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Tucked away into the peaceful quiet of The Farm in Byron Bay, Renee and Jake made their love official in front of their nearest and dearest.

Surrounded by petals and the soft sounds of local artist Nick Cunningham’s love songs, the two exchanged their vows, their rings, the first kiss and a happy smile. Twirling into the reception, an afternoon of food and laughter turned into a night on the dance floor.

Lovereel’s videography team was there to capture the moments of magic, the happy smiles and nervous laughter, and the first day of their future, together — on film.

Words from our cinematographer, Ben, who filmed this wedding

As a wedding cinematographer I always get excited about shooting weddings around Byron, especially small weddings as there’s lots of room for creativity. And this particular wedding was a classic.

I was driving an Uber the night before this wedding and I picked up a gentlemen who asked me, “What are you doing tomorrow?” I replied, “Filming a wedding” to which he responded. “I’m getting married tomorrow!” We soon worked out I had picked up the groom Jake!

This wedding featured wonderful small town vibes with amazing people across the board. The styling of the wedding was exceptional and the relaxed vibe made it very easy to work with the couple.

My favourite part about shooting in Byron Bay from a cinematic point of view is the lighting. It’s very soft and warm, there are great sunsets and plenty of last light opportunities to capture amazing shots with our couples using the local spots which best portray that quintessential “Byron image.” This makes our job so much easier as the scenery is so beautiful and natural.

Ms Tweed loves: This wedding is “so Byron” it hurts. I love Byron Bay so very much and with the current Covid-19 crisis and travel restrictions, watching this video was particularly emotional. 

I love the incredible scenery that plays am important role in the wedding. And yes, I love their Kombi van. Byron, as soon as I can, I am coming for you. x

About Lovereel: With various wedding film options to choose from and all the raw footage at your fingertips, Lovereel offer an affordable yet highly professional wedding videography experience.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Polka Dot Bride Shop

Today we’re chatting to Serge Olivieri of DJ:Plus! Entertainment. Having been a DJ MC for over four decades, it’s safe to say that Serge really knows his stuff when it comes to wedding entertainment. Through DJ:Plus! Entertainment, Serge offers a premium, boutique style, wedding DJ & MC entertainment service. It’s designed to offer creative planning to make a wedding so much more personal, engaging and meaningful. Ever the professional, this service is paired with polished announcements, ideas for guest involvement and a streamlined, smooth flowing agenda. Oh, and it will be FUN. You really wouldn’t have to worry about a thing with Serge on your vendor dream team. Below he shares pearls of wisdoms with us, what he’s learnt and noticed during his time in the industry, plus how you can book him in for your wedding.

Where are you based?
I am based in Sydney, New South Wales.

Do you travel for weddings?
The reality is that I entertain at far more destination weddings in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands than those in the Sydney metro area.  I also service the Central West, Illawarra, South Coast of NSW, Hawkesbury, Central Coast, Hunter Valley, Newcastle and have even entertained at a wedding on Fraser Island off the Queensland coast!  Locations beyond those mentioned are possible by arrangement.

How long have you been a DJ?
I have been a DJ MC for over 40 years.

What’s changed in the wedding industry from when you first started?
Wow! It has changed so much! When I started, couples did not expect much. Venues and other wedding professionals did what they did and most did not question anything. This has evolved and over the recent years, along with the growth of social media, couples are demanding more options and are wishing to highly personalise their weddings. Destination weddings are far more popular, and couples have begun to realise the benefits that a professional brings to the MC role and the positive difference to the outcome of their wedding, as opposed to using just a friend or family member. Of course, one of the biggest changes has been the update of the Marriage Act to allow for marriage equality.

Image: MTW Production

What services do you provide bridal couples?
DJ:Plus! Entertainment provides a combined DJ, MC & co-ordination service that is highly personalised, offers creative input, interactive activities and special features thereby allowing couples a have a truly unique entertainment experience at their wedding. There is also a comprehensive ceremony coverage option available.

Do you provide MC services separately?
Most certainly! DJ:Plus! Entertainment fully understands the difference a professional trained Master of Ceremony can make to the outcome of a wedding by keeping guests engaged, included and having fun, whilst also capturing imaginations, touching hearts, reminding them of the true meaning and purpose of the celebration plus completely stress free *. (* wording adapted from a quote by a mentor of mine, Mark Ferrell).

