The first wedding detail I want to tell you about is so cool. We had a college a cappella group at our wedding! They performed before the wedding, and then during the ceremony! It was AWESOME. People are still talking about it. It's something that I've wanted to tell you about for so long, but had to keep top secret.
A while ago Rebecca and I were talking about ceremony music. I was absolutely appalled when I saw how much money some musicians charge to come out and play for an hour (tops). When you weigh that against the price of a DJ that plays music for several hours, or even some wedding bands that play entire receptions, some of these ceremony musicians need to get off their high horses and charge a little less. You have to pick from a list of generic wedding music that they already know, and then if you want them to learn something special they charge you more money. It just seemed like a crazy expense that was an easy cut for someone on a budget. Additionally, I've never been a huge fan of conventional wedding music - ie the violins, the string quartet, etc. That's not to say that I don't enjoy it at other people's weddings - it just means I didn't really ever see it fitting into mine.
I've been to weddings where people had interesting musicians play their ceremony. A cousin of mine had a jazzy horn trio (that had a rocking tuba) and they were great. It was the first time that I really enjoyed the song "Stand by me". Her musicians stuck out cause they were awesome. It was a cool touch. Many people have the option of having a friend or a relative sit in as their musicians. I think that's a really cool idea - but it wasn't something that was an option for us.
So I thought about what type of music I would want during my reception. I wanted something fun. Something that people would enjoy while they waited for the ceremony to start, something that I would enjoy walking down the aisle to, and lastly something FUN to run back down the aisle to as man and wife! Unfortunately, and downright surprisingly, I never heard back from Ben Folds, so I had to cross him off my list and look to my backup plan. Ben DID, however, assist in helping me come up with the idea! A while ago, Ben released a cd of college a cappella groups singing a few of his songs. He hosted country wide auditions on his myspace and website. He asked college groups to send in versions of his songs.
I LOVE a cappella music. I think my love for it was conceived during my adolescence while watching "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" on television every afternoon. A group called Rockapella would sing us in and out of segments and then rock us out at the end of each episode. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that they were one of the first bands I typed into Napster years later when you could search for music to illegally download. I was shocked to find out that they had other songs... pop songs... classics... etc. It opened my eyes to a cappella. An a cappella group singing "No Diggity"?! Awesome. So, I love a cappella music.
Flash forward years later, and I'm searching for college a cappella groups to come sing at my wedding. It seemed like a natural fit to our relaxed, different, fun, wedding. Something that screamed us since Mrs. Temple of Groom loves a cappella as well (in fact, sorry Ben, but Rebecca listens to that a cappella cd in the car more than your original music sometimes!). So I listened to a cappella groups sing on their sites, and youtube, and sent emails out to the ones I loved. One of the groups I was most excited about was the first one to respond back to my email: Cloud 9 A Cappella from UCSC (University of California Santa Cruz). They were so excited, and very open to learning the new songs that I wanted for our ceremony.
I have to admit, hiring college students for something as important as my wedding day was a little unnerving. When I thought back to how reliable I probably was in college, and how SOBER I was in college, it scared me a little. But I have to say, Cloud9 was professional all the way. They delivered everything we asked for, and more. They set the tone for our guests. Everyone knew that they were in for a night that was going to be unlike any traditional wedding they'd ever been to. It was the PERFECT start to the day.
We told Cloud 9 that we didn't need them to sing lovey-dovey songs before the wedding. It's just not us, so we didn't require it. So Rebecca and I were happy to pick songs from their list of already performed music. For the pre-ceremony music we chose "Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson (you know it "your love, keep lifting me higher! Higher and higher", "Wonderboy" by Tenacious D, a mashup of "Kids" (MGMT) and "Poker Face" (Lady Gaga), and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. The sucky thing is that we didn't really get to hear the music! The group sang while we signed our ketubah (Jewish marriage documents), BUT we could hear our wedding guests going wild! When we lined up for the wedding ceremony, we could hear everyone getting into the music! They were LOVING it. Clapping after each song bobbing their heads, it was a success.
When the ceremony started I walked down the aisle to another song that they already knew, but I love, and was very appropriate: "Grow Old With You" by Adam Sandler from the movie "The Wedding Singer". The song is fun, light, and in a way, oddly romantic! When it's sung by live singers, it's classic and many people came up to me and said they loved the version even more than the original.
Then in one of the most moving moments of my life the group sang the first song we asked them to learn for Rebecca's entrance: "In My Life" by The Beatles. It was unbelievable. Not only do I think that it's an incredibly touching song when it was sung live, with feeling and heart, we just got so more than I ever expected. It was overwhelming. Yes, I think I probably cried a little bit. I do know for certain that I took a lot of deeeeep breathes because I literally was so excited and so overwhelmed by every emotion I forgot to breathe! Rebecca walked down the aisle, circled me 7 times (a conservative Jewish tradition), took my hand, and we walked underneath our chuppa (Jewish wedding canopy) to the lyrics "and I know I'll never lose affection, for people and things that went before. I know I'll often think about them, in my life I loved you more." and because these kids were so professional and came to our rehearsal, we were able to PERFECTLY time our entrance under the chuppa with the end of the song - when they re-sing the last line "in my life, I love you more". It sent chills down my spine. Even the first time we practiced it at our rehearsal, we knew we were in for something incredible. Something we didn't expect to be as moving as it was. I'm not afraid to tell you that I'm emotionally moved as I type this blog post! It was AWESOME. Below, listen to an mp3 of a practice session that Cloud 9 sent us a few months before the wedding. Keep in mind this is a practice session where they were first learning the song. Listen to it!
THEN, if that wasn't enough, Cloud 9 learned one last song for our wedding march back down the aisle: "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce! When they blasted the "horns" at the beginning of the song as we ran back up the aisle, it was AWESOME. We could hear them belting out their song from back inside of the house on the venue. There was SO much energy. Our guests stood and danced, and when the group ended you could hear everyone go crazy for them. It started the day on the right foot, it brought so much energy to the end of the ceremony that we carried on through the rest of the night. It was just US. We successfully injected a little of our personality into something that sometimes either gets overlooked. (Okay, not as much of our personality as the group of people that danced to Chris Brown down the aisle, but enough of our personality without making a youtube spectacle - Rebecca wouldn't allow it.....) Before they left, we were able to go thank the group but I don't think they'll realize how special it was to us. They were moved during the ceremony and the songs, and I think everyone else was too.
So there you have it, the first detail I kept from you guys. A college a cappella group as our ceremony musicians. Something I haven't seen before, and something I kept close to my chest. I can not endorse this idea enough. Lastly, here's a couple great pictures our photographers (Callaway Gable Photography) took of the group!