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Band at the wedding

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by oceanman2, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. oceanman2

    oceanman2 Tele-Meister

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  2. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    I played one wedding in 1991 that made me vow to NEVER play another.

    I broke that vow in 2009 and it was a lot of fun except for one song featuring vocals by a cousin of the bride.
     
  3. blargfromspace

    blargfromspace Tele-Afflicted

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    I've done two weddings. It was fun, we got paid well and fed well. Can't really ask for more than that. I dunno about a wedding coordinator telling you what to do unless it comes straight from the mouth of either the bride or groom.
     
  4. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've played hundreds of weddings. Made my living at it for a while. Not so many these days, because I'm crotchety. I only want to play what I want to play, and I don't do suits or tuxes anymore. Nonetheless, I still do them, despite my best intentions of attempting to talk folks out of hiring us for social engagements. The last one I did was a pre-wedding party, about three weeks back. At this one, the bride and groom and their guests got totally plastered on the eve of the big day. The big challenge there was making sure that a mic' was set up for friends of the bride and groom to wax on endlessly about the bride and groom. I played for maybe an hour total, earned $250.00.

    One of our friends here (who shall remain nameless unless he decides to step in) recently earned $1200.00 for a wedding party engagement that included beatnik-style poetry readings.
     
  5. Sharp5

    Sharp5 Tele-Holic

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    I've played a ton of weddings also. I don't mind them at all. Great food, great hours, and great pay.

    My last band came to an end two weeks ago. No VH1 meltdown special or anything, just one of the owners is moving to Nashville and the other owner didn't want to keep going that direction. I got a call right after that to fill in for another band. Now I've been spoiled, we always had a wedding every Staurday and I was usually home by 12 or 1.

    This new band is mostly doing clubs. Gigs start at 10, 10:30 etc. I just couldn't believe people still do that stuff. The thrills of youth. Don't get me wrong, I loved looking at the scenery, but none of it was looking back at me. Guess I've crossed over to "creepy old guy in club" status. I'll stick to the bridesmaids moms.
     
  6. bruce123

    bruce123 Tele-Meister

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    If root canals paid, I'd choose that over wedding gigs anyday.
     
  7. Mike Bruce

    Mike Bruce Friend of Leo's

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    Wedding co-ordinators should be listened to and politely acknowledged, just to make them go away. Balance their demands with common sense tempered by experience and all will go well. Some are very pushy though, so some compromise and conciliation may be required. Sometimes stroking their ego gets some favour, but usually keeping a distance works better.

    Back in the '70s I played tons of wedding receptions. They were generally pretty wild parties, and even the band got wasted in those days, something for which we should be ashamed. But we worked a lot without having to travel too much, and the pay was great compared to today. Willing women, too.

    I won't play receptions any more, mostly because I won't play pop music while searing a suit, or any other way, and the pay sucks around here.

    However, for a few years until recently I did a lot of church wedding ceremonies in a violin/guitar duo. Short working hours, great pay, formal/casual dress code, little gear requirements. Everything from swing, pop, light classical, celtic, and jazz. Usually folks were just happy that someone else (us) was looking after the music, because they are clueless about it. The only reason we quit doing them was because it killed our summer weekends.

    Peace, Mike.
     
  8. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    A wedding of a different sort

    Coincidentally, I played my first wedding in years last night! It was a spur-of-the-moment fill-in gig with a country/Southern rock singer. The wedding and reception were at a Harley-Davidson dealership in a nearby town where civilization hasn't made much headway yet.

    The lovely couple walked down an aisle of gleaming bikes festooned with orange balloons complete with Harley logo; the bridesmaids wore white Harley tank-tops with faded jeans, while the groomsmen were in white Harley T-shirts with unfaded jeans. The reverent audience refrained from sipping their giant cups of beer during the prayer. When the bride tossed the bouquet, the ladies engaged in a sort of rugby scrum and the flowers fell to the floor.

    It was the first wedding I've ever played where they asked the band to turn it up!
     
  9. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Well, to be perfectly honest, wedding reception gigs were always more fun when I was single...there's always that bridesmaid who likes a guy with a guitar...

    Now, I'll fill in occasionally with a larger band, but I more or less just do the cocktail jazz hour solo, and those gigs are a lot of fun. People are usually in a good mood, you don't have to worry about there being people there (cuz there will be) you can get dressed up, play some relaxing music, and get paid well. It's almost always that there's a few folks who really appreciate still seeing live music of some sort at a wedding, and they usually tip on top and bring you a drink or two.
     
  10. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I've played many weddings, mostly as a solo performer (singer/guitar player). I once had a wedding planner start telling what type of stuff to play. I didn't listen to her, since I was hired directly by the bride and groom who had already seen me play and knew my repertoire. I found it annoying that she was trying to exert some control over what I did considering she was not responsible for me getting the gig. Still turned out to be a good gig though. I'd say most of the weddings I play are enjoyable.
     
  11. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, the wedding thing (or any society 'event') is definitely a double edged sword.
    They generally pay ok but most of the time - not all but most of the time - you're the help. And that's what you're paid to be. I don't do as many as I used to but I've done two in the last two weeks (Tim Bowen's reference to the beatnik poetry reading was one of my gigs). A winery in Paso Robles (400 mile roundtrip and compensated very well) and a reception on Catalina Is (standard compensation and all transpo costs, + backline amps).

