The Wedding Song

As I write this, it’s 10:30 p.m. on May 27, 2015. Today is my third anniversary to my wife, Brielyn.

Weddings are a crazy thing, not the actual getting married part. That’s the easiest. When you’ve lived with someone for three years and been in love with them for six, at that point, the getting married is simple. It’s all the other shit that can drive you fucking insane.

It can be as highfalutin or as casual as you’d like, it could be open seating or a strict seating chart, it could be indoor or outdoor, it could be religious or secular. It can be anything. Ours was somewhere in between all these things, but that isn’t really my story to tell. Brielyn deserves 90 percent of the credit for all that, from decorating to party favors to introducing me to Swami Bruce, our Hindu officiant.

Instead, I want to focus on four songs we picked that, from ceremony to reception’s end, were chosen quite specifically to set the tone for our wedding and sort of explain our love for one another to our friends and families.

Cat Power – I Found A ReasonEarly in the planning process, we agreed to eschew a wedding party. Instead, we walked down the aisle together, holding hands and our brothers waited at our sides at the arbor we said our vows at. This meant choosing a song that wasn’t the traditional bridal chorus. I wanted something more uptempo; Brie felt it should be something more low-key and understated and played me this song. It was perfect. The lyrics of “What comes is better than what came before” are touching already. In the context of walking with your future spouse while on the cusp of formally committing yourselves to each other for perpetuity, they’re deep and they mean something. After three years and a child, they’re pretty true as well. And before anyone brings it up, I know it’s a cover of a Velvet Underground tune. The VU version just doesn’t do it for us. Sorry.

Rolling Stones – Not Fade AwayThe post-wedding, pre-reception song was the right place for a bouncier number. The wedding segued into a cocktail hour and people needed to know that convention was not being followed and the party was starting immediately. What better way to do that than with a vintage Stones track? I love the Rolling Stones. We like Buddy Holly, but his version of “Not Fade Away” is a little lacking. The Stones’ version is rowdier, more assertive and you can dance to it’s rootsy, chugging rhythm. And if you really listen to the lyrics, it’s pretty romantic, with love not fading away and all.

Eddie Vedder and Cat Power – Tonight You Belong to MePicking the right song for the first dance is so important. You don’t want something really long and you don’t want something that will be cringeworthy when you look back at the moment years from it’s happening. Then, you have to pick something that either has a deeper meaning to your relationship or is just a number you can both get behind. We fell in the latter camp. We didn’t have a plethora of tunes that we both really loved that were appropriate for a wedding dance. So, we had to search. Brie suggested “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields. I thought it was a bit too sardonic. I picked “I’ll Shoot the Moon” by Tom Waits. Brie thought it may be a little too out there for normal people. There were a few others bandied about (including the two songs previously mentioned), before we settled on “Tonight You Belong to Me.” It’s simple, just two vocals backed by a ukelele. It’s short, just under two minutes. I love Pearl Jam, Brie’s good with them. She loves Cat Power, I’m good with her. And it’s such a romantic duet about the fleeting nature of life and the beauty of a moment of pure love. It was the right song.

Ray Charles – Night Time is the Right TimeWhen it came to all the wedding planning, there was one thing I knew for certain – I wanted this song to be the last one played. I joke that it’s my one real contribution, but even if it was, I could live with it being the selection of this song. It’s a perfect recording. It’s classy, boisterously fun and you can send people home after this one. And the title/chorus is possibly the most profoundly true statement set to music.

A lot’s happened in the last three years, nearly all of it wonderful. Thanks for indulging as I reminisce.