Vermont Weddings by Vermont Bride
Click here to find Vermont Weddings Vendors

VT BRIDE Loves


 

Tips for hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Eric Foley Photography

Perhaps you can perfectly envision your walk down the aisle - you can hear the exact music you want in your mind and see the whole scene perfectly. Or perhaps you don’t know exactly what you want, but you know the feeling you’d like the music to convey - perhaps slow and dreamy, or meditative, or regal and stately, or with a certain driving pulse underneath – or you just have a gut sense that you can’t find the words to explain. Or perhaps you’re somewhere in between - with some thoughts and feelings about what you’d like, some specific ideas, but haven’t nailed down yet exactly what you’d like.

Once you’ve given a little thought to the music you’d like to have at your ceremony, it’s time to start making contacts with musicians. Here’s a brief overview of the process of booking a musician. First, professionals in the wedding business (particularly Vermont professionals, in my experience!) do understand that most couples haven’t booked a musician for an event before, so are experienced in helping you through the logistics of the process - so just jumping in with the contact is most commonly just fine. But for a little broader understanding of details to keep in mind in consulting with a musician to be sure you end up with the perfect musician for your wedding with confidence in understanding the booking process, read on!

On your first contact, most couples are looking for the following information: 1) Is the musician or ensemble available for your wedding date and time? And 2) What would be the cost? 

In order to get the information you’re looking for and move on with the booking and planning process, with full understanding of the final cost, it can be really helpful to include the following information up front:

  1. The date and time of the ceremony (approximate time is usually  ok on the first contact) and whether you’d like music for the ceremony only (typically 20-30 minutes of prelude as guests are arriving plus processionals, recessionals, possible interlude  - typically 1 hour total, or 1.5 hours for Catholic ceremonies) or ceremony plus cocktail hour/reception, or reception only - and probable number of hours desired, if you know 
  2. The location of the ceremony (and/or cocktail hour/reception if relevant)
  3. Will your event be indoors or out? 
  4. If your wedding will be outdoors, will you be providing shelter for the instruments and musicians? Under what conditions would you move indoors? (Some musicians will not play outdoors; others require negotiations - and potentially extra fees - regarding specific details for protection of instruments and/or performers from sun, wind, extreme temperatures and rain)
  5. Will you require specific musical selections that are not among the typical standard wedding music options, or on the musician’s playlist? (in some cases, there may be additional costs for uncommon requests to cover purchase of new sheet music and/or time spent arranging and practicing; in some cases, your preferred repertoire choice may not be an option with a particular musician, or may require additional fees, and you may wish to know this before making a final decision to book)

Including this information can help you to get the clear answers regarding availability and cost that you’re looking for right up front. In considering musicians’ fees, bear in mind that some musicians have extensive training and experience, and often practice for hours a day, which may lead to higher cost than less experienced or less advanced musicians. Every musician I know has stories of mishaps of their own or their peers from their early days of playing for weddings. Among the stories I’ve heard:  arriving at the wedding site only to find that the instrument was not in the case and therefore being unable to play; hopping on the express train in plenty of time - only to find it was going the wrong direction - and missing the wedding; one group member getting lost and arriving at the wedding after it was finished (stories of younger players arriving late are very common); sheet music blowing off the stand in the middle of the processional because it wasn’t clamped down properly, causing a halt to the processional music (I’ve heard many variations on this story for all portions of the ceremony); music stands blowing over and/or music flying into the bushes and taking a few minutes to reassemble. I could go on - and haven’t begun to address musical expertise - but you get the idea - you often get what you pay for.

An additional note: some musicians are more organized than others. If you do not receive a reply within 24 hours, this could be a source of concern. Your music planning process could be very simple with a musician who’s organized and replies promptly. With wedding vendors who do not reply promptly, your planning process, including repertoire choices and more, could be a nightmare. You deserve prompt communication! If you don’t receive that, it may be a red flag. (Bear in mind that occasionally communication doesn’t go through – I’ve occasionally received inquiries in my spam folder – a second attempt may be helpful in some cases). 

Once you’ve confirmed availability, pricing, potential shelter for instruments, and options for suitable repertoire choices, you should expect to receive a contract. Once the contract is signed by both you and the musician, and your deposit or retainer fee is received by the musicians (this may be 50% of the total fees, though this may vary quite a bit), you can rest assured that you have completed the logistical part of booking a musician, and can now move on to the fun part - refining your repertoire choices! This deposit/retainer fee is normally considered non-refundable, since the musicians will most likely be turning down other paid work for your wedding day between the time of booking and the time of your wedding. 

