Top Ten Moments of the 2016 Wedding Season: Emma & Joe

Our busiest wedding musician, pianist Craig, lists the top ten moments from his weddings with us during the 2016 wedding season.

When Lauren asked me to write a blog listing my top ten weddings of the 2016 wedding season, I thought it’d be a doddle. As soon as I started to look through the long list of Dream Day Music weddings I’ve played so far this year, though, I realised that it was an impossible task: every wedding is perfect in its own little way, and choosing the ten best would be as wrong as it would be difficult. Instead, I decided I’d choose my ten favourite moments

Emma & Joe – Eaves Hall – 1st July

Confetti shot at Eaves Hall

Emma and Joe after their wedding ceremony at Eaves Hall. The bridesmaids wore silver. [photo: Stella Photography]

Wedding Pianist Craig Smith playing his Portable Grand Piano at a wedding at Eaves Hall Lancashire

I often set up outside at Eaves Hall when the sun shines

Emma and Joe married at my own most regularly booked venue, Eaves Hall in the Ribble Valley, in July. Theirs was the most musical wedding I’ve been involved with this year!

Eaves Hall has a stunning grand piano in the entrance hall, and I’m often booked to play that instrument for drinks receptions, as well as also playing solo piano in the Ballroom for ceremonies and wedding breakfasts. In Summer, it’s common that I’ll set up outside to entertain guests in the sunshine, playing Dream Day’s fantastic Dutchgrand portable grand piano. There was nothing ‘common’ about this wedding though..!

The vast majority of my Dream Day bookings come from the bride and groom contacting the business directly after hearing me play. Maybe 10% come from wedding planners, as did this booking for Emma & Joe, which came about through our friend Donna at Pure Elegance Weddings and Events Ltd.

Emma and Joe had set Donna the task of finding someone who’d be able to provide a range of music played by a range of musicians throughout the day. Their wedding was going to be a musical extravaganza, and they wanted different combinations throughout!

Emma and Joe supplied Donna with a huge list of songs that they wanted to be performed… less than two weeks before the big day! So, not only did Donna need several quality musicians, she needed ones who were able to improvise and sound great playing together for the first time without much rehearsal. She came to the right place!

In the end, to accommodate the couple’s needs, we had five musicians playing their part on the day: myself, singer Natalie, guitarist Matt, saxophonist John and another pianist (otherwise I’d have played literally all day!) in Mike. I think we ended up with seven different musical combinations in all!!!

Pre-Wedding Ceremony Music

wedding song list

Requests galore!

One advantage of booking musicians that are strong music readers is that we can play music without prior rehearsal.

Before the ceremony, whilst the guests eagerly awaited Emma’s entrance, I performed solo, playing several of the songs from the list they’d given us.

This especially allowed us to include the more unusual requests — such as songs by Prince, All Saints, Sixpence None The Richer and Oasis — that Natalie didn’t know; there simply wasn’t enough time for her to learn them because we got the list at short notice.

Natalie, Matt and I had arranged some time together on the morning of the wedding to run the ceremony music, and we created some acoustic versions of a few of the requests for later in the day too. We also took a quick selfie, of course!

The Wedding Ceremony

lancashire wedding musicians for a wedding ceremony

Natalie, Matt and I ready to play for the wedding ceremony – the first time we’d played together!

As we’ve already mentioned, this wedding was anything but the usual, so when Natalie told us the ceremony music had changed that morning, we embraced the challenge! The original choice was replaced by Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years”, my most popular wedding request of 2016. Luckily, we all knew it, so it wasn’t too much hassle to throw it in, but it was good to have the time in the morning to check that we had a matching version that we could all play together.

In fact, as musicians, we sometimes perform at our best when we’re flying by the seat of our pants – it’s easy to get comfortable playing music you play all the time, but last-minute changes and playing with new musicians really shake things up!

Also used during the ceremony was a recording of Pachelbel’s Canon in D for the bridal entrance, and “Come Away with Me” by Nora Jones for the signing of the register.

The Drinks Reception

Wedding Saxophone player John at Dream Day Music in Lancashire

John playing during the drinks reception.

During the drinks reception, I managed to have a break, and left the entertainment to one of Dream Day Music’s wedding saxophonists, John, accompanied by Mike on this occasion, using the grand piano in the Eaves Hall foyer.

The pair played an hour’s set of jazz and swing, entertaining guests in the bar whilst the newlyweds had photos taken in the grounds by their super cool photographer duo, Stella Photography. Incidentally, my favourite 2016 professional photo from one of my weddings was of Emma and Joe, showing off Emma’s gorgeous Riki Dalal gown and astonishing bespoke veil, from Ramsbottom based Bride Sew Beautiful.

Also a feature of this photography session was John making an appearance on saxophone in the bridal suite and on the balcony! I must admit, it makes me a bit jealous how much he gets asked to feature in the wedding photos!

He then joined me at the piano back in the foyer ready to play Emma and Joe’s “re-entrance music”, “Waves” by Mr Probz, which accompanied Emma and Joe as they came back to the reception to be with their guests.

