A Wedding Miracle
The miracle happened this way:
The wedding reception, a magnificent affair of abundant proportion and beauty — which followed a very personalized, romantic ceremony and lively cocktail hour, both with lots of live music — was just getting under way. In an unusual move for pre-dinner entertainment, my band was playing dance music. Wild dance music, I might add.
It was way too early to be doing such a thing — before the entrees had even been served — but many of the guests had traveled internationally, some had already been at the location for three days being feted, primped and pampered nonstop. They probably hadn’t slept much in nearly a week. The ceremony had been intense and the speeches…..well, let’s just say that they were ready to PARTY.
“Now look what you’ve done,” said the wedding coordinator, pointing to the dance floor. Every single person in the room was crowded onto that dance floor. My wailing horn and rhythm sections were tearing it up on pulsating renditions of “Shout” and “Stand By Me” and nobody was showing any sign of wanting to go back to their tables to consume the entrees, which were starting to arrive.
“You’ll have to tell them to stop,” she said.
“How about one more song, and then I’ll ask them to sit down again,” I suggested.
You know a wedding is a success when you have plead with the guests to get off the dance floor!
She agreed, we did another song….and I announced that dinner was served.
Not more than a minute after the guests were back in their seats, a gentleman who had been dancing up a storm in front of the bandstand slid out of his chair and onto the floor. Unconscious, no pulse — and he had stopped breathing. He had suffered a massive coronary.
As the two doctors who were part of the festivities rushed toward the stricken guest, the room seemed to float before us in slow motion.
I stopped the music and told the musicians to get off the bandstand and go outside. Stunned, the guests also left the ballroom and went into the courtyard.
For fifteen solid minutes, the two doctors did CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a tight tandem formation. Still no breathing, and no pulse — but the doctors kept it up with amazing timing and tenacity. Calls had been made to 911, and the paramedics arrived, barely seconds after one of my musicians thought to move a large cake table that would have blocked their way as they came barrelling through the entryway and into the ballroom.
Someone — the resort, perhaps — had a defibrillator. I think the paramedics may have had paddles. The stricken guest was lifted onto a gurney and wheeled out to an ambulance that would take him to a nearby hospital.
As the guests made their way back into the ballroom, I put the band back on the bandstand with instructions to stay in a pleasant, innocuous tone.
For several weeks prior to the wedding, the bride’s mother and I had stuggled with where we’d “place” a special song she adored. That song was David Foster’s “The Prayer.” And this was where it belonged.
On my microphone, I asked everyone if they were ok. They said they were.
And then I sang “The Prayer,” very quietly and to full band accompaniment.
As the guests sat, stood and huddled together, I felt the energy of the room actually become a prayer.
Slowly, we guided the ambiance back to being a party.
Not a single guest left. We had gotten word that things were looking up at the hospital, and people danced…and danced…and danced all night. From the twenty-somethings to the groom’s grandmother, even the folks who were TRYING to leave would get outside and then come back in because it was such a great wedding and they were having so much fun. At midnight the after party following the reception was still going strong, and so was the gentleman who had been saved from what would certainly have been the outcome under different circumstances.
I talked with him a few days ago, and he is doing wonderfully well. He said he would have liked to have gotten to dance more.
Sometimes people ask me what makes an event memorable. This was certainly one of those events that nobody who was there will ever forget.
I’ve received many e-mails and letters about the evening.
That heart attack was going to happen somewhere.
The miracle was that it happened in the middle of a wedding, where help was available — and that there were two highly-trained doctors in that room.
And that the nearby hospital just happened to be a renowned cardiac facility.
The miracle of love, prayer…and music…and a magical wedding that joined two beautiful people and their families and friends in a night of more love than anyone could ever have imagined.
Truly a wedding miracle, and a weekend we’ll never forget. We are very thankful that we were there, and that our music was part of the blessing.
Singer/bandleader Judy Chamberlain specializes in live music for celebrity weddings and events in California, Arizona, Texas and beyond. She can be reached at 714 319-9242
Dallas Jazz Band
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