Plus, enjoy welcome fizz on arrival courtesy of Perrier-Jouet!
If you’re planning your big day and need some inspiration, look no further than our Winter Wedding Fair.
We’re opening our doors for the best boutique wedding fair in Bristol, showcasing our beautiful, fully licensed venue, and our pick of top local wedding suppliers. What’s more, our in-house wedding planning team will be on hand throughout to answer all your questions.
The Wedding Industry Awards – Regional Finals awards presentation
This year I was nominated for an award at the prestigious Wedding Industry awards. I attended the regional finals last Wednesday at Old Down Estate, Bristol. Did I win? Well, more on that in a moment, but first – why I entered, and some background.
Taking the plunge…
Well, I must say it’s been an absolutely amazing year for me and my little wedding guitar business. It’s my second full year of being a full time musician, specialising in live music tailored specifically for weddings. I’ve been a working musician for over 10 years now, but in the past I’ve always fitted it around other jobs. Last January I took the plunge and made the business my 100% focus.
It was a little scary at the start, as I’m sure anyone who’s dived headfirst into self-employment can relate. I spent the whole of January promoting my business, redesigning my website, filming new promotional videos, arranging performances at wedding fairs and doing all I could to move things forward. Slowly but surely, my little snowball got bigger and bigger. At the turn of the year, before I took the plunge, I think I had six bookings in the diary. I ended up playing at 40 weddings in 2015 and 55 in 2016. Add to that private parties and gigs at my regular venues in Bristol; all-in-all it’s been a very busy year!
I’m now at a point where, unfortunately I seem to be turning down more bookings than I can take on – obviously great news for me business-wise, but also such a shame! I hate having to send that “sorry, I’m already booked” email.
Entering the Awards
Anyone who’s planned a wedding, or worked in the wedding industry will most-likely have seen the above logo – it’s the Wedding Industry Awards symbol, a body that recognises the very best suppliers in the business. I’ve thought about entering a few times, and this year I was nominated on more than one occasion so thought the time was right to put myself forward.
I contacted my wedding clients, and was thrilled to received such support, positivity and enthusiasm from everyone! The comments I received were absolutely incredible – you can read all my feedback from voters here, it really blew me away.
Scores from voters – almost perfect 10s across the board!
When I received notification that I was a Regional Finalist, I was over the moon! In my first year of entering I’d made it all the way through to the finals, and was in with a chance of winning an award.
And the award goes to…
Well, sadly it was not meant to be this year! The award was picked up by the very talented Evertide – worthy winners for sure. Naturally I was a little disappointed to miss out – despite assuming that I probably wasn’t going to win, when it came to the point where the award was being announced I couldn’t help but get my hopes up! Never mind, there’s always next year – and I’ll be looking to up my game in every area to see if I can secure an award next year!
Despite not actually winning the award, the feedback I received was just incredible. It’s so satisfying to know that you’ve done a good job, and contributed to someone’s perfect day. I was really moved reading some of the comments received.
My philosophy has always been to create a rapport with my wedding couples – that’s why I’ll never work for an agency. The personal interaction is what makes it special. I’d like to take a moment just to thank every single bride and groom who have booked me to play at their special day. Every occasion has been unique, memorable and an absolute pleasure to be at.
People who know me will have heard me say this on a regular basis:
Ok it’s Monday the 28th November and I’m well aware I haven’t updated my wedding guitarist blog for a longggg time! I was trying to blog about every wedding I attended; I missed one, then I missed another…. before I knew it I’d missed nearly a year of weddings! Time to get back on it. I’ll also be backfilling the blog, so hopefully at some point I’ll catch up on all the posts I’ve missed.
So, Saturday saw a trip up to picturesque Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. The venue: The Porch House, the occasion: Richard and Sarah’s big day. I arrived at roughly 1.30pm and bumped into Kirsten, aka The Little Wedding Helper who was busy working her magic to make the place look amazing, as she always does. With some amazing calligraphy and stationery from de Winton Paper co and floristry from The Rose Shed, the place was looking classy and absolutely stunning!
I set up ready for the drinks reception and awaited the guests arrival. The ceremony began at 2pm in the nearby church, and from 3pm people started to filter in from the cold, crisp day outside. The log fire was very welcoming, and I began some acoustic music as people mingled.
We had just over and hour and a half of acoustic tunes (playlist below). It was an absolute pleasure to meet the newlyweds, and to be a part of such a stunning occasion. Congratulations Sarah and Richard!
Adele - Make You Feel My Love
Ed Sheeran - The A Team
Christina Perri - A Thousand Years
Ellie Goulding - How Long Will I Love You
Justin Bieber - Love Yourself
One Direction - Little Things
Bastille - Pompeii
The Calling - Wherever You Will Go
Ed Sheeran - Lego House
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
James Bay - Let It Go
American Authors - Best Day Of My Life
Adele - Rolling In The Deep
Amy Winehouse - Valerie
George Ezra - Budapest
Walk The Moon - Shut Up & Dance
The Fratellis - Whistle For The Choir
Paolo Nutini - Last Request
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World
James Bay - Hold Back The River
Tracey Chapman - Fast Car
Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud
November/December 2016 and February 2017 – HUGE OFFER!
