New Summer Mix 2017 by Ambient DJs

To celebrate the ongoing summer season, Ambient DJ Service has release a summer mixtape.  Titled “Hot Summer 2017” and compiled and mixed by DJ Gregg Ambient, the one hour mix is open format, fusing a range of musical genres.

The mix starts with stone cold classics by Kool & the Gang and Roy Ayers, before dropping a sultry bootleg rework of Sade’s “Love You More” from the Noc Boots record label run by DJ Cloak Dagger.  Then, onto the moody Lost Frequencies remix of Miley Cyrus’ “Malibu” and a recent electronic offering from Kaskade.  Calvin Harris’ tropical house/hip hop fusion offerings have been a huge innovation of 2017 – and we highlight two of his tracks “Rollin” and “Holiday.”

From here, Santana’s “Maria, Maria” gets mixed into DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,” and from here the dance beats kicks in nicely, starting with DJ Cloak Dagger and his moombahton edit of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” followed by journeys into Latin music, reggae and pop. The set concludes with Luis Fonsi’s smash hit “Despacito.”

The mix can be enjoyed for free on Mixcloud via the player below.  Enjoy the rest of your summer party people!  To learn more about Ambient DJ Service, visit us online at www.ambientdj.com.

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The Retro Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

For the 89th installment of the Ambient DJ wedding cocktail hour playlist series, DJ Nick Kaminski submits a retro playlist that lingers primarily in the 70s and 80s.  In addition to being a talented wedding DJ, Nick is an exceptional musician as both a vocalist and pianist.  It’s no surprise that his picks include many great vocal performances by the likes of Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Barry White and the Carpenters.

To best enjoy the music, Nick recommends the Pear Barbotage (Champagne, Pear Brandy and St. Germain).   St. Germain is a liqueur created in the French artisinal manner that utilizes freshly picked elderflower blossoms.Pear_Barbotage

Immediately after the playlist, listen to Nick’s selected songs on a special Spotify playlist.

The Retro Wedding Cocktail Hour – Compiled by DJ Nick Kaminski

  1. True – Spandau Ballet
  2. Lady in Red – Chris de Burgh
  3. I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
  4. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
  5. Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins
  6. Sacrifice – Elton John
  7. Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears
  8. Suddenly – Olivia Newton-John
  9. You are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder
  10. Too Much Heaven – Bee Gees
  11. Just the Way You Are – Barry White
  12. (They Long to Be) Close to You – The Carpenters
  13. More than Words – Extreme
  14. Leave a Tender Moment Alone – Billy Joel

Listen on Spotify (Unmixed)

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company  specializing in weddings.   To book DJ Nick or one of our other DJ mixologists for your wedding or other celebration, connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 88 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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The DJ’s Choice Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

For the 88th installment of the Ambient DJ wedding cocktail hour playlist series, we turn to one of our company’s star performers Mike Bacon, aka “DJ Iron Mike.”  Mike was recently married and for cocktail hour provided his DJ a melange of classic soul, 70s soft rock, 80s, 90s, R&B and contemporary selections.   Mike’s actual set list is shown below, and he clearly dug deeper musically than the average groom.Hazelnut_Brown_Nectar_Rogue

For an accompanying signature drink, Mike has selected his favorite craft beer, Hazelnut Brown Nectar by Oregon-based Rogue brewery.

Immediately after the playlist, listen to Mike’s selected songs on a special Spotify playlist.

The DJ’s Choice Wedding Cocktail Hour – Compiled by DJ Iron Mike

  1. Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green
  2. Just One Look – Doris Troy
  3. (You) Got What I Need – Freddie Scott
  4. Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood
  5. You Can Never Tell – Chuck Berry
  6. Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears
  7. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going – Billy Ocean
  8. Every Heartbeat – Amy Grant
  9. Lovefool – The Cardigans
  10. I Love You Always Forever – Donna Lewis
  11. The Longest Time – Billy Joel
  12. Every Little Thing I Do – Soul 4 Real
  13. Dreamlover – Mariah Carey
  14. Higher Love – Steve Winwood
  15. Borderline – Madonna
  16. The Game of Love – Santana f/ Michelle Branch
  17. I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley
  18. Send My Love / Send One Your Love – Born Jamericans
  19. Shy Guy – Diana King
  20. Hymn for the Weekend (Seeb Remix) – Coldplay
  21. All Day All Night – Moon Taxi
  22. Thunder Clatter – Wild Cub
  23. Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun
  24. Electric Feel – MGMT
  25. Show Me Love – Robyn
  26. Bring it All to Me – Blaque, ‘N Sync

Listen on Spotify (Unmixed)

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DJ Iron Mike

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company  specializing in weddings.   To book DJ Iron Mike or one of our other DJ mixologists for your wedding or other celebration, connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 86 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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The Indie Folk Wedding Cocktail Hour Playlist

For our 87th installment in the Wedding Cocktail Hour series, our Martin Valcin (aka DJ Marti Gras) has compiled a playlist of primarily indie folk selections, with a touch of wedding friendly pop music for good measure.  Representative artists include Ingrid Michaelson, Mazzy Star, Regina Spektor, Vampire Weekend and the Decemberists.  Pink_Lemonade_Hippie

For an accompanying signature drink, Martin has selected a “Hippie Juice Cocktail” served up in a Mason jar.  View the drink recipe by clicking here.

