We made our first trip ever to a venue called The Mill at Fine Creek in Powhatan, VA for a wedding on Sunday. It is located west of Richmond and although the drive was long from Newport News (about 2 hours), it was really beautiful, especially once we got off the highway to drive the last 20 miles or so. It is a stunning venue with a number of wonderful settings both inside and out to provide the perfect backdrop for any type of wedding. To see it for yourselves, please visit their website: http://www.themillatfinecreek.com/
My couple was hoping for an outdoor wedding when they hired me and I told them that I would be happy to play outdoors but that the temperature restrictions are clearly defined in my contract (no outdoor performance below 65 degrees). Of course, I personally use this as a guideline where we can decide because 60 degrees and sunny feels really warm, whereas 65 and cloudy or damp feels really cold and our instruments react accordingly. The reason for the restriction isn’t because we just don’t feel like wearing a jacket, but because there are real problems with both the instruments and the sound of the group at lower temperatures. Having said all of that, however, there are always exceptions and Sunday was one.
I arrived around noon to set up for a 2:45 prelude and it was so beautiful I couldn’t believe it! They were setting up outside and the day was so gorgeous I couldn’t imagine holding the ceremony anywhere else. It was sunny and warm with no clouds in the sky. I set up everything and right on schedule my other musicians arrived and we got down to the business of our brush-up rehearsal and a full rehearsal with our guest vocalists (friends of the bride and groom) before the ceremony was to begin. About 2:15, clouds started appearing out of nowhere and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees in a matter of minutes. My groom came looking for me and asked about the temperature and also wanted advice about what to do. At this point, everything was set, everyone had made every effort to ensure that the ceremony went off perfectly and there were mere minutes before everything was set to begin. I told him that yes, the temperature was now quite a bit below our threshold, but that we would go ahead as planned because there really wasn’t anything anyone could do and if we changed location now it would be 2 hours before everything was re-set. I also told him not to worry; everything would be wonderful.
There are times when being gracious outweighs contracts and this was one of those times. I switched instruments (from flute to clarinet), which gave me more flexibility (clarinet can be “forced” more easily than flute when temperatures are low) and my string players both agreed to gut it out (they had brought their outdoor instruments which are far less valuable and temperamental than their indoor instruments) and we started right on schedule.
In the end, we didn’t sound quite as glorious as we would have given a warmer day, and we were definitely dreaming of fires and warm puppies, but the setting was perfect, the ceremony went beautifully, and the music provided the ideal “soundtrack” to our couple’s wedding day. I wouldn’t have changed a thing!