. setting up the timing and keeping people on the floor, all while incorporating the toasts, the romantic first dance and breaks for the guests to eat is a lot to handle. this notwithstanding, we walked out of the Starlight offices with the feeling that, in any event, we would be happy with One Nation. our worst case scenario was not so bad!

then we headed to Harlem's Dinosaur BBQ and the night ended on the highest of notes. T was able to down the entire portion of his Tres Hombre and i was no slouch in finishing my two-pork combo.

when i hear music, it makes me dance...

when i hear music, it makes me dance...
unless, of course, the price of that music is the same as a small car. ah, yes, searching for a wedding band certainly was an eye-opener.

you might think you know what a wedding band costs. you are probably underestimating. before i begin sharing with you the "process" of winnowing down bands, i will give you some perspective.

although these two sites list about a zillion acts, here is a brief sampling of the (approximate) prices to book a famous act to play a concert:

  • The Village People (the effin Macho-est of Men!), $25,000+
  • Lee Greenwood (he's proud to be an American), $25,000
  • Montell Jordan (this is how we do it!), $20,000 (with a live band!)
  • Darius Rucker, $20-25,000
  • Fatboy Slim, $25-30,000
  • Jordan Knight, $6,000+
  • Tiffany, $5-7,500
  • Ryan Adams, $15,000+
  • Funkmaster Flex, $10 - 15k
  • They Might Be Giants, $15 - 20k

ok, just to make sure we've got this straight, you can get *Hootie* to play for you for under $25K. got it? good.

here are some of the bands that we entertained booking for our wedding (a couple of these are entertainment pureyors that have a "stable" of a few bands that they handle):

Bud Maltin:

the first meeting we had was with Bud Maltin, bandleader of The Bud Maltin Orchestra. my parents had been to the wedding of their friends' daughter, where Bud's band was the entertainment. my dad loved the music, danced all night and took Bud's card. (mind you, this wedding was in July 2005, *well* before T and i were engaged. apparently my dad is quite the forward thinker.)

when Thurston found out we'd be meeting Bud at the Penn Club, he was entirely thrilled, thinking Bud was a fellow "Fighting Quaker." when T found out that Bud did not go to Penn, he was a bit disappointed, but quickly bounced back when he saw Bud's super moustache on the web site.

we loved Bud, his vast wedding experience and his repertoire included all the songs of which T and i were fans. we couldn't complain about his price tag either-- under $10K.* but this was our first band meeting, and we had three more to go, so we didn't sign anything.

more on the next bands we saw in later posts.

* ok, i fully recognize that it's tacky to name numbers, as it were. with that said, what i have found to be exceedingly frustrating in the wedding planning process is the complete dearth of hard numbers to which i can compare price estimates given to us by various vendors. so, tackiness be damned, i am at least going to give ballpark ranges of quotes we get so that some bride, somewhere might have the budgetary context that i did not.

this time it's personal

this time it's personal

looks like Lloyd Grove's Lowdown was also at the Underminer performance. and, thus, thinly veiled becomes *unveiled.*
Jennifer Aniston probably wishes she'd been nicer to fellow actress Nancy
Balbirer, who shared a West Village apartment with her in the late 1980s.

read the whole column for the Aniston camp's obligatory/half-hearted denial.

UPDATE: what's better than being Gawked?

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Underminer

The Underminer

last night Thurston and i headed to Joe's Pub, expanded our horizons and saw the hysterically funny benefit celebrating the paperback release of The Underminer (by Mike Albo with Virginia Heffernan).

full disclosure: our friend Nancy Balbirer was behind the production, with her husband/our friend Joel contributing original music, playing the keyboards and singing back-up.

the show was insanely hilarious and featured readings from The Underminer as well as people sharing their own experiences with being undermined. Alan Cumming was (is he ever not?) fabulous and Nancy definitely stunned the crowd with the scathing and oh-so-thinly-veiled story of her own personal underminer. the simultaneous conveyance of heartbreak *and* snark is a hell of a combination to pull off, but she sure did it... Mike Albo was the kind of funny that makes you unexpectedly laugh so hard you spit a full mouthful of pinot grigio on the person in front of you. (hypothetically speaking, obviously.)

