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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Barnful of Beautiful Music

A very tired 2❤Close Live Lounge Duo crawled through the door early on Sunday morning having played a whole hour longer than booked, following a series of additional requests made by guests after the bride and groom had left for their honeymoon!

Here’s a little more about the wedding of Beth and Sean, who booked a Dream Day Music Whole Day Package to pack their day full of live music, at Brownsholme Hall Tithe Barn: definitely one of the most romantic wedding venues in Lancashire.

A Stunning Setting

The new Mr & Mrs Moorhead’s intimate wedding was held in the Tithe Barn at Brownsholme Hall, near the Ribble Valley hamlet of Whitewell in the Forrest of Bowland, with about 40 guests for the duration of the day. This was a reunion of family and friends from all over the UK and Ireland, on a wonderful celebratory occasion.

A beautiful brown Blüthner grand piano, hired from Macclesfield-based Shackleford Pianos, was the showpiece of the room, immediately catching the eye of all of the guests, and rarely falling silent all day.

Beth hired a vintage Blüthner piano from Shackleford Pianos

Beth hired a vintage Blüthner piano from Shackleford Pianos

A Classical Ceremony

Beth was very active in choosing her music, and personally selected a programme of classical music to be played on the piano by Craig, the wedding pianist we provided for the day. Guests were seated to the sound of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.16 in C Major and Craig’s piano arrangement of Bach’s Arioso.

Beth’s entrance was to a delicate version of Canon in D, based on an arrangement by Michael Silverman.

Prior to the signing of the register – during which Craig performed Bach’s famous Air and a version of Clair de Lune by Debussy, especially abridged to fit into this part of the ceremony – the guests were treated to a haunting clarinet solo performed by Beth’s extremely talented cousin Eoin. His tone and control combined with the fabulous acoustics of the Tithe Barn were truly breathtaking.

Finally, Sean escorted his wife back down the aisle to Bach’s classic Prelude and Fugue in C Major and the applause of their family and friends.

Chilled Champagne

The party made the short walk to the stylishly decorated upper barn for a cocktail and canapé reception, where Craig was waiting to entertain them on one of his electric pianos, with an hour of chilled-out lounge music.

The candlelit upper barn was decorated with photos of the couple with their grandparents; a splendid handmade chest for cards and gifts; a gorgeous guest book; and slate keepsakes handcrafted by father of the Bride, Iain.

Beth's father handcrafted some slate momentos for guests

Beth’s father handcrafted some slate momentos for guests

The Wedding Breakfast Banquet!

On their return to the ceremony room, the guests were greeted to the scene of a medieval banquet. A grand roasted beast was presented to the guests before carving!

Craig performed a selection of 30s-50s jazz and swing, many of the numbers selected by Beth, during the wedding breakfast. Irishman Iain led a chorus or two of New York, New York and Come Fly With Me towards the end of the meal. For the younger guests, there were also a few modern hits thrown in, such as John Legend’s All of Me.

The Beautiful Tithe Barn at Brownsholme Hall, set for The Moorhead's wedding breakfast.

The Beautiful Tithe Barn at Brownsholme Hall, set for The Moorhead’s wedding breakfast.

A Relaxing Evening

Following the meal and speeches, and a cheese and wine reception back in the upper barn, the guests once again returned to the main barn, which had this time been transformed for the evening reception. Round tables, a vintage record player in the corner, and the piano (now decked out with microphones and PA), all lit in hot pink and blue, turned the barn into more of a cool cocktail bar!

The happy couple’s first dance as husband and wife was to Moon River played on vinyl, a detail perfectly in keeping with the other vintage themes of the day. They were then joined by guests as Beth danced with Iain to Elton John’s The Heart of Every Girl, played by pianist-cum-DJ Craig.

West Park Videos were still filming as this dance finished, and 2❤Close Live Lounge Duo opened their first set with more requests from Beth, starting with A Thousand Years. The guests continued to sway through similar chill-out numbers like Fields of Gold, Make You Feel My Love and Your Song, Kate’s stunning heartfelt vocals really setting the romantic mood.

