Seasonal Wedding Reception Ideas

So let's get seasonal. What about wedding ideas for spring. And let's be traditional and pretend that the seasons are as they were years ago, with changeable springs alternating from sunshine to heavy downpours; summers with the sun never stop shining, and winters with cold and snow. Admittedly, the seasons are getting rather intermingled of recent times, whether it's global warming or just the cyclical change in weather patterns over long periods of time, I really don't know. But let's talk about it in these traditional terms and then give their health warning that you could equally get winter conditions in the summer and summer conditions in the winter and so on and so forth.

So let us continue with the spring wedding ideas. Spring often has glorious weather. Bright sunshine, flowers bursting forth, it's a time to be outdoors after the long dreary winter. If you're at a wedding venue with gardens, you'll want to be outdoors. It's no good having a band playing indoors when everyone is outside. So one option is to have mobile musicians. Some sort of setup where they can play outside, but when the heavens open without any warning, can get themselves in doors as quickly as the guests will do, without causing harm to their instruments and music. But they've got to make enough noise to be heard in the outside conditions, so for example a classical guitarist would normally get lost playing outdoors. No one would hear them.

So we're talking about something like a string quartet or a jazz marching band, who are able to play an amplified (the PA system that is the problem in moving quickly. It's plugged into the mains power supply with a mass of cables, and is also heavy to move. If the heavens open then you're in real trouble.)

Perhaps, as it's a spring wedding, you're having a marquee. The weather is likely to be warm enough not to need extensive eating in the marquee, and the side can be opened to give access to the gardens if the weather is beautiful. Particularly with a marquee, a band with amplification can set up inside the marquee, facing outwards with the sidewall of the marquee pulled back. If they using amplification, they can turn it up as loud as is necessary to be heard comfortably in the garden, even though much of the sound gets lost in the canvass of the marquee and in the plant to the garden. This means that bands like jazz bands, and even party bands, can play in a situation that is safe from the sudden downpour that is always a danger in springtime.

This brings to mind playing with Lickety-split, my yee haa American folk band, for a spring wedding reception. The marquee was a series of enormous wigwams, and we set up just undercover and played out towards the fields where the guests were enjoying the sunshine. Great fun. It didn't rain, the sun shone all the time, but we were safe just in case.

Now let's think about summer wedding ideas. What's the difference between summer weddings and spring weddings? Well, very often the weather is better in the spring than in the summer of recent years, but I suppose one characteristic is that summer weather tends to be more settled. Hopefully settled for good weather, but unfortunately often settled for bad weather. The sudden showers aren't so common.

This doesn't take away the need to have cover for any band using electrical equipment, i.e. an amplification PA system. What it does mean is that you can make a better decision about whether the reception will be held indoors or outdoors. In this country it is really necessary to have an indoor wedding reception plan and an outdoor wedding reception plan. Don't be fooled by your holidays in Greece and Spain when the sun shines all time. This last year, we went to Spain for eight weeks with our touring caravan. This is both inland Spain, where the tourists never go, and coastal Spain which is the tourist area. In eight weeks it rained twice, for about two hours each time. This was September and October. It gave great satisfaction looking at the weather forecasts for the UK. It certainly rained for two hours in the UK, and then another two hours and another two hours and another two hours!

So the thing with the summer wedding is to make a decision that morning, based on the weather forecast (you someone like www.forca.com who seem to be much more reliable than most weather forecasts for the UK, even though it is run by a Finnish company with offices in Finland and Russia. Probably they're making use of the famously superb Russian mathematicians.) Make a decision to be in or out, so that when the band arrive they know whether to set up their equipment in the gazebo or to set it up inside the wedding venue. One set up, at best it can be difficult and time-consuming to move if the weather turns bad, and while they're moving they're not playing music for you, all it can be impossible if it's heavy and complex PA system.

Now let's move on to Winter wedding ideas. (If you are observant you will have noticed that I've missed out autumn wedding ideas. Why? Well, it's much too complicated in this country. Autumns have been wonderful, but in the summers on many occasions, but also quite dire at other times, so I'm taking the easy way out and just ignoring it!

Winter weddings are rather nice from the point of view of organising music. Everything is clear-cut. They are inside, in doors out of the winter storms and snow, inside the wedding venue with a heating on. No worries about Harvey going to be outside or inside as you have in summer. No worries about sudden downpours that might drown everyone at your spring wedding reception. In doors, nice and safe and if it's Christmas, then you've got the added bonus of the decorations, the Christmas tree and, if you're playing with a string quartet, the delights that you can play music from the cartoon 'the snowman'. (I think as wonderful music). You can only play this at Christmas.

