Weddings are very special because they involve families, and like individuals, every family has its own unique story and traditions that are present or should be present at every wedding celebration. It is important to include as many of these activities as possible during the reception because it involves all of the generations present. If the parents are involved early on during the booking process then I am usually made aware of certain songs or traditions to include as well as the things that must be excluded, like the uncle who grabs the microphone and takes over. But sometimes I book a wedding via emails with the bride and groom and may not even meet the couple – especially if they live out of state. Lynne Jordan and the Shivers is composed of a very cool line up of real musicians and sometimes a couple won’t even suggest what they might think is uncool or cheesy. What these couples don’t understand is that right alongside our apparent coolness runs a very real desire to mix in the love, the sentimental and the mushy. I am the leader (and the Queen of Mush) after all! I am all about tradition and because weddings are about family and love, it is most definitely about sentiment and tradition.
For example: We just performed at a reception that was booked completely via the Internet. We loaded in, set up and waited for the guests to enter the room. Speeches were already made and so I missed out on the insider’s view of the group. But I know how to craft a dance party. I know what music works. Most weddings involve the couple, their contemporaries and peers of the parents. These days the parents tend to be in the late fifty to late sixty-year age range – baby boomers. But this particular couple’s parents and their friends were in the seventy to eighty year age range. They were lively and connected but I knew they weren’t fully engaged. They all sat at their tables together and didn’t dance despite my attempts to mix in a healthy dose of their music. Meanwhile the younger crowd filled the dance floor during the first set. I had to get these older folks involved.
I knew something was missing…
The bride’s brother approached us and asked if we knew “Let me Call You Sweetheart.” He gently mentioned that it was something the older folks liked. I had to admit that this was not a song that was in our repertoire and he said okay and scurried off.
Then an older lady came up to the band stand and explained it to me. Evidently there was a big group of the bride’s parent’s friends present and it was a decade’s old tradition in which the older folks would sing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to the newlyweds. I also learned that the Father of the bride had rallied miraculously from his deathbed (he had received last rites) so that he could walk his last daughter down the aisle. This kind lady was joined by a very charismatic gentleman with a big smile and so I suggested that they introduce the tradition and lead off the tune at the start of the second set.
“All of you get together in a circle and just start singing and I will do the rest.”
I knew that the song was one of those simple melodies that everyone knows and I knew The Shivers would pick it up once it got going. I watched with amusement as the older folks stood around and practiced together in the corner during our short break. When the set started Mr. Charisma took the mic, introduced the tradition, the others encircled the couple and started singing the song. The guys picked up the tune immediately, everyone joined in and it was the most wonderful thing ever. The groom was Jewish and had lightly requested “Hava Nagila” (!!!) I figured that since they were already in a circle, it was the perfect time to begin the intro to the Hora.
And that was all she wrote.
Everyone joined in and danced together in that circle – the young men started doing Cossack kicks to uproarious approval. It was exhilarating. Those tables remained empty for the rest of the night!
Add tradition – mission accomplished.
I always say: I know my job is done when everyone – and I mean everyone – is dancing.
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Filed under: In the Life of a Diva