Verrrrrry late notice for weddings
  • Hi everyone:

    At my main parish, I have on several occasions gotten calls from brides and grooms about playing for their wedding; problem is, that call is made the day before the wedding. Today, I got one with slightly more notice: it's on Saturday, three whole days from now. The call isn't to fill in for someone on an emergency basis; they just never called anyone. This only happens at this parish; at other parishes, I get months' worth of notice, a time to sit down with the couple, etc. (For the most part, I take the short-notice weddings since I have a mortgage and can use the money, though I have turned them down if I have other stuff going on.)

    So this clearly needs to be addressed, and I'd like your takes on how to do so with the pastor.

    If it helps, there's no wedding coordinator at the parish; the pastor does the scheduling himself. It sounds like if the couple doesn't have a musical group lined up (this is a predominantly Hispanic parish, so mariachis occasionally drop in), he gives the couples my number and then puts it in their hands to call...eventually. The first I hear of the wedding is if I get a call.

    Thanks!
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    If you are the music director at your parish, I would certainly be sitting down with your pastor to make sure music gets injected into the planning for the wedding. Something else that might help is saying that you need x weeks notice before you will play, outside of exceptional circumstances.
  • It's fuzzy. I volunteer as English music director (it's a poor, indebted parish and I have an OK-paying day job, so it's OK), but I only play for Spanish Mass; the pastor picks the music there for some reason.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,412
    Tell the pastor that the situation is intolerable.

    And then live with it because it is not going to change.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,393
    The pastor needs to tell people that, unless they call you AT LEAST X weeks before the wedding (and even then, your availability is not guaranteed), you may well not be available and the music you are able to provide will be limited to music you have already well prepared. You can even give the pastor copies of a sheet of paper to have him give the affianced (you may even include the list of on-demand music, but that might encourage people to wait to call you).
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,744
    unless they call you AT LEAST X weeks before the wedding
    ... where X ≥ 1/7 ?

    Just kidding. Probably need to require X ≥ 4, right?
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • Reval
    Posts: 150
    Can you somehow build in a "discount" if they give you more than 6-8 weeks notice? As in, it's $150 if you give me 8 weeks notice, but $200 if you give me less than 4 weeks? Is there a way to make that fly? Give that paper to the pastor to hand to engaged couples.
    Or, just start showing up late to the weddings. Something tells me these don't start on time...
    Or tell them you don't play weddings in Advent (see how well that goes over as well!).
  • Is there a parish secretary who knows the schedule, who could help keep you informed about what might be coming up?

    Is there an option to just say "no" and let them live with the consequences?
    Thanked by 2Ben Yanke Gavin
  • Is there an option to just say "no" and let them live with the consequences?


    There was one time when I got the call at 5p on a Saturday for a Sunday afternoon wedding. But my friends and their kids were coming over for dinner on Sunday and I was cooking, so I said I wasn't available. I don't know what happened in that case. In general, I'm available and can use the money, but if I get aggravated enough, I suppose I do have that option.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    I like Reval's idea. Make it worth your time and add a hefty premium to people who want to call you 20 hrs in advance.
  • Music is not at all the most important part of a wedding ceremony. And yet...it's a wedding. Once in lifetime, right? (OK, I am aware of the optimism of that statement.) And they think to call a day in advance about it? Something is fundamentally wrong here, not just a lack of appreciation for the fact that you might be busy, not just a lack of consideration for your time, not just bad planning, but something fundamentally wrong. People schedule haircuts with more advance notice. (Not me, but...'people'.)

    That's no help you, sorry; it's just a comment.
  • If someone gives you that little notice, it is fair to give the couple a take-or-leave set of musical choices: yes, it's their wedding, but you can't be expected to learn new pieces on less than a week's notice, professional or not, because you already have other pieces built into your practice time this week.
  • Ask the couple how much lead time they need to give the band/DJ playing their reception and calculate accordingly.
  • Is it actually a problem for you?
    If you are keeping time free in case a short notice wedding is scheduled, that would be a problem, but if the basis is that you are available if you are available, then what is the problem?
    So it seems to me the situation is
    a) inform the pastor and or parish secretary or admin that you would like to have more notice
    b)prepare some sort of letter or brochure for them to have at hand to give to the couple preparing - which includes
    1) the cost, and if you like an escalating fee based on length of notice,
    and 2) a clear notice that without adequate prep time you will be providing only the music you already have in your repertoire, and you will not be giving them any choices
    and 3) that inadequate notice (define inadequate for them) may result in you not being available to play at all.
    By preparing a letter you are relying less on a third party conveying all this to them.
    Then c) say yes to the ones you are available for and happy to take the payment for and no to the rest.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • BonnieBede,

    I agree with you 100% if you are working in a North American parish in an average or above-average economic community.

    I've worked in just such a poor parish as this one. There probably is no one on staff aside from a pastor and janitor. There is no organization, as there is no money to pay for it. The pastor is swamped and trying to do his best.

    Taking him out to dinner - or inviting him to dinner at your home and taking a moment to go over this with him is the only solution. He doesn't understand, was never trained to deal with any of this. He's working at a Hispanic parish and weddings within that community, depending on their homeland, can start up to 4 hours late as in some cases as the family may honor a tradition of going from house to house shattering GATHERING all the family members by degree of relation, adding hours to the trip to the church. (would love to have blamed that on spell check...)

    None of us posting have walked in the shoes of a pastor saddled with a poor congregation that is multi-cultural.

    As a director of music you may find yourself being drafted by the pastor to stand up as a witness for a Spanish-language baptism, as only one person came with them and you are suddenly a Godfather.

    Showing up 4 hours late for a wedding, an insult to the organist? Hardly, it's family tradition in many cases and they would be surprised and very hurt if the organist brought this up.

    Spend a year in Italy and get used to things not starting on time...or even starting. It's not just a "Hispanic" thing.
    Thanked by 2canadash bonniebede
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,734
    the family may honor a tradition of going from house to house shattering all the family members [emphasis added]

    Noel, is that a typo?

    Showing up 4 hours late for a wedding, an insult to the organist? Hardly, it's family tradition in many cases and they would be surprised and very hurt if the organist brought this up.


    Well, they aren't the only people with cultural customs. The organist has cultural customs too, and they may include scheduling the organist's service about the same time as one schedules the wedding service and the reception. We know that the pastors aren't accepting wedding appointments with only two days notice.
  • The organist has cultural customs too, and they may include scheduling the organist's service about the same time as one schedules the wedding service and the reception. We know that the pastors aren't accepting wedding appointments with only two days notice.


    Indeed, they are not. I got an apologetic note from the pastor today; the couple scheduled the wedding back in June.

    I think what I'll do is ask the pastor if he would give me the contact info for a couple when they schedule a wedding. That way, I'll reach out and figure out what they'd like me to play or to bring in their own people, and I can reach out again as we get closer to the wedding, so we can determine musical selections. The pastor doesn't have to do much, I get peace of mind, and I (hopefully) don't get any surprises.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,470
    My husband and I gave a talk at the marriage prep course in our parish. I threw in the notion of music and its importance in the Nuptial Mass at the end of our talk. Two couples thanked me saying that music wasn't even on their radar of things to consider. Not surprisingly, they weren't weekly church goers. We do have a marriage coordinator, so this person lets them know what they need to consider, but without that, those who do not go to church don't have a clue.

    I was going to suggest your thought. Ask for the names of the couples and contact them yourself. It will also be a big help to the pastor.
    Thanked by 1TimTheEnchanter