Archive for the ‘wedding music’ Category

Bridezilla lore. This has to be one of the most unfair stereotypes around, and it seems to be one of those ‘slipping-on -banana-skins’ things; you hear a lot about it, without ever seeing much evidence of it. Mention that you work in the wedding industry and a typical response is ‘ooh, bridezillas. Must be tough’  But if I react by asking what that comment is based on, I’m usually met with a blank stare. So let’s get one thing straight; in about 18 years of playing at weddings – both as a violinist and with The Gospel Project – I have dealt with hundreds of brides who were absolutely lovely, and a grand total of 2 who were a little unpleasant, or at least whose behavior was what I imagine people have in mind when they reference the bridezilla phenomenon.* So, if my own statistics are anything to go by, the issue is somewhat overstated in popular culture.

Have I dealt with brides who were a little scattered? Yes, many of them. Difficult to pin down? Countless. With some, I’ve despaired of ever getting them to choose music for their ceremony at all, practically chasing them down the aisle trying to prise song lists from them. Expecting immediate replies to emails, phone calls etc?  Sure. Welcome to modern business communication. Why all the belittling language when the customer is a bride?

There have also been brides who were bending the truth when claiming to have cleared their song choices with the celebrant in advance (“I’ve spoken to the priest about the music, he has no problem with any of it”. “The Led Zepellin song for communion? Not exactly saying you’re lying, but I don’t really believe you”). I’ve written about this somewhat risky strategy before over on The Gospel Project site, and, just like the other behaviors I’ve mentioned, it can be challenging to deal with, but it’s hardly the foot-stamping, tantrum-throwing conjured up by the term ‘bridezilla’.

So are the snide remarks a jibe at Western privilege? Fair enough, so-called bridezillas are basically throwing themselves a very expensive party. But if that’s the explanation then there’s a hint of sexism in all this. Every wedding I’ve ever played at was different, but one thing they’ve all had in common was having TWO people at the center of the action, including, the great majority of the time, at least one man. So where are the grooms in the negative stereotyping?  Indeed, I wonder what it would be called if it were typically the men in the heterosexual equation who were tasked with organizing wedding logistics…..something with a rather more positive ring to it than ‘groomzilla’, me thinks.

As wedding suppliers we deal with people at a time in their lives when they’re typically pretty happy, and that’s something of a privilege. At any rate, I often spare a thought for those who have to provide a service people would rather not avail of, like motor insurance. So I, for one, count myself lucky to work in an industry that has love and joy at its center. Lets tone down the bride-bashing.

*and no, I’m not telling you their names. There have also been about 4 grooms. Who were very nice.


I’ve been performing at wedding ceremonies as both a violinist and choir director for rather longer than I want to admit. And I’m struck by how much the wedding landscape in Ireland has changed in that time. When I first became a full-time musician, the options for a ceremony were limited to churches and registry offices. There are now so many great alternatives to choose from that you can essentially design your own ceremony and some, such as the Humanist or Spiritualist option, give free rein to choose whatever music you’d like for your celebration, from Schubert to AC/DC. However, if yours is either a civil ceremony or a church one, there are some rules to be followed regarding the kind of music that may be included. I find that a lot of couples are quite anxious about discussing their choice of music with their celebrant, particularly if it’s a Catholic ceremony. Here’s some pointers you might find useful in navigating this potentially tricky area:

1). We’re here to help. Your musicians can always give advice on appropriate music for inclusion in your ceremony…and you may feel more comfortable asking us before you approach your celebrant. It’s part of your musicians’ job to give guidance on the appropriate music for your ceremony, so don’t be afraid to ask. Especially if you’ve booked The Gospel Project, because we’re very nice 🙂

2). Don’t worry about the scare stories. Yes, some people have negative experiences with their celebrant, but honestly this is the exception rather than the rule. For example, there is a fairly widespread belief that the Catholic church has a ‘banned list’ of songs that are not allowed at weddings. If you think about it, this would have to mean that there’s somebody in the Vatican whose job it is to add to this list every time a band such as Metallica record a song! So the good news is that there is no such list. There is, however, a rule prohibiting the inclusion of non-liturgical music as part of a Catholic ceremony. So why do you regularly hear love songs performed at church weddings? Because in practice this is entirely at the discretion of the individual priest. Some priests are very relaxed about permitting secular songs at a wedding – especially at the signing of the register and the exit, when the mass is technically over – while to some others it is very important to have only liturgical music during the ceremony. That’s why it’s essential to discuss your choice of music with them in advance of your ceremony (see below). And don’t assume that the priest will be relaxed about this rule because it’s somebody you know, or because he’s young.

3). Do communicate with your celebrant. It’s better for everyone if you keep your priest/celebrant informed about your choice of music. Sometimes couples opt for a ‘the less we tell him, the better’ strategy, and unfortunately this never ends well. Do consider that your musicians will arrive to set up on the day an hour and a half before the ceremony is due to start, and that the celebrant will check the music with us at that point; if this is the first they’re hearing about your inclusion of a Led Zeppelin song at Communion, there’s a good chance we’ll be making some last-minute substitutions on your behalf! Conversely, with civil ceremonies in the Republic of Ireland, only secular music is permitted; so if yours is a civil ceremony we can’t perform Ave Mariafor example. This rule takes a lot of people by surprise, and indeed many assume it will be disregarded – ‘ah, don’t mind that’ is a very common reaction when I let couples know about it! – but, unlike the rules prohibiting secular music in church, this rule is consistently observed by civil registrars in my experience.

4). Do consider what the song is about before you include it in your ceremony. Lots of us have a favourite song without ever having given much thought to what it’s about. Nothing wrong with that. But if the music at your ceremony is important to you, it’s worth taking the time to go through the lyrics of any song you’d like included and have a think about the message it sends. Consider that, unlike your first dance later that day, the songs at your ceremony will be played in a completely quiet room, with quite a lot of attention focused on the lyrics. I’ve occasionally been presented with some surprising song requests, and of course if it’s something you as a couple really want, regardless of the subject matter, we’ll go ahead and learn it for you- it’s your wedding. But it would be unprofessional of me not to at least point out when a requested song  is actually a murder ballad! Now you might decide you don’t mind that at all, but your guests may raise their eyebrows a bit. Like every thing else you have to decide as a couple as you create your celebration, it’s absolutely your choice, but it’s better that it be an informed choice. Happy wedding planning.