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#1215363 - 06/10/09 04:06 PM Let's Talk Weddings
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Hi Everyone,

Here it is. June. Wedding month. I'm up to my eyeballs in brides and Pachelbel. Any of you playing weddings this month? Receptions or ceremonies, it doesn't matter. . . I'm looking for good wedding stories from musicians. This should be fun.

Thanks!
Robin
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1215366 - 06/10/09 04:08 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
JazzPianoEducator Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/09
Posts: 203
Loc: Denver, CO
I just played an outdoor ceremony a couple of weeks ago in Dearborn Michigan and forgot to turn the ringer off on my phone...oops! Luckly the ring pitch was somewhat in key:)
_________________________
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#1215577 - 06/11/09 12:48 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: JazzPianoEducator]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I play in a Classic Rock party band and at our last cabaret this past weekend this really drunk blonde chick came onto the stage claiming somebody gave her permission to play the drums. So for the entire duration of Roxanna (The Police), this chick was chirping away in our drummer's ear trying to steal his sticks while saying "I can do that, I can do that". Then he'd do this tight fill and she'd be like "oooohhhh I can't do thaaaaat". It was pretty much hilarious. Small town gigs, man. He had it under control though, lol. Chatted with her to try and distract her until someone ripped her off the stage.

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#1215635 - 06/11/09 06:42 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Yes. Wedding parties seem to always include an amateur musician or two. Usually they want to sing. The drummer thing could be downright hazardous.

JPE, love the cell phone during the ceremony! At least you were in the same key. My dad once played a ceremony (this was a million years ago) with a guitarist who was listening to the baseball game through a little transistor radio with an ear phone. The musician in question was (like many club date musicians) half deaf and had the volume turned up way too loud, which resulted in the pianist (leader on the gig) turning to him, during a prayer, and saying "Jesus, turn that damn thing down." These were the famed Dilernia Brothers of Pittsburgh—Albert and Alfred (Al and Al) both of whom have passed on to that big wedding in the sky.

I live and work in Germany. I played a wedding last night and it was—for lack of a better word—confusing. The groom was very classy and even tempered, and the bride was like something out of the German version of Hee-Haw (she kept slapping me on the back). The groom rented a gorgeous Bösendorfer concert grand for me (it was really really great). The bride had hired a DJ. The groom was drinking Tattinger Rosé, the bride was guzzling shots of tequila. Anyway, the evening peaked when I was in the middle of a Debussey Arabesque, really enjoying myself on that magnificent piano. I looked through the French doors of the salon, out into the garden, and saw the bride's brother barfing in the rose bushes. This was, I might add, not at the castle where I usually play, but at another castle, obviously on the wrong side of the castle tracks.

It should be noted that German weddings are all day events. By the time I arrived to play for the 5 star dinner, the guests had already been drinking for five or six hours. Heaven only knows what happened later in the evening. I played my two hours and escaped with a big bag of money. But I'll be dreaming about that dreamy piano!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1216338 - 06/12/09 11:41 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17746
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
That's a hilarious story. I'm guessing the groom's mother felt like barfing, herself, after seeing what kind of family her son was marrying into... grin

My hubby and I hired a musician friend of ours to play keyboards at our wedding. (We held it outside, at the house where we lived at the time, which was way out in the boonies down a one-mile gravel driveway, so an acoustic wasn't really an option.) The musician friend is a talented composer of dreamy new age synthesizer music, and we had him play one of his compositions we both particularly enjoyed for the big march down the (nonexistent) aisle. The guests looked a little bit confused by the lack of a recognizable Pachelbel or Wedding March, but it meant a lot to us, and that's all that matters. thumb

My cat wandered in and out of the ceremony, and although it had been gloomy and cloudy all morning, the clouds parted and a beam of light broke through just as we were saying our vows. We could hear the oohs and ahhhs of the guests when it happened.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1216664 - 06/13/09 12:35 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Monica K.]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Oh Monica. that's lovely! I particularly like the cat and the beam of light.

I've had some perfect wedding music moments like that. They keep me going.

I recently played for a gay wedding. It was beautiful—wonderful Steinway, sunshine filtering through the giant trees, two gorgeous guys who allowed me to chose the music (I played all originals), guests who were gracious and appreciative.

At our own wedding, John and I had a jazz trio who played the hippest ever version of the wedding march and a lush arrangement of All the Things You Are.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1218048 - 06/16/09 11:15 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
This is my wedding chapter from my book Piano Girl: A Memoir. Happy reading!

©2005 Robin Meloy Goldsby, all rights reserved
(Reprinted with permission of Backbeat Books)

Here Comes That Bride

“So. You’ll play for us on the seventh of August, from seven to ten in the evening?” says Frau Braun.

“It’s on my calendar,” I say. “I’ll be there thirty minutes early to make sure everything is in order.”

“I just want some background music to be played during dinner, nothing too loud.”

“No problem. That’s my specialty. You have my CD. What I play on the CD is exactly the type of thing I’ll play for your party.”

“Perfect. I love that CD. You know what? Please send twenty of them to the banquet department. I’d love to use them as bridal-party gifts.”

“What a nice idea. I’ll give you a good price on them.” I’m mentally calculating how much additional income this will generate. “So I’ll see you on the seventh.”

“Oh, wait, one thing,” she says.

I should have known. Brides always start thinking of stuff if you don’t get off the phone quickly.

