In the fall of 2015, I was asked to be a bagpiper at the wedding a couple in Dekalb, IL. I was first contacted by the bride-groom via email. We set up a call, and discussed what he and his fiancé had in mind.
As usual, I began by getting a feel for what their family is like, why they wanted bagpipes, how they wanted them incorporated into the occasion, what type of wedding it would be, etc. The conversation was total matter of fact, as if he was under a high degree of stress, but he was very polite, uncondescending, and generally pleasant. Chris (his name) was from a military family, so there had been bagpipes at a few family members’ memorials over the years, and his fiancé was Scottish. The idea of a bagpiper walking her down the aisle appealed to her. And, seeing as how it was an outdoor wedding, there were no objections to watch out for like there might be in a church.
On the drive out on Interstate 88, I remember feeling like a million bucks. The weather was mostly sunny, with temperatures in the upper 70’s, relatively low humidity, and small to medium sized clouds relieving the relentless blue of an early autumn afternoon in the upper-Midwest.
The wedding venue was beautiful. Both the ceremony and the reception took place on a small farmstead adjacent the vineyard for a local winery. Rows of white chairs were situated facing Southeast, toward a floral pergola, and overlooking the vineyard, which was gloriously illuminated from behind, by the early afternoon sun.
Bagpipes lead the bridal party down the aisle to open the ceremony, then stopped, and played a tune of a more dramatic ilk for the bride herself (who was beautiful). I brought my bagpipes under a nearby tree to get them out of the sun and waited. My cue to play the newlyweds back up the aisle was their presentation, so I was waiting at the ready for a few minutes.
Per our arrangement, I played for about 15-20 minutes after the ceremony, with some distance between myself and the guests. Parents with their small children came over, as often happens, to marvel at the spectacle and bewildering sound of the bagpipes. I always enjoy explaining to the children (and adults) how the sound of bagpipes is produced, and there were more than average at this wedding. I always let them know that there are free lessons for children with Midlothian Scottish in Lombard, IL. It is also nice to play for appreciative adults, and there were quite a few in attendance that day too.
After people dispersed to mingle, play the assorted lawn-games that were set up, and do whatever else people do between the ceremony and dinner, I stopped playing, waved to the bride, whose eye I caught on the way out, and left: another successful performance on the books.