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Black Butte Ranch Wedding Music

Featured Wedding: Brett Williams & Laurie Craft

June 20, 2015
Black Butte Ranch, Sisters, OR
Theme: Roses, Satin, Greens, Outdoors, Nature
Colors: Crème and Champagne
Prelude: Classical Instrumental
Wedding Party Processional: Trumpet Voluntary
Bridal Entry: Canon in D
Recessional: Better Together
Post Ceremony: Half Hour of upbeat Americana and Love Themed Songs

Set on the shores of a small lake nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountains, I think the best word to describe this wedding overall is “stunning.” This is one of our favorite places to play, and the mountains feel so up close there, the backdrop never gets old and Black Butte does a wonderful job maintaining these grounds impeccably. We’ve developed a great relationship with the Wedding Coordinator there, Jennifer Engele and she’s become a great advocate for us, and we really feel at home there!

Beyond our joy at being back at Black Butte, we observed the overall crowd appeared well healed and good-looking in general; a classy bunch who were generous with their compliments when we finished.

The bride definitely stole the day on this one, as she should, appearing like someone out of a magazine.

The tables were decorated with dozens and dozens of white roses, complimenting the bridesmaid’s dresses, which were a satin crème/champagne color. So much white felt both bold and elegant and a harmonious contrast to the setting of mostly greens and blues.


Julie set the stage with a beautiful mix of classical and contemporary songs on the violin before the ceremony began. She pulled off a great version of Canon in D, and as to be expected the bride was practically in tears by the time she reached the groom. The officiant seemed to be well acquainted with the couple and told some personal stories that gave a beautiful window into the lives of Brett and Laurie.

We ended the ceremony with a special request: “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. I loved the contrast of everything being really classic and straightforward except for this casual and poppy tune by one of my favorite songwriters.

Overall, a very memorable day punctuated by the elegant taste of the bride and the warm and accommodating Black Butte Ranch staff.

Black Butte Ranch Wedding Music

Sisters Oregon Wedding at Black Butte Ranch
Sisters-Oregon-Wedding-Music-The-Ashlings Sisters-Oregon-Wedding-kids Sisters-Oregon-Wedding-Williams Sisters Oregon Wedding Violin Music

Sunriver Wedding Music

If you’ve decided to get married in Sunirver, you’re in good company; it is one of the most popular wedding venues in Oregon. The music that accompanies your big day should be something that is both classy with a dash of rustic chic. Musicians that can play both classical and Americana/Folk would be perfect for this venue, and my band the Ashlings is a great example of a group that can perform Sunriver Wedding music that fits the setting.

Just the Way You Are – Amazing – Bruno Mars

For a Sunriver Wedding we played in February of 2013, the groom Matt Gorman requested this Bruno Mars song as the processional and it was a surprise for his wife. The chorus on this song is particularly powerful “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change, ’cause you’re amazing just the way you are.” A great sentiment for a wedding and more of a modern and personal choice for couples looking to change it up a bit.

Tennesee Waltz

This was a first dance choice for a mother and son song during a Sunriver wedding in the winter. The Great Room is absolutely enchanting in the winter, decorated with thousands a little tea lights and candles and a cozy fire burning at the centerpiece of the room. This song brought everyone back in time.

What a Wonderful World

This was the recessional for a Sunriver Wedding in the summer of 2012. The couple was from Hawaii and loved the version by Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole with Somewhere Over the Rainbow at the beginning. This is just one of those “perfect” songs.

A Thousand Years

Again this was Sunriver Wedding in the winter, so the candles and the lights inside the cozy lodge reminded us all of the video. A lot of bridge request this song and it has really grown on me. While it may be more of a “pop” choice that everyone will recognize, there is a reason it is such a famous song. I always get it stuck in my head after we play it.


Ideas for Your Sustainable Central Oregon Wedding

Planning for a sustainable Central Oregon Wedding has gotten a lot easier over the years, as an influx of eco-conscious outdoor enthusiasts have flooded the scene. From woodsy and affordable outdoor venues like Skyliners near Tumalo Falls, to a host of caterers who are dedicated to locally sourced meats and produce, Bend has a lot to offer the eco-conscious couple. Here are a few ideas both local and online to get you moving in the right direction.

