Weddings in the (not so) Great Outdoors

We’re experiencing a heat wave in New Jersey. Thankfully, all of my gigs this weekend are indoors, unlike poor Ellen. In Ellen the Harpist, the brides gave her ample opportunities to moan about the weather. On behalf of Ellen, and all of the musicians playing outside in less-than-ideal weather this weekend, I offer:

An Open Letter to the Bride Who Wants to Wed Outdoors from the Harpist Who Answers Her Call

Ah! The sun is shining; the birds are nesting in a gazebo and upon gazing at this bucolic tableau at your catering facility, you declare, “Let’s have the ceremony outdoors!” Oh, it’s pretty, all right, seeing nature in all her glory and envisioning your perfect day in such a pastoral setting. If only the perfection of this image lasted until your wedding day. Some of the outdoor weddings I have played were memorable enough to fire up my imagination. I couldn’t help but create a few such adventures for Ellen in my novel “Ellen the Harpist.” In reality, as in fiction, things don’t always go as planned. Click To Tweet

It will be sunny on your wedding day. You hope. Sheer will, when last I checked, does not create high pressure weather systems. On one occasion when I played only the cocktail hour (indoors), I was fortunate to avoid getting caught in one of those unexpected summer deluges that opened up during the ceremony (outdoors). The bride had a great sense of humor, which will come in handy when she flips through her wedding album and sees herself looking like Princess Fred emerging from the moat in “Once upon a Mattress.”

Sometimes you get what you wish for. The sun is shining — in your eyes. How can you gaze deeply into the eyes of your beloved if he is wearing shades? And what of your guests waiting for you to process on a blazing hot day? I recall one group of over-heated guests facing the start of the aisle, staring angrily for signs the wedding would soon begin. “Dearly beloved” hardly described this mob.

It’s not all sun or rain out there. There’s a little something called wind, too. Imagine, if you will, the effect of a little gust on something gossamer-like, such as, oh, say, a veil. Anyone taking bets on the veil and hair looking salon-perfect by the time vows are exchanged on a windy day? Those aisle runners flutter so prettily in the wind, too.

The musicians you hire for your wedding are not the only ones who will provide the soundtrack to your wedding. During your service, be prepared to compete with talkative birds, airplanes, motorcycles, burbling fountains, and golfers yelling, “Fore!”

Many harpists opt out of playing outdoors. And for good reason. The glue and varnish on our harps have low melting points. Harps declare their discomfort by slipping embarrassingly out of tune. They are in danger of tipping over when placed on uneven terrain or confronted with a gust of wind. When explaining to a bride how to make conditions more ideal for me (concrete, not grass and lots of shade, for starters), I compare my harp to her oldest guest. Think of what will make dear Great-Grandma Ida complain and then provide the opposite for both of us.

It’s hard to resist the lure of a picture-perfect site. And I have a hard time resisting a gig. Which is why I continue to collect good stories about When Beautiful Wedding Sites Turn Ugly.

If you’re planning your wedding and are looking for help picking the music for your ceremony, read my blog post about wedding ceremony music for some tips.


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