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Here (doesn't) Come The Bride...


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Reading David Harrison's post in the previous topic (Mixed choirs) reminded me of the phenomenon we have all experienced: the late, sometimes very late bride. It scarcely needs stating how annoying this is to all concerned, but does anyone have formal policies with regard to this? Obviously if there are many weddings in one day any one late starting risks losing its "slot", but even in the event of the wedding being the only one that day there is still the matter of courtesy to those who have given up a portion of their Saturday to participate in any way.

 

How do others deal with this? Does any one have an agreed cut-off point after which they send the choir (and themselves) home?

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Guest Patrick Coleman

I repeat my contribution to the previous thread:

 

At the practice I give them a timetable for the hour leading up to the wedding (ushers in place 45 minutes beforehand; groom/best man 30 minutes; all seated ten minutes beforehand when bridesmaids/mother &c arrive; bride to arrive five minutes beforehand; no more than those five minutes for photos). The wedding usually starts on time. I tell them if the bride is more than 20 minutes late I shall go home; and if she is deliberately late at all I will do the same. I remind them what bad manners it is to be late, and that I have other pastoral duties to carry out afterwards for which it would be ill-mannered on my part to plan to be late. If necessary I also remind them that there are others, including the organist, who will be delayed by any lateness. But I don't usually have to go that far, and they are always on time (town centre traffic permitting). I suppose the final resort would be to ask them to go and see what happens at the Register Office if they're late (but I've never yet had to say that).

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I think that part of the problem arises from the fact that all of the church fees are "flat" rates. If the vicar, verger, organist, bell ringers, choir etc were all being paid on some form of time related basis, an hourly rate or whatever, then there would be a feeling that the meter was running and a real incentive to turn up on time, especially if running into the next hour even by one minute meant you had to pay for the whole of that hour (a bit like car parks really).

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When I was organist in the 1970s at a very pretty village church often with 4 weddings on a Spring Saturday, the then Rector, Karl Grey, always made it clear to any couple booking a wedding that if the bride was sufficiently late to hold up the following ceremony, he would have no option but to cancel their service.

 

He never had to carry out his promise/threat at least in the years I occupied the organ bench...

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Reading David Harrison's post in the previous topic (Mixed choirs) reminded me of the phenomenon we have all experienced: the late, sometimes very late bride. It scarcely needs stating how annoying this is to all concerned, but does anyone have formal policies with regard to this? Obviously if there are many weddings in one day any one late starting risks losing its "slot", but even in the event of the wedding being the only one that day there is still the matter of courtesy to those who have given up a portion of their Saturday to participate in any way.

 

How do others deal with this? Does any one have an agreed cut-off point after which they send the choir (and themselves) home?

 

 

This one is quite interesting on this subject. See the 'Getting Married' section, the bit just above the horizontal line partway down the page for how someone deals with it. R.

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This one is quite interesting on this subject. See the 'Getting Married' section, the bit just above the horizontal line partway down the page for how someone deals with it. R.

I notice that it says nothing about audio recordings (although presumably the permitted video recordings may include sound). I assume that the organist has agreed to this. (He/she gets £55 for 45 minutes).

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I was once playing at a wedding for which the bride was 45 minutes late, but I'd only brought with me one book, my "Bumper Book of Wedding and Funeral Music" or somesuch title. Having reached the 40+ minute mark with every wedding piece played twice over already there was nothing to do except launch into one of the funeral marches...during the middle of which the bride unceremoniously appeared! (True story...)

 

Contrabombarde

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I repeat my contribution to the previous thread:

 

At the practice I give them a timetable for the hour leading up to the wedding (ushers in place 45 minutes beforehand; groom/best man 30 minutes; all seated ten minutes beforehand when bridesmaids/mother &c arrive; bride to arrive five minutes beforehand; no more than those five minutes for photos). The wedding usually starts on time. I tell them if the bride is more than 20 minutes late I shall go home; and if she is deliberately late at all I will do the same. I remind them what bad manners it is to be late, and that I have other pastoral duties to carry out afterwards for which it would be ill-mannered on my part to plan to be late. If necessary I also remind them that there are others, including the organist, who will be delayed by any lateness. But I don't usually have to go that far, and they are always on time (town centre traffic permitting). I suppose the final resort would be to ask them to go and see what happens at the Register Office if they're late (but I've never yet had to say that).

