Virginia Unveiled: How Charlottesville Weds

Ode to Wedding Day Harmony

By Ran Henry

What are you buying, really, when you book musical entertainment for your wedding through 20 South Productions? Arranging a professional musical performance for your friends, family and fiancé is a ticket to the experience of a lifetime.

Picture the folks you love enough to invite to your wedding and you’ll see a medley of styles, tastes and personalities. Picture the place you’re inviting them to and you’ll hear the rootsy, romantic, fist-pumping, dance-floor bumping sound of a celebration in Charlottesville — calling for the unique talents of our area’s music makers, on a day when every song matters.

A classic concordance of violin, viola and cello, the old-time harmonies and tuneful twangs of guitars, banjos and mandolins, the raucous, funky, soulful jams of a party band and the beats of an innovative Dee Jay can comprise the soundtrack for your wedding day. Ultimately, choosing musical entertainment means selecting a playlist to please a most special guest list, while expressing who you two truly are.

Your selections for seating music, playing as your guests gather under a sacred roof or open sky, set a tone for all that follows. This is an opportune time for musicians to perform classical and contemporary selections, setting the stage for your appearance at the altar. A Dee Jay can play your requested seating music as well, preludes to a most romantic moment.

The selections grow more prominent, and perhaps more personal, as time for the ceremony draws near. What song sums up the emotions of the groom, walking to the altar with the officiant, maybe with brothers, best friends, even grooms-women?

That entrance leads to a procession of bridesmaids, yet another evocative musical moment.

Central Virginia Weddings

Always you will remember the faces of family and friends and your intended as you walk toward your new life, accompanied perhaps by a mighty special escort and song selection. A traditional processional, “Here Comes the Bride,” composer Richard Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” from the 1850s, has been joined in recent years by “Canon in D,” performed with varied instruments and styles.

A special ceremony performed at the altar, such as the lighting of candles, the commingling of sand, earth, ropes, or wine, can be accompanied by a song played at background volume.

The moment you two first kiss and are announced as one couple, walking back down the aisle to applause and cheers, calls for a most joyous song, performed live or played by a Dee Jay, reverberating forever. “The Wedding March” composed by Felix Mendelssohn in the 1840s is a traditional recessional. What whimsical, ecstatic, upbeat tune would fully express your joy at this moment, and reverberate forever?

The sky is the limit. Have fun picking this one!

Couples booking musicians for the ceremony can extend that performance into the cocktail hour, making full use of the performers’ time, and presence, at your wedding. Every wedding professional you hire is selling a date on the calendar, as well as talent and expertise. Chamber musicians already on hand can be a classy addition to your cocktail hour.

That mingling of libations, mirth, and old and new friends may take place without you, at least for awhile, as your photographer captures portraits of family, friends and newlyweds for posterity. At least you can hear familiar voices and tunes across the way, as your guests enjoy one other and a cool collection of tunes. The cocktail and dinner hours are opportunities to request beloved songs that maybe aren’t dance floor anthems.

When you stand at the doorway to your reception, introduced by your new name, applauded by those who helped make you who you are, you are in the hands of history, and your emcee. The fanfare you select, performed by your band or Dee Jay, enlivens your entrance, and ushers you into the party of a lifetime.

After enjoying the formalities and wedding feast, what kind of music will fill your dance floor? Consider the widest possible variety, a mixture of old, new, borrowed and blue, representing everyone on your guest list yet sounding like you.

Charlottesville Weddings

A seasoned wedding band offers a varied setlist, with a signature sound. A Dee Jay can play every song under the sun, moon and stars.

Every selection is significant. Fewer songs than you might think are played on a wedding day.

Many popular modern songs are three to four minutes long; older hits are shorter, while jam bands play longer. So you’ll hear maybe sixty to eighty songs over four hours of an epic reception. Each selection should seem like a chapter in a story, progressing into the evening, hanging together yet keeping guests guessing, building to a transcendent ending.

Most couples have friends and family far more diverse than any Spotify algorithm, a collection of characters akin to Drake and Willie Nelson, Jay-Z and Bon Jovi. Doesn’t every loved one coming to celebrate with you from afar deserve a musical shout-out?

Your Dee Jay should see, hear and sound out those family ties, and multi-faceted relationships, connecting crooners with Motown, finding the Reggae roots and Rhythm and Blues beats behind Modern Dance Music, Hip Hop and rock – all originating in a garden in Africa, no doubt.

The differences between any of us amount to less than .04 per cent of our DNA – especially while dancing alongside a couple celebrating their wedding day.

A matrimonial music mix should be considered a sacrament, bringing a bride and groom and all co-celebrants closer by the end of the evening, enhancing the bonds of a lifetime. That is a sacred calling, beat for beat, amplifying the heart, soul and sound of one eclectic wedding mecca.

We all know a Charlottesville wedding when we hear one.