Saturday, August 12, 2006

Brides from Hell

As an organist for over 25 years, I've had the displeasure of playing for dozens and dozens of weddings. Maybe over a hundred of them. Subsequently, I've seen a lot of really bad weddings.

I fully realize that this is "her day" and she gets to select the music, but someone really needs to grab these daddy's girls by the throat sometimes and shake some sense into them. Lord knows I've wanted to do it on many occasions.

Before I get into the music they select, I'd like to note some of the more outrageous weddings I've seen over the years.

1. Denton Tx, 1980. The bride was eight months pregnant, had a church wedding and, I swear, she had the nerve to wear a white lace wedding dress. She needed to be slapped. Hard.

2. Dallas TX, 1991. The bride and groom were married in a Presbyterian church, had been living together for twelve years, and their two kids were the ring bearer and flower girl.

3. Dallas TX, 1989. The bride tried to have her golden retriever be the ring bearer with the rings tied in a bow on his collar. Thank God the pastor didn't let her. The dog was subsequently banished to the car.

4. Austin TX, 1985. The bride and groom were from very wealthy, staunch Catholic families from Mexico and Venezuela. The couple had already been married for over a year without the families' knowledge, but staged a huge Catholic wedding for their benefit.

5. Dallas TX, 1992. The bride spent a bazillion dollars on an outdoor Spring wedding at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Sounds lovely. Bad, bad decision. Dallas has massive thunderstorms in the spring, usually with tornadoes and hail. Sometimes followed by locusts and rivers turning to blood. Of course, a big one hit and blew everything away. Poof! Luckily, I hadn't set up my keyboard and the sound system yet.

6. Victoria TX, 1983. The bride had twelve bridesmaids and twelve groomsmen. Twelve! And the bridesmaids dresses were these pink puffy things. It reminds me of Sally Field's line in Steel Magnolias: "It looked like that entire sanctuary had been hosed down with Pepto Bismol. . . ."

The music they select can be pretty outrageous sometimes. Most of the time it's just impractical. For example, one bride wanted the processional to be the same one that is featured in Maria's big wedding scene from The Sound of Music. She even had the music for me. It's a nice processional, but if you ever notice in the movie, it only lasts about four bars then quickly segues into "How do you solve a problem like Maria." There's the big processional for eight seconds and then, deedle-e-deet dee dee dee . . . The sheet music was the same way. (I'm sure this bride saw the film when she was five and decided she wanted the same wedding march as Julie Andrews). I brought this impracticality to her attention but she wanted it anyway. I'm sure she didn't realize what I was talking about; she just had her five-year old heart set on that processional from the movie. I just couldn't do it. So I played the four bars and then just continued with a theme and variations on that same thing and in the same style. It worked.

One of my biggest peeves is when the bride hands me sheet music to some revolting love song where the end of it says repeat and fade. I think all the Partridge Family songs end in repeat and fade. There should be a constitutional amendment banning the use of it. That's one constitutional amendment I'd wholly support. How the hell are you supposed to perform that live, especially if a soloist is singing it? I always make up some bullshit ending to it.

Now, on the brighter side of things, I have a story to tell about a wedding where things really worked out. My cousin was getting married and she had planned an outdoor wedding on the family ranch in Texas. She asked me to play for it of course and mentioned that a friend of hers from a nearby small town (Smiley, Texas, pop 440) would be the soloist for me to accompany. I was thinking, "Oh, gosh, a friend of hers from Smiley will be singing. I'll bet she can't even carry a tune." I'm such a snob.

Well, conversely, she had told her singer-friend that her cousin, Buck, (my family calls me "Buck") would be accompanying her on the keyboards. Apparently, she was thinking "Oh, gosh, cousin Buck will be playing. There's no telling how bad he'll be."

Well, we met and gave it a run through. Her friend was an excellent singer! After the first run-through we both visibly relieved and ended up admitted our previous apprehensions to each other. We had a really good laugh over it, relaxed, didn't even need to reherse and the two of us did a killer wedding.

We rocked.


At 8:49 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I scored big points with our organist 15 years ago. I didn't know what I wanted for sure but I told him that I DIDN'T want "the one that Princess Diana had". He was a very grumpy sort of chap and I made him so happy that he was very lovely to me the rest of the time. (I came down to "Coro" from Handel's "Water Music". He slowed it down a smidge. It was nice).

At 11:45 AM , Blogger Jon said...

Good for you! Anything from Handel's "Water Music" is tasteful and lovely


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