Policy for how soon before a wedding music needs to be decided upon?
  • stulte
    Posts: 215
    I was digging around the forum via the search tool looking for anything specific about whether parishes have a policy for how far in advance music needs to be settled upon before a wedding, but found nothing. I received 1 month notice for a wedding Mass and, while I want to accommodate any reasonable requests, I can't guarantee I can do so with such little notice. How do most of you deal with these situations? Thanks.
  • IMO, a month's notice isn't enough if they're asking you to learn a lot of new material. I'd probably tell them I'll do my best, but suggest that they choose alternatives from a repertoire list for anything I can't get to.

    I don't currently have a specific policy regarding timeline. I just handle it case-by-case with the bride/groom. If my wedding season were busier, I might develop a specific policy... something like 60 days advance notice of any special requests?

    At the moment, upon initial introduction I send out a list of recommendations, and strongly encourage them to select from that list, since I've already curated music that is both liturgically appropriate, and fitting for the occasion. It helps that I'm almost always playing EF weddings, which reduces the "options" significantly... all of the music during Mass is supplied graciously by Holy Mother Church! That basically just leaves us with discussions of preludes and processions, and perhaps a hymn/motet for Communion, and the occasional request for a polyphonic ordinary.

    In the event someone has a special request beyond my recommendations, again, it's just case-by-case. IF it is appropriate AND I feel I have enough time to learn it (or teach it, if it's a choral piece), I'm usually happy to expand my repertoire. If either of those conditions isn't met, then I just politely inform them that it won't be possible to use that piece, and refer them to other options that may be pleasing.

    It's a tricky thing, because for the bride, it's her one big day, and she's often expecting to be doted on and accommodated to the last jot and tittle. For us, it's just another Mass to play, and we can't haphazardly shirk our other duties to learn an entire organ symphony by request for a single wedding. I usually find a way to explain that politely if I have a "pushy" client!

    Another option I've considered is a sort of tiered pricing, where my basic fee only applies if music is selected from my repertoire. If they make requests for pieces that require serious study, learning, and practice, I would up-charge. But again, my wedding season isn't busy enough to worry about that yet. It's just a thought that's occurred to me in the past, keeping in mind that our musical fees are usually one of the smallest line-items in a wedding budget.
    Thanked by 2Incardination stulte
  • Incardination
    Posts: 501
    One time I was placed in an awkward position with a late contact - but usually most couples have contacted me between 6 months to a year in advance of the wedding. In the case of the late contact, I had no qualms about saying that the music choices are necessarily limited as a result.

    In my current situation, we do have defined music policies. For advance notification, our policy states that the music must be submitted and approved 2 months before the wedding date. I also have a template that I use when communicating with the couple to ensure that all options are covered. Although the template is geared to the EF, it can be tweaked for an OF. I've attached in case it might be helpful.

    We have a shared drive location (Google Drive), and our wedding folder is accessible to the Organists and Music Directors. In the folder, I have a document named with the date / couple name from the template so anyone can check for an upcoming wedding to know exactly what was planned / promised.
  • ELapisardi
    Posts: 20
    We have a fairly high number of weddings at the USMA Catholic Chapel (two today, and at least one, sometimes two, every weekend from now until late July). When working with that many couples, most of whom are not living in the area, I have found it necessary to set clear directives. A recommended repertoire list with YouTube links is sent at least 3 months in advance (earlier if they contact me sooner), with instructions to return the included worksheet with their choices no later than 6 weeks before the wedding. If I have not received it by then, I contact them with a reminder; as long as they are communicating with me, I don't mind extending the deadline slightly. Our policies state that I will select the music myself if I don't hear from them-- so far, that hasn't actually happened. The document also states that the music director's decision regarding the inclusion of any selections not included on the recommended repertoire list is final, and I'm very fortunate that our chaplains are willing to support me in this.
    Thanked by 2stulte Incardination
  • stulte
    Posts: 215
    Thank you all for your replies. That planner form is going to be useful. This is going to be an EF Nuptial Mass. So, fortunately, I already know what some of the music will be (and, more importantly, am familiar with singing it).

    It turns out that the other ensemble director at my parish took a little too long before informing the priest that they couldn't be present to direct the music for this wedding. Otherwise, I would have had far more notice.

    So, say a prayer for me please and wish me luck. This should go fine still.