“When the guests are coming into the room, will you play something from Carmen, or something that sounds like bullfight music?”

“You want bullfight music for a wedding?”

“Well, yes, I met my fiancé in Spain.”

“Okay. Bullfight music.” I make a note on my calendar to figure something out. “So I’ll see you on the seventh.”

“Wait! Another thing. Between the soup and the salad course, I’d like you to play ‘Lady’ by Lionel Richie. Heinrich says it reminds him of me. After the salad, before the soup, but not until all the plates have been cleared and Uncle Wilhelm has made his speech about his memories of me.”

“‘Lady.’ Lovely song.” I make another note. “Okay. Bullfight music for the entrance, ‘Lady’ between the soup and salad, plates cleared, Uncle Willi’s speech—”

“WILHELM. UNCLE WILHELM.”

“Right. Uncle Wilhelm. I’ll have the banquet manager keep me posted about the timing of the courses. So that’s it, then.”

“Wait! I’m thinking, I’m thinking, I’m thinking! Oh! I know! I’d like to have you play a little song for Heinrich, you know, one dedicated to him from me. Something to let everyone know how I feel about him.”

“Do you have anything in mind?”

“ ‘My Way.’ I think that’s the name of it. You know, that Frank Sinatra song.”

In Germany, when somebody asks you for “that Frank Sinatra song,” they always mean “My Way.” I hum a few bars of it for her, just to make sure.

“Yes, that’s the one. Will you play that before the dessert is served? Uncle Wilhelm will do the second part of his speech about his memories of me, then you can play the song.”

“Fine. No problem. Great choice!” I hate that song, but it’s her wedding. If she wants to dedicate a song whose opening lyric is “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain . . .” to her brand-new husband, then that’s her choice. No one will be singing, they’ll be drinking, and they all speak a different language anyway.

“Anything after the dessert?” My page of notes is getting full. I figure if Uncle Wilhelm is going to do part three of his speech, after dessert would be the perfect time. Speeches give me a chance to take a break.

“No, that will be it. I’ve hired a magician and a belly dancer to perform after dinner. Then the dance band starts.”

“Sounds like the perfect wedding, Frau Braun. I’ll see you on the seventh. I really must go. I’m playing for a luncheon this afternoon.” Not true, but I want to get off the phone before she requests anything else. We say goodbye and I hang up.

This is going to be one swinging party. Especially if the guests survive Uncle Wilhelm.

I love weddings. I love going to them, I love being in them, I love playing for them. I adore the Gone with the Wind white dresses, the pomp and circumstance, the father giving away the bride, the drunken weepy speeches, the little girls in their patent-leather shoes, and the little boys throwing rice. There’s something about a wedding that gives me faith in humanity. The very idea that the love between two people can make the world a better place for each of them is, to me, a reason to celebrate.

At Schlosshotel Lerbach, it’s not unusual for the bride and groom to arrive in a gilded carriage pulled by white horses. I play for big weddings and small weddings, for ceremonies and receptions, for wedding lunches, wedding dinners, and wedding cocktail hours. I play in the rose garden in the blazing sun of July or in the golden entrance hall with tremendous gusts of winter wind sweeping through the iron gates of the castle as the ermine-clad bride makes her first appearance. I play on the balcony, in the bar, and out on the old stone terrace surrounded by huge pots of fragrant herbs. Whenever the client has requested quiet background music, I’m the girl who gets the call. I’ve made a niche for myself playing music that doesn’t interfere. Less is more. It’s hard to find musicians who understand this, and even harder to find good musicians who are willing to put up with being ignored. But I love it. An elegant man once came to the piano while I was playing, took my business card, and said, “Your music is so perfect. I can hardly hear it.” He called me a week later and booked me to play for his wedding.

Playing the piano for four or five hours straight is hard work. There’s a meditative state that I sink into when I’m doing one of these marathon jobs. I call it the Piano Zone, and when I’m there I’m happy. I play for myself, I compose on the job, I improvise, I let my fantasies take me far away. I’ve always figured that my job is to tame the chaos beast, so that the people around me can feel as peaceful as I do. Married life is chaotic enough. You might as well get off to a nice quiet start.

I’m just packing the last of the CDs to send to Frau Braun when the phone rings again.

“Braun here. I have one more small request.”

“It’s your wedding, Frau Braun—anything I can do to make it special for you would be my pleasure,” I say.

“Oh, thank you. You see, my best friend is a classical concert violinist.”

Oh, no. Here it comes. The dreaded classical music request.

“I’d love to have him play a piece or two with you accompanying him. Beethoven. Shall I send you the music?”

“Uh . . . Okay,” I say. “That will be fine.”

Stupid stupid stupid. Classical music isn’t easy. You have to actually play what’s on the page. And here in Europe, where many people have studied classical music, there’s no faking it. I break into a cold sweat. The last time I played Beethoven in front of an audience, I was in the eleventh grade. I’m about twenty-five years out of practice.

The music arrives two days later, exactly one week before the wedding. It’s the Beethoven Romanze. After two hours of creeping through it at tempo di-learn-o, I have an idea of what it’s supposed to sound like. There’s so much work to do. I’m playing a reduced orchestral score. The violin part seems just about impossible to play, thirty-second- and sixty-fourth notes making the page look like one solid line of black. My husband, without seeing the music, volunteers to play the violin part on his bass. That’s impossible, so he plays it on the upper register of the piano. He’s a pretty good piano player, but at one point in a practice session I realize that he’s playing sixty-fourth-note bebop lines, in tempo.

