March 17, 2015
What's a musician to do when there is an electrical problem for a wedding ceremony?
Several weeks ago I wrote two 'Saved the Day' Wedding Stories that were recently shared at the Central Minnesota Wedding Association's Award Banquet. The 'XO' eXtraOrdinary Award was given to the 3 top stories submitted by its members. The stories were judged on how a member of the Central Minnesota Wedding Association 'saved the day' for a couple that had hired them. The 3 stories that won were written about Larry Rowe at Impressions Mobile Music and Paige Meier at Carlos Creek Winery whose stories I shared earlier. Today I am excited to share my story -- Sharon Planer at Pianist for Parties.
I put a lot of extra work and did some quick troubleshooting to make Andy and Nick's wedding music happen.
I was delighted when Andy and Nick hired me as their wedding pianist. They had fun personalities and were excited to finally be able to marry in Minnesota! They had been very active in promoting the GLTB cause for many years and could hardly believe that the time had finally come for them to be able to be wed.
I met with Andy and Nick to plan their music. They were such a great couple. I learned that Andy and Nick not only wanted a pianist but also a violinist. They wanted most of the music to be performed as piano/violin duos. Nick was a former school band instructor and had special songs he really wanted for the wedding...and wanted those songs performed as piano/violin duos. There was no printed sheet music written for piano and violin for some of the songs, which meant I would have to find a violinist that knew how to play using chord charts. June 21 was an extremely popular date, but I was fortunate that violinist, Conor O'Brien, was available. Conor was experienced at performing using chord charts. It was my job to organize all of the music and decide which of us would play off of the chord charts and at what points in the music each of us would be doing so. I had a lot of assessing and marking of music to do in order to make sure that one of us was playing the melody while the other was playing the harmony. I went over all of the music measure by measure with Conor and he felt comfortable with my arranging and organization of the music.
I was not familiar with their outdoor venue and scheduled a visit ahead of time. It was a sprawling area with different locations for weddings. I wanted to make sure I knew which area was the correct location for Andy and Nick's wedding. Their spot was beautiful...on a peninsula overlooking a small lake. I observed that there was only one electrical box on the peninsula. I would need this for my portable piano and sound system. During my visit I wanted to try out the electricity to make sure it was active. I knew from past experience that just because there is an electrical outlet, does not mean that it will work! The electrical box was locked---darn! I tracked down someone in the nearby office and they explained that the box could not be unlocked until the event. The staff assured me that they had never had any problems with the electricity and that there was another wedding a week before Andy's and Nick's wedding who would be using the electricity...if there were any problem, it would be solved then.
Wisely, I asked for the name of the person and phone number if I had any problems on the day of the wedding.
They gave me the name and phone number for the facility supervisor who was responsible for the day-of proceedings.
On the day of an event, I always arrive extra early to give myself time for unforeseen problems. Thankfully, I did so the day of Andy and Nick's wedding. On this very hot day I had a lot of work ahead of me. I not only had to set up my piano and sound system. I also had to mic the violinist and also the officiant and deal with wind and sun issues. I hauled all my equipment down to the peninsula and set up my piano and connected some of my cords. When I connected my electric cord of my piano into the electric outlet, I received no power! This meant that either my piano was not working...or my cord was defective...or the electricity was not working. In order to rule out the possible causes, I had to try different cords with different pieces of equipment. After 15-20 minutes of trials, I determined that my equipment was fine (whew!), but that the electrical outlets were not working. Unfortunately the next nearest outlets were probably several thousand feet away!! I hunted around to try and locate the facility supervisor and finally found her. She came to test the outlets and spent at least 20 minutes troubleshooting...to no avail. She disappeared to check out things on the other end.
The officiant arrived and wanted to try out the mic that I was supposed to provide for him. But I had no power, so he couldn't do a sound check. The park lady returned and reported that things looked fine at the other end of the electrical system. She then called her supervisor (whom she was not supposed call at home unless it was urgent).
While on the phone her supervisor had her pushing and prodding at the outlets and she finally got the electricity to work!
By now guests were starting to stream in. The violinist arrived, but we never had time to do a sound check together. So we just started playing our prelude music. While we were playing a guest was off to my side and I quickly asked the guest to assess if our piano and violin sound was balanced.
At 4:30 p.m. The sun was shining, The lake was sparkling, Conor and I were performing beautiful prelude music, and The last guests took their seats. The wedding party entered. It was a nice long path leading down the hill to the peninsula.
Andy and Nick walked hand in hand, proud as could be.
Just as they reached the front, they turned around toward their guests and took a 'selfie'! Everyone chuckled! I breathed a sigh of relief that everything was on track and I could now absorb the beauty of Andy and Nick's commitment to one another!
Below is the review that Nick wrote about my music.
"Sharon scheduled our first meeting at her music studio in the evening around our work schedules. She played music live so we could hear what each song sounded like. She took the time to learn the names of everyone involved in the wedding, and e-mailed our judge right away to introduce herself. When we decided we wanted a violin player to play along with her, she suggested a few violinist, found beautiful arrangements for our music for piano and violin, sent him the music, and even scheduled time to practice with him before the wedding. I thought it'd be hard to pick out music, but she made the whole experience so easy and enjoyable. The music was amazing!" - Nick P
Note: With all due respect, it was Vanessa, the facility supervisor, that saved the day. Her persistence and willingness to contact her supervisor on his day off enabled the wedding to proceed. I wrote her a special thank you card expressing my sincere gratitude.