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Top 5 Mitzvah Add-ons for 2014!

The Top 5 Mitzvah Add-ons for 2014

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Having been a mitzvah emcee for seven years, I have worked with a lot of great people, (and some crazies, but that’s a different list). I’ve helped families throw small quaint afternoon mitzvahs, over the top night club style mitzvahs and everything in between. Though the events come in all shapes and sizes, there is one major commonality. Every family wants to know, “How do we make our party different from everyone else’s?” So here’s a list of the top 5 mitzvah add-ons that pack the most punch. Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you’ll be more surprised to see what didn’t make the list, but here goes…

1. Drummer or Percussionist

Call me old-fashioned, but this is definitely my all time favorite. Nothing will add a live kick or extra energy to a room like someone playing a drum set or a percussion kit along with the DJ.

What is the difference between a drummer and a percussionist you ask?

A drummer plays a traditional drum set, like you’ve seen in every rock band in the world. When a drummer kicks that bass drum, it does something to the sound that speakers simply cannot. A GREAT mitzvah drummer will also be somewhat of a showman while he/she is playing, bringing lots of energy and “swag” (as the kids call it) to their performance. And yes, they should PERFORM during the party and not just stare off into space while lackadaisically hitting the drums every now and then.

A percussionist will play congas, which stand up, and usually a bunch of auxiliary or “hand instruments” such as shakers, tambourines, etc. A GREAT mitzvah percussionist will also be interactive and invite guests (especially little kids) to come play with them. How’s that for a photo op?! My extensive research on the subject has shown that, from Bubby to little brother, EVERYONE likes to get up and bang on the congas.

Here’s a drummer that can move:
http://www.ebetalent.com/p/dj-drums/

2. Confetti Cannons

This one even sounds cool.

“What are you having at your party?”

“Cannons…”

This one could be tough to get the venue’s cooperation on, but if we can bribe Betsy Banquet Manager to allow it- Confetti Cannons are AWESOME!

Imagine a Grand Entrance, “Please welcome Sydnnnneyyyyyyyyyyy!” (BOOM!) Confetti explodes over the crowd. That would be quite a statement and would definitely let guests know what kind of night they’re in for.

3. Party Print

So you were with me on the first two and now you’re probably wondering what on earth Party Print is. It’s really cool, let me explain.

Party Print is the newest product under the Photo Favor umbrella to be offered at events. Instead of walking over to a photo station, waiting, having your picture taken in front of a backdrop and going back later to pick it up, your guests download an app (available for iPhone and Android). Once downloaded, guests take their OWN pictures from anywhere and at any time during the party. The images are then magically transmitted to a photo station, where they are printed and framed for each guest to take home! Also, a border can be added to the photos with some sort of “Lexi’s Bat Mitzvah 11-22-14” message around it. Lastly, the host will receive a flash drive of all the photos taken at the end of the event. Yes, that very night you could take all the pictures home and start uploading them to social media.

As a bolt-on to this idea, a TV monitor can be added to display all of the pictures (montage style) throughout the night for everyone to see. With or without the monitor, the pictures are absolutely unlimited. This activity is bound to get everyone, especially the tech- addicted young adults involved and having fun.

Want more details? There’s a link for that:
http://www.ebetalent.com/p/party-print/

4. Plexi Screens

If video screens are going to be incorporated into an event, plexi screens are definitely the way to go. These 80″ monsters are crystal clear and will be hung to look like they are floating in mid -air. The projectors are placed behind the screens (known as rear-projection in technology land) for a neat, clean and polished look.

Having a hard time picturing this?
http://www.ebetalent.com/p/plexiscreens/

5. LED Video Wall

I still remember the first time we took the LED Video Wall out on location. It was at the Four Seasons in Philly, for Dylan’s, “D Lounge” themed Bar Mitzvah. Dylan’s friends came piling into the room as the music kicked into high gear. Everyone was dancing, but they weren’t as pumped up as we wanted them to be. Once the wall flipped on, they saw his D Lounge logo on the biggest, brightest, coolest screen in the history of Bar Mitzvah technology. Their mouths literally dropped as they stared at the front of the room. As the LED Video Wall played the first music video of the night, the crowd went bananas. As the party unfolded everyone was mesmerized by ambient images, the Bar Mitzvah Montage, countless music videos, and each element shown on the LED Video Wall looked more impressive than the last.

Put your sunglasses on:
http://www.ebetalent.com/p/video-wall/

If the links are not enough, we’re having a mitzvah showcase on March 2nd, 2014 at the Ace Conference Center. Come check it out and make your own list. www.ebetalent.com/DJexpo

– Stephanie Fitzpatrick
EBE Mitzvah Emcee

What if my DJ gets sick or it snows? Is there a backup plan?

