The Devon Wedding Singer by Ollie Stephens
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Keep up to date with my latest news and check out what I’ve been up to lately.

Monday 14th September 2015

Friends In The Industry

Being well involved in the wedding business means that I get to meet and work along side some of the best suppliers in this fast-growing industry.

There are some truly amazing wedding venue managers, photographers and other entertainment providers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with in 2015.

And not just for their work, but also for their company. Often is the case that suppliers and I are having great conversations over lunch or in our breaks about life in the wedding game. And I thank them for making the job all the more enjoyable.

Here are a few names that deserve a shout out. Please check out their websites to see the wonderful work that they do…

Friday 21st August 2015

Top 10 Wedding Songs of 2015 (so far…)

If you’re struggling to come up with songs to have while you’re walking in and out of the ceremony or for your first dance; here is a list of my top 10 most requested songs of 2015; performed and sung at the church, civil ceremony or first dance.

  • 10. Jason Mraz — I’m Yours
  • Summing up beautifully what weddings are all about. “Our time is short, this is our fate, I’m yours”
  • 9. Shania Twain — From This Moment On
  • I secretly like this… oops!
  • 8. Goo Goo Dolls — Iris
  • This 90’s classic seems to be a popular choice among my rock lovin’ couples. I’m only too happy to play it each time.
  • 7. Coldplay — A Sky Full of Stars
  • I’ve always been a big fan of Coldplay and this song works well both upbeat as well as slowed down for intimate moments.
  • 6. Tom Odell — Grow Old With Me
  • Lush song, lush lyrics. Even better when I sing it with my piano player!
  • 5. Ed Sheeran — Tenerife Sea
  • I think this might be my favourite song from the ‘X’ album… or is it Bloodstream?… either way it’s a lovely song.
  • 4. Christina Perri — A Thousand Years
  • I’m not afraid to sing a female vocal song by any means. This song is packed full of meaningful lyrics and I love it!
  • 3. Lumineers — Ho Hey!
  • This song usually gets requested as couples leave the church. It puts a nice jolly spin on the otherwise teary moments of the ceremony.
  • 2. John Legend — All of Me
  • The man is a legend and knows how to write a song! I’m not tired of it yet and hope that more and more requests for it keep coming in.
  • 1. Ed Sheeran — Thinking Out Loud
  • It’s probably no surprise that the super-talented Mr. Sheeran has topped this chart and probably many others’ this year. It is a great song with huge sentiment!

And just for fun…

Here are some slightly unusual yet sentimental requests that I’ve performed this year that didn’t quite make the top 10!

  • 3. Bobby Vee — Take Good Care of My Baby
  • Sung by the Father of the Bride
  • 2. The Proclaimers — 500 Miles
  • Due to the fact that the Groom lived in Scotland and used to commute to Devon every weekend to visit his now bride… aww!
  • 1. The Home & Away Theme
  • A British couple who met while travelling in Australia and also for a group of stags that couldn’t stop singing it in Madrid on the stag do!

Thursday 9th April 2015

Here Comes The Bride

When my wedding couples and I are planning the music for the wedding ceremony, I often get asked how long the aisle march usually lasts.

The answer is not that long!

On average I would say that the bride’s entrance to the ceremony lasts around two minutes. On average! That’s less than half a song. Some have taken a lot less time than that. And understandably so: your nerves and adrenaline will always carry you down the aisle just that little bit quicker than you both imagined.

This of course makes my job all the more fun. I’m very much on my toes when you’re making the all important bridal procession. I would normally play a short intro, a verse and a chorus of your aisle song. And at a push, an extra chorus depending on how long you take to get into position, take your seats etc.

I’m always keeping an eye on what’s going on. I normally introduce myself to the vicar or registrar before the ceremony and let them know that I will be paying close attention to them — looking out for any nods or gestures he or she may give me to start and stop playing.

The same goes for the songs during the signing of the register and the exit procession. I will judge how long I need to keep playing each song and I’ll be careful not to play for longer than is needed. I’d hate for you to be twiddling your thumbs waiting for me to finish a four minute ballad!

So remember, choosing the songs is all you need to worry about; I’ll trim each one down as I go — always keeping one eye on you both!

Wednesday 8th April 2015

Clever Ideas

The more weddings I do, the more I pick up on clever ideas that give each wedding that little something extra to help personalise their special day.

Here are a few examples of what I've seen recently…

I played at an evening reception with my wedding band at Muddifords Court Country House and the bride and groom placed this heart-shaped frame outside the main hall, letting their guests know when each key moment of the day is happening.

Another cool idea was this personalised Pick ‘n’ Mix sweet bag. I saw this when I was performing at Broomhill Art Hotel with the North Devon based party band Up 4 Grabs!

