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Late brides


sotto
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As far as I can see from a quick search this topic hasn't been raised since 2008 so I hope it's OK to bring it up again.

 

I played for a wedding yesterday at which the service started exactly 42 minutes late. Now I accept that sometimes there are roadworks or whatever that build in a margin of error but not that much. As it happens I had no subsequent engagements that day but they had no way of knowing that. To me it's completely unacceptable. If you make an appointment with me, which a wedding is, for a certain time, then I expect you to be there at that time. The same as any other professional person would do. If you do not show up at the appointed time then the deal should be off, your fault, your problem.

 

I'm interested to know if anyone has policies in place to deal with this, such as refundable deposits for lateness or contractual agreements as to when the organist is entitled to shut up shop and go home. I don't want to ruin anyone's "big day" but neither do I want my good will to be taken advantage of and for anyone to be able to ruin my day by their lateness!

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My worst delay occurred in May with an unprecedented 1 hour, 15 minutes. Like you, I had no further engagements later in the day but a string quartet (poor souls - who DID have somewhere else to go) were engaged to play up until the bridal entry when the organ was required.

 

The reason - "make-up issues"....I'm not joking.

 

I agree with all you say.

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In my last (final and unlamented) church post the problem virtually never arose. With just one exception, brides were never more than five minutes late and this seemed usually to be the fault of a fussy photographer outside the west door. I never enquired into this relative punctuality, but feel fairly certain that His Nibs issued very firm instruction on the matter to couples beforehand. And who could blame him? The one exception, when the bride was 45 minutes late, had a legitimate reason, though I forget now what it was: something like the car being stuck in traffic, a bird anointing the bride or the bride's father needing a shot of heroin.

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Worst one recently was 30 mins late, but that now pales in comparison with some of the stories I read here.

 

No policies in place regarding lateness as far as I know but this is quite a busy place and they are firmly told at the booking that there will be another wedding probably 1 hour after theirs so don't dawdle or you will go away unmarried. Hasn't happened during my tenure, though.

 

The 30 minute tardy bride cheesed me off particularly because they had been granted a concessionary Sunday wedding and I'd had enough by then. Can't dig in my heels too much because I was 20 minutes late for my own. (I've spent a long time on the organ bench atoning for my sin).

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My late wife arrived early! She had played the organ for so many weddings where the bride was late that she was determined she would not do the same.

 

When brides came to see me about the music for their weddings I made it clear that I was very happy for them to observe the tradition of the bride arriving a couple of minutes late but that anything else was bad manners. I also reminded them that their Solicitor would charge them extra for his time and that there was no reason why I, as a professional person, shouldn't do the same! It sounds a bit pompous but I used to try and put it in a friendly, relaxed but firm manner! Mostly it worked!

 

One Rector would never have supported me if I had made a stand with brides - as long as he wasn't put out! On one occasion, when he was put out, he stormed to the lychgate where the, late, bride was having her photographs taken and screamed at her "You.....! Now......! Church......!" His successor made the point at 'Wedding preparation day' that, if they were more than 20 minutes late the choir would leave. More than 40 minutes late and he would send the organist home - he never did but there was one occasion when I was switching off as she arrived at the church door and there were a number of occasions when the choir left!

 

I suspect most of us could write a book about 'late brides' Add to that a book about 'visiting singers/organist/musicians at weddings and you have the stuff that nightmares are sometimes made of - and nobody would believe you!

 

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I have previously shared on this Forum the occasion that I ran out of wedding music after 40 minutes and had to turn to the funeral section of my "wedding and funeral" organ voluntary book. I share that cautionary tale with all couples I play for now. No one has ever been that late since.

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When one bride still hadn't arrived c. 45 minutes after the due time, I simply ran out of things to play and also of ideas for further simple improvisations - like at least one of the posters above. Anyway, I was just tired by that time. The congregation was also getting anxious and very noisy so it didn't matter whether I was playing or not. So, with the rector I went to the west door and found that she had probably been there for some considerable time - in a long limo which had got stuck while trying to negotiate a sharp turn off the road into the drive and hemmed in by two stone pillars. The driver was probably incompetent otherwise he would have known he couldn't have made it. Unfortunately the pillars made it impossible to open the doors so the poor girl was trapped inside.

 

Eventually it was sorted but only after a lot of shouting and attempts at (mis)direction by assorted guests - "left hand down a bit" and all that nonsense.

 

Can I also introduce the subject of wedding howlers when (musically) things go badly and embarrassingly wrong? I always dislike having to play at a strange church for a wedding, not so much because of the organ but because of local custom and practice regarding the logistical minutiae of the service. So I always arrive very early to buttonhole the officiant for the purpose of ensuring I shall know exactly when the bride arrives at the door and therefore when to launch into Here Comes or whatever.

 

When playing at the request of a friend once I went through this ritual and was happy - the incumbent said "Oh, it's all right my boy, I just present myself at the back of the church and wave my arms - you will see me in your mirror". So he duly appeared in the field of view waving his arms maniacally. But when the strains of Wagner appeared he ran up the aisle shouting "No, not yet you fool, she's not here".

 

Afterwards, when I asked him, tersely no doubt, why things had gone wrong, he said "I was trying to shove them all towards the front of the church. I don't like congregations hogging the back pews".

 

CEP

 

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My choir was once booked for a 1:00pm wedding.

Since we also had a rehearsal at 2:00pm for Evensong at 3:15, we already knew there wasn't going to be much time for lunch.

The bride arrived at 1:40!

I told the Dean that Evensong would start at 3:30pm. -:)

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