Jennifer was a bride totally opposite from her sister, whose wedding I had done five years prior. Where Ali had wanted glitz and glam and “music video” style performance, Jen wanted a high energy that felt more organic, alternative and “slightly left of center.”  It took a while for me to figure out how to deliver what she wanted yet still motivate the several hundred guests to find their way to the dance floor. I accepted the challenge! And in the end, it is the personal touches that make every event so unique. I was so proud at the end of Jen and Seth’s wedding when I sat back and reviewed all the elements that went in to creating the musical tapestry for her wedding.

First, Jen and Seth like indie and alternative music, new recording artists, as well as the classic singer-songwriters from the 70’s and 80’s. As far as dance music, they were very specific about the artists and sounds to be played during their wedding reception.

Here is how it all played out and what we were able to create for them.

Setting: The American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A warm spring night. Arrivals: As guests walked through the Columbus Avenue entrance, a trio of 2 acoustic guitars and soprano sax performed love songs by the Beatles. We started by doing only instrumental versions, but soon realized it would be fun to sing, so we switched gears and had three part harmonies on some of the bride’s favorite songs.

As the guests entered the building and went up to the second floor, we had a small complement of musicians at the top of the staircase. Harp, 2 violins and upright bass performed a handpicked selection of songs including: Shower the People, Wonderwall, Moondance and The Top of the Stairs,

The Starlight Strings

Ceremony: While the wedding ceremony music was gorgeous (including the bride’s favorite James Taylor song- Something in the Way She Moves) the highlight was what we created for the recessional. I had never heard of  the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and I certainly hadn’t heard of the song called Inní mér syngur vitleysingur. But Jen had sent me a note that said “Here is a video of the song that makes me happier than any other. I think it’s what joy sounds like and would love to have the instrumental at the end be what plays when we walk back up the aisle. The band, Sigur Ros, doesn’t release their music but maybe you can figure it out?. The crescendo at the end that makes me smile without fail starts at 3:32. Here’s a link.

How could I resist? In order to avoid hiring a 20 piece band to reproduce the sound, we created some tracks in the recording studio and added a trumpet, percussion, saxophone and keyboard to our ceremony quartet. We also brought a fabulous sound system to make sure the piece as heard throughout the room in all its glory, to envelope the bride and groom in the full sound as they envisioned. It was such a special moment that we time we actually got a “thumbs up” from the bride as she was recessing down the aisle.

Wow! So much music, so many special moments and the party had not even officially begun yet.  Another unusual yet amazing request was that Jen had asked me to find an original artist to perform during dinner. I was thrilled to invite my friend Tom Rossi to perform music from his new CD, and serenade the crowd during the quiet portion of the evening. It is rare for us to have an acoustic guitar in the band, (especially because I play the electric guitar!!!) so it was a real treat to have Tom accompany us on the other special dances,  Painting By Chagall by the Weepies, The Secret of Life by James Taylor and Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol.

We also created some dance remixes of other “indie” type songs and artists, and then made sure to throw in lots of party favs, including the bride’s mother’s favorite artist, Bon Jovi. Speaking of the bride’s mother, I have to compliment June Hersh for her ability to create an absolutely magical event that reflected all of the nuances and idiosyncrancies (I say fondly) that made this the perfect wedding for Jen and Seth.  I enjoyed working with event planner Corey Sandlofer (Chlo Events), Bardin Palomo (event designers), Terry Gruber Photography, Lauren Jaume (Restaurant Associates), but most of all June and Ron Hersh for their vision.

Here are the letters I received after the weekend…

From: The Father of the Bride  6/13/12

To: Valerie Romanoff

Subject: Thank you!

Dear Valerie,I don’t even know where to begin! Never, in all the events I have been to in my life, has there ever been a more spectacular musical presentation than yours at Jen & Seth’s wedding! I have never heard a band sound better, no matter the genre – who was up front – or the individual number you were doing. So perfect – that’s what everyone who was there said. And I thought you couldn’t possibly be even better than you were at Ali & Dan’s. You and your people truly helped make the evening simply the best ever! I cannot thank you enough for what you all did to make the wedding one that people will talk about for a long, long time to come and that I will remember forever.Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Fondly,  Ron

And the Mother of the Bride posted this review on yesterday.

In 2007 we had Valerie Romanoff and her amazing band at my daughter’s wedding at the NY Public Library.  They were incredible.  From coordinating the ceremony music to the cocktail hour vibe and the unbelievable band at the reception, they exceeded our expectations.  When my younger daughter began planning her wedding, our first call was to Valerie.  We went to their offices and talked about what my bride, Jennifer and groom Seth, envisioned for their wedding.  In an instant, Valerie and her talented team got to work creating exactly what Jennifer wanted.  From song selection to customized music, Valerie’s team put it all together.  They didn’t miss a beat!  The pre-ceremony music welcomed our guests to New York’s Museum of Natural History with a warm style.  The ceremony music was exactly what Jennifer chose; contemporary songs with an elegant feel- an amazing harpist and an ensemble that rivals any I could hear at Carnegie Hall.  They even went so far as to take Jen’s favorite song and learn it perfectly.  That was no easy task as the sheet music was unavailable and they had to create the music, practice and learn this unusual Icelandic piece.  Our guests couldn’t get over the orchestral sound that accompanied my daughter down the aisle.  And then there was the party- OMG- they were unbelievable, knowing the right mix of songs, keeping the crowd energized and engaged, making the night flow perfectly with the right balance.  My guests all commented that the singers would blow any American Idol off the stage, the musicians were more talented than any they have heard in concert and Valerie’s guitar artistry was awesome.  The party remained full energy until the last person collapsed on the dance floor.  Starlight was everything we could have ever hoped for and more.  My only regret- I don’t have another wedding to make, might just have to have Starlight come to my house and blow my mind one more time!

Wishing You All The Best,
Valerie  Romanoff