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Justin

Hi, my name is Justin Bell and I own Cookies & Cognac with Brian. We started out as a booking agency for live classical and jazz musicians and have grown into a complete and unique wedding service company. Although, like everyone who works for us, I am a classically trained musician, my real passion for Cookies & Cognac is officiating ceremonies. Like Brian, I do this because I enjoy it. By day I am a mild mannered attorney and when people call an attorney, they are rarely happy. EVERYONE is happy to see their wedding officiant! I am very lucky to be able to do this. Over the past 7 years I have performed over 250 wedding ceremonies.

I am an ordained minister, but pride myself in performing non-denominational and secular weddings, with a unique theme all to you. We will meet and discuss what you are looking for in a ceremony, and then I will draft something special for you based on that initial conversation. After that you and I can edit back and forth as much as you like until you have a ceremony script that is perfect for your day.

In addition to officiating, I also play classical and jazz live instruments for events and run the day-to-day operations over here at Cookies & Cognac. You can most quickly and easily reach me via email at cookiesandcognac@yahoo.com.

I live in Woodbury with my wife of 14 years (who also officiates for us!) and our 12-year-old daughter. If you’re thinking about a unique wedding experience in the Twin Cities, drop us a line and have a quick sit down to see if we are a good fit. We like to meet new clients over drinks…just to keep things light.

 
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Brian

Hi, I’m Brian Zirngible and I own Cookies & Cognac with Justin. It is my honor and pleasure to provide the soundtrack to your special day. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I've wanted to be a DJ ever since I can remember. In 2002, several friends asked me to DJ their weddings and I just couldn't refuse! Looking out on a packed dance floor with happy guests always brings a smile to my face. I am also a professional jazz trombonist and love playing in our cocktail hour group.

I always enjoy meeting with couples to discuss the vibe and atmosphere for their wedding. I am confident and skilled at public speaking and can make any announcements you may need & will commuicate any details with your event coordinator. I have DJ’d many different venues in the Twin Cities over the past 10 years and enjoy the variety. I am able to easily read the dance floor and use my experience and knowledge in choosing songs that will have your guests dancing all night long!

My wife and I married at the St. Paul College Club in 2004 and it always feels very special when working there. We live in Minneapolis and enjoy biking, hiking, cooking, traveling, and relaxing with our Shih Tzu. When I’m not with friends or family, you can probably find me at a local music venue checking out various touring acts. By day, I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice.

 
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Jessica

Hi, I'm Jessica Bell and I have been officiating Weddings for Cookies & Cognac since 2010. Much like Justin, I was ordained as a minister and licensed by the State of Minnesota for the sole purpose of performing marriages. I am not affiliated with any specific church or denomination, but I enjoy crafting and performing personal and unique wedding ceremonies. I am a college professor by day, so I spend much of my time addressing large groups.

Like all of our wedding officiants, I pride myself on designing and writing the perfect ceremony for each couple and WITH each couple. After meeting with and discussing the ceremony with couples, I will draft something unique and specific for you based on our initial conversation. After the first draft, everyone edits back and forth until the ceremony script is perfect for your big day!

 
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Walter

Hi, I'm Walter Croll and I have been playing a variety of stringed instruments for over thirty years. Guitar, cello, viola, bass, dobro, banjo, and mandolin are among the many I play. My performance experience includes solo work and ensembles ranging in size from orchestras to duos. Some musical genres I play include a wide range from classical to rock, jazz to bluegrass, and combinations in between. I specialize in composing, arranging and performing in small ensemble and solo settings.

I currently live in River Falls Wisconsin and is attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls studying viola and composition. Most recently, I was fortunate to have lived, studied & performed in Paris, France...bonjour!

 
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Lee

Hi, I'm Lee Swenson. Along with being a ceremony & cocktail musician, I absolutely love music & keeping the dance floor packed! The first thing I do in the morning is check YouTube, i-tunes, & the Billboard charts to see what's new, popular & trending. With my vast music knowledge & emceeing experience, I know what music will keep you and your guests on the dance floor. If you've got a request, I can help! If you want me to feel the crowd & play songs that folks are dancing to, I can do that too. It's very important for me that you hear the music that YOU want. This is YOUR wedding, not my show. I've never liked what your typical "cheesy" DJ's do. I work hard to blend into the fabric of your night, so your guests remember the music & the fun time they had on the dance floor.

During college, I played in the Golden Valley College and Community orchestra and also formed a band with fellow classmates. I wrote and performed original songs at various local coffee shops, churches, and other public venues. I was able to serve as a worship leader and church musician, and during this time I was able to perform at many weddings as a vocalist, guitarist, and as a violinist. My range of ability allows me to perform in musical genres encompassing everything from jazz, pop, rock, classical, and gospel music. I am a dedicated go the extra mile to make your day a memory that will last a lifetime.

 
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Daniel

Greetings! My name is Daniel Haugh and I am a classically trained musician with over seventeen years of performing experience. I studied under Minnesota Orchestra's James Clute and I hold two music degrees. Although the upright bass is my primary instrument, I also play piano and guitar.

Currently, I perform with a jazz vocal group, a rock band, and am co-hosting of an open-mic showcase in Minneapolis. I teach music lessons in River Falls, Wisconsin and I enjoy various outdoor activities.

 
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Zeb

Hi, I'm Zeb Cruikshank and I began playing guitar in 1993 and have been performing professionally since 1995. My career started as an electric guitarist in a variety of blues, rock, funk, and jazz bands, playing in venues all over New England, and opening for national acts such as Semisonic, Living Colour, Maceo Parker, Monster Magnet, and Chris Duarte. In 2001, I moved to Minnesota to study at McNally Smith College of Music, and pursue my career as a full-time musician.

While at McNally Smith, in addition to expanding his knowledge of various electric guitar styles, I received extensive training in classical and acoustic finger-style guitar. In 2003, after completing their elite Artist Diploma program, I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in guitar performance. In 2005, I enrolled in McNally Smith’s new Bachelor’s Degree program, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2007.

My classical and acoustic guitar studies at McNally Smith led to the formation of acoustic duo Jess & Zeb, which I have been performing with since 2003, and released our first CD of all-original music in 2004. I also lead a jazz-fusion quartet, The Zeb Cruikshank Band, which released an all-original CD in 2011, and stay true to my roots in classic rock band, The Brute Squad.

I have provided the music for many wedding ceremonies and receptions each year since 2003. My experience and versatility allow for a wide range of musical possibilities, from classic wedding standards to contemporary favorites.

 
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Josh

Hi! My name is Josh Countryman, and I am excited to have joined the Cookies and Cognac team! Music is and always has been part of my life. By day I am a music educator, teaching middle school and high school choir. During the night and on the weekends I am a working musician, singing and playing piano and guitar. For years my main role in weddings has been that of live musician, playing in both the ceremony and for the dance. DJ'ing provides a wonderful opportunity to keep music rolling without the constraints of a live set list and what the band is "prepared" to play. It also allows me to adapt the music being played to keep your guests engaged and dancing all night long. I've always enjoyed being involved in weddings and pride myself on giving the bride and groom the best experience they could hope for.