Congratulations on your engagement!
Live music creates a great atmosphere at any event, and harp music... well obviously I'm biased, but that's extra special.
Here are a few things to help you when planning your wedding.
At what point do you normally play?
There are typically three points I’d play at – the ceremony (including while your guests are arriving), the drinks reception after the ceremony and then during the meal. You can book me for any or all of these.
I’d typically arrive around an hour before your ceremony time.
I’m set up and ready to play 30 minutes before, and normally your celebrant will call guests through to the ceremony room around 15 minutes before the ceremony.
I will play some background music to add some ambience and entertainment for your guests as they take their seats. You can request a specific genre for this (pop, classical, jazz, traditional etc) or you can leave the choice to me.
During the ceremony I can play for the entrance, signing the documents and then exit of the newlyweds back down the aisle, plus any other point if you’d like.
Once I’m there, I’m there, so you can have me play as much or as little as you like.
I can play background music to once again add some atmosphere and entertainment for your guests while all the photographs are taken.
Another point where I can play background music to provide atmosphere and entertainment for you and your guests.
I would typically slip away from the room as dessert is being cleared away/coffee is being served, usually by this point the noise levels in the room have risen as people are quite merry and no one is listening any more!
Music Choices – we haven’t a clue! Can you help us?
Of course! I’ve been playing at weddings since I was 13 years old, so I am really happy to help you choose. Helping people with their music choices is one of my favourite parts about playing for weddings. Obviously, I love music and l also love finding out sort of music other people like.
For your ceremony, I’d suggest the entrance music is something personal to the person making the entrance, anything you like.
For signing of the documents I’d suggest going with something relaxed and contemplative – if you are stuck, favourite love songs either yours, your parents or grandparents are a nice way of making the ceremony personal.
For the exit, I’d recommend going with something a bit more upbeat – this is the celebration point and everyone is usually stood up cheering and applauding and ready to party.
For background music, it’s actually good to have a range of genres. You will probably have a wide range of ages and characters coming to your wedding. One particular wedding I did was a very sunny one and I had a small gathering of elderly aunts and uncles sat next to me taking shelter from the sun and enjoying (and singing along to!) some old jazz standards and songs from musicals.
Note – as well as knowing what you do like, it’s important for me to know what you don’t like. Just let me know and I’ll make sure none of it gets included.
No jazz? No problem.
All classical? Consider it done.
No Stairway to Heaven? Hmmm….really? Just kidding, OK, deal.
Alternatively - we know exactly what we want, can you learn it specially for us?
I love learning new things and am always happy to take a look at any suggestions!
Not everything works well on the harp but most things can be adapted in some way (even Party Rock by LMFAO and Paparazzi by Lady Gaga, believe it or not).
I don’t charge extra for this unless there are a lot of new/more complex requests.
I have a long list of my usual tunes here but it really is growing all the time, so just ask if there’s something not listed.
How much space do you need?
To give me room for my music stand and elbows, I ask for 1.5m x 1m of floor space.
Ideally, please ask your venue for advice regarding position as they often have a place they recommend for musicians – either from a space or acoustics point of view.
If you’re booking me to play during your meal, please bear in mind this space requirement when you’re doing your table plan. I’m very small but my harp isn’t!
What about venue access requirements?
Most hotels and wedding venues etc. are well set up for things like wheelchairs and easy access which is great, but please let me know if your ceremony/reception will be up a lot of stairs with no lift.
It’s not impossible in these circumstances, but knowing in advance means I can allow sufficient loading time and can bring a helper if necessary.
It’s always good if your venue staff know I’m coming. Often they have worked with harpists and other musicians before so they can suggest the easiest ways to get set up.
I usually do three trips to the car and back, so I ask for a reserved parking space as near the room as possible. This isn’t always doable but again please let me know in advance if you cannot guarantee easy parking so I can allow extra time to unload and then move my car.
I also allow extra time for city centre venues.
My big harp makes a big sound and so amplification isn’t usually required. If you are having a very big wedding, I would bring my amp for during the meal but otherwise it should be fine. My harp has a tiny microphone which can go inside it and this can be connected to an amp or PA system.
We are hoping to have our wedding outside, can you accommodate this?
This requires careful planning, especially in our lovely Scottish climate, but yes, this can be accommodated under very strict conditions.
Playing outside requires a backup/bad weather plan and some shelter nearby. If these are in place, great!
The number one rule is, not a drop of rain shall fall on the harp. The harp is made of wood with some incredibly intricate mechanisms, and I will not risk any damage.
Due to the size and unwieldy nature of the harp, I’m not able to move quickly in the case of sudden showers so please bear this in mind.
The second rule is, the harp (and harpist) cannot cope with very bright sunshine. The harp can crack, as can the harpist (who is of pale complexion and will burn).
We are eloping somewhere remote, can you accommodate this?
Oh YES PLEASE! I am a keen hill walker and trail runner, and I love being in the mountains and wild places. My teeny harp is great for this and can be carried along with a small portable amp. As above, if it’s likely to be wet then this needs a bit of extra planning but otherwise, bring it on!
Please contact me with your plans and I’ll see what will work.
We’d like to book you, what happens now?
That’s great news, thanks very much!
Please drop me a line with your date, venue and the part of the day you’d like me to play for.
I will give you a quote which will include travel costs.
If you are happy with this, I’ll send you a draft contract confirming all the details and my space requirements etc in writing.
If you are happy with this too, please sign a copy of the contract and return to me, and pay the deposit of £100. You can pay this by cheque or bank transfer or in cash.
This secures the date in my diary and then you can relax (well, on the music front anyway!).
I’ll then drop you a note around 12 weeks before your wedding to remind you to start thinking about your music choices. I like to know these a few weeks in advance so I can get hold of any new music and brush up anything I haven’t played for a while.
The balance is due for payment four weeks before the wedding.
What happens when it’s all over?
I pack up as quietly as I can, leaving you and your guests to enjoy your day.
Hopefully you will be so delighted that you’ll send me a glowing review when you get back from your honeymoon, either via email or Facebook. I’d also love to see any photos from the day!
What’s the best wedding you ever played for?
Like Bruce Forsyth used to say on Strictly, they’re all my favourites.
But the one in the ruined kirk in the groom’s parent’s front garden up in the north east of Scotland was hard to beat. It was the first wedding to be held in the kirk in over 70 years, the sun shone (I was in the shade! Yes!) and one of the readings was Love is like a butterfly by Dolly Parton. The groom was a baker and had wooed the bride with deliveries of her favourite caramel cups… sigh.
And then there was the one where the groom’s nephew was entrusted to do a reading of Guess How Much I Love You during the ceremony. Little X was very nervous and summoned Uncle Someone to keep him company. Everyone was expecting X to stand, but like you do when reading on the mat at primary school, he sat down cross-legged and placed the book on his knees, with uncle someone turning the pages. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house…
I LOVE weddings.