It’s summer vacation, and the kids, ages seven and ten, are home. I practice about five hours a day, driving them both crazy. On day four of the marathon practice session, they have the piece memorized and can sing the entire thing.

“Look out, Mom, here comes the tricky part. Whoops, you screwed up again!”

“That sounds terrible, Mom. What if you make that mistake at the wedding? You’ll ruin the bride’s entire life.”

“B-FLAT, Mom. How many times are you gonna hit that clunker?”

During the dramatic sections they march around the dining-room table clapping on two and four. Beethoven with a backbeat.

“Don’t get nervous, Mom. You speed up when you get nervous. You’d better use that metronome.”

But I’m very nervous. I’m a background-music piano player. I don’t do concerts, I don’t play classical music, and here I am volunteering to do both. I don’t want a bunch of people sitting quietly and listening to me play something that’s out of my league. I consider calling a kid I know named Benjamin Nuss. He’s thirteen and a wizard classical player. Benny could sight-read the piece and play it without even thinking about it. Maybe I should pay him 100 euros and get myself off the hook. But I’ve got too many hours invested to give up now.

By day six, I’m up to speed—tempo tantrum—and I play through the piece every other time without a major flub.

“You’ve got it, Mom. Go, Mom, go!”

“Now that bride will have a happy life and you won’t have to put a bag over your head.”

My practice time seriously reduces my hourly wage for the gig. The night of the performance, I walk into the castle, a little shaken, but confident that I will get through the evening.

The violinist is waiting for me at the door. His name is Herr Winkel. He’s about my age and dressed in tails. He looks very serious.

Confidence, Robin. Be Confident. Don’t let him vibe you, says the Voice of Reason.

You never know, says Voice of Doom. He could be a distant relative of Isaac Stern.

“Well,” Herr Winkel says, after we’d been introduced. “I hope they’re paying you a lot of money to do this because I’m really terrible.”

I burst out laughing. We talk our way through the piece and agree that no matter what happens, I will keep playing and Herr Winkel will follow me, because, he says, he knows the piece “really well,” even though he can’t really play it anymore. He had played Romanze twenty-five years earlier as a senior recital piece. The bride, his good friend from his college days, remembered his brilliant performance from 1978.

Herr Winkel paces back in forth in the lobby. “I’m afraid she’s going to be very disappointed tonight, but what can I do, she begged me to play!”

Odd, but his nervousness calms me down. “Look, go and enjoy your dinner,” I say. “Just stay away from the champagne. It’s time for me to play bullfight music. I’ll see you later. We’re on between the dessert and the espresso.”

The bride makes quite an entrance to her bullfight music. She’s in her forties and she’s beautiful, wearing a splendidly cut strapless white satin sheath. Aside from the tattoo on her shoulder, I think she looks about as perfect as a bride can look. The room dances with candlelight. Several of my CDs are on each table. But the bride has taken each CD and replaced my cover photo with a picture of herself. The diva in me starts to rear its ugly head, but I recover in time to smile politely and say, What a wonderful idea.

I play “Lady” as requested, and nobody notices, not even the bride. Uncle Wilhelm, who is in his eighties, makes a speech that starts, “It all began in 1956 in a little town close to Schweinfurt . . .” By the time we get to part two of his speech about his memories of the bride, he’s still talking about her high school years. I escape to the lobby and call my kids. Uncle Wilhelm drones on for so long I feel like I could drive home and read them Volume Four of Harry Potter.

When he finishes, I return to the dining room and begin playing “My Way.” The bride makes her way to the front of the room, places an outstretched hand on the curve of the piano, and poses there, dramatically. What’s she doing? Maybe she’s going to sing. I continue playing, not sure what to expect. I look over at her, and her eyes, which are focused on the ceiling, begin to overflow with tears. She puts the back of her other hand on her forehead.

Meanwhile, the lyrics to the song run through my head.

. . . And through it all, when there was doubt, I chewed it up and spit it out . . .

I finish the song very dramatically—with the world’s most obnoxious arpeggio—and get a big round of applause. I turn to acknowledge the audience just as the bride takes a deep Onstage at the Metropolitan bow. I join the audience in the ovation and help her back to her throne.

The waiters serve the dessert, which is called A Study of Apricots. I’m pretty hungry, and I watch with envy as the guests eat. The moment of truth arrives. It’s time for the Beethoven. I turn up the lights. The piece is difficult enough; I’m not about to try playing it in the dark. I spread my eight pages of music across the piano. The violinist makes a speech. I think he’s stalling. He introduces me. Everyone claps. I take a bow. This is exactly what I fear. I’ve been completely ignored all night while doing what it is that I do well. Now, just as I’m about to demonstrate my musical weaknesses, everyone puts their drinks down, their cigarettes out. They fold their hands and stare at me. A nightmare.

Hey, hey, hey, says Voice of Doom. It’s a perfect night for a train wreck!

Oh shut up, says Voice of Reason. For once and for all, shut up. We’re sick of you.

Odd, I’m not nervous. My back is to the audience. I take a deep breath. The violinist counts off. Then he plays the most horrible note I’ve ever heard in my life. It isn’t even a note. Perhaps it’s one of those quarter-tones that might be identified in an East Indian musical system, but to the Western ear it’s excruciating. I grimace. We’re off and running.

