Alana and Daniel were married this Saturday at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC, and I was lucky enough to be a part of their wedding weekend as the entertainment for their rehearsal dinner on Friday night. 

Alana’s mother Betty had called me up while I was in Budapest this spring, saying she was looking for a pianist and singer for her daughter’s rehearsal dinner and was watching my videos on YouTube that very moment! She said Alana and Daniel had seen me play at Georgetown Piano Bar and asked if I could play for the dinner, and I was, of course, happy to oblige. Meeting via FaceTime with the couple and Mom the next day, Alana and Daniel told me about their love of classic rock music and of the Beatles specifically, about how “Maybe I’m Amazed” is their song, and how Alana’s dad, Jim, is a big Springsteen fan. The set list began to take shape.

The Fairmont’s Kennedy Ballroom was a perfect space for a party of this size – 150+ family and friends spread out between the main ballroom for dinner and the bar anteroom set up outside the Kennedy’s doors. I was excited to play on the Fairmont’s beautiful baby grand that was rolled into the room from the hallway just outside. The catering staff provided a delicious and fun array of sliders (organic beef, crab and lamb), mac & cheese, and other gourmet-style comfort foods.

Alana and Daniel were high-school sweethearts at Canterbury High School in Ft. Myers, Florida, and currently live in DC. Many of the guests coming in for the wedding weekend were flying in from Florida and landing at National Airport just in time for the festivities. As the room began to fill up, I was astonished by the amount of loved ones coming to celebrate the happy couple. Alana and Daniel had hoards of friends who thronged the front of the room by the piano, filling out requests for me to play later in the night, while family greeted each other around the rest of the large ballroom.

An hour into the party, two of Alana’s brothers, Michael and Eric, stood up to emcee the evening’s speeches – over a dozen friends of the couple, from Hebrew school through high school and on to undergrad and, for Daniel, law school. Alana’s sorority sisters told us that they had been in a single group-text with Alana since 2008, Daniel’s fraternity brothers and law school friends had tales of his devotion to the Beatles, and many childhood friends told of raiding the cabinets for Twizzlers at Alana’s house and spoke of Betty’s famous chocolate almond challah (“Betty makes the best challah this side of Israel,” said their friend Kush). Friends spoke at length about Alana and Daniel’s love for each other – and for their dog, Larry – and kindness to their family and friends.

An hour into the party, two of Alana’s brothers, Michael and Eric, stood up to emcee the evening’s speeches – over a dozen friends of the couple, from Hebrew school through high school and on to undergrad and, for Daniel, law school. Alana’s sorority sisters told us that they had been in a single group-text with Alana since 2008, Daniel’s fraternity brothers and law school friends had tales of his devotion to the Beatles, and many childhood friends told of raiding the cabinets for Twizzlers at Alana’s house and spoke of Betty’s famous chocolate almond challah (“Betty makes the best challah this side of Israel,” said their friend Kush). Friends spoke at length about Alana and Daniel’s love for each other – and for their dog, Larry – and kindness to their family and friends.

A few touching moments stood out for me, including David quieting the room to play “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” on guitar, and two beautiful sentiments, one from Alana’s brother:

I never thought anyone would be good enough for my little sister, but I can honestly say, not only are you the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying her, but she’s equally lucky to be marrying you

— Michael Rubenstein

And another from their friend Loid that took my, and many others’, breath away:

If I could draw the perfect girl for Daniel, she wouldn’t come close to you.

— Loid

The party continued after the speeches, as the couple’s friends looked over my song lists, sang along to “I Believe I Can Fly”, and requested plenty of ’90s throwbacks like “Champagne Supernova” and “Mmmbop” and party-starting hits like “Party in the USA” and “Ignition (Remix).” I was actually sad to reach the end of the party with a few requests still waiting on the piano, but I have no doubt that the wedding the next day was a serious blast, and an amazing, beautiful time.

I was honored to have been a part of this huge family gathering, and with Alana and Daniel (and Larry!) all the beautiful best in their new married lives!