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[dropcaps style=”fancy”]Q:[/dropcaps]We’re looking forward to our wedding in a few weeks! I just had a moment of panic, though. What happens if it snows that day and you are not able to make it? Or if you get sick? Is there any kind of backup plan for emergencies? Please reassure me! Please get back to me when you can and have a happy holiday!

Warmest regards,

Angie

[dropcaps style=”fancy”]A:[/dropcaps]Hi Angie! Please let me assure you that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. One of the great things about coming to a company like EBE is that we are not a one-man show, so we always have staff available to fill-in in an emergency. That said, we not only realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event for you, we embrace it.

My personal philosophy is that the only excuse to ever miss a gig is if you are either in jail or are in the morgue. And I certainly hope to be in neither place anytime soon! That’s no joke, though. It seems lately that virtually every storm we have had has been on a Saturday. Remember two years ago when we had three storms, each of which produced at least twenty inches of snow? Two out of those three storms were on Saturday. Hurricane Irene? Saturday. That heavy snowstorm just before Halloween last year? Saturday! Although some clients chose to postpone their events (their choice), we did not miss a single show.

In fact, in many of the above cases we actually (if the venue allowed for it) arrived a day early for setup. This way if the roads were bad and delayed the arrival of the talent, all of the equipment would already be setup and ready to go upon arrival. We have even gone so far in a few cases to put our staff up in a nearby hotel, to minimize that necessary amount of driving on the day of the storm.

Our same attitude applies towards sickness. We realize that this is a job where there is no such thing as “calling in sick.” I have performed at easily over 2000 events in my career, and I have never missed one of them (for sickness or any other reason). As I said, we have staff that we can call in if necessary on emergency standby, but that would only occur in the absolute rarest of circumstances and only under the most critical of emergencies.

Speaking of backup, although you did not ask about this, I wanted to let you know that we are backed up in the case of equipment failure as well. I not only have two laptops that I bring to every event, I also have two hard drives racked into my system. I even have entire second system and some other loose equipment (such as an extra DJ mixer and fourth hard drive). I even have a DJ speaker which has an internal battery and iPod dock, so in the event of power failure, the music will never stop. Hopefully it would never come to that and it may be overkill to bring all of that to every event, but I believe that one can never have too much backup.

I hope this helped! I’m looking forward to celebrating with you in a few weeks!

Best,

Ben

We want a DJ but our parents want a band, what should we do?

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[dropcaps style=”fancy”]Q:[/dropcaps]We are thinking about the entertainment that we would like for our wedding reception and my fiance and I have sort of reached an impasse with our parents. They are all insisting on a band, but Phil and I prefer a DJ. Granted that they are paying for everything, but this is Phil’s and my wedding! We just really prefer that the music sound the way that we are used to hearing it. What do you suggest?

Thanks!
Meghan

[dropcaps style=”fancy”]A:[/dropcaps]Hi Meghan! The good news is that here at EBE, we have both amazing bands and talented DJs, so no matter what you decide you are in great hands. As far as which direction to go, as someone who has been a DJ/MC for 28 years, I may be a little biased. However, even I am the first to admit that is a definite level of energy and excitement that comes with a band that is difficult (though not impossible with a great DJ) to duplicate. There are certainly pros and cons for both sides of the coin (for example, with a DJ you a virtually limitless with the library of songs that can be played, while with a band you are limited to what they know or can learn in time for the wedding), but rather than go into all of them, I would rather point out some other factors that you should take into consideration before making your decision. I do want to point out, however, that with today’s technology EBE’s bands are truly able to keep that “original” sound into their performances. Come to one of our band showcases, because in this case hearing is truly believing.

1) Budget

You said that your parents are paying for the everything, but have you established an entertainment budget? You may find that your budget will not allow for a premier band. Without question you will be better off with a great DJ than you would be with a lousy band (not that you will find any lousy bands here), which would approximately the same price.

2) Size/Space

Think about your venue. Will there be enough space for a 14-piece band? Will there be enough space for a 7-piece band? For most venues this is not an issue, but occasionally we encounter places that are too small for a band to fit.

3) Compromise

There are a couple of different directions that you may also want to consider, where you can have a band and a DJ. We have performed at several weddings where a DJ is bolted onto a band and can perform one or two dance sets. Or perhaps a band for the reception and a DJ for the after party? Better yet, how about both at the same time? We have three bands (EBE Amsterdam, Imagine & Love) that feature a DJ as one of the band’s pieces. The DJ’s smooth beats blend in with the band’s music, making for a very unique instrument. Another option is to add a live instrument or two with your DJ. In this case, the DJ is playing the original music, to which the instruments play along. If it were up to me, I would have a drummer with me on every party at which I perform. It is the first thing I recommend as it gives an energy boost that is indescribable. A saxophone, guitar or percussionist work amazingly well too.

