First a little background: I am a professional musician with 2 college degrees and conservatory training under my belt. When I was first starting out I was sure I would play with a symphony orchestra. As it turns out, it was not meant to be…other opportunities arose and my musical life took an unexpected turn. At first I thought it was a step backward even though it was what I needed to do at the time, but in true “life is funny” fashion, it led me to where I am now: a successful, happy independent business owner with the perfect product to sell: beautiful music for weddings!
Once I decided to enter the wedding music market, I went out and learned absolutely everything I could about wedding planning, and brides and grooms so that I would better be able to serve my clients. What I found out was that to a lot of musicians, the wedding is the job of last resort, and one that they do simply because it’s “easy money” and not because there is any sort of honor or grace in it. Well, if they think it’s “easy money” they’re not doing it right! And as for honor and grace… Weddings are among the most honorable and graceful rites we have, and the music should reflect that. I for one, am humbled and honored every time I am chosen to help a couple celebrate the beginning of their lives together.
Preparing for and coordinating/performing wedding music is time consuming and very detail-oriented work. Your wedding is probably one of the most meaningful, personal events in which you’ll ever participate and generally costs a great deal of money to boot. The ceremony music sets the backdrop for the entire event and as such, needs to be perfection itself. I’m not talking about technical performance of the music; a lot of musicians play beautifully. I’m talking about that “something extra” that takes your wedding from the mundane to the sublime.
From the very first contact with a bride, groom, wedding coordinator or family member, I am studying the people and their vision for this extremely special event. By meeting with them and talking extensively, I can really understand what is important to them and help them realize the musical portion of that vision. I’m not saying that I have “super powers” or anything special really; what I do have is a genuine interest in how they feel and what they want. I leave my own ego at home and listen to what they’re saying (and feeling) and help them translate that intangible information into the perfect music soundtrack for their ceremony. I like to say that every wedding should be like the weddings we see in the movies: perfectly coordinated and reflective of the true inner being of the bride and groom.
Before the ceremony, I spend time with the wedding coordinator or mistress of ceremonies to ensure that we both know exactly what will happen during the processional so that there are no mixed signals or mis-cues. This extra preparation helps everyone feel relaxed and stress-free. When there is a family member or friend helping as opposed to a professional wedding coordinator, I will even help with the line-up and last minute preparations so that they can enjoy the experience with confidence.
I will also prepare the music in such a way that my musicians don’t have to look for anything; it’s all there in order so that there are no awkward gaps in the processional to wait for us.
During the processional itself, I not only play the music that we have decided upon together, but also I am watching the various members of the wedding party enter and make their way down the aisle so that we can bring each musical segment to an elegant end just as the last person of each group arrives at his/her destination…no waiting for the song to end and more importantly, no ending of the song before they’re in place.
By being attentive to the progress we are also able to cover for any little things that may (and often do) go a little astray. My favorite is when there are little children involved! They are so adorable and it means so much to everyone to have them there (and I love it, by the way, and don’t see their little eccentricities as intrusive or a recipe for disaster! Quite the contrary!) but we all know that the little ones can be unpredictable on their best day. I had an adorable flower girl (around 3 years old) at a wedding last year who was so intent on doing a good job that she dropped her rose petals one at a time! It took forever but we covered the time with the music and all of the guests were simply enchanted by her!
The result speaks for itself: a perfect soundtrack for the bride and groom’s perfect day!
My advice to you when choosing musicians for your ceremony is by all means, interview a number of them. Listen to how they sound on their website or demo and narrow the list to the ones that appeal to you aurally. After that, reserve time to have a thorough conversation on the telephone or in person, if possible, to make sure that the ones you ultimately choose will have all of your needs in mind. I know for my part that if I don’t provide what the prospective client is looking for, I will never try to talk you into hiring us anyway. In fact, if I know of someone who I feel would be a better fit for you, I’m happy to recommend them! I always go into an interview hoping to be hired, but would never compromise ethics or integrity for a sale.