St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church

Our wedding on Saturday was one I will remember as one of my favorites.  It was a destination wedding for our couple, Malini and Justin. They chose the St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church as their wedding site and the Seaside String Quartet to provide the music for their wedding ceremony.  Lisa Radlovacki of Lisa London Weddings and Events was the wedding planner. We also saw our friends Nanette from Luminaire Foto and Steven from iheART Films.

It was my first time playing for a wedding of this denomination and my first time at this church. It was so beautiful inside! The ceremony was full of traditions and symbolism. And there was a lot of music! There was a choir to handle the sacred sections of the ceremony and a guitarist played a song for the Lighting of the Unity Candle. The Priest was amazing as he chanted throughout the 90 minute ceremony.

In the planning process, the couple had requested a song called Arms of Love by Kutless for the Bridal Procession. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the sheet music for it. Justin asked a friend to help and she was able to arrange the music for our string quartet. Justin asked that this be kept a secret from Malini. Thank you so much to the arranger, Anissa! It was a pleasure to meet you! Here is an excerpt:

We arrived at 2 pm and began playing prelude music at 2:30. The wedding was due to begin at 3 pm but the couple did warn me it would probably be delayed. The couple chose popular music to entertain the guests as they arrived at the church. Here was our prelude playlist chosen by the couple:

You’re Beautiful, James Blunt; A Thousand Years, Christina Perri; Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison; Baby I Love Your Way, Peter Frampton; I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables; Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley; Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Frankie Valli; Come Away With Me, Norah Jones; I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, Aerosmith; Amazed, Lonestar; I’ll Stand By You, The Pretenders; You and Me, Lifehouse; For the Longest Time, Billy Joel; Rhythm of Love, Plain White T’s; Every Breath You Take, Sting; All of Me, John Legend; Just the Way You Are Amazing, Bruno Mars.

We began to play Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring as the Entrance of the Groom’s Parents  began the Processional. They were followed by the Mother of the Bride and her escort. We continued to play this selection as the mothers went up to light the Unity Candle.

We changed to the Pachelbel Canon in D as Justin entered followed by his 10 Groomsmen, 8 Bridesmaids, 2 Ring Bearers and 3 Flower Girls. Malini entered to her song, Arms of Love. I wish I could have seen her face when she realized what we were playing. Anissa served in the choir and I saw a big smile on her face! I got goosebumps!

When the ceremony concluded with the presentation of the newly married couple, we played the traditional Wedding March. For postlude, we played Marry You by Bruno Mars and One Love by Bob Marley.

Congratulations, Malini and Justin! Best wishes always!



Naples Beach Hotel

It is always disappointing when the weather spoils the original plans for our couples. But when you are planning an outdoor wedding in August in South Florida, you have to expect rain and have an alternate plan. For Christine and Chuck from New York, their destination wedding at the Naples Beach Hotel had to go into “Plan B” mode since the rain did not subside in time.

When I arrived at the resort around 6pm, dark clouds were hovering and the wind was really picking up. After speaking with Lindsay, the venue coordinator, we decided to set up in the lobby (where she had moved the cocktail hour) and wait to see if the wedding could happen outdoors as planned. I was joined by Joan and Diane to form the Seaside String Trio. We began to play prelude music at 6:45 and the ceremony was due to start at 7pm. Music requested by the couple was At Last (Etta James); Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Elton John); Don’t Stop Beleivin (Journey)’; Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison); All You Need is Love (The Beatles); I Say a Little Prayer (Dionne Warwick); Marry You (Bruno Mars); It Had to Be You (Frank Sinatra); and Someone Like You ( Van Morrison).

It did rain and about 7:10, Lindsay came to me to ask us to move into the Sunset Terrace for the ceremony. We were able to move quickly and continued to play music from the couple’s reception list as the guests made their way into the room. It was after 7:30 when the ceremony began. We played A Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay) for the Seating of the Mothers and the Entrance of  the Officiate, Groom, Groomsmen, 9 Bridesmaids and 1 flower girl. For the Entrance of the Bride, we played Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton).

