I Got A Feeling: Isabella & Jay Get Married at The Manor

isabella-and-jay-2If you are looking for “the perfect place to get married,” the New York Times will point you in the direction of West Orange, NJ.  One of their top recommendations is The Manor, a picturesque estate that boasts formal gardens, timeless decor and classic elegance.

Without dating myself too harshly, my senior prom was held there when the Father of the Bride movie premiered on VHS.   If you haven’t seen it yet and need a sanity break from planning your wedding reception and a few laughs, rent it asap  (on DVD or On-demand of course).

Isabella and Jay had a gorgeous fall day for their wedding.  The grounds of the Manor looked exquisite as the guests arrived for the ceremony.  We worked with Reverend Mitchell, whose humor and polish created personalized and entertaining nuptials for everyone in attendance.  As always, we provided professional audio support including lapel microphones so the guests who were  seated more than two rows back could enjoy all of the special vows, musical selections and heart-warming moments.

the-manor2After an impressive cocktail hour in the Manor’s atrium, family and friends entered the ballroom to await Isabella and Jay’s grand entrance.  They were tapping their toes and snapping their fingers to the sounds of Michael Buble, Spiral Staircase, Michael McDonald, The Beatles, Michael Franti and Stevie Wonder.   After the bridal party was introduced with customized audio clips and pre-programmed lighting effects, Isabella and Jay came into a personalized edit of Paradise City, by Guns and Roses, which brought the energy of the room up to the next level.

Isabella and Jay chose Stuck on You by Lionel Ritchie for their wedding song, Daughter by Loudon Wainwright for the father-daughter dance and Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd for the mother-son dance.    One of the dance floor highlights was watching Isabella’s family doing a seven minute Hora before the main course was served.  I felt like I was doing a Bat Mitzvah; the guests were loving it.

After the cake cutting, which Isabella chose the 2nd verse of Your In My Heart by Rod Stewart to be played in the background, family and friends returned to the atrium to enjoy the Manor’s Viennese stations.

isabella-jay-13For the last dance, we played a crowd favorite to get all of the remaining guests back onto the dance floor.  It was I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. Isabella and Jay sang and danced along with their family and friends to end the night with everyone cheering for the brand-new Mr. and Mrs. McMahon.

It’s always a pleasure collaborating with the Manor.   Marwan Jurri, the maitre d’ and Jim Levinsky, the banquet manager, extended their hospitality throughout the evening and were instrumental in orchestrating a smooth reception.

Special thanks to Rich Janniello, from Ciro Photography, who shared his fantastic photos for this blog entry.  This was the first time we had the opportunity to team up.  Based on his professionalism, I hope we get to collaborate again soon.  Rich was always in the right place at the right time in an un-obtrusive manner.  We also had nice chat before the ceremony about why he always had three different cameras ready to go.  Rich explained why the right lens for the right moment is crucial and why having back-up equipment is paramount.   That’s the kind of event professional a bride and groom want to work with if they value peace of mind.

Encore Gallery:


Salon Jofi Opens to Rave Reviews

Jofi Signature

Jofi Signature

If you are reading this in New Jersey, you know that some of the best catering facilities in the state are located in West Orange. You’ve got the Pleasantdale Chateau, the Manor, the Highlawn Pavilion, the Crestmont Country Club, and the Wilshire Grand Hotel all within a 10 minute drive.  That’s a lot of brides, bridesmaids, Bat Mitzvah girls and their moms that need to get a little cut, color and styling for the big day! If you could open up a salon anywhere in the vicinity, you’d try to get a spot near Eagle Rock Ave or Pleasant Valley Way, the two main arteries of the bustling town.   Well, Josephine Castrovinci and Fiorella Galella hit the jackpot and secured a location right on the intersection  of both roads.

Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only

I was invited to attend the grand opening of Salon ‘Jofi’ last month.  The clever, European-esque name comes from the owners, “Jo” for Josephine and “fi” for Fiorella.)    The well designed open-layout featured soft lighting, soothing colors like ivory,  rosy brown and mocha, and thanks to the delicious  culinary spread prepared by Fiorella’s husband, Frank, the aroma of Tuscany filled the air.  (Frank’s famous stuffed veal chops are currently featured on the Food Network’s site in a national cooking competion). It felt like an ultra-cool cocktail party with bartenders serving wine and sparkling water,  strategically placed Bose cubes playing upbeat dance tracks in the background and the three hundred signature gift bags adorning the shelves which everyone took home.

Jofi Station and Gift Bags

Jofi Station and Gift Bags

Like many of the guests,  I was impressed with the familiar modernity of the salon’s decor and the relaxed-yet sophisticated vibe that you felt from Josephine  and Fiorella’s presence.  The standard in all the chic New York hotels and couture-related businesses right now is ‘comfort’.  Hotelier and scene magnet, Andre Balazs, recently said that “comfort is like happiness, who doesn’t want to be happy?”  Judging by all of the smiles I saw and all of the positive conversation I heard, there were a lot of comfortable and happy people in the salon.

Team Jofi- Fred & Josephine Castrovinci, Firorella & Frank Galella

Team Jofi- Fred & Josephine Castrovinci, Firorella & Frank Galella

In addition to having all of the front-end business fundamentals covered, Castrovinci and Galella are fortunate to have the their husbands support on the back-end essentials as well.  Fred and Frank are both successful entrepreneurs and finance professionals.  They’ve offered some invaluable advice, guidance and hands-on support that gives Jofi an incredible advantage over the competition. In any new enterprise, you’ve either got location or talent, experience or marketability, or some serious business savvy to build a future on, Josephine and Fiorella appear to have all the bases covered.

I interviewed Josephine a few days ago to see how things were going. (She didn’t know that I had an event at the Crestmont Country Club, the previous Saturday. I stopped by the salon to take a peak in the window to see if they could pack the place with paying customers as they did with friends,  family, and supporters at the grand opening… I’m delighted to report that every chair was filled.) When I asked Castrovinci how things were going, she confirmed my observations. “Things are going really well.  We’ve had a great response from our clients and the location is producing a lot of walk-ins.”

Clients Elizabeth and Laura with Fred & Joesephine

Clients Elizabeth and Laura with Fred & Joesephine

When I asked about the best parts and the challenges she’s faced with regards to opening her own business, I could really sense Josephine’s pride  in ownership and personal connection over the phone. “There’s a strong feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that this salon is ours, it’s like our baby… we created this.  The most challenging aspect of owning a salon?  The long hours we’ve had to put in so far.  But the hard work is definitely paying off, so it’s been an amazing experience.”

It’s a beautiful thing when people pursue their dreams and make them a reality.  The Salon Jofi story reminds me of the quote by William Faulkner, “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”

Best Wishes from friends, family and patrons.

Best wishes from friends, family and patrons.

I wish Josephine and Fiorella continued success.

Salon Jofi is located at 457 Pleasant Valley Way, on the corner of Eagle Rock Ave. in West Orange, NJ.  Walk-ins are welcome, reservations are recommended. 973-669-3755

If you have already been to the salon or plan on going soon, please post your feedback afterwards and share your experience with us.

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