Quite often, my Friday or Saturday consists of a 3-hour drive to a hotel banquet in a Chicago suburb, where I entertain wedding parties with a dueling piano show. The nights are fun and exciting and stretch into the late… or early hours of the morning. It’s a lot of work, but rewarding. I have to admit I love my job!
Last weekend, Lavender Crest Winery offered a unique experience making my job all the more gratifying. Instead of traffic and construction that stretches over a hundred miles of road from home, I veered into a rural area just outside of Moline – only 30 minutes from my own rural area home. And instead of waiting for an elevator as catering companies and florists fought to set up for a wedding, I instead had easy front door access to a stunningly large banquet room with a parking space right at the front door.
This was just the beginning of my day, and I knew it was going to be good. The departure from the hustle and bustle of a cramped city venue to a relaxed, spacious and beautiful vineyard was just the kind of change I was hoping for.
Setting The Scene For A Sunday Wedding
For mid October, the weather was amazing. Although we were indoors, I could see many acres of the vineyard through the windows. I’m sure from the pictures I have seen that their grounds provide a stunning location for wedding ceremonies. It’s very picturesque. The banquet room was incredibly spacious. To my understanding, it can easily accommodate 250. The dance floor was very large, as well, and perfect for our musical setup. For this particular show, we had two pianos and a drum kit. Even with our speakers and lights, there was plenty of room for dancing. And there was a lot of dancing!
Keeping It “Reel” At Lavender Crest Winery
As a dueling pianist, I am accustomed to requests from all genres. I have performed everything from Opera to Rock to Heavy Metal. Normally, we keep it all dance-able. But just saying, there is hardly a request we haven’t received… until that Sunday.
This wedding provided a “first” for me. For this wedding, I was asked to teach the guests a square dance and call off the moves. With the help from a youtube video, I learned the patterns for “Virginia Reel.” We assembled a rather large line, and the guests had a great time dancing together.
At another time, the bride had two of her guests come up and perform a ukulele/vocal performance with altered lyrics to “Over The Rainbow.”
Personal Attention Was Really Appreciated
There is really important detail that I would be remiss to not mention. Unlike any wedding I have ever performed at (well over a hundred,) this wedding provided food to their guests at their church, and then moved to the reception area (Lavender Crest Winery) for cocktails only. Usually, the food and drinks are both served at the reception area.
Because we work long hours for weddings, dinner is almost always included in our contract. For this wedding, we did not provide the ceremony music. In fact, we were not required to be at the church at all. This meant that their chefs had to go out of their way during a busy schedule to prepare three meals just for us.
Not only did they go out of their way to serve us food, but they were incredibly hospitable about it. I did not feel like a wedding vendor getting their contracted meal during a busy event. They were so friendly and courteous, and checked a few times to see if everything was ok with the food. This was above and beyond the kind of attention that is usually provided to wedding vendors. Might I add that the food was delicious!
Lavender Crest Winery really made us feel at home! I know that if they treated us that well, their guests must have been extremely pleased with the personal attention they received. For so many reasons, I cannot recommend their venue highly enough. I sincerely hope to have the opportunity to perform there again, and you better believe that next time, I am going to make sure I have a glass of one of their honor-winning wines.
If you are planning a wedding, you can read more about their wedding services here.