The *Keys* to our musical hearts

If you are a music lover, you may have heard the term, “dueling pianos”. For those who haven’t, dueling pianos is almost exactly what it sounds like: two entertainers, playing piano and singing, laced with some comedy and audience participation. If you’ve witnessed this entertainment phenomenon, you know how hard it is NOT to dance, sway, or tap to the beat. It’s as if it awakens something in your soul and brings out your inner funk. Needless to say, I 100% recommend checking out a dueling piano bar this Saturday night; or better yet, BOOK one for your next event! Greg Coffey, owner of the Cleveland Keys, walked into a dueling piano bar in Nashville (The Big Bang Dueling Pianos) and was inspired to bring that soul to the heart of Cleveland. For this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg about his business, what got him started, and the common misconceptions about the entertainment industry.

All Events Planned: How did you get started in the wedding/event industry?

Greg Coffey: It was kind of one of those things that just happened. I had a request to play a wedding here in Cleveland for a really great couple. After we played that first wedding, I just knew we had something incredibly special that we needed to share.

AEP: How you describe your style and/or your brand?

GC: It's tough to put down everything you want your brand to be in just a few words, but I like to describe our brand as taking the engaging features of Dueling Pianos that I fell in love with in Nashville, and pairing that with a high-level customer/guest experience. Customer/guest experience is everything to us, and I really think that is what our brand represents.


AEP: What questions should couples be sure to ask when selecting a DJ/band for their wedding?

GC: I don't know that I would focus on specific questions as much as I would the personality and demeanor of the company/vendor. Your vendor is going to be involved with nearly every part of your day, so it's so important that you connect with them on a different level. Choose your wedding entertainment as you would a good friend.

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

GC: We are lucky enough to be at a point where we can be relatively selective with who we work with. Although, I am always amazed that the majority of couples looking for something unique like our product, always seem to be incredibly kind, thoughtful, and have a "guest-centered" mindset. That is my ideal client.

AEP: What was your most memorable event that you were part of?

GC: Tough question! Every event has been memorable for me in some way. However, we did a wedding not too long ago at Cleveland City Hall Rotunda - and I happen to spot out of the corner of my eye an elderly couple head out to the dance floor for a dance. Those are the moments you really embrace what you do, and WHY you do it. I love that we could help provide that moment for two people that have been in love for a very long time.

AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?

GC: I've always loved sparklers at the wedding - definitely not a budget breaker by any means, but makes for great pictures!

AEP: What is the biggest misconception about the entertainment industry?

GC: I think a big misconception for couples looking for entertainment is that they are stuck with only two options: DJ or cover band. We are lucky enough to find the couples that want to break out of the mold and provide their guests an experience instead of an obligation.

AEP: What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?

GC: We have been fortunate enough to work with the best people. And I don't mean in terms of the product interaction itself. I mean really great people at their core - they are people that genuinely care about others and folks that I would be excited to know outside of the business world. We have yet to have a client that wasn't incredibly easy and fun to work with.

Thank you Greg, for sharing your story and perspective with us. And thank you for bringing such a unique experience to Cleveland. As the weather changes, it gets colder and dark earlier, I think listening to some awesome music (while laughing) is a great way to make the most of “hibernation”. I can pretty much guarantee it is worth your time!

Check out https://www.clekeys.com/ for more information about the Cleveland Keys and how to book them for your next event. Be sure to watch some of the videos on their website to really see how much fun they are!

Brandi Hamerstone
More Than Calligraphy

I absolutely love getting to know vendors in this industry. You always learn something new. Even when interviewing a dear friend, owner of Loose Leaf Creative, I discovered things I never would have known. It reminds me of the importance of personal connection and sharing your story with others. I love to hear what others are passionate about, and Kim Adams is nothing if not incredibly passionate. I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I did.

AEP: How did you get started with calligraphy?

Kim Adams: I've always had an interest in handwriting and penmanship. I'd change my handwriting style all the time (as evidenced by my collection of diaries and journals), and I was the girl who, after school, would go home and rewrite ALL my notes from class so they'd look nice. About five years ago I came across the Instagram account of a hand-lettering artist and thought it was fascinating. I thought, hey, I could do this! So I started doodling and teaching myself how to use a traditional pointed pen and ink. Eventually I shared my doodles and hand-lettered designs on Instagram and got a lot of positive feedback; people were actually interested in hiring me to create prints and hand-lettered quotes. I never thought I'd actually make money from doing something I love, but here we are!

AEP: How would you describe your personal brand?

KA: Free-spirited, bold, edgy. Not afraid to tell it like it is.

I used to think I had to be like every other wedding professional on social media, ooh-ing and aah-ing over all things wedding and writing superficial, fluffy captions. It felt really yucky and inauthentic, and I realized I just needed to do me. So much of my personal brand overlaps into Loose Leaf, and I'm grateful for that because it means I can connect with my ideal clients, speak my truth, and feel comfortable and confident in what I share.

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

KA: I love working with people who want to be different and break "the rules." When it comes to wedding stationery and day-of signage and paper goods, so much of what brides want comes from ideas found on Pinterest. There's nothing wrong with that, but I like when clients recognize that they don't have to use super formal language on their invitations. Or that they don't NEED to have a specifically-worded welcome sign.

