Author Archive

How to Choose Music for Your Wedding Ceremony

Posted on: August 8th, 2019

Your wedding day is one that you will never forget, and it all begins with the ceremony. There are two main types of wedding ceremony: one that takes place in a church, and one that does not – often referred to as a civil ceremony.

A civil ceremony is conducted by a registrar or celebrant, and there will be a second registrar present to ensure that the official documents are signed properly and the marriage is properly recorded. This ceremony generally includes a declaration that both parties are free to marry, an exchange of vows and rings, and sometimes readings by guests. Over the years I have heard very formal and sincere readings that cite everything from classical poetry to Winnie The Pooh.

A church ceremony tends to be longer than a civil ceremony, and may also include readings by the priest who is officiating, as well as the singing of hymns.

Weather permitting, it is lovely to be able to have your ceremony outside, as long as the location has been duly sanctioned and licensed for marriages.

Celebrants are brilliant at putting the couple at ease and injecting humour into proceedings.

So how does music fit in to all this? In my time performing as a wedding singer and acoustic guitarist I have played during many marriage ceremonies. The most common times to have live music during a wedding ceremony are for the entrance of the bride, the signing of the register and for the exit of the newly-married couple. I generally advise that couples select four songs: one for the entrance of the bride, two for the signing of the register and one for exit.

It can be quite nerve-wracking to tie the knot, but the joy afterwards is clear to see.

A wedding ring is an unbroken circle and symbolises never-ending love.

There are endless options to choose from when picking songs, and it very much depends on the individual taste of the couple. Emotional and stirring music is very effective for the entrance of the bridal party, with popular choices being ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri and ‘Tenerife Sea’ by Ed Sheeran. Sometimes an instrumental with no singing can be effective, but often songs are chosen for the power of their lyrics (Tenerife Sea’s opening is ‘You look so wonderful in your dress / I love your hair like that’). Live music really is the best choice for this special moment, and tends to get a few tears rolling!

Although some prefer the grandeur of a church wedding, civil ceremonies can be just as spectacular.

I am often asked whether I can sing as guests take their seats before the bride appears. Even though it can be effective to do this, I advise that it is best to save the singing until the bride arrives, as singing earlier than this will lessen the impact of the entrance. Not to mention the fact that guests have only just arrived and will be more concerned with greeting friends and family and finding a seat than they are about being entertained at such an early stage.

Songs during the signing of the register work very well. Guests can be left wondering what to do with themselves while the signing takes place, as no photos are permitted until the marriage certificate has been finalised. Live music is therefore an excellent option, and I have performed all manner of laid-back tunes during this time. Popular choices include ‘Only Love’ by Ben Howard, ‘Better Together’ by Jack Johnson and ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran.

Once the signing of the register has concluded and guests have had a chance to take photos, the person responsible for conducting the ceremony will ask guests to stand, before announcing the newly-married couple for the first time. The couple, followed by flower girls, page boys, bridesmaids and groomsman, will then exit the ceremony room, followed by all guests.

Live music is the ideal way to conclude the ceremony, usually with a nice upbeat number. ‘Happy’ by Pharell, ‘Best Of My Love’ by The Emotions and ‘Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher’ by Jackie Wilson are good examples. The classic is of course ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ by Stevie Wonder.

And then it’s on to the drinks reception and the rest of the day!

Thinking about live acoustic music for your wedding? Looking for a wedding singer? Contact me here.

A London Wedding: Kim & Will at Greenwich Yacht Club

Posted on: August 7th, 2019

It’s always nice getting out to see new places and playing at new locations. Visiting Greenwich Yacht Club on the south bank of the river Thames for the wedding of Kim and Will was a lovely day out! The couple wanted acoustic guitar music for their ceremony, drinks reception and first dance, plus an additional evening set to keep guests entertained.

Kim chose ‘Grow Old With Me’ by Tom Odell to walk down the aisle to, and ‘Marry You’ by Bruno Mars to walk back down as a newly-married couple. The clubhouse of the yacht club provided the perfect setting for the ceremony; plenty of natural light and splashes of colour. It was a very informal, relaxed setting and guests really enjoyed chilling out in the sunshine during the afternoon.

