Saturday, January 3, 2009

Going With the Flow

Alex started planning her wedding almost a year in advance. She
met me at the Dream Wedding Show a popular Sacramento area
bridal fair, and decided right then and there to book my services.

She planned to have me perform for the wedding ceremony and
cocktail service at the reception. When Alex booked me, she
informed me that it was all at the Lions Gate Hotel.

When I spoke with Alex a week before her wedding to confirm her
wedding details, she told me that the Chapel was not next to the
reception ballroom, and I would need to load my equipment and
drive to the reception after the ceremony. She said, "I'll email you a

Well, the map never came to me, but I figured it was a hotel, and all
I needed to do was to go to the registration desk and ask where the
chapel was located. Even the website for the hotel showed the
chapel and the hotel on the same grounds.

I was wrong. I had no idea where the chapel was, and I phoned the
bridal party while I was en route to the ceremony. The bride's cell
phone was handed off to her uncle, who met me at the entrance to
the Lions Gate complex, and I followed him in his big pickup truck to
the chapel.

I was still there in plenty of time, and with my roadie Ben's help, I
got settled quickly and was ready to play. Pastor Tom gave me all
my cues upon my arrival, and the DJ, Terry Stewart , even volunteered
to patch my harp microphone into his speaker system.

Alex loves the sound of the Celtic Harp and wanted to weave a
mixture of holiday music, Renaissance music, and Irish and
Scottish favorites into her ceremony. Here's what I played (for more
information on these songs, check out my repertoire list.

Pre-Ceremony Seating Music:
1. "What Child Is This"
2. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
3. "Rorate" (Scottish Christmas Carol)
4. "Pastorale" from Corelli's "Christmas Concerto"
5. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel""
6. "Pie Jesu"
7. "All Through the Night" (traditional Welsh)
8. "O Holy Night"
9. "Heart's Cry" from "Riverdance"
10. "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"
11. "The Holly and the Ivy"

Seating of bride and groom's parents:
"Kelvin Grove" (traditional Scottish)
Wedding Party of 4 Bridesmaids and 1 Flower girl:
"Simple Gifts"
Bride's Entrance:
Pachelbel's "Canon in D"

There was no music played during the ceremony, and the bride's
cousin played Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" on the chapel organ for the

As soon as the wedding party had walked back up the aisle and
was outside the chapel for photos, Ben helped me pack up and I
was off to the reception. Fortunately, someone was kind enough to
post signs so that we could find the ballroom, or I'd probably have
to pick up the phone and call Alex's Uncle again!

Terry had recorded music playing in the ballroom as guests began
to arrive, allowing me time to set up. When I was tuned up, he
turned down his music, and I started to play a variety of rousing
Celtic tunes, as Alex had instructed.

After Alex and her new husband, Rob, entered the room under a
sword arch, Terry announced that guests at certain tables could
proceed to the buffet line. This wasn't his only announcement. I
would play for five or ten minutes, then Terry would give me the
signal to stop, and he'd make another table announcement, then I'd
resume playing. There were more than 150 guests in attendance,
so he made these announcements a number of times. It was a
delicate balance of respecting Terry's cues and his respecting that I
was on the clock to continue performing.

This arrangement was fine with me. Terry was easy to work with,
and we were both there to please the bride and groom. This was
exactly how Alex wanted things to flow, so who was I to have an
ego about it all?

When my time was up, I thanked and congratulated Alex and Rob
and said my good-byes to Terry. Alex's uncle stopped me as I was
leaving. He beamed, "I will have a wonderful story to share for
years about escorting the harpist to Alex's wedding!"

Tips for Brides:

With all the planning in the world, little things can be left forgotten
just days before your wedding day. In the above example, it was
the map for the harpist. I ran under the assumption that the map wasn't
so necessary and I would find the location, but not even a GPS
would have helped me, as the chapel didn't have a separate

How do you remember all these wedding details? Write them down
and follow through with everything you plan to provide for your
wedding vendors. Delegate when it becomes too burdensome.
Give other people tasks, like making maps to the ceremony and
reception sites. Or simply hire a wedding coordinator to help you
out--It's money well spent if you and your wedding party want to be
completely free of overseeing all the nitty gritty wedding details.

Tips for Musicians:

Make that call to your clients one week before the gig. Go through
all the wedding details-location, arrival time, and balance due,
everything on your performance agreement. You'll be amazed, but
every once in a while, a necessary piece of information will come
up in that conversation that you never heard before. For instance,
the time of the ceremony may have changed and the bride
completely forgot to inform you.

Keep in mind that things can still go awry, even if you have had this
pre-date conversation. Something can even change at the wedding
rehearsal. This is the reason why you also need to check in with
the officiant and wedding coordinator as soon as you arrive.

Just go with the flow if things unfold differently than what you
expected. Being escorted by a man in a big pickup truck to a wedding
site is certainly not what I expected. Nor did I think that the DJ at
the reception would periodically interrupt me. I didn't panic. Really,
it was all fun.

Many more tips are available from my book "The Musician's Guide
to Brides" available wherever Hal Leonard Books are sold: music and
bookstores, and through online retailers including,, and of course, at my website at

I'm looking forward to reading your stories, comments, and
feedback. Have a very prosperous, Happy New Year!

Sending Warm Wishes,
Anne :-)

Anne Roos
Celtic Harp Music by Anne Roos

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