I started playing for weddings long before I established Effesenden Music. One of the first weddings I played was as a young high school student at the beautiful Willamette Valley vineyards near Salem, Oregon. It was very windy and the little metal folding music stand I was using blew over during the prelude– music went everywhere! Then for the recessional, the guests had been given these wax paper envelopes which contained freeze dried butterflies which were supposed to, when opened, spring to life and flutter gently out of their slumber, surrounding the happy couple with beautiful, brightly covered wings. Instead, these butterflies were like Snow White without the kiss. The envelopes were opened. . . .nothing happened. When guests tried to dislodge them, they just dropped stone dead to the ground. Talk about not a good way to start things off… but then, as my husband and I well know, sometimes the epic fails end up being the best stories that we are still laughing about years later.
While still in college, I was asked to play in a string quartet for weddings. We would ride around in this windowless white van that sort of had the serial killer vibe– there weren’t even seats in the back, just musicians rolling around with the rest of the gear from one wedding to the next. Sometimes the other violinist was super drunk but he still managed to play really well in tune. I don’t know how! Sometimes we would have three weddings in one day– luckily traffic wasn’t as bad back then as it is now in the metro area! Everyone has their crazy college stories and many of my fellow musicians went on to have incredible careers but I knew that when I started Effesenden Music, I really wanted to do things differently. I wanted to place my focus on relationships, kindness, enthusiasm, quality and attention to detail.
Here are eight of my favorite wedding memories as the owner of Effesenden Music.
- Performing for a wedding reception with violin, guitar and cello, the groom’s 90 year old grandfather came up to say hello. He then proceeded to pull a harmonica out of the pocket of his plaid suit coat and asked if he might join in for a set.
- Playing Canon in D for that critical moment of the bride’s procession at a gorgeous outdoor venue in Clackamas. Suddenly, A spider dropped from my hair and began repelling down towards my violin. I HATE bugs but I kept playing. I am self controlled when I need to be!
- The night my guitarist, Nate and I had played for the ceremony live but stayed to provide DJ services for the reception at the Abernethy Center in Oregon City. As we were starting to pack up our gear, amidst the black coiled sound cables, was a black coiled LIVE snake. SO glad I didn’t pick it up and bring it home.
- I’ve played violin since age three but a few years ago, I learned to play the Ukulele for a wedding that needed it. Because of this, I was able to help a young boy tune his ukulele to perform a special piece for his dad, the groom. I am not a great ukulele player by any means but it was great to be able to have the skills to help out. That same night, on my way to the venue I accidentally took a route that put me in the path of the infamous Portland naked bike ride. GPS doesn’t warn about things like that!
- When our string quartet performed for a stunning wedding ceremony and reception in Maui, Hawaii, we discovered that a number of the guests were professional hockey players. I’ve never seen a hockey game in my life but our Canadian born cellist was absolutely beside himself.
- Playing solo violin for a wedding ceremony at a private home in Sellwood. The catch was that none of the guests knew they were coming to a wedding–they though their friends were just throwing a party! I love seeing community in action.
- When I broke my pinkie toe on my music stand- I never forgot about the tipping metal stand of my teenage years and bought a super heavy stand that would withstand gale force winds, however, my fellow musicians and I nicknamed it the “Stand of Death.” Why? Because every time I would use it, there would be an injury.
- The ongoing opportunity to work with so many awesome musicians who I love and admire. The daily challenge of taking a song that maybe was never meant for strings and finding a way to create an arrangement that makes my clients smile.