The Wedding Singer: In lieu of a gift… (Part One)

I’m not going to mention what I make as a wedding performer. 1: it’s no one’s business. 2: it changes drastically per client. 3: I’m not one to brag.  

But let’s just say, on average, it’s more than Emily Post would suggest you give to someone as a gift. 

I don’t really enjoy working with friends or acquaintances. There are many scenarios that potentially arise and could effectively end friendships. The most damaging dichotomy is when the client doesn’t fully respect what the vendor is doing for them (which can happen sometimes when no monetary value is placed on the service) or when the vendor feels that since they’re doing it for free, they don’t need to take it as seriously as they would a paying gig. You see where the problems can start to brew? 

I have had friends, in the past, undervalue my time in various ways. It’s usually innocent on their part but it’s still very disrespectful. I have set boundaries in the past with folks, and when they’re crossed, that person goes “I know this drives you crazy but it’s ME.” Well then, it honestly drives me CRAZIER because you should know better. 

When someone approaches me to perform at their wedding, I start out flattered. In my mind, I think this person really wants the best and they think I am just that. Who wouldn’t be flattered by that? Then the details follow. 

“……of course, we also want you to be a guest.” I know you’re reading this, so you have to just imagine a foghorn-sounding alarm going off, and red flags waving so fast and furiously that it obscures your view. 

To me, if you wanted me to be a guest, you would have just invited me to the wedding. Most times it’s someone who makes you wonder “if I weren’t a singer would I be a guest?” The answer is probably no. “Would I even WANT to go to this person’s wedding?” Also, probably no. 

When you’re a full-time musician (especially one who does weddings), it’s actually an incredibly difficult decision to take a Saturday off in the summer. A very EXPENSIVE decision. Folks who aren’t in the industry don’t understand it. They think you’re being selfish or greedy. Let me try to explain it, as I have had this conversation many times. 

Imagine your 9-5, M-F job. Someone asks you to take Friday off. But you’re not going to get paid for it (and you might still have to work.) 

Now also imagine that Friday at your day job, for some bizarre reason, pays you 3-4x as much on Fridays. Still thinking of taking it off? They had better be a relative. Blood. 

For me, when it is phrased this way, it just means that they don’t necessarily want me as a guest; they just want me to perform for free. “Well maybe you can perform in lieu of a gift?” (See paragraph 2)

There are OF COURSE AS ALWAYS exceptions to this. I have a friend who is getting married in 2024 and I’ve offered to do whatever she might need that day (including help plan it) because during my wedding planning she talked me off many a ledge. Street value? Priceless. 

One of my very best friends in the world, famed local photographer Kiki Vassilakis, asked me to sing her and her wife’s first dance. Once I stopped crying from how honored I was, I agreed. I also baked that bitch 300 of my famous chocolate chip cookies. And when it came time for ME to get married, she took some of the greatest pictures that I will treasure for my entire life. 

But those are ACTUAL friends. Actual friends either have something to offer you back or would NEVER in a million years ask you to work for free. 

My band played me down the aisle. Then two of them DJed (with a pre-made set list that I prepared). So they actually got to be guests AND I paid them. What a concept! My bass player had so much fun and even met his future wife there! 

But then there was the most recent bout of fuckery that actually inspired me to start this blog. That’ll be part two, next week…

1 Comment

Comments are closed.