So I’ve written before about my new hobby/job as an organist for hire. We had a big wedding at my church last weekend and I got approached for the job. It was a big Tongan wedding, but I had thought it might be a fairly laid back affair. And judging by the attitudes of the groomsmen, pastor and just about everyone else, I was dead right. But I wasn’t employed by any of them. I was employed by the groom’s mother. Oh my sweet dancing optometrist.
First of all: who in her right mind plans a wedding at two o’clock in the afternoon in Darwin in December in a church with no aircon? The groom’s mother was from Sydney, and might have been excused for not knowing what she was in for, but surely the bride or groom must have had some idea along the way that this was a really stupid idea. Apparently not.
A few weeks out from the big day the stage manager/mother of the groom sent me at list of music for me to learn. I didn’t mind putting a bit of extra work in, as its all an investment in being able to play them in the future for other weddings, but I did think four separate organ voluntaries for the bridal procession was pushing things a little bit. I managed to get them all up and running in time, including a setting of Ave Maria for the Groom’s mother herself to sing as the bride walked down the aisle.
The wedding rehearsal was a bit of a shambles. It must have taken us a dozen tries to get the bride to walk in at the just the right time between Mendelssohn and Bach. And then, after I’d sat up the night before making sure I could play the Bach well enough for soprano to sing along to convincingly, the stage manager/soprano/mother of the groom decided she didn’t like this key after all. I now had less than twenty four hours to relearn it transposed down by a fifth. Sopranos are soft. Lucky for her, I’m really quite something when it comes to throwing a half-arsed effort together at the last minute and disguising it as the real thing. We got there.
The wedding ceremony came at last. We were all there at two o’clock, some in traditional Tongan dress, others in the more contemporary Australian suit and tie. In any case, we were all sweating it out, hoping the ceremony would be fast and on time.
At about a quarter past two the groomsmen arrived. They wandered up and took their place at the front, and then realised that they had only brought one ring with them. They quickly dispatched someone to fetch the other one. The bride was due any minute.
They needn’t have worried. The bridesmaids didn’t arrive until about a quarter to three. I got the nod from the stage manager/groom’s mother and gave Pachelbel’s Canon a whirl. There were five bridesmaids but fortunately no-one really notices the difference if you play the last few bars of Pachelbel’s Canon over and over again; that’s kind of the point. Then the trumpeter came out and played a small fanfare, before marching down the aisle and waiting for the bride to step out so we could play Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. We all kept waiting. And waiting.
Eventually some relative or other came running down the side of the church to the groom’s mother and announced that the bride had disappeared. I played Pachelbel’s Cannon a few more times while we tried to figure out where she had gone. Apparently she’d had a last minute attack of cold feet and had taken a lap around the block in the car to get her head together. She finally reappeared and walked in to the Mendelssohn and the then Ave Maria. Only an hour late.
And then it was done. The ceremony itself took about twenty minutes. I tactfully declined an invitation to the reception: I’m told it went on for about five hours.
I swear, one of these days I’m going to get my head around exactly what motivates the finer points of some of these wedding ceremonies.
But not today.
Garry with 2 Rs