When planning her wedding, a friend of the bride offered to play trumpet for the processional. It sounded like a great idea and the price was right. But, unfortunately, this very nice man didn’t really play the trumpet all that often and was extremely nervous in front of a crowd. He totally botched the song and the bride had to just keep walking down the aisle as if nothing was wrong. It was not the entrance she had dreamed of.
Actually, that bride was me!
Fast forward 30 years or so, as I work with couples hiring musicians for their weddings. Should you hire a friend to handle the music for your wedding? I won’t give you an unequivocal no, but I would urge you to be very cautious with that decision. Here are some things to consider:
- Does your friend play regularly in front of crowds? He or she may be an excellent musician, but if they are not used to playing in front of people, things can go south. Even for my players and me, who have been doing this for years, there is still a bit of pressure to get the timing for everything right and to play well for such an important event in a client’s life.
- Will your friend be reliable? I can tell you that 90% of my emergency 1-week-before-the-wedding calls for musicians are because someone had a friend or family member playing for their wedding and the friend either didn’t take it that seriously and weren’t ready or just realized very last-minute that they couldn’t handle it. I have seen this many times and it can really throw your planning for a loop. Can you be sure they will be on time and ready to play when needed? Or will it be someone you have to babysit on a day when you have so much else to worry about?
- Is your friend really talented enough to perform at the level you want? Over the years, we have heard some amazing music played or sung by friends or family. But, we have also heard a few clinkers, and you don’t want that to be what happens at YOUR wedding or reception. If you know you are tone deaf, you may not be the person to decide if a friend is a good bet for music for your event.
- Is your friendship strong enough to withstand any issues or disagreements that come up? Recently, a friend of mine made a casual arrangement with one of his friends to provide music for a reception. There was some kind of dispute about how it was to be handled, resulting in a lot of stress on both sides. And, I’m not sure the friendship will ever be the same. Sometimes, it’s better to just hire someone to do the job and invite your friends to come and have a good time.
If you can answer “yes” to the four questions above, by all means, hire that friend! Obviously, people have friends that are in the music business and will handle engagements in a professional manner. I certainly hope that all my friends don’t take this as a warning not to hire me! I’m just suggesting that you consider these things ahead of time so that you don’t end up with a nightmare instead of the wedding of your dreams.