We talk to Boston-area wedding ceremony musician John Jerome on today’s podcast, who tells us how he and his team can adapt your favorite wedding music for your ceremony.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and welcome to our series of podcasts with Wedding Vendors for the Essex Room, Woodman’s Wedding and Function Room Facility on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Today I’m here with John Jerome who is a wedding ceremony musician. Welcome, John.
John Jerome: How are you doing?
John Maher: Good. John, thanks for speaking with me today. Can you tell me a little bit about your business as it relates to playing wedding music at the Essex Room?
John Jerome: Absolutely. I started out doing a few weddings there. It’s a new thing we’re working on, where people like some acoustic guy singing some of the songs that they would like to walk them down, the bridesmaids and whatnot. That’s how I originally got hooked up with them, doing weddings.
John Maher: Do you provide music at all for receptions as well as ceremonies, or do you pretty much stick with the ceremony?
John Jerome: No, we do it for all things. If you would like a full band for your reception after, or if you would like cocktail hour, we do that a lot, and we also do the ceremony; that’s kind of the new thing.
John Maher: Is it you and some other people that you play with as well?
John Jerome: Yeah. It starts with me. It’s always me, but I can bring in any type of musicians that they would like. If you wanted a band, I’d have to bring a bass player and a drummer, hopefully some horns, if they’ve got the time for that. It’s pretty much whatever they want in that regard. If they want a couple of guys for cocktails, there’ll be just a couple of us.
John Maher: You play guitar and sang yourself?
John Jerome: I play guitar and I sing. I’m the leader of the band, and then I just bring the guys around with me. We always have a good time, for sure.
John Maher: What’s your style in terms of music for the ceremony?
John Jerome: Style is typically just acoustic. It’s based off whatever they want; any style they would like. They just give me ample time to get it done. Sometimes I’ll loop a track, so I can double‑up the track, so that they can get…if they just want an instrumental number, but it’s just me and the band.
John Maher: Do you do music at churches as well as on location in Essex Room?
John Jerome: I do. Not on the regular, but I have done some churches, some charity stuff. I love to give back to my community in any way that I can in regards to music.
How to book a live musician for your wedding ceremony music
John Maher: At what point in the process of planning a wedding should a bride reach out to you? How far in advance of the wedding do you like to be contacted?
John Jerome: As early as possible. I like to have a conversation with you, see what you’re looking for, just to touch base at first. Then you can take some time. At least three months before the wedding, I’d like to be able to start working on what they’re looking for, because a lot of times it could be something I’ve never even heard before.
John Maher: Walk me through that process a little bit. Somebody contacts you and, obviously, the first thing is just to check to see if you’re available that day. Say you are available. Then you sit down with them and have a meeting to talk about what kind of music that they want. How does that work?
John Jerome: A lot of times, they’ll know what they’re looking for. Maybe it’s their favorite pop song or something that their parents had as a song for their wedding. I say, “You can get three songs – especially for the style of the ceremony. Take three songs, you get one for when the bridesmaid come down. Then we’ll pick one for you, as the bride, to come down to, whatever you’d like, and then as the walk away.
John Maher: In terms of the music, what are sort of the most popular current trends for live music at a wedding ceremony? What kind of songs are people typically picking?
John Jerome: It varies, but right now it’s really country heavy. Everybody’s looking for a good country song that they want ‑‑ “Oh, I love this song,” ‑‑ for them to come down to. But it does vary depending on the people, depending on what kind of vibe they want to have. It varies.
John Maher: I think with a lot of country music, sometimes the lyrics tend to be a little more old‑fashioned in a good way.
John Jerome: Exactly.
John Maher: That kind of old‑fashioned storytelling, a little more sentimental, maybe, than some more modern songs that are maybe just a little more typically dance music or something like that. Which is fine, but for a wedding ceremony, something that has a little bit of a nice sentimentality to it is often nice.
John Jerome: Exactly. It’s all about love.
John Maher: Are brides more choosing traditional, classic songs, or more modern songs?
John Jerome: Mostly more modern. I think what we’re doing with the ceremony and the acoustic guy playing and singing is bringing more modern vibe in a way to it, anyway. They usually stick to something that maybe it was their first song they danced to or something like that.
How to choose the best live musician for your wedding music
John Maher: What should a bride and groom know before choosing a live musician for their wedding? If they’re coming to you, what are the questions that you think they should already have answered, or that they should be asking you when they are deciding whether they want to go with you or somebody different?
John Jerome: The first thing I would say is you definitely want to get a sample, a video or an audio recording, of them, preferably a video. You can see if that fits what you’re looking for. Also, you could ask the price. How long before the ceremony will they to be there? Will they be playing any music up until the ceremony comes and for how long? Things like that.