Thurston was once again impressed (read: indifferent) to my gleeful recognition* of Lindsay Robertson but i still was happy that a) she was part of the show and b) i knew who she was. although i don't read lindsayism daily (it's blocked at work-- damn web sense!), i always find it a good read when i do. (much appreciated her candid take on the Stephanie Klein pregnancy/miscarriage fiasco).

anyway, i have yet to read The Underminer but have already ordered it (2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, bitches!) and will have it in hand shortly. i have a feeling that this book will definitely evoke friends that have come and gone. some of the excerpts/underminer quotes might as well have been transcriptions of morsels shared with me by a one frenemy or another. more on this (i'm sure) once i've read the book!

on top of all that relevancy, there were a couple of performances that were unexpected but intriguing no less. definitely not what T and i had expected. See The Dazzle Dancers (hello naked!); Pu Pu Platter (doing to Rent what we've all dreamed of doing); and Murray Hill (whom i'd met back in my "i work at a night club" days and have always found to be a great entertainer!).

* ok, maybe recognizing a well known blogger is no coup, but since i sometimes don't even recognize people who were at my own parties, i think it was a decent showing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

late to the party...

late to the party...

although Jolie has posted more extensively on the Olympics, and i've yet to do, can i just ask if anyone else is as frustrated as i am that i have to read figure skating updates on msnbc to see what's going on and then wait all the way until, like, 11 tonight to actually see the programs?!? so unfair!

this chart though is all right.

Friday, February 17, 2006

is there a point...

to this Johari test? i am unsure. but i do know it is definitely fun!
if you want to contribute to mine, follow this link:


(known to self and others)

friendly, intelligent, loving, observant, tense, witty

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

able, adaptable, bold, caring, cheerful, clever, complex, confident, dependable, energetic, extroverted, giving, happy, helpful, idealistic, independent, knowledgable, logical, organised, self-assertive, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, wise


(known only to self)


(known to nobody)

accepting, brave, calm, dignified, ingenious, introverted, kind, mature, modest, nervous, patient, powerful, proud, quiet, reflective, relaxed, religious, responsive, searching, self-conscious, sensible, sentimental, shy, trustworthy, warm

Dominant Traits

57% of people agree that jadedem is intelligent

All Percentages

able (14%) accepting (0%) adaptable (7%) bold (21%) brave (0%) calm (0%) caring (50%) cheerful (7%) clever (28%) complex (21%) confident (14%) dependable (7%) dignified (0%) energetic (7%) extroverted (35%) friendly (7%) giving (35%) happy (7%) helpful (7%) idealistic (7%) independent (7%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (57%) introverted (0%) kind (0%) knowledgable (28%) logical (21%) loving (35%) mature (0%) modest (0%) nervous (0%) observant (7%) organised (7%) patient (0%) powerful (0%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (0%) relaxed (0%) religious (0%) responsive (0%) searching (0%) self-assertive (28%) self-conscious (0%) sensible (0%) sentimental (0%) shy (0%) silly (7%) spontaneous (14%) sympathetic (7%) tense (14%) trustworthy (0%) warm (0%) wise (7%) witty (21%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 17.2.2006, using data from 14 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view jadedem's full data.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

and the winner is...

and the winner is...

the Metropolitan Club!

yes, after all our searching, we opted to have our wedding at the Metropolitan Club. we just could not get past its architectural elegance and grand scale.

the winner is also ME, since for Valentine's Day Thurston gave me a limited edition, leatherbound book about said Club:

number 82 in a printing of 2,000!

wow, this was a thoughtful and amazing gift. especially in light of the fact that we don't officially "do" gifts on V-day. oh, that Thurston, he's a keeper...

that's my autographed copy, Kenny!

T also sent me pretty flowers because, despite his not being down with flowers ("they die!"), he knows that girls (often) like them, imminent death notwithstanding.

to his dismay though, i was not at work on Valentine's Day, foiling his plans to send the flowers there. (due to the blizzard, a wedding we had planned to attend on Sunday night was postponed* to Monday night. thus, i took Tuesday as vaca-- a girl needs to recuperate, after all!) but they were just as lovely in my own home and i adore them. (him, more so!)