Bride and Groom at Eaves Hall

Emma and Joe in the Eaves Hall Grounds – my favourite professional wedding photo of 2016 [photo: Stella Photography]

The Wedding Breakfast

Soon it was time for the guests to be seated, and they were once again entertained by Natalie, Matt and I. We took turns playing short sets, me starting off the music with some solo piano including (and then inspired by) another of Emma’s requests, Carter Burwell’s “Bella’s Lullaby”, from Twilight.

Natalie and Matt took over with a selection of acoustic favourites before I rejoined them for some of Natalie’s cabaret set – songs such as “At Last”. I carried on playing with them on songs we hadn’t rehearsed or found music to as well, as they moved into some more modern numbers, such as “Hold Back the River” by James Bay, and Justin Beiber’s Love Yourself. I love the spontaneity of playing with musicians I haven’t worked with before, and I’m lucky to work at the level where we can all “just do it”, playing by ear. The guests loved the music, and probably got a more exciting and dynamic set as a result of much of it being improvised. It was this part of the day that makes my top 10 moments for 2016.

After the wedding breakfast, as I was packing up, Emma came over for a chat. The bride and groom were thrilled with the music, but the best bit was that Emma had no idea the musician Donna had booked to play piano friends with her back in the day – Emma was good friends with my sister at school, maybe 17 years ago! It’s a small world, and it made it that little bit more special to be involved in this particular wedding!

The Evening Reception

The evening reception saw Natalie continue to perform a further two sets, this time solo to backing tracks, including the first dance, for which Emma and Joe chose “Fools Rush In”.

The happy couple recieved a guard of honour from their guests with a sparkler send-off as they left their family and friends to party after midnight.

Other Suppliers

It was a pleasure to share the work on this wedding with Natalie McGrath, Donna at Pure Elegance Weddings and Events Ltd, Stella Photography (see more photos of this wedding here and here!) and Bride Sew Beautiful.

Advertisements

Top Ten Moments of the 2016 Wedding Season: Charlotte & Matthew

Our busiest wedding musician, pianist Craig, lists the top ten moments from his weddings with us during the 2016 wedding season.

When Lauren asked me to write a blog listing my top ten weddings of the 2016 wedding season, I thought it’d be a doddle. As soon as I started to look through the long list of Dream Day Music weddings I’ve played so far this year, though, I realised that it was an impossible task: every wedding is perfect in its own little way, and choosing the ten best would be as wrong as it would be difficult. Instead, I decided I’d choose my ten favourite moments

Charlotte & Matthew – Last Drop Village – 13th August

Charlotte & Matthew married at The Last Drop Village in Bolton on 13th August 2016. I was commissioned to write some unique piano and violin versions of their ceremony songs, which, along with Violinist Jill, I played on the day during the civil ceremony.

charlottematt1

Charlotte & Matthew after the ceremony [Photo: Martin Stembridge]

Before the ceremony, after Charlotte and Matt’s photographer, Martin, had taken a few photos of us warming up, Jill and I played a selection of modern pop and classic songs as entertainment, which were selected to match the couple’s ceremony choices in style. Their guests snapped away with their camera phones and filmed some of our set as they excitedly awaited Charlotte’s arrival.

The songs chosen for inclusion in the wedding ceremony music were heavily influenced by the bride and groom’s favourite film music and TV themes. Over the last fifteen years, since I played by first wedding, I’ve noticed that the best wedding song choices always come from the couple and mean something to them so I never give couples a list of songs to choose from; your wedding music, especially ceremony songs, should always be really personal to you, in my opinion.

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-04-30

Piano and Violin arrangement especially arranged (written) by Dream Day Music.

Charlotte’s entrance music was a beautiful piece of music by Sleeping At Last, called “Turning Page”. I wrote the piano and violin version based upon an instrumental version used in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, which you can listen to here.

There’s something so touching and uplifting about the blend of piano and strings. As a composer, I use this combination a lot (as in the theme for a documentary I worked on a few years ago, called Justice for Matthew) so I always enjoy writing piano and strings arrangements of people’s wedding songs, and playing any violin and piano duet for weddings.

This combination has the ability to bring a tear to the eye like no other small ensemble can, too, as pointed out by Charlotte a few weeks after the big day:

My husband and I would like to say a massive thank you for the beautiful music you arranged and played at our wedding on the 13th of August at the Last Drop Village. My entrance music was just perfect and even though the day went by in such a blur, I’ll always remember hearing it before I came in the room, it had me in tears! It was all so beautiful and our guests loved it.

Charlotte’s entrance was my favourite part of their lovely, intimate wedding ceremony, which was filled with emotion, from Charlotte’s tears as she walked down the aisle, to Matthew’s nerves and then a lot of laughter from their guests. It’s the bride’s entrance that makes it into my top ten favourite wedding moments of the 2016 season.

charlottematt2

Charlotte’s emotional entrance didn’t have her in tears for long… the couple were all smiles as the ceremony progressed! [Photo: Martin Stembridge]

For the signing of the register, Charlotte and Matthew chose our popular violin duet arrangement of another Breaking Dawn song in “A Thousand Years”, a song which has been by far my most popular request of the year. They also added a violin and piano version of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” nearer the big day (most ceremonies require two songs for the register signing).