Reusable Cups:

Perhaps the most obvious, having reusable cups is also one of the most fun! Kleen Kanteen’s 16 oz. Steel Pint is probably the most popular choice for eco-conscious couples and it is easy to get these logo-ed with your own special design through their co-branding program. Another great choice is to stay way local and get Insulated Mugs from Hydroflask for everyone. Pretty spendy, but it is a gift for your guests they’ll treasure for a long time.

Paperless Invites:

Although it may be temping to create some really cool invites on recycled paper, evites are the way to go if you’re trying for minimal impact and waste. There are also an incredible amount of resources out there to make simple (and free) websites for your wedding. Given that some generations might not go online as obsessively as others, a simple SAVE THE DATE postcard with a link to the website to the wedding might be enough to get most folks on board. One other creative and optimistic choice is sending invites embedded with seeds (yes the actual paper embedded with actual seeds.) Check them out from

Wedding Wear:

Find your mom’s old dress and get it fitted. It will make a great story and a great statement. Specialty vintage stores and websites also carry a wide variety of used dresses handpicked for style and fit. Some recommended stores in Portland include Richele Kay Bridal Consignment and Xtabay Vintage Clothing. In Bend your best bet is to find something you want second hand or online and get it altered at Scissor Bird Sewing & Alterations.


This is kind of a no brainer in terms of what is sustainable and what is not, but the bottom line is if you must have meat, there are many options for locally sourced free range meet from a number of Central Oregon caterers. Consider working with Devore’s Good Food Store for organic salads, soups and wraps to compliment a high-summer rehearsal dinner. The owners of Joolz Restaurant in downtown also offer catering with a strong preference to supporting locally sourced everything.


Whether you adopt all of these ideas and make your wedding totally green, or just pick a few that suit your needs, your wedding day is a great time to make a statement about how you care about the environment, and some of your choices may influence your guests to do the same.

Rustic Chic Weddings – What the Hell Does That Mean Anyway

One of the trendiest catch phrases country-style marriages today is “rustic chic weddings,” and it frankly has a lot of people scratching their heads. I thought it would be worth exploring, especially because here in Central Oregon, so many weddings fall under that category and there are an incredible plethora of venues that would be perfect for a couple looking to plan their own ceremony with a splash of rustic chic.

Let’s start with some tangible decorating themes indicative of a rustic chic weddings:

Old Barns


Wildflowers in Mason Jars

Fresh fruit and berries

Antique or western style dresses

Cowboy boots

French Influence

Pink Ribbon

Antique Silver


Lots of wood, sticks and stems

Tea Lights

I think the best way to describe a rustic chic wedding is one that has an element of the outdoors woven throughout, whether this is birch branch candle holders or twig incased signs labeling the dinner options. Textures are natural and organic, sweet and homey. There is homage paid to the days of yore when suspenders and cowboy boots and mason jars were just a way of life. The brides and bridesmaid’s dresses are often antique or vintage and the grooms and groomsmen also add a bit of country-whimsy to their style.

In the summer of 2014, I played the wedding of one of my best friend’s from high school, Annie Dubois in Bozeman, MT at the Big Yellow Barn. This wedding was quintessential rustic chic: big mountains in the distance, wildflowers everywhere, a big old barn with all kinds of noks and crannies… The catering was also done country southern style on the rehearsal dinner night and everyone raved about how it was better than the day of. The songs they picked were also perfect in this setting: “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty, “Annie’s Song” by John Denver (You Fill Up My Senses), and finally “Tennessee Waltz” for the groom and mother’s first dance.

Here are some really cool websites out there to aid in inspiration and ideas:


Rustic Chic Weddings in Central Oregon

If you are looking to plan your wedding with a rustic chic theme here in Oregon, the Central part of the state is where you want to come. The venues in Bend, Sunriver and Sisters mix country charm with class and elegance like no other place in the Oregon. Some other advantages include a very good chance the sun will be shining, and lots of photo opportunities with majestic mountain backdrops of the Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack.

