Planning Our Wedding pt. 2: The Music

Oh, music… it’s my one true love in life. It always has been; ever since I can remember. My mum taught me what all the notes were on our huge brown organ (not a church one, obvs – more like a big keyboard) and from then on I was hooked. I learned the recorder in school and joined the recorder club, I was in the choir as soon as I was allowed to be in junior school and singing solos a year after joining. I learned the flute and did all of my grades, taught myself the piano, played in the school Chamber orchestra and sang in school Chamber choir. I sang outside of school in a Big Band, and when I was a teenager I started writing my own songs. My evenings were not spent out causing mischief, oh no; they were spent in the glow of nothing but my fairy lights in my bedroom, meticulously working out Radiohead and Muse songs bit by bit on the piano and playing along as if I were jamming with Thom Yorke himself. I did my Music A Level and I did a degree in Popular Music. I was in a band and we played Glastonbury. I spent every weekend out at gigs, swapping mix CDs, finding new bands and old ones. These days I teach music to children all over Liverpool, and I have since taught myself how to play the ukulele. Spotify or BBC Radio 6 Music is on from the moment I wake up all through the day, on every car journey, whilst I cook every meal and whilst I tap away at this very blog post (right now I’m listening to The Magnetic Fields and ooh, it’s just gone on to a Lambchop song, if you were wondering).

Does that paint a picture of how important music is to me? I hope so. I love it as much as I love Bonnie (my dog). And that’s a LOT!

When we first got engaged, Mike and I sat and wrote a list of non-negotiables for our wedding. We had been to so many weddings by this point, we knew what money should be spent on and what really didn’t matter. Music was really high up there as a priority. We both wanted the day to not just have music in it, but to be about music and for the soundtrack of our life together to come through not just audibly, but visually too.

My Musical Surprise

There was one musical element to the day I really wanted to do… and that was sing! I was nervous about the idea; not as a musician, because I’ve performed on far scarier stages than Liverpool Town Hall… but in case people thought it was a bit vain or arrogant to sing at my wedding. I just felt like I couldn’t let the most important day of my life go by, chock full of meaningful music, without being a part of it.

We hired a fabulous 4 piece vintage style vocal harmony band comprised of some brilliant performers I knew through my music teaching job. We had a spare hour between the ceremony and reception, so we put on a drinks reception at the Town Hall and had them sing during it. Mike and I went out and had a few photos taken, and then towards the end of their set would come my performance.

Mike, his mum and my sister from another mister (in law)

NOBODY knew it was going to happen! Only our parents and immediate family knew; I didn’t even tell my bridesmaids! It was one of my favourite parts of the day, and even my fabulous wedding photographer messaged me after I posted my first blog to say “oooh you HAVE to talk about when you just popped up and surprised everyone with a song!”.

(That’s confetti in my hair!)

I decided to sing You and I by Ingrid Michaelson, and to play along on my ukulele. I spent months and months practicing, because I’m not a very accurate musician when I play live and am nervous – my fingers slip around loads and I make mistakes! I was determined not to for this. Mike knew it was happening as I think it would have been impossible to keep it from him, especially when we were writing down the schedule of the day; this part had to be planned with military precision!

Our nephew Taylor was 7 at the time, and I gave him the Very Important Job as ring bearer and now ukulele-bearer. His job was to discreetly get my ukulele from where his dad was looking after it and bring it to me upon my signal. He did an amazing job of this and he took it SO seriously; he kept running through the routine with me lots of times before the day, bless him!

I gave him the biggest well done hug!
And that’s my little niece Alex!

I remember as I started unzipping my ukulele nobody really noticed except for a couple of my bridesmaids… and then as Tracey from the band called me up everybody gasped and fell silent. I had rehearsed with them a few times, and they had done this absolutely gorgeous arrangement with loads of interjections of 4 part harmony between my singing… it was just amazing. I do have quite a shaky voice on the video because it turns out singing at your own wedding to everybody you know is nothing like singing at a gig full of hundreds or thousands of anonymous people, haha! I loved every second, and they are still some of my favourite photos of the day.

The Music Through the Day

In terms of the rest of the day, ever since the song came out I knew I wanted to walk down the aisle to One Day Like This by Elbow. It’s a pretty common choice now I think, but I didn’t care! I knew I wanted to walk down the aisle to the instrumental version, and I wanted to walk back up with Mike to three very specific parts of the original song… so I got myself on my editing software and edited down my own cut of the song to include certain lyrics and parts. I loved doing that!

