Normally a blog about a wedding features the bride and groom and tags all the vendors and shows lots of pretty pictures of the details, but this is not one of those weddings. This one was very intimate - about 50 guests, and there was no planner other than the hotel's banquet captain, the bride, and myself. Out of respect for the privacy of this couple, I will show and tell you of this beautiful wedding weekend from our road-tripping band's perspective.
I received a phone call sometime in the summer of 2014 from a nice man who was the father of a bride whose wedding we had played for back in 2007 at The Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande, FL., one of The Buzzcatz favorite stops. William is a happy and colorful character with a gruff voice and a hearty laugh, and we hit it off very quickly on the telephone. He said that he was engaged to be married, and that they enjoyed The Buzzcatz so much at his daughter's wedding that he wanted to hire us and fly the band (on his two private jets!) up to (unbelievably beautiful!) Western NY to play for his wedding at a gorgeous old historic hotel built in 1881, nestled along the river in the mountains in the month of June. Hmmm….let me think about this….OKAY!!!
Normally the logistics and cost of moving the nine (or ten) of us across the country cause these type of gigs to fall through, but as I quickly realized during our conversation, cost was not an issue for William. He owned half of the county, a beautiful place where he grew up, including the hotel and a few country clubs in the area, as well as a few more in Florida. Dude!!!
William said he would arrange for a driver and truck to pick up our gear in FL and drive it up to NY and back so that we "won't have to deal with the piddly-ass details - I just want you guys to relax and enjoy the weekend like one of our guests!" - I like this guy!
The town was Chatauqua, NY (pronounced Cha-Tok-wah). It's a seasonal resort town for the rich. You have to be a resident and pay $500 for a weekend pass just to drive your car in to the (gated) town - but there's a waiting list. And don't even ask how much it costs to stay the night. The place where we played and stayed was the historic Athenaeum Hotel. It was built in 1881, and it looked like something out of The Shining, but more haunted. So cool!
We flew out of Orlando on an evening flight into Buffalo, NY. Seven of us flew in on Friday night, with Tony and Carmen coming in the next morning. A driver was waiting at the airport for us with a stretch limo to take us on the 2.5 hour drive that winds up into the mountains of Western, NY.
The ride up to Chatauqua felt like a bachelor party with lots of laughs (and cocktails). We were yucking it up pretty good and it was roaring to the point where we wondered what the driver up front must have thought. It turns out he was very cool and pulled off whenever we needed to. :) It was a long, dark road through the mountains. Every so often I would open up the window and look out into the darkness whizzing by, but we were a Florida wedding band in the middle of nowhere. It was like a limo ride into the Twilight Zone. When we finally pulled in to the hotel it was really late, about 1:30am, and it was very quiet - until WE pulled in, that is. I can only imagine what the girl at the front desk thought when The Buzzcatz came spilling out of the stretch limo and into the lobby at 1:30am with all of our road cases, instruments, and bags in tow after starting the party seven hours earlier at the gate in Orlando. That poor girl had to check us in, and I was just hoping we wouldn't wake up half of the guests.
The next day we were invited to join the bride & groom and their guests for a brunch in the hotel dining room and we enjoyed meeting everyone that we would be playing for later that night. A few cups of coffee later we were all exploring the town by foot and really enjoying the cooler-than-Florida June weather.
Our gear arrived in plenty of time and we set up in the intimate ballroom of the hotel that afternoon for the evening wedding. We posed for a few pics on the steps of the 135 year old hotel and it was a really nice day.
The bride & groom were all smiles as they shared their first dance while we performed a spot-on rendition of Dean Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody", and their 8 year old daughter Julia made a special guest star appearance with The Buzzcatz and brought the house down with a great vocal performance of "1000 Years"!
The reception was beautiful, as was the entire weekend. We thank Heather & William for making The Buzzcatz a part of their wedding, and we wish them a lifetime of happiness together!