rochester weddings

Vendor Visions {Wedding DJ & Entertainment Advice with Rochester DJ Kalifornia Entertainment}

Vendor Visions is a new collaboration between Wendy Zook Photography and various vendors from across the Rochester and Buffalo areas. These posts will feature one local vendor and their advice on planning wedding details in their field.

You can see past Vendor Visions posts HERE

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Photo by: Colburn Creative/Bethany Colburn

Photo by: Colburn Creative/Bethany Colburn

Joshua Volpe of Kalifornia Entertainment has always had a music-focused passion -- a passion that eventually (and surprisingly!) led him to a successful entertainment company in the local wedding and event industry. 


"At a young age, I had developed a love for all types of music and it's stayed with me throughout my entire life," he said. Josh first started as a club DJ, acting as resident DJ at just about every nightclub in Rochester. 


His nightclub gigs led to repeated requests for wedding gigs, to which Josh responded with a resounding "NOPE!," he shares with a laugh. "I was all about the clubs and not wedding music. But then the requests started to come in more frequently. It was crazy."
When a local DJ company didn't have room for him to join their team, he simply began Kalifornia Entertainment on his own. 

"I decided that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it properly," he said. "I went out and bought all top-of-the-line equipment and made sure I was doing things properly."

2017 is his 4th year doing weddings and he's already booking into 2019. "Every year, the number of events I do goes up by a large percentage," he said. "I'm booked every single weekend from the beginning of the year to around November. And then the corporate holiday parties go through December and January."



BOOKING YOUR DJ

Josh recommends booking your DJ about 12 to 18 months prior to your wedding date. For popular wedding months, like September and October, Josh is typically booked about two years in advance. 

"I'm a one-event-per-day type of DJ and never double-book," he added. 

Keep in mind that cost is not everything, Josh advises couples. 
" The most expensive doesn't mean you're getting the absolute best and the cheapest doesn't mean you're getting a great deal," he said. "There's a lot that goes into choosing the right vendor -- experience, reviews, referrals (both vendor and client), equipment, personality, customer service, knowledge and other things should all come into play when choosing your entertainment. Anyone can call themselves a DJ nowadays. The ones that really stand out are the ones who help you along the way and match your vision in every way possible."

The consult and booking process with Josh typically events meeting over coffee and asking lots of questions to ensure everyone is on the same page. "It allows them to see my personality and I get to see theirs," he says of the first meeting. "I try to get to know my clients as much as possible. By getting to know their wants, needs, ideas and thoughts on their wedding, it allows me to hit a bullseye every time. The more information I can get, the easier it is."

Josh says the number one goal is always to have guests walk out of a big day saying, "This was the BEST wedding we have EVER been to!"


WORKING WITH OTHER VENDORS

Knowing about and communicating with the other wedding vendors for a client's day makes a huge difference, Josh says. 

"Working well with other vendors is extremely important, because if all of the vendors are on the same wavelength, then the wedding or event will run a lot smoother. Think of a wedding as a well-oiled machine -- if all parts are moving freely and in sync with each other, then that machine will continue to work flawlessly for as long as you need it to."

All of your wedding day vendors should know timing of events, location of key moments and tinier details like exact spots for things like entrances and cake-cuttings, etc. 



WEDDING DAY ENTERTAINMENT TRENDS

Things like receiving lines and dollar dances seem to be happening less and less frequently, Josh said. Bouquet and garter tosses also are losing popularity among his recent couples. 

Old trends may see unique twists put on them, too. 

Josh is looking forward to new and fun ways to get crowd interaction at his weddings, through things like guy and girl dance battles and maybe new lip sync battles, even featuring a trophy for the winner. 

"Music is a very powerful thing," Josh says. "It has the ability to make people smile, cry, laugh and bring everyone together."



Josh loves seeing the look of amazement when a couple first enters their venue and sees all of their plans come to life. 
"It's almost like a kid running downstairs on Christmas morning and seeing everything that Santa brought them," he says with a  laugh. 

Having clients become lifelong friends is so meaningful to Josh and he's grateful to his past and future clients. 
"It means more to me than people realize that they have me share in one of my biggest days of their lives." 
 

 


For more information on Josh and Kalifornia Entertainment, visit:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

 

To be featured in a future Vendor Visions blog post, please e-mail Wendy at wendy@wendyzookphotography.com with "vendor visions" in the subject title. 

