Updated: May 21
Whether it's some heart-felt music for your ceremony or some easy listening background music for your drinks reception, there's no doubt that a quality Harpist & Singer can bring an added touch of magic to your wedding. In this wedding blog we chat with accomplished performer Emma Ní Mhairtín whose extensive repertoire can not only entertain but surprise your guests with something that they were not expecting!
Inis dom fút féin?
I’m a Meath woman born and bred, originally from the beautiful village of Drumconrath but have recently moved to Donegal. Growing up we were immersed in music and Irish dancing and were lucky to have a very talented and musical extended family.
As many do, I started my musical journey on the tin whistle at a young age and learned the mandolin and banjo before my first harp lesson with the Meath Harp School. I am so grateful to my parents and my teachers through the years for passing on the gift of music. Little did I think when I was small just where it would lead me.
When did you first start playing at weddings and what makes them special?
I remember my sister Ali (also a harpist) and myself being SO excited to play at our first wedding. It was for a family friend and we had probably been playing the harp for only about a year at the time. It was such a tremendous privilege for us and that feeling is something I’ve never lost. Each time I set up to play at a wedding, I feel so happy and honoured to be sharing in the most special day of two people’s lives. The day I lose that feeling is the day I hang up my boots!
I’m a primary school teacher by trade and taught in Dublin for several years. I played at weddings from time to time and was often asked why I didn’t play music professionally but I had never thought I could do it, especially when I would be giving up a secure, full-time job to do so. The turning point came when one of my best friends was diagnosed with a very serious illness. I realised that this is life, not a rehearsal and it was time to take the plunge. I was granted a career break from teaching and set up my own business which allowed me not only to make a living from doing what I love, but also gifting me more time to be able to spend with my friend.
Can you offer a wide repertoire and choice of genres?
Absolutely! My goal is always to provide the most memorable experience for my happy couples and their guests. I always try to ensure that their musical tastes are reflected in the ceremony and reception. I play and sing a wide range of music from the usual trad, classical and hymns to pop, golden oldies, rock, electro/dance, film music - even some heavy metal from time to time! I have an extensive repertoire for couples to choose from but I also enjoy arranging new pieces if there is a particular melody that they think would make their day extra special.
How would you describe your style, classical, traditional, or a mixture of both?
I’m a ‘trad-head’ at heart, there is no denying that! All my extended family play traditional Irish music and love to get together for a session, but I also have an eclectic taste in music. As a result, I love to push the boundaries and experiment with different genres on the harp.
You enjoy playing Disney themes and music, tell us more...
Absolutely! Who doesn’t love Disney music? It brings back such magical childhood memories and is recognisable to guests of all nationalities. I always enjoy playing the individual Disney pieces but I’ve also arranged a ‘mash-up’ of some of the more well-known classics which always goes down a treat with the young and young at heart!
As well as the church or ceremony, can you also provide music for the drinks reception?
Yes, I have seen a great increase recently in the number of couples who want to add an extra treat to their drinks reception and I think guests enjoy having something a little bit different. I love taking requests from the floor - that’s how my cover of ‘Maniac 2000’ was born!
You were short-listed for some wedding awards recently, tell us about this.
What an incredible past year! I was privileged to be shortlisted for ‘Musician of the Year’ this year with Weddings Online which was a huge thrill, especially as it’s less than three years since I set up my business. We had a fantastic night at the awards ceremony and it was lovely to meet some other musicians and wedding suppliers and to celebrate together. I also got to play at my first major international celebrity wedding which was very exciting. It was all top secret until we reached the venue and definitely a memorable experience. The last three years have been a rollercoaster and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends, followers, and my other half Mark.
Is there a most requested song, or what’s your personal favourite to play on the harp?
Good question! I think the top 3 most requested songs would be A Thousand Years, Pachelbel’s Canon, and Your Song. They are all beautiful songs and I enjoy singing them. I also love it when I’m asked to play something that has a special meaning to a couple. I’m currently working on a Foo Fighters instrumental for a bride who wants to surprise her groom and I can’t wait to see the reactions! If I had to pick a personal favourite, I’d probably have to say ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ because it is so fun to see guests’ excitement when they recognise what is being played.
How can couples get in touch with you to book you for their special day?
The easiest way to get in touch is to send an email to CeolLeEmma@gmail.com. I also have a website www.emmamartinharpist.com where you can listen to some of my music and read reviews, or you can send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.
Reviews for Emma
“Emma is a fantastic musician with a beautiful personality! She is warm and friendly and was so easy to deal with from the beginning! We booked her to play for both our ceremony and reception drinks and have no regrets! Emma has a great selection of songs and was happy to share examples of songs to make sure we were happy with our selection. Fully recommend her and hope our paths cross again at another wedding!”
- Michelle and Mark
“I can’t recommend Emma highly enough! She was so easy to talk to and always open to any ideas we had for our music. She encouraged us to make the music our own and step outside of the traditional music you would hear at a wedding and we got nothing but compliments on how beautiful the music was”
“To anybody considering music for their wedding day, we couldn’t recommend Emma enough. Emma played her harp at our drinks reception. My new wife Ciara agrees. She was amazing. Everybody mentioned it to us – that it was a great idea and how good Emma was. We arrived after the ceremony and were all serenaded by Emma’s wonderful music. Her professionalism and style shone through. She was always positive which had a calming effect on us. Her music was stunning and when you are planning such an important day, you want a rock, someone reliable. Thank you again Emma. You were brilliant.”
- Peter and Ciara