With the exception of a few indoor venues and churches, really all venues in Central Oregon could be considered rustic chic, but here are my top five from my own experiences playing weddings here in Bend and surrounding towns.

Brasada Ranch

The only venue that blatantly markets themselves as “rustic chic” in their copywriting, you can be assured this theme will define your wedding with almost no effort at all. Sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains are almost blindingly gorgeous at sunset. The employees that work there seems infused with some kind of higher cause that they are serving, and their pride in their work comes through in every interaction. This kind of experience is going to cost you, but if you want to go big, a wedding at Brasada Ranch is as good as it gets.



One of the most popular destinations for weddings in all of Oregon, Sunriver has endless accommodations for you and your guests and recreational opportunities are literally right out the front door. The Great Room where wedding parties often choose to have dinner, is the definition of rustic chic: exposed beams of gigantic old growth Oregon trees, magnificent fireplaces, room for 300… what more could you ask for?


Black Butte Ranch

During one particularly elaborate wedding we played at Black Butte Ranch there were actually what appeared to be wild horses running through the meadows in the distance during the recessional. I never did find out if this was a set up, that might give you some idea of what kind of magic lies ahead at Black Butte. Yes, the accommodations may be a bit 80s, but there is a feel to this place that the generations of repeat guests bring to it summer after summer, which makes it feel like an American Classic… like you just stepped onto the set of Dirty Dancing… but in Oregon.



The newest addition to Oregon’s list of rustic chic wedding venues, Tetherow combines world-class golf with ranch-style elegance. It needs to get guenunily roughed up a bit to shed it’s “theme park” like rustic-ness, but this top end venue just minutes from downtown Bend is sure to rise to prominence and it can accommodate many of your guests on location. And if golfing is your family’s sport of choice, the David McLay Kidd course is quite possibly one of the best in Oregon.


Aspen Hall

A rustic check wedding venue for the rest of us. This cozy event hall lies at the northern tip of one of Bend’s most beautiful forest trail systems, Shevlin Park. If you have an active group of guests, this five mile loop could be a fun pre-ceremony walk lasting about and hour and forty-five minutes and showcasing some of the most intimate views of Tumalo Creek in Bend. The inside of the hall it self has a wood burning fireplace, but other than that is nothing to write home about. Aspen Hall’s magic is all about the natural beauty that surrounds, from the cute fishing pond off the back deck, to birch trees that line the walkways and paths around the property. At a little over for $1K a day, this is a by far the best bang for the buck in Central Oregon.

Indie Wedding Songs

Indie Wedding Songs – Our Top 5

Not everyone wants straightforward, classic love songs for their wedding. My favorite part about this list of indie wedding songs is that many of them have some kind of dark undercurrent or interesting sentiment that gets you thinking. I guess for me love is not straitforward, and a lot of these songs are willing to address that in different ways.

I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab For Cutie

We’ve had this song requested more than once for both the pre-ceremony music and the processional, and at first I found it strange that couples would want a song that seemed to be more about dying than living. But the enduring theme is loving someone so much that you can imagine being together in the afterlife. It’s also a great anthem to atheism and I know the composer Ben Gibbard is a recovering Catholic and there are lots of references in the second verse to the hypocrisies of the Catholic Church. Overall, I think this is a classic folk song that will be around longer than Death Cab.

Publish My Love – Rogue Wave

A great one to add for the playlists during the reception. Catchy and full of sunshine.

Naked As We Came – Iron & Wine

Another song about death shrouded in a tale of a lifetime of love. “Eyes wide open, naked as we came, one will spread our, ashes ’round the yard.” I like this one for mid-ceremony.

Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Somehow it is comforting to know that even though Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova broke up at the end of this movie, they were together in real life. There is a lot of sadness in this song, but it is overpowered by hope and redemption, especially during the choruses when the power of their two voices together mix in harmony. I’d love to hear an instrumental version of this for the processional.

Aeroplane Over the Sea

Another classic that will be well-loved throughout the ages. My favorite place for this is as the recessional as either an instrumental or a with vocals and cello/guitar. It is at once so celebratory, wistful and bazaar. My favorite line of any song is the last “When we meet on a cloud, we’ll be laughing out loud, we’ll be laughing at everything we see. Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all.”