After the ceremony, I moved outside onto the decking to play some more songs while guests had canapés and reception drinks. Old school songs such as ‘All You Need Is Love’ by The Beatles and ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ by The Police went down particularly well. To fit with the informal vibe of the day, there wasn’t a traditional sit down meal as such, but a BBQ instead. The sun was out and it is always pleasant to be beside the water; we had the O2 on one side of us and the Thames Barrier on the other.

It was a very chilled out yet moving ceremony.

It was a very chilled out yet moving ceremony.

The sun setting on the Thames is a beautiful sight.

The sun setting on the Thames is a beautiful sight.

It was a nice bright sunny day out on the decking.

It was a nice bright sunny day out on the decking.

O2 and the London skyline beautifully illuminated.

O2 and the London skyline beautifully illuminated.

For the evening we moved to a separate building suspended above the water. The couple chose ‘You Are The Best Thing’ by Ray Lamontagne as their first dance, followed by ‘Candy’ by Paolo Nutini. The guests seemed to really enjoy the evening set, especially the younger children, who were dancing away. A friendly bunch, and it was a joy to sing for them.

Are you planning a wedding in London or the south east of the UK? Are you looking for an acoustic guitarist and singer to provide entertainment and add that special something? Contact me here.

Life behind the lens: The ultimate guide to wedding photography from camera extraordinaire Tom Halliday

Posted on: March 7th, 2019

Wedding photos are timeless, precious memories that endure years after your big day is over. But how do you make sure that your wedding pictures are as perfect as possible? What do you have to bear in mind when selecting a photographer? In this post, I speak to Tom Halliday. Tom founded Tom Halliday Photography in 2010 and he is now one of the UK’s most established and highly regarded shooters, putting his unique spin on couples’ special moments with a combination of talent and charisma…

How did you become interested in photography?

When I was at school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a sponsored skateboarder and we were meant to be going on tour, but I broke my arm badly, so instead of skating I picked up my camera. My dad had bought it for my 16th birthday: a Pentax MZ-90 with digital film. As soon as I started taking photos I thought to myself, this is awesome! I chose a photographic elective on my art course, but there wasn’t a proper teacher. I was taking photos and manipulating them on PhotoShop.

What were your early efforts like?

I wasn’t as adept with film as I should have been, because no one taught me. I had a half decent point-and-shoot digital so I would use that, or shoot on film, scan and manipulate. I then studied photography at uni, as the lecturers saw the passion and creativity behind my paintings, despite my lack of technical knowledge. I was given extra classes to get up to speed. I maintained my focus on skateboarding photography at the time, because the sport was my life and I loved photographing it.

Tom pioneered the night shot by staying later than many photographers.

Capturing intimate close-ups that are both candid and a little posed is the aim.

A dramatic sky can transform the photo into a work of art.

How did you branch into the commercial side of things?

I did work experience for a venture portraits company. One day the photographer I was shadowing didn’t turn up for work, which gave me my chance. A young family arrived who were not expected to spend much money, but they liked my photos so much that they spent a lot, so I was offered a job! I then dropped out of uni.

Did you have to balance your day job with your passion?

Having the studio job as my first job was really cool because I shot family portraits during the day and I learned a lot about lighting, studio work and sales. And then in the off-time in the evening I would be out skating, taking photos and putting what I had learned in the studio to use. I took as many shots as I could and was out and about all the time in order to keep developing. By the time I was 19 I had got to know the technical aspects. You never master it and you are always getting better, but my technique had become quite solid.

Describe how a booking with a wedding couple works…

My initial contact with a couple could be at a wedding fair or by email. If it is at a wedding fair, they get to meet me face-to-face straight away. I like this, people can have a pre-conceived idea of what a wedding photographer looks and acts like, and I don’t think I am that. The classic vision is of an older guy with white hair and a beige leather jacket, an old school vibe. Then they come along and see me with the moustache and tattoos – the ‘chubby hipster’ –and it is not what they expect! Then they see the work, and I like to think that my work is a little bit different to your average wedding photos. So this first meeting allows the couple to get a feel for me and what I do.

