Wedding Tips

Copyright 1995 David C. Daye


>Is there a typical Scottish wedding with special stuff a
>piper is expected to do?

First and foremost, whatever the family wishes.

I'm typically asked for one or a few from the following list of options.

Most of the time the clients know which they want, the rest decide after I talk them through the options.

Half the time there are no specific tune requests, 90% of the rest "Amazing Grace" is requested. The other 10% "Amazing Grace" is specifically prohibited! Frequently the shaving cream song ("Scotland the Brave") is mentioned.

Most of the time a Prince Charlie evening wear outfit is called for, occasionally a day jacket or even simple linen kilt shirt for casual outdoor (hot) occasions. Every so often the full #1 Military Dress w/ feather bonnet is requested. Usually not, in deference to the need for people to keep their eyes on the principals and not me. But some people really want the most dramatic appearance possible. This seems vaguely linked with uneasy relationships in the new family.

About 1/3 of the time my participation is a surprise so I need to arrive incognito and dress & warm up completely out of earshot. I drive a van, which I must sometimes use for tuning--with earplugs of course!

I never remain visible to the party during the ceremony. When not playing I step out, the better to tune & not to distract from the proper focus of the occasion.

It's common for the piper to be included in wedding photos. Sometimes this means helping guests attempt to blow the pipes or small children to wear a feather bonnet. I'm flexible about this esp if there's some whiskey on hand for cleaning the mouthpiece. ;)

Most commonly I'm asked either to pipe-in the bride or pipe-out the couple, along with performing outside the church/site either before or after the ceremony. I'm not frequently asked to entertain at the reception unless some of the family are native Scots. This can be harrowing; once a contingent flew over from Glasgow and they had quite a formidable collection of impromptu requests. I wish this happened more often.

Help for the Piper

Most important, a tuning area out of earshot for the ceremony site; if possible, the same climate (temperature, humidity) as the ceremony site. The piper certainly needs to tune before the first performance. If humanly possible, s/he should be able to retune any time there is a break longer than 4 or 5 minutes before subsequent playing. The bagpipe is somewhat unstable due to the reeds not being held in the mouth, and goes out of tune rather quickly when not being played.

It is helpful to provide a "runner" if possible, someone who can stay at the performance area so that the piper can fine-tune within a minute of performance times. It's not essential but most pipers would appreciate this assistance. I always play my best when others are in charge of the cuing.

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