Choosing wedding music for an evening reception used to be quite a simple matter 10 or 15 years ago – live band or disco. That decision made, even if you did choose a live band the chances are, it would be a function band that played music from Motown through to the current charts, trying its best to be a live version of the disco earlier dismissed. Weddings then had a sort of familiarity – when the music started the older generation would leave the room for a quiet chat outside (and that’s if they were lucky enough to be at a venue with another room to escape to.)
With stately homes fast becoming the new village hall, the wedding venues are getting grander and more elegant and so too, is the music. No more the ABBA medley or Tina Turner oldies deafening us – bring on the swing band. An elegant mixture of music from the Great American Songbook which has once again, become hip, cool and current. The parents of the bride & groom may have been rockin’ to the likes of Rod Stewart at their wedding reception but even Rod has exchanged his ‘Maggie Mae’ for the film classic‘As Time Goes By’.
With artists such as Michael Buble and Robbie Williams, the resurgence of jazz, swing and popular song has never been stronger. Their music is of our grandparents generation. It’s Frank Sinatra all over again – classy, brassy and ring-a-ding-ding! The real pleasure of digging up the musical past is that only the best and the biggest hits are re-discovered. Songs such as Let’s Face The Music and Dance, Come Fly With Me, La Mer, Have You Met Miss Jones or Music to Watch Girls Go By are the survivors. Who’d have thought that young brides would once again be asking for ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ or ‘Mr Bojangles’ for their first dance?
Turning to the all-important first dance, one suspects that the rush of soon-to-be-married couples to take quickstep or foxtrot lessons must be due to the huge success of Strictly Come Dancing, a show which has it all – live music, beautiful gowns and most of all, glamour. And what could be more glamorous than gliding across the dance-floor for the first time as newly-weds while a live swing band plays ‘Cheek To Cheek’? Think Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers.
Perhaps for the contemporary Bride and Groom a Wedding Swing Band exemplifies the heady, studio-spun glamour of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Fronted by its male and female vocalists (we mustn’t forget Ella Fitzgerald’s contribution to this wonderful music) it will play music from composers such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin right through to contemporary rock/pop songs of today, giving them the swing treatment. A good quality Wedding Swing Band will have all generations enjoying the party and at a sensible volume too allowing guests to chat or to dance or to simply listen.
The disco has had its day, and a very long day at that, but this modern day swing thing is by far grander, smarter and altogether more elegant – just how a dream wedding reception should be.
Wedding Music … Top Tips for choosing a Swing Band
1. Make sure they are professional musicians – this music is quite complex to play and requires a high level of musicianship.
2. See if the band has any public performances where you can hear them play.
3. Ask for a demo CD or listen to on-line sound samples (any reputable band will have these).
4. See if the band of your choice has any video footage on YouTube.
5. Make sure they have an extensive repertoire and can play requests.
6. If you use a music booking agency, be sure to check that the agent has personally seen the band.
Article provided by Sandra Lambert at Simply Swing.