Starting off on the right foot with a good working relationship with your musicians can be a really helpful beginning to the process of setting the ambiance for your big day.  Vermont musicians will certainly help you to fill in the missing pieces and will generally be very understanding in the process, but conveying your understanding of their needs - in terms of time, protection of priceless instruments, respect for training and expertise, and conveying a bit of your feelings about what repertoire inspires you - can really help get you in a groove with the musicians in a way that drives everyone’s energy toward optimal results!

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.

 

Amy Kuschel Charlston | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Charlston | Art Deco detailing adds a measure of decadence to Charleston's delicately beaded French Chantilly lace silhouette. A sassy, lower circle skirt of Point d'Esprit netting adds swing to this enchanting gown. A beaded bateau neckline with a barely-there ribbon tie along with charming cap sleeves add to Charleston's flirtatious spirit. Layered over a sexy bias cut satin slip for comfort and versatility, this classic, iconic flapper sheath silhouette is always in style.

Inspired by Old-Hollywood fashion from the 1930's and 40's, Amy Kuschel's newest gown collection highlights some of the most timeless and elegant styles from screen sirens like Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, and Katharine Hepburn. From hour glass hugging curves to flapper-esque sheeth silhouettes, each gown shines with its own style personality and movie star worthy charisma.

All of the gowns featured are available at Sewly Yours Bridal, by appointment only 802-660-9003.

Amy Kuschel Harlem | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Harlem | The cultural and artistic explosion that took place then made Harlem a gathering place for writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars. This gown captures that artsy, Jazz era vibe. Cosmopolitan French Pop Art lace makes this gown sing with a sensual and sophisticated high front neckline complemented by a low, open backline. Add signature four-ply silk crepe skirt to turn up the drama and intrigue of Harlem's languid, sexy sheath silhouette.

Amy Kuschel Broadway | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Broadway | You'll take center stage and win their attention in this ladylike trumpet silhouette designed to capture the essence of modern elegance. A softly curved low cut neckline and natural waist show off your curves. Demure cap sleeves adorn your shoulders. Delicate lace edgings create a feminine framing for your decolletage. 60s Garden Party lace adds a bit of playful romance...there's always magic in the air!

Amy Kuschel Libby | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Libby | Libby's bohemian spirit is effortless and elegant, bringing to mind looks from the liberated 20's and hippy days of the 60's. Libby's sheer blouse styling is fabricated in pebble silk chiffon exuding romance, intrigue, and charm. With a delicate tie back neck and open backline adding to the sophistication and allure. Our signature 4-ply silk crepe skirt creates a clean, fluid sheath silhouette with soft gathering at the waistline to show off your feminine curves.

Amy Kuschel Go Lovely | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Go Lovely | The Go Lovely gown is fashioned after Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly in the 1960s Breakfast at Tiffany's. Who can resist these memorable post-war looks? So simple and elegant, a classic, iconic silhouette with Upper East Side sensibilities. six-ply silk crepe highlights Go Lovely's hourglass silhouette, flattering the female figure with a low cut softly curved neckline, elegantly shaped straps to gracefully frame the neckline. Fluid yet feminine with a natural waistline that cinches you at your smallest point.

 

 

Casablanca 2233 | Carnation | Blush Gowns | Vermont Bride Magazine | Fiori Bridal Boutique
Casablanca № 2233 ~ Carnation | Carnation is a strapless, form fitting, fit-n-flare gown that boasts a sumptuous combination of beaded and embroidered tulle over iridescent organza with sleek satin lining. The sweetheart neckline and sweeping train add a dramatic twist to this gown.

Blush is the rising star of wedding gown fashion with many of the top designers offering various shades of the delicate and feminine color as an alternative to the traditional white and ivory. Luxurious layers of tulle, lace, and satin are dreamy, delicate, and perfect for the bride looking for a gown that will make her feel like a princess.

All of the featured gowns are available at Fiori Bridal Boutique, in Essex Junction, Vermont.

Casablanca 2230 Lilac | Blush Gown Inspiration | Fiori Bridal Boutique | Vermont Bride MagazineCasablanca № 2230 ~ Lilac | Lilac is a flattering A-line gown with an illusion bateau neckline that follows the delicate curve of the collar bone, and is beaded front and back. Lace appliqués run the length of this tulle gown over satin lining and down onto the scallop lace train, while dainty buttons are sprinkled down the illusion back.

