Every wedding, reception, or special event is special, with its own unique flair! And getting to that perfect moment takes a lot of effort. Luckily, I worked over ten years as a wedding photographer, I have been a bride, bridesmaid, mother-of-the-bride, and have played the harp at dozens of weddings. I’ve learned a lot about weddings over the years so I think I’m a pretty good resource and can help answer some of your questions. Hopefully, this page will anticipate some of those questions and get you started with the process. Of course, if I forgot something here, feel free to ask!
Q: What is your repertoire for ceremonies?
A: I play a very wide and diverse selection of music including most of the traditional wedding repertoire (Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” “Wagner’s Bridal March,” “Trumpet Voluntary,” etc.). I also play a lot of popular songs, Celtic music, and a lot of songs that were written specifically for the harp. I’ve done a grand assortment of selections over the years to make each wedding special.
Q: How do I choose my music?
A: My preference is that we meet in person at my home to work on all the details and pick the music together. I always start by asking if you want to go more “traditional” or “non-traditional” and help you start choosing your music from that point. Generally, I think the best way is to start with what song you want for the bride and work out from that point. I believe that starting from the bridal song helps to make everything flow together most effectively. My website has various samples that can help you get started thinking about something things that you might like for the ceremony.
If you know what tunes you’d like for your ceremony, and they are not on the repertoire list, feel free to ask because my tune repertoire is extensive. If the tune is something that I don’t know I will have to determine if I can find an appropriate arrangement for the song and/or if it can be translated to the harp. Not everything translates well. I reserve the right to charge an additional fee for learning new music.
Q: What is a “normal” ceremony for you?
A: Generally speaking, I will arrive at the ceremony location approximately one hour before the start of the ceremony. This allows me time to set up, speak with the coordinator/officiant and tune my harp before the big event. I will begin to play prelude music starting about 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony while guests are being seated. I call this my “beautiful appropriate harp music” period. This is my choice from my repertoire but I adjust the setlist based on the theme that we have chosen for the day.
When the ceremony actually starts, I will begin to play the piece that we have chosen for the Mothers and the Grandmothers. Next comes the designated processional piece for the bridesmaids and/or the members of the wedding party. If you have flower girls and/or ring bearers they generally come at this point. Usually including them with the bridal party song is best but sometimes we do something different. HERE COMES THE BRIDE (or your chosen song)!! If during the ceremony you have a prayer or candle lightning we can pick a special musical selection for this as well. Finally, there is the last piece chosen to waltz the bridal couple back down the aisle after the ceremony. After the ceremony is formally concluded, I’ll continue to play a little while as guests file out.
Q: Will you play at an outdoor ceremony?
A: No. Unfortunately, I don’t do outdoor ceremonies anymore. I think that you can understand that my harp, amp, iPad and I are all expensive and sensitive and we don’t perform well outside.
Q: Why so many questions about bridesmaids?
A: Nice of you to ask! I always have several questions about the bridesmaids. They tell me a lot about the wedding. My first question is “how many”? I need to know that (along with an idea of the length of the aisle at the venue) so that I can plan for the pacing of their song — deciding if we need to “loop” their song or just play a portion. Also, I want to know what they are wearing. You have a vision for the look of your wedding and I want to coordinate. I don’t want to wear a pink sundress if the bridesmaids are wearing formal long black dresses. I try to not look exactly like a bridesmaid but to blend nicely with them so that I fit the overall look of your big day.
Q: Where do you would like to be placed during the ceremony?
A: This is something that we will discuss based on the location and the setup but generally the best place for me and my line of sight for the proceedings is on the front left (facing the altar) — to the far left of where the bridesmaids usually stand. Another good place is in the back at the end of the seating area so that I can see the processional as they arrive.
Q: Do you attend rehearsals?
A: As a rule, I do not. If there is a special circumstance that requires me to attend the rehearsal I reserve the right to charge an additional fee.
Q: So then how do you know how to proceed during the ceremony?
A: Well, that is where experience comes in handy! But the one thing that I do need is a designated “cuer.” Often this is the wedding coordinator or some other reliable person. Their job will be to stand at the back of the aisle in a spot that is clearly visible to me and give signals alerting me that it’s time to change songs. Usually, we coordinate this in advance before the ceremony starts with the officiant and once things get going they flow smoothly.
Q: What kind of harp do you play?
A: The harp that I play is technically known as a “lever harp” but is often also called a “Celtic harp.” The main difference between this and the “pedal harp” or “classical harp” is the mechanism that is used to create sharps and flats or “accidentals.” My harps are a little bit smaller than a pedal harp but still, a harp and they still sound AMAZING! The main harps that I use come from my good friends in Corvallis, Oregon, Dave and Sharon Thormahlen (Thorharp.com). My Ceili (pronounced Kay-lee) 34 Harps were custom designed and are strung with fluorocarbon strings for a bright sound.
Q: Do you need assistance moving your harp on the day of the wedding?
A: Nope. I almost always have my personal “roadie” with me but even if I don’t, I can manage by myself. I am very self-sufficient. I also bring my own chair. I am not one of your worries on the big day. Here is my radical “roadie” (he’s even cuter in real life).
Q: Do you require microphones or any other tech stuff?
A: No. I will bring my own personal amplification system with me if I think it is needed. If electricity is available that is great but this system can run on batteries as well. The amp doesn’t make the harp sound like an electric guitar but helps to push the sound out and fill up the space especially if we are outside or there is a large crowd. Of course, if there is a sound system at the church or venue I am prepared to hook into that system as well.
Q: Can we take a few pictures with the harp in them?
A: Yes! I am happy to have the harp included in pictures if they are taken within a reasonable timeline.
Q: Are you available on my date?
A: Hopefully! Check the “Calendar” page on my website. I try very hard to keep it up to date. If you have a question about timing for events, be sure to ask me.
Q: What are your rates?
A: I have a flat rate for wedding ceremonies which includes our music consultation. Receptions, rehearsals, travel fees, long ceremonies, etc. all have additional fees. I prefer to discuss this with you in person once we make sure I can make your dreams come true! Oh silly, of course I can!