In the informational pamphlet that Sr. Theresa provided for us, it mentioned that we should contact the church organist, Tim, if we wanted his services for the wedding. I lingered over the words for a moment. Wait a minute, I thought. Don’t the organists just come with the church?
As I’ve already established, it’s customary for me to go into a state of panic whenever a new obstacle is thrown in my path. Upon learning that the organist did not, in fact, come with the church, my imagination began spinning out of control. What if Tim was unavailable on our wedding date? Would I be stuck calling church after church, desperately searching for someone to play the organ at my wedding? What if we couldn’t find someone else? Would I have to find a flutist or a violinist, and how much would that cost? Where would I even find a flutist or a violinist? Would the ceremony be devoid of music? A surge of worry began to pump through my body.
Because the unknown was unbearable, I decided to contact Tim right away. There were two phone numbers for him, one marked “Parish Office,” and the other “Home”. It seemed to me that the “Home” option was the least favorable because it might be intrusive. So, I dialed the Parish Office and hoped for voicemail. To me, a voicemail is a comfortable place where I can explain myself without the awkward pause that occurs in a live conversation with a stranger whose services you wish to procure. There is always that moment after you introduce yourself and state the purpose of the call, that silence where the person on the other hand processes what you’ve said before continuing with the conversation. I hate that moment. Voicemail is a lovely way to avoid that moment.
As the phone in Tim’s office rang four, then five times, I began to draw little circles on the scrap piece of paper that I’d torn for the notes I’d take during our conversation. When the phone rang eight and then nine times, I began to wonder if Tim had set up his voicemail at all. After five more rings, I hung up the phone. After fuming over his lack of voicemail for a minute or two, I decided to call the “Home” number. Unfortunately, I hadn’t put much thought into what I’d say if someone answered, so when a woman picked up the phone, my mind went blank. Well, it went sort of west of blank to “Intrusive! Awkward!” and I did what any phone phobic would do: I hung up the phone. Brilliant. I thought about calling back and making some lame excuse about the phone cutting out, but then I thought better of it. I couldn’t call him back at home without looking like a creep to the woman who answered. Now how would I get in contact with him?. I scribbled expletives on the scrap paper in front of me, thinking about my options.
It occurred to me that I could leave a message for Tim at the main office of the church. With luck, the woman who answered had an email address for him. Ah, email. The solution to all awkward phone conversations. Within hours, I got a response from Tim, and he informed me that we would not have to meet until June.
And so, the worry subsided. Temporarily.
Once the end of the semester passed, my to-do list began to swell. Amongst all the loose ends that started to stockpile, it was nearing the date when invitations would be sent, a very hectic time. When I looked at our calendar towards the end of May, I realized that we were very close to filling up most of our free time with meetings, social obligations and wedding details. I decided it was time to contact Tim to set up a meeting. Because of the phone debacle the last time, I emailed him to let him know I was ready to make my appointment.
Then, I waited a week. Hm. No reply. Sr. Theresa provided me with an alternative telephone number and email for him, so I tried the email first. No reply. I began to think that he was one of those people who do not read emails too often. Didn’t I know plenty of people like this? That had to be it. So, the phone seemed like the next logical step. There was indeed a voicemail account on the alternate phone number—hurrah!—so I left a message, confident that I would hear from him right away.
What happened next can only be explained as obsessive panic. I can say that in my normal life, my non-wedding planning life, I might have been worried, but able to carry on my regular, day-to-day activities. However, in my wedding-planning, crazed state, I became so focused on this man’s refusal to get in touch with me that it was all I could think about. Or talk about. Mike and I would be talking about any other thing, and I would launch into a diatribe about Tim and how rude he was to not call me back to let me know if he still planned to be a part of our wedding. I just couldn’t let it go. If he had changed his mind and was unavailable, sure that would that would be disappointing, but at least I would know. In hindsight, I should have just assumed this and moved on to another alternative. But, because he had agreed to play at our wedding, and because the comfort of having an organist seemed much more preferable to having to find another, I could think of little else.
When I also learned that Tim was responsible for church décor, I had another dilemma. I couldn’t inform the florist what we’d need for the ceremony flower-wise until I talked with Tim. Just fantastic.
A full three weeks after I sent the first email inquiring about an appointment, I decided to call the church office to see if they had any suggestions for alternative organists. I felt defeated. Not ten minutes after I hung up the phone, what did I find, but an email from Tim. It read:
Will you be available to meet on June 16th?
There was no greeting or salutation and no mention of the prior emails or phone calls. I thought this was odd, but I was just so relieved to hear from him that I agreed to the meeting.
In person, Tim was friendlier than I expected. We met at the church and began going over the program. He would chose some music, then play and sing for us before we decided whether it was a yes or a no. Well, it was more like Tim would play and sing, and then he and Mike would turn towards me to see if it was a yes or a no. Clearly, I would be making all the decisions.
Though I did not usually feel particularly moved by organ music, Tim was a fantastic musician. He had a beautiful voice, and in the moment, I felt glad to have stuck with him.
The only caveat was that Mike’s cousin, Patrick, would be the cantor on the day of the wedding, and because he lived too far to come to a practice, we’d have to find some way to get the music to him. Tim told us that this would not be a problem, but I felt little comfort in his assurance.
As we left, Tim encouraged me to email him with any questions.
“Do you check your email frequently?”
“I get emails on my phone,” he held it up for us. “I check them all the time.”
Oh. I see.
As predicted, getting the music for Patrick proved to be frustrating. Mike was feeling the pressure, particularly because Patrick was anxious to get the music and begin practicing. Mike would email Tim to no avail. The worse part was that Mike knew he was getting the emails. He just chose not to reply. Ever.
When I had my little freak out about Tim’s lack of response to my emails and phone calls, Mike thought that I was obsessing. But now, when it was his turn to be ignored, he could really feel my irritation.
Strangely, when I would email Tim, he’d get back to me within the hour, which angered Mike even further. Of course, these were often curt emails, like the time when I emailed him with three questions, and he could only muster up the will to respond with one word: “Yes.” But, at least he was responding in some way.
It was clear to us that our wedding was a low priority for him, and we began to wonder if he would even bother to show up for the ceremony. We had serious doubts. When Mike learned from Sr. Theresa that Tim once left a ceremony because the bride had been a little late, it only added to the fear. Fortunately, he kept this information to himself so as not to send me reeling. The thought of him storming out of our ceremony would be too much to bear.
Luckily, Tim did show up to the ceremony, and he was professional. He played the songs that we agreed upon, and he worked well with Patrick. He even took the time to let Mike know that he felt honored to work with Patrick, who is an amazing and talented singer.
At one point in the process, Mike and I were discussing the music for the ceremony, and I was worrying over some of our choices.
“But, do you even remember any of the organ music at any ceremony you’ve been to?”
“No, not at all.”
“I mean, I didn’t even realize that the bride and groom picked all those songs.”
And neither did I.
“The only thing people will remember is Patrick’s singing,” Mike said.
And he was right.
I was so anxious about securing an organist for the wedding that I was willing to cling to the first person who said yes. I was in a bad relationship with my vendor, and I was so overwhelmed with the thought of losing him that I stayed, despite the fact that it wasn’t really working for me.
On the day of my wedding, most guests would leave the church without giving the flowers or the décor or the organist another thought. What I worked so long and hard to make perfect would be a vague memory at best. So when Tim became difficult to reach and communicate with, I should have left him. Even if it meant that Patrick had to sing a cappella or that the ceremony would be devoid of music altogether.
Wouldn’t the real show be the girl in the ivory dress and her groom, anyway?