How important is the relationship between photographer and couple?

When I invite the couple to the studio to meet me, it is not so much about coming to view albums and so on, it is about coming to meet me and start the relationship. It is essential that you feel comfortable around the photographer on your wedding day – there’s nothing worse than not knowing what they are like as a person beforehand. No-one wants to be standing there really stiff, so they need to make sure that they gel with their photographer from the outset, which leads to good photos. As i have got busier and busier, it does get harder to arrange to meet in person, but it is something I am always determined to arrange, even via Skype. Setting up as much face time as possible is key, to form that connection and build rapport. If we can do this, then by the time I walk in on the day the couple already feels as though I am part of the wedding party.

A stunning venue and dress makes for a beautiful composition

A stunning venue and dress makes for a beautiful composition.

Some couples feel a lot more relaxed when the landscape picture is taken from far back

Some couples feel a lot more relaxed when the landscape picture is taken from far back.

Editing adds drama. Same-sex marriages are emotional and moving occasions

Marriages are emotional and moving occasions, and the right edit can add extra drama.

What is your philosophy on pricing?

Back at the venture portrait place I was taught how to hard sell, but it was horrible. That is not me at all. Now I am my own boss, I have the philosophy that people can upgrade their package and have the add-ons, but if they don’t, that’s also cool. For me it is about creating a piece of art that looks great on your wall, not making the most money I can. I love what I do, and I am an artist first and foremost.

What advice would you give to couples about their wedding photos?

My biggest piece of advice is not to take it all too seriously! If you are too serious, you don’t get good photos. It is important to relax and have fun with it. No-one likes having their photo taken, but I have some silly tricks to get people to smile and laugh. A lot of my clients love how natural-looking my photos are, even though they are posed to a certain point. I put couples in a great spot for the light and location but then get them to say something or do something that will cause a reaction. Sometimes I am just chatting to them and look like I have my camera down by my side, and then as soon as they laugh – bang! I’ll get the shot.

How do you break down potential awkwardness?

I’ll split the drinks reception into sections. So the first 20 minutes are candids of everyone having a good time. Everyone has just got their first free drink of the day and the couple have just been married, so everyone is super happy. After that we can do the family formals and I always like to have a list for this that I can stick to, to keep the system flowing. Group photos are not the most exciting part of the day so it is important to keep these moving. After that I’ll take the bride and groom round for a few shots, returning in time for the dinner call, and then I’m off to do the detailed shots of the room.

Is it important for you to be subtle, unnoticed even?

I pride myself on the fact that people don’t know I’m there when I am doing the candid shots, and I am determined not to stick out as the photographer in the black polo with my logo on it. I never want to be in anyone’s face. A lot of couples will say that they hate being in front of the camera. But I am a bit of a chameleon and can blend to people’s personalities. Sometimes even the toughest client can break into an unexpected grin! The face-to-face meetings really help with that.

What are your favourite / signature shots?

For a long time the most popular shot I took was a night time one with the stars visible. When I first started, there were not many photographers staying late and doing night photos, so I pushed that heavily and used my studio and skateboard experience. However, nowadays my ‘Same Day Edits’ are very popular too. For every wedding, during the meal I edit photos and put them on my Facebook on a slide show, collecting together all the day photos. I try and do something different for every wedding. I shoot at quite a few weddings at the same places, so I never want the first wedding I shoot at a particular venue to be the same as the last one. Side by side, they need to look distinct. My classic shot is a wide landscape with a tiny bride and groom. Especially for couples who don’t like having their photos taken, they like the fact that I am that far back; it puts them at ease. Sometimes I start off with that shot, going really wide and far back, and then bring it in closer for some more intimate ones, throwing some creativity in there each time.

Finding the right location and lighting can really make an image ‘pop’.

