It's a musician's dream to take their sounds to foreign shores and as we have discovered, The 'destination wedding' is becoming a firm favourite for many couples.
If there is one thing you're guaranteed not to escape in Great Britain, that's the weather. Planning a wedding in the U.K. Can be like Russian Roulette especially when organising an outdoor wedding party and even in the summer months, one week of glorious sunshine will often be followed by a vengeful fortnight of downpours. Not for couple Amy and Gary Hughes who booked their wedding over a thousand miles away at the idyllic and sunkissed Southern Spanish resort of Benahavis near Malaga. And it was Rock My Reception who's sounds they chose to provide the soundtrack to their wedding. Amy, who works for The Granary Estates wedding venue, near Newmarket, saw us play at the venue in November 2016 as part of The Wedding Industry Awards regional ceremonies and had been impressed by our after-show sing-alongs. It was there she decided that they would be ideal to play at their ceremony and wedding party in Spain in June 2017. Luckily, we had the weekend free and had previously played many destination weddings before, so were therefore au fait with the logistics of performing abroad. Neither were they phased about air travel or taking time away from their families which can often be a major sticking point with many musicians! After months of organising, Rock My Reception flew over to Marbella in late June 2017-for once.
The bus ride and taxi journey from Malaga airport to was swift and we were able to settle into their apartment in Benahavis and go through the itinerary for the next day. Luckily, the wedding venue was only a short taxi ride away and was easy to get to. As the big day arrived, temperatures soared to 38 degrees and it was obvious that this was a wedding like no other that Rock My Reception had played before. Upon arrival at the stunning venue of Casa del Rio, a peaceful luxury villa set beside the Guadalmina river, we gazed in awe at the magnificent sights of fresh Orange trees and the mountains surrounding the villa. Because this was the closest wedding they'd played to the equator, it had an almost 'other worldliness' to it. Certainly a new experience to be playing with the sound of crickets chirping and other strange wildlife noises accompanying them! We then met Bride and Groom to be, Amy and Michael who were both readying themselves for the afternoon ceremony. The villa itself has been designed in a traditional Andalusian style which contained the strong local Moorish influence. In the early 1990's, Princess Diana had even frequented the villa with photo's of her stay adorning the sitting room walls. By ceremony time, 4:30pm the temperature had dipped to a more comfortable level and seating was arranged on the manicured lawn. All the proceedings were highly organised, including the registrar who was originally from Ireland and had settled in Spain several years earlier. The first choice of music as the bride and bridal party made their way down the Aisle was 'Moon River', followed by Rock My Reception playing a their version of The Pogues 'Love You Till The End' for the signing of the register. One of the unforgettable highlights of playing at Michael and Amy's wedding was the very notion of playing outside and taking requests from guests, alternating between the ukulele and guitar. Kieran had given Amy an offering of her own mini harmonica to play! When it was time for Amy and Michael to make their grand entrance for the wedding breakfast, Rock My Reception accompanied them with a Ukulele/Guitar rendition of Madness's 'It Must Be Love'. One of the reasons that our musical set up works so well at destination weddings is the simplicity of what they bring: 2 guitars, a uke and their voices. The secret is never to bring what you don't really need: travel light. After enjoying the dj's evening set accompanied by a saxophonist, we opted to walk along the country lane from the villa back to their hotel. Amidst the heat and almost deafening sound of Spanish insects, they had a distinct feeling they were being watched. As they crossed over a bridge a deer bounded across their path accompanied by a wild boar. This really did feel like David Attenborough territory and they were both more than glad to reach the safety of the hotel! Not only had we been booked for the Wedding party on the Saturday, but also the pool party on the Sunday-an opportunity for the remaining guests to relax and unwind by the villa's pool. Also, an opportunity for us to instigate a pool sing-along, which they did with numerous requests of Oasis anthems. Occasionally the clouds did break and subjected the party to the odd downpour. This only lasted a few minutes each time and the heat of the reappearing sunshine ensured everything dried in no time at all. The pool party was a fitting and joyful end to the perfect Spanish wedding party. However, this wasn't the end of Rock My Reception's Spanish trip.... Part 2: The Video/Photo shoot It was decided when booking their Spanish excursion that we should take advantage of the stunning location and use their stay in Spain as a PR opportunity as well as a working at a wedding. The Band had chosen to move on to Torremolinos to make the most of the old town setting and the beautiful Mediterranean beach which would make an ideal photographic backdrop for a destination wedding video/photo shoot. Inspiring to any couple wanting to book a wedding Band for such an occasion. We then met up with videographer Olly 'Mr Pictures' Bostock and Paul Crowther of revolverphoto.com, late on Monday afternoon. They had worked together several times over the years and had decided to invest in both Olly and Paul's talents for the Spanish shoot. Alarms were set for 6am as a video shoot conducted by Olly was set up on the beach to capture the sunrise. Timed to perfection, Olly managed to capture the stunning image of the sun peering over the horizon, illuminating both the Mediterranean and we were holding a guitar and Ukulele. The shoot on the beach was relatively simple as most people, save for the odd early morning jogger, were still snoozing. By 8:30 it was breakfast time and Paul decided to take a walk around Torremolinos for a recce to find interesting locations to shoot the following day. Although there was much to shoot in Torremolinos, it was important to get the right footage. Kieran and Dom wanted to put the emphasis on 'classy' and 'other culture'-getting footage by the main tourist strip would have been pointless and this would have ended up looking like Blackpool promenade. They opted for the backstreets of the old town and Olly managed to get footage of the two of them conversing with a couple of elderly female residents, both of which had brilliantly characterful faces. They then got a taxi to the further stretch of the beach at which airplanes were were coming into land directly above them, providing great segments for their video, emphasising the travel aspect of their services. Sadly, this stretch of beach was also obviously a nudist section and Olly had to be very careful in what he captured on film! Later on that evening they continued around Torremolinos and managed to get some great footage of the sun setting with them both conversing on the roof of a hotel. After many miles of walking and a brief nap it was decided that they hadn't got enough footage of them both conversing with other people. Taking their guitars with them, they finally got some great footage of them both playing an Elvis song to a group of girls and also joining in with a local accordion player. The video was now more or less complete. Wednesday morning had arrived, again a 6am start and the party had to work quick as their flight was later that afternoon. Paul had, as always, a great selection of locations he had visited the previous day and took us and Olly across the town, quickly orchestrating a shoot against any backdrop he deemed to be suitable. Such locations were by a phone box, the side of a house adorned with unusual graffiti and a ubiquitous dog! Paul had also been shooting us in several doorways and had just paused to take a break while an elderly gentleman passed by on his mobility scooter. Olly encouraged Paul to keep snapping and in doing so, Paul managed to capture one of the shoots most iconic shots! A Coca Cola lorry was also used as a backdrop. Anything with vibrant colours was fair game to use in the baking Spanish sun. After nearly 6 days Rock My Reception had played a wedding and pool party and had conducted a video and photo shoot: not a bad double in anybody's book! As Kieran, Dom, Olly and Paul landed at Leeds Bradford airport in the early hours, they were greeted with a short of rain and chilly conditions, but bringing back with them memories of sand, sun and sea to last a lifetime!