We’ve grown so accustomed to playing outdoors that set-up seems to come naturally – but in reality, there are lots of details that need to fall into place before the wedding music starts to play! Outdoor venues have expansive settings, long aisle walks, and multiple ceremony configurations to suit your taste. No matter which direction we’re facing, we want to make sure Jet Set Strings conveys both excellent sound and music timing for your day.
Matching Music to Setting
I was in a wedding music planning meeting with a client this summer, and she commented on the length of the popular wedding piece Canon in D. It became clear to me that she was trying to match the length of the piece of music with the processional down the aisle, and it just wasn’t matching up. She was totally correct – it’s a long piece, and we’ll never get to the end of it. The wedding party always makes it down first, and we make an adjustment based on their arrival. Thus, there are many points within pieces of music that serve as an ending – the phrase ‘fade out’ is used a lot – but technically, we musicians try to find a point within the structure of the piece that sounds like an ending.
A Seventy Foot Aisle is No Problem
In this particular client’s case, the aisle was seventy feet, and this is well within the safety zone of Canon in D – rest assured we’ve got plenty to play; in our own rehearsals, we review passages within the music that would be great ending or returning points if the setting dictates that we need more music.
Here’s my day-of check list tweaked for outdoor weddings, always keeping in mind the expansive outdoor venue and timing of the music for a seamless ceremony flow. By this time, all wedding music has been selected by the client and matched with specific parts of the ceremony. You’ve also shared with us exactly how many are in the wedding party, how many family members will be seated, and other special details about your ceremony.
It’s go time – we want to make your day the best it could possibly be!
Jet Set Strings: Outdoor Ceremony Check-list
1. Arrive at least 45 minutes in advance, and know venue parking options prior to arrival.
2. Transport gear to ceremony site. At this point, I’m looking for the armless chairs.
3. Assess the space: Is there a clear aisle? What’s the approximate length? Where will the wedding party enter? Is the ground surface relatively flat? What about angle of the sunset or cloud cover? How’s the wind? Am I going to need my plexiglass clips to keep music from flying off my music stand?
4. Locate wedding coordinator, planner team or venue staff and wave a big hello across the lawn (of course!).
5. Ask about any preference for Jet Set’s location, and if there are designated areas for gear & case storage.
6. Discuss music cues and touch base about ceremony flow. Is there a person who will cue me to start the music?
7. Once I’ve said hello & checked in, arrange our armless chairs in a semi-circle at the most level ground that I can find. Most often, we are to the left front or right front of the ceremony chairs in outdoor settings.
8. Situate my chair with direct line of sight to processionals and with ease of sight line to any music cues.
9. Watch out! Have instrument close to me and protected at all times. Tons of potential for falling objects, event gear and elements of nature to collide with my violin.
10. Heads up for my awesome team, who I see now coming across the lawn with instruments and gear.
11. Keep an eye out for the officiant. Inquire about the presentation – an important detail for the wedding music. Some officiants present the couple and send them right off, but others may have a blessing or a few words after the presentation. We want to wait and start the music at the right moment.
12. If amplification is provided by the client, introduce myself to the A/V tech.
13. Set up my music stand with the rest of the Jet Set team, now that we’re all seated and configured. Tune our instruments together, clip music into place, and turn on stand lights if necessary.
14. Drink water.
15. Work with the tech on mic placement as a team, and then sound check.
16. Drink water.
17. Smile 🙂
18. Survey the venue, seated and ready as the first guests begin to arrive.
19. Take a deep breath, center and focus.