Everyone has their own ambitions in life. These personal goals they want to tick off their wish list, i.e. swimming with Dolphins, meeting a celebrity or climbing Mount Everest barefoot. Musicians are no exception to these yearnings and in Rock My Reception one of our dreams was to get an overseas wedding booking. It was thanks to Frank and Jenny Lewis, our wish came true…
One of the best forms of advertising for us has always been playing at a wedding itself. People actually get to see what we do first hand and we often get approached by couples at the end of the day, asking for our details and availability. This was the case after we had played an afternoon drinks reception in Holmfirth; home of the BBC series ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. As we were packing up we were approached by a friendly American gentleman called Frank. He had been asking us for song requests throughout the afternoon and could tell he and his fiancé had really been enjoying themselves. Frank went onto explain that they were planning on tying the knot that following summer and would we be available to play for their ceremony, drinks reception and evening do? As it was a good 10 months away, we told Frank that it would be highly likely that the date would be free and that we’d pencil it in. Frank then said, “Oh there’s one more thing; have you both got a passport?”
“Thats great ‘cos you’ll be going to Prague! Don’t worry we’ll pay for your flights and accommodation- we really want you guys to be part of our day”
And that was it. The wheels were in motion: Rock My Receptions first overseas wedding booking!
Over the next few months we liaised with Frank and Jenny, discussing which songs they’d like to be played during their service. Apart from specifically requesting ‘All you need is Love’ by the Beatles as they walked up the aisle, we were given free reign: they’d enjoyed everything we’d played at the wedding previously. Just ‘go with the flow’ was the general feel. One logistical factor we had bring up was that of equipment. It wouldn’t be practical to ship over our speakers and mixing desk, though our guitars would be fine as hand luggage. Frank had contacted all venues we would be playing at who told him this wouldn’t be a problem and that we could use their own in house amplification. All we had to do was turn up and plug in!
It was on the plane flight from Manchester Airport that it really struck home to us: this was a classic busman’s holiday. Neither of us had been to the Czech Republic before and to be hired to play at one of Europe’s most beautiful cities was a real coup. As we arrived a day earlier it gave us a chance to get settled in Frank and Jenny’s apartment, which they had given us the keys to, and to explore the area. We were completely blown away by the architecture in the historic town square and it’s astronomical clock. We were equally blown away by the Czech beers had on offer and treated ourselves to a nightcap!
The Saturday morning came and our first destination was the Vrtba Garden situated under Prague Castle, for the wedding ceremony. Around 20 guests had made their way for the wedding from Huddersfield, Nottingham, London and America; some of whom had seen us at the wedding previously in Holmfirth. The ceremony was held in the beautiful interior of the Salla Terrena with its decorations depicting Venus and Adonis. The acoustics in there were incredible and Jenny looked stunning in her dress. It was also a perfect day for an outdoor photo shoot as the sun had made an appearance and the beautiful landscaped gardens with their fountain, statues and scenic views of Prague provided the ideal backdrop.
The newly wed Mr and Mrs Lewis and guests made their way to the John George Hotel, formerly belonging to the Maltese Embassy. It didn’t take us long to set up and we even broke a strict rule we always set ourselves- never to drink alcohol at a wedding. However, Frank and Jenny insisted, so we helped ourselves to a couple of glasses of Champagne and strawberry’s: well why not- not everyday you get to play in Prague! It just so happened that on the other side of the Hotel perimeter wall was the famous John Lennon wall…
Lennon was a hero to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe during the totalitarian era. Prior to 1989 when communism ruled, western pop songs were banned by Communist authorities, and especially John Lennon´s songs, because it was praising freedom that didn’t exist here. Some musicians were actually jailed for playing it! When Lennon was assassinated in 1980, the wall became a shrine to him and a symbol of peace. When the passing locals heard us playing Beatle songs over the wall, a rather large crowd began to form, to which Frank said “you guys have gotta play a song for them”, so off we went! We played the Beatles hit ‘From me to you’ to the crowd as Frank and Jenny danced arm in arm. It was one of the most memorable moments of our career and completely proved that the best things in life happen off the cuff. Someone even managed to film some footage of this great event, which we’re really greatful for. For a couple of musicians to be playing Beatle songs infront of the John Lennon wall, with an audience and a newly wedded couple completely in love: these are moments you want to bottle.
We then made our way across Pragues famous Charles Bridge which spans the Vitava river. The evening function consisted of one more live set from us at the Jazz Boat. The set went down a storm and Frank, Jenny and their guests made me and Kieran feel part of the the entourage, as opposed to just the hired entertainers.
The whole experience of playing for Frank and Jenny in Prague was a joy from start to finish and one we’ll never forget. The only problem with the wedding was simply, that it went too quick; always a sign of a good time!
For anyone considering a foreign or, specifically, a European wedding, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic and scenic setting than Prague, steeped in history and architectural wonder.