Well, that's not quite true. I remember some years ago playing with my string quartet at a summer wedding reception. It was baking hot and when you're playing a completely acoustic instrument with no amplification, you have to work hard physically which makes baking hot even hotter! I was dreaming of nice cool swim or cool drink, when I came across the music for the snowman in one of our music folders. When I suggested to the rest of the musicians that we could play this, they thought I'd gone barmy. But I persisted and we played it. The looks from the wedding guests were interesting. They stop their chatter and drinking glasses of bubbly, and look towards us and surprise. But the music is beautiful, it probably minded snowflakes, Santa sledges and of course gnomon. The surprise turn to big smiles very quickly. I think it was well appreciated.

There are all the good oldies like, roasting chestnuts at an open fire, sleigh ride and more, which can be played by a jazz band, with or without focused and can be played as an instrument number by a string quartet.

And of course there are Christmas carols. Again, most string quartets and jazz bands will have arrangements fees, and if you are having a party band, then again there is a large Christmas orientated repertoire.

For evening wedding ideas, what about barn dance bands and ceilidh bands if you are thinking of this for your Christmas wedding reception. Well, I've done many a Christmas barn dance where we've played Christmas carols like 'the Holly and the Ivy' and 'we saw three ships come sailing by' for the dancers. In fact they are extremely good barn dance and ceilidh tunes.

And as for having your barn dance or ceilidh in the spring or the summer for your evening reception, I would always say "have your barn dance indoors", unless it is in the afternoon, when it can certainly be outside provided the band can play from a location undercover such as an open sided small marquee/large tent, or an open sided lean tool barn. But I maintain that in the evening and outdoor barn dance in this wonderful country of ours, is just not worth the risk. If the dew comes down, it gets too cold or windy, or starts to rain, that is the end of your barn dance.

He might be coming up with brilliant wedding ideas, or wedding ideas unique to your part of the country, but bear in mind the time of the year. For example, there are a number of wedding venues on forts built in the Solent. Yes, in the Solent, in the middle of the sea. These are the forts built under the command of Lord Palmerston, often known as Palmerston’s follies (this always seemed rather unfair to me, as they were built in the 1850s as a deterrent to the French Navy at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Whether there never was a real threat, all whether they acted as a deterrent, no one will ever know (that is a fact of life with Terence), but certainly they were never attacked. Of course, is Palmerston was attacked for wasting money and this was used politically against him. Much the same as the nuclear deterrent of the Cold War, and of today. A successful deterrent deters, and so by definition is never used. But is that folly? So that was the 1850s and nothing has really changed today.)

Anyway, the forts are being put to good use for those who have unusual wedding ideas, by providing very unusual wedding venues. But, the only way you can get them is by boat. For guests who are maybe going to spend a couple of days on the, the weather is not necessarily so critical, as there is normally a lull in the weather when people can get ferried out and onto the fault, but for a band who have to get there to set up by specified time and who have two leave late at night (there’s no spare accommodation on these tiny islands, even if the band were willing to stay on for a night due to bad weather), so the weather conditions are critical. So clearly, even though the Solent is relatively sheltered (and I’ve had some pretty rough sailing in the Solent, mostly due to the sandbanks which shallow the water and can make waves extremely steep and unpleasant in stormy conditions), it is wise to consider the time of year, what the sea conditions might be like and what sort of equipment the band have to ferry out to the venue. The difficult bit is getting it off the boat onto the fault in rough weather. So if the weather has a good chance of being bad, someone like a classical guitarist who only has a light instrument to get on board, could be a good choice.

And make sure that your unusual weddings ideas are practical. We had someone who wanted to book a ceilidh band and have the ceilidh on top of the castle mound (this is a motte and bailey castle mound, with a few ruins on top, and a flattish but not flat enough dancing, grass area on top. It would have been a wonderful idea except, dancers were likely to break their ankles falling down rabbit holes, there was no shelter if it rained, there was no power for the PA system for the band (with the caller going to shout himself horsed and was it going to be at 10 or 15 piece band to make enough sounds to be heard over the shouts of the dancers?) How with the band going to get their heavy equipment up the steep grassy slopes of the Mott (there were no steps or paths), particularly having carried all the equipment half a mile through woodland and across fields (there was no road). Needless to say, we help them see the error of their ways. But, if you have some wacky or unusual wedding ideas, and if some how music can be accommodated without killing the band members are destroying their instruments, let us know. We’re always enthusiastic to do new things. And unusual things don’t have to be completely off the wall. We did a wonderful ceilidh the other year surrounded by magnificent steam engines in one of the countries railway museums, the civil partnership of a couple who were mad keen on steam trains. Great fun. Or, you could have your wedding on a steam train, and we’ve had jazz bands playing on trains. Why not.

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