The violinist tears through the piece, making all the correct entrances, playing the correct rhythms and keeping everything in time, but he doesn’t play a single note in tune. Not one. The piece ends on an impossibly high, glass-shattering note. There’s complete silence when we finish. I’m afraid to turn around for fear of seeing the entire wedding party dead on the floor with their hands over their ears.

Everyone jumps to their feet and cheers with wild abandon.

Go figure. The violinist winks at me. I wave goodbye to the people I’ll never see again and go to the lobby where the manager has set up a little table for me. On it is a white rose, an autographed picture of the bride, and my very own Study of Apricots. It’s almost too pretty to eat.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1218334 - 06/16/09 08:25 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano World Online   blank


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5563
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
Great stories everyone, keep them coming.
I'll add one I experienced...

My girlfriend's daughter got married recently (her second trip to the altar).

I offered to play the music at her wedding. Figured I'd make some points that way, plus I don't get a lot of opportunities to play out these days.

The wedding was in a little chapel in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was originally
a Seamen's chapel, built circa 1901. Some years ago the chapel was purchased and moved to a heritage park in St. Petersburg.
It's a beautiful location with lots of historic buildings set in a wooded area with a mixture of pine and tropical trees. The ground is covered with pine needles and smells wonderful. It's like stepping into a different time, when things were slower and quieter.

Kathy (the mother) and I took a ride up to the park so I could check out the chapel. It's a beautiful old building, typically with high ceilings, lots of windows,wood floors, and wooden pews. A great set up for bouncing music all over the place :-)

The only instrument in the chapel is an old one manual pump organ.
Now, I can play piano, and I play some organ, but I draw the line at having to pump while I play.

I decided I'd use my own Yamaha P-80 (Digital Piano) and amp.
Anyone who has played the P-80 knows it actually has a fairly decent pipe organ sound, some ok strings, and a reasonable set of piano voices.

They also know it ain't light.

My amplifier is a Hartke KM200, it weighs about the same as the average refrigerator. However, having played in rock bands I felt 200 watts was the bare minimum I should have in case I really wanted to be heard.

The bride and groom were kindly receptive to my playing at their wedding (I'm sure they were wondering if I really knew how to play). We decided to have a little get together so they could hear me, and so they could pick out their music.

Keep in mind, I live on the other side of the state (Pompano Beach), and I drive a Sebring convertible (hey, second childhood here, besides, it IS Florida).
Nice car for tooling around in the sun, not so good for hauling band equipment across the state.

On top of that, I gotta haul the equipment down a flight of stairs, by myself.
The only way I could fit it in the car was to put the top down, hefting the keyboard over the side and setting it on the floor, then grunting and groaning to get the *%*# amplifier into the back seat. Off I go, heading across Alligator Alley (yup, that's really what it's called, and they aren't kidding).

Drive 253 miles to Kathy's, perform for the lucky couple, drive 253 miles back (and haul the equipment back UP the stairs).
Now I have to practice, a lot. I want the music to go flawlessly, and of course I'd like people to be impressed with my playing (or at least, not hate it). After all, it is a group of my girlfriend's friends and relatives.

So practice I do. It ain't exactly like preparing for Carnegie Hall, but still I work pretty hard at it.
The day finally arrives, I haul my equipment across the state again, and set it up in the chapel.

As I'm setting up the cutest little girl walks in, followed by her Mommy.
The little girl will forever be known to me as MM (motor mouth).
"Hi, my name is Stephanie, I'm the flower girl, are you playing for the wedding? I'm in the wedding. How do I look? Can I play your piano? I play the piano, my brother taught me how to play but sometimes I just make stuff up, I really like to play, can I play? Do you like my dress? Is anyone else here yet? So, can I play the piano now, I really like to play"
Mind you, this was all within one breath, without stopping, spoken so fast it sounded like all one sentence.

I let MM play for a few minutes, during which she never stops talking. Her mother finally convinces her they have to go get ready for pictures.

I play some "wedding appropriate" music while guests are being seated.
The couple chose Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring for when the mothers come in, and Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary for the processional.

There is a professional wedding planner (a friend of Kathy's). She is very organized (marching around the chapel with a clip board). She assures me she will give me the proper cues.

Because there is nowhere for the bridal party to wait but outside (I said it was a SMALL chapel), the doors are kept closed once the guests are seated.

What I didn't realize was just how small it was. As in, it doesn't take long to get from the back to the front.

I get the cue, the mothers are ready to enter.

Start the Joy. Doors open, in they come escorted by two nervous teens (the groom's boys from a previous marriage). It takes the mothers about 23 seconds to make it to their seats.
I've been practicing for weeks to play about 12 measures?

Fade the music.

The wedding planner whispers in my ear, the next time the doors open it will be the bridesmaids, and the bride. Cool, I'm ready.
Minutes go by, finally the big doors are swung open, I start playing the Trumpet Voluntary majestically, as an older couple who were late for the wedding walks in! Arggh, no wonder I don't usually play weddings.

Door closed again, we wait...

Doors open, yes, it's them!
I crank up the Voluntary again, and this time it is the bride.
It takes about 37 seconds for them to get to the altar. Wow, I've made it all the way to the top of the second page.

The bride's father (my girlfriends ex-husband, there with his new wife, as if I wasn't uncomfortable enough) gives her away ... "Who gives this woman away?" "I do, FOR THE LAST TIME". (At least he has a sense of humor).

