An interview with |Harpist Soraya Vermeulen
There’s something magical about the harp. I love any sort of live music at a wedding but the harp is quite unique. It looks fabulous, of course, but it’s the serene atmosphere it creates that gets me. It’s very calming so it’s got to be perfect for soothing a Bride & Groom’s nerves during the ceremony! It makes really great background music for a drinks reception or wedding breakfast too because it adds to the atmosphere in a subtle way; it doesn’t take attention away from the couple or the wedding.
I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Soraya play a few times; she’s incredibly talented. Not to mention a really lovely person too. As you’ll be able to tell from this interview. That’s the lovely Soraya ↓
How did you become a wedding harpist?
I have played the harp from a very young age and I was very lucky to have some wonderfully inspiring music teachers! I followed this with some incredible training by international professors at music college in London. This training has really enabled me to have my dream job!
What’s a typical wedding day like for you?
I always start with a big breakfast, (you need lots of fuel for the day!). Then it’s time for make-up and hair (I am often in many photos and so I do like to look my best for the couple!). I then load the harp and equipment into the car. It’s dress on and then I’m on my way to the venue!
On arrival, I unload the harp, tune the harp strings (there are 47 of them to do so it takes a while!) and warm up. I usually allow an hour before I start playing for all of this, just in case of any broken strings or any other problems. It’s then wedding time!
I can play during whichever parts of the day the couple would like, however, these usually fall into three categories:
- The Ceremony: this usually includes performing whilst guests enter the ceremony room, during the bridal entrance, during the signing of the register and then for the exit of the couple and all of their guests
- The Drinks Reception (usually performed in 45-minute sets)
- The Wedding Breakfast (also usually performed in 45-minute sets)
How do you decide what to play?
I am guided by the couple, their favourite music, and the style of their day. I am always here to help should anybody want any advice on music though! I love to chat about all things music and wedding related! In fact, I do just love to chat! The most popular music at the moment is definitely “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri and the classic Pachelbel’s Canon in D, however, I do also get many requests for more unusual choices, such as Metallica and Game of Thrones!!
What do you love most about playing harp at weddings?
There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a wedding with live performers. It’s wonderfully varied and it’s a privilege to get to play in such an exciting and happy atmosphere.
I meet lots of wonderful people, play in the most gorgeous and unusual venues and above all, I am a musician because I love music and love sharing it with others! My job really gives you such a high that nothing can compare to!
What’s the hardest thing about being a wedding harpist?
Loading and unloading the harp, particularly in the rain, is probably my least favourite part of the job! The harp is about 6ft high and weighs around 50kg.. Because of its awkward shape and size, moving it in and out of the car is not as easy as if I played the flute, (as I hear often!! Haha). But the good most definitely outweighs the bad in my job!
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you on a wedding day?
The weather can be a bit of a nightmare. I was once playing when all of a sudden, with no warning, a terrible thunderstorm hit! The lucky guests were able to run inside, however, I was stuck, with my harp covers and trolley far away in the car and the harp unable to get wet. As the harp is made of wood, extreme changes in temperature and humidity are very damaging to it; it can weaken and destroy joints and even cause cracking!
Is there a wedding you’ve worked on that really sticks out in your mind?
Once, after a break, I came back to my harp, only to find an elderly gentleman attempting to play it and singing a song he had entitled “Me and My Parrot”!!…I think he might have enjoyed too much of the champagne that day! hahaha!
Whose wedding would you really like to play at? Past, present or future
In keeping with the times, I would have to go with Prince Harry! What a wedding that would be and I’d love to see that party! I’d love to play music that means something to Megan and Harry as a couple.
What do you usually do when you get home from a wedding?
Throw off my heels and put on my slippers! You can’t beat that feeling!
If you could give a couple one piece of advice for their wedding, what would it be?
Enjoy every second! The time passes so quickly and you don’t want to miss one little thing on such an amazing day!
If you’d like to find out more about Soraya and having her play harp at your wedding check her out here: