Last night, I had a music rehearsal for a wedding this weekend. As a violinist, I’ve had the chance to be at a lot of weddings. And when my kids were gigging regularly with their string quartet, we saw plenty of wedding action. All these weddings take me back to my first wedding when I was seven years old. Keith, my six-year-old brother, was ring bearer to my flower girl. I think it’s many young girls’ dream to be a flower girl. You get your own “wedding dress” and special stockings, and so much primping and attention. Look at that bouffant I’m rockin’!
Thinking of weddings also brings to mind the craziest one my kids and I provided music for. The Bride’s Mother booked Crescendo String Quartet, my kids’ group. Usually we didn’t do the rehearsal dinners, as we talked through the ceremony ahead of time and just came ready to play at the pre-determined cues. But this Bride’s Mother was especially nervous and really wanted to book that extra hour. So I thought, what the heck. Another hour of pay. If she insists….
So we show up for the rehearsal a bit before the designated time. The officiate is there early too. The wedding is to be on a gazebo on a little island on a lake. A beautiful setting, but a little remote with some hills to traverse to get there with all our gear—chairs, stands, instruments, etc. We get all set up. We wait. And wait. And I watch their purchased hour slip by. The officiate is able to get cell coverage—which is spotty—and gets a hold of the bride. She says they’ve changed to a different site in the park. Everyone is all over there.
The officiate and I exchange a weighty look, then we pack up and hike out and reload the car and drive over to the new place. It’s chaotic there. A huge picnic. A catering truck. No one in charge, because the Bride’s Mother, who’d arranged everything, is not there yet and out of cell reach. The exuberant bride says, “Hey y’all, we’re gonna eat dinner first. The caterer is about to serve. So have a seat. We’ll rehearse later.” I invite her into a quick private powwow. I tell her that we appreciate the invite, but the thing is, her mom has hired us for the hour for a rehearsal run-through and we were twenty-five minutes through that hour, and it would be nice if we could use that time to accomplish the plan.
After a flurry of phone calls and the arrival of the Bride’s Mother, it is determined the caterer will wait and everyone will pack up and go back to where we’d been, where the ceremony was truly going to take place. The officiate was great and streamlined everything so very well, that somehow (her running the music cues first and saving the “you repeat what I said now, no the bride, no stand over here, yes, no wait, like this” for after we’d run our part) we got finished with the rehearsal with only going over two minutes. (The Musician’s Union is pretty clear on over-time rules, but we gave them that one.)
Once at the wedding, we’d played through our entire prelude repertoire twice waiting for the bride, and still she wasn’t coming down the pathway. There was enough of a wait that the storm clouds came and it started raining. We had to move to get to the center of the gazebo. The kids started the music set yet one more time while I went searching for the bride. Hiking up a path to a little cabin where the bridal party was preparing, I passed the groomsmen, all leaning casually against a rock wall—passing a hip flask. Evidently, they’d found their way to comfortably get through the long wait. When I got to the cabin, I knocked on the door and poked my head in. “Hi ladies,” I started. The Bride’s Mother had her head thrown back and a wine bottle perched on her lips, draining it as the ladies cheered her on. A nearby table was covered with a mass scattering of empty minis. The entire bridal party was completely snockered. I said, “The music is playing. We’re all ready for you. Do you think you’ll be able to come on down pretty soon?” They assured me they’d be right there. On my way back to the lake gazebo, I nodded and smiled as I again passed all the happy groomsmen. “Should be starting any time now,” I told them. They were quite cheerful.
Once the bride eventually staggered happily onto the gazebo, the rest went off without a hitch. Well, except for the one that had at long last, finally happened to the happy intoxicated couple.
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