Lovely ceremony... time to leave, play the Mendelssohn Wedding March, out they go.
At least I get to have a little fun, thanks to the groom.
The groom asked me to play the Bruins Theme when they were almost out the door. He's 6'5" and about 300lbs, he asks, I play :-)

Practice? = weeks
Actual Playing Time? = about 1 minute
The opportunity to be part of it all? = priceless

Now if someone would just help me load all this *^&#* equipment back into the car!




_________________________
- Frank B.
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#1218448 - 06/17/09 12:50 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano World]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Great story Frank. I've been to Florida once. Ft. Lauderdale. Never again. I don't know how you can stand the humidity. But, to each his own.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1218453 - 06/17/09 01:10 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: eweiss]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Wonderful, Frank!

I particularly related to the wedding planner with the clipboard. And to the number of hours spent preparing for the one minute of music.

And I love the image of you driving across the state in your convertible with your Yamaha sticking out the top.

Thank you for taking the time to write this. You're an excellent writer, by the way!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1218585 - 06/17/09 10:33 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Piano World Online   blank


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5563
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
Thanks Ed. I'm not fond of Florida's heat/humidity either.
I'm not here for the weather (see "girlfriend" in above story).

I actually grew up north of Boston, in a little town plunked down in the middle of a harbor. This is Nahant, arrow is approximately where I lived.




And thanks for the kind words Robin. "You're an excellent writer, by the way!", coming from you that means a lot.
I enjoyed Piano Girl so much, I ordered copies to give out as gifts.


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#1219024 - 06/18/09 07:34 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano World]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thanks, Frank!

Actually, if I lived in Florida I wouldn't be worried about the weather. I'd be way more worried about those Burmese pythons and monitor lizards that seem to be sneaking into everyone's back yards. Did you read that New Yorker article? Holy cow.

Anyway, love is love, and hey, I followed my man to Germany, so I know how you feel. If you ever get married, you know who to call to play the gig.

More, more! I want more wedding stories! Sad, funny, charming, doesn't matter. I crave them.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1219519 - 06/19/09 08:49 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
David Raingeard Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/02/09
Posts: 10
I've played at weddings for a long time, and one of the most funny weddings that I've ever played on was this one, where we have this groom, member of a motorcycle club.

The bride called me about 2 months before, and started to ask me songs for my repertoire "I would love to hear some classic love song of the 70's for the reception" "Great" I thought. The song list kept going without any weird request until....

"Oh, and my man is a big fan of rock and roll, so I would like if you could, play him some Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater".

That section would cover no less than 30 minutes, so by two months I had to create my arrangements for that songs and the funniest thing was that when I played at the wedding, a bunch of enormous guys wearing a suit, with long hair and beird were around me clapping and singin out loud "You shook me all night long".

Thanks to that rock and roll repertoire I was called up for 4 weddings and all of them were a lot of fun.

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#1219894 - 06/20/09 12:38 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: David Raingeard]
rustyfingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 788
Loc: Massachusetts
Wedding music stories--what fun!

My then-fiance and I were on a budget for our Long Island wedding. We could afford live music for the ceremony, but not for the reception. So we started auditioning deejays. My sister in law "knew a guy". But we were leery of Al. What if we didn't like him? We'd have all kinds of hurt feelings.

So we went through the directories and interviewed a lot of guys. If you haven't been to a Long Island wedding, let me just say they tend to be, um, elaborate productions. DJs are like cheerleaders. Weddings resemble bar mitvahs with give-away foam fingers, plastic leis, and neon sunglasses.

This was not exactly what we had in mind. Deejay after deejay got the hook. Finally, as we resignedly explained to the fifteenth applicant that we wanted something low key and elegant without the tchatkes and the Chicken Dance, he smiled and nodded. "Ah, I see," he said. "So, not like a wedding at all..." Oy.

Approaching desperation, we called Al. He was classy. He was cheap. He was funny. He didn't play the Electric Slide. We entered the hall to the Star Wars Throne Room music. He played Barry Manilow. My friends held hands, sang, swayed, modulated, and laughed. Everybody cried when my dad & I danced to Sunrise Sunset. Thanks Al. Sister in law was right.

Earlier in the day, the ceremony music hadn't gone so well. Frank was the catering manager, and he was in charge. The bride and groom had decided not to see each other. It was October, and it was cold. The ceremony was planned for outdoors at a golf club, weather permitting.

The groom asked Frank to move the ceremony inside. Frank told the groom that the bride wanted to have it outside.

The bride asked Frank to move the ceremony inside. Frank told the bride that the groom wanted to have it outside.

The parents of the bride and groom asked Frank to move the ceremony inside. Guess what Frank told the parents?

The string quartet refused to play outside. The groom and the bride's attendants persuaded them that they should play outside. All this intrigue was carefully kept from the bride.

They played outside. Broken strings and bad tuning ensued.

To this day, whenever anything goes wrong in our marriage, my husband and I turn to each other and say, "It's Frank's fault."


Edited by rustyfingers (06/20/09 12:42 AM)
_________________________
If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.

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#1219899 - 06/20/09 12:47 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: rustyfingers]
rustyfingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 788
Loc: Massachusetts
Then there was the August wedding we attended at the groom's childhood camp in New Jersey. They had rented a big beautiful tent. This turned out to be a good thing, as summer thunderstorms are quite common in the mid-Atlantic states.