Stella York 6025 | Blush Gown Inspiration | Fiori Bridal Boutique | Vermont Bride Magazine
Stella York № 6025 | This flowing Stella York sheath bridal gown was imagined and crafted to provide an exceptional fit without sacrificing comfort . Constructed from breezy tulle and corded lace, it is completed with a Diamante-beaded belt that slims the waist – showing off your curves. The back of this bridal gown zips up under fabric-covered buttons for ease of use. Inspired by whimsy and romance, this gown would complete any beachside wedding.

Essence of Australia D2088 | Blush Gown Inspiration | Fiori Bridal Boutique | Vermont Bride Magazine
Essence of Australia № D2088 | This eye-catching Regency organza wedding dress from the Essense of Australia bridal gown collection boasts figure-flattering ruched pleating on its fitted bodice, a sweetheart neckline, a slimming dropped waist, and layers of flowing organza on its skirt and chapel train.

Justin Alexander 8825 | Blush Gown Inspiration | Fiori Bridal Boutique | Vermont Bride Magazine
Justin Alexander № 8825 | An elegant silk dupioni ball gown with piped neckline and waistline, full gathered skirt and pockets create simplicity at its best. The color is pearl pink.

 

Prince William and Catherine Middleton Wedding Music Inspiration | Royal Wedding Fifth Anniversary | Vermont Bride Magazine
Photo by Hugo Burnand

This article originally appeared in Vermont Bride Magazine in 2011, revisited in honor of the royal couple’s fifth anniversary which occured this past April 29th.

When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, then Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton, were selecting music for their wedding, they wove threads of many colors and textures into the fabric of their day. The majority of people watching from around the world were probably aware of the majesty of the sound, and the familiarity of some of the hymns, but I would venture to guess that relatively few were aware of the personal significance of Prince William and Miss Middleton’s choices, nor how those choices wove their ceremony, and their future life together, into the fabric of family, community, country and world. Royal weddings can set precedents for the rest of us long after the event itself – as can be seen in the case of the use of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March for the 1858 wedding of Princess Victoria and Prince Frederick. I invite you to a closer look at William and Kate’s wedding music, not so much with the idea of duplicating the specific choices, but in considering their planning approach as you plan a wedding that will reflect your own life, your past, your present, and your future, as individuals, as a couple, as a family and part of a community.

The bride’s processional, “I Was Glad” by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, was selected partly for its ability to fill the large hall with theatrical impact while accenting rather than detracting from the bride herself, and partly because it was a favorite of the couple and was written by Prince William’s favorite composer, but it also represents family history in that it was composed for William’s great-great-great grandfather Edward VII’s coronation in 1902. The recessional, “Crown Imperial” by William Walton, was originally performed for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, and was also played for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Prince William and Catherine Middleton Wedding Music Inspiration | Royal Wedding Fifth Anniversary | Vermont Bride Magazine

Three of the couple’s favorite hymns were sung during the ceremony. Notably, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” was the final hymn at William’s mother, Diana’s, funeral. The second hymn, “Love Divine All Love Excelling” is considered one of Britain’s top ten favorite hymns and has also been sung at other of their family ceremonies, and the third, “Jerusalem,” references the poet William Blake’s perspective on social inequalities of the industrial era, with notable similarities to the social priorities and interests of the royal couple, as well as the final statement regarding better days “on England’s green and pleasant land.”

Three selections for the prelude (Farewell to Stromness by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Touch Her Soft Lips and Part by William Walton, and Romance for String Orchestra by Gerald Finzi) were chosen specifically because of their use at the Service of Prayer and Dedication for the Prince of Wales (William’s father) and the Duchess of Cornwall, following their wedding service in 2005. 

One of the clearest threads in Kate and William’s choices was the emphasis on 20th century British composers. The only exceptions were two organ compositions at the beginning and end – Fantasia in G by Johann Sebastian Bach – and Toccata from Organ Symphonie V by French composer Charles-Marie Widor. I can only speculate on the significance of opening and closing with representation of the greater European world, representing the gifts of one of the first and greatest organ compositions and another by a composer who lived at the time the Westminster Abbey organ was rebuilt.

Miss Middleton had two more priorities in her music selection. She chose a selection representing a beautiful theme of hundreds of years of England’s history – Fantasia on Greensleeves by Vaugh Williams (original theme likely by Henry VIII from the 16th century) – and also placed a high priority on recently composed music. Three pieces on the program filled this second need: the Fanfare following the signing of the registers, composed for this occasion by Wing commander Duncan Stubbs; the Anthem: “This is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made” by John Rutter, commissioned by Westminster Abbey as a gift for Prince William and Miss Middleton, and “Ubi Caritas,” a 2010 selection from 36 year old composer Paul Mealor, resident of the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, where the Duke and Duchess also reside.