The Indie Folk Wedding Cocktail Hour – Compiled by DJ Marti Gras

  1. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
  2. Central Reservation – Beth Orton
  3. Love Song – 311
  4. She Treats Me Well – Ben Howard
  5. Shiny – The Decemberists
  6. Us – Regina Spektor
  7. The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaelson
  8. New Soul – Yael Naim
  9. Stuck on You – Meiko
  10. I Choose You – Sara Bareilles
  11. I Do – Colbie Caillat
  12. Kiss Me – Sixpence None the Richer
  13. I’ll Be Your Man – The Black Keys
  14. Home – Phillip Phillips
  15. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
  16. White Sky – Vampire Weekend
  17. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
  18. Closer – Tegan and Sara

Listen on Spotify (Unmixed)

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DJ Marti Gras

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company  specializing in weddings.   To book DJ Marti Gras or one of our other DJ mixologists for your wedding or other celebration, connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 86 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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The International Excursions Cocktail Hour (Volume 2)

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Brazilian Singer-Songwriter Rodrigo Amarante

In this 85th installment of the wedding cocktail hour series, we’ve brushed off our passports to explore exotic musical offerings from abroad.  The inspiration for this playlist was the song “Tuyo” – a sultry tango and the opening track from Netflix series “Narcos” that explores the life and times of Pablo Escobar.  The playlist expanded from this selection to feature other South American artists from Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.  Then we embark on side trips to France, the Caribbean and finishing in Mother Africa.

Representative artists include the Buena Vista Social Club, Federico Aubele, Juanes, Carlos Vives, Celia Cruz, Beres Hammond, Manu Dibango and Femi Kuti.  This playlist is designed to impart a tropical beach feel.Aguardiente Sour

For an accompanying signature drink, we’ve selected a popular cocktail from Colombia called the Aguardiente Sour.  Aguardiente (translated as “fire water”) is a spirit containing distilled sugar cane and anise.  Learn how to mix an Aguardiente Sour by clicking here.

Immediately below the playlist, listen to the playlist on our Spotify channel.

The International Excursions Wedding Cocktail Hour (Volume 2) – Compiled by DJ Gregg Ambient

  1. Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club (Afro-Cuban)
  2. Tuyo – Rodrigo Amarante (from Narcos soundtrack) (Brazil)
  3. Carta Fatal – Soffy Martinez (from Narcos soundtrack)
  4. Cumbia Sobre el Mar – Quantic & Flowering Inferno (Quantic is a UK musician who formerly lived in Colombia)
  5. Contigo – Federico Aubele (Argentina)
  6. Cada Beijo (Thievery Corporation Remix) – Bebel Gilberto (Brazil)
  7. Last Tango in Paris – Gotan Project (France)
  8. Fuego – Juanes (Colombia)
  9. La Gota Fria – Carlos Vives (Colombia)
  10. Rie y Llora – Celia Cruz (Cuba)
  11. I Feel Good – Beres Hammond (Jamaica)
  12. Love Has Found its Way – Dennis Brown (Jamaica)
  13. Mali 2002 – Papa Wemba, Passi, Femi Kuti, Youssou N’Dour, Cheb Mami, Roki Traore (Congo, Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria, Mali)
  14. Seve – Tez Cadey (France)
  15. Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango (Cameroon)
  16. Hakuna Matata – KCee (Rwanda)
  17. Zouk-la Se SEl Medikaman Nou Ni – Kassav (Guadeloupe)
  18. Sorry Sorry (Francois K’s Old School Afro Dub) – Femi Kuti (Nigeria)

Listen on Spotify (Unmixed)

Need More International Music?

Enjoy our International Excursions Playlist (Volume 1) below with even more countries and artists!

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company with a multi-cultural musical approach and specializing in weddings.  Connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 84 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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A Fine Day to Say “I Do” Wedding Cocktail Hour

Ambient DJ is thrilled to showcase a new playlist and mix by the super-talented DJ Linda Leigh who joined our wedding team in 2016.  A native of Philadelphia, Linda Leigh is a DJ/Musical Curator who has performed in a variety of settings – including raves, lounges, retail stores, forests, radio (FCC license), clubs, rooftops, coffee houses and art exhibits.

The Fine Day to Say “I Do” Cocktail Hour features electronic sounds, including remixes of R&B and 60s classics.  Standout selections include Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” Sunshine Remix and Peter Zohdy’s deft rework of the Turtles’ “You Showed Me.”
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For an accompanying signature drink, Linda has selected an Aperol Spritz.  As per Linda, “this cocktail is perfect for your guests to imbibe at the start of a celebration!  Aperol is an Italian aperitif with a relatively low alcohol content and a refreshing flavor profile.  The recipe features 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water and an orange slice.

Immediately below the playlist, listen to Linda’s continous mix on Mixcloud.  Below that, enjoy the music unmixed on Spotify.  Catch Linda’s live DJ sets each Sunday Night at the trendy Trenton Social where she trades sets with another Ambient DJ Music Mixologist, DJ Dre Ovalle.  In this editor’s humble opinion, Sunday Night Social is the top musical offering in Central New Jersey for those with a taste for  underground electronic music.