Top Central Oregon Outdoor Wedding Venues

When you are planning your wedding in Central Oregon, it is more than likely that you’ll want to showcase the epic beauty that defines the area. The following Top Central Oregon Outdoor Wedding Venues are places that the Ashlings have recently performed that highlight the natural environment.

Skyliners Lodge near Tumalo Falls

One of my favorite “low-key” wedding venues in Bend, Skyliners lodge is about a fifteen minute drive from down out towards Tumalo Falls. A favorite with recovering raft guides, the backdrop for the ceremony is Tumalo Creek nearby and Tumalo Mountain in the distance. The lodge itself can seat about 100 or more, but ideally dinner would be outside under a tent in a hardened surface to the right of the lodge. The price is right on this one, and although the managers frown on it a bit, having a few friends set up tents in the surrounding woods could be one option for accommodations nearby, as well as three luxurious cabins nearby on Tumalo Lake.

Brasada Ranch

I can’t say enough about this place. You know when you walk into a business and everyone working there seems guenuily happy and well-cared for? This is the vibe here. It is the perfect place for couples who are willing to spend some money to have everything done right. Stunning views of the Cascade Mountains will create a great backdrop for photos, and the well-maintained grounds are just right for outdoor receptions.

Suttle Lake

Suttle Lake is quintessential Oregon at it’s best. Although it is just minutes off Highway 20, it still feels secluded. This is a great choice for those with friends and family in both Bend and Portland as it is in-between the two. These guys are pros at running weddings, and the large lawn overlooking the oval shaped lake looks like it was made for ceremonies and receptions.

Riverhouse on the Deschutes

Who doesn’t want to get married on the banks of the Deschutes River? The ceremony area is on lush green grass overlooking the river surrounded by old growth pine trees and volcanic rock. Then move the reception to one of the patios also overlooking the river or in one of the large conference rooms. There’s plenty of room for the whole family to stay at the resort.

Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards

Named for the Three Sisters Mountains in the distance, the vineyards also offer breathtaking views of Smith Rock. Accenting the perfectly manicured property is a pond and waterfall. A great spot for those looking for elegance and country charm.

classical violin music sisters weddings

Classical Violin Wedding Music

There are hundreds, even thousands of classical pieces written specifically for the violin that would help make your wedding a more memorable occasion. Here are the top five most requested classical violin wedding music pieces we receive as our wedding duo or trio The Ashlings, and these are all songs that are part of our standard repertoire. We can perform these on violin, cello or an arrangement of both.

Canon in D

By far the world’s most popular wedding song for the processional, Pachelbel’s Canon never gets old. It brings out emotion in me no matter how many times we play it. This song was buried for centuries and then rediscovered in the 20th Century and first published in 1919. But it’s placement in a number of pop songs of the 90’s include Green Day’s Basket Case and the Pet Shop Boy’s cover of “Go West” is what really catapulted this song into the American consciousness.


Trumpet Voluntary

Also known as the Prince of Denmark’s March, it was written by Jeremiah Clarke around 1700. It’s perfect for the procession or recessional after the couple has been presented to the guests. Great bit of trivia: it was the song played at the 1918 wedding of Charles, the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. We do a wonderful version of this with violin or cello and guitar, but the link I included is to a version played with trumpets, how it was intended.


Wedding March (Here Comes the Bride)

Written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1842, this song feels the most cliche of all the typical wedding classical pieces, but it’s charm definitely lies in its history and tradition. Mendelssohn wrote this for a suite of pieces to Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but this song was again popularized by the royals, namely Princess Victoria when she married Prince Rederick William of Prussion in 1858.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

I like this song as the entrance music for the bridesmaids and the groomsmen, but it really fits well anywhere in the beginning of the wedding or as background music while guests are gathering or leaving. One of Bach’s most famous works, it was written during his first year in Leipzig, Germany and is one of about two hundred cantatas he wrote for the Leipzig Church during that time, though this remains one of his most enduring works to date.

