Monthly Archives: October 2017

ECE Agent Life: Behind the Scenes with InsideOut Band

As an ECE entertainment consultant, I spend my days wading through emails, making phone calls, and networking with other industry professionals. We guide our clients through the process of booking a band, help them as they prepare for their big event, and then as the date gets closer the bandleader takes the reins through completion of an unforgettable experience.

Occasionally I sneak into the back of a ballroom to see one of our artists perform but never before had I seen the amount of on-site work that goes into an “effortless” performance by one of our bands. I recently tagged along with InsideOut, an 11-piece party band out of Richmond, on a wedding that I booked and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep!

Here is what the day looked like (make sure to check out the Instagram Story footage at the end of the recap):

12:00 PM:  The band and I arrived at a Home Depot parking lot to meet the van. Many of the band members had taken half days or entire days off their regular day jobs in order to play this Friday wedding. They loaded up their instruments and stage attire and then we hit the road for a 3-hour drive to Purcellville VA.

The energy in the van on the drive up was subdued. Members either slept, joked with/on each other, or listened to the night’s song list on their phones quietly practicing notes or words. Brent, trombone player for the band, controlled the music with a well-curated and eclectic mix of jazz, show tunes, world music, and pop hits. Everything from Les Miserables to John Mayer!

3:00 PM:  We arrived at Shadow Creek Weddings and Events and slowly spilled out of the van into the sunlight. Barry, bandleader for InsideOut, and the production crew had been on-site for several hours already unloading and setting up the basic elements of the sound/light system. We carried in the instrument cases and the members began plugging into amps and tuning guitars/horns.

After a quick full band soundcheck, the members headed off to change clothes and rest before guests arrived. They could be found throughout the venue tying ties, donning heels, and loosening up.

4:00 PM: Outside the guests began to arrive by shuttle and were greeted by the gentle classical arrangements of String Poets and a surprise guest (it was a horse). Alexa and Peyton opted for a trio which consisted of violin, upright bass, and keys.

The bride entered to “A Thousand Years” and several classic hymns like “How Great Thou Art” were played between readings.

5:00 PM: After the vows were exchanged along with a romantic kiss, the bridal party headed into the barn and the guests moved to the patio for cocktail hour. String Poets continued their sweet serenade with pop classics ranging from the Beatles to Bon Jovi.

While guests enjoyed signature cocktails outside, the band began doing last minute mic checks, ran through the bridal party names with the planner, and discussed a change in plans for the first few songs. The timeline had been pushed back a bit due to a late shuttle arrival so instead of going straight into first dances, the band planned to kick in with some light jazz as guests wandered in and took their seats. Victoria, one of the lead female vocalists, is a trained jazz singer and it’s always a pleasure to see her in her element.

6:45 PM: After a few light jazz tunes, with the bridal party lined up outside, the band kicked into “You Make My Dreams Come True” as the hilarious cast of characters made their grand entrance with dance moves and big smiles.

The bride and the groom were the last through the door and after a big round of applause they started their first dance to “Die a Happy Man” followed by the father/daughter and mother/son dances. InsideOut learned three new songs for the special dances in addition to another four new songs for later in the evening. Seven new songs on a weekend they were booked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! That is the true definition of musicianship.

7:15 PM: The band flipped over to an iPod playlist and headed outside for a quick dinner break. Typically bands eat vendor meals with a sandwich, chips, apple, and a soda but tonight they dined like kings! The buffet consisted of BBQ, mac n cheese, jalapeno cornbread, green beans, cole slaw, and more. They found some empty seats on the patio, ate quickly, and rested up for what was ahead. A two hour+ non-stop dance set!

8:00 PM: Now it’s time for the party to truly begin… InsideOut took the stage in their gold tuxes/elegant gowns, struck the first chord, and immediately the dance floor filled.

The band typically starts with some older classics like “Superstition” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and as the night goes on the songs become more modern. They specialize in the latest club hits so in addition to “24k Magic” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” they also busted out “Despacito” (a huge hit for the Spanish-speaking bride’s family) and “Strip That Down”.

They ended the night with a special request specifically learned for the bride – “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys (likely now stuck in your head)! Not a single guest was seated and after the song was over they begged for one song. InsideOut ended up playing two encores!