This Winter, I’m announcing a huge one-off special offer. I’m offering a massive 50% off the performance fee for all remaining dates in my diary. That’s HALF PRICE! This is the first and probably the only time I’ll ever offer a discount like this, so if you’re getting married in November 2016, December 2016 or February 2017 – you may be able to take advantage of this amazing offer.
Here’s an example of the discounted prices:
The Wedding Ceremony + Drinks Reception: £225
The Evening Party: £215
Drinks reception music: £195
For the full price list click here – and take 50% off all the regular prices! Please note travel charges still apply, so for example – if you were to book the ceremony + drinks reception package and your venue was 30 miles from BS5, where I’m based, the total fee would be £225 + £25 travel = £250. For a full list of travel charges see the FAQ section.
Availability update: November and December are now full. I’m not taking bookings in January, but there are still dates available in February. Contact here to check availability.
This is a limited offer, which will only run for a short time – so if you would like to book one of the most in-demand singer/guitarists around at a bargain price – please get in touch!
Wedding Guitarist Blog: my top 10 most requested songs for the wedding ceremony/first dance – and some alternative choices
Choosing the music you want at your wedding is a tricky thing! Making your own song selections is the norm now, particularly at civil ceremonies but also at more traditional church weddings. While the bride may opt to enter the ceremony to the traditional Bridal Chorus performed by an organist, there is still usually space for some music before the ceremony, during the signing of the register, and as the married couple exit.
As a live guitarist and singer, I’m often booked to perform at the wedding ceremony. When I meet with couples to discuss the music, I’d say 90% of couples aren’t sure what music they want – so if you’re planning your wedding and scratching your head, wondering what on earth you should choose – don’t despair! You’re in the majority.
Jo & Mark’s first dance at The Great Tythe Barn, Tetbury
A question that crops up time and time again when I speak to couples is “what songs have other people chosen?” This can good be a good starting point if you have no idea which songs to pick. It may be also a good guide as to which songs you don’t want! Eliminating the most popular songs may be a good idea if you want something more unusual. You may stumble across a gem of a song that fits perfectly. Look out for my next blog: Top 10 most unusual wedding ceremony/first dance songs I’ve played.
The perfect song for the ceremony or first dance will ideally be one that:
you both like (although the bride will usually have the final word when it comes to her entrance music!)
sets the atmosphere you’re looking for (romantic? upbeat?)
has lyrics that are meaningful to you
reminds you of a significant moment in your relationship
If you manage to find a song that fills all the above criteria – well done! Realistically it’s pretty difficult to find one that ticks all boxes, so if you find one that fulfils two out of four, you’re onto a winner.
Steph & Tom’s first dance at Hunstile Organic Farm
Without further ado, here’s my top 10 list of the most requested songs. I’ve also included an alternative option for each song in a similar style, for those looking for something a little less popular:
#10 – Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
Only released two years ago, this song became an instant wedding favourite with it’s beautiful lyrics and classic melodies. Ed’s soulful voice and skilful songwriting come to the fore on this track, and I’m certain it’ll be a popular choice for years to come.
Heartfelt, soulful, timeless – this song is a popular pick, with lyrics that perfectly express what the wedding day is all about. From the first line “I, I’m so in love with you” to the chorus “Loving you whether times are good or bad, happy or sad” – it’s almost like all your wedding vows wrapped up in a neat musical package!
Another modern song to make the top 10 list, this has been one of my most requested at wedding ceremonies over the last couple of years. The soaring chorus melody and beautiful lyrics make this a firm favourite with the hopeless romantics!
Uplifting and positive, this is a lovely song to have at any point during the wedding ceremony. Works perfectly for the bridal entrance, during the signing of the register or the exit of the married couple. However if you’re superstitious and hoping for a sunny day, you may not want to choose this and jinx the weather!
This is the perfect song for the wedding ceremony exit – upbeat, joyful and the perfect confirmation song that you’re officially a married couple! Also works really well as a first dance song if you want something to get the party started rather than a slow dance – although be warned, you may have to bust out some dance moves in front of your wedding guests!
#5 – Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley (aka Falling In Love With You)
A little while back I made a recording of this song in a modern acoustic style, and it seemed to instantly connect with people – quickly becoming far and away my most popular video on YouTube with well over 100,000 views to date. Heartfelt and timeless, there’s just something about the melodies in this song that touch the soul. If you like my version and would like to use it at your wedding, please show your support by downloading using the link below (grabbing the mp3 via YouTube is illegal and it only costs 99p to do it the legal way!)
It seems amazing to me that this song was released in 2008 – it’s nearly 10 years old! It still feels fresh as ever and remains a very popular pick at weddings. “I’m Yours” – the perfect sentiment, what more do you need to say?!