The Fine Day to Say “I Do” Wedding Cocktail Hour  – Compiled and Mixed by DJ Linda Leigh

  1. Feel Like I Do – Disclosure f/ Al Green
  2. Lovely Day (Sunshine Mix) – Bill Withers
  3. You Showed Me (Peter Zohdy Botox Edit) – The Turtles
  4. Whatever it Takes (Joey Negro Destination Boogie Dub) – The Turtles
  5. Love – Manuel Palmitesta
  6. Weltareh (Freeform Five & Kevin Mckay Reform) – Freeform Five f/ Juldeh Camara
  7. Wonderful Life (MSK Remix) – Black
  8. So Good to Me – Chris Malinchak
  9. Rhythm and Love – Jonny Bee
  10. Sonnentanz (Kellerkind Remix) – Klangkarussell
  11. Fine Day featuring Anita Briem – Henri

Listen on Mixcloud

To experience the wonderful musicality and transitions of Linda’s mix – visit:

Listen on Spotify (Unmixed)

Note: One of Linda’s selections was not available on Spotify, and for several others the  selected remix was not available.  In this case, we substituted the remix with the original track.

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Catch Linda’s live sets every Sunday Night from 6 PM to Close at Trenton Social

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company specializing in weddings and based in Central NJ.   Connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 83 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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The Fashion Show Wedding Cocktail Hour

We’ve historically had requests for “New York City” style cocktail hours featuring house music and other trendy music. Inspired by our participation in a recent hair art fashion show that had us playing in the style of New York Fashion Week, we’ve put together a themed cocktail hour playlist.  To reflect the expanded musical range of the typical upscale fashion show, we’ve include a variety of musical genres including R&B, deep house, 80s and Nu-Disco.  Representative artists include Sade, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Kaskade, Disclosure and Todd Terje.

For a signature drink, we’ve selected the distinctive Negroni, a cocktail that mixes gin, Campari and vermouth – garnished with an orange wedge.  Sip it slowly, as this cocktail packs a punch!  To learn how to mix a Negroni, click here.

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The Negroni

Immediately below the playlist, listen to the music unmixed on Spotify.  Following is a continuous fashion show mix that incorporates numerous remixes that are not available on Spotify.   In particular, we spotlight several creations from Luke Rizzo (aka DJ Cloak Dagger’s) “Noc Boots” record label.  noc_boots_04

The Fashion Show Wedding Cocktail Hour – Compiled by DJ Gregg Ambient

  1. Cherry Pie – Sade
  2. You’re Makin’ Me High – Toni Braxton
  3. U Know What’s Up – Donell Jones f/ Lisa Left Eye Lopes (clean version)
  4. Do What You Want – Lady Gaga w/ R. Kelly (clean)
  5. Chunky – Bruno Mars (clean)
  6. Shape of You (Cloak Dagger Moombathon Remix) – Ed Sheeran
  7. Lights – Bobby Green w/ Whitney Phillips
  8. Midnight in Peckham – Chaos in the CBD
  9. NMBSucks – San Soda
  10. Fashion – David Bowie
  11. Affection – Lisa Stansfield
  12. Fastlove – George Michael
  13. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
  14. Samba Love – Kaskade
  15. Distant Love – Ian Pooley f/ Jade and Danielle
  16. River Song (Grant Rivers Remix) – Bebel Gilberto
  17. F for You – Disclosure f/ Mary J. Blige
  18. Call on Me – Eric Prydz
  19. Inspector Norse – Todd Terje

Listen on Spotify

Listen to Our Continuous Fashion Show Mix

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company specializing in weddings and based in Central NJ.   Connect with us online at www.ambientdj.com

To view our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class that contains links to our other 81 themed cocktail hour playlists, click here

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New Jersey’s Top Wedding Venues (2017 Edition)

Through the years, we have had the opportunity to provide wedding DJ entertainment in many of the finer banquet halls located throughout the state of New Jersey.  In this article, we share our top wedding venue selections for 2017.  This is our fourth consecutive year counting down the top 25 wedding venues in New Jersey!  While our company is based in the Princeton area in central New Jersey, we perform across the state, from Cape May to Bergen County. With our referral sources and advertising programs scattered across New Jersey, we tour the Garden State heavily (it’s a lot of fun!) and you never know where Ambient DJ Service will pop up on any given weekend.

New Jersey offers an incredible array of quality wedding reception venues that are as diverse as the state itself. From rustic farm weddings to summer celebrations in the heart of the Jersey Shore to romantic vineyards to luxurious banquet halls with the most decadent Viennese spreads that may leave you in a state of “food intoxication” – the Garden State is a great place to celebrate a wedding! We recommend couples to find a venue that suits your personal style. Do keep in mind that outdoors celebrations in unique venues can produce the most memorable parties, but that New Jersey’s weather is unpredictable.  You are well-advised to select a venue that offers a quality indoor alternative should the weather prove uncooperative.

To further explore the lures of New Jersey weddings, check out Erik Kent from NJWedding.com’s blog article “10 Reasons to Get Married in New Jersey”by clicking here.

One of the major trends that we’ve noticed in the New Jersey wedding industry is the creation of property portfolios by successful wedding caterers.  Examples include Landmark Hospitality (The Liberty House, The Stone House, Ryland Inn, The Boathouse at Mercer Lake, The Prallsville Mill), Seasons Catering (The Seasons, The Venetian, The Shadowbrook), Hotels Unlimited (The Windsor Ballroom, The Versailles Ballroom, The Sterling Ballroom, The Crystal Ballroom) and the Park Savoy group (Park Savoy, Nanina’s in the Park and the new Park Chateau in East Brunswick NJ).  It’s exciting to see the emergence of wedding venue brands across the state offering consistent service quality.

