Hiring a wedding pianist, or any musician, at first may seem like a fairly easy transaction. You find someone who plays the instrument you like and the songs you want played at your wedding, and you book them. Then they turn-up and play. Easy!
Well, it may seem that easy, but in order for the musical accompaniment to your day to be perfect and help make it even more memorable, a good deal of background preparation is required, mainly on the part of the musician you are looking to book. It is really important that you book someone not only whose music you enjoy listening to, but also someone in whom you have confidence that they will be organised in advance, and on the day itself.
As a wedding pianist, when someone enquires as to whether I am available to play the piano at their wedding I find that it is sensible to have a conversation early on to talk through their options. You can have live music at several points during a wedding day from the song that is played when the bride walks up the aisle, to the drinks reception, wedding breakfast and evening party. The set-up and musical requirements for each aspect of the day are quite distinct. Generally for the wedding ceremony a couple will have specific songs they would like to have played when they walk down the aisle, signing of the register and exit. While I generally know how to play most of the requests I get, I am sometimes asked to play specific songs I have never played before so I always find it useful to know these well in advance to ensure I have time to learn and perfect them.
For piano during the wedding ceremony, timing is also essential, as the song needs to be played when the bride walks up the aisle. This requires knowledge of the set-up of the room, the length of the aisle, and a prior discussion with the people co-ordinating the ceremony to ensure I can follow their cues as to when to start the music.
For piano during drinks receptions and wedding breakfasts, the location, size of room and number of guests are all important pieces of information to ensure I can bring the appropriate amplification equipment to ensure the music, whilst remaining in the background, doesn’t get lost amongst the noise of guests enjoying themselves (with increasing volume as the wine flows!).
When you book a pianist to play at your wedding, you are not only booking their time on the day, but also all the preparation that goes into it. Aside from finding the time to practice to ensure specifically requested songs, and my extended repertoire, can be played to perfection, I also spend a considerable time talking to couples, wedding planners, co-ordinators and venue managers to ensure everything is planned right down to the last detail. This includes what may seem like very minor details but can turn out to be major ones if you get them wrong – like parking, access, location and the availability of power sockets!
All of this preparation is built into the price of whichever musician you book for your special day. So before you part with your money, make sure that whoever you book is not only a great musician, but also understands the importance of planning, organisation and ensuring that they are tailoring their services specifically to you.
Robbie Roberts – a West Midlands Wedding Pianist