The band had set up and was playing a nice mix of danceable jazz standards, kitchzy 70s dance music, and teary-eyed ballads.

And the clouds rolled in. And it poured. The tent flaps came down. The little plastic tent windows steamed up. And the pool of water near the band's extension cords got deeper and deeper.

And the band played on.

Perhaps they SHOULD have played the Electric Slide.

Finally, common sense prevailed and they unplugged and took a break for 20 minutes or so until the puddle drained.

It could have been the most shocking wedding ever.


Edited by rustyfingers (06/20/09 12:47 AM)
_________________________
If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.

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#1219902 - 06/20/09 12:56 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: rustyfingers]
rustyfingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 788
Loc: Massachusetts
I sang at a wedding once. The bride knew I had a background in a cappella music and she asked me to arrange "Going to the Chapel" for 4 of her singing friends. We had never sung together before, but what the hey?

We spent the better part of the wedding weekend before the ceremony trying to get it together. And we did. It was passable.

My husband also sang--a duet of Perhaps Love--with a guy who is currently making a living singing a featured role in the Lion King show at Disney World.

Lovely music. Cue the recessional.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention. The wedding is in a tent, outdoors at one of the Great Camps in the Adironacks. And, oh yeah, it had rained earlier in the day, when we were rehearsing.

The singer playing the part of Placido Domingo notices a puddle on the tent roof. For some unfathomable reason, he decides to poke at the puddle from under the tent, I guess to make sure it doesn't collapse.

Unfortunately, at this moment, the bride approaches the exit.

This ceremony gives new meaning to the term "wedding shower."

Luckily the bride has a sense of humor, and we're all still friends.


Edited by rustyfingers (06/20/09 01:20 AM)
_________________________
If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.

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#1219926 - 06/20/09 02:32 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: rustyfingers]
BearLake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 144
Loc: SE Idaho
I played at my cousin's wedding several years ago. My music accompanied her in the garden walk to meet the groom. I was suppose to stop when the bride reached the end-of-the-walk. Since I was unaware that her walk ended, I became more involved with the music and oblivious to everything else.

The wedding planner was trying to give me the signal to stop the music but I kept on playing. The combination of the smirks on the faces of the wedding line and the repeated hand-signal cuts from the planner turned a rather solemn occasion into something quite humorous.

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#1219991 - 06/20/09 08:53 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: BearLake]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Bearlake, I think it's always best to IGNORE the wedding planners. In fact, most people carrying clipboards should be ignored by musicians. These people are nothing but trouble.

Rusty, your stories have proven my point that it is never a god idea to play outside. There are maybe two days in every decade when the weather is appropriate for an outdoor party. It's too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, too, too, too something.

I played an outside gig last year at the castle and had a major problem with wasps.

David, I could have used your R7R expertise last week. The people I played for wanted nothing to do with my repertoire.

Keep'em coming folks, we're really warming up here!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1220455 - 06/21/09 10:20 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i don't like playing weddings. the brides are so excited and need to talk about their love.

don't have time for that. It is also difficult to extract payment without an upfront contract.

I played a wedding for a couple back when i was in the 7th grade. I wonder how that went?

heh
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1220504 - 06/21/09 12:37 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: apple*]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Estonian weddings. Hoopa shoopa shoy yoy yoy! Maybe you should reconsider, Oun-Apple—you might be missing out on some fun.

Okay, here's a good one—my husband was on a gig (mid 1980's) with Randy S. and Jeremy K. and bevy of other great NYC musicians. Jeremy was playing keyboard and had his piano module on the floor. They were playing "Tea for Two" as a cha-cha—everyone was dancing— when Randy accidentally kicked the module and threw it into demo mode, at which point it started playing a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, AT TOP VOLUME. My husband said the funniest thing was that everyone kept dancing.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1226534 - 07/03/09 09:00 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I live in asia now and I've play couple of weddings here, and it seems like wedding gigs here are recipe for chaos. It's not usual to have people ask me to bring my own keyboard, only to find out they have a piano there already.. and sometimes nobody knows where we are supposed to be playing at until 5 min before the gig starts... and you almost always have to deal with a sound guy who "thinks" he knows what he is doing.

I've heard some really weird stories from other musicians. This bass player told me he once had a wedding gig and as soon as they started playing he noticed that the keyboard player already had a bass and drum tracks programmed into the keyboard. He asked the person in charge what was going on.. and the guy basically told him that he didn't have the play the instrument, all he needed to do is pretend and act cool.

I guess it kind of make sense, because the bass player was European guy and they just wanted the bass for the looks. So made really good money pretending to play the bass.

A saxophone player told me a story where he was asked play a wedding.. and on the day of the gig he went there, and there was a piano, and the guy in charge asked him to sit on the piano bench. The sax player asked what the piano was for and the guy said "well you know how to play the piano don't you?" The guy in charge was clueless... just because he was a really good sax player, it doesn't mean he is able to play piano on wedding gigs.

So the sax player did the only thing he could think of.. he started playing the saxphone and walked from table to table as he played.


Edited by etcetra (07/03/09 09:11 AM)

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#1226614 - 07/03/09 12:23 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: etcetra]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thanks Etcetera! Since I'm married to a bassist, I love the bass story.