Though few of us can afford to commission a new piece for our wedding, to be played on one of the world’s greatest organs, as well as a full professional orchestra and choir, and few of us have coronations in our family history, I believe we all have many threads in common with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 

Several threads of joy, a thread of grief, some of community, some of country, some of the greater world, many threads of love, many threads of faith, a thread of spring, a thread of sorrow, a thread of awareness of the need to work for a bright future, many historical threads, and some brand new threads. This is the fabric of a couple. This is the fabric of a family and a community. What musical selections represent what you love? your family? your community? your outlook on the world? your tastes and preferences? your history and your hopes for the future? The musical choices you weave into your wedding day can reflect and interconnect, and hold a place in your world from which you and your loved ones may grow, safely and joyfully, together.

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She maintains a private flute studio for in Montpelier, Vermont and also teaches online to students worldwide.

 

Honoring Your Loved Ones Through Music Choices | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Mae Memories Photography

A 1927 photograph shows my grandparents on their wedding day, beaming with the newlywed glow of any young couple. My grandfather was a man of few spoken words, though he once wrote “I married a very wonderful girl in 1927…” and “We grew apples, potatoes, and peaches but our most important crop was our daughter and three sons.” I recall only one time, in the twelve years that our lives overlapped, that he spoke to me, the sixth of his ten grandchildren, directly. I was seven or eight and he in his mid-seventies, and slowing from progressing cancer. He sat in an easy chair during the day and once motioned to me to come to where he was. He took my hand and said “Where’s that chubby little girl? You’re almost grown up!” I remember the touch of his work-worn hand and the look in his eye. In hindsight I see in his face that I was, in that moment, along with my cousins and siblings, not only his most precious crop but the reason for every crop of his 75+ years, for every trip up the apple tower to survey the orchards, for every apple picked or pressed, eaten or sold, sauced or baked in a pie by my grandmother. We were the reason his parents immigrated from Sweden, and he, the youngest of their twelve children, was only one of two to live, marry, and have children in this new country. 

Every family has a precious and unique history. What better time to honor your loved ones than your wedding day? There are many ways to go about it, but consider what your music choices can say. At my wedding, I chose to include movements from Ingolf Dahl’s “Variations on a Swedish Folk Tune” to honor both of my grandfathers’ Swedish ancestry. We chose to have a contradance at the reception largely because we both loved contradancing, but it also honored both New England and Celtic roots.

If you want a ceremony and reception that thoroughly reflects a specific heritage, you may wish to choose a Klezmer band for a Jewish wedding, or a French Canadian Band to reflect French roots, or a similar choice. But many wedding couples may wish to have primarily classical music, but include some specific selections to reflect specific people or family backgrounds. I’ve often played Celtic selections for this purpose, intermixed with the classical. On one occasion I played a traditional Korean song, “Doraji,” as part of the prelude, to honor the bride’s Korean heritage. For weddings where one or both members of the couple are partially of Jewish descent, I enjoy movements from Michael Isaacson’s “A Jewish Wedding Suite,” arranged for flute, violin and cello. Movements from this suite include the folk songs “Dodi Li” (My Beloved), “Eishet Chayil” (A Woman of Valor), “Ma Navu” (The Messenger of Good Tidings), and more. Any of these folk tunes could also be played on other instruments, with the proper arrangement. There are infinite possibilities for couples wishing to reflect virtually any family background. (Bear in mind that depending on musicians and instruments chosen, as well as cost of purchasing music or potential complexity of arranging the music, there may - or may not - be additional fees involved, and certain specific selections may not work for certain instrument combinations). 

Perhaps a grandparent had or has a special hymn or song they always loved. Another thought may be to ask your grandparents or parents what was played at their wedding. Or if no one knows, perhaps you might wish to choose something that was popular at the time of their wedding. “It Had to Be You” was written in 1924, around the time my grandfather would been wooing my grandmother “away from the other fellow” (according to recent information from my uncle!). Hearing the song reminds me that my grandparents’ generation so long ago was not so different from my own generation, or from younger or future generations, reflecting the thoughts, the love, the care that any young couple today feels for one another. We’re all part of the story, taking what came before and weaving it into the future.

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.