So, we move into the top 3 with this classic soul track. Recorded in the early 60’s, this song remains as popular today as ever – it’s one of those tunes where everyone knows the chorus lyrics, no matter their age! A genius moment in songwriting history, and Ben E. King’s incredible soulful vocals are the icing on the cake. Another great song for the recessional (exit song) at the wedding ceremony.
Jack Johnson’s chilled out voice, laid-back guitar style and knack for writing interesting/unusual but universally appealing lyrics all contribute to this modern classic. “It’s always better when we’re together” – of course it is, that’s why you’re getting married! It’s one of my favourite songs to play at weddings – a genius piece of songwriting, and one that will continue to be popular for years to come I’m sure.
#1 – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher by Jackie Wilson
And the no.1 goes to the brilliant Jackie Wilson! This song has all the elements to make it the perfect wedding song – it works brilliantly at the ceremony, or as a funky upbeat first dance song. Jackie Wilson’s soaring voice and the infectious energy in the song is perfect to get everyone feeling upbeat and happy.
I think it’s popularity at weddings is also down to the fact that it’s not necessarily as well known as some of the other songs on the list, so while it’s a familiar song to hear, it doesn’t feel tired or overplayed. It’s one of my favourite songs to play at weddings!
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve just released my first album of acoustic wedding songs! I’ve picked nine of my most requested tracks, and two versions of the acoustic bridal chorus – one full length and one shortened version, at just under a minute long it’s perfect for the walk down the aisle.
Well, 2015 has been an amazing year for me I must say! I’m proud to say that being a musician is now my full-time occupation, and I’ve watched my little business go from strength to strength in the past couple of years.
2015 saw a 300% increase in wedding bookings, and 2016 is lining up to be my busiest year yet.
I’ve been busy filming and recording audio from many of my 2015 weddings and have a huge amount of footage to work through! So that means there will be lots of new live videos coming soon, along with some new professional demos – so keep an eye on my video page and YouTube page throughout the Winter.
On every booking form this year I’ve included an optional section for website feedback and improvements. I’ve been listening to everyone’s comments and will be implementing lots of the great suggestions that have come in – thanks everyone! One of these was an option to sort the repertoire by era rather than just list it in alphabetical order. This is the first improvement I’ll be bringing in, so keep an eye on the repertoire page which will have a new look for 2016.
July 18th, 2015 saw a journey down to Ever After at Lower Grenofen (near Tavistock, Devon) for Jenny and Shaun’s big day. Lots of organisation went into this amazing wedding day, with the bride and groom arranging everything from their home in New Zealand!
Jenny & Shaun booked my all-day package – so that included welcome music as guests arrived, live songs during the wedding ceremony, the afternoon drinks reception and the evening party. Lots and lots of live acoustic tunes!
After an hour or so of music out on the green as guests arrived, we made our way over to the Orchard for the wedding ceremony.
Beatles - Here Comes The Sun
Ben Howard - Only Love
Bill Withers - Ain’t No Sunshine
George Ezra - Listen To The Man
Jack Johnson - Banana Pancakes
Coldplay - Yellow
David Gray - This Years Love
Ed Sheeran - Lego House
Frank Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon
The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way
Bridal Entrance: Foo Fighters - Everlong
Recessional: Etta James - At Last
With my PA system already set up on the decking area near the main marquee, I moved down to play some songs during the afternoon drinks reception.
Jack Johnson - Better Together
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song
Ed Sheeran - The A-Team
Jack Johnson - Good People
Eric Clapton - Layla
Passenger - Let Her Go
Jason Mraz - I’m Yours
KT Tunstall - Black Horse & The Cherry Tree
Jack Johnson - Sitting Waiting Wishing
Paul Weller - You Do Something To Me
Counting Crows - Accidentally In Love
Time for a rest ready for the evening! I had a chill out on the giant deck chair (pictured!) and Jenny and Shaun were kind enough to provide me with some food – so I refuelled, before moving my PA into the marquee ready for the evening celebrations.
I love playing songs I’ve never heard before for a first dance – and Jenny and Shaun chose “My Baby” by Plush, which worked perfectly with the guitar!
First dance: Plush - My Baby
Jackie Wilson - Higher & Higher
George Ezra - Budapest
Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
Marvin Gaye - Heard It Through The Grapevine
Lumineers - Ho Hey
Blackstreet - No Diggity
Ed Sheeran/Macklemore - You Need Me/Thrift Shop
James - Sit Down
Green Day - Time Of Your Life
Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
- break -
Pharrell - Happy
Stevie Wonder - Superstition
Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Deep Blue Something - Breakfast At Tiffany’s
George Ezra - Blame It On Me
The Killers - Mr. Brightside
Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
Ed Sheeran - Sing
Tenacious D - Tribute
Bryan Adams - Summer of ‘69
Van Morrisson - Brown Eyed Girl
Ben E King - Stand By Me
Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
An absolutely amazing day all round – huge congratulations to the happy couple, and I loved discovering this gem of a wedding venue. A really magical little spot, and I’m excited to head back to Ever After next year for Cherie & David’s big day!