Sunday, July 5, 2009

Alex the Romantic

I received a phone call from Alex six days before his wedding. He said, “I’m getting married this coming Sunday. Are you at all available?” I get the quick details of the place and time and the answer is, “Yes! I can do it. You’ll have to get your music list to me quickly, but I’ll be there.”

Alex is like many people headed to the altar these days—He waits until he knows all the wedding services are in his budget, and then he phones around to hire those services. In this economy, people feel safer committing to their wedding plans when they know they can pay for them, and sometimes, that means making wedding plans on very short notice.

It turns out that Alex is a romantic, too. He hired me as a surprise to his bride, Gina. He knew that she would love the added touch of live harp music to accompany her walk down the aisle. Here is the music he selected for his wedding (for more information on these songs, check out my repertoire list:

Pre-Ceremony Seating Music:
1. “Beauty and the Beast”
2. “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”
3. “Earth Angel”
4. “Killing Me Softly”
5. “The Unforgiven”
6. “Yesterday”
Plus Classical music selections of my choice

Processional for 1 Flower Girl and 1 Ring Bearer:
“When You Wish Upon a Star”
Bride’s Entrance:
“Here Comes the Bride”
Music played softly behind Exchange of Vows:
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”

Post-Ceremony Music Played During Photo Session:
1. “La Bamba”
2. “Guantanamera”
3. “A Whole New World”
4. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”
5. “Isn’t She Lovely”
6. “Stairway to Heaven”

Okay, so Alex’s taste is very eclectic, mixing Disney, Rock and Latin music. But he knew his guests’ taste and he knew his bride.

I phoned Rev. Ronald Sayed, Alex and Gina’s minister, to give him a heads up not to breathe a word to the bride that I would be performing for her wedding. He loved the idea that the harp music would be a surprise.

The wedding day came, and I arrived at beautiful Lakeside Beach at Lake Tahoe on a gorgeous, cloudless summer morning for Alex and Gina’s destination wedding. Alex, dressed in style wearing a matching hat with his beige suit, delivered single roses to mothers who were waiting. Then, Gina arrived by horse drawn carriage. As she walked up the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride”, she turned to look over at me, her eyes got very big, and then she smiled from ear to ear.

After the ceremony, guests sang along to “La Bamba” as I played, and a couple danced while I played “Guantanamera”. One guest asked me to play “A Whole New World” again, too. Guys waiting before the ceremony gave me a thumbs-up sign when they heard Metallica’s “The Unforgiven” on the Celtic harp.

Alex had it nailed. He knew what would please his bride, he knew what would please his guests, and everything went flawlessly. It’s okay for guys to get into the planning of the wedding ceremony and to offer a few romantic surprises. I’ll bet Alex had more romantic surprises waiting at the reception and later that day, too...

Tips for Brides and Grooms:

Ladies—Let your fiancé get in on the wedding plans. It’s his wedding, too. Even if he doesn’t want to be the decision maker for all your wedding details, there may be just a few that he would like to handle. It doesn’t hurt to ask and include him in the planning. Perhaps the music is most important to the groom. Or maybe he’s a foodie and wants to make the final decision on the cake or the dinner menu. Be brave and let him get in on the wedding action. Allow him to surprise you!

Guys—Most women simply melt when you spring a romantic surprise on them. Will you provide a special poem during the vows? Will you bring a red rose to give to each of the mothers? Or will you hire a harpist without telling your bride? Many brides may secretly like a little help in the wedding plans, and offering to help make decisions could relieve some of her pre-wedding stress.

Music can provide a wonderful surprise for your intended. I’ve played the harp as a surprise at wedding proposals, anniversary dinners, birthday parties, bridal and baby showers, you name it. Once, a man hired me to play for his wife as a surprise, while they dined on room service food in their hotel suite. I asked him, “What is the occasion?” He answered, “I just wanted to surprise my wife on our last day of vacation.” I played all the songs he instructed me to play for her, and she cried during dinner. She said, “I have the most romantic husband in the world!” It makes me melt just to think about it.

Some general tips about last-minute weddings and surprises: If you are not booking wedding services months or years in advance, it helps to avoid the busiest days and times of the week. You’ll find more wedding services available for midweek and morning weddings, rather than Saturdays and evenings. And if you are planning a wedding in a public area (beaches, parks, etc.), these locations are typically quieter in the morning hours.

Tips for Musicians:

It’s totally fine to take last-minute gigs, especially in this economy. Many brides and grooms don’t know how much they have to spend on their wedding services until they get closer to their date, and they make quick plans as soon as they know they have the money to tie the knot.

You need to prepare quickly when you’re booked just a few days before the wedding. If you are in the habit of taking deposits before a gig, you may need to rethink your policy on collecting fees. And then there is the fact that you’ll have very little time to practice before the big day. Don’t be concerned about the list of music you receive—As long as you can play it, don’t try to make sense of it. Trust that your client knows exactly what is best for the wedding.

And finally, if you and your music are a surprise, there’s no need to worry about how it may be received. The key is to be flexible about it all, and you’ll have a great time watching everyone’s reaction. Alex knew exactly what would make his bride and guests happy, and I was so glad to be a part of it all.

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.

Anne :-)

Anne Roos
Celtic Harp Music by Anne Roos

(And contact me at for personal consultation and mentoring—Make a living while gigging)