author: guest blogger Eryn Jones Fuson
Outdoor weddings are the best, aren’t they? There is just something about having
the openness and fresh air and nature all around to set the tone for this incredibly
special day in your life, whether it is up on a mountain, down by a quiet river in your
backyard, or in a spectacular garden venue.
I was one of those brides myself, and my husband and I found the perfect little park by that quiet river with trees for a shaded ceremony and an expanse of grass for our guests’ kids to play in at the reception. We had one of my harp students play the prelude, creating an atmosphere of peace and delight, then a dear musician friend from Nashville sang and played guitar for the processionals, ceremony music, and recessional. It was perfect. And we were lucky because the weather was also perfect.
But what happens when you have this dream wedding planned and then the week
before the wedding you see that there will be bad weather? Sure, your planner has
made sure that you have a backup venue or at least a covered alternative of some
sort, but is it really worth considering moving to plan B? I am here to say that, if you
have hired live musicians to be a part of your big day, the answer is a resounding,
I draw not only from my own experience, having been a professional wedding
musician for 14 years now, but also from the experience of fellow wedding
musicians with whom I network and who I interviewed for the sake of this article. So
many of our couples and even planners we work with don’t realize the effect
weather has on instruments, not only for potential damage, but at the very least
causing the instruments to fall out of tune. And believe me, you do NOT want to be
walking down the aisle to out of tune music! Wedding musicians have in our contracts
our policies regarding weather, and we all notice that they can tend to be
overlooked by our clients.
I understand that this is easy to do since ours is not the only contract you are having to look through and sign; all the agreements with all your vendors can definitely get overwhelming, and keeping up with everyone’s provisions is a task unto itself. Be sure to ask your planner to keep track of these things if she is not already and remind you to consider them closer to the big day.
After gathering info from my fellow musicians, the general consensus on safe
playing temperature is nothing above 90° and nothing below 55° (though there is a
slight variance depending on the individual or group), and absolutely no inclement weather. Rain, drizzle, or even heavy fog have the potential to seriously damage wooden instruments. We make these policies not only to protect our instruments, but to provide our clients with the best quality music that we can play. Drastic changes in humidity and extreme temperatures, if nothing else, cause wooden instruments to fall out of tune, which believe me, nobody wants in the middle of their wedding!
A fellow professional harpist friend of mine Michelle Cobley brought up a good point regarding colder weather; not only can it cause damage to our instruments, but it also causes our fingers to stiffen and not have the dexterity they need to play smoothly and at peak performance. Hot weather with or without humidity can cause equally as damaging conditions to the wood and tuning, even having the potential to melt the glue that holds the wood together. This can even be the case in comfortable temperatures 70-85 degrees if we are in the direct sunlight, as the sunlight puts an even more concentrated heat source into the mix.
Before you go asking your DJ to just take over everything, though, there are several options some wedding musicians offer when the weather isn't looking instrument-friendly. Udeshi Hargett is a violinist serving the greater Triangle area of North Carolina; she points out that if extreme cold is the culprit we can set up a tent with walls and a heater. This would work best in a sunny spot and in the absence of strong wind. Or another option is to have the musician just on the inside of the heated venue and amplify out to the ceremony. If extreme heat is the case sometimes it is possible to create a cooler space within a tent is a shaded spot or inside the air conditioned venue as well.
With inclement weather, a tent, gazebo, or other shelter around the site is also a possibility as long as the wind is not going to be so strong as to blow the rain underneath. Some musicians including myself also offer alternative instruments in case of undesirable weather. For example, harps, violins, and cellos are more affected by extreme temperatures than guitars, and electric pianos, and carbon fiber instruments are not affected at all!
Recently I had a couple who had hired me to play the harp for their ceremony, but when the weekend came and the temperature was going to be in the low 50s and windy they made the choice to still hold the wedding outside rather than in their indoor alternative, and I was still able to play all of the songs we had chosen on my electric piano since it didn’t mind the cold, then I played the harp inside for the reception. Deans' Duets is a collaborative event musician group serving North Carolina, and when they have gigs that move forward despite cold or mist, their guitarists or carbon fiber instruments can sometimes still perform if some of the other instruments can’t.