What Makes an Exceptional Venue?

Factors that impress us:

  1. Natural beauty and ambience (how does the venue look both inside and out?);
  2. Friendly and service-oriented staff (preferably with long-term staff retention);
  3. Delicious food (DJs are often provided an entree);
  4. Venues that strive to deliver a personalized wedding experience for the bride and groom, and are not ‘wedding factories.’ The fact that a venue has multiple rooms doesn’t make it a wedding factory; rather, wedding factory refers to a mechanical approach to service;
  5. Well-maintained facilities – are the lobby, bathroom and parking lot clean and well-maintained? If a facility doesn’t care about its appearance, will it care about the details of your once-in-a-lifetime celebration?  As DJs, we possess a behind the scenes perspective that factors into our opinion of venues.

A bonus factor is a venue whose staff treats the DJ as a valued member of the wedding team. As DJs, we feel that love from the staff, and channel the good vibes back to the wedding guests. Conversely, a difficult banquet manager can present a barrier to us entertaining guests to the best of our abilities.  For ideas on how DJs can work better with wedding venues and other event pros, see our blog on this topic by clicking here.

Tips to Engaged Couples in Selecting a Venue

  1. Research your venue on WeddingWire (www.weddingwire.com), the Knot (www.theknot.com), Yelp (www.yelp.com) or Google Reviews. Read what past clients had to say about their experience. WeddingWire, for example, rates vendors on the factors of 1) Quality of Service, 2) Responsiveness, 3) Professionalism, 4) Value, and 5) Flexibility. You can bet that a bride who spent tens of thousands of dollars on a reception venue will be eager to rave about a wonderful experience or rant about a venue that fell short.  Take the time to read through a couple of dozen reviews to help gain a narrative behind the ratings.
  2. Take special note of venues that won a recent “Knot Best Of” award. The Knot Best Of Award is a respected industry award based on online ratings/reviews from real wedding couples. It is more difficult to win than the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice award.
  3. Don’t underestimate the factor of service; try to look beyond the decor of the room and the food. A poorly trained, lackadaisical or apathetic staff can dilute the guest experience, even at a beautiful venue.  Many of these banquet halls are extremely busy, yet it is still their responsibility to get all of the details of your once-in-a-lifetime celebration correct.
  4. Ask your wedding planner, DJ company or other wedding vendors for recommendations.

The Top 25 List

New Jersey has a wealth of excellent wedding reception venues. Our selected venues are based purely on personal experience. Our list is by no means all-inclusive. Any business relationships that we have with a banquet hall and the ease of load-in were NOT considered in compiling the list.  From year to year, our selections change as we discover new venues.

As a cross-check to our ratings, we’ve listed in parentheses WeddingWire’s average aggregate star rating (maximum 5 stars) and number of WeddingWire reviews as of January 9, 2017.

Here’s our list, presented in countdown fashion.

(25) Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton).  This property is one of New Jersey’s hidden gems located in Hamilton Township near Trenton.  The impressive grounds provide the feel of a Paris museum, and there are several incredible areas of the grounds to hold an onsite wedding ceremony. We in particular recommend the mysterious “Nine Muses” sculpture garden.  The reception party can follow at the onsite Seward Johnson Center for the Arts or the intimate Rats Restaurant set alongside a lake resembling Claude Monet’s Gardens at Giverny.  Even if you don’t select this venue for your wedding, the Grounds for Sculpture is a must-visit for any New Jerseyan and would also make a great locale for an engagement photo shoot!  Website:  www.groundsforsculpture.org (27 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

(24) Hotel Alcott (Cape May).   The Hotel Alcott is a restored Italianate-bracketed villa located a block away from the Atlantic Ocean in the charming town of Cape May, NJ. No need to settle for mass-produced banquet hall food – Hotel Alcott’s chef serves delicious entrees with artistic flair. The lobster bisque soup and filet mignon are must tries. Website:  www.hotelalcott.com (23 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

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Hotel Alcott

(23) Versailles Ballroom (Toms River). Part of the Hotels Unlimited group, the Versailles Ballroom located at the Ramada Inn is a standout pick for its service.  Maitre D’ Angel went above and beyond this past summer to help us coordinate complicated logistics for a wedding.  Thanks Angel!  Website:  www.versaillescaterers.com (105 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

(22) Waterside Restaurant (North Bergen).  Located just south of the George Washington Bridge, this venue offers a spectacular view of Manhattan, plus delicious food, attentive service and a top notch management team. The in-house light show was also awesome! Website:  www.watersiderestaurantandcatering.com (140 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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The Waterside Restaurant – North Bergen, NJ

(21) Sunset Ballroom (Pt. Pleasant).  Located on the Point Pleasant side of the Manasquan Inlet, the bride can arrive for an onsite ceremony by boat. The venue offers beautiful views, delicious food and a friendly staff. Pt. Pleasant offers many fun options for the “afterparty” and is also a family-friendly town for visiting guests.  Website:  www.thesunsetballroom.com (50 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

(20) Conservatory at the Madison Hotel (Morristown).  The English-style Conservatory is the top attraction at this historic and well-appointed hotel. The glass Conservatory, with its hanging plants is beautiful for either a daytime reception or intimate evening celebration dancing under the stars. Website: www.themadisonhotel.com (127 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

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(19) The Barn at Perona Farms (Andover).   The newest addition to the Perona Farms estate (under family ownership since 1917) is its newly-renovated rustic barn.  The barn has been transformed into a modern facility and possesses a visual “wow factor” both inside and out.  The house uplighting is particularly striking. Website:  www.peronafarms.com (160 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

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The Barn at Perona Farms with Rockstar Wedding Couple Sarah and Michael!