 

Good man!

 

I remember several years ago reading a notice outside the RC Cathedral in Gibraltar which said something along the lines of "If the bride is 5 minutes late we omit the first hymn, 10 minutes we omit both hymns, 15 minutes and the priest and organist return home and the wedding is cancelled".

 

I have a problem in trying to cover weddings in both of my churches. If they clash, or are too close for comfort, I have to get a deputy in to play. Sod's Law dictates that the wedding for which I ask a deputy in is the one which turns out to have the video and, of course, the additional fee.

 

But, occasionally, an unexpectedly very late-running wedding gives me problems. There was one a couple of years ago. It was a very up-market "do" indeed. The bride - who had requested lots of "special music" and lots of special requirements and had made a huge song-and-dance about what she wanted in the way of poetry, music (including additional singers and instrumentalists), readings &c - was over thirty-five minutes late. An hour into the service, when we were still not half-way through (!), I had to ask one of my choirmen to take over from me so I could dash off to my other church. I understand that his attempts to play for two of the soloists' pieces, and for the Widor at the end, weren't very successful. Unfortunately, I rather felt that it had served her right.

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I don't suppose she was any worse served than a young lady I used to know who had asked for the Widor at her wedding without bothering to ascertain whether the organist could play it. By all accounts he couldn't!

 

At my wedding the bride was 10 minutes late. I nearly went home...

 

She's hardly been on time since.

 

<Smack handies! Ouch!>

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I don't suppose she was any worse served than a young lady I used to know who had asked for the Widor at her wedding without bothering to ascertain whether the organist could play it. By all accounts he couldn't!

 

At my wedding the bride was 10 minutes late. I nearly went home...

 

She's hardly been on time since.

 

<Smack handies! Ouch!>

 

:):blink::huh:

 

I came across a video of my wedding the other day. When I pressed PLAY, I found it was right at the end, so I pressed REWIND and watched it all backwards. It was lovely, coz at the end I saw myself walk out of the church a free man! :D

 

Joking aside, I remember hearing a very funny rendition of the Widor a few years ago. It was from an organist who really shouldn't have agreed to try to play it. Evidently, the poor fellow couldn't get both his hands to work together. So, slowly, the left hand went "Dum dum", then when it had finished the right hand - which had been silent - went "diddle-iddle" before falling silent again in time for the left hand to go "Dum dum" again, before replying with another "diddle-iddle". This went on throughout the performance. The left hand was about a 75 per cent approximation of what Widor wanted, but the right hand was nowhere near!

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I notice that it says nothing about audio recordings (although presumably the permitted video recordings may include sound). I assume that the organist has agreed to this. (He/she gets £55 for 45 minutes).

 

True, it doesn't specifically say anything about audio recordings as such, but I can't recall ever being asked for one - plenty of videos, yes, so I would assume they would include sound, they all do nowadays. Well I suppose the organist has agreed to it, but I don't actually know, it's about 45 years since I played the organ there, it was a Nicholson 3m. But a video wedding for £55 ...I don't think so, someone else can have it! R.

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I use to play many years ago at a church in Handsworth, which had a large Afro-Caribbean congregation, the Vicar there told me to arrive at least 30 minutes after the stipulated time of the wedding as they would not be on time. On several occasions she arrived over an hour later than this, many times have I played the last hymn and had to leave, but they did have a cd player in case of such happenings. All this for £50 no thanks.

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A few years ago a work colleague of mine was getting married. She turned up an hour and a bit late to find us all waiting outside the church as a funeral director was carrying a coffin in. They had to wait another hour and a half before they could get married.

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Sometime last year my choir had to sing at a wedding in the cathedral, booked for 1:00pm, so we rehearsed at 1200. We also had to rehearse again at 2:00pm for Evensong at 3:15.

