So you want a friend to perform at your wedding ceremony..?

Thinking of asking one of your mates or relatives to sing or play for you as part of your ceremony? It’s a lovely idea, just make sure you consider the potential pitfalls before the big ask…

For starters, despite what they actually say when you broach the subject, they may not really be comfortable with doing it, and if you have put them on the spot they might find it very difficult to say no. Especially if they are close friends or family – and even if you give them a ‘get out’ at the start – once you’ve mentioned the idea they may feel under pressure to go along with it, or worse, feel really awkward about turning you down. Of course they will be flattered to be asked, but believe me, that will make it even harder to say no to! Even if they seem up for it at the beginning, what sounds like a good and plausible idea 18 months in the future may start to loom large and scary as the time draws near. (Think Best Man’s Speech…) It really is amazing how fast those gigs you don’t want to think about actually creep up on you… So when you ask, look for a truly enthusiastic ‘Yes,’ rather than a reluctant one! And be prepared to take ‘No’ for an answer.

If you want them to play or sing as you walk down the aisle, remember that performing in front of a crowd at such a special moment can be a nerve-wracking experience even for a professional: I am always relieved to get that bit over with! So much is riding on this being the perfect moment, and when it is a group of your closest family and friends watching you, it can be even more daunting. All I am suggesting is that a terrified looking wedding guest might not be the ideal accompanist to your Big Entrance.

So ask yourself; will they really be happy about performing, do they have the necessary equipment and expertise, do you really want to put them through all that stress on a day you want them to enjoy, and, honestly, are they really good enough? Or will the nerves ruin their day and the performance? Have a completely honest no come-back conversation, and if you, and they, think they can hack it, go ahead; it’s a lovely way to add a personal touch to your ceremony. But please don’t twist any arms, or employ emotional blackmail. It’s so easy to get carried away with romantic notions when planning your special day; just don’t jump in without thinking about what you are really asking of them… And do give them the opportunity to back out once they have had time to think about it! But whatever you do, don’t leave the decision up until the last minute. Decide well in advance if it’s a goer, and maybe have a back-up plan…

If your friend or loved one has some idea but not the gear, one option you could consider would be getting your musicians to accompany them – but be careful here too: Unless they can organise rehearsal time with the band, (which you will almost invariably need to pay for) and your guest is a really seasoned professional, it is possible to end up in, well let’s just say, an uncomfortable scenario! I’m not on a downer here: Style, beat, tempo, structure, endings and especially keys need to be worked out in advance. And if your guest needs to borrow an instrument (e.g. a guitar) then that’s a whole new ball game. I’m not saying your band won’t be up for it, but please, whatever you do, don’t spring this on your musicians on the spot. Give them a heads up: They want to accommodate you, but it is so difficult to accompany someone without a dry-run, especially someone who is not used to singing with a live band. Your wedding ceremony is not a suitable place for busking, unless you really are not bothered about the quality of the results!

I am so not trying to put you off the idea of having your talented guests contribute to the ceremony, just bring you an insider’s insight into what might, to some, seem a perfectly simple and reasonable request. Just know that you will be asking a lot, it will take some degree of extra planning and possibly expense, and a level of skill and nerve to execute on the day. People freak out at the prospect of doing a reading at the ceremony, and this is a whole other level…

Don’t be fooled! Musicians and performers love to act casual, but it is all an act! We spend years perfecting the art of looking relaxed and nonchalant – don’t inflict this level of pressure on your guests unless they will get a kick from it too!

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