10 COMMON MISTAKES IN
Many brides are planning their 2010 & 2011
weddings now, and we'd like to share some suggestions from years of experience
at providing music and related services for weddings. Keep in mind some
of these suggestions spring from humorous events, not all from tragic fiascos.
1. PICK A "BAD" HALL - With the caveat of "To Each His
Own", my personal take on this, is a hall that holds 2 or more weddings
simultaneously can cause problems. The biggest problem is obviously
the noise...you may be having the heartfelt toast from a shy Best Man, and
be hearing the crowd singalong from "Y.M.C.A." down the hall.
When you first arrive with your wedding party, expecting a unique celebration,
you may run into the dregs of a reception winding down....and suddenly your
wedding is just one in an assembly line, and loses the personal and gracious
feeling you may have wanted. Also when you're evaluating a hall, after looking
at the French doors, gurgling fountain, and corner where you'll place the
cake table, consider the parking. Your guests will have to. (yes, there
are rentable valet services). Also think what ambiance do you want?.....rustic?.....
elegant?.....new?....old?......great view? Be sure to check out the history
of your venue if it was built before 1950. (e.g. Jack London got married
in a particular Oakland church, the renovated Palace Hotel (aka Sheraton
Palace) in San Francisco has quite a history of famous people celebrating
there... San Francisco's St. Francis -now called Westin St. Francis...was
noteworthy for its survival of the 1906 earthquake).
Solution: Call us if you want a list of our favorite Bay Area halls,
or ask the hall manager (i.e. catering dept.) if there will be a simultaneous
wedding within 100'.
2. HURRY UP THE CEREMONY -Many brides and grooms overlook the planning
of the ceremony until the last minute..give it a low priority. The ceremony
is over in 6 minutes, the minister gives a 30 second homily and it's so
short it seems like a joke.
Solution: Don't forget, this is a big part of the wedding ritual...also
it's one of the few opportunities in modern life for poetry and great words
of wisdom. You can, of course, use the Bible for a source, but don't forget
Shakespeare, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Yeats....you can even
pick a humorous but optimistic quote about love or marriage from authors
like Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson or Mark Twain. You can ask 1 to 3 members
of your bridal party, to each pick a 30 second poem or thought and read
it. (English majors really rise to the challenge)...it really gives more
of a personal touch to a ceremony. If you want to take the easy way out,
use something "individual" like Kahil Gibran (not exactly unique--it's
been used in c. 80% of ceremonies for the past 8 years.."Now I will
feel no pain" (though I will feel boredom from hearing the same poem
over and over).
3. CEREMONY MUSIC - Some brides shun the church organist for recorded
music in the sanctuary. They would rather have a canned version of the latest
week's Top 40 ballad (recorded by 2 strangers in a studio in L.A. with drum
machines), than the dignity and quality of live music. If you're fortunate
enough to have a ceremony where there is a large church pipe organ, it can
create a spectacular old fashioned sound, and add to that spine-tingling
feeling when you walk down the aisle. If you don't want to use the church
organ, there are options like harp/viola duo, string quartet, guitar/flute
duo, solo harp, solo piano, brass quintet, etc. Of course, some wonderful
classical pieces can set the tone before the ceremony while people are being
seated...and continue the ambiance for a while after the ceremony. Alas,
in today's society, unless a classical piece is a theme in an advertisement
or a Tom Hanks movie, people seem unfamiliar with the genre. We've had a
bride that requested the music that "was in that Gallo wine advertisement".
I think I'll give up planning music for weddings when a bride asks to have
the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" theme for her processional.
If you don't know anything about classical music, why not leave it up to
the musicians (and their Mozart and Vivaldi) to recommend some pieces, rather
than draw upon a Hollywood concocted memory to spark your musical choice.
Solution: If you're considering live music for the ceremony, call us
for a "wedding sampler" CD (with 7 different classical groups),
or use the church organist.
4. TRYING TO "MIKE" THE CEREMONY - With good intentions, some
brides have wanted to use a microphone for the ceremony. Keep in mind, if
your ceremony is outdoors, you may have the problem of wind blowing over
the microphone. (try to use a "windscreen" on the mike").
Also, the minister may not want to lean his(her) head into your mike, just
to make a good recording. We've seen the beautiful old fashioned ambiance
of a ceremony be marred by the obtrusiveness of a mike, and the awkward
neck craning needed for 3 people to share it (groom, bride, minister...and
any ceremony readers).If your feel adamant about putting a mike in the mix,
try to be satisfied with a recording of the "natural sound" of
the ceremony..and not aim for a crystal clear recording.
5. PICK A BAD TIME OF DAY/MONTH FOR WEATHER- Of course, you can still
have a good time if it's raining or windy...but one of the worst mistakes
brides can make is to plan a wedding outdoors in the heat of the
day (1pm-4pm), in July, August or September - in one of the hotter areas
of the Bay Area (Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Sacramento, Livermore, Los Gatos,
etc.). We've seen many weddings made insufferable by outdoor heat...picture
your 4 bridesmaids in those mauve outfits, with arm stains, and soggy hairstyles.
If there's a chance it might be over 90 degrees that date (look at an almanac
in the library) try to push the hours later (6-10pm). Obviously, if it's
indoors, make sure there will be sufficient air conditioning. If you're
planning an outdoor wedding and that date there is a slight possibility
of rain, research getting a tent beforehand, so you won't be a frazzled
if it happens. We did get hired to provide music for a large wedding, under
a tent, which endured rain, wind and hail that day..with the sun coming
out at the end. The bride kept a good outlook though, laughing about it,
and the couple will always have the weather stories to tell.
