Having played in bands at weddings you see some pretty interesting sights – it’s fascinating peeking in on people’s most important day; people you don’t really know at all. And as a musician you can be treated as close to a guest of honour, but more likely worse than the (rest of the) hired-help. I’ve played at weddings of strangers and been asked to sit at the top table. I’ve also had to share scraps out of a sack with the neighbourhood dogs.
We had some pretty bizarre requests. I have played The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles as a bridal waltz (more than once). I would like to say that’s really awful – but at the end of the day the people getting married get to choose. And what suits them is what is best. There are not right and wrong songs – well, not really anyway.
It used to bug me – being hired as an Irish band – and after one set of standards (Marie’s Wedding was an obvious one to do) someone would come up and go “that was really great, now could you just play some Abba”. The logic seems to be you play music you must therefore know every song ever invented! We had to learn Van Morrison’ s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You for a few weddings; again another obvious choice, but a nice enough song in that context if the people are really feeling it.
I didn’t want clichés when I got married. I wanted to choose the music (with Katy of course) and have it mean something but be a little quirky too.
We had great music at our wedding.
But then – I’m sure everyone thinks that.
We had a short instrumental piano piece by (Chilly) Gonzales. His Bermuda Triangle is a minute-long piece of summery solo piano from this album. It was the scene-setter for our Hawke’s Bay wedding in January’s heat. It also referenced a faction of the family’s heritage.
Then we played the R.E.M. song At My Most Beautiful in its entirety; the crowd of family and friends gathered. Me standing, not too nervous, but having to wait through five minutes of this song and the start of the next one to be sure my wife-to-be would actually materialise. The song was a favourite of both of ours – but also it’s a nice reference to Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys. An early thought was to have God Only Knows (again because we both really liked the song) but the fact that its opening line, “I may not always love you” might not have sat too well with some of the people in the audience ruled it out. It might have seemed a bit jarring in that context – and there was also the fact that it was, at that stage, the soundtrack to Big Love, a TV show about polygamy. So, a song referencing and reminiscent of God Only Knows was a good choice I figured. But we liked the tune in its own right of course.
And then the big music: the processional.
We chose Faure’s Requiem. Yes I know a requiem suggests a different kind of ceremony – but we liked the music. And that’s what’s most important with wedding music (or any music for that matter; if you like it – great!) But listen to the segment (Pie Jesu) it builds majestically; it holds suspense and then peaks to reveal a beauty that almost matched that of my bride as she (thankfully!) appeared mid-way through the piece, very much stealing the thunder (in the best possible way) of the crescendo.
So that was our build up and early wedding music.
I am not a religious person and was adamant I did not want a hymn. But we did want a singalong song for everyone – so we had a good friend (and former band member) play guitar and lead the choir of guests through the John Lennon arrangement of Stand By Me.
For the signing of the register we had the Burt Bacharach song This Guy’s In Love With You. A favourite song, again (and just the right sort of cheese/schmaltz if you ask me) – the Ray Conniff Singers version was perfect.
Our recessional – our walk back down the aisle – was to Heavy Metal Drummer by Wilco. We both loved the band – and while not our absolute favourite song (we were not about to have I Am Trying To Break Your Heart) – we both loved the idea of this tune to kick off our life together; it has a valedictorian throw-your-hats-in-the-air feel about the way the tune leaps into life – just as we began the leap in to life together. It sounds happy (and we were happy). So that’s what we wanted.
I love Rickie Lee Jones’ rendition of Someone To Watch Over Me – and wanted to get that in there – so that played out after Heavy Metal Drummer…
Our first dance was to a song that meant something to us and probably to no one else. We had Fuzzy by The Incredible Moses Leroy. It has a story – as all first-dance songs should.
And from there we had a DJ to take over – he was fantastic and allowed me to make some suggestions of favourite songs that we’d like to hear blended in throughout the evening. He wisely followed up our first dance with his own choice of Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares For Me – and later in the evening we’d boogie to StevIe Wonder’s Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing and Kelis’ Trick Me. Among many others.
So that was our wedding music. From a wedding that took place over a decade ago…
What I’m interested in knowing is what memorable/random/weird wedding music did you have? Or have you heard? Have you been to a wedding where the music was just wrong? Or were you blown away by some amazing choices at a wedding? Are you planning your own music now even though you’re not close to married?
So what would your first dance be? Or what was it? And what was the best bit – musically – of your wedding? And/or from the weddings you have been to?