After playing for hundreds of weddings and events, and being placed in some of the strangest of places – either completely out of earshot of guests, in separate rooms (with doors closed!!)… I thought I would write a short guide on where to put a wedding pianist when planning your day.
For a ceremony, a pianist absolutely needs to be in the same room/area, preferably with a good view of where the bride will enter. When accompanying singers, the singer must be situated next to the piano, and not opposite ends of the room!
When hiring a pianist for a drinks reception – think about whether guests are likely to move around – I have played for several weddings where I am playing and all of a sudden everybody moves to the opposite side of the building which involves me either having to stop, or to move (which is a real nightmare, mid-set!). If you know where they are going to be – e.g. near a bar, outside etc. – organize the most central area for the pianist to set up. If outside, a waterproof/weatherproof gazebo would be needed, as invariably, mains electricity will be required, and musical equipment is expensive and doesn’t like strong sunlight or spots of rain… not to mention the safety aspect!
One of the most important things to remember about when having a pianist for the wedding breakfast is placement in the room. A corner is good – preferably by an exit to enable the least disruption when moving out of the room after the meal is over (especially if guests are not moving).
Always try to leave at least a couple of metres between the pianist and the nearest table – this also helps the serving staff.
When putting your table plans together, it is also a very good idea to place anyone hard of hearing as far away from the piano as possible, as it can be very irritating for people with hearing loss to be unable to hear what people are saying to them. Even the softest piano music, when played in close proximity to someone, either with good hearing or not, can appear to be obtrusively loud, and can ruin their experience of your carefully planned event!