Best of NYC

By Jamie Roberts

The inspiration for this story is my friends Dan and Susan, who were married in Florida in 2001. Their wedding was one of the most memorable I have ever attended, largely because of the music at their reception. They are a couple with a real sense of who they are and what they like. The music needed to reflect their amazing, unique personalities to make it “their” wedding. Dan and Susan chose their music carefully and made CDs for their wedding entertainment… an idea that was inexpensive and effective, though extremely painstaking and time consuming!

They chose some incredible songs that may have never popped into to your mind. Here are a few suggestions from their list…

“So Com Voce” by Thievery Corporation
“Run On” by Moby
“It’s So Quiet” and “Come To Me” by Bjork
“Final Home” by DJ Krush and Esthero
“Sentimental” by Ryuichi Sakamoto
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
And one of my personal favorites, “Gorecki” by Lamb

Another cool couple I know, Scott and Kristina, make music a huge part of their lives and wanted to make sure their wedding reflected that. The first order of business was to arrange a “Do Not Play” list with their DJ. They wrote into the contract that if he played The Chicken Dance, The Electric Slide or the Macarena, he would not receive final payment for his services. They knew family members would try to bribe him to play the “forbidden” songs, so they made a sign indicating that it was against their wishes that these songs be played. “For the record,” says Kristina “our guests tried their best to get him to play the songs. The DJ didn’t let us down though.” Scott and Kristina’s participation dance was “The Time Warp” from Rocky Horror, Kristina’s favorite, so their guests did not miss out on the fun! Later on, Kristina and Scott moshed in their wedding finery to some of their favorite tracks, put together by Scott on a CD – another creative couple putting their personal stamp on their special day.

If you prefer a more traditional kind of music and are not up for creating your own CD, there was one made just for you by Gramophone’s 2004 Label of the Year, TELARC. The label’s CD entitled MUSIC FOR A PERFECT DAY is a wonderful compilation of wedding music for the harp. In the liner notes, we are told the harp is the earliest known string instrument and is the very picture of wedding tradition with its elegance and sophistication of sound. The notes also break down the portions of the wedding ceremony in which you would utilize the music on the CD. In the Music For The Prelude section, they included pieces from Bach, Debussy, Satie and Salzedo. Music For The Processional includes Pachelbel, Bach and Vivaldi, while Music For The Interlude features Gounod, Mendelssohn, Faure and Debussy. To end things off, Music For The Recessional/Postlude includes music from Vivaldi, Telemann, Bach, Scarlatti and Handel. The music is soothing, lovely and is available at http://www.amazon.com

Another wedding CD combines entertainment with a cause. Gay and Lesbian marriages have been notoriously under fire in the United States, but FigJam Records have mounted an assault on this prejudice with their release called MARRY ME. Half of the proceeds of the sale of this 2 CD set (available at http://www.figjamrecords.com/marryme.asp) will go to the ACLU Foundation’s Lesbian and Gay Rights/AIDS Projects. The double CD features tracks from over 20 gay, lesbian, transgender and straight performers, celebrating love across different musical genres. The first CD, Ceremony, deals with love and commitment. The second CD, Reception, is sure to rock any post-wedding party. Some notable artists featured on the CDs are Marcella Detroit, Ru Paul, Hedda Lettuce and Daniel Cartier, who explains “(Marry Me) is an attempt to bring the focus back to what this issue is really about. That all of us…gay and straight…have this intrinsic desire to meet someone who’ll understand us, make us swoon, and we can imagine growing old with.”

When I was investigating the live wedding music arena, my friend Jennifer told me about the string quartet that played at her and her friend’s wedding. The Capriccio Ensemble learned “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica for her friend’s walk down the aisle. They also learned “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve among other contemporary tracks. They come HIGHLY recommended and you can check them out at http://www.capriccioensemble.com

Another noted live wedding music company, Hank Lane Music & Productions, is a multifaceted group with bands and DJs to meet varied wedding entertainment needs. One of the biggest stars of the company is founder Hank’s son, Harris Lane. Harris has led his band at the nuptials of Elie Tahari and Ellen Tracy designer Linda Allard and at Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ spectacular 35th birthday party. He has seen things change in the world of wedding music of late. “Brides and Grooms are looking to stay more current as opposed to traditional,” says Harris “the sound of the music has to be as close to sounding like the original recordings as possible.” This begs the question – If you are being true to original recordings, what about odd requests? Harris answers this with an upbeat attitude “Most requests aren’t that odd and if the band doesn’t know it, they learn it – which adds to our repertoire.” Check out the company’s really comprehensive website at http://www.hanklane.com

When a couple is choosing their wedding music, the most common theme is that they want to make it personal – to have it reflect who they are. Many of our favorite songwriters put together their albums that same way. In speaking to Jason Wade, the singer and principal songwriter of the band Lifehouse, (who gained recognition with their song “Hanging By A Moment”) he told me about a song he wrote for someone special in his life from the band’s new self-titled album. The song entitled “You and Me” is perfect for a wedding. “It is a waltz, which is perfect for a first dance as husband and wife,” he says. When asked what makes for good wedding music, Jason summed this whole piece up succinctly “Good wedding music captures a special moment that lasts for years.” The album is available now at http://www.amazon.com

Originally published May 2005
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