Finding the right location and lighting can really make an image ‘pop’.

Pre-wedding shoots are an ever-popular option where the couple and photographer can get used to working with each other.

Pre-wedding shoots are an ever-popular option where the couple and photographer can get used to working with each other.

The groomsmen often like to have some fun in front of the camera.

The groomsmen often like to have some fun in front of the camera.

How do you make best use of venues?

The locations around Herts, Essex and so on are awesome. I really like natural scenes and the country house setting is perfect for that, as are forests and lakes. It always looks so pretty, which makes my job that bit easier. Getting a dramatic sky into the shot can make it look like a piece of artwork. Equally, I like to make something urban and gritty sometimes, if the couple are looking for that. In the south east of the UK there is such a variety of venues, and they always look after you really well too; the staff are lovely. You end up working with friends, people you have met along the way, forming a nice little community.

Take us through your wedding day preparations…

There are a lot! I need to go through a questionnaire and schedule with the couple, to make sure everything is locked down and everybody knows where they are going. In 2016 I shot 98 weddings, and it is important not to get blasé and to ensure that you check everything before heading out. On one occasion my son decided to remove my SD cards from my bag. Fortunately I allowed myself enough time to buy some more near the venue. Since then I have taken nothing for granted, it gave me a jolt! I make sure the night before that everything is charged, all my lenses are clean, and even that my strap is in there. If I’m taking my selfie booth with me, I make sure that is ready to go. I’m looking to make the process as efficient as possible. It’s a wedding – nothing can go wrong!

What was one of your most unusual weddings?

I once shot for a couple who were really into their heavy rock. All the bridesmaids had skull masks and the groom had a skull cane. It was a bit of a rave, and I dyed my moustache pink for the occasion! It was featured in Rock N Roll Bridge magazine. I also did a Back To The Future wedding. They had the camper van – the Buick Special – and the groom’s suit matched the blue and orange colour scheme. I got one of the groomsman to run around with a smoke grenade and ended up making a DVD cover of that for them which got featured on a few blogs. It was great fun.

Picking your moment is crucial, a skill that Tom has honed over years of experience.

What are the most important things to remember when booking?

Make sure your photographer has public liability insurance. If something goes wrong and they don’t have that, you’re in trouble. Also, ask them about their backup system, be it the backup for themselves, the equipment or data. I am a serial backer-upper! By the time it gets to the meal I have four copies of all the images. I then back up to a hard drive, a Cloud, and place in a safe. Nothing gets written over until the images are delivered. There is too much at stake with wedding photos. With the network of photographers we have in the region, we can communicate with each other and find cover if there is a problem with illness or something else on the day. Such reassurance is crucial.

See more of Tom’s work by visiting https://www.tomhalliday.com/. Follow him on Instagram @tomhphoto.

A Destination Wedding in Italy: Sam and Charly, Lucca (Tuscany, Italy) June 2018

Posted on: July 16th, 2018

When Sam and Charly asked me to play at their wedding at Villa Grabau near Lucca in Italy recently, I was in the fortunate position of having already sung at a wedding abroad. Last year I played for Jess and Nik’s big day on Lake Como, so I know that it would be logistically possible. It was a case of getting my guitar through security at the airport, purchasing an extra seat and bringing what I could!

Sam and Charly’s wedding was organised by Wiskow and White, a partnership between Lucy and Danielle that ensured the day ran seamlessly. Lucy had liaised with the DJ, who provided me with the required speakers, speaker stands, mixing desk and mic stand.

Lined by orange and lemon trees, Villa Grabau is a remarkable sight.

Guests were very pleased to get their hands on some ice cream during the aperitivo.

Guests were very pleased to get their hands on some ice cream during the aperitivo.

The ceremony area was surrounded by tall trees, providing some relief from the heat.

The ceremony area was surrounded by tall trees, providing some relief from the heat.

I played during Sam and Charly’s ceremony, afternoon drinks reception (aperitivo) and most of the meal. Sam chose to walk down the aisle to Only Love by Ben Howard, and the couple also picked Wasn’t Expecting That by Jamie Lawson and Be Mine by David Gray for their ceremony.