The banquet department of the castle where I have my steady gig just called me looking for a STROLLING SAXOPHONE player for a wedding reception. As much as I love sax, I just can't imagine such a thing. This would be a good gig for your friend, but alas, you're in Asia, I'm in Germany. I booked a nice guy named Torsten, and he thought it would be fun.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1226625 - 07/03/09 12:42 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Haha, considering the fact that he ended being a strolling saxophone player by accident, I doubt he will choose to do it on purpose. lol

I can tell you that playing in asia is a very... unique experience. A friend of mine went to china with a concert pianist as a staff/helper.. and she told me that it was incredibly chaotic. They literally didn't know which city they were flying to perform till the day before, or even on the day of the performance.

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#1227006 - 07/04/09 01:19 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: etcetra]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
My friend Greg Thymius, a woodwind player on Broadway (who also plays weddings) had to play the THEME FROM ARMAGEDDON at a recent wedding. Now there's a good way to start a marriage.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1227536 - 07/05/09 09:36 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1539
Loc: NY
I've been a substitute church organist but never played at a wedding....just thought this might be amusing:

When my sister got married years ago, she decided she didn't want the usual "Here Comes the Bride" - too old-fashioned/cheesy or something, she said. Instead she chose Mussorgsky's Promenade (our side of the family is mostly Ukranian). She said the organist at the church looked at her like she was nuts at the request, but agreed to play it anyway. I, as the only bridesmaid, had to figure out how to march down the aisle alone (in high heels no less) to this being played on the organ: confused

Pictures at an Exhibition, Part 1 (Mussorgsky)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCbKfqf9TPg

Fortunately, they chose the traditional Mendelsohnn's beautiful "Wedding March" (from A Midsummer NIght's Dream) for the ending. smile


Edited by Elssa (07/05/09 09:51 PM)

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#1227598 - 07/06/09 01:33 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Elssa]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Love this, Elssa! How I wish you had a video of YOU walking down that aisle, with a frozen smile on your face, trying to figure out where the downbeat is.

Very funny to imagine. I must say, I admire your sister's good taste in music, although that piece ain't exactly marching tempo.

Thanks for posting!
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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#1227723 - 07/06/09 01:07 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
Elssa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 1539
Loc: NY
Yeah, the Promenade's a great piece. It's just that the meter (alternating 5/4 and 6/4 shocked ) isn't exactly conducive to walking up the aisle in a rhythmic, dignified manner (the heels and poofy dress didn't help either). bah

Oh, well... As an organist I know once said, anything's better as a musical request for the opening march up the wedding aisle than "Send in the Clowns". crazy

Thanks for starting this thread, Robin. Very interesting! smile

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#1228946 - 07/09/09 01:29 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG]
fingerbreaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/02/09
Posts: 41
I was asked to provide background piano music as guests entered the church for my sister-in-law’s wedding in a very small Midwestern town. I play a lot of ragtime and jazz and don’t have much in my normal repertoire that would be apropos for a wedding ceremony, so I bought a bunch of sheet music and learned a few classics – Pachelbel’s Canon, Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring, etc.

I was burning through my prepared list but there was still more time to fill, so I played a ragtime piece called Robert Clemente, which is a very beautiful, pensive, and graceful rag. Halfway through it, my wife’s aunt walks over to the piano and says with contempt and no hint of humor, “What’s with the saloon music??"

-FB

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#1229207 - 07/09/09 11:49 PM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: fingerbreaker]
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
I played for about four years in a standard "Wedding Band" and have been playing in an "Oldies" band that sometimes does weddings for the past fifteen. I'm guessing my tally is at least 300 weddings, maybe more. I sometimes feel like Margaret Mead among the Trobriand Islanders, studying the elaborate mating rituals of the natives. After twenty years of weddings there's much too much to write in a forum post. Here are a few tidbits:

Someone else mentioned Long Island weddings. That's most of my experience too. Even though most of these affairs are the culmination of over a year of planning -- poring through stacks of two-inch thick magazines, visiting a dozen halls, agonizing over flowers, invitations, centerpieces, bridesmaids' dresses, tasting cocktail hour food and , of course, attending twenty band showcases, to get everything just right -- they tend to be very much alike. This becomes especially apparent when you do a double; two weddings in the same day, or three in a weekend. Nevertheless, there are always a few oddities, accidents (happy and otherwise) and memorable people that stand out from the general blur.

... The bride's uncle has been a few degrees atilt since the cocktail hour, wobbling slightly like a top running down. They bring him up to make a special blessing. "I'd like to say a prayer for the bride and groom (who had a bassinet between their large rounded chairs), a prayer I have recited every night for the past thirty years .................................................Ummmm..................................................." Despite several attempts, he could never recall a single word of it.

... The bride's mother is the matriarch of the family and master of all she surveys, which is soon to include the hapless groom. No one dares make a move without her assent. The bride comes over to the band while we're still setting up, "If it's OK with my mother, my cousin is going to come up and play drums with the band". We hinted that our drummer might want to have a say in the matter as well; drunken doctor cousins eager to impress can do a lot of damage with a pair of wooden sticks. Incredulous that someone else's opinion might matter she added "It's OK, he's a doctor." We played the party with frequent visits from the Queen's embarrassed emissaries - "SHE says it's too loud, turn it down". The drummer played Disco with brushes. The sax player turned off his mic. Guests eager to dance begged us to approach audibility. We referred them to SWMBO. The cousin never did come up to play, but our drummer did an emergency appendectomy "It's OK, he's a drummer".

