What strikes me the most about each wedding that I play is how very different they each are. Every bride and groom has their own unique style and portrays a very individual set of values and preferences when it comes to every choice. Some things that I notice right away are how their venue choice correlates to their style of ceremony. I’ve played at such a range of venues, from grandiose churches to simple, modern spaces to gardens under a canopy. I’ve even done a rehearsal in the basement of a bar! The amount of variation is astounding.
Of course, when I am first contacted to perform at a wedding, I’m also struck by the varying styles of requesting music and what music is requested. I’ve had brides send me YouTube playlists, a list of songs, or a simple “Can you play that one that everyone does… canon something?” My most challenging so far was the request to arrange the piece “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eats World for a recessional. As you can imagine, there is no “piano” part whatsoever.
When I first got this request, I have to admit, it stressed me out. How was I supposed to create the desired effect for this couple? I asked if they could send me the sheet music, perhaps they knew of a piano version? But alas, what they sent me were simply guitar chord charts. I looked high and low for any piano versions I could find of this hard rock/metal piece and there was none to be found. I asked the bride and groom again if they had any other ideas but they had already printed the song on their programs. I had to find a way to make this happen.
So I started from scratch, listening multiple times to decipher the harmonic structure and the melodic lines in this piece. I arranged the piano part to suit the driving style, without sacrificing the beautiful melody line. After this process of trial and error, I presented the piece to the bride and groom on their rehearsal date. Not only were they happy with it, they were thrilled! It wouldn’t have been my first choice for a wedding piece, but because it was a special song for the couple, it really made their wedding come alive. The bride, with tears in her eyes, said that I made it “real.” I don’t think I could have asked for a better review.
As I book more and more weddings into my calendar, I continue to marvel at their different venues, ideas and visions. This variety is exciting, challenging and promotes continued growth and development of my repertoire. The most satisfying part of my job as a wedding musician is greeting the newly married couple afterwards and seeing the joy in their faces. Obviously, they have a lot to be happy about, but I feel absolutely honoured and blessed to be a part of bringing that kind of joy to a couple on the most important day of their lives.
Liz Craig is a Toronto based pianist with a passion for making every occasion special through live music. When planning for weddings, she strives to go above and beyond to give each couple a tailored approach to their music selection so that it comes across as uniquely “them.” She has performed at venues such as the St. Lawrence Hall, Blessed Sacrament Church, the Berkeley Field House, the Thompson Hotel, Hart House and Casa Loma. When not performing, she spends her time practicing, teaching piano and directing the music at her local church.