Ceremony Music Inspiration from the Royal Wedding (Part 1)

Wasn’t it amazing?  I can’t stop thinking about the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.  I know many brides to be out there are drawing inspiration from the elegance of the day in all sorts of areas—and I wanted to do a breakdown of the instrumentation and ensembles that performed and offer some ideas on how you could get a similar sound for your day!

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For Prince William & Kate:
London Chamber Orchestra
A chamber orchestra is an orchestra comprised of 50 or fewer musicians—strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion with a conductor.  The London Chamber Orchestra is the UK’s longest established professional orchestra and yes, they are available for hire.

Get the Sound:
For a full sound that is elegant and rich but with fewer musicians (since most brides probably aren’t going to be able to have 50 professional performers) opt for a string quartet plus piano and 1 or 2 trumpets.  The piano will help add fullness to the sound while the strings will give the rich tone.  The trumpet(s) lend that exciting formal elegance that is so appealing.  Be ABSOLUTELY sure that these musicians are high quality professionals because poor playing—bad intonation, etc. can quickly turn regal elegance into ear splitting agony.

For Prince William & Kate:
Westminster Abbey Choir
There are many types of choirs but the Westminster Abbey Choir is comprised of 30 boys and 12 professional adult singers.  Choir of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor composed of 23 boy choristers and 12 professional adults.

Get the Sound:
Most cities and some churches have children’s choirs.  It would certainly be a lovely spin on the flowergirl/ringbearer concept to have the children in your wedding be vocalists!  Be careful that you’re not signing yourself up for too much complexity in the midst of the rest of the planning:  this is your big day, but for the families of these children from the local kid’s choir, it is one of many items on the family to-do list. 

If you don’t want to risk that, opting for adult professional vocalists is a good route to go.  The singers in Westminster Abbey Choir & the Choir of St George’s are some of the most talented in the UK in the classical realm.  Having 1-4 classically trained vocalists (perhaps a mix of male and female voices) is going to create a wonderful, robust effect. 

For Prince William & Kate:
Organ by Robert Quinney
The 35 year old sub-organist for Westminster Abbey (the sub-organist is responsible for all events at the abbey.)

Get the Sound:
Many churches have a resident organist.  The songs performed at the Royal Wedding are definitely very technically challenging so make sure that your church organist is comfortable with the musical selections you make.  Showing some enthusiasm and appreciation for the organist’s years of training can go a long way towards getting his or her best efforts! 

Venue:
One thing to keep in mind when contemplating a royal-esque wedding is venue.  Classical instruments and vocalists really benefit from an indoor setting with good acoustics such as a chapel or cathedral.  While one can achieve amazing things these days with sound amplification, you’ll have better results inside than in an outdoor setting such as a garden or vineyard.  If you are having an outdoor wedding, positioning the musicians in front of any sort of wall will help the sound immensely. 

Stay tuned for my next post about the specific song selections Prince William and Kate used for their day.  I will include suggestions of songs similar if you’re looking for something along the same lines without being an exact match. . . . and if you are interested in more ideas and information about professional ceremony music, please visit us on www.effesenden.com!

Blush Bridal Bolsters Make-A-Wish Foundation

  One of the things I value most in other business professionals is authenticity. This a trait that Amy Nuttman, owner of Blush Bridal Consultation Group has in spades. It translates in the angst free, relaxed, confident approach that she and her coordinators exude in the weddings that they facilitate. Recently, Amy has taken the walking of the talk one step further by partnering with Make-A-Wish Foundation to katekellyphotographydonate 5% of her company profits to this amazing charity. I am so impressed!

Amy and I share more than just a passion for beautiful, well organized weddings. We also have daughters almost the exact same age. We love to watch our little ones run and climb and get into trouble. We love to dream about their futures…and every so often muse about their wedding days (40 years from now of course!) I know how much Amy feels blessed to have a growing family and the fact that she wants other families to be supported through unimaginably difficult times makes me think just that much more of her integrity.

I would recommend Blush to anyone. Time and time again I have seen their events go off with happy, relaxed brides and grooms. Thanks Amy for not only being so proficient, but also giving back to the community by supporting Make–a-Wish!

Blush Bridal Consultation Group
home: 503.224.7700
Email: blush@blushbridalevents.com
Find Blush on Facebook

Portland Spirit Benefit Cruise For MamaBaby Haiti

 

WHEN:  Friday, May 13 6:45-9:30 p.m.

WHERE:
Portland Spirit’s Willamette Star

WHAT:  musical entertainment, wine, chocolate, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction and beautiful cityscape views aboard the vessel!

HOW:  $100/person (Must be 21 years of age.)
Purchase Tickets! 

I don’t put too much on my blog about my personal life but this event on May 13th really means a lot to me.  Almost 2 years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl.  After reading Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth and watching the documentary the Business of Being Born, I was hell bent on having a natural birth—a water birth in fact at OHSU!  I did everything that I could to have a healthy pregnancy:  organic foods, exercise, cutting down on stress…I was surrounded by supportive friends and family.  Then Baby V was late. Very. Very. Late.  2 Weeks and still nothing!

To make a long story short, I ended up having an induced labor that included 56 hours of labor before I finally ended up having a C-section after baby V’s heart rate fell and her position was not changing. She…and possibly I would have died had we not had the excellent care of the competent and compassionate midwives and doctors at OHSU.  (Then WHO would have played violin for your wedding I ask! (:  )

When I think about mommies to be across the globe who don’t have that chance just because of where they were born, it leaves me breathless. Why me? Why do I get the chance to enjoy this life with my beautiful baby who is fast becoming a little girl when my sisters in Haiti do not?