... Wardrobe malfunctions:
Men at catered affairs wear clothing that approximates the clothing they wear every day: Pants, shirt, shoes, jacket; reliable garment designs that have stood the test of time and seldom cause the wearer any social embarrassment. Women, a few women anyway, see such occasions as an opportunity for innovation and experiment. Fantastic fabric contraptions that only vaguely follow the shape of the wearer (or follow it too closely) are held together with flimsy straps, ribbons, tape and hope. Bits of body parts normally hidden peek out from strategic openings. While outright failures are rare (but they do happen, and even if the cousins, the neighbors and the in-laws miss it, be advised, the musicians see all) women in such garments spend the evening tugging, pulling, twisting and generally readjusting.

In one notable incident the upper part of a young woman's dress was not adequately designed for vigorous dancing, but dance she did, with abandon. The young lady's inebriated escort saw the mishap but neglected to inform her. After a few seconds the girl discovered her predicament and scanned around to see if anyone had noticed. Our bass player, only a few steps away, had, and shrugged his shoulders. The girl then gave her (soon-to-be former) boyfriend a roundhouse right to the face.

I can also remember seeing more of a certain bride than, in gentler times, her fiance would have seen before the wedding night. The groom wasn't much of a dancer, but the bride was, and so was one of the gay male guests at the wedding. They did a dramatic pas-de-deux culminating in a deep back-bending dip on the part of the bride. The slip was brief, but must have been caught by at least a half-dozen video cameras and, of course, seven musicians.

…Ceremonies
I’m not a classical player. In fact, before joining the wedding band, I had more or less only played rock and pop songs. I was in the process of learning the repertoire at the gigs. By the third or fourth wedding I was feeling pretty comfortable with the core material. I had nearly finished setting up in one of the rooms at a very large wedding-mill, when the Mother of the Bride rushed in (in the ungainly way that you rush in a long dress and high heels) to say “Where’s the guy who’s playing the ceremony? It’s almost starting!” It had never occurred to me that playing at the ceremony might be one of the duties of a keyboard player. I assumed that would be up to a church organist, but not everyone gets married in church these days. A couple of us ran my gear down to (natch) the polar opposite end of the very long building, but getting there was only half the fun. Now I had to improvise the Processional and Recessional. The “Here Comes The Bride” melody was easy enough, and I guessed that none of the guests would be familiar with the rest so I sort of made stuff up to fill the space. The recessional was worse; I really could only recall the one recognizable line, and played it over and over, for an interminably long time.

Having survived that episode, our bandleader decided to get me the sheet music for the Recessional. My wife was taking vocal lessons at the time and had recently brought home a professional-looking eight-page set of music for an aria she was learning; learning for fun I might add. What I got, the semi-pro musician of the house, was tiny scrap of paper, maybe 8” by 3”, with three single staves on it. It was a twelfth-generation Xerox of part of a fake-book page; three single staves with the melody and chord symbols, some scratched out and changed, and faithful reproductions of a decade of cocktail-hour stains. And that’s how I learned it. I have still never seen sheet music for the Processional

…Strange First Dance Songs
“Every Breath You Take”, by the Police. This is only appropriate for women who marry their stalkers.
“Good Hearted Woman (In Love with a Good-Timin’ Man)” By Merle Haggard. I wish them luck.
“Beauty and the Beast” – Enough said.

...Garter Oddities
I’m amazed that the whole bouquet and garter circus still sometimes goes on. We had a whole list of songs to play as background music: “Getting to Know You” for the removal of the garter from the Bride, “Higher’, by Sly and the Family Stone for putting the garter back on the embarrassed “winner” of the bouquet toss. But some people still feel the need to be creative.

One bride’s bouquet was a cluster-bomb, actually twelve mini-bouquets that took different trajectories when she threw them. This was apparently planned. After a rugby scrum among the eligible bachelorettes, our front-man had to organize a circle of 12 chairs for the girls to sit on while the guys who caught the 12 garter belts… you get the rest. It took a half hour.

I have always wondered if one particular groom lived to see his wedding night. When asked to gently remove the garter from his innocent bride’s leg, he first donned a sort of doctor’s headlamp and proceeded to put his entire head under her dress. Among the things he pulled out before the garter was a rubber chicken. (incidents like this are why fiction is entirely unnecessary, in my opnion) Many people in attendance thought this was riotously funny. The father of the bride, who at 6’3” and at least 300 lbs. was among the larger human beings I have ever seen up close, did not. He turned a series of unhealthy-looking colors as this went on.

There’s so much more, but it’s late. You’ll have to wait for the book.
_________________________
Greg Guarino

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#1229450 - 07/10/09 11:39 AM Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: gdguarino]
Piano Girl RMG Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Germany
Thank you, FB, for your story. I always say a little saloon music livens things up!

And Greg, good grief, you are the wedding music expert. These are wonderful—wonderful!—stories. And, hey, you're a great writer. Do we know each other? I was in NYC from 1979 to 1994—but I was on the Manhattan hotel circuit, not the wedding circuit. I got into the wedding thing once I moved to Germany. My stories are similar to yours except for two things.

1. I play solo (which means I've got no one to shared these things with as they're happening)

2. It's, you know, GERMANY, which gives each event that added Mel Brooks touch of goofiness, like playing a wedding NEEDS to be any goofier.

Anyway, nice to meet you—and keep writing! And playing, that too, so you have something to write about.
_________________________
Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist

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