It was very important to Beth to keep the ambiance relaxed; given how far her guests had traveled, and how little the family comes together, it was vital that they were allowed to take the opportunity to chat and catch up during the evening, without the music being too loud. As such, we adapted her package to include two sets by acoustic act 2❤Close, rather than the set by a live band that would normally be provided.

Shortly after the slower requests, the duo moved onto some uptempo numbers, allowing the piano to ring out and the vocals to let loose with funky takes on songs by James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Duffy, and a groovy version of another of Beth’s requests, “Ain’t No Mountain high enough”. The guests were once again up dancing and singing along. It’s surprising the energy that a well-rehearsed acoustic act can create with just a piano and the voice!

A Sparkling Send-off

All too soon, it was time for the bride and groom to make their 10:30pm departure for their honeymoon flight to Corfu. Their guests formed a ‘guard of honour’ with sparklers to see them off!

This being the coldest night yet since summer, the guests were keen to warm up with more dancing, and instead of the mp3 playlist that had been arranged, they asked 2❤Close to carry on playing! Several requests later, including a special one-off rendition of One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful (which they’d never attempted before!) for young bridesmaid Ella, the duo finally finished playing at about 11:30pm, an hour after the booking should have finished.

Even as they were packing up, Kate was interrupted with a request for one final “smoochy number” by a guest for his wife. Always obliging to their audiences, 2❤Close capped off a long day of live music with a totally unplugged, very personal, performance of Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are:

A now-empty candlelit barn, the unamplified voice singing to the piano with the two remaining guests gently swaying.

How romantic is that!?

There’s nothing like being busy..!

It’s been an awfully busy summer (if being busy can be awful?!) here at Dream Day Music. The much-discussed hang-over from brides reluctant to marry in the 13th year of the millennium has seen an unprecedented amount of Thursday weddings during the 2014 season, as the most popular North West wedding venues struggled to fit everyone in. We’ve had several Thursday weddings to add to our usual host of Friday-Sunday nuptials, and we’ve loved every minute!

We’ve also been absorbed into Lancashire music promotions company, Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd, and have been able to launch some fantastic new offers and discounts as a result.

One Thursday, Back in Time

One Thursday wedding was our first visit into the wonderful boutique hotel that is Oddfellows in Chester, for the lavish Great Gatsby themed marriage of Chris and Jen. Our in-house wedding pianist Craig entertained a guest list of dashing tuxedo-ed gents and their partners in stunning cocktail dresses with a mixture of jazz and swing for the drinks reception, held in Oddfellows’ stylish bar and outdoor terrace areas. There was a memorable moment for all when keen rock ‘n’ roll dancer James requested “something uptempo and Latin”, Craig grooving Mas Que Nada as James grabbed wife Nia and the couple dazzled onlookers with an impromptu routine.

Moments like this are a great reminder that your wedding music is as much about your guests as it is about you; choose music that they’ll love and there’ll be some magical memories made!

Chris got in touch on Monday to say:

Craig played piano for our wedding reception this summer. I cannot thank him enough for what he did for us. As well as a fantastic musician, he’s an all round top bloke to work with too! The choice and variety of music for the whole day was so well suited. Our guests are to this day still mentioning him and his music. Being a professional musician myself I knew from the second I booked him he’d do a sterling job. Cannot recommend Craig highly enough. If you have a wedding, party, special occasion BOOK Craig.. he’ll be the talk of your event!

Chris and Jen are well regarded in the world of fashion magazines and blogging, and as you’d expect, no expense was spared on photography. A blog by their photographer James Farley contains some of their pictures, which must be seen to be believed! They’re some of the best wedding photos we’ve seen, and we see a lot!

Their evening reception entertainment was performed by fantastic, energetic Merseyside folk-rock band Jessicas Ghost, with the groom even stepping up to play a few numbers on violin too!

New Offers

Joining Soundsmiths Promotions Ltd has allowed Dream Day Music to introduce some superbly priced offers that won’t be beaten anywhere in Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside or Greater Manchester, subsidised by our parent company.