(18) The Shadowbrook (Shrewsbury) –  We love the Shadowbrook for its picturesque gardens, perfect to host an onsite wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. Indoors, its wood-paneled Oak Room and adjacent Horseshoe Bar inevitably host lively dance parties.  In February 2015, Robert Zweben who had been the sole owner for 20-plus years retired and sold the Georgian-style mansion and its surrounding 18 acres of property to the current owners of the renowned Venetian in Garfield and Seasons in Washington Township.  Upgrades to the property have been made since the acquisition.  Be sure to ask about the Shadowbrook’s caviar/vodka bar option for cocktail hour!  Website:  www.shadowbrook.com (118 reviews, 4.9 average rating).

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The Oak Room at The Shadowbrook

(17) Tomasello Winery (Hammonton).  This venue is our top winery selection for 2017’s survey.  Couples can exchange vows in the picturesque Chardonnay Vineyard and then dance the night away in the romantic Crystal Ballroom. What makes Tomasello Winery unique against other wineries is that its food is prepared onsite by an Executive Chef rather than offsite by outside caterers.    Website: www.tomasellowinery.com (20 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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Tomasello Winery – Onsite Ceremony w/ DJ Greg Nice

(16) The Inn at Lambertville Station (Lambertville). In 2014 the venue completed a $4 million expansion/renovation, also creating the new Riverside Ballroom.  The Riverside Ballroom features high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows offering picturesque views of the Delaware River.  The cocktail hour space on the ground level is spacious and when the weather is pleasant can be open air, practically putting you on the river bank.  On the service side, Maitre D’ Neil  hustles from start to finish and is the only banquet hall professional that we’ve ever met who personally calls DJs prior to weddings to introduce himself.  The Riverside Ballroom offers delicious food (particularly the chicken artichoke entree) and is the perfect venue to capture the ambience of the Lambertville / New Hope area!  Website: www.lambertvillestation.com (44 reviews, 4.5/5.0)

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The Riverside Ballroom at The Inn at Lambertville Station

(15) The W Hotel (Hoboken).  Hoboken is a trendy party town favored by young professionals.  The W Hotel is Hoboken’s premier wedding venue and offers a variety of spaces to hold an onsite ceremony, cocktail hour and reception party. “Lulu’s” lounge includes an outdoor patio fronting the water for an intimate wedding ceremony while its interior features modern lounge decor for cocktail hour.  The W. Hotel Hoboken offers a classic view of the New York City skyline that can particularly be appreciated from the honeymoon suite (of which we received a tour!).  Finally, the lobby of the W. Hoboken is a piece of artwork in and of itself.  Regarding the afterparty, wedding guests can continue to celebrate at the W Hotel’s in-house options, or else hit the hot local Hoboken night spots!  Website: www.whoboken.com/hoboken-wedding (18 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

(14) The Boathouse at Mercer Lake (West Windsor).  Located at the marina in Mercer County Park, the new Boathouse at Mercer Lake is nothing like the small, dark and somewhat dingy original “Mercer Boathouse” that was razed to make way for this recent $4.9 million overhaul.  The new “Lakeview Hall” which accommodates up to 250 guests is bright and airy.  The culinary offerings of the Boathouse have also been significantly improved with Crave Caterers (the offsite catering division of Landmark Hospitality) running the show.  The initial wave of wedding couples to use the Boathouse have left nothing but rave reviews!  Website:  www.boathouseatmercerlake.com (5 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)

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The Boathouse at Mercer Lake

(13) One Atlantic (Atlantic City). 2016 offered our first opportunity to work at  One Atlantic – and wow was it an impressive experience!  Situated at the far end of the Pier Shops across from Caesar’s Hotel & Casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk, One Atlantic is perched above the Atlantic Ocean, offering stunning views of the sea, beach and boardwalk through its floor to ceiling windows. Management is professional and communicative.  We also had a chance to sample the delicious food at an educational event hosted by The Knot during the Fall.  Important for DJs, particularly with the long distance load-in, is that the venue offers a modern audio system installed in the ceiling throughout the entire property that is easy to access with the help of an onsite audio tech.  While there are some special insurance requirements for wedding couples and vendors due to the oceanfront location, in our case the management made it a breeze to achieve compliance. One interesting facet of One Atlantic is that its Director, Elizabeth McGlinn, is a professional wedding officiant and conducts the onsite ceremonies!  Website:  www.oneatlanticevents.com (155 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7./5.0)

