And The Winner Is…

So what was popular in wedding ceremony music this year? Find out in my ‘Top Ten Wedding Songs of 2015’

With the 2015 Destination Wedding Season drawing to a close, it is time to reflect upon the trends of this year, and ponder on the year to come. Mint & white has been a popular colour scheme, and coloured suits for the grooms have made a welcome appearance, with electric blue being a particular favourite of mine – after all, why should girls have all the dressing–up fun?

“But what are the latest trends in music?”  I hear you cry!

As a classical-crossover artist I can arrange any favourite pieces for no extra charge, and this year my couples have really taken advantage of my offer. It’s great to know that my message is being heard – classical musicians don’t just play classical music, and after all, a good tune is a good tune no matter what ‘genre’ it may be originally be from. Of course I still offer the usual classical repertoire you would expect, and I am delighted to say that some old favourites have again snuck into my Top Ten of 2015.

So what have my lovely Brides and Grooms been favouring in 2015, and were they good choices?

In compiling this list I noticed that there really haven’t been any stand-out winners this year, maybe partly because there hasn’t been a big romantic film or massive summer hit for a while, but the trend is definitely towards ‘songs from movies’ and simple modern classic love songs. So, instead of a ‘most requested’ Top Ten, this more accurately represents a ‘most popular’ list, and although it might not stand up to statistical scrutiny, it will give you a flavour of the music that has been most widely appreciated by the wedding parties of 2015.

  1. All of Me – John Legend

Probably the best new love song in ages, and set to become a wedding classic, I have played this at every non-religious wedding this year. But why is it so popular? A simple and elegant melody, starting in a minor key and modulating to the major for the chorus, with lots of upward and downward scales to make it flow beautifully, the sentiment is just perfect for the most romantic day of your life. Translating wonderfully to the ‘cello, played in the original key (Fm/Ab) with a stripped-back piano backing track, the range is perfect, and the effect is very like the original. I have played it for Processional, Recessional, during the ceremony as a Greeting, and for the cocktails, and I feel sure it will be much requested for years to come. John Legend is just that.

  1. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri (Twilight Soundtrack)

Who doesn’t like a bit of Twilight Saga, eh? But whatever you may think of the whole ‘Vampires vs. Werewolves’ genre, this is my most requested Processional of 2015, and just as popular as last year. I am very grateful to The (misleadingly-named in my view) Piano Guys for making the ‘cello and piano instrumental version so hugely popular (and no doubt increasing my bookings as a consequence – thanks guys!). In my version I start in the lower octave and then kick it up a gear (and an octave) for the second verse/chorus, then break it down, and up again, for the final double chorus. I absolutely love playing this, it always gets a great reaction – probably partly because I love playing it so much – and one Groom asked me if I could play it again (Sam) during the cocktail because his Bride was too nervous coming down the aisle to enjoy it properly!

3 – (Somewhere) Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland (The Wizard of Oz)

Really? – you might be thinking; but yes, this 1939 Harold Arlen classic still cuts it with modern Brides and is a welcome ‘non-mover’ from last year. There have been so many versions of this song in more recent times (Susan Boyle, Eva Cassidy, and who can forget Shayne Ward, no? just me then?) which I suppose helps to maintain its popularity. And of course X-Factor contestants roll it out on a regular basis to show off their vocal abilities, or lack of, as the case may be. I couldn’t find a backing track that wasn’t cheesy or over-produced, so I took matters into my own hands and arranged and recorded one myself. It’s a kind of jazz-homage, more in the style of Sinatra, and arranged for 4 ‘cellos, but I think it works. Judge for yourself though!

4 – Marry Me – Train

The title says it all. Cute little pop song of recent years, which was used by one of this year’s Grooms to propose to his Bride (1,2,3, Aaah!) She chose it to walk down the aisle to, and I played the full version so they could stand in front of their guests and soak up the atmosphere before the start of the ceremony. Beautiful. With its simple guitar and piano accompaniment and dreamy falsetto melody, it works well for ‘cello (which has the same range as the male voice), but will it stand the test of time? Check out the official video on YouTube and judge for yourselves…

5 – Ave Maria – Franz Schubert

A perennial favourite, and why not? Originally a vocal piece, it is so often played as an instrumental solo that many people might not realise there are lyrics. Very popular for Catholic Wedding Masses in the context of the ‘Dedication to the Virgin Mary’ and equally requested by Brides for non-religious ceremonies. I did once get into a sticky situation with a Rabbi over it – always check your music choices with your celebrant!