I saw Bill Gates interviewed on Charlie Rose recently.  Here is a link to the transcript–The talk is really worth exploring. I know I really shouldn’t write this on a wedding music blog but I honestly think some people don’t value life in 3rd world countries because they think that the population is booming anyway…they think “Oh well, the women will just have more babies.” But as Bill Gates pointed out in this interview, the reason that these families have so many kids is in large part because they don’t think that all of them will survive. How tragic that this would be a reality of life! How amazing that we don’t have to think that way here in the states.

I believe with all my heart that every life is precious and I am ecstatic that MamaBaby Haiti is helping make a profound difference in the lives of individual women and children. Who knows what ramifications saving the lives and improving the quality of health for women and children in Haiti will have for our world. Maybe they are saving the life of the next Mother Theresa or Albert Einstein.

SO… please consider dressing up in your fancy duds and enjoying a wonderful evening on the Portland Spirit. I will be playing jazz violin and fiddle along with Nate Macy on guitar and Nolan Staples on upright bass. We sincerely hope you can join us!

MamaBaby Haiti is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of mothers and babies.  Their mission is to lower the maternal, fetal, and neonatal mortality rate in Haiti. MamaBaby Haiti is formed by a group of midwives and naturopathic doctors who serve women and families out of their birthing center and clinic in Haiti. They provide free prenatal, birth, postpartum, and pediatric care, in addition to education and other life saving services.

So You Don’t Like Classical Music…

Many people mistakenly believe that unless they are wealthy enough to hire Elton John and his piano to be delivered to their ceremony site, that live music will limit them to a range of classical songs that mean nothing to them. When they hold up that option (boring…possibly expensive music they don’t recognize) against having their deejay play a recording of Ben Harper or Etta James, it is easy to see why some would conclude music to be as gratuitous a luxury as hiring in a flock of live swans to waddle through the reception.

 

If you are choosing an ensemble whose repertoire consists almost entirely of Classical music, and you don’t really LIKE classical music, than yes, it probably isn’t worth it. If however, you choose an ensemble with a versatile repertoire and the ability to add songs of your choosing to the playlist, than all of a sudden you’ve upped the style and sophistication of your event 100 fold.

In a nutshell, here are 5 reasons to go live for your ceremony (and beyond)

  1. Live music is better for timing your processional. Maybe your flowergirl gets distracted down the aisle. Maybe you have 9 bridesmaids…or 2. The average recorded song is about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in length. The average length of processional is 1 to 1.5 minutes. A deejay can fade or start in the middle of a song but live musicians can arrange the song to fit exactly with what is actually happening in the moment.
  2. Live music is more interesting than recorded music for you and your guests to enjoy. Anyone who has ever been to a concert knows this! Why would you fork out $75 or more to see your favorite artist from the nosebleed section of a stadium if listening to an mp3 on your earbuds were more enthralling?
  3. Live music is cross generational. By having a range of music played by an ensemble such as a string quartet, you offer a style of music that anyone from your friends to your elderly grandparents will enjoy.
  4. However brief your ceremony may be, the moment you begin walking down that aisle will stay with you forever. The song that is played will remind you every time you hear it in the future so choose carefully and make sure it’s done well!
  5. Live music is more appropriate for outdoor weddings. As you are surrounded by nature, the sounds of birds singing and wind rustling the leaves, how much more organic and appropriate is a beautiful violin than a big black speaker? Very.

The most important…in fact, the only ingredient necessary to have an amazing wedding celebration is the love that you and your partner share. As you think of the elements that will go into reflecting that love, live music is one very special option that can help express the happiness that you feel! For more information and ideas for live music, check out sample live music on the Effesenden Music website!

More Than Entertainment

It came time to decide how the advertising would go for the coming year.  We do have to advertise… can’t just sit at home dreaming up beautiful wedding music in our bedrooms hoping someone will hear it outside on the sidewalk after all! 

But a funny thing I noticed… where flowers, cakes, and photographers all got their own special category on one prominent wedding resource guide, music was tucked away under the category “entertainment.”  This bothered me—at first I just wasn’t even sure why.  Was it because music is like breathing for me?  Was it because “entertainment” makes me think of jugglers and jazz hands more than a beautiful song?  My answer came back to the heart of what I believe about weddings versus the wedding industry.

“Wedding industry” is a bit of a taboo term amongst some who offer their skills to help make a wedding celebration unfold.  We truly love what we do and we don’t like it put in the terms of “industry.”  We prefer “craft” or “style” or “world.”  It is however technically an industry… a 62.8 billion dollar one back in 2008 according to MSNBC. 

So here we have this sort of scary, cold sounding beast of a concept “industry” butting up against this most intimate and important of choices:  how do you want to celebrate and commemorate your commitment to share your life with one special person?

As couples navigate the world of wedding planning, they can quickly feel overcome by the sense of “we don’t know, we have never done this before!”   This is not a party you are throwing so that you hope people will like you!!!  This is a party you are throwing because you want to share your happiness with your community who already loves you and wants to support and celebrate your love. 

Throughout human history, playing and listening to music has been one wonderful way that people mark momentous times in their lives and in their communities.  It is also a powerful tool of self expression.  With these two important functions in mind which have stood the test of time more than even the wedding ring, I hope that the wedding industry will someday come to give music the same credit it bestows on other elements of the wedding day.

In the end, the level of enjoyment at a wedding is still about the individual couple and their unique definition of a celebration… not a massive industry list of rules and requirements.  The couple who plans their wedding and keeps what the industry says in check might in fact just enjoy the process!