The Officiate was John, Brother of the Bride, and he really made it a fun ceremony! Within the ceremony, the couple had the sand mixing ceremony and we played Marry Me ( Train) as they poured the sand into the glass container. Amid cheers by the guests, the newlyweds and wedding party exited down the aisle to the music, Sweet Child O’ Mine ( Guns and Roses).

The ceremony ended around 8pm and we moved back into the lobby to play for the remainder of the cocktail hour (until 8:30 pm). Here was the entire playlist for the reception:

Happy (Pharrell Williams); Home (Phillip Phillips); Island in the Sun (Weezer); Hey, Soul Sister (Train); Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra); I’m Gonna Be 500 miles (The Proclaimers); Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney); Just the Way You Are Amazing ( Bruno Mars); Moondance (Van Morrison); Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi); Layla (Eric Clapton); One (U2); You Are So Beautiful ( Joe Cocker); Better Together (Jack Johnson); and Unconditionally (Katy Perry).

We loved the selections the couple chose and so did the guests! We thank everyone for their kind comments!

Congratulations to Christine and Chuck! We hope you enjoyed your time in Florida despite this rain!

Marco Beach Ocean Resort beach wedding

As I drove to Marco Island on this Sunday afternoon in mid October, it looked like another beautiful day. I did have to drive through some sprinkles but I  anticipated terrific weather for the wedding of Julianne and Phillip at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort. This was a destination wedding for the couple from Massachusetts. When I got to the beach and joined my colleagues, Joan and Julie, who made up the Seaside Strings Trio, we asked  Galina,  the coordinator at the resort,  for an umbrella to provide some shade. As we continued to get ready, dark clouds began to get closer. I went back to the car to grab my umbrella which usually keeps the rain away.  It worked it’s magic again this time!

Marco Beach Ocean Resort wedding

Marco Beach Ocean Resort wedding

The lovely flowers were done by Kevin of Botanicals on the Gulf and he took this picture of us as we were setting up.

Here is a picture of the sky prior to ceremony start. It’s a miracle it all moved northwest of us!

threatening skies on Marco Island

For prelude, we played Can’t Help Falling in Love ( Elvis); Marry Me (Train);and Best Day of My Life ( American Authors) . Since the weather did look threatening, Galina started the wedding party down the boardwalk just a bit early. The Grandmother was seated, Parents of the Groom were seated; Reverend Les Wicker (Officiant) and Phillip, the Groom, entered followed by the Maid of Honor and Flower Girl all to the music Canon in D by Pachelbel.

Julianne processed onto the beach to the traditional Bridal Chorus escorted by both her parents. During the ceremony we played Over the Rainbow ( Israel K version) as the couple performed a sand ceremony. The traditional Wedding March  played as the wedding party exited. The couple came back to greet each row of guests and we played All You Need is Love  followed by Hallelujah (which we did not get to play in the prelude).

Once most of the guests had departed the beach to go to the terrace for the cocktail hour, we quickly packed and joined them. On our playlist for the cocktail reception was All of Me ( John Legend);  Counting Stars (OneRepublic);  God Only Knows (Beach Boys); I’m Yours (Jason Mraz); In My Life (Beatles); Just the Way You Are Amazing (Bruno Mars); Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet); Marry You ( Bruno Mars); Moondance ( Van Morrison); This Will Be (Natalie Cole); What a Wonderful World ( Louis Armstrong); Come Away With Me ( Norah Jones);  Beyond the Sea ( Bobby Darin);  Kokomo ( Beach Boys);  Sitting on the Dock of the Bay ( Otis Redding) and Stand By Me ( Ben E. King).

I am disappointed I did not get to meet the couple and offer congratulations and best wishes in person. We wish Julianne and Phillip a lifetime of happiness together!