6. FIGHT OVER D.J. VS. BAND - This is not uncommon. The bride may want
a band, and the groom a D.J. Or perhaps the parents want a band, and the
couple wants a D.J. Wherever the lines of battle or drawn, there is an easy
Solution: Band/D.J. combination - everyone will be happy...fortunately
the cost is less than the individual cost of a band + a disc jockey....there
is quite a break in price for the package...(the D.J. cost is nominal when
added in to a band/D.J. combination.) We also have a pamphlet which explains
the advantages and disadvantages of band vs. D.J.... To request the pamphlet,
see our questionnaire.
7. LEAVE OUT RELATIVES IN FIRST DANCE - Often, if there has been a divorce
in the bride or groom's family, the bride will want to avoid the sticky
situation by not having the divorce(e) or widower join in. Or if everyone
has remarried, there may be 3 or 4 couples of "parents" joining
Solution: Plan out who the divorce(e) can dance with if they haven't
remarried. (e.g. if the bride's mother is divorced, perhaps she can dance
with her son, or a friend.). If there are step-parents now, they all should
be invited in, if possible. Try to empathize with the parents...this is
one of the few roles they have in your wedding celebration, so try to put
in the extra effort to allow them all to take part. If it's impossible for
them to dance (perhaps they are too sickly, or can't find a partner), then
you can dedicate a song to them later in the reception.
8. ODD MUSIC CHOICES - In the end, it's your day, so whatever you select,
it's your prerogative. We've already expressed the opinion that canned (D.J.)
music isn't particularly tasteful in a church sanctuary. Fortunately some
church workers are still authoritarian enough to disallow it at the altar.
For the First Dance, there are those who want the latest Top 40 ballad (do
you really want people to think of scenes of Leonardo di Caprio drowning
near the Titanic as you have your First Dance?) There are other adventuresome
brides who want to pick something unusual or fun. (For a 2002 wedding the
bride requested we perform "That's Amore" for a First Dance...it
is, after all, a waltz. Not everyone these days has a well rounded music
appreciation, so often brides make song choices based on relentless T-V
advertisement themes (the last 2 years the most popular First Dance choice
was"At Last", a beautiful love song sung by Etta James "rediscovered"
by the 20 something generation because of its use in a car ad.) . Strangely
enough in a wedding held in San Francisco a couple of years ago, a well
known Hollywood actress chose "Ain't No Sunshine" for her First
Dance--not exactly a romantic celebratory tune (the lyrics lament that the
partner is "always gone"). Fortunately for brides-to-be, there
are some great music lyric writers from the 1940's whose songs are sweet
and graceful enough to be that one sentimental song you'll cherish. (e.g.
"Our Love Is Here to Stay")....and there are, if you look and
listen, other wonderful song choices out there from each era.(Call us for
9. AGONIZE OVER BAND DECISION - Everyone wants the "best"
band (according to their taste) for their wedding. When we ask the bride
what kind of music she wants, 80% of them say something vague like "fun
dance music" (and one may be thinking of a band playing lots of James
Brown and Aretha, another may be thinking of a "jump swing" band
playing obscure tunes by Louis Jordan, another may be too embarassed to
say that she's thinking of a band that can play ABBA and Billy Joel songs.)
We help you to articulate what your "vision" is and then match
up the band for you. But some brides can get what I call "Christmas
tree lot vertigo". They start driving around seeing band after band,
their "evaluation process" is one of "looking for a flaw"
(e.g. the band doesn't know "Dancing Queen", or the band does
know "Dancing Queen", the bass player wasn't grinning enough,
etc.)...after a while the bride's memory of the bands turns into a spinning
vertigo (like you get after you've been walking around in circles in a big
Christmas tree lot.....most of the trees are quite nice, but you find a
little flaw with perfectly good trees...you feel dizzy..."lots of green,
can't breathe......must make decision.") We can help.....When we send
out the demo CD of several bands (along with repertoire lists, pricing,
etc.), I now include my own "personal recommendations" (listing
good & weak points of all the bands, and noting my personal top 1 or
2 recommendations (and why).
10. TRY TO FINE TUNE WEDDING TOO MUCH - This type of detail-conscious
strategy can be successful in your own workplace, but it often inhibits
the mood at a wedding reception. Remember this is a party, not a organ transplant.
We've seen brides, that actually had schedules as tight as like:
2:00 p.m. all guests finish eating
2:03 p.m. Bride & Groom cut the cake
2:08 p.m. Best Man gives 60 second toast (make sure he doesn't talk
2:09 p.m. photographer takes photo of Best Man holding glass to bride
2:10 p.m. band plays "It Had to Be You"
2:14 p.m. band plays just a few seconds (for laughs) of "Poker
2:15 p.m. band plays "Knock on Wood"
2:20 p.m. Bride throws bouquet
2:25 p.m. Bride and groom take photo in front of fountain
It's not conducive to a fun party to have such a tight schedule. Also,
by nature, weddings are somewhat spontaneous...extra people decide to give
toasts....photographers have to change the film in their cameras.....people
leave the room to go talk.....sometimes the dinner takes longer.......children
interrupt........ministers extemporize.......Maids of Honor sing surprise
songs.......relatives want to "sit in" with the band.....
So just relax and enjoy your day. If you keep a happy and flexible attitude,
you'll have a delightful (even if flawed with human unpredictability) event....and
probably a good start on a wonderful marriage.
If you would like to receive a free copy of these (and more) suggestions
for planning a wedding, request it through our questionnaire.