The Armchair Liturgist: The Wedding DJ

Here’s one that crossed my desk today. We have a couple marrying at our parish Saturday night. In keeping with our pastor’s edict against Saturday night weddings, a priest friend of the couple has been engaged by them to preside at the wedding. Unlike other couples who get married with us, there’s been no paperwork on their wedding, no meeting with either me or the wedding coordinator or any of our musicians, or any word on what they have planned for this wedding.

When I was called today, I was asked about what music can be played for the ceremony, stuff like “Here Comes the Bride.” I inquired about their musicians. I was told they have no musicians, only a DJ.

Keep in mind that while my pastor has come in a bit more strict in policy on wedding matters, he does tend to be lenient when pushed.

What would you do? Four days before the wedding, do you let it go and tell the DJ where to plug in? Read the bride the riot act? Suggest/insist they hire an organist? Offer to play for the wedding yourself? Tell the pastor?

I was speaking with a parishioner a bit later in the day and I asked about this couple’s priest. I was told Father N is a real “straight-arrow.”

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it turned out.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: The Wedding DJ

  1. Gavin says:

    Recorded music at church is against just about every rule you can name. Even Sing to the Lord banned it. That falls into the “non-negotiable” category.

    Obviously no one would come to me as a musician over it, but if I were a priest I would hold off on the riot act and inform the couple that they have their choice of silence or hiring a (parish) musician at a greatly increased stipend with no selection in the music. If they protested, Fr. Gavin would read them the riot act and then some. Perhaps this is another reason we should be glad I’m not nor will ever be a priest.

  2. DavAnnb says:

    I’m not sure what to do in this situation, but I think I know how I would approach the future.

    At the cathedral where I am a parishioner, we have many weddings performed by non-resident clergy, but the couple are still required to meet with the rector at which time he lays out the rules. One of the most basic rules is that they have to use the cathedral musicians or get their permission (almost impossible to get) to use someone else. If they don’t do that, they won’t be allowed to use the cathedral, no matter who is presiding at the wedding.

    I think by going through these rules before they can get permission to use the church these situations are avoided.

    But as your situation I have no idea what I would do.

  3. Todd, I truly wish these sort of “lose-lose” scenarios were a thing of the past.
    Despite the reality that each presiding priest is the Principal Liturgist and that, for better or worse, informs how the given liturgy will procede, if I were part of the equation this is what I’d recommend-
    Approach the couple or their agents with charity and a consensus compromise: if the Wagner is the bottom line “gotta have,” counter then with “We understand. But what you need to know is that we are a living Church, not a Memorex version. We understand that you may have never been informed that we believe the liturgy is a living entity that must be performed by living creatures, and that’s a sorry situation. But just as you would not want a cardboard cutout of the bride rolled up the aisle on a float representing you, the Church does not and cannot accept a CD as a facsimile of a living musician, a fakir providing a second generation imitation of music meant to signify a sacred moment in your life that witnesses to the living work of Christ in your lives. This moment is not a movie with a soundtrack; it is part of a sacramental act you have chosen to perform publicly. We can accept your choice of music (though it is not ideal or appropriate in strict terms) but we must insist that you hire the services of our organist.”
    If the priest cannot support that approach, dust off your sandals.

  4. Todd says:

    “If the priest cannot support that approach, dust off your sandals.”

    Yes, well … there is that.

  5. Liam says:

    Did they say the DJ was expected to provide his services at church as well as the reception? If not, I would assume not and clarify that up front. If they say yes, you say it is forbidden at Catholic wedding liturgies.

    If they want to play lawyer, you can remind them that, unlike a private reception, a Catholic liturgy is by definition open to the public faithful at large (a lot of people don’t realize this) and therefore the DJ might be violating copyright laws playing music without proper licensing in church….

  6. “Yes, well…there is that.”

    To clarify my context: just walk away from the problem.
    To what extent and how far you walk away is left to your own discretion. Doesn’t just mean quitting the whole gig.

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