Here’s Some General Advice on Selecting Wedding Music for Any Venue
Choosing proper wedding music can be a difficult task. There are many types of music to choose for your wedding.
The music you select to precede, underscore and follow your wedding ceremony is perhaps the most immediate and effective way you can create the mood or establish the tone for your event.
Many couples select music that will enhance a special theme that they have chosen for their wedding such as Baroque, New Age, Classical, Jazz, 1920s etc. Often chateau wedding brides chose baroque music and sometimes to carry the theme through they have the musicians dress in baroque costume. It is a very nice touch and incredibly romantic.
Brides who are marrying for the second time or more often select a less formal musical selection. The music you choose can, depending on the formality of your wedding, be an additional means of expressing your feelings for each other.
If you are like most people the wedding music that will be used during your marriage ceremony is very important to you – but you may not have a clue how to go about selecting your wedding songs!
An important factor in choosing your wedding music is the setting for your ceremony. The music you choose will be determined by the nature of your event (religious or civil; formal or casual), your own musical tastes, the attitude of your officiator and the abilities of your musicians.
If your ceremony will not be in a religious setting, you can choose just about any kind of music you like — although you will want to stay within the bounds of good taste! Popular songs can date very quickly. So ask yourself: Will the music I choose from my wedding today be the memory I want in the years to come?
On the other hand, if your ceremony will be in a church or synagogue, or conducted by a clergy person at another location, you will probably need to stay within guidelines set by the clergy person or the church. Some churches limit music choices, so before you start choosing music, check with your clergy about any restrictions that may be in place. Most religious denominations consider a wedding ceremony to be a form of worship service.
For this reason, churches generally do not allow “secular” music (non-religious popular music) during a wedding. Some will allow secular music while the guests are being seated, but not during the ceremony itself. Check with the church where your wedding will be held for its specific guidelines.
We recommend before you begin searching for the best wedding musicians to first develop a storyboard of any wedding music that you feel will capture the right mood of each step of your wedding as it happens, and make a list of those songs you want to play during each phase of the wedding.
You may want to conside instrumental-only music for your wedding ceremony? Your choices here may include the church organist or pianist, a string quartet, a harpist, or other instrumentalists.
A string quartet is a popular choice for larger weddings, and with good reason. The great attaction of a quartet is that they have a very wide repertoire ranging from classical to jazz and, requiring no electricity, can easily be moved from place to place – useful if the weather turns! For something different you could ask for them to be dressed in baroque costume which would be stunning if you are hiring a heritage property like a wedding chateau.
You may be allowed to select some pieces for the prelude, one piece for the processional where the bridal party enters, another for the bride’s processional, and another for the recessional.
This is the music played while the guests are being seated and sets the mood as people arrive, and is usually soft background music.
The processional music is played while the wedding party and bride walk down the aisle. If the wedding party is large, some brides opt to have 2 pieces–one for the wedding party, and one for the entrance of the bride (such as the traditional ‘Here Comes the Bride’). The first notes of the processional music announce the arrival of the Bride and for the guests to stand! Music for the entrance of the Bridesmaids is usually more formal, and presented at a higher volume than the pre-ceremony music.
The best processionals are pieces that can be performed at a even walking tempo and that can be easily ended at various points during the performance. This allows for different sized wedding parties, the length of the distance they have to travel, and the speed at which they walk.
Here is a tip.Try the processional music out at home. Measure the distance from the back of the aisle to the altar and practice walking the length with the music playing. This way you will know if your selected song is a bit too short or way too long. You don’t want to find yourself standing at the altar waiting and waiting for the number to finish any more than you want to have the music run out while the bridesmaids are still making their entrance.
Some of the most famous of wedding repertoire include such pieces as Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, Handel’s joyful Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. These all sounds great on the harp, or a string quartet or violin and cello duet and can be easily tailored any length necessary. They are gently flowing.
Here Comes the Bride by Wagner is a traditional wedding march best used for the entrance of the bride only. Its mood is majestic.
Wedding March by Mendelssohn is the another traditional wedding march. It also works on the harp and can be used solely as the bride’s music. It is majestic and grand.
Processional by McDonald As its name implies, this piece was specifically written to be played as a processional and is an upbeat and joyous processional.
Others couples prefer to choose popular music that is meaningful to them. You can walk down the aisle to your favorite song if permitted by your church – you don’t have to include a march as your wedding processional.
The recessional music is played as the bride and groom, wedding party, and wedding officiate walk back out down the aisle. The music is usually upbeat and celebratory, and does not have to be very long. It is often accompanied with the ringing of church bells or chimes.
Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Processional by McDonald also work fantastically as recessionals and not just as processionals. Recessionals give the ceremony that traditional feel.
You may also have solos during your wedding ceremony. The musical version of the Lord’s Prayer by Albert Hay Malotte can take the place of the congregation reciting the prayer aloud, and can be played solo or as a duet with a singer. Ava Maria is a popular choice when signing the register.
Postlude music is a nice touch if the wedding couple are meeting the guests in a reception line as they leave the church.
Now you have selected what you would like played at your ceremony you need to find the musician/musicians.
– their familiarity with the church, chapel and their music protocol and also that at your selected wedding venue, or wedding chateau . If they have never played their before do not be too concerned as all of this can be established with a site visit and a phone call or two.
– what will they wear? Elegant suits for the gentlemen and long gowns are the traditional attire and make them pleasing to the eye as the music is to the ear.
– can you have a recording of their music to sample their style. Some quartets may even provide you with a CD of your chosen wedding music, giving you a wonderful keepsake that can act as a personalized wedding favor or help you relive those romantic special moments.
– how loud will the music be. It should be loud enough to be heard, whilst not being so loud as to intrude upon the conversation of your guests. The “right” choice will depend on your own taste and the number of guests.
– ask for references. First hand knowledge of how an ensemble, looked, played and behaved is the best way to guarantee that your choice is the right one
– ask about their price and how many hours that entails
– ask if you will be charged travelling and their valet parking
– ask about cancellation policy
After the ceremony it is nice to have music continuing for cocktails and canapes and for the wedding dinner.
Another option for entertainment is to have a live band perform at the wedding. Depending on your place of venue you may need permission for this so be sure to check this out in advance.
Trying to please all will be hard because not everyone shares the same taste in music thus leaving you in an awkward situation.