Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How I Got to Dance to My Wedding Song (finally)

Things I should be doing instead of writing a blog post: a great multitude.

I was going to try this thing where I write smaller little stories or vignettes on my blog instead of the monster posts. In theory this will mean more posts. In practice I will probably still end up with monster posts because I am long winded.

So anyway, this is the story of how I (finally) got to dance to my wedding song.

When we were planning the wedding, we decided to go with a DJ for a couple reasons. 1) they're cheaper; 2) I usually like the standard version of a song better than a cover; 3) I am a control freak.

We hired Instant Request. Here's a warning. This story is not going to make Instant Request look real good.

We spent probably two hours filling out the EXTENSIVE questionnaire provided by the company about our music preferences, what we wanted to be playing during appetizers, dinner, dancing, and so on, and if we listened to Norwegian death metal never, seldom, occasionally, sometimes, often, or CONSTANTLY, and if we thought great-aunt Myrtle would enjoy Tibetan throat-singing for her after-dinner cup of coffee. If I could use one word to describe this questionnaire, it would be THOROUGH. We could even tell the DJ on what side he should part his hair, and warn him that Myrtle gets a little handsy after her third shot of Jack.

We also talked to our DJ for at least half an hour a couple days before the ceremony. We were Good to Go.

Until the day arrived, and all the little details were in place, and I looked ravishingly beautiful, and the DJ was sick and couldn't come.

So, as per their practice, Instant Request sent a replacement DJ. I was informed of this via a series of frantic whispers as I prepared to walk down the aisle. Now, to be fair, we had kind of a complex music thing that we wanted to have during the ceremony (all right, not THAT complex - one song for the small wedding party and a different one for Leland and I when we walked down together, and then a third song for the recessional). The DJ nailed it. I decided to relax.

The first sign of trouble was when the DJ came up to my brand new sister in law during appetizers and whispered, "what kind of music do the bride and groom like?"


During dinner, which I was DETERMINED to enjoy for two reasons: 1) everyone tells you that you don't get to eat at your own wedding because you're too busy making sure everyone else is having a good time, and screw that, because; 2) our food was freaking AWESOME, the DJ then came up to me and asked me what kind of music I thought he should play.

And look - LOOK! While I was looking through the wedding pictures, I found this picture of the DJ talking to us while we were waiting for our next course. Here's a tip. When the bride is making that face at you, back away slowly. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the bride should get to do whatever nonsense comes into her head just because it's "her special day", but SERIOUSLY.

Uh - just play good music. That people like. Isn't that kind of YOUR JOB?
(As a side note, if you need a caterer, hire Three Sons Signature Cuisine in Minneapolis. Just do it. Even if you're in Reykjavik or something. Just fly them in. They made one of the best meals I've ever eaten and if you know me well enough to read my blog, you know that's a serious statement.)

After dinner, we got up for the first dance. Which, let me just say, is kind of weird. It's kind of weird to sway back and forth with your new spouse while people stare at you. We had requested Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis (aka - the fools rush in song). You know. This song:

We stood there in the middle of the dance floor, and instead of the gentle opening melody and Elvis' dreamy voice, what started to play was a weird, fast remix version of the song, which I CANNOT EVEN FIND ON YOUTUBE.


We didn't request WHICH VERSION, which I suppose was our fault, but seriously. I didn't even KNOW there was a FAST VERSION, because while I have heard the slow version dozens of times, I have never heard the fast version. And - just - what the hell? Who would dance their first song to a weird fast remix of the original? Did it not occur to the DJ that this was strange, and while he was bothering us during the spinach and strawberry salad with goat cheese, he could have just made sure that he had the right song?

After a second of confusion, Leland ran over to the DJ table while I made this expression.

This is my "what the fuck!?" face. For future reference.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the wedding. (And if you need a photographer, Julie E Photography is amazing. Even though she does have automatic music playing on her website.)

In the confused silence, my new brother in law Tristano swept in and stole the first dance from Leland.

Tristano claims he doesn't remember doing this. PROOF. Leland is in the background talking to the DJ.
And Leland started waving me over. "The DJ doesn't have that song," he whispered.

