Preparing for your big day can be an overwhelming task.
For some, music will be a crucial part of the ceremony, drinks reception or later on. They’ll have so many ideas they don’t know where to start.
For others, music is a lovely mysterious entity – something they like, but don’t have the confidence to choose what works for or reflects them as a couple… maybe like choosing some new glasses or car! (I always like bringing someone along with me for a much needed second opinion.)
I thought it’d be nice to take you through the process of a recent wedding I was hired to play and sing at; to give you an idea of what can be involved when hiring a musician!
It usually starts with an email describing the date music is needed for, which part of the day, the rough amount of time required, and possibly the type of music desired; voice, violin, solo or ensemble.
Some clients like to come see me live at a public event to get a better idea of my style and performance. Some are happy to listen to my SoundCloud account or watch me on YouTube before they make a final decision!
All being well, we then finalise the details between us, laid out in a performance agreement. This is so that we’re both on the same page about the important bits. The date is secured with a deposit. You don’t need to have everything nailed down before this though: We can always decide on exact music choices nearer the time – or change them if you like! The final balance is cleared a week before the wedding day by BACS, or in cash on the day if this offers more peace of mind.
I’ll check in with you during the week leading up to your big day so you are confident there will be no hiccups on the day itself.
And then we’re off!
The day’s arrived: I’ll make sure to arrive an hour before I’m set to play. It usually takes half an hour tops to set up, so there’s leeway for any unforeseen changes or obstacles.
I’ll arrive at the venue and speak to the front of house staff, events manager or wedding coordinator. We’ll double check and reconfirm where I’m to set up and then I’ll bring in all my music equiment! (Reserved parking near to the loction where I’m performing is always very much appreciated.)
This wedding was hosted by Chilston Park Hotel for Michelle and James. Reception drinks were to be in the beautifully festive Marble Lounge.
And the ceremony in the stately Fitzhammond Suite.
I was to play solo violin with backing tracks for the ceremony prelude as guests waited, the bridal entrance, signing of the register and exit music.
I set up my violin and amplifier at the back of the room with a clear view of the door from which the bridal party would enter.
The amp offers a few advantages: an output for the backing tracks, a little reverb/ echo to make the violin sing even more, and a little volume boost. If there are a lot of bodies in a carpeted room, they do tend to absorb more of the sound than one with wooden flooring and hard furnishings. They also tend to produce quite a bit of chatter whilst waiting for the bride!
Music played during this part of the day included:
- Well-known, light classical pieces whilst guests waited
- Entrance: Ave Maria set by Gounod to Bach’s Prelude in C
- Signing of the register:
– The Swan by Fauré
– Adagio from Khachaturian’s Spartacus
– Salut d’amour by Elgar
- Exit: Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
With the lovely couple married – and the help of the groomsmen – I then relocated and set up for the reception drinks in the Marble Lounge! A cosy spot next to the gorgeous Christmas tree and fire, in good view of guests but tucked out of the way.
Whilst guests had their group photo taken on the front terrace, I quickly did a soundcheck so that I was ready to serenade the wedding party during the reception drinks.
Many thanks to the member of staff from Chilston Park who took my photo. Now all good to go!
For this more relaxed part of the celebrations, I sang a selection of my favourite jazz standards, and with the youngest and oldest wedding guests gathered around me and the fire. Here you can see me serenading the smallest of the flower girls just out of sight of the camera. (No, it wasn’t the Nutcracker in case you’re confused!)
After an hour and a half, the reception drinks came to an end. There had been a lot of lovely smiles aimed my way throughout my performance and some friendly thank yous and goodbyes as guests made their way through to the wedding breakfast.
It was then time to pack up, have a late lunch in front of the fire – kindly provided by Michelle and James – and have a little wander around the venue to soak up the happy, Christmas atmosphere.
My job done, I said my goodbyes and left to the sound of happy chatter of a party in full swing.
And home to take off my heels and return to cosy slippers!
It’s always lovely to hear from couples after the event. Michelle very kindly emailed me just a couple of days after and it made my day:
Our guests were blown away…. You are so talented and we’re so glad to have found you. Fans forever! xxxMichelle
If you’d like to discuss music options for your wedding day, or any special family event, please do get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.