Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Say “I Do” to Singing at Weddings

By Lily Guerrero

Wedding season is quickly approaching, and with it comes the flood of requests for Ave maria and Panis angelicus in your inbox! While singing these pieces is a piece of cake for you, navigating the financial aspect of performing at a wedding with those who may be insulted that you request payment can be tricky. Here are a few ways to present the situation to your friends without ruffling any feathers.

1. I do... this as a favor to a very close family member or friend.

If this is your best friend from college or your cousin, maybe you don’t feel that any payment is necessary. Perhaps you know the pianist well, are already a cantor at the cathedral they are using for the ceremony, and don’t need much rehearsal time. Plus, you live in town and don’t need to worry about travel reimbursement. In this case, you’re not taking many loses, and even if there are a few, you don’t mind because this is one of the people who means the world to you and it is your pleasure to use your talent on their big day.

2. I do... present this performance as my gift to the couple.

Maybe this person means a lot to you, but there are a few costs incurred in order for you to perform at their destination wedding with a string quartet. Will your best friend from high school be okay with you gifting your performance to the couple even if wasn’t listed on their registry? When it’s all said and done, you’re probably owed more than the dining set they requested from Williams Sonoma, but you need to decide if it’s okay to give your friend a “discount” on your services.

3. I do... need to be paid!

If this is a distant relative, an acquaintance, or your dad’s friend’s niece, you’ll probably decide to sing as a contracted artist. If you are, make sure to ask a lot of questions and make sure you know what’s involved in the wedding. Are you required to sing any mass parts or hymns on top of your solo(s)? Is there an accompanist provided, or do you need to provide one? Are they playing piano, organ, or a combination of the two? Are they providing the music, or are you free to choose the repertoire? Does it need to adhere to strict regulations on sacred music, or can you throw in some secular music? Will you be paid a flat rate? What is the going rate for wedding singers in the area? Are there multiple rehearsals? What is the level of musicianship of your potential collaborators? Finally, make sure you get everything in writing and have the couple sign a contract to ensure that you are paid. Sometimes, when a bride gets under the wire and starts to run out of money as she pays vendors closer to the big day, the singer gets stiffed over the florist. Protect your business!

What tips do you have for those navigating their first season as a wedding singer?