Of course, it's always great working with someone who trusts my creative vision, but I always make sure their voice is heard, too, and that they feel comfortable providing honest feedback so we can ultimately create exactly what they want.

AEP: What have been some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

KA: One of my favorites was lettering the lyrics to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran on a large, 3-panel wooden sign for a bridal shower. The sign was so big and heavy that it had to stay in my garage, but it was in the springtime so I remember being able to enjoy the weather while working (and sipping on a good beer!).

I also love any project that is deeply personal for the client. For example, I had a client who reached out to me a year after her wedding, asking me to write out a poem her grandmother had written for her on her wedding day. She was going to frame it as a first anniversary gift for her husband.

AEP: If you had a client with endless funds, what is one thing you offer that you would suggest they splurge on?


KA:
I've been obsessed with wax seals lately, and I love the idea of a custom monogrammed wax seal for their invitations. I'm also a sucker for handmade paper and letterpress, so either of those options (but preferably both).

AEP: What do you think is the biggest misconception about your industry?

KA: I know I speak for a lot of calligraphers when I say a HUGE misconception is that we can replicate any style a client likes. The truth is, there are so many different styles of calligraphy, from modern to very formal script. It's so important that anyone who is looking for a calligrapher do their research and see how that calligrapher's style compares to others.

Beyond calligraphy, I think a misconception in the wedding industry is that things can be turned around quickly. Whether you're a florist, a photographer, a wedding planner or stationery designer, a LOT goes into what we do, which is also why these services aren't always cheap.

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other calligraphers?

KA: I think it's my practicality; I'm all about doing what makes the most sense, especially when it saves the client money. Also, like I said before, I'm very much an advocate for breaking the rules. Not because I'm some sort of wedding rebel, but because I believe in making your wedding day as much about YOU as possible. I like to stress to my clients that there's no wedding playbook when it comes to the details. we're all making it up as we go and basically stealing ideas from other weddings. It's important to remember that it's only one day, so enjoy it, be present, don't sweat the small stuff, and do what makes you happy.

Kim, thank you so much for sharing your heart and keeping it real with us. Please head over to loose-leaf-creative.com to see more of her beautiful work, read her helpful tips (she has an amazing post about how to work from home and stay productive), and truly get to know her story. Kim is an amazing advocate for mental health; something that is so important and often gets a bad reputation in our culture. And, if you are looking for someone to help with event signage, invitations, design, or you just want a friend to grab a craft beer with, HIT HER UP. :)

Brandi Hamerstone
Hot Photog on the Block

We have had the pleasure of working with a new to us vendor — Copper Photo. And let me tell you - working with Nikki is a DREAM, and her work is amazing. Watching her interact with clients is a joy; everyone is laughing. Nikki is truly a wonderful person and treats her clients like family. So naturally, we HAD to a vendor interview with her! Nikki has a unique approach to wedding photography, that she describes better than I ever could.

AEP: How would you describe your style, your personality, and your brand?

Copper Photo: I’d describe Copper Photo Co. as an extension of myself and how I see things. I want our work to show each couple as they truly are. My brand was created as a response to what I was seeing, and disliking, in the wedding photography industry. I wanted my couples to feel like they could be themselves, and I wanted to capture that in the photos. Some couples are full of laughter and huge energy, so they should be laughing and happy in all their photos! On the flip side, some of my couples have soft, warm love stories where they melt into each other and are calm and relaxed, and that should show as well. No one should feel forced into feeling like something they aren’t.

AEP: Who is your ideal client?

CP: My ideal client is someone that is more laid back and go with the flow in their wedding approach. Of course a plan is nearly always in place, but I want my clients to be the type that can show up with me to a location, and can freely wander to where we are feeling at the moment. This ideal client is also someone who knows it takes building a huge level of trust with me! We need to have that trust in many parts of the wedding experience, from letting me help guide in finding locations for photos, to trusting my in the moment direction (which sometimes involves climbing into things, over things, etc. haha).

**And believe us, if you trust Nikki, you will NOT be disappointed!!

AEP: What are a few mistakes couples sometimes make when choosing their photographer?

CP: I think a very easy mistake that couples make is simply choosing a photographer based on budget. While I’m very aware that budget is a largely important factor in every wedding, I think having a true understanding of what quality and experience you’ll be receiving is huge. I, very unfortunately, have had multiple couples that are friends of my clients come up to me at some point in the wedding experience and say how much they disliked their wedding photos. It makes me so upset to hear, especially when it’s followed by “we wish we just spent the extra [$] amount”.

AEP: What questions should couples be sure to ask when selecting a photographer?

CP: I love when clients ask potential photographers what it’s like to work with them and what they can expect leading up to and on their wedding day. I also really love when potential clients ask me what my approach to editing is. Being able to explain those things and have them understand it should be a very true difference-maker when they’re deciding between a few photographers.

AEP: What service that you offer should couples be SURE to book with you??