Vendor Visions {Wedding Desserts Advice with Shell's Sweets, Rochester Bakery}

Vendor Visions is a new collaboration between Wendy Zook Photography and various vendors from across the Rochester and Buffalo areas. These posts will feature one local vendor and their advice on planning wedding details in their field. 

Our first in this series features Michelle Crawford of Shell's Sweets, a New York State-licensed in-home bakery based out of Henrietta, New York. 

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At any one time,  Michelle is balancing a 50-pound, four-tier wedding cake (no, literally trying to balance it!), bridal shower desserts and an assortment of birthday cakes and special occasion cookies. 

Her love of sweets became a passion, working desserts as a side job in 2011, which became today's successful Shell's Sweets, established as a full-time job for Michelle in 2014. It's not all fun and ease in the kitchen -- just one tier of an intricate cake can take her up to seven hours to complete. It's all worth it though, as Michelle's desire to meet new people and explore new venues and events comes to fruition with each carefully-prepped and decorated treat. 

"I love the creative aspect," she says. "I love meeting with my customers. It's fun to hear about what they have in mind."

Wedding Dessert Advice

Michelle suggests engaged couples reach out to their baker at least six months before their wedding date, but adds, "less than that may not be impossible."

You should also talk to your baker about your budget and be honest about it. 
"There are ways to have a gorgeous and delicious cake without breaking the bank," she says. "Flexibility and willingness to be open-minded is important."

Other things to keep in mind include coordinating with your venue. A tiny cake, for instance, could get lost in a huge, grand ballroom. There are ways to make it work, with tricks like stacking or using a larger stand to create the illusion of a larger cake. 

Michelle recommends sharing all details of your day with your baker so they can incorporate your overall vision at the dessert table -- recently, Michelle has used multiple tiers with unique looks for each, different-colored cake plates and a window or frame to share flavors and dessert options. 

Also consider the size of your table (a simple cake can look amazing on a smaller table) and the decor on the table (caketoppers, stands, flowers, etc.)

"I love it when they put a picture of their parents on their wedding days or something like that out," Michelle says. "But don't compete with the design of the cake. You don't need a lot, but a little addition is nice."

The background of a cake table is important, too -- just ask any wedding photographer who has cropped out "exit" signs or dealt with reflections and fingerprints on windows. 

In 2017, Michelle is getting the feeling that we'll see a lot less of the rustic looks (less naked cakes, for instance, although we'll still see those beauties, too, etc). It seems like the trends are gearing toward a more sophisticated look, more of an "urban elegance" feel -- gold lace, watercolor, pops of color, brushing with gold, painting buttercream, and more unique ideas. 

Spreads are very popular still -- cakes and cupcakes mixed together with a variety of flavors and even mixes of different types of cakes or pies together for guests to enjoy. A lot of brides are even considering to-go containers for guests to enjoy leftover desserts later that night or even the next day. 

Traditional flavors like vanilla or chocolate are always popular and safe, Michelle says, adding that it's always fun to add another flavor through a kitchen cake or different tiers. 
"Do something fun," she suggests, noting recent requests for Funfetti cake layers and a champagne-flavored cake. "Do what's you."

Michelle's favorite part of the process is watching the cakes and desserts begin to represent a happy, in-love couple and their most special day. 
"Their styles show through," she says. "That's what's so fun about weddings -- you can do what's you."

You can follow Michelle and her delicious desserts here: Website Facebook Instagram

Know a great vendor in the Rochester area? Want to be our next Vendor Visions guest? E-mail wendy@wendyzookphotography.com with the subject "Vendor Visions." 

 

Nicole & John: {A Downtown Buffalo Engagement Session}

I only just met Nicole and John and yet I feel like we've been friends for years. They just exude kindness, sincerity, humor and joy. Being made to feel like a friend made our downtown Buffalo engagement session together even more special. 

BuffaloEngagement

When I first chatted with Nicole via Skype last year, I was packing up our house and about to embark on our family's third (and final) move. I poured some wine, er, tea, found a corner of the house that did not have a pile of boxes behind me and had way more fun that I ever expected. Nicole is intelligent, organized and precise but also incredibly funny and "real." When I received a #gentlehonesty e-mail (we have a lot of hashtags for our adventure together) asking me to be their September 2016 wedding photographer, I felt truly lucky. 