Ave Maria

This is the Franz Schubert version and it is one of his most popular pieces. It has an interesting history: originally composed as a setting of a song from Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake, the story is of Ellen Douglas who sings a prayer to the Virgin Mary, calling on her for help as a battle rages on in the distance of the Scottish Highlands.

john denver wedding songs

John Denver Wedding Music

I feel conflicted writing a post about John Denver songs you might consider for your wedding: He is just so totally over the top sometimes. We were forced to learn “Wedding Song – There is Love” for a ceremony one summer… and I’m sorry, it’s just too much, and too many Jesus references. Our generation cannot deal with that kind of earnestness.

That said, my friend Annie got married that summer and wanted the song “Annie’s Song” for her first dance with her new husband Derek. The first time I listened to it again to learn it, I definitely shed a few tears! So there, in the song also known as “You Fill Up My Senses,” he nails it.

(I also have one more confession to make, and that is my mom was his neighbor in Aspen in the 70s and used to listen to his songs in the backyard of their apartment building. She told him she thought he should be famous!)

Annie’s Song

This is such a timeless and utterly gorgeous song, especially for a wedding where nature is center stage. I love his delivery of this song. The lyrics are so emotional, monumental even, and his voice still sounds kind of casual, as if this was something he would say to his wife everyday.

You fill up me senses like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses come fill me again.

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you
Come let me love you, come love me again.

Country Roads

Perhaps one of his best known songs, I think this would make a great recessional song for a country wedding, or for a couple who misses the rural life.

In conclusion, I know this list is short, and there are many other amazing John Denver wedding music to choose from, but these are my favorite and feel the most timeless for modern weddings.

Jack Johnson Wedding Music

Jack Johnson Wedding Songs

I fell in love with Jack Johnson’s music in college at Lewis & Clark in Portland. At the time it seemed like there was just nothing else out there like he was doing. His music sounded like surfing in Hawaii… sitting around a campfire after a long day out on the water.

I fell out of love with his music for a time as I often do when artists go on to be hugely popular and I can no longer pretend they are my little secret. But now I’ve come to my senses, and I’m into it again. I’ve been really inspired by his songs lately and even wrote a bunch of my own, borrowing chord progressions and rhythms from some of his albums.

Below are my handpicked top five Jack Johnson wedding songs for your ceremony or reception.


I recorded a cover of Jack Johnson’s “Constellations” with my friend Franchot Tone on the guitar. I’ve spent so much time over the past year exploring different coast lines either kayaking or sailing that this song resonated in a lot of ways. He manages to capture something both beautiful and wholesome and mysterious all in one song. You can see yourself there on the beach watching the kids play in the surf, or later in the song sitting under a tree and waiting out the rain. It’s so specific to time and place and yet universal. Nice work.


What a perfect song for the first dance of the bride and groom. This album was first released on his album “Sleep Through the Static” in 2008 and recorded at the Solar Powered Plastic Plant in LA (making it his first album not recorded in Hawaii.) Jack Johnson’s performance of “Angel” is perfecto, but something about this version of Angel by Jess Delgado seems to do the song a new kind of justice.

Better Together

I can only come to the conclusion as evidenced by this song and many others that the man is definitely in love with his wife. Again the word wholesome comes to mind. I’d recommend this as a casual recessional for a small ceremony or a first dance.

Key lyrics:

Our dreams, (and) they are made out of real things
Like a, shoebox of photographs
With sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer…

I Got You

This is a cool video of Jack having fun in Hawaii. I image this song sung by a guitar strumming groom.

Banana Pancakes

He manages to take something so mundane and make it all cozy. How does he do that? Even the very first line transports me somewhere I want to go. I recorded my own cover of this song and had a great old time playing it last year when we were down in Baja on a sailing trip and that’s what we had for breakfast. There were some particularly harrowing moments on that journey where I definitely wished I was inside making pancakes… with Jack Johnson 🙂

Can’t you see that it’s been raining?
Ain’t no need to go outside…

Hopefully that gives you some ideas if you’re looking for a little Jack Johnson wedding music for your big day. The Ashlings love to learn new songs, so pick your favorite and we’ll add it to our repertoire if you’d like us to play at your reception or ceremony.