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How my husband and I turned our nuptials into a production to remember
Welcome to our latest Theatre Lovers essay. In honor of Valentine's Day, Theresa recalls her gloriously theatrical wedding. If you'd like to submit your story for consideration, email TDF Stages.
I always knew I would get married on stage. I also knew I would marry a man who would indulge my theatrical wedding vision. On May 9, 2015, my wish came true as Jeff and I joined our lives together in the beautiful Memorial Hall in my hometown of Melrose, Massachusetts. Almost 30 years prior, I had made my debut on that very same stage and I continued to perform there for decades. Memories of my early recitals attended by loved ones no longer living flood my senses every time I enter the venue.
I grew up dancing and performing with professional credits to my name. Ever since we met, Jeff, who's musically inclined, has always supported all my crazy endeavors. During our courtship, I dreamed up multiple dance pieces and always enlisted him to cut and arrange the music. Of course, our collaboration went both ways as I also championed his musical ventures. Music and performing became our shared language of love. These early adventures laid the foundation for our spectacular wedding. It helped that our bridal party consisted of our superbly talented friends who were thrilled to jump on stage with us. Some were working pros, others dusted off instruments from years past, and a few even picked up brand-new ones just to be a part of the festivities.
Over the span of two years, from the engagement to the wedding, Jeff, the bridal party and I planned, prepped, rehearsed and performed in order to get ready for the big day. We were even offered a regular Saturday night gig at one of the open mics we frequented! All the while, Jeff and I were crafting the perfect one-act musical wedding ceremony complete with a master of ceremonies reminiscent of Cabaret and a justice of the peace with enough theatre knowledge to join in the fun. We titled it Tuxedo Junction: A Wedding in One Act, which matches our initials, T & J, and was also the song we chose for our first dance. This was a subtle nod to my great-grandmother, who introduced me to Glenn Miller, the bandleader who originally turned the tune into a hit. It also reflected Jeff's love for big band music.
In terms of securing a location for the ceremony, we researched several theatres and venues in the greater Boston area. Ultimately, Memorial Hall won us over with its gorgeous stage, large pipe organ and personal significance. It was perfect.
As the 200 guests arrived, they received tickets with seating assignments and Playbill-inspired programs complete with the bridal party's photos and bios. Lights draped the perimeter, warmly illuminating the old burgundy leather theatre seats. Centerpieces with red roses adorned the tables. Our gift table was embellished with ornate pointe shoes that I had worn in my youth, along with an old trumpet and case. All our passions were represented.
Our show started with a prerecorded announcement reminding the audience to silence their electronic devices. The elegant red velvet curtains parted to reveal our hand-painted theatre marquee, lovingly crafted by the mother of the bride. My soon-to-be husband emerged and began playing on stage at the piano, followed by my mother's significant other on drums. They kicked it off with an original piece as members of our bridal party weaved through the audience to get to the stage, some with instruments in hand. One by one they began playing on their respective cues. (This was super fun for me to figure out as I timed their entrances and pairings in a way that made sense for the song and the ceremony.)
When the opening number concluded, I made my entrance accompanied by my mother. We boogied down the aisle to an upbeat, Benny Goodman-esque version of "Here Comes the Bride" performed by the brass-playing groomsmen. During the song, the remaining bridal party members executed synchronized choreography that had the audience clapping along.
With the star taking center stage, joining the cast and company, the show kicked into high gear. The score consisted of lovingly arranged versions of some of our favorites. For Jeff, I sang a jazzy rendition of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Showboat. For me, Jeff performed "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants. All the music was played by some combination of Jeff with other members of the bridal party.
It was finally time for us to get married. We shared our vows, which were full of inside jokes and theatre references. Then came the grand finale. After our first kiss as husband and wife, we performed our rendition of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" by The Blues Brothers, with me and my man of honor on vocals and my husband on trumpet. Our closing number was the reprise version of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The bridal party played us out and exited the stage shortly after in a carefully choreographed manner. There was raucous applause and a standing ovation as we transitioned to the reception.
Nearly six years later, guests still tell us that it was the most fabulous wedding they ever attended. I may be a little biased, but I think so, too. Looking back, it was an ambitious undertaking, but it showcased us as a couple, our love for each other and for the stage.
Theresa Melito-Conners, Ph.D. (Dr. MC), is a self-care expert from Boston, MA. While completing her dissertation studies, she founded Dr. MC's Self-Care Cabaret, which combines her passion for helping others achieve wellness and her love for Broadway. Follow her on Instagram at @drmcselfcare. Follow TDF on Instagram at @TDFNYC.
Top image: The author and her husband during the grand finale of their wedding. Photo courtesy of the author.