Over the past few years, I've played a lot of small weddings for unaffiliated Jews. In many instances, the calls for these affairs come in a week or two before the wedding. In one case, a fellow walked over to us at a Sunday night gig and hired us for his wedding on Thursday.
Coming off of a really fun one of these weddings, where we had them dancing in the street in Greenwich Village, I've been thinking about what makes people who have clearly been planning their dream wedding for a very long time, suddenly decide that they need "authentic" live Jewish music at their affair.
In some of these cases, there was already a secular band booked for the affair, and might even have had a stereotypical "hora set" they could have played. In others, no dancing was planned, and there may not even have been space for dancing. (Hence, the street in the Village.)
I think that there's something really deep that makes an otherwise secular bride and groom decide that they need "authentic" live Jewish music at their affair; especially if they aren't having dancing, there isn't even any room in the venue for dancing, and they have an iPod loaded with their fave music. Yet, they still want those dances, and want to be lifted up on chairs while they each hold one end of a napkin.
In a humorous moment, I've named this need "The Klezmer Gene" (and referred to it as recessive), but it's really about the Jewish spark -- that part deep inside that makes us all want to connect to our heritage and traditions. For some of us, it's religious observances; for others, it's the food. For some it's the language, whether Hebrew, Yiddish, or Ladino. And for others, it's the music.
So, as the big day approaches, the couple will often start to feel a pull towards tradition, even though it hadn't previously seemed to be that important in terms of their vision for their day.
I, for one consider myself blessed to be able to help people connect to tradition in this way. It's awesome to be able to share that which binds us all together. See you at the next "last-minute" wedding. L'chaim!