As a musician I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed several different ways of making music over the years. About a decade ago I started playing the piano for weddings and parties, etc., and kept a diary for the first 100 events. Some were enjoyable and fun, others very stressful and forgettable.

This is one of the more interesting. Gig No.59. After reading my account you’ll probably think twice about booking me and I wouldn’t blame you. Interestingly, I’ve never known a wedding breakfast to be at the home of the bride, but for some reason that’s the address I copied down in my diary…

Halstead, Essex
Wedding breakfast
July 2009

Perhaps the hottest day of the year – at least 25˚C. And humid. One of those days you can stand outside a pub at 10 o’clock of an evening and enjoy a pint with some friends.

Anyway, straightforward drive to the address in Coggeshaw, Essex. Arrive just as coverage of the 2nd Lions test against South Africa begins on my car radio. I’ve made such good time I decide to try a pub nearby.

“Are you showing the rugby?”, I ask the barman, trying to sound totally calm.

“You’re about the ninetieth person to ask me that.”

“You should be showing it then, shouldn’t you” suggests a helpful chap drinking at the bar.

Try another pub. Again, no luck. I listen in the car. Lions doing very well. 13-5 up now. Maybe there’ll be a tv at the venue.

No answer at the address. No sign of anyone. Call the bride on her mobile. Surely she’ll be able to help, but then again, she’s probably at the altar now. Try the door of nearly every neighbour. Everyone’s out. Finally someone answers. “Do you know the couple at No.10?”

“No. Just a minute. I think the young chap’s getting married today”. Fantastic. I’ve got an hour before I’m due to start. “I know he works at The Compasses pub.”

Call the pub. Someone there knows the village the wedding’s at. It’s 5 miles away. But I’m still far more concerned about missing what sounds like a fantastic rugby match. 13-8 now.

Get to Greenstead Green. Knock on a door. Sounds like the entire village dog population is behind it. Thankfully it stays shut and I walk across to the garden opposite. The gentleman cutting the lawn can’t help, sadly. Can’t speak either. Not to worry, dog woman appears. “I heard the dogs barking” Yes, you and the rest of the village. She has some vague recollection of the bride’s family but directs me to the village shop, a converted stable. Lots of delicious cakes on show, but sadly I have to ignore them. Find a woman who, quite fortunately, knows exactly the information I need.

So, with directions, I set off again. On the way, I pass a bride and groom sitting pretty on an open coach pulled by horses. Bride looks absolutely gorgeous, having the time of her life. Groom looks slightly uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure it’s my wedding couple, so I wind the window down.

“Hello”, I shout, “Who’s the bride?”

“It’s Jade.”

“I’m Gary.”

“OK” as if to say, very happy for you, mate.

Arrive at the venue. It’s sweltering. I’ve got half hour to get my gear out of the car into the marquee, set up and change. This will take 25 minutes in the best possible conditions, but I still want to see some of the rugby. Discovering this is a bit disconcerting, but I can’t help it. Find a tv in the summer house, but can’t manage to switch it on. Time to get moving!

All goes well until I find there’s no power point for me. But I sort something out with the help of the chef. 8 minutes to go. I’m still in my shorts and tee-shirt, sorting leads out. Bride’s mum pops her head around the doorway. Scans the room. Everything looks beautiful. Looks at me. “You should be playing”.

One quick change later and I’m happily playing away. All goes splendidly. Food is delicious, but not enough. Some lovely comments from people and no shortage of offers to help me get my gear back into the car. Lovely chat with the beautiful, beaming Jade.

Gary Preston wedding pianist with Jade
Gary with bride Jade

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