Another Perfect Bride

by admin on May 6, 2014

A few years ago, I lost my job and couldn’t find work for three months. I had to get help from friends and my church to do things like pay rent or eat.  In the middle of this, my good friend got married.

I had planned for over a year to come to the wedding, several states away. While I was not a bridesmaid, she had asked me to be the violin soloist for the wedding mass.  I had helped her pick the music during the wedding planning and was thrilled to be asked at all.

And then, of course, I didn’t have enough money to come to the wedding.  When my dad found out, he offered to drive me out there because he had a business trip to a neighboring state.  So I jubilantly told K. that I’d be able to come and would set aside money for the expenses.

I arrived two days before the wedding and she had arranged for me to stay with a BM so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel or meals. After we carted some stuff from her house to the new apartment, she took me out for dinner.  She made sure I had rides to and from everything from the rehearsal dinner to the musicians’ run through.  She made sure that I had temporary friends to keep me company during the wedding.

What I appreciated most about that weekend, though, was what she gave me.  I have played violin and viola in weddings for friends for 16 years now and have never been offered payment for my services.  It’s always been implied that this is my way of contributing to the happy day.  This would make sense if it were my family–we have a tradition of writing music for the reception and I’m usually either the vocalist or part of the choir.  But a few weeks before the wedding, K. asked me how much I usually charged for playing in a wedding. I told her that, because I was on a tight budget, I wanted her to pay me half of whatever the other musicians were being given and then consider the other half my gift to help her with the new life. 0430-14

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey Frith-Smith May 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

What a sweet story! But, OP- surely a bride who has arranged your lodging, food and transport and who is also a good friend in that she made certain that you weren’t lonely and that you lacked for nothing wasn’t due a bill at the end of the day? It’s not that your services lacked value in any wise. It’s just that- having gone rather out of her way for you in an otherwise busy season- you might have said “you’ve done so much for me already! It’s my pleasure!”. You needed money and your circumstances were trying and difficult. But you had an excellent support network and you were, in this case, in a position to be generous.


Amoni May 8, 2014 at 1:36 am

Wow, really? OP is having to get money from her church to pay her bills and you think she’s “in a position to be generous”? The bride offered to pay her, she didn’t even ask for the full amount, despite her circumstances, and that’s not generous enough?


Jett Jaguar May 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm

I don’t think that’s what the OP meant. I think at that time money was so tight she had no choice but to request some small remuneration, for a service she’d intended as a wedding gift. I remember my bad old days as a starving student, where just a few missed pennies meant the difference between eating, paying rent, or both. This strikes me as another example of the bride’s perfection and generosity – she’s fully aware of the OP’s predicament, and offered to pay her for her time and effort on top of everything else she provided over the wedding weekend. That’s a true friend, IMO.


Kathryn May 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

That was my thought. This story would have ended better if she had exchanged a wonderful weekend for a wonderful musician. Instead you charged her. It was a story with a surprising ending to me. I have such a hard time charging friends for anything, though, so that also influences my opinion.


scotslass May 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

I agree completely with Stacey. This certainly seems like a lovely bride to me and a friend to keep in the future. I think the bride was absolutely right to acknowledge that your (undoubtedly excellent) services were worthy of payment, but I think it would have been more gracious to make your music the gift. We are having family members play and sing at our wedding next year and they have offset any potential awkwardness about money by making it very clear that this is their gift to us. It is much appreciated and they will get a thank you card just as anybody who gives us a physical gift will. I’m sure the bride was happy to pay you for your music though, just as we would be prepared to pay our family members for theirs.


Vrinda May 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm

The bride wanted to pay the OP poster for her services. The bride brought up the issue of payment, not the OP. The OP only asked for half the amount musicians normally get, and the bride didn’t pay out of her pocket for the OP to come. The OP’s father drove her and a bridesmaid put her up for the duration. The OP also helped the bride move stuff to her new apartment, so it’s not as though she never reciprocated the bride in any way other than being asked to play a violin solo.


ArtK May 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm

The OP didn’t charge the bride, the bride offered. There’s a big difference. What I got from your comment is that the OP should have turned down the offer. I disagree strongly. That would have been an insult to the bride.


Mary May 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

The bride sounds like a very sweet thoughtful person!


lkb May 7, 2014 at 6:57 am

“I told her that, because I was on a tight budget, I wanted her to pay me half of whatever the other musicians were being given and then consider the other half my gift to help her with the new life. ”

A perfect bride indeed, and (based on the above quote) a perfect friend in the violinist. It takes a friend to be a friend and it’s easy to see why you are friends — you both care for other people.

Blessings on you both.


JWH May 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

It sounds like OP didn’t ask for payment, but K offered it. If you’re unemployed and in a bind, you don’t turn down a friend’s generosity.


Nicole May 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I disagree completely. The OP’s father got her out to the wedding location. A bridesmaid gave her food and lodging. The bride bought her dinner, but that was after the OP helped her with some moving chores from house to apartment. The bride arranged rides, but mostly that is for the bride’s benefit – the musicians need to practice together to make her special day just perfect. Plus, the bride inquired as to payment weeks before the wedding, not at the time the OP was visiting.