Little messages scattered around The Bickley Mill Inn for Kirsty & Sam’s wedding drinks reception were a nice sentiment.

These lights are a very popular choice. They are perfect props to have in the background of your photos — especially for your first dance.

And probably my favourite… personalised wedding favours for a certain wedding singer!

Monday 9th March 2015

Booking Form

I’m really pleased with my new online booking form which gives my couples the opportunity to give me all the important details for their big day; keeping everything in one tidy form instead of in strings of texts and emails.

Once you’ve agreed to book me and have paid the deposit: I will email you a link to the booking form which takes less than five minutes to complete.

Simply enter your contact information, the venue details, a contact name and number for the day such as your best man or hotel manager, then the details on the packages you’ve selected — including your song choices where applicable.

Once you’ve submitted the information, you’ll receive an email with a copy of the information for your records and I will also keep a copy in your personal file.

It couldn’t be easier so why not take a look at the wedding packages I offer!

Tuesday 6th January 2015

The Last Dance

At some point during your wedding planning you will have discussed your first dance song. But have you considered a last dance?

My latest couple, Louisa & Tom who got married at Muddifords Court Country House had the genius idea of requesting a last dance song. The song was Tom Odell’s Grow Old With Me.

“Grow old with me, let us share what we see and all the best it could be, just you and I”

The band and I absolutely loved playing this song as we could see how much it meant to Lou & Tom.

What perfect lyrics. As were alot of the songs Lou & Tom chose throughout the day come to think of it.

I sang Ed Sheeran’s Tenerife Sea during the ceremony which has the lines…

“You look so wonderful in your dress. I love your hair like that. The way it falls on the side of your neck. Down your shoulders and back”

They clearly spent alot of time and effort in choosing every song to paint a picture that summed up their true feelings that day.

I’m definitely going to suggest choosing a last dance song to all my couples in the future.

Sunday 14th December 2014

Thank You!

2014! A year of progress, variety and opportunity.

I’d like to start by thanking absolutely everyone that has invited me to play for them this year. I am very proud and privileged to have played an important role at so many weddings, corporate events, fund-raisers and even engagements on the beach!

I’m also grateful to those musicians that I worked with; their talent, professionalism and great company certainly helped make each performance unique and more enjoyable.

Here are the names of people I’ve had the privilege of performing with this year:

  • Guitar
  • Luke Steffens
  • John Symonds

A big thank you must also go out to my regular supporters and regular venues for giving me confidence and motivation to do what I do; to my fellow wedding suppliers for their recommendations, advice and professional services; and last but by no means least to my family for being amazingly supportive.

Merry Christmas everyone and here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015!

Thank you all, Ollie x

Friday 28th November 2014

Demand For The Band

I’m seeing a big growth in demand for me and my wedding band lately. My recent stints at Sandy Park (Exeter Chiefs home ground) have boosted the number of enquiries through my website which is both good for me and the team of musicians I have behind me.

I have recently been working with some really skillful and passionate players who make up the backbone of my wedding band. Owner of Matrix Productions Simon Woods-Tucker is the melodical genius behind the keyboards and is responsible for the overall sound and lighting re-inforcement.

Stuart Clayton a bass tutor at Bristol Music Academy and head of Bassline Publishing makes up the rhythm section alongside Tim Brooks a drum teacher from Plymouth. Also on the bill is electric guitar wizard John Symonds.

I’m very excited to be playing alongside these highly experienced artists. I like to keep things fresh and as a result, I now have some fresh new band setlists. Check them out on my setlists page.

Thursday 30th October 2014

Musician’s Union

I’m very proud to now say that I’m a member of the Musician’s Union — an organisation which supports full and part-time musicians with matters relating to insurances, financial assistance, copyright protection and much more.

The main reason I decided to join was the peace of mind I gain by having public liability insurance which is something every professional musician should consider. It not only protects the musician but gives the client (you) the reassurance that should any problems occur, the matter will be dealt with in a professional manner with the help and legal support of the Musicians Union. Many hotels and wedding venues will almost always request a copy of a wedding entertainer’s insurance policy as well as compliant PAT testing for musicians’ electrical equipment which is next on my list of things to tick off this week.

There are many other benefits listed on the Musician’s Union website.

If you have booked me for a wedding or any other private function, I am happy to provide you with copies of the insurance documents on request.

Tuesday 28th October 2014

Crazy Sundays, Band Rehearsals & Sandy Park

They say there’s no rest for the wicked and following my weekend packed with live performances I now have an equally busy week ahead.

Sunday night’s gig at The Ship Inn with drummer Tom White was tons of fun all thanks to the relentless crowd of people insisting on us doing an hour encore despite having already played for two hours straight through.

