In my career as a violinist, I played 688 weddings (496 ceremony only, 41 reception only, and 151 both ceremony and reception). I played four weddings in the 1970s, 47 in the '80s, 91 in the '90s, 286 in the (20)00s, 254 in the '10s, and six in the '20s.
The first wedding I ever played was in Houston in 1978my musical colleagues were violinist Gerald Brahinsky (my brother), violist Stanley Oakes, and cellist Barbara Haden. My records do not indicate the ceremony venue but show the reception as being at Greenway Plaza.
My tenth wedding was in Houston in September 1980. My 25th was in Houston in November 1982. My 50th was in Jacksonville, Florida, in March 1988. My 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th, 500th, and 600th were all in the San Antonio area in, respectively, May 1996, September 2003, April 2007, May 2009, July 2012, and April 2017.
My 688th and final wedding was a ceremony and cocktail reception at Remi's Ridge at Hidden Falls in Spring Branch, Texas, on March 5, 2021. My musical colleagues were violinist Joseph Barrera, violist Du Anne Hamby, cellist Joshua Younke, and two vocalists.
I played at least one wedding in each of 42 calendar years; in the span of years from 1978 to 2021, the only years that I played no weddings were 1989 and 1990. I played at least ten weddings in each of 25 calendar years. The first year in which I reached double figures was 1981 (ten weddings), but I would not do so again until 1995, when I played 17. I reached double figures once again in 1996; then after falling short in 1997, I did so every year from 1998 through 2019. The most weddings I played in a single calendar year was 50, in 2007.
The musician with whom I played more weddings than any other was Ivette Irizarry (she permanently earned that distinction when we played our 66th wedding together in April 2008). I played 159 weddings with Ivette; that figure does not include numerous additional weddings she contracted me to play but did not play herself. The rest of my colleagues who rank in the top ten according to the number of weddings I played with them are Du Anne Hamby (98), Christina Trongone (78), Lynda Verner (70), Jose Irizarry (69), Doris Norton (67), Giovanni DiGiosia (55), Terry Stolow (40), Igor Halfin (35), and Nathan Sharplin (34). In all there are 39 musicians with each of whom I played at least ten weddings. The colleague with whom I first reached double figures was Giovanni DiGiosia: we played our tenth wedding together in May 1995. The only colleague with whom I reached triple figures was Ivette Irizarry: we played our 100th wedding together in October 2009.
Previous to Ivette, there were three other musiciansBarbara Haden, Giovanni DiGiosia, and Doris Nortonwho each had the distinction for some period of time of being the colleague with whom I had played more weddings than any other. Barbara held that distinction the longest: more than 14 years, from early 1980 until April 1994; that mantle of longevity will pass to Ivette in 2022.
My most frequent colleagues in the '70s were Barbara Haden and Stanley Oakes (two weddings with each); in the '80s it was Donna Pravel (six weddings); in the '90s, Giovanni DiGiosia (23); in the '00s, Ivette Irizarry (103); in the '10s, Ivette Irizarry (56); in the '20s, Joseph Barrera, Du Anne Hamby, Beth Johnson, and Qizhen Liu (two with each).
There are three musicians with each of whom I played weddings in four calendar decades: Wanda King Lydon in the '80s, '90s, '00s, and '10s; and Du Anne Hamby and Lynda Verner in the '90s, '00s, '10s, and '20s. There are ten more musicians with each of whom I played weddings in three decades: Mary England in the '80s, '90s, and '00s; Cleo Aufderhaar, April Brahinsky, Beth Stoppels Girko, Margaret Hager, Philip Johnson, Karen Stiles, Terry Stolow, and Dan Zollars in the '90s, '00s, and '10s; and Igor Halfin in the '00s, '10s, and '20s. The only colleague with whom I played at least ten weddings in each of three calendar decades was Du Anne Hamby, in the '90s, '00s, and '10s. There are nine more musicians with each of whom I played at least ten weddings in each of two decades: Giovanni DiGiosia, Doris Norton, Terry Stolow, and Dan Zollars in the '90s and '00s; and Ivette Irizarry, Jose Irizarry, Philip Johnson, Christina Trongone, and Lynda Verner in the '00s and '10s.
