You see a lot of wedding blogs from professional event planners focusing on details and design. You don’t see many wedding blog posts from the groom’s point of view and you don’t see many which focus on the music.
So, as a fourteen year veteran of the wedding band booking business and a recent groom, I’m proud to break new ground here on ECE All Access.
Although Amanda retained a firm grip on the planning and deserves all the credit for creating an amazing wedding weekend for us, our family and our friends, I was tapped to chair the “ways and means committee” for music. Because many guests traveled from out-of-state and we had limited space at the rehearsal dinner venue, we decided to throw a party for everyone at an after-rehearsal dinner party on Friday night. We knew right away we wanted to dance to the absolute best 80s and 90s cover band in the world, Party of Four.
As the manager of the group, I’m certainly biased, but Party of Four’s set list is always something on which I and my Taylor-Swift-loving wife agree. The majority of our guests were staying at the newly renovated Graduate Hotel, so I reached out to Kevin Badke, the owner of Trinity, a bar on the Corner.
Kevin and the staff made it easy for us to commandeer the top floor of the bar for two long sets chock full of the songs that Amanda and I love. Families from Alabama and New Jersey met on the Mason-Dixon line of the dance floor as Party of Four played songs from the Gin Blossoms, Pixies, Rembrandts, Wonders, Smithereens, Spin Doctors and Amanda’s only request of the night—Bruce Springsteen’s/Patty Smith’s/10,000 Maniacs’ Because The Night. After the band closed with Semisonic’s oft-misunderstood Closing Time, I raced to the hotel for my last night’s sleep as a single man.
Day two; venue two; musical selection two. For the ceremony music, my mother-in-law, Barbara, provided the vision. In discussing the types of ensembles that typically play wedding ceremonies, she locked in on having a harpist very early on. Amanda and I got on board quickly, and my search began for harpists in the area.
Although I did my due diligence speaking with several talented performers, Virginia Schweninger had us hooked the moment she said that her repertoire bridges the worlds of classical and pop music. With our in-ceremony selections ranging from The Sound of Music’s Edelweiss to George Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun, Virginia and her violinist, Pam Hall, treated our early-arriving guests at University of Virginia Chapel to several great selections from their standard repertoire. I confess that although I’m told they played Here Comes the Sun beautifully during the recessional, this musician-groom can’t remember hearing a note of it!
As we walked into Early Mountain Vineyard’s tasting room for the cocktail hour, I could hear the “back porch quartet” lineup of Mr. Potato Head playing acoustically from the other side of the room. I’ve booked the band for dozens of clients before, but being the client was a totally foreign experience! Thank goodness Doug and Morgan were there to help me out in the weeks leading up to the reception. I have a lot more empathy for our clients who want a lot of advance communication, and even more appreciation for our laid back clients who trust our bands to do a great job! I did my best to follow my usual client advice and relinquish control of the night to the band’s experience, but you’ll have to ask Doug and Morgan whether I succeeded.
After playing our requested first dance song—the theme song from Greatest American Hero—they did the coolest dinner set I’ve ever heard. Instead of the typical Louis Armstrong instrumental standards or Sinatra crooner classics, they started with a couple of my favorite Burt Bacharach tunes—The Look of Love and Say a Little Prayer. They kept things rolling through dinner with Medeski Martin & Wood, Steely Dan, The Band, and did a very thorough job taking Amanda’s and my input into account with Maybe I’m Amazed, My Best Friend, Ho! Hey! and Tiny Dancer. People seated at dinner actually cheered after a few of the songs.
The two-hour dance set that followed dinner and cake cutting also took Amanda’s requests into account, fitting in songs from Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Journey, and Michael Jackson. After letting my bandmates from Three Sheets to the Wind and I take the stage briefly to play Toto’s Africa and our infamous I Keep Forgettin’ rap medley, they kept the dance floor packed until the end. I realize I’m talking more about the tunes they played rather than the outstanding musicianship, and that might be the wrong order when talking about Mr. Potato Head. All my musician buddies were really impressed by the band, and I couldn’t have been happier with the music on the night.
After Mr. Potato Head closed the night with the Beatles’ The End, the love we took with us in our getaway Ford Model A pickup truck that night was at least equal to the love shown to us by the very talented musicians we were fortunate enough to book for our wedding.
Photography: Allison Kuhn Creative | Venue: Early Mountain Vineyard | Planner: LK Events and Design | Friday Welcome Party Band: Party of Four | Ceremony Harpist: Virginia Schweninger | Reception Bands: Mr. Potato Head & Three Sheets to the Wind | Wedding Cake & Groom’s Cake: Sweet Fix | Photobooth: MoxBox | Catering: C & O Catering | Floral Design: Whimsical Floral Design | Hotel: The Graduate | Calligraphy & Place Cards: Sarah Hilterbrant | Vintage Stamp Curator: Treasure Fox via Etsy | Transportation: Easy Riders Bus Company | Wedding Dress Alterations: Fariba Designs | Officiant: Sacred Ground Ceremonies