For a limited time, we’re offering couples the chance to book our classy piano/vocal duo for either their wedding ceremony or drinks reception, and get solo piano entertainment in the style of their choice for the other part totally free! This means two musicians and music for two important parts of your big day, for between just £220 and £280.

We’re also offering, for bookings taken during the rest of 2014, amazingly priced whole day packages, which will see us provide for as little as £1299:

  • Pre-ceremony entertainment by the solo musician or duet of your choice
  • Ceremony music (entrance, exit and 2x signing of the register) chosen by you performed by the same musician or duet
  • 60 minute performance during your drinks reception by the same musician or duet
  • Wedding breakfast entertainment by a solo pianist
  • Evening entertainment function band

All of our offers can be seen at www.dreamdaymusic.co.uk

Keep an eye open for our next blog: a little review of the best Lancashire wedding venue hotels with pianos…

Top Tips for Truly Unique Wedding Music

Welcome to our first ever blog post!

The musicians at Dream Day Music has been involved in the wedding industry for several years, and it’s about time we shared some knowledge with brides to be! There’ll be regular updates on wedding and event music ideas to come, general wedding-y posts, and probably the occasional rant! There’s a little about Dream Day Music at the bottom of each post, and a link to our website.

Anyway on with the show…

Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed an increase in the amount of clients who are keen to avoid the wedding music cliches. There’s been a trend in mainstream music recently that has seen a shunning of the norm, and a desire to hear something a little more quirky. Ellie Goulding’s version of ‘Your Song’ was massive; it wasn’t anything particularly special, but it was completely different to the version people have heard oh so many times. Even X Factor (Boo! Hiss!) has been getting in on the act – and, to be fair, making people realise they don’t need to settle with the same old versions of songs – with acts such as James Arthur and his creative takes on recent hit tracks.

You’ve chosen personalised stationery, and decided exactly how you want your venue to look; why shouldn’t you choose exacly how your wedding sounds too? Want to surprise your guests with an unusual take on your wedding music? Here’s how…

Tip 1: Avoid the Cliches: Do Your Research

You’d be amazed how many brides book a musician through us, especially for the ceremony, but have no idea at the time what music they’d like to be played. Subsequently, more often than not, they get back to us with requests for Canon in D. Now, if you really like Canon in D, great! But are you choosing it because you think you should have classical music and it’s the only piece you know? The last soap wedding you watched used it, as did the last film wedding you watched, and they probably used it because it’s ‘public domain’ music and free to use. The last string quartet you heard played it. On your venue’s CD of entrance music for weddings, it’ll be track 1 (and probably track 2 and 3, just played on different instruments!). You get the picture.

If you really want a certain style of music but you don’t really know any in that style, listen to some! You won’t need to buy any. Just get onto YouTube. Type in ‘romantic classical music’; type in ‘chilled out classical music’; type in ‘celebratory classical music’. Hell, if you like it, type in ‘thrash metal’! Which leads nicely to Tip 2…

Tip 2: Use your Favourite Songs

Now there’s a crazy idea, huh?

Some of the best weddings (musically) that we’ve been involved with have used songs that just meant something to the couple. One couple used ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (the bride’s name) by Dire Straits, and exited to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’; another used ‘My Beloved Monster’, a cute little song from Shrek, as signing of the register music. It adds a personal touch, and brings smiles to the faces of those guests who really know you.

Tip 3: Find Truly Talented Musicians

So you want to use ’99 Red Baloons’ in your ceremony, but that won’t sound good played by the pianist you’ve heard, right? Wrong!

Quality musicians or arrangers, should be able to make any song sound good on their instrument. It’s about understanding the instrument and adapting the song to the strengths of the instrument. If someone quotes you a fortune to learn or adapt a song, they’re probably trying to put you off using it in favour of a song they already play. That shouldn’t be the way; look elsewhere and you’ll find someone with the skills to pull it off. Furthermore, if they’re good enough to give you what you need, they’ll be able to do it quickly and cheaply, so it shouldn’t even be a big task for them to send you a short demo, to show you what you’ll be getting.

Lancashire wedding pianist Craig Smith is a professional arranger and session pianist, offering piano versions of any song. Prefer the idea of a solo guitar? Check out Bolton-based Paul Thornton. Both include bespoke arrangements of your favourite songs within their packages.