I also knew I wanted Peter Gabriel’s cover of The Book Of Love during the singing of the register. I do like the Magnetic Fields original, but the Peter Gabriel version has always got me in the feels. There are so many lyrics in it that were just so us

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing

But I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything

The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

But I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know

But I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings

And I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings
You ought to give me wedding rings

We also had My Love For You Is Real by Ryan Adams… we adore Ryan Adams:

My love for you is real
It moves like a summer breeze
My love for you is strong
Lord it brings me to my kneesIt’s born in the wild
This real love
Love strong
True love is ours
Honey now
My love for you is real

And lastly we had a song by James Walsh of Starsailor called Precious Stolen Moments, because some of the lyrics reminded me strongly of everything Mike did to pull me through my anxiety breakdown:

Once in a while
You give me reason to hope
You come untie the rope
That trapped me in
Once in a while
You let your new self out
Let go of all that self doubt
Enough to grow

These precious stolen moments
Are all we ever shared
That’s all we need, enough to believe the magic’s still there

As days go by
It’s getting better
One step at a time
And soon we’ll get there

We got to choose a song to enter our reception venue to once everyone was sat down, and I chose Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap. Whenever it would come on at whichever dirty indie club basement we were dancing in, it would always make me feel so euphoric and I’d just bounce around feeling super happy and loving life… and as it happened I did the same on our wedding day! I started off walking in all gracefully, but then once the beat kicked in I basically danced to our table whilst everyone clapped and joined in… absolute euphoric bliss!

Our music for the bit when everyone was arriving and sitting down looked like this:

Music as Table Settings

We decided to name our tables after bands that meant something to us as a couple, or bands that had been a huge part of our lives when growing up. We chose bands and a lyric by each band that we felt described us or our relationship… and the nights where we sat and chose these were some of my favourites. I remember we opened a bottle of wine and sat with my entire iTunes library, digging through long forgotten albums and talking about all the lyrics that got us in the feels.

This was our band and lyric for our table, because it perfectly described the thing we were most excited about… having everybody we loved there ❤

Mike and I made the table names on Photoshop. We used the band’s official logos and Mike made them all monochrome and the right texture to go on the card we had chosen. We had a kind of logo for our wedding which was based on a custom stamp we had made; we ended up using the PDF proof of the stamp as our logo on everything too. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out!

Music to Dance To

With music being so important to us, we didn’t want a generic wedding DJ and generic dance floor songs being played all night. We definitely wanted some cheese in there, but we wanted a biiig mish mash of everything we grew up with, the songs our parents loved, the songs we loved as teens and the songs we love now.

Jen, my Chief-Best-Ush-Maid

I met our DJ at a wedding fair at our venue. I remember saying to him “sooo… do you think you could make your wedding sound like an indie basement club circa 2005 (think Lego hair cuts and pointy shoes and red lipstick), mixed with The Cavern in the 1960s, mixed with boss hip hop aaaand a little bit of guilty pleasure 90s/2000s R&B?” He threw his head back and laughed, and then replied “most definitely!” I knew we’d found our guy. I sent him a playlist of ideas for him to get our vibe from. We basically wanted all the 60s Motown classics we love, but then a Destiny’s Child song, then maybe No Diggity, and then something by The Strokes.

He ABSOLUTELY NAILED IT! Dancing at our wedding was the most fun I think I’ve ever had. There are videos of me doing the most ridiculous hip hop dancing to 99 Problems!

Our first dance was to a song called A Love Story by Thomas Dybdahl. When we first got together, we spent a lot of time excitedly making each other mix CDs. Our predominant favourite genre of music between the two of us is singer songwriter… we are both a sucker for a poet with an acoustic guitar. Mike introduced me to this Norweigan musician called Thomas Dybdahl, and I remember listening to A Love Story in work and suddenly becoming hooked… playing it over and over again (I was playing this exact YouTube video on repeat, actually). I realised that day that I did indeed love Mike, and I couldn’t stop listening to that song… so it’s become ‘our’ song. I loved that it was a little bit leftfield and not something everyone would know, as it made that moment super special and just for us.

We had an idea for the end of the night… and Tom executed it better than we ever could have wished for. The indie basement club I keep referencing was a club called Le Bateau in Liverpool. Oh, it was legendary! You can guarantee any band that’s come out of Liverpool in the last 20 years partied down there, plus anybody that was even vaguely into their music. I was there with my friends pretty much every weekend in my early 20s, and it got to the point where we knew the owners so well we all got in for free and pretty much controlled the playlist. At the end of the night after hours and hours of indie bangers, they would always without fail play Set You Free by N Trance. No matter how tired everyone was or how much our feet hurt, everybody would absolutely rave their pants off as the lights came on and the bar staff started sweeping up around us. Everyone would hold their arms up and sway at first before descending into bouncing chaos when the beat drops. So, it was only right that we finish our wedding with the same!

Tom (the DJ) played an absolute blinder. There’d been a fair few Beatles tracks through the night, but none so anthemic as Hey Jude. As soon as everyone heard the opening few bars they automatically formed a huge circle around us, arms around each other and swaying as Mike picked me up and twirled me around in the middle. Everyone sang NA- NA- NA- NANANANA-NAAAA! around us as we danced like idiots, surrounded by the voices and love of everyone we knew. It was such a pure and sublime moment…

…and then as Hey Jude faded out, in came the rainstorm and that familiar piano riff. And we all went MAD! My absolute favourite part of Set You Free was that Mike’s mum and my mum were raving and dancing so hard (they are in their 60s!) Mike’s mum actually accidentally danced her way into the kitchen, only to be politely shepherded towards the door where she danced her way out again as the door swung back! Everybody was jumping and raving, from Mike’s teenage cousins to our 60-odd year old mums. It. Was. Brilliant.

Lucy x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s