Bridal Shows

Bridal Shows are a unique environment. I have participated in Bridal Shows in various capacities for the past 20 years. They are filled with an excitement not found at other “shows” because newly engaged couples are some of the happiest people on earth. The purpose of  a Bridal Show is for a bride-to-be to see as many vendors as possible, collecting information to be digested later.

Most shows run between 4-6 hours long. Each vendor wants to speak to as many brides as possible. Each bride wants as many questions answered as possible. It is an impossible task when only given that period of time. I have watched many brides frustrated by the lines at the booths and vendors disappointed as brides give up and walk away. I would like to offer some advice to the new brides-to-be as we enter engagement season and Bridal Show season.

• Go to the show with someone  whose opinion you trust and who can help you focus.

• Only take your future groom if he is a very patient person or he really wants to be involved. Some shows offer a groom’s den or perks for grooms but otherwise most shows are bride focused.

• Grab a bag the first chance you get so you can easily carry the  information you pick up.

• When gathering information, do not feel obligated to pick up every piece of paper on a vendor’s table. You will end up with a bag full of redundant material that you will have to sort through, and the vendor will be out the cost of the pamphlets that you throw away.

• Have a list of things you would like to accomplish. Keep an open mind but refer to the list .

• Don’t go to the show with the hopes of booking vendors, instead go to the show and make appointments with vendors so you can meet one on one later and have all your questions addressed in a personal setting.  There is not enough time at a show for every bride to have every question answered.  Between the noise and the crowd, the setting is hardly ideal to get personal service and you will feel rushed and shortchanged.

• Go hungry because there will be food and of course cake.

• Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.  Halls can be freezing when you get there and heat up as they fill with people.

• When you get home, go over the information you collected immediately while it is still fresh in your head.  Make notes of the appointments you made and any questions you have.


Any of these ideas should help make your Bridal Show experience better but I cannot stress enough the importance of making appointments for after the show. Your time and questions are too important to try to cram them in to a 5 minute conversation between 100 other brides.

Best of luck in your wedding planning and most of all: enjoy yourself!




Inspired messages

I have played many weddings at the Lawton Community Center. It is an old winery that has been converted to a venue for weddings and events. It is an old stone building with a great deal of character A wedding I played last summer was officiated by Dr. Robert Braman.  The homily he presented was very moving and appropriate to the setting.  Afterward, I spoke to him and mentioned how well suited to the venue his homily was. He told me he had prepared a completely different message and after seeing the building at the rehearsal, he was inspired that evening, to write the message he gave at the wedding. He has sent me a copy and I want to share it:

“A Bible passage that is most frequently read at weddings is 1 Cor. 13.  It begins, Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.  The entire passage is about love, what it is and what it isn’t.  But it wasn’t written for weddings or marriage.  It was written to describe how we are to treat one another in the church.  That’s true of many other passages read at weddings.  The reason we read them is because they are actually about all relationships, including marriage.  The basic message is this:  Relationships between people are always the richest, most enjoyable, and most lasting when they are grounded in our relationship with our loving God.  Because God’s love is sacrificial love, as exemplified in Jesus Christ, so our love for one another should be sacrificial.

I’m going to do a reversal.  I am going to read a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, but I’m going to change a few words so that it is directed at marriage, this new relationship that these two are entering into right now, this very moment.


Ephesians 2:19-22     19 … You’re no longer single, looking for a mate. This thing called marriage, to a person in which you have great faith, is no longer foreign to you. You’re not strangers or outsiders. You belong here, married, just as married as anyone else is married.  God has been building this relationship.  He’s using both of you—irrespective of your past—in what he is building. 20  He used countless others as your foundation.  Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone—and if you are wise, you’ll make Christ Jesus your cornerstone, 21  because the cornerstone keeps everything else straight and true; it holds all the parts together. We’ll see your relationship taking shape day after day—a sacred temple built by …  God, 22  and now you are becoming part of something much greater than yourselves, something in which God is quite at home.

brick by brick, stone by stone.

Take a look around at the walls of this building.  Stone by stone.  Without the stones this would not be a building.  I wonder how long it would take to count them all.  Each one is necessary.

