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» Alison & Doug: A Breton-Style Wedding with Traditional Music & Irish Ceili Dancing
Alison & Doug: A Breton-Style Wedding with Traditional Music & Irish Ceili Dancing
Alison and Doug's Spring Celtic Wedding. Though the couple had no Irish roots, Alison had especially fond memories of her French grandmother’s home in Brittany (France), one of six territories that are recognized as Celtic nations (along with Ireland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales).
They decided on an Irish theme with some of the Breton-style wedding traditions. The Breton connection was an important thread throughout all the planning, from the catering and flowers to Alison’s wedding dress and Doug’s jacket, which was modeled on a popular Breton design of a man and woman courting.
Music was, naturally, a central part of the couple’s wedding planning. “I love the timelessness of the Breton countryside and especially the ‘Fest Noz’ village dances with their wonderful music and group circle dances,” says Alison, a professional composer. “That was the feel that both Doug and I wanted for our wedding: a sense of a community coming together to celebrate with us as we marked this important life passage.”
For the ceremony, they chose traditional instruments, including organ, because Alison had worked as a music director and organist at the church where they were married. She wrote a piece for the processional and a song that she sang to Doug at the reception.
Alison and Doug hired Aine Minogue and her group to play live music for the reception, both for cocktail hour and for after-dinner dancing. “The dancing was one of the high points of our wedding night,” recalls Alison, adding that in addition to hiring a dance caller, she and Doug taught the basics of Irish Ceili dancing (much like the Breton circle dances she loved as a child) to the wedding party and a few guests. “They helped everyone else learn how to do it, and the result was that it was really totally unlike any dancing at a wedding that I’ve been to. Almost everyone got up and danced at least for part of the evening.”
Aine played some of her own Irish music, as well as several Breton pieces for the dancing and other reception music. “Aine really went the extra mile to make sure the day was what WE wanted,” says Alison. “She found music and traditions that would be special and meaningful, specifically, for us, and she and the other musicians were truly top-notch players.”
Alison uses the words “magical” and “intimate” when she talks about their wedding day and many of the couple’s most cherished memories revolve around the music: “Singing the song I wrote for Doug . . . Dancing our ‘first dance’ to an Irish reel - it was a choreographed duo step dance that we’d been working on for several months . . . Dancing the circle dance at our reception . . . Being in the middle of another circle dance where our immediate family made a tight ring around us and the rest of the guests circled outside them.”
“Music was really the key piece to bringing everyone together and to make our wedding day a memorable experience, not just for us but for our guests as well,” she adds. “We’ve just celebrated our 7th anniversary and friends and family members still comment to us frequently about how wonderful our wedding was. Many remember it as the best, or at least one of the best, weddings they’ve ever been to, which makes Doug and me very happy. They all remember the music and dancing because it was unique and community-building.”
“If I had my wedding to plan over again – and thank goodness I don’t - I would definitely hire Aine again and include Ceili-style dancing!”
© Randy H. Goodman