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One Atlantic

(12) The Stonehouse at Stirling Ridge (Warren).   The architecture and design of the Stone House stand out, evoking a modern California lodge feel.  As per their website, “this space is designed with classic, clean lines, patterned wood and stone floors, a neutral color pallet and an appreciation for the scenic beauty that is part of this secluded location.” The food is exceptional, utilizing vegetables and herbs grown on a local communal farm. Choose from either the traditional ballroom or the artsy “Gallery” – each with its own ceremony and cocktail areas. Website:  www.stonehouseatstirlingridge.com (66 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

(11) Mercer Oaks (Princeton Junction).  Located on a public golf course in West Windsor/Princeton Junction, the venue provides casual golf club elegance in a bright and spacious ballroom.  Delectable food and attentive service, led by the personable and longtime events manager Samantha Boudinot – are the other main attractions.  Mercer Oaks has a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 rating on WeddingWire.  Website:  www.merceroakscatering.com (46 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)

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Mercer Oaks

(10) David’s Country Inn (Hackettstown).   Outstanding food and service in a venue oozing country charm, David’s Country Inn is a stand out venue in Warren County. For an onsite ceremony, the bride can dramatically process down a grand staircase. Regarding staff longevity,  the Falzarano Family has owned and operated David’s Country Inn for more than 38 years and several staff members have been with David’s for more than 25 years! Be sure to check out the antique coffee maker in the cocktail hour space.  Website:  www.davidscountryinn.com (92 reviews, 5.0/5.0)

(9)  The Reeds at Shelter Haven (Stone Harbor).   A recent entrant to the Cape May area wedding scene, Reeds offers a modern, luxury boutique hotel featuring sparkling views of the bayside harbor from its Sweet Grass Ballroom.  The hotel is decorated in warm earth tones, richly inspired by nature and the sea.   Leslie Pastore and her team are friendly, professional and attentive to detail.  The food is also consistently delicious.  Many couples opt for the Reeds to re-kindle fond childhood memories of summers spent vacationing in Stone Harbor.  Website:  www.reedsatshelterhaven.com (17 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7/5.0)

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The Reeds at Shelter Haven

(8) Clarks Landing Yacht Club Delran.  2016 offered us our first opportunity to work at Clarks Landing in Delran.  We’ve been huge fans of its sister property in Point Pleasant for years.  While smaller than the Pt. Pleasant ballroom, the same impeccable service was evident.  The ballroom features large framed oiled paintings and beautiful waterfront views.  Not that it’s ever required, but the venue even provided the DJ with his own personal waitress for the wedding.  Talk about attention to detail! Wedding couples seem to agree with our assessment, awarding Clarks Landing Delran with a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 WeddingWire rating.  Website:  www.theyachtclubcaterers.com (75 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)

(7) The Hamilton Manor (Hamilton).  The Hamilton Manor is a modern venue in the Hamilton/Bordentown area that can host a wedding of up to 500 guests. Its Grand Ballroom features 20 foot high ceilings, antique chandeliers, a dramatic staircase for grand entrances and beautifully-restored mahogany floors.  The property includes a covered outdoor patio barn that can be used for onsite cocktail hours or wedding ceremonies, plus an additional outdoor ceremony area with a gazebo.  In 2016, the venue added customized lighting in the Grand Ballroom, and for 2017 is planning to build a stone fireplace in the covered barn plus re-vamp its lounge area.  Owner/operators, the Salzano Family, offer professional service with a smile.  Many North Jersey couples are choosing the Hamilton Manor based in Central NJ for its North Jersey style amenities, but at a Central NJ price point.  Website:  www.thehamiltonmanor.com (120 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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The Covered Barn at The Hamilton Manor

(6) The Nassau Inn (Princeton).  Our company is based in the Princeton area, and the Nassau Inn, located in Palmer Square, has always been a favorite of ours, capturing the history of this great town.  The Inn offers several classy, prestigious party rooms to choose from.  In an industry where rapid staff turnover and transient workers are the norm, it is refreshing to see many of the same waitstaff and banquet managers year after year at the Nassau Inn. Be sure to check out its recently renovated Prince William Ballroom.  Palmer Square, Princeton University and the iconic Princeton Record Exchange offer wonderful photo opportunities for wedding photos or an engagement photo shoot.  The wintery photo below is credited to our friend Kyo from Kyo Morishima Photography  Website:  www.nassauinn.com (38 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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The Prince William Ballroom at The Nassau Inn

(5) The Palace at Somerset Park (Somerset).   For those with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the opulent Palace is the perfect venue. Located on a palatial estate, the Palace includes two magnificent ballrooms with separate entrances. The bridal suite, located upstairs, is a modern oasis of massive dimensions. Use the outdoor balcony for your own private fireworks show. Website:  www.palacesomersetpark.com (223 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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The Palace at Somerset Park

(4) The Estate at Florentine Gardens (River Vale). This recently renovated and expanded Georgian-style mansion features expansive gardens, a grand ballroom with views of the gardens (the gardens look striking in the evening with the trees lit up), world class cuisine (the Chateaubriand is incredible), and an attentive professional management team and staff.  An in-house A/V company offers an exciting array of lighting and video options.  Website:  www.florentinegardens.com (430 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)

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The Estate at Florentine Gardens

