Guest Blog: Richard Sully

The Power Of Live Music On Your Wedding Day…

There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding – most often planning your wedding entertainment isn’t going to come top of your list. The essentials of hiring a photographer, a florist and even a chair cover supplier most often comes higher in the pecking order especially when you’re on a tight budget. It was just the same for me when I got married!

As a wedding pianist with almost thirty years of experience, I am bound to make the case for setting aside a proportion of your wedding budget for live music during your big day. The ‘thank –you’ cards and e-mails I frequently receive a few weeks after a wedding bear testament to the fact that live music on the day, whether during your civil wedding ceremony, drinks reception or wedding breakfast, really impacts hugely on the day itself. Research suggests that when making preparations for their upcoming weddings, couples leave entertainment at the bottom of their priority list. It’s often a question of seeing how much is left in the budget when all other wedding ‘necessities’ have been accounted for. However, when researchers have asked the same couples several months on which part of their wedding day they remember most, live entertainment comes pretty much to the top of that list.

So getting it right when it comes to live music on your big day is important. Good music sets the mood for the whole day and it’s worth spending a little time researching what might suit you best, whether it’s a harpist during your ceremony, a string quartet during your drinks reception, or, dare I say, a pianist during your wedding breakfast! The two places I would certainly recommend looking first would undoubtedly be the ’recommended suppliers’ list at your wedding venue and, of course, the internet.

Because wedding venues tend to be choosy about which suppliers will be listed by them as ‘recommended’, you can be relatively confident that the musicians they have listed will have worked at their establishment many times before, are professional in their approach and above all are reliable. Musicians themselves know the huge value of a personal recommendation from a wedding venue and will be keen to maintain that relationship.

Musicians tend to be poor at ‘self-promotion’ even in the days if the internet. However, a quick search will soon bring up musicians covering your area as well as surrounding areas. Good musicians don’t grow on trees so don’t be surprised if they are based out of the area you’re getting married in, most cover a wide area. The ‘serious’ professionals to be found on-line will have audio and video clips to listen to and watch as well as testimonials from satisfied wedding couples they have previously played for. Whist you can’t always believe everything you read on-line, most working wedding musicians who have an on-line presence tend to be ‘bona-fide’ professionals who take seriously what they do.

Some wedding couples are a little surprised at the cost when they receive a quote from professional musicians to play for several hours during their wedding. However, it must be remembered that what you are paying for is many years of cumulative musical expertise which has often taken a whole working career to hone and perfect. What you are paying for cannot be viewed in terms of an hourly rate to perform for you on your big day only, it’s the time they’ll have taken to prepare, rehearse and perform material beforehand which has to be considered. As a rule, the better the musician the higher their rate is liable to be. Don’t be put-off hiring ‘real’ musicians however, their price is rarely higher than a DJ pro rata and the difference they will bring to your wedding day will almost certainly be immeasurable. It might be the only time in your life you’ll have the occasion to hire the services of a real musician or musicians to play especially for you, to play the songs you have requested or which have a special meaning to you. It hardly needs mentioning that to have live music played as a bride walks down the aisle adds a completely different dimension to a ceremony – recorded music played on a CD simply doesn’t compare!

I’ll conclude by mentioning a recent wedding I was booked to play at. As I arrived to set up to play the piano during the reception I heard, in an adjoining room, a string quartet start playing the first few bars of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon In D’. I then watched as the bridal party processed down the aisle to the beautiful music and I looked at the guests faces as they passed by. Despite having played at hundreds of wedding ceremonies myself, the whole spectacle made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! Live music has the power to do that.

Rich Sully,
wedding pianist