Wedding Lighting Options for Ceremonies and Receptions – Episode #122
Marie Kubin is the CEO of the nationwide rental company, Rent My Wedding. In efforts to cut costs on her own wedding, she was led to something called bride-sharing. She's here to provide us with some expert advice on wedding lighting options for ceremonies and receptions.
She tells us about her journey.
What unique options are available for ceremonies?
Unique options for receptions?
Custom gobos? Ie. Hand lettering to match the wedding suite.
Spotlights, what can you spotlight, what do you suggest?
Trends? What are you seeing done lately?
Late weddings (more the 15 minutes late).The only ambiguous cost I have ever had to charge is the “late wedding” fee. My contract does state that late weddings will incur a fee after a grace period, but the length of the “overtime” can vary so much. Without a possible extra fee hanging over them, many brides will linger in their dressing rooms while their poor harpist performs a full hour long recital instead of what was supposed to be 20 minutes of a prelude. I hate charging for late weddings (I have to bill them after the fact – very uncomfortable), but I found many years ago that it was necessary to motivate clients to honor the value of my performance, so to speak, and step on out!
Travel. Many harpists charge travel fees. Personally, I will drive about 50 miles without charging a fee, but I always charge for travel that involves a ferry ride. (Puget Sound Ferry System.) I need to be at least one ferry early to make sure I am not late, and the whole commute is extremely long when a ferry is involved.
Special music. Most wedding harpists have a very large repertoire to choose from. But the world of popular music is constantly changing and we often find a bride wants a particular song for her wedding that we must learn. I try to offer one or two special requests (depending on how many weddings I have in that month) free of charge. But similar to the “late wedding” issue, I found that without a fee people will demand quite a lot. Who can blame them? So for me, I charge on a case by case basis and am as generous as I can be. The important thing is that the fee is stated clearly in my contract and I don't sign with anyone unless I feel sure we both know what is expected.
Shelter. The harp is so lovely at an outdoor event, but sun and moisture can be very damaging to the wood and strings of our precious instruments. Harpists differ enormously on whether they will play outside, when (not March! lol), and under what conditions. The hidden cost here is providing shelter, and sometimes a firm flooring, for those of us who do play outdoors but are not willing to risk harm to our harps. There might be damp, soft, or uneven ground, which can damage the wood and which interferes with the balance of the harp when it is being played. Sunlight damages gut harp strings, and even a light mist (whether from the sky or a nearby fountain) is disastrous to the harp's wood. I have played on shady patios and gazebos, and I have also had clients build platforms, rent canopies, or make sun shelters for the harp.
Accompanying a soloist. This is a similar cost to “special music requests,” with the added expense of at least one rehearsal, chez Moi, with the soloist. I don't charge a lot for this, but I insist on rehearsal.
Attendance at the wedding rehearsal. Very few brides opt to have me play at their rehearsal. If I don't have to drive too far and if I'm free, I will sometimes volunteer to attend the rehearsal for free. I enjoy doing so when I can manage it. But obviously, live harp music for rehearsal = $.
“Hourly” rates. This is THE biggest misconception about harpist fees that I encounter. “We will need you for about 2 hours? What will that cost?” I cannot speak for other harpists, but I have a flat rate for wedding ceremonies, regardless of the length of time. Apart from the aforementioned “late wedding” fee, I provide pretty much the same amount of music for every wedding. If your ceremony is 10 minutes or an hour long, I am still providing the same service, just with more or less sitting pretty in between harp elements. The confusion is increased by the fact that many people would like 20 or 30 minutes of “cocktail” music after the ceremony, and for that, I bill on a separate scale: my hourly background music fee (in 15-minute increments), is added to the ceremony fee. I tell brides to consider it this way: the ceremony music is a completely different kind of product you are purchasing, drawing on my experience and expertise to play well under extreme pressure while keeping an eye on moving bodies and adjusting musical performance to fit into a changeable event. I have seen silk flowers catch fire, tight dresses burst at the seam, flower girls run off, mothers-in-law fall down… the harp must be a steady yet flexible anchor for it all. It costs more because I am providing more. Background music, on the other hand, is a more casual experience while guests chat, laugh and enjoy champagne. There the client is paying for my varied music repertoire, the countless hours of practice over the years, and the beautiful ambiance the harp provides.
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