The setting of Villa Grabau was spectacular, and following the ceremony guests headed to the fountain near the villa for some canapés and drinks, and of course some gelato! We experienced a little rain but this quickly blew over, and guests then settled in to their seats for the meal, which was held in a beautiful old building that would not have looked out of place on the set of the film Gladiator.

Friends and family were starting to enter the party spirit so I played some livelier songs, including Faith by George Michael, Hold Back The River by James Bay and Blame It On Me by George Ezra. Before long the dancing was underway. We even had a raucous singalong to Wonderwall!

Sam and Charly’s day ran very smoothly from start to finish.

Sam and Charly’s day ran very smoothly from start to finish.

It was a privilege to play for Sam and Charly, a lovely couple.

It was a privilege to play for Sam and Charly, a lovely couple.

The Gladiator-esque setting was majestic.

The Gladiator-esque setting was majestic.

Weddings abroad or ‘destination weddings’ are becoming an increasingly popular option for engaged couples. Often the costs can work out to be very reasonable in comparison with having your day in the UK. True, guests have to travel, but believe me if you select somewhere as picturesque as Tuscany to tie the knot, you won’t regret it.

Looking for advice about music at your wedding, or other planning tips? Contact me here.

A London Wedding: Sarah and Michael at Kew Gardens

Posted on: June 14th, 2018

I don’t often venture into London to sing at weddings, but when I do, the venues can be breathtaking. That is certainly true of Kew Gardens, where I recently played for the wedding breakfast and first dance of Sarah and Michael.

Earlier in the day, guests were treated to a tour of the gardens while the couple had their photos taken. The evening reception was held in The Orangery, which functions as a cafe during the day for visitors to Kew. The building is absolutely stunning, and its high ceilings and hard floors were perfect for carrying music to everyone’s ears.

The cake looked ever so tasty. It is always placed temptingly close to where I’m singing!

Beautiful decorations adorned the two long tables.

Building up to the first dance…

Security at the venue is very tight and only a few cars are allowed on site at a time, as the public are still walking around the grounds during set up time. I received an escort courtesy of an electric buggy, which felt very rock and roll indeed! I set up in The Orangery and waited for guests to arrive. Sarah and Michael did not have the customary large round tables that usually seat eight to ten guests. Instead, they had two long tables, in the style of a Viking feast. The tables were elegantly decorated.

Michael and Sarah: a charming couple who were extremely welcoming.

Michael’s speech was very entertaining and contained several toasts.

It was a cloudy but very warm day. Kew looks picturesque whatever the weather.

I played two sets during the meal, which followed the speeches. There was quite a wide range of ages, so as well as playing the usual Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Tracy Chapman, John Mayer and so on, I also played songs by Paul Weller and Dire Straits to cater for the more ‘experienced’ audience members!

I then moved down to the other end of the hall to play Sarah and Michael’s first dance after they had cut the cake. The couple had organised a Ceilidh for the evening entertainment, and this was provided by Rabscallion, a great bunch of musicians and very nice people too. They kindly allowed me to use their PA system to perform the first dance, for which Sarah and Michael had chosen ‘Die A Happy Man’ by American country singer Thomas Rhett. I don’t often get asked to sing country songs at weddings so that made for a nice change.

My favourite photo of the day shows the tables ready for guests to arrive.

The hard walls and floor meant that the sound carried and my songs could be heard all around the room.

A Ceilidh is a popular option for evening entertainment, and Rabscallion did a super job.

And that was it, job done. The pleasure of singing at weddings is the fact that you get to visit places that you might not otherwise see. The team at Kew were very well-organised and easy to work with. Whether you are getting married or not, the gardens are well worth a visit. For this wedding, it provided the perfect spot.

