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.

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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.

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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.

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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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