If Music Be The Food of Love…



Last night I woke up with a start after having a miserable dream – it was our wedding day, and nothing had gotten accomplished! The bridesmaids never picked up their dresses, we forgot to have our final meeting with the pastor at our church to finalize our vows, no one knew where the church was (so half our guests were missing,) and I had to use weeds from the church’s lawn as my flowers. I swear, I’m not making this up just for the blog – it was a real nightmare!

As silly as that sounds, it was kind of a freak-out moment for me. I think it’s probably because it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done any planning – not because I don’t want to, but just because there are very few things left for us to do. I’ve kind of just been sitting around, waiting for things to happen (Not that they’re going to happen on their own, but a girl isn’t always running around like mad during this wedding planning thing! It’s been six months since we got engaged – things are starting to settle down a bit.)

One thing that we didn’t fully plan yet is our music. Not the ceremony music, but the reception music. Let me just tell you before I go any further, though, about how much I LOVE the music we picked for our ceremony! It’s pretty typical wedding music, but it’s all music that, as a classical musician, I’ve loved since I was in high school – “Pachelbel’s Canon in D,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and “The Prayer” (okay, so that one’s not really a classic, but how beautiful is that song?? If you haven’t heard it, go to LastFM and check it out – I like the version by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.) I can’t wait to hear it all together during the ceremony! Eeee! (That was an excited shriek.) =P

Okay, so – reception music. The first decision we had to make was whether to have a band or a DJ play at the reception. After researching a bunch of different options, we quickly realized that bands are hella expensive right now – running anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000+ for a wedding reception. Although Tim and I both like the live music experience (of course we do – we’re both musicians!) we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend that much on reception music…especially after all the other expenses we have towards the wedding. It was on to the DJ pages for us!

[HudsonValleyWeddings.com: Alternative to Live: If you are unable to see a DJ "live," before hiring, ask to see photographs of weddings or other events at which the DJ has performed. Pictures can tell a lot.]

We checked out a couple of options in the area with the help of a few wedding Web sites, including TheKnot.com and HudsonValleyWeddings.com – can you tell that we’re Internet people?? Maybe I should have called this blog ‘Wired Valley Weddings” instead! =P

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of really good DJs here in the Hudson Valley area. It made our decision really difficult. Here’s a list of a couple that we checked out:

-Hudson Valley DJ Service · "D.J. Jay" (Kingston)
-Mad Mike & Friends DJ Service (Poughkeepsie)
-B.O.S.S. Systems Entertainment · Frank Banks, D.J. (Stone Ridge)
-Alex Mazur, DJ/Pianist (New Paltz)

After all was said and done, we had it narrowed down to about four different DJs that we were ready to look further into. Then, suddenly there was a revelation – wasn’t one of our band members, Jon, a part-time employee at a local DJ service? Wasn’t it a really good, trustworthy company that we knew would be entertaining and not flake out on us on the big day? And wouldn’t they maybe, just maybe, give us a “bro deal” for being friends with an employee??

We asked Jon, and looked into it further. The company was called DJ Entertainment, and it was located in Highland, NY; just minutes from our reception site. The owner was a great guy – friendly, outgoing, and straightforward. He gave us a very clear-cut explanation for what needed to be done, music-wise, before the wedding, and some very reasonable prices. After further consulting with Jon, who told us how good the other emcees were (Jon wouldn’t be emceeing the wedding – he’ll be attending it!) we decided to go with them. We signed a contract and we’re all set for our wedding music.

[HudsonValleyWeddings.com: Where is the DJ? If you’ll be using low lighting, like candles, for illuminating your reception space, make arrangements for additional lighting where the DJ will set up and talk to the DJ, beforehand, about this “problem.”]

Since that step’s all done, all we have to do is come up with a list of “Must Play” songs for the reception. This is probably going to be a long list for us – we both have pretty eclectic musical tastes and like a lot of different things. Some of our mutual favorites include pop rock and pop punk, ska, swing, and alternative rock. Tim really likes punk and experimental music, and I like more pop favorites and jazz. We obviously can’t have all those genres at the wedding, but I think there are ways to make it work – some songs are more wedding-friendly than others. Plus, we want to accommodate for the people who will be there so we can get everyone up and dancing.

[HudsonValleyWeddings.com: Please Play: Make sure to ask your DJ about policy regarding requests from guests. Music sets the tone of a reception, so tell your DJ whether or not to honor requests and what requests you don’t want played.]

We already have certain songs chosen – we’ll be having our first dance to Tony’s Bennett’s version of “The Way You Look Tonight,” and the cake-cutting song will be “Dreams” by The Cranberries (we would have chosen that for our first dance but if you ever heard it, you’d probably agree that it’s a tad “undanceable.”) The garter toss will be the James Bond Theme (Tim’s choice) and the flower toss will be No Doubt’s “I’m Just a Girl” (my choice.)

[HudsonValleyWeddings.com: DJ or Live? When making your choice, keep in mind that a DJ will play music as it was recorded, with the group, the vocals, and the style just as it is in the original version of the song.]

Otherwise, we still have some work to do – the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance are still up for debate. We have a lot of work to do on the list still – it’s a really important part of the day for us, and we want to make sure that it fits our tastes and still makes other people feel like dancing. If you have similar musical tastes to us, keep reading the blog and I’ll post our final “Must Play” list for you – I hope someone out there will find it helpful, because we could sure use one right about now!

Until next time…

~Laura =)


The Blog For Hudson Valley Weddings

About This Blog

Liz Stein

Laura Calhoon
Dover, NY

A Hudson Valley native, Laura Calhoon grew up in Poughkeepsie and earned her Bachelor's degree at SUNY New Paltz in May of 2007. Laura, who has worked for both Hudson Valley magazine and the Taconic Press in Millbrook, is now teaching at a nursery school in Brewster. She is thrilled write Behind the Valley Veil -- mostly because it gives her an outlet for all that wedding talk! Her hobbies include reading, drawing, singing opera (minus the viking hat), writing fiction, and performing with her band "What's in this Juice?" -- and, of course, hanging out with her wonderful fiancee, Tim. She currently resides in Dover -- not all too far away from her husband-to-be.

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