How do you become a wedding singer? When I was five-years-old my mother drug me by my scruffy little neck screaming and yelling to my first piano lesson. I knew if my friends ever found out about it they would beat me to a pulp. Little did I know they were too busy protecting their own little melodious secrets. Later as part of a high-school garage band that idolized The Beatles I was the only member who had the courage to sing. As a result of these two facts I ultimately became and continue to be on occasion, a wedding singer. Unless you are born with a natural gift or take singing lessons, becoming a good singer is a matter of practice. What does a wedding singer do and what are some rules to follow?
I should say at the outset I do much less of it today than I once did. I was in my heyday back in the 1970s and early 1980s. I was “young” and I followed the performance of music more than I do today. Further today couples are more involved with traditional songs. In the 1970s couples might pick a current pop song like “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters.
My wife was never happy with me getting dressed up to perform either during a wedding ceremony or as part of the reception entertainment. While she was always invited that was not her idea of a fun time and frankly weddings are a solid place for flirting and face it who better to flirt with than the entertainment?
I entertained as a pianist/singer and also as part of a rock band. I always liked playing alone because that meant more money. However that was the first hurdle I had to overcome. When I first started playing for money I was afraid to say how much I wanted. I would say things like “Pay me whatever you can.” That worked the first time. However the second time I received a gift card for $20 which worked out to about a dollar an hour for my time not to mention gas to and from the wedding. And it really wasn’t “Money” in my opinion.
Be specific about the fee you want and make sure that you are asking enough. There will usually be a meeting or two with the couple about the music they want. Also often the music will not be something that you know so it will take some practice. Also remember that most couples are in the process of spending a lot of money. Some are even responsible for the entire wedding. If you give them an opportunity to save money by paying you less, they’ll take it.
Never take the spotlight away from the wedding couple. I got pretty good at one point in my career. During one wedding I literally “belted out” a song. The ending was abrupt and there was about a micro-second of silence before the wedding audience exploded into applause. Unfortunately this was sung at a time that the couple was looking at one another. I expected them to be happy with the performance; they were angry and refused to pay saying I ruined the wedding. A bit of mediocrity is good.
When you are playing at a reception always refer about every song to the couple. You cannot do this too much.
If you are playing at a reception, play songs that are equal to the ages of your couple. While there will be people of all ages at the reception most will be around the age of the people getting married. If they are about 23-years-old and you grew up in the 1960s and know music from that era, don’t play it. I remember playing “Farmer John,” “Louie Louie” “Valley of the Jolly Green Giant” as a “Golden Oldies” set at a young wedding. Everybody just stood around while the bride and groom shot me dirty looks.
That brings me to another point; don’t be “cute.” Play it straight. If you are a performer at a regular dance you can “relate” and “kid” with the crowd. As a wedding performer you must continue to deflect the spotlight to those getting married.
The most important rule I have found is to isolate your presence from the wedding, particularly at the reception. People often drink at the reception. There is something weird about musicians and alcohol. When men or women drink they tend to flirt with the entertainment. Believe me just as sure as you live if you don’t obey this rule you will find that the woman who demanded you dance with her (and you refused because she was baked) was the bride’s mom and there goes another fee.
As a wedding singer in any role you can have a wonderful impact on the memories of a couple.
Just make sure they’re good memories.
You Tube Website, “Carpenters-We’ve Only Just Begun”
You Tube Website, “Louie, Louie-The Kingsmen”
You Tube Website, “Jolly Green Giant (1965)”