I recently posted on several brass forums about playing wedding gigs, and I was amazed at the response that I received. Many musicians have decided that they try to avoid playing for weddings, and I don’t really understand why.
Why are wedding gigs worth playing?
The wedding business is a multibillion dollar industry that musicians have the ability to access. The reality is that people are always getting married, and if you know how to market properly, there is constant repeat business. Also, the pay for playing at weddings is GREAT! Brides will pay up to $5,000 for their cake, so there is a willingness to pay musicians well.
How do you get wedding gigs?
The organist of a local church is the most important source of wedding gigs. Why? They are used at almost every wedding, and people always ask the organist if they know other musicians. Your goal is to be the first person that comes to their mind.
These often hidden wedding professionals are excellent sources of gigs. They can be a little harder to meet, because they are working constantly at the wedding. If they look busy, then don’t bother them, but if you can, meet them with a business card. Also, most major cities hold networking events for wedding professionals, and these events are great places to meet photographers (and wedding planners).
These high stress people are the titans of the industry. Having a good relationship with a popular wedding planner can mean major income for you. These planners know lots of people in the business, and they generally keep a vendor list.
Hotels, Event Centers, etc.
These places are often forgotten, but they hold many, many weddings every year. If you are really lucky, you may be able to get on the vendor list for a venue that provides “turn key” weddings.
Tips for Performing at the Service
- Go to the rehearsal and get a feel for the timing of the service.
- Become familiar with which portions you will play during the service.
- If you are playing for the prelude, bring plenty of extra music. I know this from my personal wedding. We started the service twenty minutes late, because the photographer would not stop taking pictures. The musicians had to keep playing way past what was expected.
- Know the exact number of people coming down the aisle. Is there a flower girl? The flower girl can be easy to miss, because they are shorter than everyone before them.
- Expect people to enter during the processional either way slower or way quicker than they did at the rehearsal. For this reason, figure out lots of potential stopping places in your music.
- Above all else, play confidently and beautifully.
- Be prepared for things to not go according to plan. In weddings, they rarely do.
Tips for working with the bride or the bride’s family
- Get them to commit to exactly what they want well in advance of the wedding date.
- If you are called more than three months early, get a deposit to hold the date. Many times, brides change their mind last minute, and you can be left without work and without pay.
- Tell them to leave a check on your music stand before the service. This little tip is HUGE, because you do not want to be hunting down the bride after the wedding for money.
- Take the time to let them know that you will take care of everything with the music. This will help to put a stressed out bride at ease.
Question: What advice do you have for wedding gigs?
Photo by Ali Nishan. Used under Creative Commons License.