What’s the process of booking you in for a wedding?
The first step any couple interested in finding out more about or booking my services would be to make direct contact by calling either of the telephone numbers listed on the contact page of the website or completing and submitting the enquiry form.

Once availability is confirmed, we have an initial chat about the wedding over the telephone or via an online option. The chat allows us to discuss the couple’s vision and requirements, detail inclusions, make suggestions and allows us to gain an initial view as to suitability. If following the chat, we both are excited and have a good feeling about it all, then we schedule a complimentary Entertainment Design Consultation.

The Entertainment Design Consultation is a comprehensive face-to-face process with the couple and involves getting to know them, hearing their story, understanding their likes, dislikes, learning what is important to them and why, providing ideas, suggestions and exploring the possibilities on how their dream can be made a reality. Our time together also includes a walk through the detailed planner and a sample of various unique inclusions available, but most importantly, it allows us to ensure that we truly have a match and “click” before making any commitment.

The Entertainment Design Consultation does take two to three hours, but sometimes, to ensure that a couple’s entire concerns are adequately addressed, it may take a little longer.

Following this consultation, the couple takes a few days to consider everything further and make their decision. If the couple decides to proceed, a booking confirmation is provided and an initial payment required to confirm the booking and reserve their date. Payment of the balance is due no later than seven days prior to their wedding day.

The Entertainment Design Consultation can also be conducted via an online option.

Image: Siempre

How far in advance should couples book you?
As I have a deep appreciation for the total time commitment, emotional and financial investment that couples invest in their wedding day, it has been my decision to focus on quality over quantity and accordingly, currently only entertain at a maximum of 25 weddings in any twelve month period (this will be dropping to 20 at the end of 2020).

Couples should look at booking as soon as possible after they have secured their venue to ensure that their date is available, as popular dates book quickly. Booking early also has the benefit that it allows for more time to truly custom craft an entertainment experience which is highly reflective of the couple, but also engages and entertains their guests from the get go!

Having said that, I may be able to assist with short term enquiries or last-minute enquiries in some instances.

Do you guide couples in song selection?
Yes! I am very happy to guide them in their song selections. With regards to key songs for the processional, register signing, recessional, entry, cake cutting, first dance and farewells, most couples have already thought about it and have selected songs which are special and meaningful to them. However, if they are struggling, through questioning, I try to understand how they both wish to feel in that particular moment and also how they want their guests to feel, then make appropriate suggestions.

In regards to the music for the wedding in general, my experience has shown that a blend of the couple’s favourite songs and artists, songs which speaks about their relationship and songs which will appeal to the majority of the guests is what works best and am thrilled to provide any guidance my couples desire.

If applicable, it is also brought to their attention, should they have selected songs which may not be “wedding friendly” due to inappropriate lyrical content, which  may be considered offensive or have the guests questioning the selection e.g. if the song is actually about a break-up but has a catchy appropriate chorus, guests may ask why did they select a break up song for their first dance? Believe it or not, a LOT of people don’t really understand what some songs are actually about.

Image: DJ:Plus! Entertainment

Can you offer some tips on different types of music for different stages of the wedding day?
Most certainly! Depending on the feel/vibe that they are after for a particular segment of the day, assistance with appropriate music genres can be provided regardless if they wish a stage to be cruisy/chilled, happy/upbeat, romantic, elegant/classy, or anything else.

What are the most popular wedding songs?
In no particular order these are some of the most popular wedding songs selected amongst my couples:

At Last – Etta James
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
I Get To Love You – Ruelle
Love Someone – Lukas Graham
How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley (also version by Kina Grannis)
All Of Me – John Legend
Perfect – Ed Sheeran  (also duet version with Beyonce or Andrea Bocelli)
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
You And Me – Lifehouse (also version by Boyce Avenue)

And what songs always get people on the dance floor?
Some surefire floor fillers, over various genres are:

Uptown Funk – Mick Ronson Feat. Bruno Mars
Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
Dancing Queen – Abba
Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
Jump Around – House Of Pain
Yeah! – Usher, Lil Jon, Ludicris
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Give Me Everything – Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack

Image: Expert Photography

Any music trends you’ve noticed lately?
Some music trends that I have noticed are;

  • Songs in general are getting shorter – whereas songs were mostly in the three and a half to four-minute range, now they are predominantly in the three to three-and-a-half-minute range or less,
  • There is more cross-over of genres. A great recent example is ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X Feat. Billy Ray Cyrus – this song checks many boxes for country music, while simultaneously providing a hip-hop groove over a Nine Inch Nails sample.
  • Nostalgia is in! Whilst music from the 50s through to the 90s has always been popular at weddings, all the big songs from yesteryear are making a comeback and related to this, there has been an uptrend of funk and industrial rooted grooves and I feel that the 80s will be re-embraced both sonically and aesthetically. What’s old is new again, especially with music. So, take some advice from the classic and nostalgic words from Montell Jordan’s most famous song (This Is How We Do It), “let’s flip the track, bring the old school back.”

Most memorable wedding you’ve been a part of?
There have just been way too many extremely memorable weddings, for different reasons, that I have had the privilege and honour to have been invited to be a part of, to single an individual one out, is almost impossible. However, those that have stuck in my mind the most are those that were centred around the couple, their love, the love that their family and friends had for them, was true to their values and generally full of much laughter, some happy tears, heartfelt moments and lots of fun!

Image: DJ:Plus! Entertainment

What’s something people would be surprised to know about your job?
Because I value the significance of a wedding day to the couple, their family and that you only have one opportunity to get it right, I dedicate myself to all the couples that invest their trust in me. This means that not only do they get a MC and DJ, but a person who takes responsibility for any aspect of the wedding which impacts entertainment and if necessary, aspects that don’t. This includes staging issues such as can everybody see properly, what are the backdrops to key moments (are there green exit signs in the background, fire extinguishers, etc), co-ordination with many of the other wedding professionals, being a concierge or in my case a “conci-serge” 😂, for the couple and many other tasks which most couples and guests do not consider when looking for their entertainment. Everything! No matter how trivial can impact the outcome of the wedding, the enjoyment of the guests and the memories created. It is so much more than just playing some songs and making a few announcements.

Are there any challenging aspects of your job?
As with most jobs, there can always be some challenging aspects that make delivering the perfect day to each couple more difficult. I love what I do and my aim is to deliver the perfect wedding day for each of my couples and hopefully exceed their expectations.

Accordingly, I do whatever it takes to overcome any challenges, learn from the experience, implement changes to help ensure that those challenges never cause issues again. My couples do not need additional stress, so regardless of the challenges, I do my utmost to just make it happen!

Image: DJ:Plus! Entertainment

What do you love most about working on weddings?
There are just so many things I love about weddings; from the connection with my couples, the way their faces light up when you suggest something that will make a moment that little bit more special, the relief that drains from their bodies when they realise you have that thing they were stressing about all under control, seeing them totally in the moment, their hearts full of love during the exchange of vows, their first dance and throughout the reception, when they come and see you give you a big smile, a hug, a thank you – but one of the biggest things for me is when a year or two after the wedding, I receive a random card or Facebook post thanking me again and explaining that guests are still talking about their wedding and that it was my contribution that helped make the difference!

I have the best job in the world (although I don’t like to call it a job and prefer to refer to it as my passion), I get to help couples celebrate one of the most significant days in their life. What I do can make a difference to the outcome and that difference can even make a difference to that couple’s life. My heart fills with happiness and love to see how they grow deeper in love, create a family and achieve their happy ever after. How many other passions allow you to do that?

Thank you Serge for sharing with us today! Your couples are in fantastic hands when they choose to have you on board for their big day. For more information about DJ:Plus! Entertainment, head to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.

Headshot by Diverze Photography

Image by Vitor Pinto via Unsplash

Organising a hens day can be hard work and a little daunting. Essentially, the selected tribe of the bride need to come together to brainstorm and agree on ideas, a venue, the guest list, games, entertainment, cost, catering…all whilst making the day incredibly special for their beautiful bride! It can easily become an overwhelming mission, so today we have asked wedding expert (and gorgeous human being) Laura from Own Your Day Weddings to share a few of her favourite tips for creating an amazing hens celebration, in the simplest and most affordable way possible!

