“SO what, does the band come here and play for us, is it?” Yer Man looked idly up from the laptop where he had been checking out wedding bands.
I looked at him silently.
“You know, when we pick the top three or whatever, they come for an audition or something don’t they?”
I could tell he was quite looking forward to playing Simon Cowell for an evening and it broke my heart to have to vanquish that dream, but it had to be done.
“Er, no. No, that’s not how it works darlin’,” I crooned “actually we’ve to, well, you see the thing is, the best place to see a wedding band is AT a wedding so if we want to check these guys out, we’ve to… crash a wedding.”
The most horrifying words in the English language, surely. Crash a wedding.
Nobody wants to crash a wedding, particularly in Ireland where there’s rarely any free drink. But if you want to book a wedding band these days, it’s generally the only way to do it.
Sure, some bands hold showcases now and again, others play in pubs and you can generally catch a band or two at a wedding fair but a great way to see how a band interacts with a crowd and how they keep the dancefloor full is to see them in their natural habitat.
[Cue David Attenborough-type voice – Observe the Lesser Spotted Wedding Band, camouflaged in its natural all-matching black, as it quietly sneaks up on the unsuspecting public, keeping the bride and groom in its ever watchful gaze. Suddenly, without warning, it launches into Simply the Best before wandering to the waterhole for a cup o’ tae and a hang sangwich.]
Our number one band choice had an opening at a wedding in Lucan one Saturday night and invited us along. They had cleared it with the bride and groom and even sent us along a helpful ‘cheat sheet’ about how to blend in with the rest of the crowd.
Number one on the list was dress up. It was a wedding after all, no time to show up in your tracksuit or greasy hair. Ok, we could do that, that was the easy part, so we got gussied up and set off.
The rest of the memo, which we read in the car on the way over, listed sensible things like getting a drink at the bar, sitting down, looking interested. You weren’t supposed to slink in to the back of the room and stand stiffly holding your handbag up against you like a shield or anything.
Thirty minutes later we were slinking into the back of the room, with me stiffly holding my handbag up against us like a shield, looking awkward.
Naturally we stood out like sore thumbs and we already hadn’t done ourselves any favours by getting lost in the hotel and accidentally crashing a 60th birthday party in another part of the building.
We just followed the music and assumed it was the wedding. Even the fact that all of the guests were in their 60s didn’t clue us in, we simply thought they were a more mature bride and groom.
Eventually a cousin of the birthday girl politely asked us to leave. We were O for one in the whole ‘party crashing’ game but having finally found the right wedding, we were determined to stick it out.
We bought a drink from the bar and simply having something to do with our hands calmed us down a little.
As did seeing the bride and making brief eye contact with her. She graciously nodded, acknowledging who we were and then completely ignored us, sweeping off to dance with her guests. For that we were eminently grateful, God forbid we’d actually have to TALK to her.
Having received the seal of approval from the bride, we sank into some chairs just outside the function room in a wee receiving area where some older relatives had come to escape the din and catch up on the family gossip. Away from the main ball room we breathed a little easier and settled in to enjoy the music.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll just be taking a short break, the buffet is now open.”
Obviously, we had arrived smack bang in the middle of the evening reception, just as the cocktail sausages and sandwiches were being ferried out.
For twenty agonising minutes we sat bolt upright in our chairs, sipping our now-warm drinks and frantically waving away the waiters who insisted on trying to put a platter of food on our table.
“We’re-not-part-of-the-wedding-just-here-to-see-the-band,” we rapped out grimly, silently getting more and more hysterical. Would this torture never end?
Well, no, not until the band clocked us and came over to shake our hands. “Ah, Karen and Yer Man, it’s yourselves. We knew it was you the minute we laid eyes on you.”
We may as well have had a sandwich board on us announcing that we were Uninvited Guests.
The kindly band leader must have sensed some of our discomfort as he gently patted my shoulder and assured us they were going back on stage shortly.
Which they did.
And they were awesome.
Even Yer Man, a dyed in the wool music junkie, was impressed. More than impressed. He actually did a little jig. As the final raucous notes of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ rang out we knew that it had all been worth it.
The fact that we had spent the entire evening veering wildly between nerves and nausea faded away and we were left with one certain truth – this was the band for us.
By the end of the weekend we had booked the band and paid our deposit – though the memory of the night we crashed the wedding will live long in our memories.
So to recap – dress up, make sure you’re at the right function and whatever you do, don’t arrive in the middle of the bloody buffet!
(Just in case you’re wondering, the band we went for is GoodFellas http://www.goodfellasband.ie/)