It’s not every day a musician gets the privilege of providing the soundtrack to the wedding of an Olympic champion, but for Rock My Reception, one fine day in July their dream came true!
Well, ‘fine day’ maybe stretching it a bit; as to be expected in England, late July, the day started off with a clear blue backdrop, only to be hammered mid afternoon with a rainfall of biblical proportions. This however, did nothing to mar the perfect wedding of Kristian and Gem Thomas at the luxurious Hoar Cross Hall Spa Hotel, and for the well seasoned award winning wedding band Rock My Reception, come rain shine or even snowfall, they’re always eager to rock the joint!
One question often asked to wedding bands is ‘how far are you willing to travel?’ A fair question too as many bands are hesitant when it comes to taking bookings more than a 50 mile radius of their base. However, for Rock My Reception, who had recently returned from a mammoth destination wedding, pool party, photo and video shoot extravaganza in Marbella, Spain, the 100 mile trip from York to Burton on Trent seemed like a short Sunday drive! Incidentally, it was actually at a previous destination wedding the band had played in Dubrovnik, Croatia where Kristian and Gem had seen them play and enquired about them playing for their wedding. Kieran explains this is often the case when taking their bookings.
‘One of the best forms of advertising for us is when couples get to see us play at family or friends weddings. They see us perform throughout the day and can see for themselves how we take requests from the guests and provide different sets to cater for different parts of the day. We’ve taken many bookings over the years through this method which goes to show we must be doing something right!’
Kristian and Gem had booked the band for their wedding breakfast, a light ukulele set after speeches and to bookend the day by providing acoustic and dj sets for the evening.
As the band had arrived earlier than required, they also made use of Hoar Cross Halls Grade II Edwardian backdrop and gardens to film a short video for promotional purposes. Dom explains the unique idea they stumbled across.
‘When it comes to promotional videos, people don’t often have the time to sit through a 3 minute video, so we hit upon the idea of filming short films of us playing our ukuleles in interesting places. The uke is an instrument which has become pretty fashionable as of late and we get to play in some beautiful and quirky locations which are ideal settings for filming. The videos are getting a lot of hits on our social network and are proving to be really popular’.
Choosing a date to pick your wedding on to catch a window of good weather is like a Russian Roulette in Britain and this day day was no exception. However, as luck would have it, the blue skies held up long enough for some majestic photo’s to be taken in the stunning gardens and no sooner had everyone made their way to their seats for the wedding breakfast, the heavens opened and bounced relentlessly off the stone paving outside. No matter-the job had been done!
Rock My Reception kept the music stripped down to an unplugged set while people were chatting over their meals, playing mellow modern classics from George Ezra, Bruno Mars and Paolo Nutini. For the Ukulele set Dom played to and conversed with some of the more senior members of the party who took a particular interest in a signature scrawled on his Uke!
‘A lot of people ask about the autograph on my uke. It’s actually Joe Brown’s who played with his band ‘The Bruvvers’ back in the early 60’s. This leads on to several requests from that era. Going back even further, I always have a few George Formby numbers on hand just in case!’
The evening set began with a double bill first dance set of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ into The Foundations ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, then launching into the bands rocking repertoire featuring some upbeat classics by Chuck Berry, Queen and Oasis to name but a few.
Keeping people on the dancefloor is paramount, especially during the dj set and the band always keep their fingers on the pulse of modern hits of the moment, as well as tried and tested classics. One particular guest kept the requests coming in, as Kieran remembers;
‘Louis Smith, fellow Olympic Gymnast and friend of Kristian gave us several brilliant up to date requests such as Justin Beibers ‘Despacito’ remix. He was a dead sound guy and his dancing put ours to shame!’
In fact both Kristian and Louis were both happy to pose for photographs with the Rock My Reception, though their highly toned physics made them instantly recognisable as the Olympic winners. Dom agrees;
‘Yes, judging by the photo’s I may have to dedicate a couple more hours in the gym to get to their shape!!’
As Kieran pointed out, Kristian and Gem’s wedding was also an opportunity to catch up with old friends;
‘Not only was it a great honour to play for Kristian and Gem, plus their wonderful guests, but also to catch up with our Dubrovnik wedding couple Brett and Natasha Ince who have now been happily married for nearly a year. We’d like to thank Kristian and Gem, their fantastic guests and also the wonderfully helpful staff at Hoar Cross Hall. It was a real pleasure for us to perform at such a lovely wedding’.