A Wedding On The Water in Herts : Jack & Michelle, Ware Priory

Posted on: June 6th, 2018

On a sweltering day in May I was booked to perform at the wedding of Jack and Michelle. The ceremony took place at Ware Priory in Hertfordshire, and for the afternoon reception guests boarded a boat set for Stanstead Abbots. It was my job to provide music for the ceremony and for the boat trip, including the couple’s first dance.

For the ceremony, Michelle had chosen to walk down the aisle to an instrumental version of Paramore’s ‘The Only Exception’. For her exit with Jack at the end of formal proceedings, they asked me to play an instrumental version of ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles. It seemed I was saving my voice for later!

After moving my equipment on to the tug boat and setting up, guests started to embark. Jack and Michelle had invited around 50 friends and family to celebrate with them on the water. The professional team at http://www.leeandstortboats.co.uk were there to greet the wedding party and ensure that the trip went smoothly, in addition to the all-important management of the bar!

It was great fun playing for Jack and Michelle.was great fun playing for Jack and Michelle
The couple were showered with confetti as they exited the ceremony room.The couple were showered with confetti as they exited the ceremony room
Everyone had a quacking time.Everyone had a quacking time
Having a wedding on a boat was an unusual idea that really paid off.Having a wedding on a boat was an unusual idea that really paid off

The boat trip lasted roughly three hours and I played two extended sets during this time. It was quite a young group so I played some of my more contemporary covers including Craig David, Hey Ya by Outkast and Mr Brightside. Jack and Michelle chose to have Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran as their first dance, and there were plenty of emotional speeches too. Time flew by and before we knew it we were docking once more at Ware Priory.

The couple and their guests moved on to The Saracens Head in Ware to continue their celebrations as evening guests arrived. They were a great bunch of people and it was a pleasure to be involved with a wedding that was refreshingly different. We didn’t lose anyone overboard and I think everyone had a good time. Success!

Are you looking for some help with planning your big day? Contact me here.

Speeches took place onboardSpeeches took place onboard
A safety briefing took place before departure A safety briefing took place before departure
It was a lovely sunny day for a wedding
I played two instrumental pieces during the ceremony

A Hertfordshire Wedding – Hannah and Ross at South Farm, Royston

Posted on: April 17th, 2018

For the wedding of Ross and Hannah at South Farm in Herts, I played three sets: one for afternoon reception drinks, one during the wedding breakfast and one for the turnaround when evening guests arrived.

The couple’s ceremony took place onsite and guests then poured out into the courtyard. Ice cream was on offer, made fresh at the venue, and although it wasn’t a hot day, friends and family still took full advantage!

South Farm is a very picturesque venue and a number of animals including pigs and geese came out to say hello to us during the day…

Following the first drinks reception, guests made their way into the barn. Ross and Hannah had chosen to have their speeches before the meal rather than at the end, which seems to be an increasingly popular option. The father of the bride, groom and best men definitely get to enjoy their meals more this way, without having to be stressed about speeches.

The barn looked wonderful.

There was a large group photo outside the main house.

It was the first wedding with my new guitar; it did a great job!

The decorations at the wedding had a very rustic feel and each table was named after a different musical act that Hannah and Ross had been to see, including Ed Sheeran, Bastille, One Republic, James Bay and Coldplay. I decided that I would ask round the room and play a song by each artist.

I moved back into another part of the farm to play as evening guests arrived. As expected, it was now appropriate to play some more upbeat numbers. Playing RnB tunes such as Mario’s Let Me Love You has been effective lately, and I’m sure this trend will continue into the summer. I entertained friends and family until it was time to return to the barn for the first dance and evening celebrations.

It was a privilege to play for Hannah and Ross.

The South Farm ice cream went down a storm

My final set was the turnaround for newly-arrived evening guests.

I worked alongside photographer Lily Lane Photography, with Sophie Lake as second shooter (www.sophielakeweddings.co.uk, @lakeysophphoto) and videographer Danny Jack (www.dannyjack.co.uk). All of them did a very professional job, and hopefully I’ll be bumping into them again.

All in all a lovely day in a beautiful setting. Hopefully I can return to South Farm soon; it is one of many Hertfordshire venues that is within an hour’s drive.