Whenever it was built, someone was careful to make sure it was built solidly.  They laid it out just right.  Otherwise, if there were too much weight over there, or over there, or over there, the walls wouldn’t stand, the roof wouldn’t stay up.

Think of the stones as all of the individual traits that each of you brings to this relationship.  Your diverse personalities, your communication, your work habits, your ability to be affectionate and sensitive, your family backgrounds, your current jobs, your future plans.  Whether you are neat or slopping, talkative or quiet, active or passive, affectionate or distant.  And of course, you are male and female.  What in the world is there in this world that can help you make everything fit together, as well as these stones all fit together?   What is your mortar, your binder?

You can try everything and anything, but

  • Only God is capable of helping you not to be self-centered, of being overly sensitive or very insensitive, too warm or too cold, too distant or too in-your-face.
  • Only God is capable of showing you how to raise children, how tightly to hold them, how much freedom to give them, how to let go of them when the time comes.
  • Only God is capable of providing wisdom to know how your parents and brothers and sisters now fit into your new family, and God knows that navigating the waters of our extended family relationships is no easy task.
  • Only God can give you the courage to be honest and up front, not hiding feelings or avoiding the pain of dealing with all the difficulties that arise in every marriage.
  • Only God can show you how to love—deeply interested in one another, openly caring, unashamed—a genuine, authentic love.

There’s a big difference between this building full of stones and your marriage full of your similarities and differences.  You will change, and your marriage will change, which means you will want and need to rearrange the stones from time to time.  Because your marriage, unlike this building, is a living thing, made up of your lives.

And that’s okay, because God is a living God, concerned with living relationships.  Not static, not stone-like, but actively involved in everything you do—watching, listening, whispering, nudging, helping you to rearrange, so that you continue to grow.

No matter what image we use of marriage, the two of you should know that every heart in this room hopes and prays the very best for you.  So be your very best.  From this day forward.  By the grace of and your dependence on God.  Be truly married.  Amen.”

-Dr Robert Braman


Wedding Ceremony Symbols

I have seen a very cool new trend in wedding ceremonies. For years, the unity candle was the traditional choice for a symbol of the new union. Then came the unity sand, where 2 colors of sand were blended in a container. My issue with that was always about the way the sand was poured. It seemed to me that instead of neatly pouring the sand in an artful and decorative way, the sand should have been poured simultaneously and fully blended to represent the blending of 2 lives. As one minister joked at a ceremony, if the new couple ever wanted a divorce, they would need to separate all the sand back into the original containers before they could file. Clever.

I have seen variations on the unity sand using red and white wine that the couple blends and drinks together, or water from rivers in different parts of the country poured together. I have even seen soil brought from the parent’s homes used to plant a tree by the new couple.

The newest trend is by far the most meaningful and practical, especially to anyone who has been married, witnessing it. It involves a bottle of wine, a solid box, and 2 letters.  The new couple places a bottle of wine in the box, they each include a letter written  to the other stating how they met, what drew them to each other, their hopes for the marriage…a  truly heartfelt love letter, then they seal the box.

As they do this, the minister explains that the wine and the letters are for the future. If the couple comes to a time when they feel  things are hopeless. When they have nothing more to say and feel that the marriage is in danger of ending, they are to open the box, open the wine and pour 2 glasses, then each take the letter addressed to them and go into separate rooms and read the letter as they drink the wine.

Ideally, the combination of the wine, separate rooms to cool off in, and reading a letter written with love from the spouse you are fighting with, should help you to remember why you got married in the first place.  I would take it one step further and at the wedding, include not only a letter addressed to my spouse, but also a copy of that letter for myself to remind myself how I felt that day. Sometimes in a rough patch, that can be the most difficult: remembering when you were happy and why.

If, the couple reaches their 25th anniversary and the box is unopened, then they are to open it on the anniversary and enjoy it.

I really like this new symbol. I believe it something that can truly help a couple work through the difficult times that invariably come in the marriage. So many people don’t realize that marriages are work and while you love your spouse, you might not always like him or her. A wedding should be more than a homily and vows. It should set the tone for the marriage. It should be a solid stepping stone into a new life together.

