My brother is a Broadway pianist. Our friends, family, and sometimes even strangers ask him to play weddings all the time. Most of them he does for free even though these folks are asking him to perform his livelihood for their function. No one thinks to ask their caterer to cook food for free, but it seems that since my brother’s talent is less tangible, people often forget that he pays his mortgage by playing the piano. I understand: they want a premiere musician and they also want to cut costs. Since he’s related or a good friend to the bride and/or groom, they feel like it’s an appropriate favor and he feels similarly. Some of my friends have asked him as well, and he’s obliged them on my behalf because he loves me and knows that these people are nearly as close to me as he is. He’s also just a darn generous and wonderful guy. I mean, there’s literally nothing this guy wouldn’t do for people; I think he’s honored that people esteem his musicianship enough to ask. Plus, I think he secretly likes getting to wear his tuxedo more often. And, you know, there’s cake.
One time my brother took the time, energy, and financial penalty to leave his job for a weekend to play piano for two friends of mine who were getting married. He came, in that tuxedo I know he likes to strut around in, and played the ceremony and a little soft jazz during the cocktail hour. He agreed to play for this couple because the groom could be considered one of the most important non-family members in my life. (I always feel awkward asking my brother for these favors even though he honestly doesn’t mind, but as a career coach, I know what it’s like to always say “Sure, I’ll review your resume real quick” even though that’s my bread and butter.) He got to grab dinner with some really fun guests and had a good time; we even had a good long time to hang out after the brunt of the dancing was over. He had a great time and I was really happy he was there. The dancing winded down and we all went home to recuperate from an outstanding reception.
However, the next day, I asked my brother was his thank you gift was; he said he didn’t receive one. This, of course, didn’t bother him because he doesn’t really get most of the wedding etiquette. I, on the other hand, was livid. After the bride and groom returned from the honeymoon, I called to enquire if they had gotten my brother a gift of gratitude. When the groom admitted, it “hadn’t crossed his mind” I almost hung up the phone. When I explained the significance of my brother’s appearance and the loss of income from not playing a gig that day, the groom felt mortified. He had simply not thought about this. He and his wife discussed it and rectified it with a gift and an apology for the delay. It made me think twice about asking my brother to play anyone else’s wedding; he might not understand the lack of gratitude, but it was something I take very seriously.
Your wedding day is about the love you share with your partner. It is about families coming together and celebrating the union with your friends. The day requires the help of several people and without their genorosity, your special day would not match your vision. Appropriate thank you gestures are a MUST, even if they are simply cards expressing how much it meant to have them be a part of your day. As G.B. Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.”
**title quote by William Arthur Ward