“Can you provide amplification for the music and readings for our ceremony?”
I used to say “yes” without hesitation until one day it went horribly wrong !
When I began working as a celebrant I invested in a good battery-powered amplifier.
Feeling fully equipped I eagerly volunteered to provide amplification for ceremonies and I used the equipment hundreds of times without incident until 2016 which proved to be a peak year for me with 65 ceremonies !
On a steamy, hot, August afternoon….. disaster struck!
It had been a particularly heavy week with back to back ceremonies in Brittany, Bordeaux, Dordogne and Paris (4 hours’ away) and the temperature hadn’t dropped below 35℃
This would be a good moment to add that the only problem with a battery-powered amp is that one must remember to charge the battery beforehand.!! So I made sure the batterie was plugged-in for a good eight hours before I set off confidently for Paris.
After a 4 hr drive I arrived at the venue which was a group of carefully hidden holiday lodgings with a central club-house-type building. It was adjacent to an unfriendly, sprawling farm with an unfortunate view of a large silo and factory. The flies were very troublesome in the oppressive heat.
Important to look out for this when booking a venue on line. ….’Nowhere near a farm!
I parked up and found a place to plug the amp in again as it had been unplugged for 4 hours and even though the battery is supposed to last 10 hours ‘one can never be too careful!
I found the groom who was super- organised and charming and keen to try his mini iPod through my amp , which was still plugged in…………..
It worked perfectly.
The ceremony began.
“Mesdames et Messieurs……… Please all rise for the arrival of the bridal procession ”
It was of utmost importance to the groom that he be the one to press “play ” for the bridal entrance music so all was queued up on the amp next to us.
The brides’ maids filed out about 50 meters away ……..The bride emerged from her room on her father’s arm. The groom pressed play and……………………
The amp was DEAD!
I frantically tried giggling wires and pressing buttons……… but it was dead!
The groom looked at me with contemptuous disbelief as the bride walked silently down the aisle. I desperately wanted to say ‘Stop ! Let’s start again everyone” (she was, after all, 50 yards away) but instinctively I knew that creativity wasn’t a part of this couple’s life !
Deafening silence as the bride walked slowly down the aisle ……!!
Actually the silence was rather beautiful………and would have worked really well if it had been intended. The bride was super-composed and looked only slightly quizzically at her groom on arrival. I followed my breath, calmed myself and began the ceremony………the show had to go on…..and I managed it all (with what I thought to be redeeming genius) oscillating between both languages for an agonising 40 mins .
A french woman gave an interminably long reading which gave me an opportunity to sidle up the side of the guests to a groomsman who fetched another speaker of some kind.
I pronounced the couple to be “husband and wife,”, everyone cheered and we grouped together for the signing. The bride queued up her phone to the speaker and told me to press play when they were ready for their recessional. They got into position , I announced to the guests that they should form an aisle with their confetti and went to press “play”……….I had no idea how to navigate her phone and the screen had gone blank.!
The exasperated couple, yet again, returned down the aisle in silence! (well everyone cheered but they had no music )
I then had an agonising wait as I joined the end of the queue of guests being greeted by the couple…….
The groom was understandably furious, haughty and condescending and although I felt it wasn’t my fault that the battery had decided to die at that moment, I knew it had been a huge disappointment for them. The bride gently reminded me she’d been preparing for that moment for over a year!
I left with my tail between my legs and promised myself that I would NEVER offer to provide amplification again for a ceremony.
I had a four hour journey home to think about it!
I calmed down and invested in a really good AER amp (1000 euros worth) https://www.thomann.de/fr/aer_compact_60.htm ….and a very long extension lead .
However, I strongly advise couples to employ professional musicians for their ceremony …….. it’s money bloody well spent !!
Suggestions for live music ……
Check out my husband who has a brilliant wedding band ……….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fOd5ix5W6U
Our son also performs for ceremonies and champagne receptions…….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOxRETodqHU
I’ve also invested in this lovely battery operated Marshal Amp https://www.thomann.de/fr/marshall_kilburn_cream.htm?sid=534e100ce554e1a3db9c4901d512df0b for a ceremony which is truly too far from any electricity ………
But I remain very clear about the risks…….