Living on Cape Cod I get frequent requests to play ceremonies at beaches, as this one will be. Now, doesn’t that sound nice? A beautiful sunset, the bride in a pretty summer dress, waves lapping on the shore as the gulls cry out in the distance? Hoo boy, if only….
Last year I played one down in Brewster at a very fancy resort with a gorgeous private beach. The resort had provided nice seating for the few dozen guests, some nice structures on either side of the minister’s station with pretty flowers and even a long white fabric “walkway” for the bride to walk as she entered. Just one little problem. It was a picture perfect Cape Cod evening in late June with sunny skies – and no breeze. Those of us who live here know that at about five o’clock every day in the early summer this means one thing: gnats. About a gazillion of the annoying little devils attacked just as the ceremony was getting underway.
Now, understand this. These things are impossible to ignore and at their peak they are impervious to even 100% DEET insect spray. The lady minister was a veteran of these affairs so she had brought along some sort of natural insect repellent, which was barely useful but I certainly didn’t want some goopy chemicals making contact with my guitar so I soldiered on. Long story short – it was funny how quickly that ceremony moved along!
I have noticed those damn bugs beginning to make their presence known during my evening fishing trips this past week so fingers crossed for this evening and tomorrow!
Also, most people don’t realize that one acoustic guitar doesn’t sound like much outside, especially if there’s a breeze so I broke down and bought a battery powered Roland amp for this one. Which makes this gig a break-even proposition, at best. So it goes. I’m sure it will go fine in spite of the fact that they wanted the bride to walk down the aisle (??) to Pachelbel’s Canon. I found a guitar arrangement of this annoying piece of music and learned enough of it to cover the walk, hopefully.
This is something that is common in weddings I guess, the idea that the music is of much greater import to the overall event than it really is. Here’s the reality folks: the only time ANYONE remembers the music at a wedding is when it’s bad! I have a half-dozen or so nice guitar arrangements of pieces that work very well for weddings and I always send along a CD of them to people who want to book me for a wedding ceremony with suggestions. Some are well known songs like “Let It Be Me” and a nice drop-D version of “Here Comes the Sun” plus some beautiful traditional Irish melodies. Most people find them acceptable, but not always.
You would be amazed the songs that I’ve been requested to play in wedding ceremonies. They include: Elvis’s famous “But I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” In that ceremony the bride wanted to stop the ceremony somewhere in the middle, have be approach the altar with my guitar, stand in front of the bride, groom and minister and sing it directly to them. I gently asked her, what image does that bring to mind? Fat, sweaty Elvis in his too-small white jump suit? Is that something you really want? Or the bride who wanted to walk down the aisle to, I kid you not, “Send in the Clowns.” (!!!) I asked her if she’s ever listened to the lyrics of that song, which in a nutshell are: life sucks and then you die. No, she said…. It’s just such a pretty song!
She finally came to her senses on that.
A few times I’ve actually used as a recessional the Beatles “When I’m Sixty-Four” and that one works surprisingly well, assuming the bride and groom have a sense of humor. Interestingly, people doing their second or third marriage seem to get the humor there much better. (!)
Anyway, as I said, I’m sure this one will go fine; they always do. And very soon I am going to be on the other side of the wedding fence so to speak as my daughter Joanna is getting married in the near future. You can be sure when I walk her down the aisle we will not be “sending in the clowns” although I’m sure my buddies would argue that!
Peace & good music,