The Wedding Planner
One of my former bands, Legend, benefited from a reasonably successful and somewhat lucrative decade long run on what I referred to as the ballroom circuit. For the most part that meant playing the festivals and fairs, corporate, government and company dinner banquets and dances as well as the inevitable wedding engagements. I was never particularly attracted to or fond of weddings both as an invited guest and as a musician performing for a captive audience with disparate musical tastes. Our set list for weddings was massaged and tweaked of course to accommodate these wide ranging musical views and preferences and the wedding party injected a number of mandatory selections that would never make the cut for our usual gigs. These are songs that resurface regularly, seem very popular with the wedding crowd but are intensely disliked by most musicians I am acquainted with.
But of course a wedding is a very important day for the wedding party and family and their main focus is to ensure that the day transpires exactly as they have anticipated and meticulously planned.
We were fortunate through the years to have employed a very competent three person stage crew; Jerry and Jerry and the sound/lighting technician, Thomas .They were responsible for load-in/ load-out at the various venues we played and more specifically, the delivery and set up of the stage equipment, sound system and lighting clusters. In order to ensure that the staging proceeded as efficiently as possible and to accommodate substitute personnel when necessary, I provided the crew with a procedural portfolio which was conveniently stored in the road case marked “band”. The band case was only to be opened by band members upon their arrival at the venue with the exception of the retrieval of the very important portfolio by the road crew. The portfolio contained the gig contract and rider and in significant detail a stage schematic in text and diagrams of the location of the stage equipment, the various microphones to be used for each application as well as electrical/power requirements. The portfolio simply minimized the requirement to think or guess on your feet and doubled as a useful document to point out certain details that may be of concern to the client. It also minimized the necessity to call “head office” for clarification or conflict resolution. Head office was the terminology sometimes used to refer to me by the road crew and some of the band members; I think we should call head office on this one.
On one particular wedding gig and in the late afternoon, I received a call from Jerry informing me that there was an event planner and coordinator floating around on site that was determined to direct operations and was seriously impeding the progress of the staging set-up. Among several requests, her current intervention was her desire and insistence in re-positioning the lighting clusters and changing the colours of some of the lighting which by this time, was flying high. Jerry informed me that the usual explanations were provided and that they even tried intimidation by allowing her to peruse the portfolio. All diplomatic approaches failed and she simply dug in her high heels. I surmised that the location and colours of the staging didn’t quite coincide with her particular vision of the soiree that was about to unfold. The protagonist’s name was Helen and I asked Jerry to please put her on the phone. Following a short introduction and status update on her part, I informed her that she did not have any authority and therefore responsibility to orchestrate anything that is even remotely related to the band or staging. I also diplomatically informed her that Legend’s contract clearly stipulates the requirements for both the band and our client.
For purposes of providing her with an example, I pointed out our particular requirements for a dressing room stocked with fresh tea and coffee and served in the appropriate crockery at precisely 8:00 PM. I enquired whether that provision of the contract was proceeding satisfactorily. I also promised her that I would be pleased to discuss any remaining event issues in our dressing room when the band members arrive at 8:00 PM. The remainder of the conversation, as I recall, was rather brief.
When the band members arrived later that evening to prepare for a 9:00 PM start time, we found that our dressing room was actually quite pleasant, comfortably furnished and appointed in a manner that we were not normally accustomed to. In fact, at first glance, our dressing room appeared to be well above our usual contractual requirements. The room was also generously stocked with tea and coffee as well as an assortment of sandwiches, cookies, alcoholic beverages and the usual peripherals. Conspicuously absent from the gathering, however, was the event planner and coordinator. The atmosphere in the room was upbeat and the mood was celebratory. I changed into my work costume, relaxed on the couch and wound-up with a fine beverage.
As I remember, after we hit the stage, the remainder of the evening proceeded very well.
And we may have received a number of positive comments concerning the colour scheme of our lighting system.