For their engagement session, Nicole and John wanted to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and comfy scenes. John used some of his connections to secure us spots at 500 Seneca and 95 Perry in downtown Buffalo after some time meeting their adorable puppy and photographing around their brand new home. 

With sun-drenched atriums, homey front porches and skyline views from rooftop decks, this engagement session was dreamy and full of laughter and lots and lots of love. 

The way Nicole looks at John when he's not looking and the way John pushes back Nicole's hair and squeezes her hand -- well, just moments of magic. 

And Nicole's ring? A family heirloom from John's aunt! It's gorgeous! 

After driving around beautiful Buffalo, five flights up stairs, city views, cheesy jokes and some bloopers, it was sad to see the day come to an end. And yet... just a few months until their beautiful wedding. 

Enjoy a glimpse into their love story and our adventure and stay tuned for more beauty from these lovebirds later this year. 

 

Caroline Logan Workshop Recap -- Headshots & The Future of Wendy Zook Photography

So I've already shared a bit about what I loved most during the Caroline Logan Photography Workshop last month, and now I want to share my beautiful new headshots from Caroline and also what all this learning and daydreaming means for you and for Wendy Zook Photography.

 

There are no gigantic shifts in my business -- I mean, in the last year I've already rebranded and consistently given a fun and personal client experience (not to mention some of my favorite images so far!). Rather, I'll be emphasizing those things that are important to me, thanks to some "aha" moments at the workshop:

 

- Blessing my clients with my business

I don't want to just deliver photos -- I want to deliver an incredible experience from first phone call through consults and e-mails and engagement sessions all the way to their sparkler exit at the end of their special day. I want them to feel that in some way Wendy, and not just WZP, has brought joy and all sorts of good things into their lives.

 

- Consistency, consistency, consistency

I want consistency not just from Corynn and Kevin's wedding in June to Melissa and Patrick's big day in September but from my first wedding in May through my last wedding in 2017. I want consistency in my workflow (I'm slooooooowly moving to all-digital for contracts, invoices and bookkeeping) but also in my editing. I really want to stay true to my style and also make all of my events look like they truly belong to the same person. Will you hold me accountable to this?!
 

- Staying true to me

This is one that I'm getting better at, but, in a field that can be competitive and stressful and overwhelming with talent, I just want to make sure that the reason I take each wedding on is the same as why I chose this path originally -- to observe and capture the greatest moments of unique love stories and to embrace true moments of the day as they happen. I want to always tell romantic stories and fun anecdotes through images that are as natural and authentic as my couples. I want to come home after each long wedding day and say "YES, YES, YES" on repeat. I want to stay friends with my clients and watch their lives explode with beauty and joy and the ups and downs of life. I want to be a capturer of memories.

 

 

It got pretty serious there! Let's take a deep breath and enjoy some pretty photos from someone else, shall we?

Photos are courtesy of Caroline Logan and took place in the beautiful Hingework co-working/studio space in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Camera strap is from Casie Marie Photography's Etsy store.

 


Which headshot is your favorite?

Wedding Photographer Checklist with Sixth Bloom

Over the past several weeks, I collaborated with Erin of Sixth Bloom (a fantastic website with tips for photographers of all genres and skill levels) to create a series of tips for wedding photographers. I'm so proud of what we were able to accomplish and share and I wanted to include it here, too, for all of my photographer and vendor friends to enjoy! Plus, it features some of my favorite images from my amazing Wendy Zook Photography couples in 2015!

 

This was a 10-part series of how to best capture the story of your couple and their wedding day, all the way from engagement sessions to a genuine showing of appreciation.

 

Part One: 6 Tips for a Successful Engagement Session -- An engagement session is included in every one of my wedding packages because it offers a chance to truly get to know my couples, understand their styles and get all of the kinks out in a laidback, non-formal atmosphere.

 

 

Part Two: Creating a Wedding Timeline to Avoid a Disaster -- One of the biggest mistakes I did when I was first photographing weddings was not being more involved in creating a timeline for my couple's day and not speaking up when there was something that could disrupt their wishes for photos. Here are some tips in creating a solid wedding day timeline.

Part Three: Brilliant Ideas for Working with Wedding Vendors -- Some of my best friends and biggest cheerleaders are other wedding day vendors and creatives. Here's how I keep my "co-workers" on wedding days happy.

Part Four: The Great Debate: Tips for a First Look or No First Look -- I never push my couples into choosing a First Look. There's pros and cons to each side of the decision and I share some of those here.