This made Monday drag a little but the work didn’t stop there. A full day of admin and PR work followed by a rehearsal for next weekend’s big wedding gig was tiring but very productive. I’m fortunate enough to be playing with yet another successful Devon wedding band: Up 4 Grabs! The 4-piece band have agreed to team up with me for the wedding of Jemma and Emlyn at Fingle Glen Golf Hotel. Up 4 Grabs! have been successfully strutting their funky stuff on the Devon wedding scene for many years and have some really great songs in their repertoire. I’m very excited about this and hope it will lead to more work together in the future.

I can’t talk about the weekend just gone without telling you about my experience at Sandy Park for the Exeter Chiefs home game against Connacht and my post-game acoustic set. I must say I felt pretty important as the management looked after me very well, giving me a tour of the stadium and the executive boxes plus I was lucky enough to watch the match too. And what a thrill that was… I must admit I’m not the biggest rugby fan out there but it was a pretty epic experience. The crowd of fans were in good spirits, the weather was perfect and my audience after the game were very appreciative. Not to mention the Chiefs won by a convincing margin!

I’ve been invited back to the Chiefs next month for a couple of gigs and they’ve also offered me a couple more slots next year which I cannot wait for!

Monday 13th October 2014

Bride: The Wedding Show, Westpoint — My first exhibition at the South West’s biggest wedding fayre

Saturday morning — the first day of the big show: an announcement comes over the tannoy…

“15 minutes ’til showtime folks”

Chloe, my helper for the day and I had just finished putting our artistic flair on the stand. I straightened my tie, watered the flowers, tuned the guitar and grabbed a quick cuppa!

I wanted to make sure I had all the detail right. My plan for my stand was to make it look like a wedding setting. The flowers, the bunting, the suit and buttonhole. Attention to detail was as important as sounding good and judging by the general public’s response, it was an all-round success.

Though I wouldn’t have been so lucky if it weren’t for the help of some really lovely people within the industry…

My old school friend Holly Williams of Hollyhocks went through a tremendous amount of trouble in providing the most amazing flowers for my stand. Lillies (my favourite), an orchid buttonhole, a bridal bouquet and an orchid bouquet; all in beautiful vases.

My friend Carmen of The Very Vintage Hire Company delivered (yes, delivered!) my props. The stylish and very popular grammophone, the bunting, the picnic hampers and the chalkboard.

Dave Gregory from Partylights Southwest kindly loaned me a white backdrop curtain, which gave the stand a brighter look.

As well as all of this, my new-look website had gone live earlier that morning and by 10:30am visitors were deeply involved in its first live demo. Some were even submitting their booking enquiries online there and then.

The redesign of the website had been as challenging as building the original website which went live back in April 2014. The reasons for the change were partly because of the type of traffic I’ve been getting to my site; namely from mobile users, hence the more mobile friendly layout.

But the main reason is due to my obsession with change. I get bored of the same old, same old. So, it was time to move forward with a fully interactive wedding packages page which would allow the user to tailor his or her requirements, as well as new photos, a new testimonial page, new videos and a new setlist page.

I’ve realised that offering a completely bespoke service to clients (as opposed to limiting the customer to what he or she can have) is crucial in this day and age. More and more couples are opting for live music during their ceremonies rather than the traditional hymns and church organs; so giving them the option to have me at the ceremony for as long as they wanted, when they wanted is important. Similarly with the drinks reception, evening reception and the band packages that I offer. All my packages can be tailored to suit each individual couple.

Relaunching the website on one of the biggest marketing/promo days of my calendar year was a bit of a gamble. Anything could have gone wrong, but thankfully it didn’t and it was tried and tested by the right people. And the feedback was better than I expected.

The wedding show was also a great place to meet with fellow wedding suppliers — old acquaintances as well as some new contacts. Kooky Booths, Pop Goes The Weasel, Maxi Photography and Bridwell Park were just some of the companies that I met or reunited with from other wedding fayres.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Westpoint and I will definitely be rebooking my stand for 2015.

Thursday 17th July 2014

What do I look for in a performance?

A few weeks ago I was a guest at my cousin’s wedding (it makes a change for me to attend a wedding without singing) and they had a 3-piece rock band for their evening reception entertainment.

While the band was performing, I did a bit of people watching just to get an idea of how guests were reacting to the band.

The first thing I noticed was the band’s overall volume — it was just perfect. Everyone in the marquee, near the stage or at the back was able to talk comfortably with one another without shouting or craning their necks to hear each other.

Secondly, the band members were pleasantly reserved and non-egotistical. The front man seemed quite happy to just play the songs and didn’t demand too much from the audience — something which I often find off-putting — but at the same time he had good showmanship in his attitude and body language. The band’s iconic song choices were enough to get the crowd’s reaction which resulted in good audience participation and estranged dancing.