I played weddings with Du Anne Hamby in 27 calendar years, the most years with any colleague. The other musicians with each of whom I played weddings in at least ten calendar years were Lynda Verner (24 years), Giovanni DiGiosia (19 years [all consecutive: the longest such sequence]), Terry Stolow (18 years), Doris Norton (17), Ivette Irizarry (15), Jose Irizarry (15), Cleo Aufderhaar (14), Igor Halfin (14), Beth Stoppels Girko (13), Philip Johnson (13), Dan Zollars (11), Olga Luganska (10), and Christina Trongone (10).
I first played at least ten weddings with one colleague in a calendar year in 2002, when I played 11 with Doris Norton. The colleagues with whom I played at least ten weddings in a calendar year were Ivette Irizarry (eight such years), Christina Trongone (four years), Jose Irizarry (two years), Qizhen Liu (one year), Doris Norton (one year), Nathan Sharplin (one year), and Lynda Verner (one year). The most weddings I played with a colleague in one year was 28, with Ivette Irizarry in 2008.
The greatest time span over which I played weddings with one colleague was 30 years, with Wanda King Lydon: I first played a wedding with her in April 1985, and last in May 2015. The longest break between consecutive weddings played with one colleague is 20 yearsthat distinction is held by Sherry Rubins, with whom I played a wedding in June 1998 (when she was Sherry Smith), then not another until June 2018.
Twenty-five of the weddings I played used musicians contracted out of Houston (among those my most frequent colleague was Barbara Haden, with seven weddings), 21 from the Dallas/Fort Worth area (Shelley Cimbalo and Donna Nelson, five each), 639 from San Antonio/Austin (Ivette Irizarry, 159), one from Norfolk, Virginia (no colleagues), one from Jacksonville, Florida (with Art Bloomer, Trevor Handy, and Jeanne Majors), and one from the Detroit area (with Melissa Pierson, Davin Torre, and Alexis Turkalo). I played 685 weddings in Texas and one each in Virginia, Florida, and Michigan. My northernmost wedding was in Flint, Michigan, in August 1988; my easternmost wedding was in Norfolk, Virginia, in March 1987; my southernmost wedding was near Kingsville, Texas, in March 1998; and my westernmost wedding was in Kerrville, Texas, in September 1995.
I played 69 weddings with Jose Irizarry, the most with any other violinist. My most frequent colleagues on selected other instruments were Du Anne Hamby (97 weddings on viola), Christina Trongone (78 on cello), Randy Johnson (10 on bass), Ivette Irizarry (113 on harp), April Brahinsky (11 on piano/keyboard), Michael Palermo (8 on trumpet), and Ramona Parker (11 on vocals).
The names of my wedding colleagues ranged alphabetically from Adrian Adamik to Julie Zupan. I played weddings with colleagues whose last names started with every letter of the alphabet except X. I played weddings with three other Brahinskys: 11 with my wife, April; three with my brother Gerald; and two with my father, Henry. I played weddings with eight Smiths (the most colleagues with any one surname), but all of those Smiths combined contributed to only 11 weddings with me: six with Stuart; one with Lana, Larry, and Laura; and one each with Amanda, M. Timothy, Sherry, and Wendy (this does not include a subsequent wedding I played with Sherry when her surname was no longer Smith). My only "famous" wedding-musician colleagues (using the presence of a dedicated article on the individual in Wikipedia as the criterion for fame) were violinists Gale Hess (who has an article in the German-language Wikipedia) and Fredell Lack. (There were previously Wikipedia articles on my wedding colleagues Donald Braswell II and Brendan Townsend, but in both cases those articles were later deleted. Also, I believe that Wikipedia subject Gary P. Nunn and his band played at the reception of a wedding for which I played only the ceremony.)