    For the winery gig I was never told what to do or play - some duo/with looper (grooves with a percussionist and me playing solos), some trio, some band. Attire - "whatever you want, look cool" was the instruction.

    On Catalina Is. 1st set (Dixie and old time swing) - Tuxedos, 2nd set and onward black suit/red shirt/black tie - so two changes of clothes for one gig. Totally 'programmed' garter toss, 1st dances, bouquet toss, blah, blah, blah. Wedding planner did tell us what to do a lot. She was cool though. I played amazingly quietly pretty much all night. There was a sound guy and a mic on my amp so I really didn't care (at that gig) whether "I" heard myself or not. Usually, I've noticed in those situations you just smile and say yes to anything ... and then just do what you'd normally do.

    Doing weddings and such can be a great way to be able to afford to do $50.00 original music club gigs. It is for me anyway.
     
  12. gearhead69

    gearhead69 Tele-Meister

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    Weddings generally pay well, but I've had a range of experiences as to how "good" they are. I have noticed that it is as most people here have said, "Smile and say 'yes' to everything, and then do what you normally do."

    Most often for us we have been hired specifically at the request of the bride and groom, so they know exactly what we are going to do. We've never had complaints.

    Sometimes we'll get a poorly planned one, like when the friend of the bride organized everything, told us the wedding start time instead of the reception start (hello, three hours early!), forgot to rent a tent for outside (we had to move all our gear inside down in a lower level room down narrow stairs...and then she wanted us to move it all back outside if it started looking nice in 30 minutes), and we weren't offered any food all night or anything to drink. Oh, and no tip. We were there from something like 5pm until midnight. I think on a dollar-per-hour rate, I've actually gotten paid more for some bar gigs.

    Of course, there was the reception we played last year where they didn't get enough beer, and everyone left in the middle of the second set. Our whole show lasted for hardly more than two hours, and we got paid in full - and the bride and groom absolutely loved us! And we were tipped. Sweet!

    Weddings - they are a whole interesting breed of gig altogether.
     
  13. jh45gun

    jh45gun Banned

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    I have had played at good weddings and bad ones there is a standing joke with out band damn near every wedding we ever played for ended in divorce LOL that includes me as my band with other musician friends played at my wedding and I got up and played with them part of the time.
     
  14. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's like one of the famous old Tommy Tedesco stories. He arrived at the date, and at the top of his score was written "Spanish Guitar". So he started playing the bits as written, only to have the leader interject and say, "No, no, no... I want SPANISH GUITAR!" So Tommy placed his nylon string guitar back on its stand for a few moments, picked it back up, and played exactly what he'd played previously, at which point the leader exclaimed, "Perfect, that's it!"

    Sometimes folks really don't know what they want until you tell 'em what they want.
     
  15. Baylon Whyre

    Baylon Whyre Tele-Meister

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    Oh, by the way you need to put all your empty cases on the truck. You can't roll them on our floor, and you can't park your truck there. You'll have to unload out the front stairs because our neighbors complain about your loud trucks.

    Power? Did you bring batteries? You can share that plug over there with the lighting guys and catering. If thats not enough, there's another plug at the power company. No band has ever had a problem here. Not ever!!!

    Awww weddings.
     
  16. jh45gun

    jh45gun Banned

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    And this band won't have a problem here either GOOD BYE!
     
  17. mudbean

    mudbean Friend of Leo's

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    +1 ... not to mention a captive audience dressed to kill and psyched to party.

    mud
     
  18. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Another potential benefit of doing some significant time with a pro level wedding/corporate party/convention/runway fashion show/society event band (or working as a sub for such) is that it's an almost guaranteed education, with on-the-job training. If you play these types of jobs for a while, there's little doubt that you'll wind up playing outside of the immediate comfort zone from time to time, and sometimes quite often:

    Cultural/ethnic tunes, top 40 du jour, oldies-but-goodies, reading charts, playing every type of music under the sun, very quickly putting together unfamiliar tunes at the last minute, etc. A lot (if not most) of these jobs call for a "dinner set" - and unless your instrumentation is also "chamber music" approved, the most logical choice is usually jazz and standards. I know that as a young man in my twenties, I'd certainly never gigged tunes by Jobim, Gershwin, Ellington, or Oliver Nelson, prior to doing this type of work. If you work with a variety of vocalists, becoming reasonably adept at key transposition on the fly is an expected prerequisite. Musicians that do this type of work are playing for a wide range of age and interest groups, and it's a study in becoming an adaptable musical chameleon. This in and of itself can be a great education toward the art of learning to read the mood and vibe of the room that one is playing for.

    It doesn't take a bunch of reading between the lines to detect a somewhat jaded and cynical tone from my previous posts in this thread. I did several of these jobs per week for years, and got to the point where facing yet another hors-d'oeuvre or garter belt toss was more than I could do. That said, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world; without question, one of the best musical educations that I've managed to survive.
     
  19. mudbean

    mudbean Friend of Leo's

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    Very well put, Tim. In my experience, the guys who scoff the loudest about playing weddings aren't even close to being good enough to play them in the first place.

    mud
     
    sequencepro likes this.
  20. bingy

    bingy Friend of Leo's

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    I'm playing a wedding this Saturday...it's halfway across the state...I have no idea what to expect...so I will try to look cool and do my best, doing what I do.
     
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