(3) Clarks Landing Yacht Club Pt. Pleasant. With a new luxurious ballroom with high ceilings and panoramic windows fronting the water, a top notch management team and sumptuous food (particularly for cocktail hour), Clarks Landing is a standout selection.  An added plus is that DJs plug their mixing board into an in-house sound system with speakers built into the ceiling above the dancefloor.  The result is that dancers enjoy louder music, while guests seated at tables are not blasted out of the room (a frequent complaint against DJs and bands at weddings).  Regarding management, we’ve witnessed the intense and detailed staff prep meeting. Clarks Landing is clearly committed to superior service and the results show.  Clarks also wishes past wedding couples happy anniversary on their Facebook page! Website: www.clarkslandingcaterers.com (255 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)

(2) The Pleasantdale Chateau (West Orange).  The Pleasantdale Chateau is the ideal venue for those couples seeking an elegant, custom fairytale wedding. With a long and storied history dating back to the 1800s, the original building was constructed in an English Georgian architectural style in the early 1900s by industrial leader Charles Walter Nichols. In 1994, the Knowles Family acquired the estate and commenced a series of restorations that gave deference to the Chateau’s history, but also made the property more accessible to the public. This venue has that “wow factor” that is hard to describe with words but is impossible to miss when attending an event here. Enjoy your cocktail hour in the distinctive “Music Room,” chat with friends in the library and stroll through luxurious parlors. A hidden gem of the Pleasantdale Chateau is Maitre d’ Santiago Sevilla who makes each and every guest (and wedding vendor) feel like a VIP. Thanks Santiago!  Website:  www.pleasantdale.com (44 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)

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Why party at a banquet hall when you can party at a chateau? The Pleasantdale Chateau

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The Pleasantdale Chateau – West Orange, NJ

(1) The Park Savoy (Florham Park).  Our top rated wedding venue for 2017 is the Park Savoy located in Florham Park New Jersey! This recently renovated turn-of-the-century mansion features cozy fireplaces, an exquisite bridal suite and details only seen in the great mansions of Newport Rhode Island, and is enhanced with floor to ceiling windows. Check out the intricate carvings on the ceiling above the dance floor, or take a stroll through the beautiful onsite gardens.  In terms of food, the Viennese style cocktail hours and dessert are a gastronomic delight. At Melissa and Eric’s recent wedding there, guests were so delighted by the Viennese dessert spread that the dance party came to a halt for nearly a half hour!  But what really resonates with us at The Park Savoy is the service.  Maitre D’ Vincent was a true professional from start to finish and even made our DJ feel like a guest.  Website:  www.theparksavoy.com (235 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0).

Also consider sister property Nanina’s in the Park (Belleville NJ) or the soon to open Park Chateau located in East Brunswick NJ.  According to a representative from Nanina’s, the Park Chateau will host its first wedding on March 3, 2017 and has already booked 270 weddings.

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Winter Wedding at The Park Savoy

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Detailed Woodwork on Ceiling above Dance Floor

Comments are welcome. Please let us know what venues would be on your list of favorites!  For any property owners/banquet managers interested in providing us an introduction to your venue, feel free to contact Gregg Hollmann at info@ambientdj.com or p 609.672.1270

For More Information

For an alternate and humorous venue selection methodology, check out the blog of “Dad Needs Help” who evaluated wedding venues based on their bathroom amenities. Read the article by clicking here

Already booked a venue and need musical ideas for your big day? Then click here to view Ambient DJs’ “Wedding Music Master Class” that contains over 2,000 song ideas spanning ceremony music, First Dance songs, Parent Dance songs, Cake Cutting Songs, Bouquet Garter Songs, grand entrance songs, grand finale songs, 80 themed cocktail hour playlists and 10 songs NOT to play at a wedding.  This publication is currently being updated for 2017.

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About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is a full-service mobile NJ DJ entertainment company based in Central New Jersey specializing in wedding DJ entertainment.  Our marquee wedding entertainers/music mixologists include DJ Gregg Ambient, DJ Greg Nice, DJ Spinz and DJ  Iron Mike. Ambient DJ is a 2017 winner of the Knot Best of Weddings award (as well as a Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame winner), and of the WeddingWire Couple’s Choice Award.  As of mid-January 2017, we had 186 WeddingWire reviews with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.  Past wedding couples have complimented Ambient DJs’ detailed planning, personalized service, multi-cultural approach, exciting options and affordable pricing.

We have a deep passion for the music that we play and enjoy collaborating with our brides and grooms to create unforgettable parties! We would be delighted to perform at your wedding in the New Jersey / Philadelphia / Delaware / New York Tri-State area, or destination wedding.  For more info and to read our wedding reviews, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com.

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Our Experience with a Logo Design Competition

Ambient DJ Service’s original logo was created in 2003, and while it’s served us well, we were overdue for an upgrade.  Several respected DJ colleagues of mine suggested a logo design competition.

There are numerous online sites that host logo design competitions.  After some research, we decided to go with the service at www.logomyway.com.  Attributes that we liked about Logo My Way included:

  • A wealth of positive testimonials and design samples;
  • A money back guarantee in the event that our contest did not attract at least 40 logo concepts;
  • The fact that the service was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and on CNBC.

Here’s how the service works – you select the cash prize for the contest (minimum $200 and maximum $1,000) and provide detailed instructions on your design concept.  The cash prize selected is the amount that is actually paid to the designer. There is an additional fee paid to LogoMyWay for hosting and administrating the contest.  This fee was reasonable.  As a part of the service, you also have access to a product specialist who checks in with you periodically to make sure that the contest is on track and that you are totally satisfied.

