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Music | Manolo for the Brides - Part 3
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An extravaganza of (DIY) sound

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When I was planning my wedding, the thought of hiring a DJ never entered my mind. And bands? I take ’em or leave ’em, depending. I love big band, swingy stuff, but renting a full-on ensemble for the day can get kind of pricey.

At a wedding I attended in September, the bride and groom set up a laptop, hooked it up to some pumpin’ speakers, and had the best man work the playlist for all he was worth. I liked it…it was unobtrusive. There was no worrying about whether the DJ would have the songs the couple wanted. There were no sombreros or novelty sunglasses. In short, it was a great way to get people on the dance floor without running the risk of having someone hijack your sound. Don’t smirk — it actually happened to some friends of mine whose ‘no play’ list went completely unregarded by a bad, bad DJ!

One reason I think a lot of couples don’t explore the laptop/mp3 player option is that they don’t want to have to designate someone to stop and start the music, find the various dance songs, and make sure the aforementioned tunes don’t play before it’s time. The Beard and I overcame these issues by making mini playlists on iTunes. Our playlists (here YMMV) looked a little something like this:

1. Pre first dance
2. First dance
3. Father-daughter
4. Mother-son
5. Lunchtime
6. Pre cake cut slow songs
7. Upbeat post cake songs

Sections one, five, six, and seven were quite long because we wanted to make sure the music only stopped when someone stopped it. All told, we had more wedding-appropriate music at our disposal than we would ever actually use. When necessary, the best man would fade out whatever was playing using some sort of audio thingamajig The Beard brought along so that a toast could be made or a dance could be announced over the mic. When cued, this same individual announced the scheduled dances, queued up the appropriate one-song playlist, and hit play.

No music-free interludes. No Cotton Eyed Joe. No Free Bird. It all went off smashingly with the exception of the fact that some songs were repeated on multiple playlists, so people got to listen to certain Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros numbers more than once. But that was the fault of yours truly, not the music and sound setup itself.

Easy access

Don\'t make it harder than it has to be

The fabulous Sara shared a most ingenious littel tip regarding vendors with me recently. I can’t remember now whether she used this tip while planning her own wedding or only thought about it after the fact. Either way, it’s a real gem.

She recommends that brides-to-be program their vendor telephone numbers into their cell phones by category rather than vendor name or company name. That way, when the pressure is on and they need to consult their florist, DJ, caterer, or cake artisan, all they have to do is scroll through their contacts until they hit upon the appropriate keyword. Want even easier access? Program your vendor numbers into your cell phone’s voice dialing system! That way, you can just shout “TENT!” when you realize that your contract says you’ve reserved at 40-person tent for a 200-person wedding.

But why not take it one step further? Make sure you can reach your vendors with nary more than a mouse click by adding their info to your e-mail address book by category. Because, hey, what’s easier to remember? The simple keyword ‘florist’? Or MaryJsBloom.O.Rama@yahoo.com?

Weekend wedding review: Chris and Jenny

A lovely couple, if I do say so myself

I know I spaced and never dished on the wedding I attended in September. So look upon this as my attempt to make up for that. Yes, I attended a wedding this weekend. Two of my best friends, Chris and Jenny, tied the old knot in scenic Hamilton Square, New Jersey. It was a good shindig, particularly because, unlike many weddings, it reflected the tastes of the bride and groom. Plus, they did an absolutely fabulous job with DIY details like tulle-wrapped tea lights, pretty centerpieces, and pre-wedding gift bags (left for us at the hotel) featuring, among other things, cute bride and groom rubber duckies.

Bride and Groom Rubber Duck Set

Furthermore, Jenny’s mock two-piece dress was beautiful and her choice of matching bolero jackets for bridesmaids (decked out in red strapless dresses, rawr) meant there were no frostbite causalities. And Chris made their wedding guestbook from scratch out of his family’s tartan. Super rad!

Highlights: In a word? FOOD. I love to eat and I love options. Their choosing brunch meant that guests could choose between breakfast foods like crispy French toast and lunch foods like marinated portobello mushrooms. Or they could have both, like I did. Though Chris and Jenny did cut a cake (their caterer practically forced them to have one), their desert buffet was defined by pumpkin, cherry, blueberry, and coconut cream PIE. Even though Jenny’s idea of using an elegant cake or dessert stand to display them didn’t work out, the pies still rocked. I probably gained ten pounds on Saturday.