John Maher: That’s good advice. I don’t know if people do this now or not, but, at a wedding ceremony, do some people still play a CD of music as they’re coming down the aisle? If so, what do you think the benefit is of having live music over recorded music at a ceremony?
John Jerome: I was just at a wedding, as an example, last week. We played the cocktail hour but we sat in for the ceremony to watch. It comes through on CD and it’s kind of the same thing, but I feel like it’s not as personal. You know what I mean?
John Maher: Right. It’s a little cold. Not quite as…
John Jerome: It is. It’s a CD, come on. It’s coming off somebody’s phone or iPod or whatever. You can really work with someone like myself who will play during the ceremony to how you would like it. Because you only get snippets of the songs anyway, “Which part of this song do I want?” I feel, like I said, it’s more personal to have a human.
John Maher: Do you have any unique or any maybe unexpected ways to feature live music during a wedding ceremony?
John Jerome: Well, yes. I think what we’re doing is pretty unique, with just one guy playing exactly what you envision yourself coming down the aisle to. It’s really working out well. I’ve asked around. Not a lot of people really do it, but it’s something that’s really cool and people really seem to enjoy it.
John Maher: Are people picking songs that you play and sing as the bride is coming down the aisle? I know in a lot of cases, they might come down the aisle to just an instrumental piece. Are you normally singing a song while the bride is coming down the aisle?
John Jerome: That’s typically what I’m doing. I’ll be singing while I’m playing, but there are times when I just do the instrumental thing. Somebody would like the song “Canon,” for example, is a song that I’ve done…
John Maher: Pachabel’s “Canon.”
John Jerome: Right. I’ll take my loop pedal, and I’ll loop, because it’s pretty much, over and over, the same thing, but just adding to it. You get a really cool sound, almost as if there are four acoustic guitars playing. That’s some kind of strange and unique thing I can do to work with you, because I am only one guy.
John Maher: That’s cool that you have that option. Like you said, you can use your loop pedal to give it a little sound, as if there are more musicians playing than just you.
John Jerome: And you don’t know. You could never tell that it’s in looped time because it’s right on. You do it perfectly. It’s a really cool thing to check out.
John Maher: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Then, like you said, if you’re singing a song as the bride is coming down the aisle, that’s a little unique too. It adds like a little bit of a modern touch to it that you don’t see too often.
John Jerome: Right. Exactly. It’s been going awfully well. People are really enjoying it, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. Being such an integral part of such an important piece of somebody’s life.
John Maher: Do you end up sometimes seeing people that you did the music for their wedding? Do you end up seeing them at some point later and them saying, “Hey, you did the music for my wedding!” Do you see people afterwards?
John Jerome: All the time. All my business, musically, is based off referrals. They tell a friend and that’s how it really started in the first place.
John Maher: They come to a wedding, they see you playing at their friend’s wedding and then they say, “Oh, I’d like to have you at mine.”
John Jerome: Exactly. Or one of their friends is getting married. They say, “Oh, I saw this guy. This is great.” That’s all networking because you’re not ever going to have repeat customers. You’re doing weddings!
John Maher: Let’s hope not.
John Jerome: But everybody there knows somebody who’s getting married, and I would love to be part of everybody’s wedding if I could. It’s the most fun day.
How to choose your wedding ceremony songs
John Maher: How can a bride and groom choose live music for their wedding ceremony that captures the theme and feel of their nuptials? How do they go about picking their right music? Do you work with them through that process?
John Jerome: That’s something that I can help them with and I can give them a lot of songs, “Hey, what do you think of this?” That really comes down to whether it’s what they like. “What have you grown up with? What describes you guys as a couple?” Things like that; answers that only they really know.
John Maher: It might be something like their favorite that they had when they were a kid or it could be a song that they heard the first time they went out on a date, so it has special meaning to them as a couple.
John Jerome: Exactly. That makes it even more…not that it could be more, but it just gives it a little more touch to make the wedding even better.
John Maher: How can couples who might be interested in talking to you about doing music for their wedding ceremony get in touch with you, John?
John Jerome: I can be contacted at johnjeromemusic@Gmail.com or you can find me on Facebook John Raymond Jerome, that’s my name. I’m right there. You’ll see all the posts and videos and stuff like that. Just send me an email, like I said johnjeromemusic@Gmail.com. I’d love to get back to you. I’d love to be a part of a special day in people’s lives.
John Maher: That’s all great information. John, I really appreciate you talking with me today.
John Jerome: Thank you,
John Maher: For more information about the Essex Room and tips on wedding planning, you can visit the Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call 978‑768‑7335.