Sarah Vanell is a professional musician here in Phoenix, Arizona, who performs for weddings and other special events across the valley. She's extremely talented and I’ve been lucky enough to work with her on a past wedding (and hope for many more in the future!). Sarah provides a beautiful ambiance to her events and adds so much to the overall guest experience. I picked her brain about having a live performer at a wedding and here is what she had to say!
Tells us a little about yourself! How did you find your way into performing and becoming a professional musician?
I knew I wanted music to be a focal point in my life at age 14, probably earlier, when like most little kids(maybe, ha, ha), I would perform in front of my mirror. I remember trying out for my first solo in the 8th grade.I went on to perform for several choirs at my high school for the next 4 years. In conjunction with working on my vocals in choir, I studied guitar because I always wanted to make sure I was a self-sufficient musician. Throughout high school I performed for my school’s talent shows and even began to gig locally for coffee shops and special events. Each gig fed into the next and I began performing for restaurants, larger events and festivals, and slowly but surely made my way into the wedding industry. I have been performing professionally for 16 years, and it is the only job I have ever had. My dad told me time and again to hone my craft, and that is what I did. He has been incredible support and, in fact, is my number one roadie and sound engineer for all of my weddings and special events.
I know you don’t exclusively perform at weddings, but when you are hired for a wedding what kind of couples do you usually find yourself working with?
I work with a wonderful variety of couples with different backgrounds, musical tastes, varying budgets, etc. I really aim to make having live music affordable as I think it adds such a unique touch to such an important day.
I personally think having live music at your wedding is magical and adds so much to the ambiance (I have a feeling you might agree)! What is your favorite part about performing for a couple’s special day?
My favorite part about performing for weddings is completely customizing their entrances. It is very uncommon nowadays for a couple to pick songs such as The Wedding March or Canon in D. The songs that each couple chooses says so much about them and I love being able to express for them the words/lyrics they in turn are expressing to each other and their guests about the commitment they are about to make.
Do you find yourself doing more ceremonies and cocktail hours, or receptions as well?
I mostly play ceremony and cocktail hour as these lend themselves nicely to live music. Most couples that hire me love having the more easy listening music at the beginning of the evening and then having the DJ take over for dancing, etc. I have, however, done weddings where I do every part of the evening from ceremony to cocktail, to dinner and dances. It really depends on the couple.
When it comes to selecting specialty songs for your wedding day do you have any advice for people?
My only advice to couples when beginning to select music for their wedding is “be you!” Don’t think you have to be traditional. Pick songs that really speak to the two of you, songs that are meaningful to your relationship and those you have invited to share in your wedding. You can’t go wrong!
If you're interested in having a live musician be part of your special day I highly encourage you to reach out to Sarah. I can guarantee you and your guests won't be disappointed!