The couple exited to the cheers of their guests, and to the theme to Matthew’s favourite series, Game of Thrones.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 11.13.00.png

The Game of Thrones Theme arranged for piano and violin, especially for the groom!

After the ceremony, the new Mr & Mrs Capel and their guests moved out to the grounds of the hotel for photographs, and, from the look of Martin’s photographs, had a fantastic reception at Last Drop Village!

Obviously, all my brides and grooms are great, but sometimes you just meet a really really lovely couple. It was an absolute pleasure to work for Charlotte and Matthew, and to play a part in their Dream Day.

Top Ten Moments of the 2016 Wedding Season: Jenni & Adam

Our busiest wedding musician, pianist Craig, lists the top ten moments from his weddings with us during the 2016 wedding season.

When Lauren asked me to write a blog listing my top ten weddings of the 2016 wedding season, I thought it’d be a doddle. As soon as I started to look through the long list of Dream Day Music weddings I’ve played so far this year, though, I realised that it was an impossible task: every wedding is perfect in its own little way, and choosing the ten best would be as wrong as it would be difficult. Instead, I decided I’d choose my ten favourite moments

Jenni & Adam – Shaw Hill – 29th July

Jenni and Adam married at Shaw Hill Golf Resort & Spa Hotel on a beautiful sunny Friday in July. I was booked to play their wedding music through Dream Day Music, as half of one of their violin duos, accompanying Jill playing before and throughout the wedding ceremony and for an hour during the drinks reception.

Jenni & Adam: booked wedding piano and violin in Chorley through Dream Day Music

Jenni & Adam with their guests [Photo: Neil White Photographysee more here!]

As seen here in some brilliant photos by their wedding photographer (local Chorley artist Neil White), the happy couple chose a blue colour scheme for the venue dressing, the attire of the bridal party, and also in their choice of transport.

Jenni & Adam: booked wedding piano and violin at Shaw Hill Chorley

Jenni’s bridal party looked stunning [Photo: Neil White Photography]

Jenni had six bridesmaids and two flower girls (more on them shortly!). Adam was accompanied by four groomsmen, in navy blue suits with pale blue cravats to match the bridesmaid’s stunning dresses.

Their fantastic pale blue 1964 split screen VW camper van was supplied by Coach House Limousines of Blackburn.

After waiting eagerly for Jenni to arrive, with some solo piano entertainment through in the bar, and then some romantic pop played by the violin duo in the ceremony room, the guests watched her walk down the aisle in the Penenia Suite to a beautiful violin and piano arrangement of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, written in-house just for her at Dream Day Music.

Incidentally, “A Thousand Years” has been by far my own most popular wedding request of the 2016 season!

Jenni & Adam booked Chorley wedding piano and violin for Shaw Hill

Jenni & Adam’s camper van matched their colour scheme [photo: Neil White Photography]

During the signing of the register, Jill and I played John Legend’s “All of Me” and “How Long Will I Love You” by Ellie Goulding.

Following the ceremony, the new Mr & Mrs Dickenson left the ceremony room to cheers, applause, and an uptempo version of a Michael Buble song, again played on piano and violin.

As soon as we’d finished our version of “Everything”, we dashed back through to the conservatory by the bar, and we continued playing, with a mix of classic and modern pop songs, based on a list of favourites provided by Jenni and Adam.

Jill’s a very versatile violinist from Garstang. She has played with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and in the original West End orchestra for Les Miserables, so I find it somehow quite odd when she plays songs by artists like Lucas Graham and David Guetta! But wow, they don’t half sound good! Other songs we included in the drinks reception set ranged from The Beatles to Bruno Mars.

Violinist and pianist for wedding violin and piano duo

Jill and I playing during the ceremony [Photo: Neil White Photography]

At one point, shortly before the guests moved back into the Penenia Suite — beautifully decked out, again in blue — for the wedding breakfast, we were joined in the conservatory by the couple’s flower girls. They danced to some Disney favourites, clearly feeling like princesses and loving how their skirts twirled as they spun to the music. Their faces were an absolute picture (which many of the guests quickly captured on their cameras and phones).

It is this moment that makes my top ten. It’s really special to be able to contribute to a wedding day with something unexpected, and we’re lucky as musicians specialising in wedding entertainment to be able to do that. As perfect as the ceremony was, seeing the girls having such a great time and being able to play them some music that they knew, enjoyed and could just get lost in without a care in the world, really made the day for us!

The day after the wedding, Jenni and Adam text me:

Thank you so much for yesterday! You were brilliant and really added to our day… Thank you again! 🙂 Jenni and Adam xxx

No, guys. Thank you! It was an absolute pleasure to be involved.

Wedding Suppliers

As well as ourselves, Neil and Coach House, working on this wedding were makeup artist Sonara Parker and DJ Guy Barker.