I am a wedding DJ and so is my wife. Here is the story about our very different wedding, and how we were able to have our ceremony outside, even after we were told it wouldn’t happen. This story is a testament to faith, never losing hope, good karma, and keeping around plenty of plastic coins…
“Too Bad There Are No Pirates On Venus”
I once read a classic award-winning piece by sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury called “All Summer in a Day.” The setting of this story is a futuristic space colony on the planet Venus, where the rain never stops. By the end, the reader is heartbroken for a young girl trapped in a closet, who missed the only day of sunshine the planet had seen in seven years.
Fast forward to the year 2011. The setting is the night of our wedding rehearsal at Birch Hill Catering Hall in Schodack, New York, on the planet Earth, where it had been raining without break for many weeks. The bridal party was there, helping us decorate, abuzz at the forecast predicting 75 degrees and sunny for our wedding day, tomorrow. However, despite the perfect timing, the event planner explained we would still be trapped inside for our ceremony.
Actually, she wasn’t really our planner. She was number two. The first event planner we were originally assigned to by the hall had taken another job last minute. It was her replacement, “Number Two,” who had to tell the teary-eyed bride that she had to have her outside dream ceremony, inside, during the first day of sunshine in months.
We walked around the grounds to look at all the potential sites for the ceremony, and Number Two was right. The grass was a mess. Mud and puddles are no friends of high heels and chair legs. Normally, we would have had access to a number of beautiful backdrops provided by nature at this location, but because of the wetness, the ground was not an option. But there was concrete…
At Birch Hill, there are two event rooms fit for wedding reception; one smaller room in the front with a large concrete patio outside and our huge room with a narrow patio outside. We couldn’t effectively use our room’s deck for an outdoor ceremony, because it was too narrow and right near the highway.
Just when we thought all hope was lost, Number Two offered us a moment of hope.
The planner took us back outside and showed us the front room’s patio. She suggested that we should just use that, because the party booked during our timeslot in the front room was not using it. “We can just put up a curtain by the window and everything should be fine,” she said.
Why the hell didn’t you just show us this before, I thought. The patio place was perfect and perhaps better than any of the other sites on their grounds!
We could picture it easily. It was still set up from a wedding that braved misty elements, a few days before. The area was surrounded in greenery, had a classy arch way for the vow exchange in the front, and nice white chairs all in rows. The trellis was even still decorated with fresh red roses.
We were ecstatic, that is, until, of course, Number Two came back and changed her mind. “Whoops, sorry about offering that. I didn’t have the power to do that.”
The power? But you are Number Two, I thought.
“The owner says that he doesn’t want us to use that patio because the ceremony still might distract the first communion party,” she explained.
That was understandable, seeing how we would be dressed, but offering something then retracting only made the bride more upset. Plus, they said they had drop curtains they could put up outside to hide us.
I shifted gears to defense mode. Who the hell is the owner?! I immediately wanted to power-bomb the invisible Wizard of Birch Hill, who was hiding somewhere behind his curtain.
I went back into the room to see some of bridal party was there helping us decorate for our theme wedding. Then I noticed the Birch Hill staff setting up rows of ugly tan chairs that made it look like a funeral wake was being prepared in the corner.
Maria looked depressed and sat on one of the seats, as if waiting to pay her respects to the deceased. Seeing Maria upset on the eve of her wedding was not cool in my book when there was an empty space that would work just well.
My friends knew I was ticked, and tried to talk me out of finding the owner.
I went and found the owner, anyhow.
I argued with him. “We didn’t pay $500 to have our on-site ceremony inside in what looks like a wake, when it’s going to be nice out and there is a place we can use.”
“My hands are tied,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you use that site. It belongs to another party that time, whether they choose to use it or not.”
“But your planner said they can just put up divider curtains and that they have done it before.”
The owner didn’t budge.
We were trapped again in a closet on Venus.
The next day, I rode over with my groomsmen to the hall to do some last minute pirate decorating. Did somebody say pirates?
As I might have failed to mention before, we were having a big budget, realistic pirate theme wedding. We called it, “Ken & Maria’s Pirate Wedding Extravaganza.” The concept came out of the fact that, both being wedding DJs, we wanted our wedding to look different so we could remember it.
We had twenty pirate flags, a canon, a parrot, a boat, treasure chests everywhere loaded with massive crystal jewels, coins and beads, and even real swords. We did not use any cheesy cartoony decorations that you would see at a kid’s birthday party.
Everything looked so great that I figured it would be best to try not to worry about the ceremony which would only be 15-20 minutes of the day. I can’t lie though. I still wondered if there was a way for us to secure the patio that the hall initially offered to us for the ceremony.
We jumped back into decorating. None of the flags were up yet and the centerpieces were not completely finished. A delegated a few odd jobs and we got to work. My best man, or should I say, my First Mate, Marty “The Party,” helped me put the last minute touches on the head table’s treasure chest centerpiece when the flowers arrived.
“So, Marty. You are a successful lawyer,” I said.
