I am a violinist. I am not a professional, but I'm decent enough to play for weddings and such. I'm in an all volunteer orchestra and recently joined an all string ensemble as well.
As of today I am giving up playing for weddings, unless I play for someone I know or the close friend of someone I know, or a family member, a friend, the daughter of a friend...hopefully you get the idea. I will no longer agree to play for the wedding of someone I do not know at all.
Here are the last two experiences I had when I was asked to play for a wedding:
Number 1: Last spring I received a phone call out of the blue from a bride-to-be who introduced herself and told me she had talked to me a few weeks ago about playing for her wedding which was to take place on such-and-such date. I had ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY of talking to this person. But....as I am prone to do...I believed HER instead of myself. I checked my calendar. I had not written down the date. I would have written down the date without a doubt. I still believed HER. The date was free, so anyway I said yeah okay, I guess. But I will tell you. I WAS SCARED. I truly felt frightened that I was losing my mind, that I was showing signs of Alzheimer's, etc. I'm not being funny when I say that I was truly concerned about myself.
It just so happened that a friend who often plays weddings with me (we are in the aforementioned orchestra and ensemble together) and I were on our way to a rehearsal when I mentioned to her this phone call. She looked at me in surprise, and shock I'm sure, and said "It was me." I replied, "WHAT???" She repeated, "I talked to her. It was me she called." To make a long story short, things went downhill from there. She kept calling one of us or the other and getting us mixed up. She told my friend that since she had talked to me first (which she hadn't) she wanted me to play. This was after more time went by and I had already stepped aside telling my friend "You can have her." When the phone call came that she wanted me and not my friend, my schedule changed and I had something else on the calendar which could not (not that I would have anyway) be changed.
As it turned out, neither one of us played for her. She was rude, disorganized, and hung up on my friend. Done, except that I wasted a lot of time, experienced a lot of frustration and stress for no fault of my own (and so did my friend). At least I'm not experiencing serious memory loss.
Number 2: I had another bride call me in the summer to schedule me to play for her September wedding. She wanted both my friend and me. I hadn't heard anything from her for a very long time, but she finally did call just a couple of weeks prior to her wedding (this was late last week) and said we should get together to pick the music and whatnot. I said fine, called my friend, and we scheduled for this Sunday afternoon past. A day or two after that her bridesmaid called me to get directions to my house which I gave. The bride ended up calling me the day of our meeting and told me she was sick and couldn't make it. Ok. Fine. We rescheduled for this evening at 6 p.m. I had a funny feeling about this whole thing for some reason.
To back up, my friend and I found out just a couple of hours earlier that this bride has no vocalist, no piano, no organist...no one else...just two violins. Typically we play as people are being seated, perhaps a song if the mothers are lighting a candle, etc. We usually have the support of an accompanist. Our church is large and two violins alone is not a big sound. Oh, the bride earlier in this whole process had mentioned that she was doing "a wedding on a budget" yet it was for 200 people. What that means can be translated into "I don't want to pay you much, if anything." We don't care all that much about money, although we have both upped what we charge. We have to plan, we have to get together with the bride, we have to get together with each other and rehearse, and we have to show up and do it. In general it isn't unreasonable to charge $50 to $100 each. When I got married almost 28 years ago, I paid my organist $50 and that was then.
What happened next was that 6 p.m. came and went. At about 6:10 p.m. the phone rang as my friend and I sat and waited. It was the groom, with whom I had never spoken before, saying they were on their way (I didn't know he was coming too but that's ok) and they needed directions. I started giving directions as if they were in or near my town, but then realized I should know from what direction they were coming. They said they were coming from a town way south of my town and that they had just gotten on the interstate. They were at least a half hour away, even in good traffic, but this was still rush hour.
Still, my friend and I said we would wait. I did have someone else coming over at 7 or so for something else, which is true, although I could have dealt with it. We hung up and my friend and I waited about another five minutes. The phone range again and it was the bride. She said she was sorry for the hassle, but they had allowed themselves plenty of time (yeah right) but they weren't going to make it. I said ok, well I don't know what you are going to do, and she said she had messed it all up. As far as I know, this bride has no music for her wedding which is supposed to take place a week from this Saturday, but that's her problem.
I'm done. No more weddings. I think this is scary. There are people like this out there in the world. What will happen to these marriages? What will life be like in their home? What will their children be like? Good grief, I could end up teaching one of them.
The good thing is I got to spend some quality time with my friend. She stayed for dinner and we had a nice glass (or two) of Pinot Noir.
The second good thing is that I have now made dinner and theater plans with some friends for that Saturday and I am totally unavailable, so don't call me.