10:15 PM: Alexa and Peyton exited the barn to a shower of sparks and the band immediately began breaking down their gear. Set up usually takes several hours, but teardown happens in a matter of minutes. Despite having just finished a high-energy dance set, the band all pitched in to help the crew pack up the gear and load the truck. Sweaty clothes were swapped out for casual attire and the band loaded into the van after final goodbyes to the venue staff, planner, and parents of the bride/groom.

11:30 PM – 2:00 AM: Very little talking was done on the way home. For the first few minutes of the ride the band exchanged funny moments from the night and re-hydrated, but within 30 minutes of leaving the venue, every single member was asleep (including myself). We pulled into the parking lot at 2:00 AM, sleepily stumbled to our vehicles and headed home to bed. I planned to sleep in as long as my 16-month old would allow me, but the band had to be back in this exact location less than 10 hours from now to repeat the entire process!

I have an immense respect for the musicianship and talent of our artists, but see them in a new light after observing the amount of sweat equity that goes into making these events happen every week. While most people are home resting from a long week of work these guys and girls were bringing their A-game to create a once in a lifetime experience for the bride, groom, and guests of this wedding.

Working as an entertainment consultant there is no “off the clock”, but I’m thankful for Friday nights at home and Saturday chores. Thank you to the artists like InsideOut who make it look easy and provide unforgettable experiences to thousands of clients each year.


Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

From I Will to I Do: How Colby and Elyse Planned Their Meaningful Charlotte Wedding

Tell us about your engagement. How did the proposal happen?

Elyse: Colby “interrupts” most surprises, but I was determined for the proposal to be a surprise. Interrupts feels like a more polite word than ruins. I’m a therapist and at the time was doing private practice on the side. Colby knew I was “holding back money” in an account for taxes due at the end of the year, but she had no access to that particular account. I told her that my math was so good I had to use all of the money towards taxes for the business – which wasn’t the truth. All along, this was my holding account for money for her engagement ring.

I rented a private car that took us to The Elizabeth Lawrence House of Winghaven Gardens in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte, NC. Certain that I was broke (as I had told her so many times), she had no idea what was really going on.

I proposed to her in front of the fountain in the gardens. Once I started talking, she quickly realized what was happening and squealed through the rest of my speech. We then headed to Fig Tree for an amazing dinner and then out with a couple of friends. Our proposal could not have gone more perfectly.

ECE: What was the wedding planning process like? Did you two have a specific vision for your big day? Which elements were the most important for you?

Both: The overall process was so awesome. We had so many friends warn us about the stress of planning a wedding. Upfront, we set the expectation that we both would get the big things we wanted and the rest would be prioritized. It really wasn’t stressful at all!

It helped that our vision was on the same page in the sense that we both wanted a really nice wedding with great food and good music. Having an intimate ceremony was important to us as well.

We loved that our wedding had fancy elements to it, but that it was also very meaningful… and very us.

ECE: Can each of you share your favorite part of planning your wedding? Least favorite?

Colby: My favorite part was probably deciding on the little details like the sequined linens and making sure the fonts matched on the programs, welcome sign and table numbers. My poor friends had hundreds of texts about these details! My least favorite part was prioritizing the budget.

Elyse: My favorite part of planning our wedding was getting to pick the food, while my least favorite was the endless conversations about details.

ECE: Your wedding was peppered with thoughtful, personal details. Can you share some of your favorites?

Both: We both agree that writing our vows was a really special, personal detail.

We seriously have the BEST friends and had some of our closest be a part of the wedding without having an actual wedding party. One of our dear friends officiated our wedding, and his wife, Piper, was our photographer. We are so grateful for their involvement in our wedding day.
Other close friends helped us plan and were our bridesmaids behind the scene. It was really nice knowing that we had the people who had been so supportive of our relationship and commitment to one another surrounding us on the most special day of our lives.

Elyse’s dad did the flowers, so that was special – and a great gift. Those flowers literally lasted for two weeks. It was definitely a gift that kept on giving!

Colby: Something that was really special to me was getting to wear my dad’s grandmother’s ring and matching broach. It’s something that has been in our family for over 100 years, so it was really special to have on my wedding day.

ECE: You ended up choosing Java for your wedding band. What was it about this group that made you hire them?

Colby: We saw Java perform in uptown Charlotte several years ago at Alive After Five – years before we were even engaged. Immediately, we decided they had to play our wedding someday.