Honestly, my first thought was, if you can’t afford food and rent, you can’t afford to go to a wedding several states away and regrets should be forthcoming. OP better get paid for her services and take care of business! I would be a little peeved if I was donating food or money to help someone scrape by only to find out they had money but were saving it up for this event. The expectation of a paycheck for performing is the only thing that makes OP’s attendance at the wedding sensible.

Frankly I think the bride should have either done more for the OP (fully arranging travel if she really wanted to make sure she was there, as she would if OP was strictly a musician that the bride wanted at the wedding) or made other arrangements with another musician in order to let OP off the hook, rather than mixing up the boundaries of guest and vendor. Looks like all the bride did was work really hard at volunteering OTHER people to do stuff for the OP, which may not have been very fair for those people either.

Why should the OP’s friends, family, and church all finance the Bride’s desire to have a free violinist at her wedding?


Kylie May 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Yeah, I’m with Stacey on this one. The bride was very, very kind to you, and tight budget or not, the right thing to do would have been to tell her all her help was payment enough.


Enna May 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

This is a positive story


Leah May 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I agree with the above comment, especially since the story’s previous sentence said you usually don’t charge in your family. To then say ‘so, I only charged her half’ and phrase it as a gift from her reads oddly.


Brit May 28, 2014 at 10:33 am

I thought that. It was playing at a wedding, not sucking up your work hours. You still charged her after everything she did?

There’s being totally broke. And there’s having some pride.


Judecat May 9, 2018 at 2:26 am

It’s obvious that most people here have not been really poor. Not just broke but really poor to the point that you have to beg help from your church and friends in order to have food or rent. There is actually a point where you cannot afford to be proud.
I have a friend who is handicapped and needs help with her housework. As a friend, I’ve always helped her, and she usually offered me money and I turned her down. When I lost my job, my husband and my house, she suddenly needed twice the housecleaning help, and when she offered to pay, I did accept. Of course, she didn’t really need that much housework done, so I didn’t accept all the money she offered, but really I could not afford to not accept any. And she knew I wouldn’t accept “charity”, so this was her way of helping me without hurting my “pride”.

So I think this was a lovely story of true friendship-the Bride helping the friend/violinist, and the friend giving half of her usual payment as a gift.


Bryguy June 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I am a Pastor with over 15 years of service.
I get upset when musicians are not paid. Music ability is rare enough without making it rarer by not making even a minimal contribution to the long hours of practice good musicians put it. The Bride asked for a price. I thought OP was doubly generous to ask for 1/2 of “ordinary” musician rate, seeing as she was a soloist and due more than non-soloist musicians.


shannon April 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm

I own a party/wedding venue, so I have both been the person giving to a friend and witnessed hundreds of wedding where professional friends offer their services in lieu of a wedding gift. Some I have seen at multiple weddings. The first one, they are chipper and up beat about helping the bride; by the dozenth time, they are exhausted. Here is why.

A professional means they earn all or part of their living doing what they do, be it musician, photographer, florist or venue. Compare the accepted cost of a buying a wedding gift to the cost of paying full price to hire a professional. Usually, there is a discrepancy between the cost of a gift and the professional fee of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. When a professional is giving his or her services for free in lieu of a gift, not only are they forgoing quite a bit of money, but they CANNOT be elsewhere making full professional fee.

I have learned over the years in my business, renting out a venue, that there are two kinds of friends. The kind that insist, accurately, that this is my livelihood, not my hobby, and I therefore should be paid full price. I usually, based on a real reason, give them a discount, but again, for a reason, like; short term party, have not booked and probably won’t. Off season, unlikely to book, etc. They usually get anywhere from $500 to $1200 discount off my usual fee. That is one hell of a gift.

The other “friends” want to book long term on choice nights that I could book at full price to someone else. I still give them a $500 discount. They then ask for even more, not apparently recognizing that their discount for their party means I cannot rent at full price to anyone else, therefore that money is coming directly out of my pocket. $500 to $1000 again is one hell of a friendly gift.

In short, the bride who wanted to pay her friend full price accepted her musician’s friend’s services for half price, which I would think would be in value somewhere in the $200 to $400 range. I don’t know what everyone on this blog considers a proper amount to spend on a gift, but I am betting by monetary standards only, the musician gave a bigger gift than most of the other guests.


Lisa July 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

Why do people think musicians don’t deserve to be paid? Do you expect your friend the dry cleaner to clean your clothes for free? Do you expect your friend the accountant to do your taxes for free? Musicians put in years of practice and expense in honing their craft. Everyone needs to stop expecting professional musicians to donate their services.

This bride sounds lovely and thoughtful. What a refreshing change to all the bridezilla stories! She offered to pay the OP (which was the right thing to do) and the OP accepted at half price. Considering her circumstances, that was very gracious. The fact that the OP is being chastised for not donating services in full is mind-boggling to me.


Aziza September 10, 2017 at 9:20 am

When friends want to celebrate with your special day, they make it work. Both the OP and the bride went well out of their way to honor and take care of the other. What a sweet friendship! The OP didn’t ASK, although she had the right to, since she was offering marketable services. The bride ASKED, and was willing to pay, as she OUGHT to. How the bride acted is how people OUGHT to act–what a class act for us to imitate! It is easy for people to criticize the OP for her lack of pride, but it is much harder and a more generous to give up half remuneration when you are jobless and out of cash than to offer a generous gift when you know where your next meal is coming from.


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