Lowlights: During the latter half of the reception, the DJ, who was given a list of specific songs he was not to play, played almost every song on the “do not play list.” Think Paradise By the Dashboard Light, a song that does not belong at any wedding ever, and the Electric Slide. A word to the wise: Be sure you can trust your DJ not to futz with your music choices! Grill them beforehand using this handy DJ guide from Chicago Wedding Services.

Weirdlights: Sure, this isn’t a word, but what better way to describe actor Michael C. Maronna (of The Adventures of Pete& Pete fame) making naughty sausage sculptures for us?

Congrats, Chris and Jenny! You’re the best!

Stop the aural insanity!

Stop the insanity!

Put off by the expense of a sixteen-piece orchestra? Hate the way those goofy DJs push the Chicken Dance like it’s crack? Don’t feel like listening to live covers of lame 70s love songs? In other words, are you stymied as to how to handle the reception music question?

Doug Gordon, author of The Engaged Groom: You’re Getting Married. Read this Book., suggests busting out the iPod. And I agree with him. Many people, in considering their nuptial tunage, forget that they have 10,000 songs on their hard drives – none of which are the Electric Slide or Saturday Night Fever.

Why not create your own perfect playlist and hook your handheld digital listening devices to some tricked out speakers? Likewise, a laptop equipped with iTunes or what-have-you can get the rump shakin’ started. Even a boombox like the Sony ZSSN10PS (which plays MP3s and other audio formats) can inspire your guests to bust a move.

FACT: When you take charge of your own music – or have a good friend oversee the aural stimulation – you never ever ever have to worry about inappropriate songs (I Will Survive, anyone?), sexed-out mustachioed crooners, or the dreaded conga line.

Now, if it were only this easy to decide on a song list…

Get your nuptial kook on

When good veils go boom
What do you do when your veil explodes? I mean, what DO you DO? Judging by the model’s befuddled expression, she doesn’t know either.

For the princess in training
This fantasy wedding dress by Montreal designer, Rya Soleil (for Fairy Fashion), is just a little busy. But I bet my kid sisters would love it.

Beauty and protection!
Finally, a wedding dress that covers the bride during the ceremony and reception, then covers the groom during the honeymoon.

While you’re digesting these dresses, go take a look at this lengthy list of inappropriate wedding songs. Then come back and tell me what *you* think the most tasteless wedding song ever is.

Your love story set to music

Lorraine of Wedding Harmony

If you’ve always felt the usual first dance songs are totally played out, it may be time to get personal. Lorraine (that’s her above) and Shaowen of Wedding Harmony will pen you and your fiancÚ an original tune based on the details of your relationship. For a mere $1,200, they will write you a song and perform it (provided you are within traveling distance) or write a song that you can sing to your new spouse while all your guests look on. A brief explanation of the service they offer reads:

We will meet up with you, get to know you better, understand how you would like your love story to be expressed in music, and write your wedding song.

It’s an interesting question. How would I, Never teh Bride, like my love story to be expressed in music? Perhaps something with an undercurrent of intense longing? How about you, dear reader? What existing song do you feel best expresses your personal love story?

Dance with me, daddy/mommy!

I know my dear old dad is looking forward to the day he gets to dance with me at my wedding. In fact, he’s looking forward to it so much that he constantly asks when I’m getting married. I can only assume it’s because he wants to be prepared. Put father daughter wedding dance into Google and you get 7,580,000 results. That’s because everyone knows that weddings traditionally were, to some degree, about the father turning over authority to the new husband. And some traditions never die. The top ten songs (according to About.com), as you could have probably guessed, are:

1) Butterfly Kisses
2) My Father’s Eyes
3) My Girl
4) Through the Years
5) Sunrise Sunset
6) How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
7) The Way You Look Tonight
8) Unforgettable
9) Lullabye (Goodnight my Angel)
10) Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

Now, I can remember visiting the home of a male friend raised primarily by his mother and listening to her lament the curious lack of mother son wedding dance songs out there. The Beard’s mom may want to dance with him at his nuptials (and boy, are she and my pop going to be surprised when I announce ‘no dancefloor’). So, I’ve picked ten suggestions that might do nicely:

1) A Song for Mama – Boyz II Men
2) A Song for My Son – Mikki Viereck
3) A Wedding Day Wish – T.J. Loughran
4) The First Lady In My Life – Paul Todd
5) I Am Your Child – Barry Manilow
6) Baby Mine – Bette Midler
7) The Man You’ve Become – Molly Pasutti
8) You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
9) Wishing Tree – Sonia Dada
10)The Perfect Fan – Backstreet Boys

Compiling this list is enough to make you teary eyed!

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