Wedding rep.

May 27, 2006 at 06:53 AM · I'm interested in expanding my wedding material...does anyone have suggestions? Also, if any of you have played in weddings, how have you advertized your services? (note, I'm primarily looking from responses from those who have had first-hand experience and have actually tried and failed/succeded)

Replies (28)

May 27, 2006 at 07:42 AM · I've played over two hundred weddings in the past three years (although I've temporarily stopped taking on gigs; not that I don't like doing them, but I want to do other things with my instrument :).

I've used MP3 versions of popular pieces I've recorded as "demo" material for prospective clients. I also keep in contact with a number of wedding coordinators who call me frequently for gigs. For and above, the majority if my hires have been through word of mouth through my past clients.

I use a "standard" rep that includes Pachelbel's Canon, Wagner Bridal Chorus, and Mendelssohn Wedding March. To that I usually draw additional material from popular works by Bach, Mozart, and Schubert. If asked to play for guest arrival and/or a reception, I offer mostly the quartet repertoire of Haydn and Mozart.

All of this is bound in a book that my own quartet uses, as well as other colleagues I play with in the event that some of my quartet members are not available. I did all the arranging of the wedding standards to incorporate fadeouts and cuts where necessary, and also to make some of the works more interesting (I hate arrangements where the first violin has all the melody and everyone else accompanies).

My advice would be to be as prompt as possible about calling people back who leave a message inquiring about your services, have a contract so that everything is accounted for, and dress for success! We show up immacuately groomed in formal wear for our events and people take to the wedding coordinator (if there is one) and get all the timings down prior to the event. It's someone's uber-special day and if you give them great music they will LOVE you! And just imagine what happens if you get them upset...hehe. :P

May 27, 2006 at 10:51 AM · I discuss with the couple what they like to hear,and if I can manage,as I have not been playing very long and they are so proud that they have a violonist that they put my name on the weddingcards which guests receive when they attend. From every wedding I get at least 3 or4 more. I've played light classical and the usual weddingmusic and some lovely contemperary songs,I really love it as the people are too excited about it all to moan about a mistake or two.

May 27, 2006 at 12:54 PM · What would you play if you are a soloist at a wedding, as opposed to a quartet or other ensemble?

May 27, 2006 at 02:38 PM · I'm routinely hired as a strolling violinist for weddings, though I didn't do it as much this particular year just because I had too much else going on.

Usually I'm only hired for the ceremony and pre-ceremony, but occasionally I'm asked to play the post-ceremony dinner too. It's been everything from outdoor venues to resorts to churches to people's houses. Most of my jobs come through multi-purpose musical contractors (agents) who work with professional wedding planners. This year, I put a total hold on my gigs simply because I had too many conflicts with my current job. It'll probably stay that way for a very long time.

The things that people ask for are pretty standard during the ceremony. As the bridesmaids are coming up, "Pachelbel Kanon" works great. When the little kid spreading the flowers comes up, I slow down the pace of the Kanon. Of course, it's "Here Comes the Bride" when she comes down the aisle. Occasionally people ask for a song during the unity candle lighting: the first few bars of "Schubert Ave Maria" works great. After "Mrs. and Mrs. X" is announced, I go into "Mendelssohn Wedding March". As the people file out, it's "Hallelulah" followed by "Ode To Joy" in no particular order and done repetitively until there's nobody left. All these songs must be in your fingers; no wedding planner will hire you if you can't play "Here Comes The Bride".

Before and after the ceremony, a strolling violinist has total free license. That's usually when I practice my songs, concertos, sonatas, fiddle tunes, jazz standards, whatever. I'm consistently surprised by what people asked for (one guy asked me for the Brahms Violin Concerto 3rd movement, so I played the whole thing right there for him sans orchestra and earned a hefty tip). Expect people to ask you for certain songs, so you have to have a really wide knowledge of pop music. Yes, people are going to ask you "Do you know any Santana" or "Play Devil Came Down From Georgia" right in the middle of a wedding dinner, so know a little bit of everything.

I have no sheet music for any of my strolling violin arrangements, as I play them all by memory and improvise on them as the need comes. It absolutely must all be memorized because a strolling violinist ought not to carry a music stand with him as he goes around.

Now when I'm with a string quartet or pianist or guitarist, it's "sight reading or jazz improvisation of the day". I've never ever been able to rehearse with the musicians I've met before a wedding gig - we professional freelancers in Phoenix are usually introducing ourselves to each other right before the event. After a while, you get to see familiar faces but it's still mainly unfamiliar ones.

May 27, 2006 at 03:51 PM · >> the first few bars of "Schubert Ave Maria" works great.

The text for Schubert's song comes from Walter Scott's poem "The Lady of the Lake," in which Ellen Douglas, hiding in a cleft in the rocks with her severely wounded father, prays to the virgin to prevent his enemies from finding them and slaughtering them like pigs.

Perfect for any wedding...

May 27, 2006 at 08:56 PM · Larry Snyder, that's (sputtering indignantly). . . GREAT!

