Where to get married? Choosing a wedding venue is probably the biggest decision a couple will make in the planning of their big day. Apart from the Bride and Groom themselves, the venue will be the next major character of the day, not only in its practical capacity as a location to cater for the party, but it’s aesthetic qualities which will set the tone and mood of the whole day. For Huddersfield couple Francesca and Paul McGuire, traveling a few miles south was not an issue when they hit upon their perfect wedding venue; The Ringwood Hall Hotel in Chesterfield.
Neither was it a problem for their guests, whom for the majority had also made their way down from Huddersfield on this sunny-if not a tad breezy-Saturday in June. It’s always a pleasure for us to play for couples who we’ve known for some years and in the case of Paul, Francesca and many of there guests, they’d all been old-school followers of myself and Kieran back in the distant past of us playing on the pub circuit in our old 4-piece rock band, so right from the off-set this wedding had a reunion feel about it. Ringwood Hall, itself, is located on the edge of the Peak District and the Grade II listed Georgian manor is surrounded by 29 acres of grounds, ideal for the perfect wedding photos.
Our first port of call was to prepare for the wedding ceremony which was to be held in the front garden by the Garden Pavilion. This was a beautiful choice of location and provided a fresh spring setting for the exchanging of vows. Today also provided a ceremony with a twist as we were joined by Francesca’s sister, Emily, on Alto Saxophone. Emily, an extremely talented musician who had studied at Leeds College of Music, had liaised with us a few days before and discussed with us which songs she would like to join us on. The choices ended up being ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E King and ‘All You Need Is Love’ by The Beatles. It took us literally only five minutes to have a quick rehearsal and sort out which keys to play the songs in and we were ready to go! Although the wind was whipping through the trees somewhat, it did nothing to detract from the perfect setting and how beautiful Francesca looked in her dress. Paul was the height of sophistication in his new suit and both looked, as always, perfectly matched as a couple. As Francesca glided down the red carpet to the strains of Stand By Me, the sunshine burst through, illuminating the whole garden and the entourage. A truly wondrous moment for all. The whole ceremony went without a hitch and we enjoyed having Emily join us so much, we had to ask her if it would be possible to use her musical talents for one more point in the proceedings…..
For the afternoon drinks reception we, and the guests, vacated the garden to the more intimate setting of the bar area in the hotel. We were given free reign to play just about anything we fancied. As we were booked to play only up until the speeches there was no holding back any of the more up-tempo material for an evening set, so we gave it our all with some rocking and rolling material. One of Paul’s favourite tunes requested on many occasions before had always been Paul McCartney’s brilliant ‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five’ from
Wings hit album ‘Band On The Run’. Francesca also requested Oasis’s ballad ‘Songbird’. We were also required to join in the celebrations outside by having our photos taken alongside the guests for a group shot. The photographers had a clear idea on how to utilise the beautiful surroundings available and arranged everyone at the foot of the garden steps to look up and on the count of 3, give a big cheer to the camera- complete with the throwing of confetti!
It was almost time for the wedding breakfast and this is where we needed the assistance of Emily again. Before the couple are seated, as the Master Of Ceremonies announce them in, we often strike up a few bars of a song as they make their way to their seats. This song is usually ‘All You Need Is Love’, though as we’d already played it for the ceremony, we struck upon the idea of playing the opening bars of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’. With Emily on Sax, this was an opportunity we simply couldn’t miss! It was a total pleasure to have Emily accompany us and hopefully, will do again in the future.
The wedding breakfast was a great occasion and as Paul, Francesca and their guests relaxed and enjoyed their food and drink we played a selection of hits including ‘American Pie’, ‘Faith’ by George Michael and also serenaded Paul with our version of ‘Sweet Caroline’, substituting the lyrics for ‘Sweet Paul McGuire’, which everyone joined in with heartily!!
As we gave Paul and Francesca an introduction to their speeches with ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ we could tell that the party was only just beginning to get started!
A big, heartfelt thank you goes out from Rock My Reception to the newly wedded Mr and Mrs McGuire. It was an honour for us to play for you and your guests at your afternoon reception. We wish you all our very best wishes for your new wedded life together and hope you both have a fantastic honeymoon.