The wedding had a rustic feel.

Ross chose to have the speeches before the meal was served.

Each table was named after a music artist that the couple had seen live.

Looking for wedding planning tips? Get in touch with me here.

A Suffolk Wedding – Kirsty and Adam at Hengrave Hall

Posted on: April 15th, 2018

Playing at the wedding of Kirsty and Adam was my first visit to Hengrave Hall in Suffolk, and what an impressive venue it is! A very imposing and grand building, I drove up the long entrance driveway and was excited to make my debut there. The weather was a little grey and misty, but this only added to the splendour of Hengrave.

I performed some more upbeat numbers during the wedding breakfast

I played right up to the start of the speeches.

Hengrave Hall was a very grand setting to sing in.

Kirsty and Adam had a fabulous wedding cake.

I played for Kirsty and Adam during their afternoon reception drinks and the wedding breakfast. The drinks took place in a beautiful drawing room with hard floors and wood panelling, which was great for the acoustics. The couple had not been very specific about what they wanted me to play for them, and left it to my judgement. I therefore played a lot of the classic and popular songs that tend to go down well from my repertoire, including tracks by Jack Johnson, Tracy Champion, Ed Sheeran and Jess Glynne.

I had been booked to play at the wedding of Kirsty’s sister Lisa at Down Hall in Hertfordshire a couple of years ago, so it was nice to see the family again.

Everyone wanted a photo of the happy couple.

The drinks reception area was well-suited to acoustic music.

The staff at Hengrave Hall set up the room beautifully for the meal.

A wedding is all about the fine details.

Once the drinks reception was over, I transferred my equipment into the banqueting hall for my next set. The guests were a lively bunch, so I threw in some of my more adventurous numbers towards the end of the meal, including Craig David and R Kelly. I was positioned right beside Kirsty and Adam’s magnificent wedding cake, which looked very tempting indeed!

It was nice to meet some suppliers that I hadn’t come across before, including photographer Julia and You (juliaandyou.co.uk) and videographer Mike Savory (mikesavory.co.uk), both of whom did an excellent job and were great to work with.

Kirsty and Adam’s wedding at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk was a very classy affair and it was a privilege to be their wedding singer.

An Essex Wedding – Betty and Eric at Parklands, Quendon Hall

Posted on: April 13th, 2018

I recently performed at the wedding of Betty and Eric at Quendon Hall, Parklands in Essex. I am quite a regular at Parklands and have sung there many times. However, Betty and Eric’s day was a little different. They did not have a DJ, and it was my job to provide all of the musical entertainment. With my trusty guitar and Bose PA system, I was up for the challenge!

The couple had enjoyed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony in addition to the wedding ceremony earlier that day. It was quite a small party of 40 or so guests, which made for a very intimate evening.

Eric and Betty chose Stand By Me as their first dance, and confetti cannons were fired during the performance.

All of the guests enjoyed Eric’s speech, which followed the meal.

The couple were a pleasure to play for, and I even managed to correctly guess the orange and blue colour scheme!

My first task was to play Eric and Betty’s first dance, for which they had chosen Stand By Me by Ben E. King. This was accompanied by a couple of confetti cannons. The couple had supplied me with a playlist to put on in between my sets, and had chosen a nice selection of chilled and upbeat tunes from my repertoire.

Playing a highly energetic set in order to get (and keep) guests on the dance floor was a refreshing change for me. I played everything from Chaka Khan to Kevin Lyttle to Faith by George Michael and entertained the crowd. As is invariably the case at a wedding, there was quite a spread of ages, so it was important to play songs that are timeless and would be well-known by younger and older guests.

As the wedding was on a Tuesday night with a smaller number of attendees, Betty and Eric’s day had an earlier finish than usual, and the bride and groom had selected some more relaxed music as the night drew to a close and friends and family said their goodbyes.

A lovely couple, and as ever a pleasure to play at Parklands and be looked after by the helpful staff.

Looking for tips to plan your big day? Get in touch with me here.