“What do you think about talking to someone in the other room about borrowing their patio?”
“You are still on that?” Marty laughed. “I’ll ask if you like.”
“Sure. What do we have to lose?”
The two of us grabbed up our mechanical talking parrot and brought him out to the hallway.
As we set up our entrance way, we saw some little eyes in the front of the hall. In lieu of tuxedos, we had rented professional Broadway play pirate costumes with all the trimmings, so odd looks were appropriate. A few of the kids from the front room that had the cool deck had ventured out of their room for a peek. One of the kids whispered something to a friend, before they disappeared back to their party.
“I’ll go ask in a few minutes,” Marty laughed. “Let me finish this up.” Then he disappeared, too. He was in search of some more gemstones to place around our seating cards.
A minute later, the void was filled. Sweet Pete Waters, another one of my groomsmen, came out into the hall. I told him that the kids were amused at us and that maybe we could win them over. Before he could say anything, a few more of the first communion kids came running out the door. They looked even more excited to check out the “legendary pirates of Birch Hill hallway.”
“Look a different one now!”
Sweet Pete Waters and Captain Casanova put on a funny pirate decorating show, in front of our room, throwing gold coins around and hamming it up. One brave first communion boy moved towards us for a better look, so I extended out a symbolic peace offering, in hopes that they may let us dock on their land. (Maybe I should have called it a “piece” offering; a piece of eight that is.
“Arghhhh, don’t be afraid boy. Here’s a gold coin for you, my scurvy dog friend.”
The kid grabbed it and ran.
Pete laughed and whispered. “So, are you going to bribe them with plastic money, now?”
I hadn’t thought of it that way, but, “why not?” As Marty had said, I had “nothing to lose.” In a karma frame of mind, if we were nice to the kids and maybe something nice will happen to us, in return, right? And in a barter mindset, we had a pirate gimmick that their party might really enjoy, and they had an extra patio our party might want to pirate. It was a win-win, either way.
After handing the young boy a fake gold coin from our seemingly endless decoration supply, I saw our outside ceremony materialize in my mind’s eye. I started thinking about how to ask for it. I knew I had to craft the request to use their patio in such a way that they would help us fight for us to use it.
Having planted a golden seed, I hung in the hall a minute to see the kids’ reactions instead of going back with Pete to decorate the big room, and diddled around with the seating cards. (The seating cards were just fine, mind you. My lack of supervision was an investment in achieving the outdoor ceremony that Maria had dreamed about since she was young.)
I pictured how beautiful my bride would be in her traditional wedding dress, outside among the trees and open air. You see, to keep up with the feel of a wedding, she was not going to be in pirate attire. She chose to still dress the part of a bride. She still wanted to walk the aisle and look like a beautiful princess. That way it still felt like a wedding and not just a big party with a bunch of pirates running around. Little did she know, while she was getting her hair and make up done with her bridesmaids, the outside dream was no longer out of the realm of possibility.
Then, a magical thing happened. The first communion girl’s father came running out with two of his children. “Hey mister pirate,” he said with a smile. “Can my daughter have a picture with you?”
I smiled and said, “Aye.” I took a few shots with kiddies and gave them a couple of fake diamonds.
“Thank you, Mister Pirate!” he said, rushing back to the party to show the others the picture he had just taken.
I rushed back into my room myself, and bustled up my motley crew. “Listen guys, I think we are going to get that ceremony after all. Follow my lead.”
Four of us, all in full pirate gear, marched back into the hallway. It was only moments before the same father came back out. “Hey Pirates, would you mind coming in and meeting the other kids for us?”
“Sure mate. It would be me pleasure,” I said in my best Jack Sparrow impersonation.
It was a riot. We all marched into the first communion party singing “Fifteen Men on a Deadman’s chest, just as we had practiced it a few hours ago for a camera in our limo on the way to the wedding hall.
The guests ate it up and cheered!
Then, we posed with all of the kids like characters at Walt Disney World. We even had the first communion girl pose holding a sword in one of the shots.
We handed out a few more little goodies from out centerpiece treasure chests and everyone had a good laugh. Before leaving, we led them all together to sing along in chorus with us, “Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum.”
We really did put on a great show.
“Congratulations on your first communion,” I said. “But we have to go get to decorating the ship for our own party, now.”
“Thanks soooo much guys!” the father said, as we began to leave. “What party are you here for? Is there like a vendor party in the back?”
Finally, my window of opportunity opened. I knew that I had to be careful how I responded, so my secret agenda didn’t come off like begging.
“No, no, matey. We are having a pirate theme wedding in the back. About to get married real soon to a real nice wench, I am.”
The father laughed hysterically. “Well congratulations to you, then! Perfect day for it too!”
Bingo, I thought.
“Aye. That it is, lad, that it is.” I paused. “Too bad we can’t have it outside though,” I said dropping the character a little for sympathy.
“Well, why not?”
I pointed out the window, conveniently where their room’s patio was. “The ground out there is too wet and there is no site available for us to have the ceremony where the chairs won’t sink in.”
