At the rehearsal we carefully timed out how long this huge procession would take. We discovered that if the minister started walking during what's often called the “middle 8” of the song then this would be the correct length of time.
The middle 8, or bridge as it is often called, is a section of a song that sounds different. It is called the middle 8 because it is frequently in the middle of the song and generally takes 8 measures. It is called a bridge because it is the connection between one section and another. Because of all of this, it often sounds different from the rest of the song.
This particular minister sang in the choir. He understood music. He decided that rather than paying attention to the music, he wanted me to nod my head when it was time for the procession to start. I bet you could see the problem to this already. So could I. But I could not convince him otherwise.
Time for the wedding to start. My accompanist played the introduction. (She had an interesting way of turning pages. She didn't. When she was done with the page, she threw it on the floor.) I start singing. I notice the minister and the groom standing at the back of the church, not paying attention to the music. They were talking. (How rude!) We came to the bridge. I began nodding my head. The minister and the groom continued to talk, oblivious to my head nods. I began to feel like one of those bobble heads: smiling and nodding my head. At one point, the minister glanced my way. He saw me nodding my head. He smiled back, nodded his head at me, and went back to talking to the groom.
12 pages of the song had come and gone when they finally started the procession. My accompanist could see none of this. She had her back to the procession. I realized I had to do something. So, I cut the ending and jumped back to the bridge. (Remember, the accompanist has been throwing used pages on the floor.) I sang almost two pages a cappella while she was on her hands and knees picking up the music. She gathered it together and began to play again. Fortunately, I managed to stay in the right key.
We finished the song as the bride's father put her hand in the groom's hand.
According to the website The Knot, approximately 80% of all weddings occur between May and October. Roughly two-thirds of these weddings happen on a Saturday. Oddly enough, the weekend around Columbus Day, or Indigenous Peoples Day as it is now known in several places, beats out Labor Day for the most popular time to get married.
According to Martha Stewart, you can actually plan a wedding in two to three months. However, the average engagement is about 14 months.
Given all of this, when is it too soon to start thinking music? The answer? It's never too soon to start thinking about your wedding music. I believe the longest notice that I have had to sing for a wedding has been three months. The shortest was four days. Believe me, three months is far better than four days.
I honestly don't know much about how other singers charge or participate in music selection. Oftentimes, the bride will have very specific songs in mind. But often they don't. I consider part of my job is to help with this process. I have a large repertoire of wedding suitable music to play and/or sing . But I am also willing to learn something new. Of course, if you do want me to learn something new there will be a small additional fee for that. The shorter the notice for the wedding the fewer options the bride has.
The wedding with only four days’ notice, for example, the bride had very few options. I was not only singing but playing the piano for that one. I gave her two or three options for the bridesmaids’ processional and the same number for her processional. I believe they had two options for recessional. There were a few more options for music during the ceremony itself. She had other music in mind, I know. There was a song she wanted me to learn. That was not going to happen in four days.
The day of the wedding, I arrived an hour before the ceremony to set up in order to begin playing 30 minutes before the ceremony itself started. As I was taking the cover off the piano, the wedding planner approached. The bride had changed her mind and wanted a different song for the bridesmaids’ processional. I explained as patiently as I could that this was too late to make a change. I had only brought the music we had agreed upon. The planner explained to me that the bride was going to be very angry. I had already heard this bridezilla yelling at people as I walked through the church. I shrugged and once again told the planner I had only brought the music we had previously agreed upon.
That was one very unhappy bride. A part of me felt sorry for her. It is a shame when you cannot have what you would like on your “biggest day of your life.” The wedding planner had confided to me that they had been planning this wedding for well over a year. It was not my fault that planning the music had occurred to no one.
Even if your music is not live but prerecorded, this still needs to be planned and organized. If you decide to go old school and have live music, you owe it to yourself and the performers to plan in advance. The farther in advance you plan, the better your chance that the musicians will have your day open and will be able to provide you with the music that you desire.
Don't be the bridezilla I just told you about. If you plan in advance, you will be able to have exactly the music that you would like. Just be aware, you cannot change your mind the day of the wedding.
Do you have any stories involving wedding music? I have more that perhaps I'll share another time. I'll be posting some music I like for weddings on my Minnich Music Facebook page, so check those out.
Until next time!