Traditional American, French, Scottish and Irish Music
Bagpipe with Fiddle and Accordion
Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Fort Bragg California
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Celtic Wedding Band and Highland Bagpiper
So, you've decided to investigate hiring a Celtic band and Highland bagpiper for your wedding. Great! You will find suggestions here on how to use a piper and band and what to expect
Question: Why have a Celtic band and Highland bagpiper at a wedding?
Answer: Because Celtic bands and bagpipers have been entertaining guests at weddings, banquets and parties for centuries. By hiring a Celtic band and bagpiper to play for your wedding, you will be carrying on a cultural tradition that was prevalent (until recent times) in many countries throughout the Old World. When our ancestors came to the New World, many kept this tradition alive, especially the Scots and Irish. According to Scottish tradition, if a bagpiper greets the bride first, she is assured of a long and successful marriage. But you needn't have Scottish or Irish affiliation to have a Celtic band and Highland bagpiper at your wedding. Indeed, Celtic music and Highland bagpipes have been, and can be played at multi-ethnic weddings to the enjoyment of all. Your guests will be quite surprised and pleased when they see and hear a Celtic band and Highland bagpiper at your event. A Celtic band and Highland bagpiper provides an electrifying presence and leaves an indelible mark in everyone's mind.
When Should the Celtic band or Highland bagpiper Play?
Much of the time my clients know what they want, the rest decide after I talk them through the options.
I'm typically asked for one or more from the following list:
Perform outside the church or ceremony site as guests arrive.
Play during the seating of the bride and groom's parents.
Pipe-in the groom and his attendants.
Play the Processional for the bride and/or her attendants.
Play a special selection at some point during the ceremony.
Play the Recessional for the wedding party (bride, groom, attendants, parents, etc.) after the ceremony.
Entertain during the receiving line and/or photographs after the ceremony.
Play the couple to the limousine after the receiving line and/or photographs.
Perform outside the reception party as guests arrive.
Pipe-in the couple and/or wedding party to the reception.
Entertain at the reception.
Playing At The Ceremony
Before the Ceremony - This is actually a very good time to have the piper or the band to play. If the majority of the guests are expected to arrive within a short period of time, say 15-30 minutes before the ceremony starts, then music can be used quite effectively to greet them.
During the Service - We are quite often asked to play all or a portion of the bridal processional, which can include playing for the parents, flower girl(s), ring-bearer and bridesmaids, as well as for the bride herself. If we are playing for everyone, or most everyone in the procession, we usually suggest to the client a change in tunes for the entrance of the bride herself. If other music is available such as one might find in a church setting, the bagpiper's processional can be shared with, for example, that of an organist, pianist, or harpist. We have also played pipes many times ensemble with a church's pipe-organ; this combination is quite outstanding in effect. The piper can either lead the processional(s) by playing himself up the aisle, where he will end up standing off to one side of the church or ceremonial site (often to the far right of the groomsmen), or the band can be seated near the back of the aisle while playing in the procession. Using the bagpiper to march-in the groom and his attendents is quite effective if the more usual organ bridal processional is prefered.
The Recessional comes at the end of the ceremony when the piper will either lead the couple and attendants back down the aisle, or play them down the aisle from the back of the church or ceremonial site. Or the band can play a celebratory tune while the bridal party makes their walk out of the ceremony space.
After the Ceremony - The bagpiper can continue to play outside of the church or ceremonial site as the guests are exiting. The playing can go on for approximately 15-20 minutes while waiting for the receiving line to complete, or while photos inside the church are being taken. The piper usually doesn't play while photos of the newlyweds and family are being taken outside the church. However, once the photos are completed and the rice is thrown, the bagpiper can now begin to play a fast and lively tune while the couple enters the limosine. If the reception is being held in a different location, the piper can also play as the guests are leaving for the reception. If however, the piper is asked to play for the arrival of the guests at the reception, he will need to leave soon after the ceremony to arrive at the reception location prior to the guests.
Playing At The Reception
Cocktail Hour - The cocktail hour, which is usually void of live entertainment, can be a perfect time for the band, bagpipes and/or accordion to be played. Note: The accordion is a good choice for smaller reception halls and intimate outdoor settings. The band, a single piper or accordionist can easily blend into the space and provide background music for your guests.
At the Reception - There are other prime moments during the reception for a bagpiper, band or accordionist to play. The most common and appropriate use of a piper at the reception is to announce the arrival of the wedding party and pipe them all in. A quick musical florish before the speeches, or just prior to the cake-cutting can also be a great attention getter. If the piper or accordionist is sharing the entertainment with another band or a D.J., he can play for a few minutes just prior to the change-over. He can also play during the other band's or D.J.'s breaks (usually a customary 15 minutes).
Dancing at the Reception - Scottish country dancing is great fun at a reception. In Scotland, the wedding reception is often called a ceilidh. During the ceilidh, young and old are encouraged to dance, sing, make speeches and quote poetry. The full band and dance caller can rouse the crowd, make the guests feel welcome and encourage them to dance. The dance caller can lead the guests through the dances whether they are experienced or beginner dancers.