Whenever Java plays public gigs, we always try to go because they are THAT good. Noble, the bandleader, is so nice and does everything with a smile. He and the entire band are so kind and professional. They have a dynamic that not many bands have. We loved the quality of the musicianship as well. Having people who can actually sing and play instruments is really important because it takes the experience to a whole new level.

ECE: Colby, you’re a singer and have previously worked in the music business. What would you consider the top three things couples should consider when hiring wedding entertainment?

Colby: If you’re booking a band, check out their video. If I had to book a band I hadn’t seen, I would probably try and get a live video. I like watching how the band interacts with the crowd. I even watched some YouTube videos that our band had! Also, ask for references too!

Talk with the bandleader or DJ to make sure you are on the same page so there aren’t any surprises. Playing music is the livelihood of most of these artists, so they are passionate about it and want your event to be special for you. Just like any other vendor, it’s important that you have a good connection and vibe with your wedding entertainment!

Lastly, when booking entertainment, remember that you get what you pay for. Going through an agency can really help reduce stress when booking a band or DJ. I’ve heard so many horror stories about couples booking a band or DJ because they got a good “deal” and it ruined their wedding.

I felt like the agents at ECE were hired because they are talented and know music. It’s kind of like buying a car – if you want a good car, you’re going to go to a reputable source. You get what you pay for! I can’t recommend ECE enough. They have the best talent and really care about getting clients the right music for their special day!

ECE: Looking back, what were the most memorable parts of the day?

Elyse: Because my adrenaline was running so high, I only remember bits and pieces of the ceremony such as our vows. Our first dance and exit were also very memorable to me.

Colby: I loved having our first look. It was so surreal to see each other dressed up. We rented a vintage Bentley and rode in it to the ceremony. Those 15 minutes together in the car ride were really special because we got to talk about how excited we were that this day was finally here! I also loved reciting our personalized vows to each other.

Both: It was really memorable that we were able to get legally married in front of our friends and family. We always wanted a wedding but weren’t sure if our marriage would be legally recognized in North Carolina.

ECE: What has been the best part about marriage so far?

Both: So many people ask us this! Our answer is usually – there isn’t anything different! We have always had a very vulnerable and honest relationship, so nothing has really changed! We are definitely excited about our trip for our one-year wedding anniversary to Savannah, GA.

Wedding Coordinator: Carla Eustache, Style Perfect Events
Ceremony Location: Kadi Fit
Reception Location: Waterford Hall, The Galway Hooker
Hair and Make-up: Lovely by Lindsey
Floral Design: Clippers Flowers of Lake Norman
Band: Java Band
Bentley Rental: Queen City Party Charters
Cake: Cake Dutchess
Photographer: Piper Warlick Photography

Published: Lindsay + Evan’s Luxe Charleston Wedding | Martha Stewart Weddings

Before we dive in to all of the gorgeousness that abounds from Lindsay and Evan’s Carolina Yacht Club wedding, can we please take a moment to pay some respect to her choice of shoes? Those Sergio Rossi stilettos are stunningly fierce!

The high-style didn’t stop at footwear. From Lindsay’s romantic Monique Lhuillier gown and Evan’s custom made suit by Billy Reid to the gilded place settings and custom foliage wall, everything about this wedding was uber chic.  It’s no surprise this fabulous fete landed on Martha Stewart Weddings.

Lindsay and Evan chose The Business as their wedding band and we cannot get over how happy the people cutting loose on the dance floor look. Such joy! We are sharing some of our favorite images below thanks to Lauren Jonas Photography.

Band: The Business | ECE Agent: Scott Toole | Photography: Lauren Jonas Photography | Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church |  Reception Venue + Catering: Carolina Yacht Club | Floral Design: Wimberly Fair | Stylist: Lulu McClain | Welcome Gifts + Paper Goods: A Signature Welcome | Printer: Saseink | Calligraphy: Penned by Palmer | Bridal Gown: Monique Lhuillier from Mark Ingram Atelier | Bridal Shoes: Sergio Rossi | Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids | Bridesmaids Earrings: Hyla Dewitt  | Wedding Bands: Bissell and Blaise | Groom Tuxedo: Custom Made by Billy Reid | Rentals: Snyder | Linens: La Tavola  | Custom Foliage Walls: Event Wall Rental | Transportation: Lowcountry Valet