CP: I am a huge fan of engagement sessions! It’s a great time to not only get some photos of you and your significant other that aren’t in wedding clothes, but it’s a perfect excuse for us to all hang out and get to know each other better! It’s so much fun when I show up to weddings and feel like old friends, makes things so much more laid back and easy!

AEP: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?

CP: I would 100% encourage them to let their personalities sing through an adventure/travel session. Whether they can and want an elopement somewhere that speaks to their souls (mountain, beach, etc.) or if they want an engagement session somewhere with a lot of meaning that isn’t in their hometown, that’s what I’d vote for 100% of the time. We once had a couple who was getting married in Cleveland but got engaged in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is so very important to them, and they opted to have us fly out and photograph their engagement session there, and it was absolute perfection. Not only did they get photos in a place that has such deep meaning to them, but they had red rocks and desert for their engagement and more urban and city for their wedding which provided great contrast. Best of both worlds, for sure.

AEP: Are there any recent trends that seem great in theory, but couples should avoid?

CP: I’m not going to lie here, and this could get me crucified with some photographers (even ones I personally know!) but I am so. over. people editing so the greens in their photos look drab and grey. SO over it. I understand everyone has their own editing style and that’s one of the most wonderful things that separates all of us from each other, but man, I am not a fan of grass that looks grey!

AEP: What do you think sets you apart from other photographers?

CP: I truly want every single wedding to feel like the couple themselves. I do everything I can during the photo session to try and bring out the true personalities of my couples, so it shows in the photos. I think some photographers can get pigeonholed into doing the same poses in the same locations all the time, but I truly strive to make every experience different and customized to each couple.

AEP: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your industry?

CP: HA. This is the best question. I have had many people in my life make the comment “it’s so cool that you only work on Saturdays!” which drives me up a wall. I think the largest misconception is the amount of time it takes to effectively run a successful business in the wedding industry. From planners, to photographers, to florists, etc. I’ve seen all of us run into this dreaded comment from a random person, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality I’ve experienced, is that wedding industry professionals actually end up working more than a 40 hour work week, pouring every single emotion into their work. 

Wow, Nikki - thank you! Your vision of how weddings should be captured is a breath of fresh air. There are so many great photographers to choose from, but be sure to have a couple phone conversations to see if you really vibe with any vendor you’re thinking of booking for your wedding day. Your photographer is the vendor you will spend the most time with, and they will capture the most intimate and special moments from your wedding day. Nikki gave great suggestions about the types of questions to ask and what to look for — the photographer who will have the look you really want. We hope this was helpful as you plan your wedding. Please email {info@copperphotoco.com} if you have any questions, and be SURE to check out @copperphotoco on Instagram!

Brandi Hamerstone
Behind the Scenes- Taste of Excellence
Food is a HUGE part of the wedding day and finding good food that fits your taste, style and budget is important and difficult.  The best thing you can do is use a referral from a planner, family or friend. While reviews are helpful, people have very different taste and different expectations of food so you really should taste food from any company that you work with for your event.  Also, never be afraid to ask for changes to the menu if you prefer different flavors or portion sizes.  Taste of Excellence has had a consistent presence in the market place for years and they staff some of my VERY favorite people.  I really love working with them and thankfully they were kind enough to be interviewed for the blog.  

Let me introduce my FAVORITE of favorites with Taste Of Excellence- Taylor Amsden-Winter



Q: What is the biggest misconception about your industry?
A: The amount of time and manpower it takes to execute an event, from set up to dinner service to breaking down at the end of the night- it takes an army!

Q: How you describe your style and your brand? 
A: We’re a completely custom-designed catering service. We use all local and organic products when possible and pride ourselves on keeping up-to-date with current culinary trends.

Q: What are a few mistakes brides sometimes make when choosing their vendor?
A: A big mistake is not sitting down with each vendor before booking them so that as the vendor, we can better understand the client’s vision and get to know them.  This helps the client feel more at ease throughout their entire planning process knowing that we can provide the level of service they envision.

Q: What things should a client look for, look at, when selecting a vendor?
A: They should look for a vendor that they can trust is going to deliver what their expectations are the day of the event. Anyone can tell you that they have experience, as a client you have to do your research and trust that your vendor will follow through with what they say.

Q: If you had a client who had endless funds what unique ideas and products/services would you offer them?
A: The same thing we offer all of our clients- exceptional service, creative menu planning and exquisite cuisine based off of their vision for their big day.

Q: What are a few things that clients should review in contracts?
A: Everything- every detail of that contract is imperative to the clients understanding of the product and service that they’re receiving. We require a meeting with our clients a week prior to their event to review the details of their contract so as to insure that no detail is left uncovered.

Q: What is something you wish all of your clients knew, or a certain thing you wish all of your clients would do to make working with them easier?
A: Communication is key throughout the planning process- it’s our job to help inform and guide our clients throughout their planning.

Q: Who is your ideal client?  
A: Someone who likes to eat! 



That's some great information from Taste of Excellence and as you can see they believe in the same things that All Events Planned believes in- good service (no matter what your budget), value and hard work.  

Check them out here www.taste-food.com 

Happy Planning!
www.alleventsplanned.com