Jen & Rafael were on the lookout for acoustic bands for hire back in February and got in touch to see if we were available to provide some acoustic wedding entertainment for their wedding day, and boy were we excited to get booked in and perform for them!
The wedding was booked at the gorgeous Ashfield House in the Wigan countryside – a grand yet homely venue with real charm and character, and presided over by the absolute ray of sunshine that is Amanda: Ashfield Houses resident co-ordinator. She was so generous with her time and talked us through where we would be performing for each part of the day and then we got to work sound-checking and rehearsing the live wedding ceremony music in the gorgeously appointed and acoustically pleasing ceremony room, before all of their family and friends arrived.
Jen chose a classical piece for her entrance, which was played via the venue’s PA (it’s tricky to recreate a full orchestra with just two guitars, so thanks again, Amanda!) and ‘On the wings of love’ for the signing of the register song. This is a beautiful, simple ballad from the 80s that Jen just happened to catch on the radio a few months prior to the big day. We hadn’t heard the song in years and we were eager to give it a go… Mat got to break out his big old musical theatre style singing voice for the first time in years!
There was also a second song for the signing of the register which we unfortunately didn’t get to before the Recessional, and that was a particular favourite of ours: ‘Signed, sealed, delivered’ by Stevie Wonder, which is a very popular choice for ceremony signings – I can’t imagine why? 😉
The day had a very intimate feel with some of Rafa’s family and friends from Spain attending via zoom. It was a lovely, warm and welcoming and we were so happy to be a part of it all.
After a ceremony filled with love and laughter full of laughter – mostly at Rafa’s valiant determination to complete the vows in his second language of English (…it’s ‘lawful wife’ Raf, not ‘lawful life’), we serenaded them with back down the aisle with ‘Better together’ by Jack Johnson, another song which we haven’t performed for years but absolutely love. It’s such a gently positive and uplifting tune that never fails to raise a smile on people’s faces, and we really don’t know why it isn’t a mainstay of our live sets anymore. Perhaps it’s time to change that….
The happy couple were whisked away by the lovely Luke from LNP photography for their confetti shots and garden portraits, making the most of Ashfield houses beautiful grounds, and whilst all of the guests were outside this is great opportunity for us to pack a few things away and setup again for the drinks reception, this only takes us 10-15 minutes so by the time we’re typically sound-checked and ready to go everyone has filtered back in ready for a new acoustic duo set with Mat on acoustic guitar and harmonica and Sophie on her little concert Ukulele. We had a few people singing along and tapping their feet – one couple even had a little dance to ‘all I want is you’ by Barry Louis Polisar, which we could not have been happier about… turns out it was their wedding song 11 years ago… Great taste in music!
We performed songs such as ‘Cecilia’ by Simon & Garfunkel, cannot resist their harmonies, as well as ‘It Must Be Love‘ by Labi Siffre (commonly mistaken for a Madness song) and Joni Mitchells ‘Big Yellow taxi’. The acoustic drinks reception music we perform is often the backdrop to the first moment in the wedding day where the assembled guests can relax, have a drink and let their hair down. It was a lovely opportunity to have some interaction with the guests as we performed, and at the end of it we even had a mini singalong with the crowd to our acoustic version of ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ from The Jungle Book. We pretend that this is in the set to please the younger members of the audience, but the truth is, it’s there entirely for our enjoyment.
Luckily it’s such a great song, and we perform it in an aggressive, raspy way that people seem to get a kick out of.
A couple of songs we performed during the drinks reception…
As the final 7th chord faded away it was time to move our little setup into the wedding breakfast room for our last acoustic set of the day. The acoustic wedding breakfast music that we perform is generally more laid back than the drinks reception, in order that the conversation can flow freely without people having to strain to hear each other. For this reason we like to start with a fairly gentle selection of songs like ‘Wings‘ by Birdy, which has such a beautiful repeated refrain throughout that works perfectly with the acoustic guitar and vocal setup. There’s also ‘Dreams‘ by Fleetwood Mac, which everyone knows and loves but which we perform with the ukulele as the main instrument just to make it a little more unique… and of course ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream‘ by The Everly Brothers – a gorgeous classic example of how two voices singing in harmony can be the most beautiful sound in the world. This is one of our most viewed covers on Youtube, and we couldn’t be prouder of the fact.
Towards the end of the live wedding breakfast music, we sensed an opportunity to kick things up by half a notch and took the opportunity to slip in the bride and groom’s second ‘register signing’ song ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ by the incredible Stevie Wonder. It was so nice to be able to let them hear it, even if it wasn’t where they imagined it being, and Jen’s face lit up when we started. So many brides and grooms are off for portraits and group shots so quickly during our drinks reception set, so this was the first time she’d properly heard us perform (and we had a chance to say hello)… it was clear everyone had a great time listening and dancing in their seats, whilst eating.
Scattered around the wedding breakfast room were handmade favours, paper airplanes and polaroids of Jen & Raf on their adventures around the world. There was even a handmade guests book, which we later found out we were included in – how lovely is that?!
The happy couple were so lovely to include us in their food numbers with an amazing 3 course meal, provided by the amazing chefs at Ashfield house, which we have to say were the best meals we’ve ever had, and Amanda was lovely enough to bring them in for us, as well as being thoughtful enough to keep us hydrated throughout the day with drinks – We always have such a lovely time at Ashfield house, the staff couldn’t be nicer, it’s definitely a lovely place to perform as a wedding band in the Northwest and we can’t wait to find ourselves there again. Although knowing our luck, by the time it comes around, Amanda will have moved onto bigger and better things and been replaced by some awful Nurse Ratchet figure…
After we finished our meal, and the room was turned around for the evening, we met up with DJ Chris Cooper from DFC, who I believe we worked with a few years ago at Mitton Hall – so lovely you see him again and trade a few war stories – don’t ask! 😉
Rafa chose their official first dance, which was a Spanish song for them to slow dance to and asked everyone to join them on the dance floor soon after the opening verse… and then Jen chose our last song of the day, ‘Black & White’ by Nail Horan for the song after their first dance. Technically this isn’t a live first dance, then. Is a live second dance a thing? Have we just invented a new fashion?! Anyway, whatever you call it, it certainly had the desired effect of getting everybody up and dancing, and by the end we were genuinely sad to have to say goodbye. It had been such a nice day with an incredible group of warm, welcoming people that we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to end it… so we did an an extra chorus for good measure. We are completely unafraid to outstay our welcome if it means preening our egos for another sixty seconds! 🤣
Before we left we had a lovely chat with Jen’s family, her mum and dad, and found out not only has Jen prepared everything for the day but it also just about to start her exams to become a solicitor… Wonder Woman, or what? We hope your exams go well, Jen! We’re sure you’ll smash them!
Now on our way home, which is only 30 minutes away (Woohoo!) and we couldn’t have asked for a more lovely bunch of people to spend the day with, so thank you so much Jen & Rafa for inviting us to be a part of your celebrations.
We hope you guys have a lovely get-away in June!
Soph & Mat x