Views #1085 | Intermediate (B2)

The Wedding Singer

Shirley talks her job as a wedding singer in Japan and what the day is like.

Todd: Now, Shirley you are a wedding singer, so you actually go to people's weddings and you sing, correct?

Shirley: Yeah, that's right?

Todd: What's it like being a wedding singer?

Shirley: Well, it's an opportunity for me to get dressed up and to get to see lots of other people dress beautifully too. And I think it's an honor to be able to be at an event where someone's having a very special day, so for the bride and groom it's a memorable event and we try to add to that experience. To give them something to add to their memory of that day.

Todd: You must feel a lot of pressure though because, I mean, it's such a big day for everybody and there would be a lot riding on it. Do you feel like nerves?

Shirley: Actually, what I feel nervous about usually is the speaking part. Not so much the singing.

Todd: Interesting.

Shirley: Yeah, as you know I live in Japan and so when I go to weddings they're in Japanese. My Japanese skills are not that great, so I have to say a little bit, and I usually like to address the bride and groom directly at some point and say something nice to them and congratulate them on their day and wish them the best for the future, and I get kind of stressed about doing that in Japanese so it's almost a relief when I get to just sing. I feel that I can express myself a little bit more freely once I'm actually singing.

Todd: So what kind of experience? Where do you normally do these weddings?

Shirley: Well, at the moment I'm living and working in a place called Oita and in Japan it's fairly common for entertainers to sign up with a wedding company, so it's usually wedding companies that actually plan the weddings so you don't really deal directly with venues or individual people, so I've got a couple of connections with the two companies here they connect me or they make a booking. Usually, they'll be planning weddings and they'll make a booking for who they think will be appropriate and in the past I worked in another city in Fukuoka and I sang and at weddings at the Grand Hyatt Hotel there and it was great.

Todd: Pretty swank?

Shirley: It was very swank. And Japanese weddings are very formal and really choreographed to a certain degree.

Todd: What do you mean they're choreographed?

Shirley: Well, you know everything is planned from the very first step to the very last step so there's someone there to take the bride and groom to everything that they need to do, and every thing that's happening when for example the bride might leave to change her clothing, her outfit, and they have planned events happening during then and that's a pretty common time for the music or for the singer to perform.

Todd: Wow, sounds like they have it down.

Shirley: They have it down pat.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

riding on


It is a big day so there would be a lot riding on it.

Here the phrasal verb ride on just means to depend on. So if there is a lot riding on her singing, that just means people are depending on her to perform well. Notice the following:

  1. He has a lot riding on the job interview.
  2. We had a lot riding on the experiment, so we were sad when it failed.

deal directly


You don't deal directly with the venues.

When you deal directly with other people, that means you do not go through anyone else when arranging something. Notice the following:

  1. I do not talk with salespeople. I deal directly with the managers.
  2. She deals directly with the factories, not the stores.

make a booking


They make a booking for the wedding.

When you make a booking, you make a reservation. Notice the following:

  1. We made a booking for a room at the Hyatt.
  2. We make a booking but cancelled it the next day.



The weddings are choreographed to a certain degree?

When something, such as a wedding, is choreographed that means it is planned so everything must be done precisely during the ceremony and reception. Dancing is something that is highly choreographed. Notice the following:

  1. Successful sports teams often choreograph their practices.
  2. The party was too choreographed, so no one had any fun.

down pat


They have the weddings down pat.

When something is 'down pat' that means it has been mastered perfectly or memorized so it is easy to recall. Notice the following:

  1. After driving the same streets for years, the bus driver has the bus route down pat.
  2. For the school play, I have my lines down pat. I think I am ready.

Vocabulary Quiz

riding on • deal directly • make a booking
choreograph • down pat
  1. I have this job .
  2. The coaches like to the practices.
  3. The internet allows people to with the airline.
  4. We call the hotel to .
  5. We have a lot on this new product.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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