Tis the season- not the season with decorated trees- tis the season for weddings!
Every musician looks toward the spring/summer with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and occasionally dread.
The process begins with a phone call or an email - excited brides or grooms are calling to see if we would be willing to share in their beautiful day.
Most of the time Paul and I perform for weddings, as the cello duo, Soavita.. And the first thing we discuss with them is what they are interested in having us do within their wedding. Almost always we are asked to play pre-wedding music as the guests are seated (standard wedding fare) and, in the last few years, we have been asked to replace “Here Comes the Bride” from an organist, with two cellos playing “Trumpet Voluntary.” I have to say - I play a mean trumpet with strings.
The standard postlude (think “Ode To Joy”) as many times as it takes to empty the church. The challenge is sandwiched somewhere in between pre and post and that is the bride's, groom's or, to be honest, the mother of the bride's, choice of ceremony music.
The choices are usually the fodder for dinner conversation between Paul and I. The question becomes:
“Can Paul, as arranger, make Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven rock with two cellos?”
Or “Can cellos actually twang in a Johnny Cash song”
Or, “Can Melissa somehow fit the Dvorak concerto into 3 minutes?”
There seems to be a gap between what they hear on the radio and what instruments will actually be playing the piece during the wedding.
Once we have the music in place we talk logistics. Where, what, when, certainly how, and more often than not, why?
In New England, outdoor weddings are popular. The ideal is sunshine and roses, the reality is more likely to be blowing rain and black flies.
Long ago we decided it would be a good idea to come up with a contract that would detail the weather conditions under which we could/would play. This contract was borne from weddings (painfully, this is all true) where, even after explaining that wood instruments and water did not mix- we tromped across a soggy yard, heels sinking into soaked earth, to be placed without cover near the bride and groom who are safely nestled together under their canopy. And when the sky began to spit drops on us- we suggested that we, too, needed to be nestled under the safety of a canopy! Only to then be unceremoniously placed under the family porch next to the lawn mower, peering out from behind lattice work for cues to begin playing.
Or, the reverse- we play the ceremony and head to the reception where we will be playing for a cocktail hour. The sun is baking everyone so they all retire to the cool shade of the porch for champagne while we plant our chairs next to the garden and begin to slow roast. Water and wood do not mix and I am here, through experience, to tell you that direct sun and wood are not the best of friends either.
On the car ride home, with another performance looming, my string height and pitch dropping further than I care to remember- and more tears and swearing than Paul cares to remember, is the time when one begins to contemplate purchase of the “wedding cello”.
We have arrived at a wedding to discover that the bride and groom are being married in Star Wars outfits, we have watched many a ceremony from behind the backside of a large attendant and we have ratcheted up the dynamics of the music to cover the sounds of a sobbing bride coming from the bathroom.
Our wedding “kit” contains:
Water, water, water
Bricks to keep our stands from flying into the swimming pool
Clothespins to keep our music from following
and duct tape- because it is duct tape.
So if you are planning a wedding- we might include a few suggestions. If you need it, ask for a bit of help when choosing music- we are happy to do it and would much rather (trust us) offer up some suggestions than default to Pachelbel's Canon....again.
Feed us. Even cookies. because believe me, eating black flies does not constitute a meal.
Pay us when we are finished, we have worked really hard.
There are many details that you will not remember about your beautiful wedding day- but your music may just be one of the things that you can both recall with fondness - hopefully we can as well.