One of the questions we often get asked in Rock My Reception is ‘Do you remember every wedding you’ve ever played’? Well, if truth be told, after playing well over 100 weddings in the space of two years-some of which returning to the same venue- memories can get somewhat muddled! There are however, special details that always make each wedding stand out from one another; the sparks which make every couples big day unique.
For the British public, Saturday 11th April 2015 was the day that 72,000 people watched Many Clouds storm in 1st at the 168th Grand National at Aintree. In Dunblane, crowds were gathered to celebrate their local and national hero, ex- Wimbledon champion Andy Murray marry his long-time partner Kim Sears. It was exactly 100 miles South East from Dunblane at Cuddystone Hall, Kirknewton, in Northumberland that we arrived for the wedding of Emma and Alex.
After the recently welcomed April heat-wave we had enjoyed in Yorkshire over the previous few days, the Northumberland climate certainly did it’s best to let us know that summer was still yet a pipe-dream and the imposing, snow-tipped hills only added to this stark reminder. You quickly forgot about the change in temperature when surveying the incredible surrounding countryside and the cosy, inviting Cuddystone Hall venue. It became apparent that this bracing fresh air, accompanied by an early morning snow storm, was just as an important consideration as the astounding beauty of the location itself. This was a wedding venue chosen with care and astute planning, as was the whole day.
Emma had the foresight to liaise with Kieran in great detail via e-mail, explaining our role in the days proceedings and what music should be provided and when. This was a great help to us as we could prepare and rehearse our parts to perfection. Emma and Alex had chosen to have their service conducted within the stone wall which houses a monument for the fallen in World War II, just across from the Cuddystone Hall. As we had arrived a good two hours early, we had set up a power supply and speaker so that the chosen ceremony music could be heard. We had already been greeted warmly by Alex and his best man, Dan and knew that this was going to be a wedding with an emphasis on energy and enthusiasm.
When Emma made her way from the wedding car to the strains of The Sound of Music’s ‘ Processional Maria’, she proclaimed at the top of her voice ‘IM GETTING MARRIED!!’. The congregation cheered with gusto!
It was the perfect photo opportunity as just after Alex and Emma had swapped their vows their spaniel came bounding over to join in the celebrations! As the couple and their guests made their way to the house to the sound of Sigur Ross’s ‘Hoppipolla’, we too convened to the stage in the hall.
Wedding breakfasts for musicians can often be a low key affair; gentle background music being the general proviso. Emma, Alex and their guests, however chose to keep up the energy at all times. It is worth mentioning at this juncture that their caterers were outstanding and everyone was raving over the perfectly cooked steak meal. We were inundated with brilliant, up-beat requests ranging from Neil Young’s ‘Keep On Rocking In The Free World’ to ”Common People’ by Pulp. The atmosphere was turned up even more when a guest called Ken (famous for appearing on Come Dine With Me) asked if he could join us on the stage with his own Cajon box drum he had brought. Not only did we have Ken joining us on percussion, then Emma handed guests tambourines and shakers, so we treated everyone to a selection of Irish traditional sing-alongs. Emma really got everyone singing and clapping along, which made this one of the most fun wedding breakfasts we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing! As an additional twist, Alex and Emma then donned aprons and served everyone fresh ice creams as we played Chas and Dave’s ‘Hotshot Tottenham’ for Spurs supporter Emma!
After the speeches, Emma and Alex took their Spaniel for a walk and we reconvened for the evening set. For their first dance choices Alex and Emma had chosen ‘ It Takes Two’ by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston and ‘I’ll See You When I Get There’ by Lou Rawls. Both of which were great, upbeat songs that got everyone on the dance floor. Ken joined us again for most of the evening on his Cajon box drum which added to the folky feel of the set. Not only did both Emma and Alex have superb taste in music, but so did their guests and it was because of their song requests they never left the dance floor for the two hour duration of our set. The wind may have been whistling around the Northumbrian fells outside, but thanks to Emma, Alex and their congregation, inside Cuddystone Hall was an atmosphere of warmth and spirit we shall certainly never forget.