Naples Beach Hotel

It is holiday week in Naples FL and the beach was very crowded when I arrived at the Naples Beach Hotel for our destination wedding on Monday, December 30th. Leyla and Bart from Wisconsin were getting married on the Penthouse Beach and the Seaside Strings Violin & Cello Duo was selected to provide the wedding ceremony and cocktail reception music.

Naples Beach Hotel wedding

Naples Beach Hotel beach weddingBart handled all the music details with me. With the beach atmosphere, he wanted light classical pieces  for the ceremony so we played mostly baroque period music and kept the selections lively. We began to play thirty minutes prior to the ceremony and Bart was there to welcome and mingle with the guests. It was a small party of about 26 people.  Suzi Freeman served as officiate and we thank her for taking this picture of us. Melissa at the resort was our coordinator.

When Melissa gave us the signal, we began to play Campra’s Rigaudon.  Suzi led Bart out onto the beach and after they were in place at the arch,  Leyla appeared. It was a great ceremony. At her vows, Leyla turned to the guests and said so emphatically  “I Do! ” that it made everyone laugh. That created a release in everyone from the serious tone to one more fun. We played Mozart’s Turkish March as the Recessional, a request from Leyla.  For postlude, we played her second request, Mozart’s Abduction from Seraglio.

A special request was a Turkish Song from Leyla’s hometown called Cokertme. Bart had provided the melody music which I played on violin and Diane improvised her part on the cello. We were told this was traditional music for her and she began to dance as we played. She was happy!

Bart gave me a list of songs off our popular music list that they us wanted to play during the cocktail hour. These included All You Need  is Love, Bittersweet Symphony, Brown Eyed Girl,  How Sweet it is, Into the Mystic, Layla, Moondance, She’s Always a Woman, Till There Was You, Love is Here to Stay, When I’m 64, Here Comes the Sun, You Are the Best Thing, Whoopee, Here Comes the Sun and Wild Horses. Since he told me they loved jazz standards, we also included  Ain’t Misbehavin’,  At Last,  Birth of the Blues,  and Stardust. As we finished with Someone to Watch Over Me, the guests had moved on to the dinner and Leyla and Bart enjoyed a quiet moment dancing to our music. It was a perfect ending!

Casa Ybel Wedding

We are nearing the end of rainy season and the number of weddings we have picks up dramatically in the month of October. Our wedding on this Friday was at the Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island. It is a destination beach wedding for Heather and Rich from Missouri and they have booked the Seaside String Quartet to provide their wedding ceremony music.

Casa Ybel 002

Thankfully there was only a small chance of rain and the occasional clouds helped keep it from feeling too unbearably hot. I guess the Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf helped make this happen. Oh, but because it wasn’t windy enough to keep them away, the noseeums were horrible.  It was a real challenge to play while feeling the bugs biting!

All my communications were with the groom Rich. Book of Love was one of their “must have” songs and we were playing that as their guests came our onto the beach. We played Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls after that and then Rich walked his grandmother to her seat. We quickly changed to the Forest Gump Feather Theme, the music chosen for the Processional and got the signal from Lea, the coordinator at the resort. The 2 Mothers were seated, Rich and his Groomsmen took their places and then the Maid of Honor made her entrance. The little flower girl appeared after her and slowly came out . It appeared she wasn’t going to make it out the whole way and  since we had already repeated the song a couple of times, we switched to the music for the entrance of our Bride, Heather, which was the Pachelbel Canon in D.  As we began, the flower girl then quickly moved to take her place, with the help of her mom, and all stood as Heather made her way onto the beach.

The ceremony was performed by the brides’ brother. Readings were made by both Mothers . Then after the exchange of rings , they did something we had never seen before. The couple rang a bell together. As the newly married couple was introduced to the clapping crowd, we played the traditional Wedding March for the exit of the wedding party.

We followed with two special requests made by the couple, Wanted and Have a Little Faith in Me. As pictures were being taken, we also played Lucky, Marry Me and finished with A Whole New World.  Afterwards, Rich came over to thank us for playing the new songs for them.  It was a pleasure! And, we added 2 great new songs to our list!