Another very important aspect to think about in regards to moving forward with an outdoor wedding when weather is looking iffy is the comfort and even safety of your guests. A friend had a lovely mountaintop ceremony a few years ago I had the pleasure of being a part of, and am so grateful that I thought to bring a tent with me because several of the elderly guests were taking prescription medications that necessitated they stay out of the sun, and my tent was the only shade around, so I let them pile in with me! They would have had no other safe option to stay for the ceremony otherwise. I have played at one wedding where a bridesmaid fainted due to heat, and another where the bride herself fainted due to the heat.
Those of us who have envisioned our ideal wedding day all our lives may find it hard to consider our plan B when and if that decision needs to be made, and that difficulty is absolutely valid. But you can still have a stunning and perfect wedding in the comfort and safety of a secondary site if the weather decides to misbehave. Keep in mind that when you hire professional wedding vendors, you procure the help of those who have majored in Plan A, B, C, and beyond when it comes to experience, and they will do everything within their power to make this special day one you and your guests will remember forever.
Eryn Jones Fuson is a professional event musician, recording artist, singer/songwriter, and music teacher out of Pinehurst, NC. www.erynjones.com
Asheville is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the South, and for good reason! Asheville boasts beautiful mountain views, changing leaves in the fall, interesting history, trendy culture… the list goes on and on! There are so many venues in Asheville. How do you choose? Mountains? Wineries? Gardens? Barns? Farms? Which one is for you?
We’ve highlighted the five venues where we perform ceremony music most often in the Asheville area. This barely scratches the surface, but hopefully it helps get you pointed in the right direction.
#1 The Biltmore Estate
We can't talk about Asheville weddings without the Biltmore Estate. The two go hand in hand. The Biltmore Estate is quite possibly the wedding venue that made Asheville famous for weddings in the first place! Most clients think a Biltmore wedding is absolutely out of budget, but they actually offer lots of different venues on the estate… not necessarily always the big bucks for the front lawn! Here are some places we’ve played wedding music on the estate…..
The front lawn of the Biltmore Estate The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Photo credit: Haring Photography
The Champagne Cellar at the Biltmore House Deerpark Restaurant
So, if you would love for your guests to drive onto the property of the Biltmore for your wedding, it’s a great option with lots of different price points.
#2 The Omni Grove Park Inn
This gorgeous venue also has many location options: ballrooms, terraces, outdoor, indoor… whatever you want! They recently built a really beautiful outdoor/indoor venue with such a beautiful mountain view which has become the popular new place to hold a wedding, and with good reason!
Just like the Biltmore, the Omni GPI is a destination in and of itself, and guests are thrilled by the opulence of the venue, the mountain views, the beautiful stone work, the history of the hotel. It’s iconic to the mountains of North Carolina. It’s also a perfect place to revisit for anniversaries and to remember your wedding day!
#3 Chestnut Ridge
Chestnut Ridge is just outside of Asheville in Canton, NC. It’s lovely! Lots of scenic open fields and mountain views. The main structure is a luxurious white barn which is designed with weddings in mind! This venue is all about weddings, and they even have their own planning team on-site. Clients have several options for indoor or outdoor ceremonies here. It’s far enough outside of Asheville that it feels like you’re really in the mountains - but near enough that there are great hotel and transportation options for you and your guests.
Lillian Knight Photography
Check out some of these past weddings. This venue allows the clients to be creative and design just what they want. And the space is such a great backdrop that any custom design comes alive on wedding day!
Lillian Knight Photography
#4 The Grand Bohemian Hotel
Love this venue! It’s romantic, regal, and luxurious! We love the Bosendorfer piano which is available for guests to enjoy during cocktail hour. There is an outdoor covered terrace for partially outdoor weddings, but it’s a great space, because, even in cold winter months, it can sometimes be heated enough to still hold ceremonies outside.
#5 The North Carolina Arboretum
If you love gardens and flowers, this is the place for you!
Photo Credit: Taylor Heery
Asheville boasts mountain venues and garden venues. It’s full of history, romance, and luxury. Tourists flock to Asheville for good reason, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations in the country, for good reason. Asheville is very popular for destination weddings, so vendors here are accustomed to doing a large amount of the planning with clients via phone if needed.
Just five venues barely scratches the surface of the incredible options that are available to couples wanting to get married in the North Carolina mountains, but this is a good start!
If we can help point you in the right direction of finding the best fit for you, let us know! Asheville wedding venues have very unique personalities, so most people fall in love with a specific one and know it’s for them!
Just touring these gorgeous places is a treat, so you’re sure to enjoy the journey along the way!
April is a professional violinist and the music coordinator for Dean's Duets.