Outdoor Weddings

A short montage of venues in MI, IN, and IL where I have played weddings. The music is Bois Solitaire by Felix Godefroid, performed by me.

Wedding Terminology

I would like to address some common questions I get regarding what exactly I do as a harpist during a wedding ceremony.


When I am asked for a quote, I always follow my price by stating that the price is for the full ceremony; prelude, processionals, interlude music, recessional, and postlude. Many times I am asked what that all means. Here are some simple definitions.

  • Prelude:  Music prior to the ceremony as the guests are being seated.
  • Processionals: Music the bridal party walks in to. Usually there are 2 pieces chosen, 1 for the bridesmaids, and 1 for the bride.
  • Interlude: The time in the ceremony when music might be needed to fill a quiet moment, ie the unity candle, communion, honoring of the parents, etc..
  • Recessional: Music the bridal party walks out with.
  • Postlude: Music as the guests are ushered out.

Granted, in a Catholic ceremony, there is a great deal more music but this covers the basic service. Most preludes and postludes are about 20 minutes long each. Other music can be added if the bride and groom want a specific hymn or solo played as a part of the service.

I hope this helps to answer some questions about ceremony music and wedding terminology.

Choosing Music for your Wedding Ceremony


Choosing Music For Your Ceremony

By: Meg Rodgers

You’ve worked hard to plan your dream wedding down to the last detail.  As you go over the day in your head you imagine the hall, your guests and friends, the flowers,  the church, your dress, walking down the aisle to….. silence?  You forgot the music!

This is all too common a scenario for couples.  Unless you’ve specifically dreamed of certain music, it is often the forgotten detail.  Choosing music doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming and it can add so much to your day.  Three things to consider when choosing ceremony music are: location of your ceremony, your personal style and the number of selections you need.

Location plays a big role in your music selection.  A church or synagogue may have specific rules regarding music selection.  You may be required to hire the organist or may not be allowed to use prerecorded music.  Some places allow only sacred music and yet others are very liberal (I’ve done an all Disney wedding in a church before).  You should always clear your music selections with your minister or officiant before you put a deposit down on a musician or print your programs.

Outdoor weddings offer more freedom in musical styles but may limit your options depending on how rustic the location.  If electricity is needed, that has to be considered.  Also, keep in mind some musicians can’t take their instruments to certain locations or may require shade, certain temperatures, level surfaces, etc…  That said, the beauty of an outdoor wedding is that you can truly have your style reflected in the surroundings you choose as well as the music – be it steel drums, harp, string quartet, brass quintet, or your iPod.

Along with choosing your ceremony location comes the decision to have popular, classical, sacred music, or a mix.  Do you picture yourself walking down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride” or Jason Mraz?  Or neither?  There are so many options and every bride is different.  If you have dreamed of a stately and dignified processional, then more traditional wedding music might suit you.  If you want a lighthearted feel, then something more modern might be a better choice.  A lot of brides hire musicians and then decide on a musical style at a later time to try and make it fit with the instruments. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t.  As a harpist, I have played U2, Coldplay, and Metallica as well as other popular choices.  I have heard string quartets play some very cool arrangements as well.  Some combinations don’t carry over well – kind of like listening to Sheryl Crow sing opera or an opera singer sing Sheryl Crow’s music.  Both are good at what they do and both kinds of music are great, but the mix doesn’t do any favors to the singer or the music.

How many music selections do you need?  This is the easiest part.  You will need music for the prelude, processionals (for the bride and bridesmaids), the recessional, and the postlude.  I recommend looking over the ceremony outline and talking to your officiant to see if you need music during the ceremony as well, either between readings, or during a unity candle or sand ceremony.  Most musicians don’t need a list of specific prelude and postlude pieces.  If you tell them the style, they can fill the time with appropriate music. If you want a specific piece as the mothers are being seated, that should be the last piece of the prelude before the processionals.

Despite being a frequently overlooked detail, ceremony music is often one of the most memorable additions to the day.  I can’t tell you the number of people who comment to me how they heard a harp at a wedding and have never forgotten it.  My colleagues in other ensembles say they hear similar comments.  Music helps the ceremony flow along smoothly and seamlessly.  It adds to the beauty of the day as well as reflecting the personal style of the couple.