Congratulations and best wishes, Rich and Heather!

Casa Ybel Resort

Our wedding on this last Saturday in August brought us to Sanibel Island at the Casa Ybel Resort. This was a destination wedding for Allison and Christopher, our couple from Vermont.  It turned out to be a lovely day and luckily enough, rain free.  Allison chose the Seaside Strings Violin and Cello Duo for her wedding ceremony music so I am joined by my colleague, Diane Coffman.

Casa Ybel Wedding 004

I loved the colors that she chose for this beach wedding and the white flower arrangements made by Libby’s Flowers were gorgeous with the teal.  The starfish hung onto the aisle chairs were a nice touch too. Thankfully, they were able to find the owner of the boat in the distance. He moved it so they would have a clean view for the pictures.

We were due to start playing at 4:45  but the guests did not begin to come to the beach until 5:10. It was a hot day, in the upper 80’s, but with the nice breeze it did not feel too uncomfortable to us.  Allison chose all popular songs for us to play for the prelude. These included” Bittersweet Symphony”, “Halo”, and “Titanium”. With a signal from Leah, the coordinator at the resort, we began to play” Paradise”  for the Entrance of the Groom and Officiate, the Seating of the Mothers, the 5 Bridesmaids and Ring Bearer. As we began to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Allison’s baby daughter was carried out and then Allison made her way down the aisle.  Allison’s Mom later told me it was her dream to walk out on her wedding day to  that music since she was a little girl. It was our honor to help make that dream come true!

The ceremony was led by Jack, a family friend. He kindly gave us a nod to start the music, “Only Time”,  when Allison and Christopher presented their baby with a special necklace. After the introduction of  the newlyweds, we played “Marry Me”  as the wedding party exited. We concluded our portion of the proceedings with” Just the Way You Are Amazing” as pictures were being taken.

The guests greeted us so warmly afterwards and I did get to sneak in during pictures and congratulate Allison. We enjoyed playing the music she selected and wish the couple all the best! It was a very special day!

Marco Beach Ocean Resort

Amy and Sammy from Michigan chose the Marco Beach Ocean Resort as the venue for their May wedding. But, instead of choosing the beach , they chose to have their destination wedding ceremony in the valet courtyard. It turned out to be so lovely. Corrin and her staff transformed the area into an elegant romantic setting.  It was a beautiful evening.

Marco Beach Ocean Resort 002

I took a peak inside the restaurant too and the flowers and drapery continued up the banister  to the ballroom. Arrangements of roses were everywhere on the tables. It was amazing! I found out later the flowers were done by a florist in the Chicago area, Bellaserio Florist and were chosen because they had done the flowers for the weddings of Amy’s sisters.

Amy and Sammy chose the string trio to provide their ceremony music and spent a lot of time researching music, sending me links to YouTube videos. I was able to accommodate most of their requests and they were extremely understanding about the songs we could not do. I try to explain to my clients that I must have the sheet music in order to arrange it for our groups. I usually also tell them that it will sound different from what they hear on those videos.  They helped us add some great new songs to our repertoire list!

They chose all pops songs. For the prelude, their choices were Paradise,  How Sweet It Is, Secrets, Viva la Vida,  If I Ain’t Got You,  Summer Wind,  Stand By Me,  The Way You Look Tonight and Into the Mystic. The songs that we did not play due to the timing, we did play afterwards while pictures were being taken. Everyone was so quiet as they were being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin. It was like playing a concert!

The music for the Ceremony was Can’t Help Falling in Love for the Seating of the Mothers, Marry You for the Entrance of the Wedding Party, Marry Me for the Entrance of the Bride, Just the Way You Are Amazing for the Recessional and Make You Feel My Love as the postlude. Reverend Thomas McCulley of New Life Community Church Officiated.

We really enjoyed performing the music they chose and it was a pleasure to meet them!  We hope everyone enjoyed their time here in Florida! All the very best to Amy and Sammy!