Labor Day Weekend Wedding at the Gold Room

Black Tie Entertainment is pleased to welcome Jill Boulund to our growing family of clients.  Jill and her fiance Dave Naab will be welcoming their friends and family to help them celebrate their wedding on the Sunday before Labor Day in the Gold Room of the historic Hotel Blackhawk, downtown Davenport Iowa. 


We’re excited to welcome Jill and Dave and look forward to their fabulous event at an exceptionally beautiful facility!  It will be a wonderful evening.

We have only one Saturday left available during prime wedding season in 2011 and we hope to announce a new bride for that date very soon!

More Sugar! The Unique Ones.

Ready for more sugar?!  A few weeks ago we took a nostalgic trip back in time to pay tribute to some of the structurally complex wedding cakes of the early 2000’s.  Today we’ll look at a unique cake from several years back and some “themed” wedding cakes.

 This first one was designed for a bride who was a big Mickey Mouse fan.  Their reception was at the old Hotel Blackhawk Gold Room in 2005 before it closed down.  The facility has since been majestically restored and is now hosting weddings again.  Here is Mickey (and Minnie):


In the summer of 2007 one of my clients staged a Hawaiian Luau theme reception in Galesburg Illinois.  The food was fabulous and the cake was perfectly designed to go with the tropical theme. 

Godsil Wedding 011

Here’s a golf themed cake featured at a wedding reception held on Labor Day of 2005 at the TPC Deere Run clubhouse.  Fore!


Love the Iowa Hawkeyes?  Here’s the wedding cake for you:


Maybe you can’t get enough chocolate.  You would have enjoyed being at this wedding:


A bride who thought her new husband’s tractor was sexy had a special groom’s cake designed for him at their wedding in Goose Lake, Iowa.  This is one green John Deere tractor:


And finally the last cake makes my list because it was extremely unique at the time.  I recall thinking that the cake below was the most beautiful cake I had ever seen.  It was created by Robin at LeCake (LeCake can be found on Facebook) for a wedding reception held at the Davenport Country Club in 2003. Fondant frosting seemed to be fairly new back then and the simplicity combined with elegance was a fresh idea.  That was the first time I had met Robin or viewed one of her fabulous wedding cakes.  I’ve seen a lot more since then, each one breathtaking in new and different ways!

2003 LeCake

This might be a good time to see if we’ve got anything sweet in the kitchen.  Suddenly I’m feeling rather hungry!

Top 50 Party Songs: Timeless Gems or Just Overplayed?

Here are last year’s most played party and wedding reception songs as compiled by Intelligence, Inc., a software service provider used by many D.J.’s around the world, myself included.  The list is dynamically updated and based on the number of times the song is requested to be played at a wedding or party event.

After hearing these songs countless times as wedding D.J. and observing how guests respond to them, clearly I’ve developed my own thoughts about this list.   Some of the songs I don’t have any thoughts about, and that’s OK with me.  Feel free to add your own comments at the end.

At number 1 is:

Black Eyed Peas
I Gotta Feeling

This song didn’t exist just a couple short years ago.  And here it is at the top of the party list.  College age types really enjoy this song and it always packs the dance floor.  That wasn’t the case when it first came out.  The first times I played it people didn’t seem to respond, but I guess it was just too new.  It’s typical Black Eyed Peas style.  It has a really catchy tune and lots of interesting rhythm changes. 

Don’t Stop Believin’

This song by Journey is really excellent when played at the end of the evening.  People enjoy standing on the dance floor and singing at the top of their lungs.  Also brings out the air guitarist in a lot of people.  It’s definitely a timeless gem.

Journey's Greatest Hits

Lady Gaga Feat. Colby O’donis
Just Dance

Lady Gaga just seems too weird for me.  But I do love her music.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)

“Single Ladies” obviously gets used as a bouquet toss song all the time.  One of my clients introduced me to a mash up version that mixes the theme from the Andy Griffith show into the song.  I REALLY like that version.

You Shook Me All Night Long

A real rock and roll classic.  Again, you can expect Uncle Jim to break out his air guitar on this one.

Bon Jovi
Livin’ On A Prayer

Another good closer (term borrowed from the world of baseball).  I always hear a lot of good singing during this.  This song mixes well after a slow song and really is a great feel-good rock anthem that leaves everyone in a good mood.  I love it!