The bride eventually turned up at 1:25, blaming the traffic. Full use was made of the organist's improvisatory skills in the meantime! Whatever the excuse, it left us just half an hour afterwards in which to (1) grab a sandwich and (2) practice Evensong. Fortunately the choir are auditioned sight-readers, but that isn't the point. We should not have been put in that position.

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I used to play the organ at Holy Trinity Church in Llandudno where the Rector, one Derek Richards was a former Major in the army and a stern bachelor to boot! Fed up of late brides, he announced in the Parish Magazine that if the bride was 10 minutes late, the choir would be sent home - if 15 minutes late, both Rector and Organist would go home. This hit the local newspaper headlines, and e'er long a stream of journalists were buzzing around. The Bishop was visited by television camera crews with cameras rolling and Granada Reports came to interview said Rector (with organ playing in background). When asked about the bride's prerogative to be late, he snootily replied "the bride has no prerogative in this matter". It was a week to remember! There was also a confetti deposit - forfeited if said stuff was used! I don't think that he ever had to put his threat into action - the threat of it was enough.

 

But every once in a while there can be a genuine reason for lateness. Two weeks after my own wedding, I was on duty for a wedding in Rhyl. I noticed that there was a huge traffic jam outside, but didn't pay too much attention to it. Stuck in the jam was the flower arranger-people who had the wedding flowers. The wedding had to be delayed until the flowers arrived! (A fortnight earlier and I would have blown my top -- but then I found out how expensive flowers are!) :)

 

And then there was the occasion where my training incumbant had a wedding at which the bride arrived 25 minutes late in spite of a request for her to try to be punctual. Though he was less than pleased he never showed it, and after the wedding the father of the bride came to him to thank him for being so kind and patient. He added that his daughter had epilepsy and that as they were leaving their home (in good time) she had experienced an epilieptic fit and they had to deal with that... So I guess that whilst there are obnoxious and rude persons, there can be other things going on too....

 

Q

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I was once playing at a wedding for which the bride was 45 minutes late, but I'd only brought with me one book, my "Bumper Book of Wedding and Funeral Music" or somesuch title. Having reached the 40+ minute mark with every wedding piece played twice over already there was nothing to do except launch into one of the funeral marches...during the middle of which the bride unceremoniously appeared! (True story...)

 

Contrabombarde

:)

 

I take the approach that I'm not paid to play a recital, I'm paid to play for a specific length of time, and then previously agreed on pieces during the service. I make sure that the wording I use when corresponding with couples reflects this. ("I'll play music from when the congregation has moved into the chapel until it is time for you to enter.") Once the bride is late, I allow longer and longer relaxing time between each piece. Too late, and I stop playing. Weddings do not pay enough so that I'm willing to be too fatigued to do the practice, or preparation for Sunday, that I've slotted in for after the weddings.

 

My main source of wedding revenue is from a university college where the couple lose a very substantial deposit if they are not off the college grounds an hour-and-a-half after the starting time of their wedding. Despite that, I've had brides send me a starting time that does not line up with the standard starting times at the college. A quick email suggesting they check the starting time, copied to the college office, works wonders.

 

With the prevalence of mobile phones, there is no reason for the bride being late without someone being informed.

 

In an age when the mentality is that payment for the use of the chapel is really hiring of the chapel, and that hiring then allows you to do what you'd like (after all, you've paid for it), it can still be difficult to encourage all couples to stay within the agreed on guidelines, to the point where some couples have said that they are prepared to lose their deposit in order to do something that is not allowed. They must be wealthier than I. At that stage, I refer the matter to the Rector to deal with. He's bigger than I.

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Here's a new one: a phone call last night from a bride wanting to know if she still has to pay the full fee even though I'm only playing one hymn - although in addition she expects me to operate 4 CD tracks at entrance, register and exit. I explained that she is paying for my time as well as musical ability....

 

 

Name of "hymn" - Bind Us Together. I think I should charge double for that.

 

 

Peter

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Here's a new one: a phone call last night from a bride wanting to know if she still has to pay the full fee even though I'm only playing one hymn - although in addition she expects me to operate 4 CD tracks at entrance, register and exit. I explained that she is paying for my time as well as musical ability....