The other thing that struck me was that although the band were clearly from a rocky, punky background, they managed to get everyone up on their feet with their own interpretations of well-known pop songs played in their own edgy style.

I applaud good quality outfits that give wedding bands and wedding singers a good reputation by delivering professional and thoughtful service and I will definitely take all of this into consideration in the future.

Bands on the run

Friday 20th June 2014

Bands on the run

Friday 20th June, 9pm — Ferryboat Inn, Shaldon

Last minute band formation consisting of myself, Tom White; a superb drummer from Exeter and James Clemas; an out of this world keyboard and piano player.

After receiving a call from a friend and local pub landlord of the Ferryboat, Shaldon, I was asked to put a band together after he had been left unstuck by another act. So I got the best of the best and with no rehearsal we have agreed on a set of brilliant songs.

Here is a list of songs you can expect to hear us play:

  • Elton John  —  I’m Still Standing
  • Sting  —  English Man In New York
  • Phil Collins  —  In The Air Tonight
  • Madness  —  It Must Be Love
  • Stevie Wonder  —  Living For The City
  • Dolly Parton  —  Jolene
  • Peter Gabriel  —  Sledge Hammer
  • Isley Brothers  —  Summer Breeze
  • Sister Sledge  —  Thinking Of You
  • Chic  —  I Want Your Love
  • Chaka Khan  —  Ain’t Nobody
  • Ceelo Green  —  Forget You
  • Pharrell Williams  —  Happy
  • Gloria Gaynor  —  I Will Survive
  • Candi Staton  —  Young Hearts Run Free

Sunday 22nd June, 2–4pm — Hanbury’s Food & Music Festival

I always like to keep things fresh and varied and always accommodate the mood. I was asked to put a band together that offers a chilled sunny afternoon vibe. So, I ranked in Jeff Bass (Bass Guitar), Ian Navran (Keys) and one of the best drummers you’ll find in Devon: Will Beavis.

Here’s the set for Sunday:

  • Bill Withers  —  Lovely Day
  • Jamiroquai  —  Virtual Insanity
  • Stevie Wonder  —  Signed Sealed Delivered
  • Pharrell Williams  —  Happy
  • Chaka Khan  —  Ain’t No Body
  • McFadden  —  Ain't No Stoppin’ Us Now
  • Jamiroquai  —  Seven Days In Sunny June
  • Chic  —  I Want Your Love
  • Bill Withers  —  Ain’t No Sunshine
  • Marvin Gaye  —  Sunny
  • Donny Hathaway  —  Jealous Guy
  • Michael Jackson  —  Rock With You
  • SOS Band  —  Just Be Good To Me
  • Timberlake  —  Senorita
  • Stevie Wonder  —  All I Do
  • Brand New Heavies  —  Midnight At The Oasis
  • Young Disciples  —  Apparently Nothing
  • Kool & The Gang  —  Too Hot

In among all this, I am delighted to be heading to Tavistock for a very special wedding. They have asked me to warm everyone’s voices (and feet) before the brilliantly vibrant band Hazaar get the party rockin’.

So, here’s to a hot, hot weekend filled with variety, fun and making music with great friends.

So you're a wedding singer... Don't you get bored of weddings?

Monday 19th May 2014

“So you’re a wedding singer… Don’t you get bored of weddings?”

It’s one thing having a passion for something, but to be invited to share it with a couple on one of the biggest days of their lives makes it more than just a hobby and certainly not a chore.

Here's a really cool saying I heard some years ago…

“If you’re not enjoying it, then you’re not doing it right!”

That goes for anything. Your day job is probably the best example of this.

So when someone asks me if I get bored with weddings, I ask them what their favourite hobbies are or what are they most passionate about — “What are you really good at?”. Some might say they’re a keen sportsperson, some will say they love cooking — for others, nothing would please them more than to be a stay at home parent. It's that moment when their face turns and they see where I’m gong with this.

If you’re a really good cook, you don’t just make beans on toast. Take it to the next level and really relish what you’re good at. (scuse the pun!)

I’ve met some really talented wedding suppliers over the past few years. Magicians like Dan Brazier, Florists like Hollyhocks in Totnes and Photographers like Yeti Photography. They’ll all tell you that a wedding is the rainbow after the storm. The storm being the hours of hard work, marketing, web designing, blogging, tweeting that we’ve had to endure to get noticed — get the bookings. And the venues themselves will always welcome a wedding reception everyday of the week too. Top venues like Tunnels Beaches, Reed Hall, The Grand Hotel and The Southgate to name a few.

There is a great deal of responsibility and hard work for everyone involved in the designing, creating, production and implementing of a good wedding — before, during and after — but the reward is seeing the joy and happiness on the faces of the couple and their guests which will stay with them for the rest of their lives… and I get to be a part of that.

Pretty cool I’d say!