Are you choosing a wedding ring? Make sure you read this first…

Posted on: March 1st, 2018

Your wedding rings are a fundamental part of your special day. An unbroken circle, they represent you and your partner’s married life together. For this post I speak to Colin Tuson of COO Jewellers, who has been advising couples in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, London and beyond about wedding jewellery for many years, from the company’s bases at Martels Wedding Village in Essex and Hatton Garden in London. Colin shares his many years of experience and top tips below. If you are looking to choose a ring, his advice will come in very handy…

What is important to bear in mind when selecting rings?
Your wedding ring is something that you’ll want to wear for the rest of your life, so it has to have the wow factor. Whether you want a traditional band or something more individual, it is important that a ring complements the bride’s engagement ring and suits a couple’s personal style. That said, you’re free to mix and match. If you prefer platinum and your partner likes yellow gold, that’s fine. There’s no rule that says you both have to have the same metal or style. All that matters is that you both love the rings you choose.

How important is the choice of metal?
The choice of precious metal for the bride’s ring should be the same as her engagement ring. Precious metals vary in hardness, if you put a harder metal next to a soft metal, the harder metal will wear away the softer metal. As the groom usually wears the wedding ring on its own, any of the precious metals can be used. Platinum rings are becoming increasingly popular with modern couples as it offers a lifetime of maintenance-free wear, as does palladium, which looks very much like platinum but is available at a lower cost. White gold rings are usually rhodium-plated which dulls over time, so the cost of maintenance is something you should consider when selecting your wedding ring metal.

Engraving on the inside and outside of the ring is very popular.

Matching up precious metals is important, though not essential
Colin naturally has a great love of diamonds, and his biggest advice is to ‘sparkle on’.

Is bespoke best?
Most couples choose to have bespoke wedding rings made, as this way they get to have some input in the designs and it feels more personal than choosing a mass-produced ring. If you take this option, you should always allow at least eight to 12 weeks for bespoke rings to be made so they’re ready in time for the big day. Ordering well ahead of time could also save money, as you can avoid the rising gold and platinum prices.

Should it be a surprise or should couples buy rings together?
Buy your wedding rings together. Being given an engagement ring is a nice surprise, but choosing the right wedding band is much more fun to do together. Talking to a specialist wedding ring jeweller will be helpful, as their years of experience will help you choose a band that complements your engagement ring. They’ll also have hundreds of rings you can try on, so you can be guaranteed to find the perfect fit for you.

What about personalisation?
Engraving your rings really adds the personal touch. You can add your wedding date and names or a personal message. You can even keep these secret (which means your partner won’t see the message until the day. Laser engraving is the clearest method of engraving; it costs a little more than traditional etching but is well worth it.

Bespoke rings are particularly beautiful and personal.
Timelessness is important. You’ll be wearing the rings for a very long time (we hope!)
Roman numerals are often used when engraving rings.

Does it have to be a ‘forever’ decision?
Wedding rings are for the long haul. While you shouldn’t be afraid of picking the ring design you like right now, just remember you’ll want something timeless that’ll still look fabulous through your silver, ruby and gold anniversaries! Nonetheless, if you feel you like your ring finger needs an upgrade in the future, that’s OK. After all, you married the person, not the ring.

In your experience, what looks particularly great?
Diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds! If you add a vintage feel, you could be on to a winner. It is important to keep them clean though, and looking their best. You can keep yours gleaming by placing your ring in hot soapy water – an egg cup is fine – overnight. In the morning, brush the diamonds with a baby soft toothbrush which will remove lotions and hand cream. Rinse under warm water and dry it before popping it back on.

Any more top tips?
Enjoy choosing your wedding rings! This is a wonderful experience to share with the one you love.

COO Jewellers is located at 14 Greville Street, Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8SB (Tel: 020 7404 0757) and at Martels Wedding Village, High Easter Road, Barnston, Dunmow, Essex CM6 1NA (Tel: 01245 263950). Visit www.coojewellers.com or follow @coojewellers on Instagram for further information.

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