*more on that and the fear it instilled in me in another post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

i'm this bunny

i love boys. they're stupid.

at least according to this quiz (Who's Your Happy Bunny?) i am. (thanks for the link, Lola!)

scarily, this is somewhat accurate since, with some regularity, i affectionately tell T he is stupid all the time. stupid like a fox, though! kiss kiss!

Friday, February 03, 2006

venue search (continued)

two down, two to go

now that we'd seen the Met Club and the Rainbow Room, the final two venues we were considering were The Pierre (a location that had long been my "that's where i'm going to have my wedding"-spot) and The Newark Club, where a good friend of mine was married and had a wonderful wedding.

The Pierre
happily, the morning we ventured up to see the Pierre (Friday, 12/23/05) the transit strike had ended. we also were excited to see the place because my parents had already scoped it out for us the night before (hey, they live in the neighborhood, and there were no trains!) and thought it was wonderful. because we were pretty sure we'd be having under 250 people, the Cotillion Room was the ballroom in the Pierre that would accommodate us best.
the Grand Ballroom required a guarantee of 250 people, and we did not think that made sense in light of our list. further, my mom greatly preferred the look of the Cotillion Room to that of the Pierre's Grand Ballroom, our other (250+ guests) option.

when we got to the Pierre, i agreed with my mother (a first!)
something about the Grand Ballroom just evoked an auditorium vibe to me. i also greatly preferred the color scheme/decor of the Cotillion Room. however, the Pierre, too, had the dreaded "flip". the ceremony would be in the Cotillion Room, with cocktails in the Regency Room and then back to the Cotillion Room for the dinner dance. although the pre-ceremony "invitational" would be in the Rotunda--a seriously gorgeous room with a staircase on which a classical trio could play while people entered pre-ceremony--this was not really making up for the flip issue.

the Rotunda ... lovely!

then, though, we were taken to see the bridal suite, in which i could get ready on the wedding day. this suite was lovely and BIG (two bedrooms, mais oui). Thurston was particularly impressed with the full bar that it offered. then, though, when i asked "at what time will the suite be made available to me?" i was informed that they could only guarantee that i could have it at 3:00 p.m. now, as any girl with common sense knows, you need a room in which to get dressed, made up, etc. for a 6:30 wedding, *well* before 3 o'clock. by three we would already be in "taking pictures" mode--first checking into the suite was hardly on the agenda.

all-in-all the Pierre was not leaving me wowed. i kind of felt like i was really being "sold" when we met with the catering guy, and he was very big on backtracking off positions he had taken when he initially met with my parents the night before. suddenly, our date wasn't really on hold--"oh no, we *never* hold dates. how could we do business that way?" and the bridal suite "of course it can't be available until people check out. but you can guarantee that you have it early. we let you reserve it the night before for 50% off the regular rate." such a bargain! especially since the regular rate is $2,000 a night.

pros: wedding location of my childhood dreams; beautiful room (Cotillion); very good food; Sylvia Weinstock cake included; the Rotunda(!)

cons: we felt like we were being hustled; no room in which to get ready (for under a $1,000 premium, anyways); another wedding would be going on simultaneously in the Grand Ballroom; the flip

The Newark Club

despite my mother's (and Thurston's. and my father's) inclination to stay in Manhattan proper, i wanted to explore options outside the city. particularly, the Newark Club, where in 2003 i had attended the wedding of my most put-together, fashion-forward friend* and her equally charming husband. the food was wonderful, the space was great, the dinner table chairs were comfortable--for what more could you ask?

so i made an appointment with Erica at the Newark Club and on a freezing Saturday afternoon, my mom, dad, T and i headed to Newark. forget what you know about Newark-- the Newark Club is in the business district of Newark, which hardly evokes the images of gunfire and abandoned cars that one's preconceived notions re: Newark might otherwise dictate...

the room was spacious and had great views (since it's on the 22nd floor) of New York and all around.

the one fatal flaw: the Newark Club had no dates in 2006. not a single Saturday.
as much as we all loved (i cannot emphasize enough how amazing this woman was and how well she presented the Club, the wedding schedule, and how she just had a handle on *everything*) Erica, the wedding coordinator there, i love Thurston more (oh, oh, oh!) and did not want to wait until 2007 to officially become a Howell. so, the Newark Club was out.

* further props should be given to her since anyone who was able to live with my 18 year old self and still hang onto their sanity is in a league of their own.