Wedding Harpist David M. Ice

Wedding Harpist David M. Ice

As you are planning your wedding day, the most important day of your life (so far!), have you really stopped to analyze how important your ceremony music is going to be?

Not only is it the first music your guests will hear, but it will also set the tone, mood, and style for the rest of your wedding day.

It’s very important to take a few moments and think, really think about what you hope to achieve during those all-important moments of your ceremony, plus before and after.

I’m a harpist.  So I’ll admit I’m biased towards harp music.  But my thoughts and arguments equally apply to all live musicians, and their importance to ceremony music.

Some brides think, “Oh, I’ll use use an Ipod for the music.”  Others think that the DJ will just somehow “handle” the music for the ceremony.  Trust me, the former is fraught with great danger, and the second can be very tricky unless placed in the hands of a highly competent DJ who has a thorough knowledge of music—not just the technical knowledge of how to turn on a CD.

Take the Ipod Bride.  First off, how many guests have ever shown up to a wedding and exclaimed, “Oh, she has an Ipod for her wedding!”  Zero, I can assure you.  A live musician (be it a harpist, a keyboard player, a guitar player, or a string quartet) instantly says “Class!” to your invited guests.

And what can go wrong with an Ipod wedding?  Well, in the old days of cassette tape, it was so easy to hit REWIND or FAST FORWARD instead of PLAY.  Trust me, I’ve seen it happen repeatedly—more often than not!  In the Ipod world, it’s just as easy to scroll down and miss a song.  I’m not kidding.  A minister friend told me about the bride who came down the aisle to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson theme…..somebody pressed the wrong button.  I’ve personally seen (or rather, heard) the most bawdy, lusty hip-hop song with utterly unprintable lyrics blast forth from the speakers before the nuptuals….another “oopsie, my bad” moment from the hapless Ipod owner.  Grandma nearly had a stroke from that one.

A competent DJ with the right tracks can do a good job—but consider this:  all it takes is one lost bobby pin and all the timings, rehearsals, and pre-planning go out the window.  What if you only have 96 seconds of music?  Your flower girl has the giggles (or is crying in terror) and you now need another extra 22 seconds of music to get her down the aisle?  Unless your DJ is incredibly competent, you have no other option than to start the music all over again—and just fade it out at the end.  It’s like turning off your car radio in mid-song.

A live musician (ideally, a harpist!—I can’t help myself!) can be utterly flexible with the music and “vamp” if necessary, stretch out choruses, and make the music perfectly fit no matter what happens.  I’ve had this happen, personally, many times.  The bride’s train gets caught up in a doorjam and she can’t move—or the time the bride forgot her boquet in her room and ran back to get it, leaving me with a very uncomfortable 90 seconds wondering if we had a real-life “runaway bride!”  I was able to vamp and fill and make the music seamless, as if it was all rehearsed and supposed to be that way.  And most importantly, none of the guests were any wiser.

Grandma is having trouble walking down the aisle?  No problem.  The ring bearer skips down the aisle instead of walking at a stately pace?  No problem.  A live musician can make the music work for your wedding ceremony, and work perfectly, no matter what happens.

A live musician also helps establish and maintain the tone and mood for your wedding ceremony.  For the Ipod bride, it can be a bit jarring to mix, say, Dolly Parton with Rod Stewart.  But a live musician (using whatever instrument) will maintain the same timbre, mood, and overall tone no matter what the music’s origin is.  Led Zeppelin and Donny Osmond?  No problem on the harp!  But play the original tracks back to back, and you’ll get giggles and stares from your guests!

One last thing:  as ceremony musicians, we all strive to make your day as perfect as possible.  Our job is to create a sound painting, if you will, that creates and maintains the perfect romantic mood.  It’s money well spent and you will never, ever have to endure the Twilight Zone Theme as your Wedding March—unless you specifically want it!

David M. Ice,  Harpist

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