I was often shocked at how little thought and effort brides and grooms put into choosing the music for their wedding day. Some wanted no music at all, others left it up to us to choose and most of the rest made a half-hearted attempt to bung some tunes on a CD (usually in really weird formats which never worked) or made up a playlist on an iPod (that they forgot to charge).
It's a hard thing for me to relate to as music plays such an integral part in my life. I regularly go to gigs and music festivals and love discovering new bands on Spotify.
For my colleague, let's call him Pete to protect his identity, music was an even bigger part of his life. He currently plays guitar in a tribute band that travels the globe, and he was a member of some pretty famous bands in the sixties and seventies. He's one of the nicest, most humble, laid back people I have ever met. I don't know whether that's because of, or despite the enormous amount of pot he smoked in his youth.
He ended up in Registration to make a bit of extra pocket money in between gigs.
In the wedding I'm going to describe, Pete was my Registrar, completing the entry in the register and writing out the marriage certificate, while I was the celebrant, standing at the front conducting the ceremony.
In many ways the registrar had the busier job as they had to ask the bride and groom the preliminary questions and also go through their music choices.
We suggested three good spots for music; the first was for the bride's entrance, the second was during the signing of the register and the third was for the couple's exit.
The bride was very late for this particular wedding. It's the bride's prerogative to be late, goes the old saying. Well not in my Register Office! When I first started conducting weddings we only allowed 30 minutes per ceremony, and it was normal to perform 10 weddings on a Saturday at the height of summer.
It wouldn't be fair for the next wedding to be delayed because the previous bride wasn't ready in time. Besides, if you want your wedding to be personalised with music, readings, and other non-standard details you have to dedicate at least a few minutes before the ceremony to get things right.
At the time of this wedding we were allowing 45 minutes for a ceremony, but it was still a very tight turn around.
It meant that Pete had very little time to ask his questions and go through the music choices. They handed him three original CDs and told him the track numbers and Pete went off to set up the music. The entrance music was a Michael Jackson track.
At the time, we only had a very cheap and nasty CD player, with tinny little speakers. Even if you turned the volume right up, the bride couldn't hear the music at the doors as she entered.
So Pete had to start the music at the front of the room, run up the aisle, ask the bridesmaids and then bride to enter, close the doors behind them, then run back to the front and turn the music off for the ceremony to begin.
Pete opened the doors up and got the guests seated. He then pressed play on the CD player and asked the bridesmaids to enter. They slowly walked down the aisle as the music started to build, and they took their places.
A murmur started amongst the guests and they started looking around in confusion.
Pete asked the bride to make her grand entrance. As she walked down the aisle she began to hear the music and her steps began to falter. She turned to Pete and said 'I can't walk down the aisle to this.'
'That's what you chose,' he said. 'Track 9.'
"i wanted I Can't Stop Loving You. What's this?'
'Thriller,' said Pete, as the lyrics began.
'It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark, under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart...'
The guests were rolling around the aisles by now. Pete was shutting the doors. The bride had no choice but to keep on walking.
'Cause this is thriller, thriller night, and no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike...'
Image used through Creative Commons by Focka on Flickr