 

 

Part Five: 6 Must-Have Pictures to Get of the Bride -- I loved reminiscing about some of my favorite moments with my brides this year. It can be a stressful day for her, so these tips not only help you capture her on her wedding day, but also keep things smooth and easy for her, too!

 

 

Part Six: 5 Pictures to Capture of the Groom -- The spotlight tends to fall on the beautiful woman wearing a white gown, but some of my favorite moments to photograph involve the groom. This section included ideas on how to capture fantastic and memorable images of the guys on a wedding day.

Part Seven: 6 TIps for Quick and Easy Family Portraits at a Wedding -- You want to honor the loved ones that supported your couple individually and together, but you also need to get a lot of people photographed in a short amount of time, sometimes in less-than-ideal settings. Here's some tips on accomplishing that with family portraits at a wedding.

Part Eight: 6 Tips to Keep Bridal Party Photos Smooth and Fresh -- The best ways to keep your sometimes-large group focused and organized and allowing them to leave before the photos really become annoying for them.

 

 

Part Nine: 68 Details to Capture at a Wedding -- This focused on all of the little things to keep an eye out for on a wedding day. It's not all about the dazzling diamonds (although those are so much fun to photograph)!

 

 

Part Ten: 6 Tips Photographers Need to Put the Final Touch on a Wedding -- this one is all about wrapping up your experience with this couple with kindness and surprises. 
 

9 Things to Ask a Wedding Photographer

9 Things to Ask a Wedding Photographer

A few suggestions on what you should ask your potential wedding photographer.

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Yellow and gray and a beautiful wedding day {A New Jersey Wedding for a Texas Couple}

After getting to know my couples for sometimes two years before their big day, I always experience a moment or two that's most like a Proud Big Sister when it's time to capture their wedding day. 

For Mallorie and Eric, that was even more so the case. Mallorie's older sister and Matron of Honor Allison is one of my dearest friends from childhood. I didn't know Mallorie as well as I wish I had but I've been lucky enough to watch her journey from afar over the years. 

And with a backdrop of weeping willows and lakefront rows of white chairs on a sunny September afternoon, I watched Mallorie's parents walk her down the aisle as her REAL big sister proudly watched. 

I'll come back to Eric in a minute, but let's talk first about the INCREDIBLE Mallorie. She chose a lace-sleeved, tea-length dress with insane Betsey Johnson heels. Mallorie rocked some gorgeous long, sideswept curls and some Old-Hollywood red lips and she looked so fun and elegant, twirling, hands in her dress pockets (um, yep!). 

And Eric was handsome and happy, smiling every minute of their day. The way he looks at Mallorie is so, so beautiful. He just worships her and respects her and it's obvious with every glance. 

Mallorie and Eric chose to do a First Look (peeking at each other prior to the ceremony) and we set Eric up at the bottom and Mallorie at the top of a tall wooden staircase at the historic inn where their reception was held. After some quiet moments alone, they and their bridal party did some photos there and at the ceremony site, a beautiful former convent on a huge plot of land with the aforementioned trees and water. 

I promised Mallorie that some gorgeous images could be captured if we trudged down a hill of tall grass to the water's edge and there, with gorgeous light shimmering through the leaves and the love and comfort of those two, we froze in time some of my favorite wedding photography moments so far. 

A sweet ceremony (complete with their pup!) led to a delicious cocktail hour and hours of impressive dance moves back at the inn. 

They grabbed the mic with five minutes to go, thanked all of their loved ones and danced together, swaying in each other's arms as 100 friends and family circled them, applauding and cheering and dancing. Eric picked Mallorie up in his arms and twirled her once, twice and I couldn't help but feel those Proud Big Sister vibes I always feel during my weddings. All of their planning and preparing and thoughtful gestures for their loved ones created this beautiful day, this beautiful moment. 

 

Congratulations! Here are some of my favorite images!

 

Be sure to visit some of these amazing vendors, too:

Ceremony Venue: Rutherfurd Hall, Allamuchy, New Jersey

Reception Venue: David's Country Inn, Hackettstown, New Jersey

Florist: Calico Flowers, Hackettstown, New Jersey

Cake: Palermo's Bakery, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey

DJ/MC: This is It! Entertainment, Red Bank, New Jersey

Videographer: Noah Rosenblatt, Red Bank, New Jersey