Morrison, Van
Brown Eyed Girl

I insist that the Jimmy Buffet version of “Brown Eyed Girl” is much better than the Van Morrison recording.  Jimmy Buffet’s got the steel drums, a tropical feel and just sounds bigger.  I don’t get to be right all the time as evidenced by the fact that more people will dance to the Van Morrison version.  So be it.

Diamond, Neil
Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)

Always liked Sweet Caroline ever since my younger days.  I choose to play the live version of this song at wedding receptions.  It is slightly slower, paced better, has a stronger instrumental track and that wonderful, live audience sound in the background.  This is and always will be a real gem.

Cupid Shuffle

The most popular line dance of the last couple years.  More interesting and more fun to do than most line dances. 

Def Leppard
Pour Some Sugar On Me

Rounding out the top ten is a classic rocker.  This song packs the dance floor at the end of a night and I’ll have to say I haven’t grown tired of listening to it yet.

Love Shack

My wife loves this song!  I really like the sound of the B-52’s.  Once in a while I will substitute “Roam” in place of “Love Shack”.  I tend to like “Roam” a little better.

Black Eyed Peas
Boom Boom Pow

Jackson, Michael
Billie Jean

When you hear this song it’s hard to not recall watching Michael Jackson on that Motown TV special where he electrified us with the hat, glove and the seemingly impossible moonwalk.  Baby boomers love this song.  It’s not overplayed.

Lady Gaga
Poker Face

Again, Lady Gaga is just so weird.  Love this song though. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Home Alabama

Sheer genius of Lynyrd Skynyrd to cleverly add the words “Turn It Up” at the beginning of this song.  The song is recognized with the very first four notes of the guitar and people start heading for the dance floor.  Kid Rock was pretty shrewd to capitalize on that years later, don’t you think?

DJ Casper
Cha Cha Slide

Dancing Queen

I have never understood the popularity of this song.  I don’t know why it’s number 17 on the list, or even on the list.  Maybe someone can help me out with this.  Abba has done much better material than “Dancing Queen”.

Timberlake, Justin

Hey Ya!

Usher Feat. Ludacris & Lil’ Jon

This song has a great melody.  It’s a good transition song towards the beginning of a wedding reception that doesn’t offend or bother the older folks. 

Clapton, Eric
Wonderful Tonight

Hey, here’s the first slow song on the list.  Very romantic.  I like to use it towards the end of the night because of the lyrics’ mention of “time to go home now”, etc.  One of Eric Clapton’s best.

Don’t Stop The Music

Kool & The Gang

Without question, the most overplayed and worn out song on the list.  But people never seem to grow tired of it and always ask for it.  So I usually get the obligatory airing out of the way at the beginning of an event.  I think that a much better song is “September” by Earth Wind and Fire.  It’s impossible to be in a bad mood during that song, it’s just so incredibly happy sounding!  But that song is number 77 on the list so we don’t get to talk about it here.  Oh wait, I just did.

Usher Feat. Will.I.Am

Sister Sledge
We Are Family

An excellent wedding song!  Perfect lyrics for the occasion.  Women love it!  This is an all time wedding classic.  Probably impossible to overplay.

Sir Mix-A-Lot
Baby Got Back

Oh boy.

Twist And Shout

This song will remain an all time classic.  It’s easy and fun to dance to, and, of course, it’s the Beatles.

Tik Tok

Jackson, Michael

Everyone wants to hear this song because they like to do the dance moves from the classic video.  Unfortunately, very few people can do all the moves in the proper sequence and the song is 6 minutes long. But every once in a while I run into a group of people that have it mastered.  It’s a timeless gem.

Lady Gaga
Bad Romance

Here’s Lady Gaga again, for the third time.  Still weird, but I think I like this song best of all the LG songs.  The lyrics could be considered inappropriate for the typical wedding reception but the song is so well written and catchy that I find myself humming it on the way home.  Go figure.

Mraz, Jason
I’m Yours

An awesome song.  Destined to be a timeless gem.

Brown, Chris

Black Eyed Peas
Let’s Get It Started

This song remains interesting primarily due to BEP’s amazing ability to keep the beat of the song ever changing.  I think their best song, which did not make the top 50 this year, is “Imma Be”.  Very fun to listen to. 

Brooks, Garth
Friends In Low Places

Always a wedding classic.  The line about showing up in boots and ruining your black tie affair is perfect.  Sometimes I like to use this song for the traditional “Circle of Love” near the end of a wedding reception.

Isley Brothers

A perfect party song as made popular from “Animal House”.  I prefer the Lloyd Williams (Otis Day) version from the movie.