So when all these people are asking for "Ave Maria" at their unity candles, I'll know the real story. I've got my silly smile on right now.

Then again, it makes sense given today's divorce rate.

May 28, 2006 at 12:44 AM · In my experience, the Wagner wedding march (ie, "Here Comes the Bride") isn't requested much these days. For the bride's entrance, they usually opt for Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke or sometimes the Pachelbel Canon.

May 28, 2006 at 02:51 AM · Everybody's putting the technical smack down on me - and I LOVE IT! I'm learning really neat stuff here.

Honestly, I don't even know what the "Trumpet Voluntary" by Clarke is! I'm sure it's one of those pieces that I'd recognize if I heard it, but right now I'm totally clueless. Ruth Kuefler, it's hard to ask online how that song goes but HOW DOES IT GO?

May 28, 2006 at 02:57 AM · I have never not been asked to play Mr. P's Canon. I've done the Wagner "Here comes the bride" a few times..... Some other nice wedding pieces Wachet Auf (Sleepers Wake) by Bach, Meditation from Thais works well, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring is good for when the bride and groom leave. Schumann Traumerai, Gluck Air from Orfeo. That's about all I can think of off the top of my head.

May 28, 2006 at 03:42 AM · For those who have suggested Pachebel's canon, which edition/transcription have you used successfully?



May 28, 2006 at 03:54 AM · These days weddings are getting stranger and stranger. Some people don't want the traditional stuff precisely because it's traditional. It's a good idea to have a consultation with the bride and groom so they have a chance to make requests (within reason). Someone once asked me if I could play the waltz from Sleeping Beauty. I thought it was rather odd.



May 28, 2006 at 02:36 PM · Kevin-

see if you can listen to a clip on Amazon; you'll totally recognize it:

May 28, 2006 at 03:24 PM · Oh, THAT song.

No, nobody has ever asked me for the "Trumpet Voluntary". But it's perfect for a wedding.

When I play "Pachelbel Kanon", I'll use the first three motifs and that's enough most of the time. Often I'll extend the song into D major improvisation after having exhausted the entire song when playing with a nonclassical musician. The jazz guys really enjoy changing the rhythm of the Kanon to bossa nova or flamenco beat with hopped up tempi.

May 28, 2006 at 03:34 PM · Ruth, I too was confused when you said the Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke. I just listened and it's most definetly the one by Purcell not Clarke. I once performed a piano quartet (yes, four pianists...) version of it and I have played this at weddings before.

May 28, 2006 at 04:53 PM · Well, I checked my music again, and its definitely by Clarke.

May 28, 2006 at 04:59 PM · Ruth, I have a few different violin arrangements, a piano arrangement and a recording of it and they all say by Purcell. The link you provided even says Purcell when you play the sound clip. Perhaps Clarke is an editor or arranger of the piece for what you have? I even recall having to study the Trumpet Voluntaries for a music history exam that I did and I most certaintly don't recall any reference to it being by Clarke.

May 28, 2006 at 08:03 PM · A friend of mine once played Haydn's "Emperor" Quartet at a Jewish wedding. For those that know the piece well, you'll get the absurdity of it...


May 28, 2006 at 08:20 PM · Is that the one that has the German or Austrian national anthem?

May 28, 2006 at 08:27 PM · wow

May 28, 2006 at 08:46 PM · ive hard parts of the 4 seasons played at a wedding reception, seemed to go over well

May 28, 2006 at 09:12 PM · Jim, yes, Austrian then, German since 1922.


May 28, 2006 at 09:29 PM · I once played The Wedding Theme by Douglas Briley (click here), and then click on the "listen" link to hear a sample of it) on the violin teacher played the first violin part, and it was lovely! But, that was on piano. It has the whole procession and cues as to when each person or groups of people should's really nice.

May 29, 2006 at 12:03 AM · >Perhaps Clarke is an editor or arranger of the

>piece for what you have? I even recall having to

>study the Trumpet Voluntaries for a music history

>exam that I did and I most certaintly don't >recall any reference to it being by Clarke.

That particular work was erronously attributed to Henry Purcell for many years, but historians that have researched the work now identify its composer as Jeremiah Clarke.

Do a Google search on the composers and you will find a number of articles in journals, encyclopedies, etc. that confirm this, along with corresponding background and citations.

May 29, 2006 at 01:45 AM · Hey Gene, thanks for clearing that up! I was really starting to wonder . . .

May 29, 2006 at 02:22 PM · Hi Gene, thanks for that bit of info, I never was aware of that and all my teachers have ingrained into me that it's Purcell and that is what it says on my score.

Ruth, sorry for being so adament that it was Purcell!

May 29, 2006 at 02:36 PM · Wow, I just read Ilya's post about some knucklehead playing the "Kaiserquartett" at a Jewish wedding.....I must say, ouch! :(

May 29, 2006 at 02:37 PM · 2 good sets of gig books:

May 29, 2006 at 04:18 PM · Hey Kelsey, no problem. Glad I know the whole story now too.

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