The Smokin’ Section had our first engagement at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange on this rather muggy late August afternoon/evening. We had played Chrissy’s sister Beth’s wedding about 2 years and 1 month before this. At that time, Beth & her fiance (now husband) Ari had picked the Smokin’ Section as the best of NJ Wedding Bands and and both the couple and their audience & the band had had a blast that day at the the Jumping Brook Country Club down the shore (click here to see Beth & Ari’s reception). When it came time to pick the music for her big day, Chrissy went right to the Smokin’ Section and we were honored to celebrate with her family again.
For their ceremony (which was held inside due to threatening weather conditions), John and Chrissy had our pianist supply the music. The bride chose Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” (as interpreted by the Piano Men, and not to be confused with the Billy Joel hit) for the processional music for the bridal party and groom & his mom. Chrissy walked down the aisle to Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest” for solo piano.
After the guests enjoyed more piano and some hors d’oeuvres and drinks on cocktail hour the party moved inside the ballroom and our 7 piece band kicked in with the music. The groom is a big fan of the Boss (to put it mildly) and Chrissy & John danced their first dance to Springsteen’s “The Way”, which was a special request we learned for the couple. Chrissy danced with her father Jeff to our version of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” and John got his turn with his mom Karen to the Smokin’ Section rendition of John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy”. We then eased the guests onto the dance floor to the Boss’s “Should I Fall Behind”.
Speeches came at the time first course was served. The bride’s mom first welcomed the guests. This is definitely a family (both sides) that likes to sing. After saying a few words about the groom, the best man Tom actually got the groom up to the bandstand and they sang a spirited solo rendition (until the chorus when our keyboardist joined in) of “God Bless America”. The big treat was yet to come, when we welcomed Chrissy’s sisters Beth and Tracey to the stage, with what the bride thought would be another toast. Instead, Beth and Tracey had prepared a semi-roast of their sister sung to the tune of the old Allan Sherman ’60s classic “Hello Muddah, Hello Father”. They expertly traded their own original lines about Chrissy on 11 verses of the song and had the audience in stitches while our keyboardist accompanied them.
The crowd really dug their Classic Rock and just before entree was served they really put some moves on the dance floor to our version of the Led Zeppelin barn burner, “Rock and Roll” (been a long time since I rock and rolled!). After the guests dug in to their entrees and finished them up, the bride’s grandfather Buddy got up and sang the waltz “Always” with Smokin’ Section backup (his song with us backing him up had also been a highlight of Beth’s wedding reception 2 years before). Then everyone was in for another treat: Chrissy’s father Jeff had prepared Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” to perform for the happy couple. He was nervous beforehand about it, but it certainly didn’t show in his piano playing or singing of this involved epic from the Boss’ early period. Nice job, Jeff! He whipped the crowd up and they were ready to go when we dug into a medley of “I Gotta Feeling”, “Call Me Maybe”, “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Glory Days”.
After cake, Chrissy danced with her grandfather to “The Way You Look Tonight”. Speaking of Springsteen “epics”, the Boss fans in the audience(and there were many!) worked up a sweat on our version of “Rosalita”. It was an uptempo last set which climaxed with “Shout” (a special request from the audience) and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.
Lamar Wedding Center was there to catch all the special moments of the party on digital photography (and also got Chrissy and John their pretty centerpieces). Junior & Matt from the Wilshire Grand kept things moving efficiently throughout the night.
It was fantastic to get the chance to party with Chrissy’s family a second time and to talk with Beth & Ari again. We ended the party at the stroke of midnight with “Jersey Girl”.
Reception Site: The Wilshire Grand, West Orange, NJ
Photographer: Lamar Wedding Center , Montclair, NJ