Wedding bell blues !!
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    Last weekend we had a large wedding, w sung Mass
    and with much of the music provided by one of my singers, who is also a very talented harpist. For this event she brought her beautiful 36 string Celtic harp with marquetry on the soundboard.

    At distribution of Holy Communion,
    right in the middle of her exquisite "Panis Angelicus" (taken from the "Sacris Solemniis" in Matins of Corpus Christi),
    the middle C string broke

    She immediately drafted someone to fly to the choir loft asking the organist to take over
    while she carted her instrument out into the hall, removed the pieces, knotted a new string, put it in
    and returned ...
    a new harpstring will not hold its pitch all that well at first, so she had to keep tuning it on the fly.... but you could hardly tell it in her music. It was incredible. I'm looking around for a couple of purple hearts to give these two quick thinking musicians!!

    and am wondering what other wedding-bell-blues stories the Forum members might like to recall.....
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    I once showed up to play a wedding and promptly realized I had forgotten ALL of my scores (I left my organ bag at my home parish at which I had just gotten done playing Saturday evening Mass). There wasn't time to retrieve them, so I had to do everything from memory. It was a wedding without Mass though, which made things simpler, so I made it through. Never again.
  • TrentonJConn,

    Did you give up playing weddings altogether, or give up being clumsy and forgetful (and overbooked?)
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    I will play weddings, but I usually attach a “bridal decision management fee” which is clocked out every 15 minutes just like a lawyer.
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 564
    Did you give up playing weddings altogether, or give up being clumsy and forgetful (and overbooked?)


    I made changes to my preparedness process to ensure such a thing never happened again. I've never enjoyed playing weddings in the first place though, to be honest.

    Giving up being clumsy and forgetful is proving quite the challenge...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,951
    I refused to do weddings. Hated them, hated the drama, hated the bride's mother, and didn't give a flip about the bride and groom's special day. Fortunately, a lady organist in town loved to do them and played quite well. I contracted all the weddings out to her. She was glad to earn the money and I was glad to not need it.
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    "I'm looking around for a couple of purple hearts to give these two quick thinking musicians!!

    and am wondering what other wedding-bell-blues stories the Forum members might like to recall....."
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    I've been stiffed. That was fun. Phone calls, texts, and even a written invoice mailed directly to their house. Nada. They haven't come back to the parish (that I've seen). They knew darn well because I pursued all avenues short of showing up on their front porch.

    Another time, the family was supposed to pay me before the wedding started, but didn't, and I had to very awkwardly linger in one of the front pews during photos for a solid 10 minutes until the groom tracked down the man who was supposed to pay me (dad) who in turn scoffed that he had to go out to the car and get his checkbook. "Do you really need to be paid today?!" "Yes. I was supposed to be paid before the wedding even started." (And I don't know you from Adam, so nice, try, buddy.) It was so horrendously awkward.

    Another wedding I didn't need to play a postlude because they wanted to walk out to a bagpiper who played inside the church. (And I thought the organ was loud! It was wretched.)

    Another time the bride and groom brought the family friend who was going to sing along to the planning meeting. B&G had a few nice ideas, but this woman, who was not musically competent at all, scoffed at everything I suggested, and in turn offered every possible suggestion for pieces I would avoid like the plague. "Well, I sing this at my church. I don't think I can sing that." Sounds to me, madam, like you shouldn't be singing weddings then! B&G were nice, but were totally trounced all over and it was ugly music at their wedding, in spite of my best efforts, all because the Bride's mother's friend had to sing. No thanks.
  • Felicia
    Posts: 112
    The bride and groom were 45 minutes late to the first wedding I ever played. I had only prepared about 15 minutes or so of prelude music, so I just opened the hymnal and sight-read whatever was on the page I turned to.

    Another time, the bride's mother wanted to listen while I practiced.

