Luck was definitely on the side of Lee and Dorena when they decided to get married at Bingleys beautiful nineteenth Century, Gothic-style venue. Nestling in secluded woodland yet only 1.5 miles from Bingley town centre, Oakwood Hall is fantastic place to get married.
Friday the May 8th 2015 turned out to be one of those dramatically changeable days, weatherwise, and upon our arrival it seemed like an outdoor drinks reception maybe on the cards. Thankfully, we’d already got the heads-up from the weather forecast and decided it was probably best to set up in the reception area.
Oakwood Hall is a family run business and the staff work swiftly and with precision ensuring every small detail is perfect. While Dorena, Lee and their guests were in the main bar area relaxing with a few pre-ceremony drinks, the staff were tending to the finishing touches in the ceremony room and we had set up ready for the drinks reception.
As we waited during the wedding ceremony we noticed the whole proceeding had just got too much for one little boy called Harrison who had gone outside with his Dad to chill out! I decided to give him a rendition of Postman Pat, which can be often greeted with an expression of sheer shock and nonplussed confusion! Thankfully, on this occasion, Harrison’s crying stopped, a big smile came to his face and was instantly cheered up: good old Postman Pat!
After the ceremony we started our set and played a few gentle songs-we had been booked for the entire day and on occasions like this, for Rock My Reception, it’s important that we really pace ourselves, musically, holding back some of the more upbeat material until later. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, no one wants to be blasted away by a raucous rock ‘n’ roll numbers when they probably want a post-ceremony drink and chat, secondly we have to make sure that guests have upbeat songs to dance to later on in the evening. Soon after we started, the photographer called for guests to make their way to the garden for group shots. This was perfectly timed as the last vestige of the days good weather was just hanging on in there. A great moment occurred when Dorena threw the bouquet which completely missed the direction of the waiting bridesmaids and ended up sailing into the bushes!
The drinks reception was really relaxed and the layout of the room completely leant itself to the air of comfort. We got asked for several requests including Eric Claptons ‘Lyla’. Little Harrison was becoming our number one fan by this time and taking great interest in our music! Dorena and Lee were both fantastic and not only came over to chat with us both, but made their way around the room to chat to all their guests. This is never an easy job when there are so many guests and so little time; Many wedding couples comment on how quick their day goes as they seem to spend most of the day thanking everyone for coming, yet never having time to chat to anyone for a long period.
While we were playing the drinks reception, Oakwood Halls staff were effortlessly and seamlessly transforming the ceremony room into the dining room. All tables were adorned with candles and fresh flowers and while the guests transferred to the dining room. As the newly weds were announced into the room for the wedding breakfast, we flanked them, playing a live rendition of ‘All You Need Is Love’ by The Beatles with many of the guests joining in!
For the speeches we were able to make a swift turn-around and set up our equipment at the back of the room with no disruption to the proceedings. We also managed to catch the best mans speech, which was both touching and full of scouse humour!
After playing for the duration of the wedding breakfast we had been kindly reserved a couple of meals by Dorena and Lee. This is something that we never expect from a wedding couple, but greatly appreciate when offered. Full praise must go to the chef and cooking staff at Oakwood Hall as the roast dinner was cooked to perfection!
We then took a brief break after the wedding breakfast and prepared for the evening function to play more upbeat songs. By this time the weather outside had turned into a Hitchcockian nightmare, though this was no concern to Lee, Dorena and their guests, as all the photos had been taken ages ago and the cosy, warmth and comfort of the hotel was more than ample.
It was a great delight for us when we were joined on stage by one of the guests called Sam, she had been a singer round the pubs and clubs of Bradford and joined us for a few numbers including The Commitments ‘Mustang Sally’ and Amy Winehouses’ ‘Valerie’. In Rock My Reception we always aim to please as many people as possible with regards to fulfilling song requests-even if we haven’t tried playing a song before, we’ll give it a go! On this occasion we were asked for two songs, which surprisingly, we’ve never been requested before: ‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ‘Late December back in ’63’. Another two songs we can now add to our ever-increasing repertoire!
Many years ago, when myself and Kieran were in a four-piece rock band we learnt a lesson in the value of bringing acoustic instruments to gigs as well as electric guitars. We were playing at a dusty working men’s club where everything was going fine until a fuse blew and all the electricity on the stage was cut dead. Luckily, we got out our trusty acoustics and the gig was saved. At Oakwood Hall a similar problem arose when we had taken a brief break between sets. A fine looking Wurlitzer Jukebox had been placed in the centre of the room to fill in for us during our break. Unfortunately the electrics had decided not to play ball and when guests typed in their favourite tunes such as ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ they were met with a jarring crackle from the speakers. To try and swiftly turn around the situation we decided to ask the guests what songs they’d typed into the jukebox and instead we’d play them instead! Thankfully, the dance floor was filled again and guests had their favourite hits played to them. This goes to show the virtues of acoustic music over electric- save for the musicians hands accidentally falling off, nothing can really go wrong!!
We concluded the night by playing The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’ at the request of the Scottish guests and they sure got up and filled that dance floor! As this particular wedding didn’t require us both to embark on an epic 3 hour journey back home, it enabled us to relax afterwards and chat to some of the guests; a luxury we don’t always get. It was fantastic to meet and chat to Linda, who had been a PA for comedian Bob Monkhouse, ex Time Lord and Worzel Gummage Jon Pertwee, and Ted Rogers (321!). People often ask us if we miss out on the social aspect of working on a weekend. Quite the contrary-we are very lucky in that we get to meet and chat to so many interesting people from all over Britain and we must again thank Lee and Dorena again for the opportunity of playing at their whole day reception. It just went so quick!