6 – Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

One of my more successful predictions for this year, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ has turned out to be a favourite and also an unexpected karaoke number amongst guests – you know who you are, lady! I added a few extra layers of strings to the piano backing to give it some more depth. “Oh baby now / Take me into your lovin’ arms / Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars / Lay your head on my beating heart…” You Go, Girl! – straight back to the bar for more bubbles… 😉

7 – Canon in D – Pachelbel

Returning again and again, year after year, is it shocking to admit that I really hate this piece? My loathing stems from my past experiences playing in string quartets; the ‘cello part is just the same 8 notes over and over and over, and consequently it is really hard to get any energy into it. (Imagines vehement nodding from ‘cello players the world over.) Most versions are slow and sluggish (due to the fact that the ‘cellist is thinking about what she might have for her tea, or may even be considering chewing off her own arm so she never has to play this again) and if you play it at a jolly old tempo your viola player may die (it was conceived for 3 violins which makes it fiendish on the viola). A violist (yes, that is a real word) once commented that I was the only ‘cellist she had ever played with that actually bothered to count the repetitions and so knew when the ending was coming without a mahoosive visual cue. That’s how boring it is. Just to mix it up a bit – and largely out of spite – I sometimes play it in the key of C major with a piano backing, which makes it just about tolerable, although not much of a Canon, and of course no longer ‘in D’… In my opinion it is not great for the solo instrument format, and is best left to string quartets. But, you know, people really like it, and when you pay the piper, you call the tunes. Bof!

8 – Little Things – One Direction

Could the teeny-bopper image of Pop Idols 1-D be keeping hip, cool and trendy Brides away from this great song? Co-written by Ed Sheeran and Fiona Bevan for the international pop sensation that is One Direction, you just need to forget all the hype and listen to this song. It’s really good. It should be up there with ‘All of Me’ as one of the best love songs of recent years, and deserves to be a timeless classic, although I fear it may not turn out to be. It tends only to be requested by Brides with little children, which is a real shame (not that they have the little children – OK, stop digging now…). I am currently working on a mash-up with the Prelude from Bach Solo ‘Cello Suite No.1, and I’m not even joking. Hands off, The Piano Guys, it was MY idea…

9 – La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf, et al.

Surely the ultimate choice for couples marrying in France, and a ‘New Entry’ in the Top Ten this year, it always gets a good reaction from any French contingent in the wedding party (and the heads of the French hotel staff pop around the door like dear little meerkats) – they may even start up an impromptu sing-a-long. My version is an arrangement for 4 ‘cellos, is not terribly long, but always goes down a storm. (I may also follow it up with ‘O Sole Mio’ to keep them singing.) A real crowd-pleaser.

10 – I’m Kissing You – Des’Ree (Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack)

Just sneaking into the Top 10, and new to my repertoire this season, I honestly had forgotten all about this song, and when I listened to it I wasn’t all that struck. But it’s not my place to judge, and a request is a request, so I downloaded the backing track and set to work. Boy, was I wrong. While Des’ree’s vocal version is right at the bottom of her range, giving it a breathy, earthy quality, it sits in a bright and sonorous part of the ‘cello’s range, which really brings it to life (and makes more sense outside the context of the movie/video). It literally gives me goosebumps. Now, seriously, if you can listen to this without wanting to shout out ‘Juliet… Ju-li-et..!’ in the middle section, then we can’t be friends…

And the ones that got away…

Narrowly missing out this year were Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph,’ last year’s faves ‘Happy,’ by Pharell, ‘The Swan’ by Saint-Saens and Sinatra classic ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen, ‘Make You Feel My Love’ Dylan/Adele, ‘Just The Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars, ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’ from ‘The Lion King’ and ‘River Flows In You,’ from The ‘Twilight Saga’ Soundtrack. Maybe next year?

Songs for 2016…

Well, this year I was right about John Legend and Ed Sheeran, half-right with One-D and Bruno Mars, and totally off the mark with Sam Smith (too whiny?). So allow me to reserve judgment and ‘Let the Bride be the Guide’ (new catchphrase?) in 2016.

I may have applied a little licence to this list, but I hope you enjoyed reading, and that it gives you some ideas for your ceremony and reception music. If you liked this blog and you are not a WordPress member, please visit and like my Facebook Page instead! (Go on…)

A la prochaine. xx

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