Friday, June 6, 2014

Mark & Georgia at Longboards at Plumas Pines with the String Beings

I am a spiritual person. I believe that love conquers all, cutting through time and space.

Weddings are a perfect example of this as they not only celebrate the bride and groom's love for one another, but also celebrate the love that is shared by family and friends, the love shared by other committed couples sharing in that day, and finally for the love we have for those people who are dear to us but have passed on.  It is so fulfilling to be a part of a wedding celebration that accommodates all of these facets.  I sometimes think that I can almost see that emotion permeate and snowball through the course of the evening into an almost visible aura of pure joy. Okay maybe I am going off a little hippyish here (no I don't own any Birkenstocks or have any medicinal prescriptions to visit any dispensaries) but it is true. That's why to me, weddings are the most fun a DJ can have. To be able to participate in one of these weddings that hits all these parameters is such a pleasure, and a perfect example of this was Mark & Georgia's reception last month.
The String Beings!
Mark & Georgia don't live in the area- they had planned on a destination wedding to the gorgeous Plumas Pines area in the California Sierras with the reception at Longboards Bar & Grill. Mark found me on the internet and we spoke on the phone once or twice, and we were off and running. They hired the always phenomenal String Beings trio for their ceremony and for cocktail and dinner music, and while they got married across the way on a beautiful golf green, I set up inside Longboards. Longboards Bar & Grill is a beautiful venue overlooking the Plumas Pines golf course and the surrounding forests and mountains. Up on a rise, the views are quite dramatic. The interior is very lodge-like but with a modern flair that goes perfectly with the surroundings. I had not worked there prior to Georgia & Mark's evening but as the staff were so helpful and friendly I immediately felt at home.

First Dance
Georgia & Mark had planned a very simple yet elegant timeline, and it couldn't have gone any better. I introduced them when they arrived at Longboards after taking pictures and that was basically it for me for a while. The String Beings really are special. They entertained everyone with classical pieces and arrangements of popular songs and really did an excellent job. I have a lot of string trio or quartet songs that I use for seating or dinner music, but those songs don't match up to a well-practiced, talented live trio like the Beings. I had the pleasure of being set up close to them so I really could hear the intricacies and nuances in their playing.  They were very gracious too, playing a request or two from the guests and conversing with them between songs when the guests wanted to know a song title or what have you. They are highly recommended if you need a strings group.
Mother-Son Dance
As dinner wound down, toasts were made and everyone moved to the dance floor as the String Beings played their last song of the evening, "Could I Have This Dance" for Mark & Georgia's first dance. It was a great moment which just continued as we went into "Celebration" and invited everyone up to join them. The special dancing continued with a Mother-Son dance, "You'll Be in my Heart" by Phil Collins where Georgia got to dance with her sons Matt & Anthony. Multiplying an already special moment, Mark brought his new Mother-in-law Dolly onto the floor a few moments later and then they had me invite all the mothers & sons and fathers & daughters to come up and join them.  This is what I am talking about when the love in the room just builds and builds. Guests come to a wedding prepared to see special moments for the bride & groom, and the next thing they know they are dancing with their parent or child and having a special moment of their own they will remember forever. An Anniversary Dance accomplishes much the same thing, honoring those guests and family members for their commitments to one another whether it was 3 hours ago, 3 years ago, or 73 years ago. These are the moments that take a wedding to the next level- one that will be remembered for as long as the participants live.

Then we were in for a special treat arranged by the family, specifically all of the cousins. About a dozen of these cousins began singing a special song with custom lyrics to the bride and groom using the music of "Living on a Prayer" which cousin Dean strummed on his guitar. It really brought the house down and was just many of those moments that night that pulled everyone that much closer together.
Flash mob starts to gain momentum!
They didn't stop though! As more general, open dancing began, I played "Happy" by Pharrell Williams to start everyone off. Unbeknownst to the newlyweds, many of the guests had planned a flash mob for that moment and they did such a great job that it was infectious and soon almost everyone was on the dance floor with them.
"Jump on it!"
Dancing then ruled for the rest of the evening, punctuated a bit later by Georgia & Mark cutting their cake. I was able to play such a fun variety of music to such an enthusiastic dancing crowd all night long. Everyone knew the moves from "Thriller" and "Apache" and did Cha Chas and Shuffled. When the last song played, "We are Family" everyone was on the dance floor singing along at the top of their lungs. Such a fun crowd!

Back to my starting point: the love that Mark & Georgia had for each other was glowing brightly all night. You could see it when they danced, when Mark watched Georgia from across the room, when she grabbed at his hand when talking with friends and family.
The love of family and friends was apparent as well, with the cousin's song, with the toasts, the flash mob, and hundreds of little moments that added up to something bigger in its entirety as people just enjoyed each other and the moment.
Finally the love for and from those who have passed or cannot be with the couple was also apparent. Usually it manifests in small ways, sometimes perceptible, sometimes not. Many times it is felt during a slow song, as the dancers relive another dance in the past when those loved ones were present. It was definitely there that night but if you had asked me that night I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on it exactly.

A week or so later I received a nice email from Mark and he asked if I had had a specific request for a certain slow song. I had several for other songs- one I remember well was one for "Georgia on my Mind" by Ray Charles that was just perfect for Mark & Georgia, and as a last slow song I played Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance" so they could relive once again their first dance that the String Beings had played so perfectly, but this was "Over the Rainbow" by Iz and though I had played it, no one had requested it.

I have perhaps 10-15k slow songs. Of those there are probably several hundred I play with any regularity. "Over the Rainbow" is in that 300 song category. With the requests from the group and Mark's playlist, I probably played 2-3 slow songs that I chose, so it was basically a 1% chance I'd play that song. But I did. And here is where love can reach across the world and even across life at a reception. "Over the Rainbow", Mark related, was his dad's favorite, and when his dad passed, Mark's son (who lives in Hong Kong and couldn't make this wedding) had fashioned a beautiful rendition and played it in his honor at the funeral. Mark said that when he heard the song he immediately felt that his son and dad were with him. Could it have been a coincidence? Yes, unlikely, but yes. However in 26+ years of doing weddings I see and hear about these things all the time. If you are wondering if you are connected with that loved one halfway across the world or with someone who has left this life, the answer is yes. Love has no boundaries.

Thanks to Longboards for such an elegant setting, meal and service. Thanks to the String Beings- I am in awe of your talents. Finally thanks to Mark & Georgia. You couldn't have been more fun or gracious and the same for your family and guests. I so enjoyed being a part of such a joyful celebration. Congrats!

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