The day of your wedding is such an exciting time, but worrying about whether your wedding vendors will work well together on your wedding day shouldn't have to be at the forefront of your mind. Some clients have even expressed worries about their vendors even showing up on their wedding day! These wedding day worries are the last items on a couple's list of things to do on such a special day. We at Deans' Duets have taken into account a wide variety of "What Ifs" to ensure that your wedding day runs as smoothly as possible. From planning and set up to the rehearsal and breakdown, we work alongside your vendor team to provide elegant music for your cocktail hour and wedding ceremony. Not only do we work with your vendors such as your coordinator, DJ, and officiant to make sure we align with your wedding timeline and vision, but we also make arrangements in advance to attend your wedding as prepared as possible.
Planning For Your Wedding Day
We continuously work with clients to formulate a personalized set list of music that highlights their interests, favorite songs, and overall atmosphere that they are wanting to create. In order to stay organized and make the planning process as easy as possible, our clients fill out a planning form to compile all of their music selections. Four to six weeks before their wedding, we use this to make a program. We then send the program to the couple for their approval which we continue to edit until the program is just right. Once we receive final approval, our setlist is ready to go. Working with couples to choose the music that will be played on their wedding day creates some of the most rewarding moments. Next, we make a set list of all of the sheet music and download the list to our iPad, after which, it will be sent out to our musician team to begin rehearsing.
Day Of Coordination
We arrive at every event at least one hour before music begins so that we can set up, rehearse, and speak to vendors. For example, if a wedding is at 5:00pm, we begin prelude at 4:30, which means a 3:30 arrival. We are usually a little earlier, but at least an hour in advance. We feel it’s vitally important to play together right before your event so that we provide the most cohesive ensemble possible and so that we have time for a thorough sound check when using sound equipment. After arriving at the wedding venue, our musicians receive an in-depth outline of all of the boxes to check when they arrive and all pertinent information for your wedding day.
Collaborating with our couple's vendor team is one of the ways we are client centered. While working hand in hand with other vendors, we are able to work towards a common goal of making your wedding day vision a reality. On our planning form, we ask for names of your vendors, and if you fill in those areas, we'll email them to check in before wedding day!
We collaborate with DJs at weddings by sometimes mic’ing the instruments and coordinating segments of the ceremony that are being handed back and forth from DJ to ceremony musicians. If a DJ is providing a microphone for an officiant, we pause our warm-up while they do their sound check. Before the ceremony begins, we also collaborate with the DJs about the order of the ceremony and any parts we might overlap (ie. unity candle, communion music, etc.).
We also collaborate with coordinators by first and foremost bringing him/her a copy of the program just in case they need it. We discuss how the run-through went during the rehearsal the night before and whether there are any last-minute changes to the program. Some of the most common questions that we ask include, "Are all grandparents present as planned? Are the flower girls and ring bearers cooperating and still planning to walk down the aisle? If there are dogs in the ceremony, are they all set and what’s the plan for that part? Is the officiant walking down the aisle? Is the officiant making any sort of announcement at the beginning to silence cell phones?" We also confirm the order of the processionals to make sure the correct songs are played according to the order of individuals walking down the aisle. The order in a traditional wedding usually proceeds as such: grandparents, parents, officiant, groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers...... but this varies a lot from wedding to wedding.
During each song change, we ask the coordinator to give us a cue. The first cue occurs when we need to end the prelude and start the first processional and then another cue for each processional after that. We also work hard to play the most recognizable parts of each song so that you get a complete picture of the song even though the real song might be 5 minutes long, but we only get 1 minute to play the song. Our musicians will play the intro, a verse, and a chorus, but will sometimes shorten the verse if needed to ensure that the chorus is played. The chorus is typically the most important part and the segment that couples most want to hear. We spend a lot of time reworking our arrangements to make them sound like “the end” even though it’s not actually the end of the song. Finally, we discuss the move to cocktail hour with the coordinator. Do we need a golf cart to move? How far is it? Are there chairs already set up there? If we’re playing a reception, we also discuss first dances, timing, entrances of the couple and the bridal party.
Another vendor that we like to collaborate with is the officiant. We like to ask the officiant the following: “What are the last words you’ll say before we begin the recessional?” Should we start as soon as they kiss? Or will there be a presentation of the couple? Sometimes there’s even a blessing or a prayer, so asking this question is very important to avoid awkward pauses. If we are running a sound check, we we'll have much more contact with the officiant because of sound checking the microphone that they would use.
We don’t have much collaboration with vendors like florists or cake bakers, but we often see them setting up or delivering, and it’s fun to say hello to people we work with often but don’t actually see in person. When our portion of the wedding is finished, we try to pack up discreetly, and we often slip out without anyone knowing. We don’t make a habit of going up to introduce ourselves to the clients because it’s their day, and they hired us to do a service. We do, however, enjoy following up with an email to congratulate the couple and thank them for having us at their wedding. We get to know clients well throughout the planning process, so it’s always special to see their wedding day happen so beautifully.
Vendor Collaboration Examples
Charlotte Country Club Wedding
Last year in May, we played a Charlotte Country Club wedding where there was a vast amount of collaboration with numerous vendors. We even had a vendor team meeting in person about a month before the wedding. Sol Fusion was the band for the reception, and they collaborated with our musicians to hand music back and forth during the ceremony. The coordinators at the Charlotte Country Club along with the band and the ceremony musicians did a lot of planning beforehand to make sure everything went seamlessly the day of the wedding.
Banner Elk Wedding
I remember one wedding in Banner Elk, NC, where the directions about the location for loading in a harp were very ambiguous, and to make it more complicated, it was raining. Ultimately we were most concerned about getting lost and losing valuable time. Oftentimes, cell service is limited and the connection fails in the Banner Elk area. We DM’d Hallmark Cakes, and she gave us a detailed description of how she had loaded in the cake that morning, and even told us about a secret entrance gate that made it even easier to load a harp!! So even though we didn’t see her that day, her help made our day go smoothly.
At a recent wedding in Highlands, it was snowing and 8 degrees! Only one of us had brought rain boots, so we unloaded the car with the rain boots and everyone else went inside to set up so that they didn’t have to walk in the snow in their heels or dress shoes.
Charlotte, NC Corporate Event
Another time we played at a corporate event and we worked with Split Second Sound. They brought Panthers jerseys for all of us to wear since we didn't have any!
Vanlandingham Estate Wedding
At this wedding at Vanlandingham Estate, it started raining. Thankfully everyone pitched in, started moving things, and protected the instruments and iPads from the rain! Jackie Fogartie Events was a rock star. She was soaked and still working and making sure the ground wasn’t flooded for when the guests arrived. The VanLandingham Staff and Best Impressions Caterers Staff all worked until things were dry enough for guests to walk into the tent, and the wedding proceeded without a hitch!
Another wedding that also comes to mind is a Biltmore wedding we played in October and couldn’t find some of our equipment at the end of the event because it was so dark. Mary Bell Events found it, saved it for us, and we met her the next day to get it back!
Behind The Scenes
There are behind the scenes moments that we take care of that often clients don't even know about. We make sure that all the small details are accounted for so that the couple doesn't have to. There’s almost always something that needs to be resolved on wedding day, but if you’ve hired great vendors, it’s going to be solved before you are even aware. At the end of the day, we want our couples to enjoy their beautiful wedding day and know that their amazing vendor team came through on every element of their day.
April is a professional violinist and the music coordinator for Dean's Duets.