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!