Weddings with Memphis Bagpipes

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For centuries, pipe music has heralded the approach of the bridal party. Bagpipes make a stunning addition to any wedding, regardless of ethnicity or location. Bagipes are excellent for large or small celebrations. Below are suggestions, ideas, and experiences for having a piper at your nuptials.

Long after the cake has been enjoyed and the flowers are gone, one of the most cherished memories will be the sound of the great highland bagpipes. The bagpipes will provide an extraordinary and enduring aspect to your wedding day. Considering the cost of most weddings, pipe music is one of the least expensive, yet most memorable, touches to your day.

AREN'T THE PIPES A BIT LOUD?
This is part of their appeal and grandeur. A properly tuned and played set of bagpipes has no musical equal. Churches and reception facilities usually have high ceilings with plenty of open space and people dampen acoustically much of the volume. If the church has an organ, you can be certain the pipes won't be overpowering. The effect can be breathtaking. At out-of-the-way locations or those outdoors with no practical access to live music, the grandiose sound of bagpipes bridges that gap beautifully.

Regardless of what point you have the piper play, it's suggested keeping him under wraps until the very moment. Your guests will view the complete surprise with absolute delight. It takes a little co-ordination, however it's easily pulled off.

PRELUDE and PROCESSIONAL
Many brides wish a bit of pipe music before the ceremony as guests are entering the church. This is usually 10-15 minutes before showtime near the entrance. These tunes should be somewhat subdued and the piper should be situated so as not to overpower conversations inside the facility. At the prelude's conclusion, a tune with a quicked pace can announce the beginning of the service.

Many brides wish to be piped in and bridesmaids as well. Likewise, it's a bold entrance for the groom and his attendants. A properly played tune allows the attendants to walk comfortably up the aisle. Something such as an upbeat march for the groom's party and a stately tune for the bridesmaids.

The bride's entrance is perhaps the most important single moment of the ceremony. The chosen selection will contribute significantly to this lifelong memory. The Bridal and Wedding March's are playable on the pipes, but they are orchestral compositions. Both sound funky on the bagpipes and almost assuredly shall elicit snickers from guests. If the bride is indeed piped in, it's suggested she keep behind a distance of 15 ft behind the piper to have the guests' attention focused upon her and not to impede the photographer's art.

Some believe the guests will choose to watch the bagpiper instead of the bride. A dignified alternative is to have the piper proceed to the altar alone playing. Arriving at the altar, he turns toward the audience, pauses a moment, and begins the bride's processional selection. This permits the bride to have the full attention of assembled family and guests.

Consult the church's music director prior to making the arrangements - some can be rather territorial in what they'll tolerate. Depending upon your faith or denomination, some houses of worship do not permit bagpipe music inside the sanctuary. This does not mean pipes cannot be part of the special day, it means other options can be made such as playing before (or after) the ceremony, outside the sanctuary, or at the reception. Other churches may require religious music only, and yet others insist upon use of their organist alone. The majority are not bothered by what type of pipe music is played.

DURING CEREMONY
One tune should suffice. Most couples opt to have a close friend or family member provide music instead. This could be positioned somewhere in mid-ceremony such as during the candle lighting. The hymn Amazing Grace is highly inappropriate at weddings. It is almost exclusively performed at funerals. It can bring up memories of an entirely different service that guests may have attended recently. There's so much emotion connected to this hymn. Wouldn't you rather people weeping at your wedding do so because of the joyous occasion it is? Furthermore it is considered bad luck when played at wedding celebrations.

RECESSIONAL
The moment the minister announces the newly wedded couple, the piper starts playing and marches up the aisle to "retrieve" the couple and play them out. If you wish pipe music only at one point in your wedding, this is the place. Waiting until the end of the ceremony gives the most dramatic results, especially if guests and family members have no idea. Highly recommended. It's not unusual for this moment to be a surprise for either bride or bridegroom - just be sure to have a firm hold of their arm so that he or she doesn't automatically march down the aisle - must wait for the piper's arrival. Since a recessional tune should express joy, it should be up-tempo and triumphant.

POSTLUDE
This is played after the new couple has been led from the sanctuary. Essentially it’s a continuation of the Recessional. The piper proceeds outside and performs as guests exit. Lively tunes are appropriate.

RECEPTION TIME
Several choices....
~ Lead wedding party into reception area.
~ Play at the reception area entrance as the official welcome. No problem for the guests to locate it.
~ Play during the photography session while the couple is occupied, keeping guests entertained.
~ When dinner is ready, announce it with a tune, or lead guests into the dining area.

NOTA BENE: It is recommended the above serve as a list of selections. It is not recommended playing each. A little piping goes a long way. A harp is background music, so is a string quartet - bagpipes are not.

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