Tip 4: Look for a Creative Musician, Band or Duo

If you’re going to use songs, the problem with songs is they contain words. Now, even the best pianist can’t make his piano sing! But add vocals to the mix and you’ve got the words too, which is obviously important if it’s the lyrics that mean something to you. The problem is that most covers bands and duos start out as hobbying musicians, aiming to emulate precisely their favourite singers and bands. We want to be unique, right? We don’t want to emulate!

Check out ‘covers’ on YouTube, or maybe get down to your local open mic night. Sure, there’ll be some rubbish, and probably plenty of spotty teens, to scour through but sooner or later you’ll find a gem of an act who’ll do a great creative take on a track (remember the Ellie Goulding effect?). Approach them about doing a version of your chosen song(s). Creative musicians like a challenge, and if there’s some money in it, all the better!

2Close, an acoustic duo based in Lancashire have a couple of such little gems on Soundcloud (another great source of inspiration!). If you’re a little further afield, check out Yorkshire songstress Hannah-Rei for some truly astonishing vocals on some different takes of current chart hits.

Tip 5: Mix Up the Instruments

A simple way to make sure your music is unique is to use different instruments to those used on the music you’re using. Look for duos and trios with less common lead instruments (such as our piano and flute duo or our piano and violin duo); hearing them play your favourite rock song makes that song unique, and also softens the sound of it to fit in better with the surroundings of your wedding.

Tip 6: Avoid Entertainment Agencies

Don’t get us wrong, agencies have their place (and our musicians do use them). If you want an experienced band to play you some disco classics, they’ll be a good place to start. But agencies rely on acts who have mass appeal. There’s no way they’ll be interested in a quirky band playing niche music; they want human jukeboxes.

It’ll take a bit more searching – obviously, the big agencies take up the first few pages of Google – but eventually you’ll get to the websites of the bands themselves. Search for what you want. Search for song titles you’d like to be played. Search for instruments you’d like in the band. Listen to demos. If you’re looking for unique takes on the songs, or current chart hits but all in one style that you like, you’ll need to spend time finding it. But it’ll be worth the search when your guests realise that the soul song they’re listening to is actually ‘Sexy and I Know It’ and jump up to dance and sing along!

Tip 7: Bespoke Bands

If you still can’t find what you want, or endless searching isn’t your thing, you need our very own Bespoke Bands.

Dream Day Music is a collective of professional session musicians (with work for/alongside the likes of Seal, Craig David, Paloma Faith and Bryan Adams to their names). We put together ‘one-night-only’ bands to suit our client’s needs, for roughly the same price as a regular function band. The difference is you get to specify exactly what you want! Don’t compromise on YOUR big day!

Either let us know a budget and your preferences on the following points, and we’ll tell you how long we can arrange a band to play for, or tell us how long you want the band to play for, and we’ll give you a quote for that. People often specify the following:

  • The style(s) of music
  • Some songs to include
  • The size / line-up of the band
  • The appearance of the band

We source the (top quality) musicians, arrange the songs, rehearse the band etc., exactly to your specification. Your wedding band will be your dream band, exactly how you imagined it; no compromises! For more details and a price guide, see www.dreamdaymusic.co.uk

Tip 8: Unique Compositions

Consider commissioning a unique composition written to accompany your wedding. You’ll be able to choose the style, the instruments, the length, the lot! It’ll be like starring in your very own film with your very own musical soundtrack. A CD of the pieces would make a great little gift for mum or gran too!

Bespoke compositions can be played live, or pre-recorded to be played on CD or mp3 player by your venue. Depending on the length of the piece and the number of instruments, it might even be cheaper than booking musicians!

Check out Craig Smith Music for one such composer based in Preston, Lancashire.

Thanks for reading our blog! We hope it’s been inspirational and encouraged you to think a little more creatively about the use of music on your big day.

Dream Day Music is a collective of professional session musicians (we’re not an agency!) committed to improving the quality of events music, offering something different, and keeping costs down for our clients. Find out more at www.dreamdaymusic.co.uk.

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