    But these don't hold a candle to my organ teacher, who has played for a wedding in which the couple's pet dogs were part of the wedding party, and another in which a Holy-Thursday-like foot washing was done. (These were not at a Catholic parish, but still...)
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    I’ve had Hispanic weddings start late because the bride and groom were nowhere to be found. One time, no one had shown up at the church by the time it was supposed to start. Then 5 mins later a few people trickled in, and finally 10 mins later the bridal party showed up. But for a few mins the priest and I were ready to leave. (They are lucky we didn’t.)
  • A few of my favorite wedding tales:

    The bride wanted no one to see her before her debut down the aisle so stayed in the limo until it was time to walk down the aisle... as she got out of the limo.... ripped her dress and had to be sewn up by the wedding coordinator. Fun fact, did you know it was possible to play the entirety of the Pachelbel Canon in D twice whilst waiting for a bride to walk down the aisle?

    I had one bride catch on fire, twice, in one wedding ceremony. Puffy sleeves and unity candle and altar candles never mix.

    I was once downstairs in the lower chapel playing a vigil Mass when a frantic cantor came down from upstairs asking if I could come up to play the wedding. Luckily I had most of the music playable by memory; the things I did not know I just made up.

    The bride who was 96 minutes late to her wedding because they could not get her 92 year old father dressed to walk her down the aisle for some reason....

    The validation where the best man showed up in a tuxedo tee shirt and took a swig from his flask mid procession out!
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    OrganistRob320,
    I know you bled through all of these events (and have earned YOUR Purple Hearts), but The Case of The Flammable Bride gave me the best laugh of the day. I wonder if anyone could top this. ;)
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    A friend related that in much earlier years, a bride in her parish showed up in a strapless gown.
    The priest sent someone to the parish hall for a white tablecloth and produced a large safety pin,
    with which he proceeded to pin up the deficient bride, instructing her in no uncertain terms that until she left the church premises, this was what she would be wearing.
    you may not be surprised to hear that she did exactly that. !!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    wedding rehearsal... everyone showed up in full star trek attire complete with black boots and puff pants.
  • hilluminar
    Posts: 120
    ServiamScores: The same thing happened to me. The Lebanese (Maronite) wedding started 45 minutes late because a stretch limo went around slowly from house to house that day picking up all the people who would be at the wedding. No one told me beforehand that this was going to happen. I was told later that this is the way they do it in the old country.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    I’ve also had multiple brides try and walk in with the bridal party, even though we planned separate, special music for her. For our Hispanic weddings, we don’t even bother anymore, and we only do one processional piece. It weirds me out, but they aren’t phased by it.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • TCJ
    Posts: 975
    My first wedding at my current position I had a defective binder close itself while I was playing the recessional. A quick-acting cantor managed to make a dive and catch the binder before it could topple over.

    For processions, we typically only play one piece of music here. It doesn't bother anyone.
  • Last summer I played for a wedding where the musicians and the priest all thought the ceremony was at 2. When 2 comes around the church is empty. It turns out the couple and all the guests thought it was at 2:30. I ended up getting to play my prelude music twice.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • I don't have many horror stories, but two amusements...

    -- Bridal party approached me before the ceremony and demanded the lights be dimmed so it created a more romantic environment. It wasn't a full Mass (just Lit of Wd), so I caved and turned them down to 90%.

    -- As I rehearse the "Ave Maria" with the soloist a good 30 minutes before the ceremony began, the mother-of-the-bride runs to the loft all freaked out that we were starting the piece too early, and it had to be saved for whatever moment it accompanied during the wedding. /facepalm
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    [We need to start a funeral horror stories thread...]
    Thanked by 2francis LauraKaz
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    My first wedding also started an hour late, with an empty church. Having brought the vocal score, I was able to play the entire first act of Lohengrin for a lone early-comer. Before the ceremony I was handed a fat envelope that later proved to contain not the agreed fee but twenty crumpled one-dollar bills.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • I'm mostly out of circulation, but when I was a parish musician, I made it clear that my fee included 45 minutes of consultation. Any other consults, or rehearsals with outside soloists were at a VERY hefty price. The only time a couple asked for extra consults and rehearsals was a pleasure; they were devout, kind, and were concerned with quality, and made it clear that they thought the weddings they had recently attended were travesties. No Celebrated Pachelbel Kanon for them! I told a priest who allowed anything and everything that I wouldn't prostitute myself, and that he was responsible for finding a musician who would! He didn't last long; many complaints got him removed.
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    A man who joined our choir related that in his previous parish there was a wedding with a Western theme. Both the bride and groom wore white Stetson hats, which at the end of the ceremony they threw into the air with a whoop.
    The recessional for the bridal couple was "Happy Trails to You."
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 854
    The worst wedding I sang at was one on an October 31st a long time ago. The bridesmaids looked like can-can girls, with black lace dangling out under the hem of the skirt. I was never certain whether the women were dressed that way because it was Halloween. The men looked like regular groomsmen.