It wasn't like we were talking about a deep track from a Men At Work album. This is a standard wedding song, right? Am I crazy? You have fifteen thousand songs and freaking I Can't Help Falling in Love by freaking Elvis is not one of them? Let's put this in perspective - we were announced in the reception to the Indiana Jones theme song. Which the DJ had.

So standing right there, on the spot, we had to ditch the first dance song that we had spent some time picking out and instead pull one off the laminated list from the DJ's big binder. We looked for one song, then the next, and finally one of us said, in semi-desperation, "What about Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show?"

Right after we started dating, Leland and I made the brilliant decision to go work for the same company in close proximity for eight hours a day and also share a hotel room, all summer. It was predicted that by the end of the summer we would either be bitter enemies or married, and Leland bought the ring the next October, so I guess that worked out. Hence our choice of the song about fools rushing in. Anyway, on the two hour drive to and from the job site, we listened to a lot of bluegrass, and both fell in love with Wagon Wheel. There's a line in the song, "I hear my baby calling my name and I know that she's the only one", and Leland would squeeze my hand when that part came on. Awww.

And the DJ had the song. Feeling like maybe we should take more time in picking, but also feeling flustered, I was all, "fine", and we took our places again.

At first we swayed awkwardly back and forth for a while, but then Leland started singing under his breath, and then I started singing, so here we end up swinging around the room, both singing at the top of our lungs. It was wonderful.

(Julie shoots in real film, not digital, so we got to see all of the hilarious pictures that would probably have been deleted from digital cameras to preserve dignity.)

So that was my first dance, and I couldn't have asked for a better song. And that was before we moved to North Carolina and the song became even more meaningful to us (the lyrics go, "heading down south to the land of the pines, thumbin' my way into North Caroline... and if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free...")

Last summer, while at a bluegrass concert with Leland's folks, we heard Wagon Wheel and I made reference to what had happened at the wedding. My inlaws didn't know what I was talking about - they'd never heard the story. And my father in law said, "don't ever tell that story again! I love that Wagon Wheel was your song, it's just so - you".

And so all of that was just set up for the actual story... How I Got to Dance to My Wedding Song (finally). I'm just so good at these short posts.

Two weeks ago, Leland and I and his family attended the wedding of his cousin Kathleen and her now-husband Charlie. It was a beautiful wedding, with a great DJ. As I was signing the guest book, I saw Leland trying to catch my attention from across the room.

"Do you hear what's playing?" he was saying.

It was "Can't Help Falling in Love".

"Hurry, we're going to miss it!" he said.

I didn't have a chance to consider the unlikelihood of my husband actually wanting to dance with me, because normally he just flat out refuses. (We've since worked out a deal. At weddings I get one slow and one fast song of my choosing, excluding either Wagon Wheel or Can't Help Falling in Love, which are both freebies.) I rushed to the dance floor.

And finally we got to dance to our song.

(Well, the last half of it, anyway.)

We were even the only couple on the dance floor.

Then, as the song ended and we were leaving the dance floor, another familiar song came on. Wagon Wheel. And there, behind the table, is my father in law, grinning at us. "What a 'coincidence'. You can't leave now!" he said.

So we danced, and Leland's parents were dancing on one side of us, and his sister and brother-in-law on the other side, everyone singing at the top of their lungs.

It was wonderful. Much better than if the DJ had just played the right damn song in the first place. So maybe at the end of all of that, you SHOULD hire Instant Request to screw up your wedding. At the very least you'll get a good story out of it. And at best, you'll get something much better.


  1. Awww cute post! It was such a fun wedding!

  2. Aw, Anna, this post made me smile all over the place!

    Also, I TOTALLY recognize the look from that first picture, and that DJ guy has no idea how close to death he came that day.

  3. Even though I witnessed it through a painkiller haze, I'll never forget how adorable you and Leland were during that dance. :-) That picture of you giving the DJ the Ultimate Bitch Face is hilarious, though!

    P.S. I will see you later *this month* - how awesome is that?!?

  4. And look - LOOK! While I was looking through the wedding pictures, I found this picture of the DJ talking to us while we were waiting for our next course wedding djs in minneapolis