On a warm early autumn Saturday evening we provided entertainment for Ashley and Jon’s wedding reception at the Mansion at Strathmore. The guests arrived and enjoyed cocktail hour throughout the beautiful Georgian style house and on the veranda, while a custom mix of indie, R’n’B, international, and classic pop played over the in-house sound system, thanks to the very gracious and friendly exhibits manager Holly Haliniewski. [She was a joy to work with throughout the evening!]
Everyone gathered in the tent to await the introductions of the wedding party and the newly married couple. Jon and Ashley’s parents came out to Paul Simon‘s 80s pop classic “You Can Call Me Al.” The wedding party was introduced to the Chicago Bulls theme song (hint, it’s “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project) segued into LMFAO‘s “Party Rock Anthem,” and finally slowing down for the heavy hip-hop beats of Alicia Keys‘ “Sleeping with a Broken Heart” for Ashley and Jon’s entrance.
A delicious dinner was provided by Restaurant Associates Catering to a backdrop of music from Adele, Arcade Fire, and Iron and Wine (a beautiful acoustic rendition of “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service). After dinner the best man Christian offered a toast to the happy couple with college tales of living with Jon in a “mansion” much less stately than Strathmore. Maid of honor Beth asked her first grade students for advice when preparing her speech. They gave some funny but very appropriate advice: “always be nice” and “if one of you is sad, the other should ask if they want to play!”
Ashley and Jon then stepped up to the microphone, thanked everyone for coming and invited them inside for dancing. The music room at Strathmore features gorgeous woodwork and superb acoustics, so it was a great place for a hot dance party. Their spirited first dance was to “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. Ashley and her father danced happily to James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is”, and Jon and his mother took the floor to “Mama” by Boyz II Men. Everyone was ready to dance and things got started with classics from The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, ABBA, and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (“December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” was a huge hit on the floor). Remixes of 60s soul (Aretha Franklin‘s “Respect”) mixed with 90s R’n’B (Jagged Edge‘s “Let’s Get Married (ReMarqable Remix)” until we slowed down slightly for cake cutting in the grand foyer. Then the crowd enjoyed some new pop from Katy Perry (“Firework”), Duck Sauce (the fun club hit “Barbra Streisand”), and a remix of Justin Bieber “Somebody to Love.”
The dance pop hit a peak with Pitbull’s current hit “Give Me Everything,” before a deft half-tempo blend into Waka Flocka Flame “No Hands” and Trey Songs’ “Bottoms Up (feat. Nicki Minaj).” The tambourines were shaking and the cowbell took a serious beating [who was that guy?] to “Gimme Some Lovin'” by The Spencer Davis Group, then the crowd got down to Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie” (a critical request from the bride and groom).
Next up was some West Coast hip-hop featuring Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and 2Pac’s “California Love” followed by The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By”. Other than a brief pop interlude—a special request for “Faded” by Soul Decision (from a very determined bridesmaid who knew Ashley would love it) and another for some Britney Spears—the rest of the night was all hip-hop. We heard “Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest, Notorious B.I.G. “Mo Money Mo Problems”, and DJ Kool’s party classic “Let Me Clear My Throat.”
More Biggie and Mase (“Only You”) followed by Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player” got everybody on the floor into a sweaty mess (yet somehow Ashley looked as fresh as her 5 pm entrance!—see bottom image). We kept going past the appointed 10 pm end time to cram in as many of Jon’s requests as possible (112, Jeremih, and more Jagged Edge) before the night wrapped with Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love You,” with a roomful of happy people heading out to the shuttles determined to keep the party going all the way downtown.