Our contest ran for 10 days and offered the winning designer a prize of $325.  Over this time, we received 114 submissions from designers all over the world including the United States, Iceland, Brazil, Indonesia, India and various Eastern European countries.  The submissions with just a couple of exceptions were good to excellent.  The logos were also incredibly diverse and produced design concepts that we never would have thought of.  Graphic art is a specialized skill, and clearly logo design competitions are attracting top level talent.

Another great feature of the process was that we could rank the designs each day and provide feedback.  Designers were quick to provide variations based on our suggestions.

Selecting a Winner

At the conclusion of the contest, we began the difficult task of selecting a winner.  The three big picture design concepts that we asked to be reflected in our new logo were:

  • A music-centric, artistic approach
  • Sophistication; and
  • the concept of musical ambience or ‘vibe’

We short listed the 114 submissions to half a dozen finalists, and then debated the designs both internally and with our clients and networking partners.  Bad news – people were very much divided over their favorite design!

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The Finalists

In the end, reflecting that we are more a boutique style wedding shop than nightlife club DJ, we went with a design submitted by Indonesian designer “Oin” – this design featured a fashionable font for “Ambient DJs” with the word DJs contained in a circle (the circle was a feature of our prior logo).  We asked Oin to create two variations:  1) for the circle, make it black and add very subtle record grooves, and 2) create versions of the logo in gold, blue and hot pink.  Oin was quick to make these changes.

We received our final designs in various file formats, including a super high-res .eps file that can be used for posters, t-shirts and mugs.

Sponsoring a logo design competition with LogoMyWay.com was a great experience!  The process forces a business owner to think carefully about his or her brand.  In our case, we received an outstanding logo design that properly communicates our brand attributes, also reflecting our past, present and future.

The Logos

 

 

Fall 2016 Dance Playlist by DJ Gregg Ambient

Here in our home state of New Jersey, the temperatures are dropping and colorful fall foliage is in full effect!  In this blog, Ambient DJ music mixologist Gregg Ambient shares his top dance floor picks of the new season.  Enjoy the music on the Spotify player immediately following the list.fall_2016_playlist_gregg_ambient_pie

The Fall 2016 Dance Playlist by DJ Gregg Ambient

  1. Give it Up – Nathan Sykes f/ G-Eazy (pop) – enjoy this glittery Jamiroquai-esque production
  2. Let Me Love You – DJ Snake w/ Justin Bieber  (dance)
  3. Closer – The Chainsmokers w/  Halsey (EDM)
  4. Girls Like – Tinie Tempah f/ Zara Larsson (dance)
  5. Bailar – Deorro w/ Elvis Crespo (a great EDM / Merengue track)
  6. 24K Magic – Bruno Mars (pop/funk)
  7. The Greatest – Sia (pop)
  8. Millionaire – Cash Cash & Digital Farm Animals f/ Nelly (performed live at the recent DJ Times DJ Expo in Atlantic City!) (dance)
  9. This Girl (Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners) – Kungs (dance)
  10. Fade – Kanye West (R&B / House)
  11. Starboy – The Weeknd w/ Daft Punk (pop / electronic)
  12. One Dance – Drake (R&B)
  13. Safari – J Balvin f/ Pharrell Williams, BIA and Sky (Latin/reggaeton)
  14. Your Number – Ayo Jay (reggae)
  15. Daylight – The Disciples (house music)
  16. Wonky Bassline Disco Banger – Red Rack’Em (house music)
  17. The First Time Free (Claptone Remix) – Ultra Nate w/ Roland Clark (house)
  18. Ale’ Sofi – DJ Cloak Dagger (featured on the latest Buddha Bar installment.. also try the Captain Planet remix) (electronic / lounge)
  19. Broccoli – D.R.A.M. f/ Lil’ Yachty (hip hop)
  20. LUV – Tory Lanez (R&B)
  21. Juju on the Beat (TZ Anthem) – Sleepy Zee and MC Tay (hip hop)
  22. Be Here – Duke Dumont (dance)
  23. Feel – Mahmut Orhan (take a trip to a Middle Eastern bazaar… quite the exotic track) (dance)
  24. OOOUU – Young M.A. (hip hop)
  25. Feel Like I Do – Disclosure w/ Al Green (soul / dance)
  26. Just Got Paid – Johnny Kemp (throwback)
  27. How Do I Let Go – Dennis Ferrer (throwback)
  28. Best of Me – Anthony Hamilton (throwback)
  29. The Lady in My Life – Michael Jackson (throwback)

Listen on Spotify

Dud of the Season

Gregg’s least favorite track of the season is Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” – Gaga’s finest work is fading away in the rearview mirror.  Hope that she can start making dance floor hits again!

Mix of the Month

The “80s 90s Something Mix” is an R&B-centric mix that revisits the good musical vibes of the late 1980s early 1990s. Representative artists include Terence Trent D’Arby, Soul II Soul, Janet Jackson, Lisa Stansfield, Seduction, Maxi Priest, George Michael, Seal and more.

 

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is a leading mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central NJ.  We perform at a wide range of parties ranging from weddings to bar/bat mitzvahs to bar/club appearances.  Connect with us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ambientdjs and online at www.ambientdj.com