    Also, I had a very badly pulled muscle in my back and it hurt terribly whenever I took a nice breath. At the end, we still hadn't been paid, so we waited through the picture taking and finally the bride's mother grudgingly wrote a check for the agreed upon amount.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,766
    I had a wedding anniversary mass 3 weeks ago where one woman had a slit that went all the way up to her hip (above the hip, really…) and another girl honest-to-goodness was so scantily clad she looked like she belonged on a street corner. She’d pull her dress up, and then it was so short she’d have to pull it back down. Had I been a priest I would have either forced her to don a shawl or asked her to leave. It was honestly scandalous. I tried to avert my eyes at all times (from both women).
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • TCJ
    Posts: 975
    When you have a whole set of bridesmaids wearing strapless gowns, they all look like they are 100% unclothed when they sit in the front pew and are seen from the choir loft.

    In general, standards for dress for women for weddings these days are scandalous. I've only had one wedding in which the entire bridal party was dressed appropriately.
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,078
    We have a dress code posted in the vestibule, in two languages. People are generally pretty good about it but there is a resident shawl (red, thank you) which has been given out at least once,
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Reval
    Posts: 181
    I've played in string quartets for weddings for about thirty years. Often these weddings were outdoors, and somewhat secular. Honestly I've seen so many ghastly things they're not funny to me anymore. One of the more notable ones was when the groom sang along to the bridal procession (a pop song - I can't remember which one) as a surprise for the bride so he had to run a grab and cordless microphone right beforehand. At that same wedding a bird left a little "gift" on a musician's violin case.
    I did have an awkward wedding with a happy ending though, once. We were playing at a large Korean wedding, and at one point during the service the officiant said something (in Korean) and everyone looked at us expectantly. We didn't have anything planned at that point so we just sat there awkwardly, which was more fraught because two of the musicians were of Korean heritage but didn't speak Korean. So I was afraid that they were expected to know what was being said and they didn't. Then at the end, the father of the bride gave me the envelope, which contained much less than the agreed amount. Oh dear - we had been invited to the dinner, so the four of us college students fretted all during the dinner about what to do. Luckily someone else brought us another envelope with the correct amount - the first envelope had been a tip. Whew!
    Nowadays since I'm a union member I have a dandy little contract, and I state that I must have the check in hand one week beforehand, or there will be no string quartet music. I recommend that every musician do this! Then there's time for the check to clear, and you don't have to search out people on the wedding day who are usually running around doing lots of things anyway.

    In terms of purely musical disasters, the worst one I can recall was when the viola and second violin were supposed to be playing a unison f natural fanfare before the Wagner "Here comes the bride". But for some reason the violinist was convinced it was an f sharp and that she was right, so we played the entire fanfare with one person playing f natural and the other playing f sharp it was the worst!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Nowadays since I'm a union member I have a dandy little contract, and I state that I must have the check in hand one week beforehand, or there will be no string quartet music. I recommend that every musician do this! Then there's time for the check to clear, and you don't have to search out people on the wedding day who are usually running around doing lots of things anyway.
    this was my modus operandi… it’s a good policy
    Thanked by 1Reval
  • cesarfranck
    Posts: 158
    Years ago, I played for a wedding where couple requested "Once,Twice, Three times a lady" with a professionally trained vocalist. We both quickly nixed the idea and refused. The priest said nothing but the couple conceded to drop it when we told them we simply would walk away. They paid us as requested but told us that we were no longer invited to reception-- as if we wanted to attend reception with people we did not know and who had horrid taste.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 394
    The bridesmaids looked like can-can girls

    Also known as prostitutes.

    The latest wedding trend this year is goth weddings complete with brides wearing black wedding dresses.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 854
    When my mother was in her 90's and watching the news, she would sometimes exclaim, "I've lived too long!"