Flo Rida Feat. T-Pain

Apple Bottom Jeans, boots with the fur…etc.

James, Etta
At Last

A timeless gem, without out a doubt.  A perfect wedding song and I never grow tired of hearing it. 

Sinatra, Frank
The Way You Look Tonight

Already a classic and will always be.  It’s great to watch people enjoy dancing to this song. 

My Girl

A perfect timeless gem. 

Build Me Up Buttercup

This song has become way more popular in the past few years.  I never used to play it but now it’s guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces.  A gem for sure.

Vanilla Ice
Ice Ice Baby

Jackson, Michael
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Brick House

Seger, Bob & The Silver Bullet Band
Old Time Rock & Roll

As good as Bob Seger was, it’s time to retire this song.  I like to substitute a similar song when possible.  Unless, of course, someone absolutely insists that it be played.  This one is on the overplayed list.

Loggins, Kenny

Village People

Overplayed, definitely.  But kids seem to like it and it’s always nice to make kids happy.

Bee Gees
Stayin’ Alive

There are other songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that I prefer playing.  “Night Fever”, “You Should Be Dancing” and “How Deep Is Your Love” come to mind.  But people need to keep this song alive because you need to know it when administering CPR. 

Armstrong, Louis
What A Wonderful World

This song is a gem.  Impossible to overplay.  Great lyrics and the immortal voice of Louis Armstrong is a perfect combination.

Taio Cruz

This song is too new to be overplayed.  It’s a great song to get the dance floor warmed up with and I really like it.  It only took a little less than a year to make it to the top 50 party list.

Unchained Melody

Righteous Brothers
Unchained Melody

“Unchained Melody” is the most romantic song on the list.  Most people can never remember the title of the song and don’t know how to request it without singing it.  Fortunately they don’t have to ask because I almost always include it on my special D.J. must play list. 

Well, there you have it.  The top party song play list of 2010.  Just missing the top 50 at position 51 was the timeless classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley.  The list is constantly updated and can be viewed on our website at

The Seamless Wedding Reception – Live In The Moment

Webster’s dictionary furnishes two definitions for the word “seamless”.  The first definition is “having no seams”, typically used in the context of seamless siding, seamless gutters, seamless countertops; you get the idea.   A house with seamless siding looks better than one with seamed siding.  Seamless gutters are better than regular gutters because a seam will provide a weak spot and a potential for a leak.  Seamless is most always better.

The second definition for seamless is “having no awkward transitions, interruptions or indications of disparity”.  This is the definition we are interested in.  This will translate to “fun”!

Last month in part 1 we talked about how an event loaded with memories and fun moments will seem to be shorter, time-wise, than a boring event.  Time will pass quickly but people will later recall that a lot of fun things happened in that time.

In this month’s article we will discuss a basic step towards staging an amazing, seamless wedding reception.

20091218 and 19 events 016

For the wedding reception experience to be fun for the guests it must first and foremost be fun for the couple.  A bride and groom, along with their wedding party, will set the tone for the evening.  If the wedding party does not engage in the fun-making, neither will the guests.   

The planning of a wedding reception involves an investment of time and energy.  Naturally, any couple wants it to be perfect.  But arriving at the event with the mind still geared towards planning can stifle the brain’s ability to enjoy the moment.   

Here is one tip that helps to keep the couple focused on “living in the moment” during the week leading up to the wedding: Don’t check the wedding day weather forecast.  The couple can designate someone to anticipate any weather related issues and then they won’t have to think about it from that point on.  The event will still happen no matter what the weather conditions.  I have never known anyone who could plan the weather for a particular day. 

Couples who started planning their wedding early, stayed on top of the details along the way and then focused on living in the moment during the home stretch generally are those who have had the most fun at their wedding reception.

A couple that enjoys their big day will remember more of it.  Their enjoyment will spread to the wedding party and ultimately to the wedding guests, who in turn will naturally create more fun moments to remember.  What could be better!

Next month we will discuss how to decide on the ideal length of time for your seamless wedding reception.  Let the fun begin!

The Best Days for Weddings

June weddings!  It seems that the first month of summer still retains its grip on being the most “in-demand” month for weddings despite a strong challenge in past years by the months of September and October.   And as things are shaping up so far, this year is no exception. 

Of course, here in the Midwest we are dependent on Mother Nature as she ordains which months can predictably provide pleasant outdoor conditions.  January and February are dependably frigid, as evidenced by the fact we usually only emcee one or two weddings at the most.  October is beautiful, however, you do run the risk of the weather “going rogue” in the later weeks of the month.  I can recall a couple of snowy October events.