 

 

Name of "hymn" - Bind Us Together. I think I should charge double for that.

 

 

Peter

 

The organist in the daughter church didn't want to ask for a full fee on an occasion when other musicians were playing most of the music. I told her she was getting the full fee and to give it to the church if she thought she hadn't earned it!

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One of my ex-rectors, always used to tell the bride that for every 5 minutes she was late, he would preach for an hour. It worked every time. At my last church where the Vicar wasn't made of such stern stuff, if a bride was more than 10 minutes late I would simply stop playing and start up again with the wedding march.

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(SNIP) At my last church where the Vicar wasn't made of such stern stuff, if a bride was more than 10 minutes late I would simply stop playing and start up again with the wedding march.

I would think that was not unreasonable. Another thought would be to put on a CD. That way you could go and make a cup of tea, and return to the console in time for the bride - and some cream cakes would make the whole event entirely more enjoyable. :)

 

Q

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Late? We had a wedding moved from 2.30 to 2:00 recently because the invitations had been pruntud incorrektly.

Not a problem in itself, but the previous wedding was at 1:00 - in a different village!

 

The vicar and I walked into the first church, I gave an 'A' to the string quartet on the (electrically blown) reed organ, and the power went off to the entire village. Oh dear.

The bride, fortunately, was on time, and the quartet played the hymns, and their programmed exit music. The vicar (still robed) and I left the churchwarden to lock up and shot off to our next appontment.

 

We passed an aged couple in a Micra on the A520 - perhaps they thought they saw a flying bishop.

 

Arriving at the second church at 1:54, I rang the quartet to say that the power was on and a second fee was not in the offing, and trod on a verger's foot as he pondered a huge crack, newly appeared in the chancel arch.

Entering the chancel, I nodded hello to the groom - already waiting by the front pew - leapt onto the bench and played something unmemorable. The bride did not arrive on time.

At 2:10, I startled the groom, who was still standing by the front pew, by going to the back of the church to fetch an order of service.

 

Have you noticed that whoever prints wedding stationery never has the same hymn book as you, always with a different number of verses?

 

At 2.15 the bride arrived. Perhaps the power cut had caused havoc with her hair dryer....

 

 

(P.S. There was also the time the Vicar didn't turn up - but that was in Cheshire...)

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A few years ago a work colleague of mine was getting married. She turned up an hour and a bit late to find us all waiting outside the church as a funeral director was carrying a coffin in. They had to wait another hour and a half before they could get married.

 

 

He must have been a very strong funeral director. :)

 

 

Peter

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I am grateful to jonadkins for starting a new thread on the subject of late brides; I know I should have done it myself, but unfortunately I haven’t used the forum enough yet to work out how to do it.

 

It is interesting to read of such uniform agreement on the subject, even from our ordained members; clearly, it is incumbent upon organists and clergy to impress upon those planning weddings to take the question of arrival time seriously. A more irritating situation occurs when one plays as a guest organist at another church that may not be quite so on the ball as one’s own church.

 

At present I stop playing 5 minutes after the advertised starting time; one distinguished organist of my acquaintance stops precisely on the appointed hour. One can always segue into “Why are we waiting” (not much use at Christmastide); are there any other examples used by fellow members that might be useful? I suppose that one could adapt an idea of S.S. Wesley and simply hold a C major chord on full organ for as long as it took for the bride to turn up. The threat of this, especially if demonstrated beforehand, could concentrate the hearts and minds of the bridal party most effectively. Of course, there are other chords which could be even more effective.

 

David Harrison

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I am grateful to jonadkins for starting a new thread on the subject of late brides; I know I should have done it myself, but unfortunately I haven’t used the forum enough yet to work out how to do it.

 

David Harrison

 

At the top of this page (and most others), under the masthead, on the right-hand side are two buttons: one is labelled 'add reply' and the other is labelled 'new topic'. Click the second button, decide what you wish to call your new topic and then write your first post in this new thread. The board's software will automatically capitalise virtually every word (including adjuncts, etc) in your title; aside from this, it is quite straightforward.

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