The father paused for a second and I watched the invisible light bulb turn on above his head. “Hey, why don’t you use that space right out there?”
“We would love to, but the hall won’t let us,” I replied.
“That was the original plan, but the owner said it might distract you,” I said. “We understand.”
“Yeah. As much as we want it outside, we don’t want a bunch of pirates to take the spotlight away from your daughter at the same time.”
“No, it wouldn’t! They love you guys!” He said.
“Well, if you don’t mind…”
“I insist!” At that the man followed us out into the hall. “What can I do to help?”
“Maybe tell the planners upstairs?” I suggested.
“Done.” The man disappeared. I ran into the backroom and helped one of my crew hang up one of the last Jolly Roger flags.
Five minutes later, one of the waitresses ran in with a big smile. “Congratulations, you got your outside wedding!”
A few of the staff came in and quickly removed the chairs from the makeshift funeral parlor. They actually did a great job, rushing to make it happen, as we had less than a half hour before show time.
In the corner of our reception hall, I snatched up my DJ friend Jason, who just started setting up his DJ gear for the ceremony music.
I ran out the door with Jason, his brother and their friend all in pirate gear, as well. We rushed down the hall and around the front to get them situated with their ceremony DJ set up and to do some touch ups on the patio we had just pirated for our ceremony. (Jason’s brother actually did a great job getting the trellis into nice condition. Once they were set, I ran around the front to head back into the hall.)
I stopped and posed for a few more pictures with the first communion partiers and thanked the father one more time. “You don’t know it, but that is one of the best wedding presents anyone could have given us.”
The father smiled, “no problem.” I shook his hand, feeling triumphant and a little guilty. He turned out to be a real good guy. “We are happy we could help.”
At this point, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the special emcee for our pirate reception came up the walkway, laughing at the scene of all the pirates. Not having a whole lot of time to really greet him, I posed for a picture with him and ran back to the front room to retrieve his costume and pirate flag from our other www.TheDJserivce.com family member, DJ/JD. (Having four wedding DJs in the house made things a heck of a lot cheaper for entertainment.)
“Now, you are one of us, too!” I said, returning and handing the gear over to the WWE Hall Of Fame wrestler.
“Oh, I love this hat,” Hacksaw said, putting it on and moving up off of the curb. In the distance and over his massive shoulder, I could see Maria’s limousine pulling up, so I moved out of sight.
Less than fifteen minutes later, we were all smiles. Our outside ceremony layout was a success.
Our friend Todd, was dressed in full pirate regalia, as well. He had been ordained online and wrote us the best pirate ceremony that anyone could ask for. He was about to perform a ceremony that no one would ever forget, in complete character.
The music hit. My groomsmen came down the aisle to a gothic battle song called, “Carmina O Fortuna” and just before it ended, I came up last with a great, “Arggg!!!” The crowd responded with the same war cry.
Soon after that, the music switched over to the traditional bridesmaid music, “Air of The G,” and was soon followed by The Mendelssohn Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream, or what some call, “Here Comes The Bride.”
Maria looked beautiful in her gown, which was modern, but had a tinge of Victorian flavor to it. The thing that was even more beautiful was that she was all smiles. Her outdoor ceremony came together with only about 20 minutes, just before the guests had arrived.
I have since learned that Maria had no idea that her ceremony was to be outside until about ten minutes before they actually led her to walk down the aisle. She said she had to keep from crying.
We are very thankful that we were able to have the ceremony outside and were not trapped inside on such a beautiful day. After weeks and weeks of planning in the rain, everything came off perfectly and everything came off without a hitch.
As for that little girl locked in a closet in a space colony on the only day of sunshine in seven years, my heart goes out to her. All I can say is, “Too bad there are no pirates on Venus.”
Albany Weddings DJ Kenny Casanova is an event disc jockey for "The DJ Service.com" out of Upstate, NY. He has been DJ’ing for over 15 years transitioned out of sports announcing into becoming one of the best Wedding DJs in his area.
Winning awards and "BEST OF" titles from Capital Region Living Magazine and Metroland, DJ Kenny Casanova is well sought-after and is booked solid with a few gigs every weekend. For booking information, call 518-506-3305.
Visit www.theDJservice.comDJ Kenny Casanova for more information about how to keep everyone happy at a wedding reception.
Awesome story Kenny. I am so glad it all tuned out the way you wanted . Believe me I know how upsetting it is for a bride to have her dream wedding hitting road blocks the day before the wedding , We had issues with our reception hall too the day before and poor Amanda was in tears , I am sure I don’t have to remind you how rotten they can get , Sorry they harrassed you when you were setting up and telling you they were going to tow your car, and trying to make you leave at 7pm , They even complained about the glitter on the floor the day after the wedding .. Oh well they are lucky that was all they found on their floor after what they did. Well anyways Kenny you helped make my son’s wedding day a big success , Anyone who needs a top notch talented DJ for a wedding or party you just can’t beat Kenny .