If you don’t know Laura, she has built her Instagram following by sharing practical advice for real couples wanting to achieve their day, their way. Whether it’s clever tips and tricks, helpful planning tools, or just simply connecting you to other couples on the same wedding planning journey – she has you covered!

Here are Laura’s top five tips for making sure you cover the essentials, simplify the planning, and create the best day possible the Hen!

1. Consult your bride.

You want to create an amazing day for your best friend that they will treasure forever – the key reason why you are organising this event in the first place. This doesn’t necessarily mean organising a typical hens party or going with the majority vote of the bridesmaids. It’s about taking a minute or two to think about your friend and what they love; then designing a day that they will genuinely enjoy! Not all girls love the idea of a stripper or wearing a skimpy costume…so it’s important to create a unique, personalised day for your bestie.

The safest way to make sure you get it right? Ask her to give you some guidelines to work within. You can still plan surprises, but this can be a really helpful way of ensuring you are on the right planning track.

2. Divide and conquer.

There are many elements to organise, so it’s important that everyone jumps in to help out! Whether it’s handling the invitations, researching catering, planning games or collecting money; it’s important that you share the tasks evenly at the beginning and everyone takes responsibility for what they need to pull together. This helps all the bridesmaids (or bridesmen) feel involved, helps everyone work as a team, and also ensures that all the planning doesn’t land with one person. If you don’t share out the tasks, it can create tension within the group, something we always want to avoid!

3. Make everyone feel welcome.

You are pulling together all of the key people in your bride’s life, but that doesn’t mean they all know each other! An easy way to combat this is by creating name tags with their name and relationship to the bride. You could even get creative with the nametags, creating some sort of fun uniform for the day. If their partner has a beard, why not create funny elastic beards for each person to wear? If their partner is covered in tatts, draw the signature tattoo on each person as they arrive! Known for always wearing backwards caps? Get one for each person to wear for the day! You get the idea. Often these cute inexpensive ideas can be a fun way to unify everyone, give them something to talk about, and make for some great photos.

4. Keep everyone full and happy

Get the catering right and make sure you pay attention to dietary requirements! Whilst the majority will be able to eat and drink everything, it can be really tough if you are required to pay for drinks and catering that you can’t actually touch. The best thing to do – send a save the date, asking guests to specify any dietary requirements in advance. That way, you can get an idea of numbers and dietary requirements before you start reaching out planning your catering. If you have non-drinkers, simply separate the cost of food and drinks in to separate packages. That way, there’s no unnecessary tension and everyone will relax and enjoy the day knowing they don’t need to worry.

Image by Rebecca Lee Creative via Unsplash 

5. Tailor activities for the group

Design activities that won’t feel too cringe or exclusive of the oldies. You need to remember that this is a significant day for any mum, aunty or grandma, so have a bit of fun, but keep it tasteful! Getting your friend to do countless shots straight away is probably going to upset any mum, so far better to get a little creative.

Here are a few games suggestions you can try:

· Hang up a piñata, then ask the bride to nominate guests to be blindfolded, spun around, then attempt to hit the piñata. Always guaranteed to get laughs!

· Ask your guests to write down funny times they have had with the bride, then collect them all, and get the Bride to work through each one trying to pick who wrote them. This is bound to bring out some amazing stories!

· Think of five words your bride can’t say for the day, and they need to have a sip of champagne if they do. This can be a fun way to get everyone giggling as they watch the bride slip up again and again.

· Ask the fiancé questions on video, then get the bride to guess his/her answer before he/she does. Such a cute way to involve them in the day, and gives them an opportunity to say how excited they are to marry your bride to be! Always a crowd-pleaser.

At the end of the day, as long as your guests enjoy themselves, there is enough food, plenty of drink, and your bride is made to feel special – you can’t go wrong! Good luck with the planning and be sure to comment below with any other games ideas so you can help other bridesmaids in the future.

Image by Elevate via Unsplash 

Ms Polka says: We love sharing brilliant ideas from talented folk1 Thanks so much for joining us Laura, here is to many happy hen celebrations when we can gather together very soon! See more of Laura’s advice on her website here.