At Black Tie we actually have software that measures potential clients’ demand for wedding dates.  Our website tracks each and every hit on our availability checker.  And here are the most “In-Demand” Saturdays for 2011 so far (at least by our unofficial count):

  • June 11
  • June 25
  • September 24
  • September 10

And, although it’s still early, we have some preliminary data for 2012.  So far our most popularly checked dates are:

  • September 15
  • June 16
  • June 9

If you are still deciding when to have your wedding you may consider the popularity of the above dates and plan an alternative strategy.  Many couples prefer to choose the less popular dates in order to secure the vendors they like and better hotel room/rates selection.  Just something to think about. 

Part 2 of our series entitled “The Seamless Wedding Reception” will be coming out soon.  In part 2 we will be discussing the first steps leading to an unforgettable event.  Stay tuned!

In Celebration of Sugar

I really love wedding cakes! They taste great, especially the corner pieces where all the frosting converges into a big gooey glob of pure sugar. White, Almond, Chocolate, Red Velvet – bring ‘em on!

I got my first digital camera in 2003. It was then that I started snapping a picture of the wedding cake at every wedding reception that I emceed. Don’t know why I did that but clearly I now have a lot of pictures of wedding cakes. I should probably also mention that I have sampled each and every one of these cakes over the years. That’s a lot of cake.

A Yummy Cake from 2004


Everything changes,

Lots Of Tiers and Stairs - Summer 2004

including the time-honored wedding pastry. Some of the cakes that seemed perfectly normal in 2003 would look a little out of place at today’s elegant receptions. I’m talking about those big multi-tiered cakes with the fountains, stairs and interstate highways between the tiers. These cakes seem to have gone to the same place that analog television has gone.

I dug a few pictures out of the archives and thought I would start sharing some of them here. In future articles we’ll also be looking at more of the best cakes I’ve seen (or should say, tasted) over the years.

A Typical Tiered Cake 'Circa 2004

The most interesting sugary creations from 2003 and 2004 are here. If you are a cake professional reading this article please feel free to chime in on the comments section. It would be interesting to get a professional cake creator’s insight.

An Architectural Masterpiece!


Multi-Tiered Cake With An Autumn Theme

Typical Multi-Tier Cake from 2003

Autumn 2004 Cake With An Amazing Flower Display

A Winter 2004 Wedding Cake With A Christmas Gift Look

The Seamless Wedding Reception – Part One

Some of the best wedding receptions I can remember over the last 27 years of being a “Wedding DJ” all seemed to have one thing in common. Not only did guests have fun and celebrate, but more importantly, the event flowed seamlessly from one moment to the next. The very best wedding receptions were always the ones at which time seemed to pass by very quickly. One moment people were walking into a beautifully decorated banquet room, and seemingly in the blink of an eye the event was over. But although the perception of the passing time was short, the reality was that the time was surprisingly loaded with a lifetime of unforgettable moments.

This type of event does not happen by accident. It takes months of meticulous planning to create this type of wedding reception. As a contrast, events that are poorly planned seem to drag on forever with very little memories left in the guests’ minds.

Some people have a knack for planning details and others would prefer that those details be left to someone else. Those who are skilled at planning would all probably admit that they rely on some type of tool to assist them. The numbers of little details that go into a great wedding reception are simply far too overwhelming to keep track of without help.

Almost all of our brides take advantage of the planning session that Black Tie offers as an integral part of their wedding package. Many of those brides arrive at that session armed with some type of aid, whether it is one of those big bridal planner binders with all the special pages and pockets, a professional wedding planner, a laptop with a complicated spreadsheet, or quite possibly the ultimate planning tool – the Mother of the Bride.

In any event, those who are serious about planning usually have the greatest chance of staging one of those great wedding receptions where the time flies by and people talk about it for years to come.

A few days ago I was reminded of the useful online planning tools that we offer all of our clients when I received an email from one of our Spring Brides. She wrote, “I can’t say enough about your website. The checklist (planning) has been awesome and I love the music suggestions and such. Thanks so much”, from Kasey Ciccarone. Thank you for the compliment Kasey!

In the coming months I will offer a short series of articles on the art and science of “seamlessly flowing” and “memory loaded” Wedding Receptions based on my experiences and best memories of the last couple decades. I will use a few examples of previous events and also offer some samplings of the online planning tools we provide our clients.

In the meantime we will be looking forward to another year of very happy memories!