“To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”(Aaron Copland)
There's something about music, that, in my mind, is truly magical -- There are times I'll just be in my bedroom when TallGuy isn't around, put on my Motown records, and sing at the top of my lungs to the Jackson Five's "ABC." Music at weddings is just as cool (and certainly more interactive!) -- and when you get a good band or pianist, singing at the top of your lungs to a Motown hit with friends and family feels pretty great.
However, there are important things to keep in mind when it comes to having music at weddings. Take, for example, the following from my friend Rachel, who is a musician and has performed at many weddings, including a recent wedding where she was hired to play the piano during the ceremony/cocktail hour. Rachel was kind enough to tell me what the pros and cons were based on how the bride-to-be acted before the big day:
Pros: "She knew exactly what she wanted (some brides don't have any clue, which is okay, but then they are ALSO extra picky on top of it).
She ordered and sent all the sheet music so I didn't have to do that legwork. Most of them were familiar to me, so it didn't take too long to learn them."
"She forgot to send recordings of the songs too, so I had to download them myself...I had downloaded the wrong song too, and was learning the wrong one. Imagine on the wedding day, she walks down to a song she actually hates because we didn't have the right song!
She also made a list of songs to play while people were sitting, and even at cocktail hour."
While I normally approach these issues from the point of view from the guest, I thought it was important to underline that the people who are hired are there to entertain your friends and family--so it's important to keep in mind the viewpoint of the musician. That way, things will go smoothly and the entertainment will be as it should. (For example -- if Rachel had learned the wrong song due to the bride not being clear about what she wanted, THAT wouldn't have gone over so well!)
To sum it up in Rachel's words: "Lessons: don't make your musicians do more work than they can handle, unless you plan to pay them more. (I should have incorporated a maximum into my fee). Tell them the genre for cocktail hour (jazz, classical, show tunes) and preludes. Then let them play what they know. Make a "do not play" list similar to what you would give to the band or DJ. no one ever listens to the musicians during cocktail hour or when they're being seated. and if there's a song you want, make sure to get the sheet music to them if the musician doesn't already have it. It's not fair to make them try to learn it by ear. (in the end, I didn't even bother with the stuff she wanted me to do for cocktail hour and the seating - and nobody noticed).
Whew. A lot to think about! But these are important issues which one needs to tackle -- depending on what kind of music you are planning to have.
As I address MUSIC as related to weddings, I thought it might be beneficial to have commentary from the point of view of Rachel as the MUSICIAN. What's neat is that Rachael the Musician is also Rachel the individual who has attended many weddings herself and has her own observations about the goings-on of these events.