Boston's Ceremonial Trumpeter Richard Waddell


By Richard Waddell
weddings After all the shopping, comparing, consulting, reading, interviewing and evaluating involved with a wedding, you begin to remember the end result you’re after.  Basically, you want things to go smoothly.  You want to make the right choices.   You want to feel good about all the decisions you make as your wedding day draws near.  The easiest and simplest way to do this – and it is simple – is to inform yourself about each of those areas where a choice is required.
The key watchword in doing this is time – be sure you give yourself plenty of it, so you can be deliberate in your choosing.  If you don’t, a lack of time will create pressure on your schedule, causing you to rush a decision or not to feel good about a choice made in haste.
Take enough time to discover what options you actually do have – there may be more and better ones than you currently are aware of.  There may be more choices of who to have make your wedding cake than the one place you know about.  There may be a better videographer than the one you saw at your friend’s wedding.  There may be a greater number of selections to choose from for your wedding processional than the “Masterpiece Theater Theme” , or that piece of music commonly called “HERE COMES THE BRIDE” (which is, by the way, actually the “Bridal Chorus” by Richard Wagner) – you just may not presently know what your options are!
Your procedure is in three parts.  First, make your plan.  Second, educate yourself.  Third, make your choices for which services or products are important to you and which are the best available to you.
Along the way you will be dealing in areas that have previously been of minor importance in your day-to-day life.  The difference is that now several of these areas are of real significance to you.  You need reliable information.  What makes one videographer better than another one?  How can you tell?  What’s the right amount of “bells and whistles” in their finished product?  What’s too many?  These are all valued judgements, and you need just a little help to make them wisely.
If one of your objectives is to have certain parts of the wedding be different from most weddings, let the professional cake baker, ceremony musician, gown designer, florist, justice of the peace – or in whichever area you have this desire – offer you their ideas on unusual or atypical approaches that will still be appropriate, in good taste and practical.  Every choice you make, by nature of you being a unique individual, will result in a ceremony, a cocktail hour, a dinner, a reception, unlike any ever before, and by making informed choices that naturally reflect your individuality in positive and significant ways, yours will not be mistaken for anyone else’s special day.
Here's an example.  I once had a prospective bride who asked me if I could play for her processional down the aisle – after the flower girls, the maid of honor, the bridesmaids and the ushers processed and the mothers have been seated previously – the theme music from the ‘80s TV show “Dynasty”.  Well, unfortunately I ended up not getting that job, but if I had, I would have explained that even though it well may be quite a beautiful piece of music – with the right rhythm and general sound for a processional – the strong identification it has to a fabulously successful television show (whose leading lady isn’t exactly everybody’s idea of a good role model for a sound marriage) is the reason I would offer to choose something else.
Most likely none of your choices will be that radical, but they may require you to learn in greater depth about unfamiliar subjects.  In this process you will be talking with people you never previously knew – they may come to you referred by friends or from an ad that caught your eye.  Before you call them, if you can, try to find out just a few things about the kind of product or service they offer, so that you can ask a direct question or two.  Don’t try to learn what they are an expert at, just see if you can get a very basic overview – and if yours is a plain “cold call”,  don’t worry, just ask questions and listen carefully to see that the professional patiently explains his or her service or product.
Your questions can be very simple:   (regarding the church musicians), “will you play music before the ceremony, while the guests are being seated?”  (re:  the videographer), “will you have a stationary video camera aimed directly at the altar?  Is that an extra fee?”  Or a very simple and direct question like “Why is your [product or service] superior to another’s?”
The professional should put you at ease during this process, explaining things clearly and patiently.  It is you who has the potential for that person’s business to grow – therefore it is their job to give you as many reasons as you need for hiring them.  Informing yourself in these various areas will take a little time, so try to enjoy the process and the people you work with.  Many professionals can frequently refer you to other professionals – either in their field or in other lines of work – and thus increase the potential to get good information even faster.
When you are about to hire a professional, you should by now feel at ease with them through your discussions and/or consultations.   Read this next sentence very carefully:  If you don’t understand what they tell you – in describing any aspect of their work, in terms of their contract agreement with you, in the nature of what your options and limitations are, in terms of what your responsibility is – tell them so.  Just say, “I don’t understand, could you please explain this part to me again?”  Remember that their job is to inform you of their expertise in what they are offering to you.  If their explanation still doesn’t clear it up for you, just ask again.  They should quite easily be able to do this.  If not, it isn’t because you don’t understand, and you probably should not hire them.
If you say  “I know absolutely nothing about music,” and you think that statement is really true, think again!  Isn’t it true that actually, like many people, you know what you like…and don’t like?  That is the real bottom line in choosing music (and the musicians who provide that music).  If the basic sound of a group, an individual musician or a specific piece of music doesn’t seem right, that’s all you need to know.
Whoever wrote something that you like or dislike – Handel, Bach Purcell, Mendelssohn – makes no real difference to you.  Just remember:  the more you know, the more precise will be all your decisions.  Case in point:  “The Bridal Chorus”.  Sometimes it is a piece that some people really want, but they are afraid it will sound corny or somehow too un-original.  My response is that it is the musician’s job to play it beautifully and sincerely.  When this happens, absolutely nobody will think anything other than “That is stunning!  How beautiful!”, and the proper emotions are infused into the moment that will be unforgettable to everyone who hears it!  On the other hand, if the musician adopts the attitude that this piece of music is trite, or hackneyed, or boring, then they are not serious about what they are doing and the impression they leave is often the very reason why people learn to dislike certain pieces of music.
Quality of sound is often the single biggest determining factor when selecting music and musicians.  A smooth, flowing, natural sound will be obvious, even if you believe that you are not a good judge of music.  You see, music is constantly in our lives:  radio, television, movies, CD’s, Organ & Brass, churches, even in the dentist’s chair!  Much of what you do know may be on a more subconscious level, but a capable, professional musician can help explain these things so that your response begins to sound like, “Well I know what you mean, I just never said it quite like that.”  This shows that you already did know!
The professional wedding musician should be able to clearly explain to your satisfaction exactly what their job means to you.  You should see and hear what their area or specialty is.  If this is unclear, just say so.  Regarding the ceremony, any number of instruments work perfectly well – trumpet, flute, guitar, brass quintet, harp, organ are typically used (not at the same time!).  Each of these instruments makes an impression on the listener and invokes an emotional reaction – this is the basis for your liking one sound more than another, one style more than another, one specific selection more or less than another.  Many people feel that “X” is the obvious right choice (according to their impressions, based on their informed value judgment).
With the key selections for your ceremony selected, reflect on them – you should feel good about them, in just the same way you feel good about your dress, your cake, your photographer, and all the other areas you will be exploring. 
In every one of these areas, enjoy the process of discovery.  Notice which professionals take plenty of time to get to know you and be of good service to you, helping guide your decisions to choices that really are yours.  Your good word in referring a professional’s service is a kind and generous show of support when you feel it has been earned.  ENJOY!

©Copyright Richard Waddell, 2001
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