Civil Ceremonies, Civil Partnerships
Wedding Vow Renewal
Throughout the year I play the piano for more weddings and than any other type of event.
I am a professional solo pianist, and I can also provide a variety of other line-ups including duo and trio combinations and even a five piece jazz band. Being able to offer different line-ups and being able to play music from many different genres gives me the ability to provide music for every part of the wedding day.
Formalities of the day:
There are four main parts to the wedding day and they are the ceremony, the drinks reception, the wedding breakfast and the evening reception.
Although the ceremony appears to be the first thing on the agenda, I am frequently asked to play for ‘pre wedding drinks’ while the guests are gathering, before they go into the ceremony room.
With a Civil Ceremony the only restriction with the music you want is that it doesn’t have any reference to God or religion. With a Church Ceremony there no restrictions with the music.
Please see my website for Ceremony Music
As far as the pianist is concerned the main parts of the ceremony are as follows:
The Gathering of the Congregation
This part can last up to half an hour, and I play some appropriately chosen tunes while everyone gets themselves seated.
The Entrance, Procession or Processional
This is where everyone stands and the bride enters the room. This is the start of the ceremony and can last between 15 – 45 seconds. As the entrance is short only a small snippet of the music chosen will be heard.
The Signing of the Register
This is where all the documentation is taken care of and lasts between around 7 – 12 minutes. Towards the end of this section the registrar will invite the congregation to take photographs of the married couple. This is the point where I start to think about bringing the music to a close. During the signing I usually play 2 – 3 pieces of music.
The Exit, Recession or Recessional
This is where everyone stands once again, and the bride and groom leave the ceremony room followed by the congregation.
After the formality of the ceremony everyone is ready for a chat and the drinks reception can be quite noisy at times. I usually play up-tempo music for this part of the day and the music can be provided by solo piano or a larger line-up such as piano bass and vocals or piano bass and drums.
This also the part of the day where the photographer is busy taking pictures of the bride and groom and various groups of guests. Sometimes the photographer can take a large group of people away for the main crowd and it can sometimes leave the atmosphere pretty dead. Music during this part of the day can really set the mood for the rest of the day.
The drinks reception usually lasts between one and two hours.
This is where everyone sits down for the main meal of the day and last from around two to two and a half hours. Traditionally the speeches come at the end of the meal, but it is now common practice to have the speeches first. This allows the speakers to get their ordeal over and done with so that they can enjoy their meal.
Solo piano usually work the best for this part of the proceedings. All too often there are too many people crammed into a small room and I have to be careful that I am not too loud. The most important part of my job during the wedding breakfast is to find a volume that allows people to talk easily. This is sometimes difficult to achieve with a larger line-up such as piano, bass and drums or piano and vocals. However, If the room is large enough a duo or trio can work really well while people are eating.
This is the evening party and usually involves another selection of guests arriving. Very often a live band or DJ provides the music for this part of the day’s proceedings and the bride and groom finally get a chance to relax.
For the evening reception I am often booked with a larger line-up such as a trio, quartet or five piece jazz band, but I am occasionally booked as a solo pianist if a quieter evening reception is required. As a band we can play music which is lively and people always dance to the music we play, but we are not a function band and we do not have the same repertoire that type of band. Couples often book us for the early evening and then I provide a service where I allow the bride and groom to put their own disco music through my PA system to round the day off. This can be in the form of a laptop or Ipod. This works really well as they can have the best of both worlds. This is also a cheaper alternative to booking a live band and a separate disco.
It is really important to note that most people really hate loud discos at weddings. Guests can often be found in remote parts of a venue and even go outside just trying to get away from the noise. Very often couples book me to play in a room away from the disco so that people have somewhere to escape from the hubbub. I am usually hired to do this sort of thing as a solo pianist, but occasionally I am required to provide a duo consisting of piano and bass or piano and vocals.