I guess my point is to please not stress over this! I am sure that we can find the perfect entertainment for you, Phil and your parents. No matter what you decide we thank you for thinking of us and we would be honored to be a part of your special night. ALL of us at EBE are looking forward to celebrating with you.

Best regards,

Ben

Is there anything I can do to prevent an evacuation due to a small fire at my venue?

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[dropcaps style=”fancy”]Q:[/dropcaps]Dear Ben, My fiance and I attended his company’s holiday party last night. Everything was going great until about half way through the party when a small fire on the roof of the building ended the night prematurely. We never even had dessert! Everyone had to evacuate the building (not a lot of fun considering we were over twenty stories high) and everyone left before we were allowed back in.

All that I could envision as we were standing outside freezing was something like this happening at our wedding. I know that there is nothing that can be done to prevent a fire from happening, but is there anything that could be done to prevent everyone from leaving? With all of the money we (and our parents) are spending on the wedding, it would be tragic for it to be wasted. Any advice?

Thanks!

Stacey

[dropcaps style=”fancy”]A:[/dropcaps]Hi Stacey! I can only imagine the frustration you must be feeling. You put so much time and effort into something (not to mention the money), it is a shame to see it ruined by something completely out of your control. I can tell you that as someone who personally performs at over 125 per year (and has been doing so for longer than I would care to mention!), this is something that virtually never happens. It is unfortunate that you happened to have been there for the one time that it did. Truly, in all of the thousands of events at which I have performed, only once have I ever had to evacuate the building due to a fire. Fortunately in that case, it was just before the party was set to begin (most of the guests were not even there yet). We did have to wait outside for the better part of an hour before the fire commissioner would let us back in, but all that was lost was about half of the cocktail hour. As terrible as that is, it certainly could have been a lot worse.

As far as preventing the guests from leaving should disaster occur, I am not sure if there is anything that you can do. Short of asking them to stay, I think people are going to naturally go (especially if it is cold outside or if the fire is really bad). Depending upon the severity of the fire, you may not have much of a choice anyway. If this is something that you are truly concerned about, I believe that there are companies who offer to insure the event (similar to trip cancellation insurance). I hope this helps! I know that you’re going to have a beautiful night, though, and everything will proceed flawlessly.

Best regards,

Ben

My event is the same day as a major sports event, how do I keep from losing the crowd to the game?

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[dropcaps style=”fancy”]Q:[/dropcaps]Dear Ben, I just realized that my event is scheduled for the same night as an NFL playoff game. I know, poor planning on my part. Although I believe that the Eagles are out of the running, about half the guests are from North Jersey and New York and are Giants fans. There is no way for me to reschedule the date, but I do not want to lose half of my crowd or more to the game. What do you suggest I do?

Thanks!

Danielle

[dropcaps style=”fancy”]A:[/dropcaps]Hi Danielle! Fortunately the playoffs are still several weeks away, so there is a good chance that it will be a moot point as far as the Giants are concerned. However, there are still going to be a significant number of your guests who are going to want to watch the game no matter what teams are involved.

In the past I have seen people who have just tried to ignore that a game is going on and I have seen others accept the reality and deal with it as best as they can. I once performed at a wedding that took place during a Phillies playoff game a few years ago. All but four of the guys (and this includes the groom!) spent practically the entire evening in the hotel lobby bar (where there were televisions) watching the game.

I have also had clients who put screens into the room to show the game, so that everyone would at least be together. This has its pluses and minuses, though, as it definitely has an effect on the decor and ambiance of the room. Sometimes it works out great. A few weeks after the incident above, I performed at a Bat Mitzvah which took place during a Phillies World Series game. Fortunately, they had already booked our Big Screen Video package, so we already had two large screens (in this case, our huge 80″ “Plexi-Screens”) on either side of the dance floor. We were able to tap into the venue’s cable feed, which gave us the ability to show the game on one or both screens, in addition the the screens’ regular content.

Another time, though, I was performing at a corporate event during a series deciding Yankees-Red Sox playoff game. About one-third of the crowd were Phillies fans, one-third were Mets fans, and one-third were Yankees fans. In this game, the Red Sox pulled off a major upset and defeated the Yankees. One Yankees fan at the party was pretty unhappy about this and berated me throughout the event for keeping the game on while his team was losing. The funny thing was in this case I did not even have control over the screens. The client had hired the venue to provide them to show nothing but the game, so I did not even have anything to do with it!

Oh well. In either case, you need to think about what is best for you and your guests prior to making any decisions. If the Giants won’t be playing during your event, my guess is that you will probably be OK not doing anything. You may lose a few NFL die hards, but the general vibe for the party should stay intact. If it will be during the Giants game, you are going to have a decision to make. No matter what you decide, we will be here to help you in any way that we can and will have screens available if you need them. Please let me know what you decide!

Best regards,

Ben