Friday, July 25, 2008

more on weddings

Several times, I have had the experience of meeting with a bride (and her mother?) to help them choose songs for a wedding, and while planning the processions are always fun and easy, if it's a Mass and they have to pick hymns, that can be...excruciating. If they just think my voice is lovely, and don't really have opinions about the songs, then I'll be like, "oh, how about this Panis Angelicus? It's pretty famous." or if they like or don't mind chant, I'm like, "or we could even do the Proper Communion Chant for a wedding,..." and I sing it and they usually like it.
But when they say right up front, "oh, we don't really like any of that latin stuff..." (actually, it's usually the mother who says this. And then of course I wonder what the bride really thinks ;-) ) And then they're like, "I mean, what do most Catholics know? Or what would they have sung here at this church 10 years ago?" I can feign ignorance, "well, I really don't know what they did here 10 years ago, I mean, I've only been here for two years. I could tell you what they know here now! How about his lovely song 'Alleluia Sing to Jesus,' it has a really famous melody, and great words about the Eucharist..." And I play it and they wrinkle their noses.
Then I try again, "Well, how about this one, 'At that First Eucharist?' I think most Catholics know that..." Same response.
Finally, I see I'm not getting anywhere...
"Oh! A few people like a song like 'One Bread One Body' Have you ever heard that?"
"Oh yeah! I love that song! Wait, play it for me to make sure it's the right one..."

I mean, the situation itself IS really funny. Like, what am I supposed to do?
Here we are, I've given them several perfectly lovely song choices, and yet I KNOW that the songs they are trying to get me to suggest are precisely those which I hate!
I don't think they actually ARE thinking of any songs in particular, like, they're not being malicious or anything, they truly are just waiting for me to sing a song they're familiar with that they like!
Luckily, most weddings at which this would occur end up being not Masses. :-)
I think that this exact situation which I have just described has only happened to me twice!

I was asked recently if I would rather do a wedding or a funeral, and for which do I get paid more. I get paid more for a wedding, but would rather do a funeral any day. I have heard that priests feel the same.
You couldn't pay me enough to WANT to deal with a bride and her mother who have their idea of a perfect dream wedding...For funerals, people usually just don't care.


Mr S said...

Some would consider a wedding..... the end of life as they know it.

Some would consider a funeral as the beginning of life as they desire it......

Shouldn't both be "happy" events for the soul.... not for the mother (who is being left behind) or for the family (which is being left behind)?

No I a not suggessting Barney Music. :)

Gavin said...

See that's what was great about my last job. My boss gave me final say in music for weddings and funerals. So I'd rather do a wedding, given that.

I always prefaced my wedding discussions with a disclaimer: "We can all agree that it would be horribly inappropriate to have the bride walk down the aisle to 'Baby Got Back', yes? (so far no one's disagreed) Well, somewhere between that and the Gregorian chant intended for the nuptial Mass there's a line to be drawn. At this parish, I am charged with drawing that line, and if you want music here, it doesn't get done unless I sign off on it. I'm MORE than happy to make plenty of accomadations for you, but the music still has to be acceptable for a church setting in my judgment."

See, funerals suck because at weddings you can negotiate, discuss, and intimidate. At funerals, it's just not good business to tell someone "I can't do On Eagle's Wings because it's crap." I still drew the line at funerals, but it was pretty much anything but "Let there be peace on earth". At weddings we have greater leeway because we're NOT dealing with people in grief.

The difficulty for me is just accepting someone else's taste :P "Oh, you want the Canon in D for a processional? Yeah, I can do that, but wouldn't you like your wedding to be SPECIAL? You know, something besides a cliche? No? Alright, not my job to tell people what to like..." Actually I never said THAT, but I always prefaced selecting music by encouraging them to select something really unique that appeals to them so that their wedding CAN be "unique". Of course this NOW means every wedding I play has the Bach Nun Danket at it :P

Felipe Gasper said...

In fairness to the Pachelbel Canon etc., I myself think that this is music that our culture has come to associate with church weddings. That’s why I have no problem recommending “standards” for weddings.

Mara, don’t overlook the Wren “When Love is Found”, sung to O WALY WALY. (David Haas has a nice accompaniment for this in the “When Love is Found” collection.)

Also not to be overlooked are the “Hear Us Now, Our God and Father” and “God, Who Created Hearts to Love” texts, set to HYFRYDOL and LASST UNS, respectively. (OCP publishes both.)

I often do recommend “Here I Am, Lord” for weddings because it speaks about missing/calling. And even OBOB, because it speaks about unity.

I do often mention the chants, too; the offertories see not infrequent use at weddings in our parish.

One wedding I did where the couple requested the “cadillac” of music for their ceremony looked like this:

organ, violin, trumpet
professional SATB quartet

preludes: Rutter “God Be In My Head”, DuruflĂ© “Ubi”

seating of parents: Jesu, Joy (nice to have the voices, trumpet, and violin)

offertory: Viadana “Exsultate”

communion: Doherty “O Taste and See” (OCP - BEAUTIFUL, short) and Batten “O sing joyfully”